The Captain Himself
In this post I want to talk about the other half of this adventure, my constant companion and only person I get to talk to, the Captain.
Captain Of The Good Ship Miss Catana
My Captain is English born. His parents immigrated to Australia from England, the Captain was just under one year old. He stepped onto the boat having just mastered the skill of walking. This means even before the age of one, my Captain had already sailed from one side of the world to the other.
It would seem the sea laid claim to him early on.
His parents sum up for me what it is to be English. They have a formality that took me a long time to understand. They always phone before they visit, will apologize if they think they are intruding in our space or life, they never impose their views or needs on us. Politics and religion seem rare visitors at their table, conversations are always pleasant. They don’t swear, raise their voices or argue in front of us ever. They are polite, formal, warm, generous and love their children with a steely passion.
Besides being nice, they are brave and have an adventurous spirit. It takes courage to pack up and leave your Country, move to Australia with a young child, board a boat to travel to the other side of the world, far from family, culture and certainty. All three of their children have lived lives outside the box, in part because their parents have been unconditional with their love and acceptance.
Because the Captain’s parents brought him up the way they did, my Captain is the wonderful man he is today, I will always love them, they are the reason their children have values that I respect and admire.
I Always Wanted To Date A Tall Man
The Captain isn’t that tall, in fact it is best to describe him as the opposite.
If I was to describe my Captain it would go something like this: Persistent, Hardworking, Honest, Faithful, Dependable and Well Grounded. The Captain never gives up once he starts a project and is not happy till the job is completed. If my Captain was a canine he would definitely be a “Tenacious Terrier”.
The Captain is strong, nimble and quick footed. The first time I saw him, he was playing soccer, the Captain of the senior team, it was his speed and constant attack at the ball, that made him an excellent player.
His job as a physical education teacher, required him to teach all kinds of dancing including folk dancing. He was also a competent Zumba Instructor. As his dancing technique has never been one of his best attributes, he is proof that anything is possible with persistence and dedication. The Captain loved his life as a teacher and viewed his vocation as a privilege.
The Captain expresses his love via doing. When our children were growing up he would spend long hours doing and being there for each one. For our daughter’s birthday one year, he arose pre dawn and mowed long trails in the paddock’s grass. Each one led to a special fairy place, including secret rooms, gardens and magic stones. The final and furthest path led to her fairy birthday present. When our boys came home late after being out with mates, he would happily get up and cook food for them regardless of the hour. Often in our house, there would be two meals cooked in the evening to ensure all were satisfied. Taking the children to sports events, practice or kicking a football in the yard was never a bother.
Our three children know that their father truly loves them, of this there is no doubt.
The Captain (The Wannabe Chef)
I can’t talk about the Captain without mentioning food. Over the years food has become his passion. He thinks about what he will prepare, takes time and care, and is an excellent cook. An invite to the Captain’s table is him telling you he loves you. Word of warning if you are invited, don’t be late and do make comment as to whether you enjoyed it or not. How to upset the Captain– be late for dinner and not acknowledge the meal in someway. A thank you or how it tasted whilst at the table will keep you safe. Never answer your phone at the dinner table. EVER.
So why share these details about the Captain?
The Captain and I are at odds on what constitutes safe whilst living on the boat. When it comes to wearing a life jacket or harness we disagree constantly. On this trip there has been two occasions where the Captain has been close to breaking rule one of the boat.
Rule No. 1 – All persons must stay on the boat.
Rule No. 2 – All persons must avoid injury or harm by maintaining safety standards at all times.
Close Call One
It went from cruising to chaos. It was late afternoon and for over three days the wind had not budged. A regular 13 knot breeze, 120 degree angle and our big spinnaker powering us forward at a rate of knots. A solid 8 knot average, all was fine on the good ship Miss Catana.
Then in a matter of minutes the wind went from 13 knots to 19. We were downwind sailing at that point, the wind is still within the limits of what is comfortable for the spinnaker, the Captain is helming to keep a close eye on things. We discuss bringing the sail down and decide to wait ten minutes as the weather is forecast to remain at 13 knots or less. We still had a good hour of daylight and wanted to make the most of the time. These were very expensive minutes and turned into a spinnaker rookie error. While we waited the wind picked up intensity and stayed. We now had to bring our sail down in 25 knot wind, our boat speed was a minimum of 10 knots and often 13 and 14 knot speeds. It’s dark and the moon is hours from appearing.
We had another sail up to shield the spinnaker. We both put on life jackets as it involved going up the front of the boat in the dark, so jackets are mandatory, no argument there.
BUT things didn’t go to plan.
To start the process the Captain was having trouble getting the sock down over the sail, it was taking too long. While pulling the sail in, the sail lifted the Captain off his feet and almost knocked him overboard. As he was not harnessed in (rule No 2) he had the option of letting go of the sail or going overboard. By letting go of the sail he remained on board but we lost the sail and the damage was done. The clew of the sail tore away from the body completely, we now had a huge area of sail whipping madly to the side of the boat, out of control.
Between us we dragged the sail onto the trampoline. It took time, neither of us panicked but I did get smacked in the face by an out of control sheet thus breaking Rule No. 2. As the drama unfolded the spinnaker ropes knocked a man overboard beacon, into the water. I watched the flashing light and inflatable, move at rapid speed away from the boat, lost amongst the waves. I wondered if that had been the Captain what would be the chances I could find him, then be successful in bringing him back on board.
It may not sound dramatic but it was. In the aftermath even the Captain admitted it was a close call and we had escaped a very nasty event. Once again those rules must be adhered to.
Close Call Two
Hours later the Captain could have ended up in the water again (without his life jacket). He was standing atop the bimini helping the main sail go up whilst I was at the starboard helm.
My job was to steer the boat with the wind directly behind and raise the mainsheet at the same time. We have done this drill hundreds of times. To take the boat down wind I am required to steer with accuracy. It is important as I am in control of the boom, making sure it doesn’t move from one side of the bimini to the other. This ensures the Captain can stand on one side of the sail in safety.
I buggered up. A turned the wheel the wrong way and the boom moved violently across the bimini. The bimini could have easily swept the Captain off his feet. If not for his strength and agility the Captain could easily have gone overboard.
This drama was opposite to the spinnaker. It ended with me shaken and in tears, the Captain shouting and both of us pissed off. Perhaps we both sensed it was a close call and reacted accordingly. I thought it was highly dangerous, the Captain would disagree. I was very conscious that it was dark and we were travelling at high speed. I knew the potential risk, if Gaz goes overboard the only person that can get him back onboard is me. I doubted my ability to pull off this feat. I joked with the Captain to stay on board because if he should go overboard he is as good as dead.
In fact he won’t agree with this post. However this is my blog and I’m in charge here. I write each post for me and I am willing to share with anyone whose interested. If you don’t like it write me a letter and I will file these with the handful of comments/letters from my blog haters.
When it comes to the boat it is the Captain who has the final say
The Ultimate Adventure
As we come toward the end of this long leg of our Pacific crossing, we have only had two moments of high drama and you know the details. The rest has been easy sailing. It has been a joy to do this together alone as a couple. We both acknowledge that this is something special. The time alone, not wearing shoes for nearly a month, air drying at the helm, sailing under a night sky with the Southern Cross and Milky Way is beyond sensational. Just being ourselves 100% of the time and living in the moment on a majestic blue ocean.
We will look back on this time and know in our hearts how magical it was.
I continue to thank God for watching over us, as we continue to travel safely together.
PS Being able to put the main up or take it down whilst steering with the wind directly behind, is a great advantage catamarans have over monohulls.
PPS If he was a Canine, I’m sure the Captain would like to be a Golden Retriever or a Weimarana.
Me, A Burmese cat thank you very much.