Prior to life at sea and in the comfort of solid house foundations I sat in wide eyed wonder reading books and watching youtube video’s of yachts, massive ships and cruise liners at sea in wild storms. I had immersed myself in tales of tempest so vast and dangerous that even the most skilled and hardiest sailors struggled to survive. Tales of screaming winds that turn the world white amongst giant perfect waves. Waves that’s purpose in life appears to be to devour any boat in its path. I have read first hand accounts of poor unfortunate sailors lost at sea clinging to plastic life rafts for months at a time eating fish eyeballs in a desperate attempt to survive. You name it, a drama at sea and I have probably read or looked at it in preparation for my life as a sailor.
Then there are all the issues that come about from isolation on the ocean that deserve consideration. I have thought about these as well. Organs such as appendix, and brain vessels that can explode at anytime, bones that can be broken and worst horror of all, a crew member on watch and then overnight disappear overboard never to be seen again.
Make no mistake a pea sized kidney stone is able to kill you whilst at sea and all because of a course that takes you thousands of miles from any form of civilization.
When others tell me crossing the Atlantic is a walk in park, stroll across the pond and as easy as getting milk from the milkman, I have enough evidence to beg to differ. Crossing any ocean is a risky business. The Atlantic Ocean provides plenty of opportunity for flying shit as well as flying fish to come your way.
All this research of mine makes me ask the question.
Am I Ready To Cross The Atlantic?
Now would be a good time to mention that both Captain Underpants and his trusty partner Carole are both doctors. So at least if I am lying on the deck bleeding to death or having a heart attack they can tell me the Latin names of my demise. Or alternatively inform me that my exploding appendix is not an organ but happens to be part of the immune system and part of the large intestine.
Having not one but two doctors on board gives my mother comfort but truth be told if one of the many unimaginable perils should happen, good first aid is not going to make that much of a difference.
Regardless There Is No Turning Back
This is it.
On Boxing Day we set sail and ride west towards the setting sun. Boxing Day we begin our turn to cross the Atlantic Ocean. There are no more islands to visit, no more ports to stop off at and no more excuses. We have reached the end of the line on this side of the map. The time has come to cross the Atlantic aboard our sailing catamaran Miss Catana.
Once we start there is no turning back.
This is an important truth, once you start the crossing, you have to keep going. You can’t change your mind two days in and ask to go back towards the airport. I think my insides would have to be exploding out my backside and all over our white boat in a messy horror show for the Captain to even think about turning round. Even then it probably isn’t a option.
Every sailor is aware that worse things CAN happen at sea so a crossing is a matter of enter at your own risk. It’s a simple equation of risk and reward. Life, adventure and weeks isolated on a boat v’s safety sitting at home on the couch watching David Attenborough.
Don’t Worry Mum, There Has Been Plenty Of Training
It is 18 months since we started this adventure and I look back and marvel at how naive and positively useless I was when we arrived in France to live aboard our boat. It has been a steep learning curve. Some lessons were fast and furious while other skills have been acquired over time and sharpened with practice and experience.
The Captain has spent a night in a hurricane of 70 knot winds, whereas I was lucky and missed that training night. My highest winds has only been 60 knots. We have had our anchor drag, ropes snap, sail fall down and our boat travel too fast or beat into waves too big for too long. I’ve been seasick, homesick and just sick to death of “it”. Living on a boat is like living on a fault line. In the back of your mind you are waiting for the shit to happen. Some days the shit is small and frustrating, other days it could be life changing. You just don’t know.
Strangely enough I still manage to sleep surprisingly well because this is a contradictory life. Along side the dramas are the most incredible life affirming experiences. Whilst weary of the slog I can be invigorated by it. When overwhelmed by the vastness and isolation of the sea I stand in wonder and awe of my place in it all. This life reintroduces the ability to experience low level ecstasy. A change in the weather, dolphins that come to visit, perfect sunsets that you have to yourselves, a continuous hot shower and the sensual bliss of stepping into air conditioning after days of sweltering heat are all cause for celebration. Hell a knot increase in speed can get me excited these days.
Not one day has passed when I am filled with gratitude for the ability to experience this life and know I am one of the lucky ones. Of the over 8000 nautical miles we have travelled thus far I know each and every mile has been a privilege.
Back To The Question
So as to the question am I am ready to cross. The answer is yes.
I am even excited and looking forward to the prospect. There has been a big build up to the are you ready? Over coming days we have minor repairs to complete, shopping to do and a huge amount of cleaning as our boat has never gone so long without a wash. Plus there is the festive celebration of Christmas, my first ever away from children. Then we depart.
The time to be a real sailor has finally arrived. As to my readiness for this process, time will tell if there are any exploding organs or worse things to happen.
PS I want to add a huge thanks to all those who follow and read our journey and thus share it with us. So far its been a hell of a ride. Have a great Christmas and New Year and if you wish to email us whilst we travel our email is firstname.lastname@example.org