Sunday, May 9, 2010

Life At Sea

In a way it feels like a month has passed since I last wrote on here, yet only seven days have passed. There is no doubt that time will appear to speed up as routine sets in deeper. The days are already beginning to wash by in the swell. Lately I'm thinking less and less of the three week sojourn ahead of us and the hardships to come - of which I believe emotional tension amongst the crew will be most prominent. I say that because I find myself, at times, getting a little sick of certain personality traits and habits. Though, I'm sure that is probably to be expected for any group of people living in close proximity.

Honestly, when I started writing this a couple of hours ago off watch, I was just going to have a big rant about everyone in turn. But the events of the last couple of hours quelled my need to vent. What events? Well, we just had a big fish for dinner. A big, tasty, 20 kilo Mackerel. We caught it this afternoon quite unexpectedly. I say "we", I just filmed it and provided...moral support, so I can't really take any credit. Skip filleted it, sliced it up and we cooked it with a bunch of fresh limes in our questionably clean pot. Surprisingly good eatin', quickest "source to plate" meal I've ever had. Anyway, my point was that a good meal can raise spirits high enough to give you perspective on how pointless it is to get worked up over the little things. So here's hoping we catch another fish.

One random thing I forgot to add to my last blog - back on Ianthe, I let a Welsh skipper, armed with an electric trimmer, deal with my overly thick head of hair. He gave me a mo-hawk, upon request...which swiftly turned into a crew cut, as it would have been a ridiculous look for the whole trip. Even so, as per usual my hair is growing back as swift as ever. By the way, if you ever need a charter boat, book the Ianthe. They were the ultimate support boat. 

Okay, so backtracking a bit, to the start of the heavy weather. I have to say, through those few shifts I was eating my own words about this all being "a cinch". It was just another shock to the system how draining working in those conditions can be. But I knew the gales would pass sooner or later. Sure enough they did, but not without giving us a good knockdown, hopefully not the first of many. Strangely, that burst of excitement from imminent danger made for an interesting shift. To be honest, when you get a low-point and everything seems a bit shit and you start wishing you were somewhere else, you can either just give up or man up. And I'm glad we're all set on the latter. So drained and soggy, we decided to make for a nearby anchorage as the opportunity to do so would soon pass. Tentatively, the more experienced of the crew guided Bounty Boat through the narrow opening in the reef and before long we were at a standstill in the shadow of the almost-paradise island. 

Anyway, I'll try not to repeat what has already been said, but basically, those last couple of days were so welcome. Now we're away the storage area is clean, ordered and accessible - quite the opposite of the state it was in just after we first set off. And for the guy that spends most of his time diving into the depths of the stored kit, i've saved myself a lot of grief. Something a little unexpected happened out of the blue on the dawn of the second day, just as Don broke out the camera for some morning interviews. Hong Kong Dave came out with, "I'm 98% sure I want to quit." It seemed the pressures had got to him, one way or another. After some time to deliberate, he came to the decision that he would be sticking this out to the bitter end. Which I'm glad, for a couple of reasons. One, as he's invested so much time, money and heart into this expedition already. And two, the replacement for him was going to be the guy in reserve, Zach Sunderland (I think). Who's eighteen, like me, except he sailed solo around the world, is a born adventurer and is probably much more handsome and charismatic than I am. So yeah, I'm *truly* upset that he isn't going to be here to show me up. Don't worry though, I'll get over it.

As for me, my confidence is growing. I no longer feel like the weak link of the group nor a hindrance to the crew. Kindly, Don makes sure to let me know at every opportunity that i'm doing a good job. So it's simple, keep working hard - impress the skipper. "You've got 5 minutes to finish that blog Chris, you've been writing forever." Don growls as I make the most of this one opportunity I get. We all seem to be scratching a lot now, our hands and feet were annihilated by sand flies on Naghai island. Otherwise, we're all in ship-shape, for lack of a better phrase. Right this moment, we're currently passing up past the Yasawa Island Chain and should pass the northern tip tonight. Then it's straight for Vanuatu in the NW. There has been a bit of deja vu in the air today. The relaxed conditions we left Tofua in have been mimicked. I just hope this time the calm seas and weather aren't just easing us into another storm. Either way, we're all glad to be back on track and most importantly, away from the biting bugs of Naghai Island. Reckon that's enough blabbing for one night.  Later, Chris


Patron of Sheffield Institute Foundation said...

Well done Chris,
That's a big fish, My mother loved to eat that fish, but my dad always warned her that if she ate to much it might "Make er ill" ! LOL?

Anonymous said...

Refreshing to read your blog Chris, your view from the outside gives us a clearer view of the inside! More writing than once a week please!

magpie said...

Hi Crew,
The fish sound yummy. One of the few perks of weaving in and out of reefs. ☺ Toodles ☺

worldwidewendy said...

HK Dave,you will be all right.
Breathe deeply.

Toni McLean said...

Hi team,
I'm really amazed at how you can do blogs, interviews, take photos in that little bit of a thing you call a boat in the middle of the ocean! In your situation, I wouldn't be able to muster up the mental energy to focus on any of that.

I hope the honesty with regard to the emotional side of things is possible due to great trust and faith amongst all of you. It's not surprising that after a very difficult and scary period, personality issues start to arise.

I've just been through a very difficult time, physically and emotionally, though not life threatening like you guys, and I've been on dry, stable land, but what I noticed on reflection as I was getting past the worst of it, was how much I was starting to focus on my partner's faults and not his wonderful good points, even though he had nothing to do with the difficulties. He hadn't changed, of course. He still had the same good and irritating points, in the same proportions, as he's always had. But what had changed was my own equanimity - from okay to poor and now getting back to okay again. Now, surprise surprise, I'm able to see my partner's good points again and tolerate the irritations.

Human beings are just amazing. If we can't resolve the difficulties to our liking for whatever reason, we have a tendency to displace our frustrations elsewhere. It doesn't help, and may make things worse. What an opportunity you guys have to personally grow through this adventure. Of course, you may have already expressed that as an intention. As the adventure helps you peel back the layers of the persona you will get closer to the core person underneath - you and your shipmates. A different kind of journey!

Hope the sores and bites and sunburn and .... can be relieved.

Stay safe and dry.

Tonia said...

Chris ~~
We feel like we are sailing with you! Our Grandfather Frank Lloyd directed Charles Laughton and crew in the 1935 film Mutiny on the Bounty. We'd love to share with you some photos from the Hollywood version of your Bounty Boat trip.
Thanks for blogging!
Continued success,
Antonia Guerrero
Santa Barbara