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Photo journal: sea legs

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me) it’s always our self we find in the sea.

E. E. Cummings

The sea has always held an appeal to me; I love the folklore, the mystery, the tales, the wildness.  There is no better place to think than on a big, wide beach – all that space, the unencumbered view, nothing between you and the horizon other than a vast expanse of water, nothing to cloud your vision or thoughts.  I’m a lighthouse geek and for all the ocean going trials Homer’s Odyssey is one of my favourite books, modern translation obviously, no big brain on Sarah with classical Greek…  Maybe it’s the dream of sailing away that appeases my tendency and default to bolt? I don’t know, but love it I do.

I have a friend with a yacht, you know, we all have friends with yachts, right? Haha. This is not a usual statement for me to be making, but I do have a friend with a 46ft Bavaria cruising yacht, who thought that I needed to get off land and onto the sea.  God, how right she was.

My friend, Helen, co-owner of said yacht, is a down-to-earth Middlesbrough girl, a spade’s a spade, she swears maybe even slightly more than me, though I’m not counting.  She is one of my sanity mums at school, dashing everywhere like working parents do.  At a quiet, subdued parents talk at our kids’ secondary school in the main hall, she shouted down, in her Geordie accent, to the front row where I was sitting shamefaced – on account of my lateness to the party, “Oi, Scotty, only you’d turn up late looking like Bowie’s bitch circa 76”.  I took it as the compliment it was 100% meant to be.  And I was wearing silver leather.  Horses for courses.

Helen and her husband Stuart run a sailing school and I am still on a high from sailing with them from Southampton to the Isle of Wight, round the island a bit and back again.  Apparently, I’m an ‘unphased natural’, but in truth I was just blissed out, watching everyone doing their stuff so well, the crew of three learning to skipper the yacht and my friends teaching so effortlessly, respectfully and, as a result, successfully. No, I was just bobbing along for the ride, my face to the elements – I’ve said before, rain on your face makes you feel alive. I loved the waves cresting and falling, the boat that seemed so big in the harbour felt smaller – but more than capable, as the wind picked up and the sea got wilder. But it was exciting, not scary.  Rain turned to sun turned to fog turned to sun again.  My instructions were to pull a couple of ropes if I wanted to, but generally just sit and do nothing more taxing than drink gin. Or coffee. Whatever – just sit.  So I did.

The company was inspiring, it opened my eyes even wider to just fucking getting on with it and doing your stuff, doing what makes your heart beat faster.  We discovered that almost every phrase in the English language has nautical or maritime origins.  The location was ace, the gin perfect and, miracle of miracles, I slept like the dead.  I had a two hour nap in the day! I don’t ever, EVER sleep in the day, god, I barely sleep at night.  It was, as Helen said, EXACTLY what I needed.

So I found my sea legs and some calm in a world of my own, up on the deck watching Arctic terns and baby herring gulls soaring on the wind and lying in my bunk, eyes closed going with the sway and rock of the boat, listening to this guy, introduced to me last week, on my headphones.

And I thought that all is looking clear on the horizon, I’m still charting my course, it’s an open book, with clean white pages, but it’s looking increasingly true and steady.

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