The planned route (Click to enlarge)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My first solo night watch

About a week ago I headed out from the safety and warmth of my cabin into the depths of the night to watch over our boat on my own. All I had to do was sit at the helm looking out for boats and making sure that the sails kept full of wind. Its pretty simple stuff. Nonetheless a pang of fear hung over me and suddenly heading out there felt very similar to edging towards the darkest depths of the back garden in the middle of the night when I was 7. However much you tell yourself its the same as that garden you played in during the daytime, there's no fighting against your imagination creating a different world. Suddenly the back shed is a den of goblins, those trees are alive and waiting to gobble you up, the grass is full of snakes, the bushes hiding giant human eating spiders and in those dark corners hidden away from the moonlight are witches waiting to use your blood for their potions.

Similarly, for those first few minutes(1) of lonely darkness at the helm, Lista became a perilous vessel, vulnerable to potential attack from all sides. Those creaks and groans of Lista´s beamy frame that we have come to love took on a whole new world. Before I knew it I had worked myself up into a frensy of childish fear. Whales were surely trying to mate with the boat from below, the tiny fish following us all day had now attracted the attention of sharks that were trying to eat their way through the propeller, a seaweed laden half man, half monster was going to climb up and pull us all down into his ocean kingdom at any moment, hidden rocks were waiting to ship wreck us everywhere and that tidal wave was definitely on its way. But despite your mind, once you've committed to doing it there's no going back. However strong the temptation to crawl back to safety is, turning around would be giving in to your inner wimp and who knows what would follow once that had happened.

I personally have a pretty large amount of wimp going on. Until about 4 years old I failed to leave the safety of clinging to my mothers legs wherever we went. At 8 years old I was still crying about being left at school. I am still secretly pretty scared whenever I am left alone in the dark. This little trip around the world is my way of fighting against my inner wimp. I have been trying to suppress it for years. I figure heading out into the wilderness of the ocean, foreign cities, tribal settlements, up mountains, across deserts, down rivers and the likes would help me rid of it for good. In fact I fear that by subjecting my wimpiness to all this bravery is merely bringing it to the surface over and over again. Never before have I been so aware of being a scaredy cat. At least once I have achieved all these 'daring' feats I can justifiably crawl into a little haven of safety for the rest of my life. Well... maybe. We'll see.

Since completing a 5 day, 400 mile, vomit ridden, wildlife full hop into the Atlantic we have been soaking up some sun on Isla Graciosa in The Canaries. The island has a population of 600 people, 500 straw hats, 300 land rovers, 20 nudists and 3 volcanoes. It is also apparently a hot spot for pilot whales, but sadly we have found nothing other than small fry. The quest for mega fauna continues.

(1) The joys of the wilderness of the ocean, where the phosphorescence below you is as bright as the stars above, soon kicks in and fear is replaced with peaceful contemplation.


Rad said...

Nick and Holly-

Tups, how are things?

Not sure exactly where to start- so many things to say having just finished reading this from your very first post to the most recent.

I guess an introduction would be most appropriate- Holly, I am a friend of Nick P-B's who used to row with Nick. We have enjoyed many a boozy Henley Regatta together. Rather coincidentally, I was also told about this trip by Rich Jelf who I understand you used to work with.

So, having got that out the way- let me join what I imagine is a vast and growing number of people utterly facinated by your trip. I think it is such an amazing thing to do... I am sure lots of people dream of such things, but few actually go and do it. Like one of your posts said... life is for the taking so what are we waiting for? I am very impressed.

I just really wanted to let you know how enjoyable reading the blogs were... Nick P-B sent me the link at work and I haven't been able to stop reading... it is a rather strange experience reading about all this, with the internet window being hidden behind funding documents for renewable energy projects... such are the tactics of avoiding getting caught reading blogs at work.

Anyway... I cant wait for the next update- is there some kind of mailing list I can join, that lets me know when you post a blog?

another thing...I was fortunate to study in NYC for a year and wanted to offer the services of friends I have throughout Canada and USA (although I am sure this part of the trip seems a long way off now). I am not sure what route you are taking- even you may not know this yet... but when the time comes, let me know if you would like this.

all the best, I can't wait to hear about it all in person in time.


Cat said...

I am loving the blog. Just got back from work (3am) and thought I'd have a little read. Who wrote the solo night watch blog? I want to know which one of you is scared of the dark... so that I can rip it out of you when you get back... Nick!?
Sent off my paramedic application a few days ago so I am crossing all my fingers and toes for a successful outcome. In the meantime, keep sailing and relaying your fabulous stories for the boring sods back in the rainy cold UK. Love you both. Kisses. Cat.

Maz said...

hello guys - maz here, checking in for a little escape from reality :0 hope all's well on the adventure and you're looking forward to a christmas with a difference... life bumbles along here, hols. Went to see lucy in her choir last night, the Herd - they were awesome, as were the band, the RGBs, that run the choir. Am heading home to Eire for xmas, which will be nice for a change & to catch up with the folks! no other amazingly massive news, I'm really too exciting at any rate for me to fit it all into one comment :) anyway, thinkin of you, and sending love, keep up the blogging and adventuring :) xx