Sami Greenbury
Technology, Teaching & Travel

30 Miles from Nicaragua, 150 miles from Guanaja

I’m slowly deciding that, perhaps, sailing isn’t for me. It’s a thought I had last summer during my Comp Crew course.

The trouble is, while I love being on the water and living on the boat; and it’s exciting to be handling ropes while trying to stay aboard in the pitch black of night as the bow nose dives and sends another wave your way in case the last one didn’t quite soak you head to toe – there’s an awful lot of boring bits in between.

A couple of weeks ago, when I first arrived these were blissfully calm relaxing times. Now, however, they’re just plain dull.

We’ve been at sea for 2 days now and half. it took me a day and a half to get over the stomach wrenching appetite-destroying sea sickness and to find a rhythm of sleep which allows some form of coherence between my watch shift and going back to sleep. Now I just hope some of the others will have a similar balance which coincides so as to allow us to spend some time together,. Playing cards, playing squared, heck even to have an argument would be some kind of interaction!

I make this sound like a desolate place, but despite the lack of anything but water and sea birds as far as I can see (even with my glasses on), I’m with good people and there’s plenty to do. By “do” I mean bits of wood with screws missing, laundry, washing up, clothes (and Kindles) to repair, knots to learn and of course, dinners to make!

Clive, the Captain, isn’t much of a teacher and there’s few learning materials on board. So this isn’t a place for an inexperienced sailor. As you can imagine, this can be fairly frustrating for the 3 complete beginners we have on board. I have some, mostly theory, and the other crew member Aslak has some and is a pretty decent sailor so hopefully we’ll all learn something still! I’ve made it my mission to make the boat more learner friendly. So far this consists of signs & labels and moderately successful attempts for non-native English speakers. Suggestions for less cockney rhyming slang for them has fallen on deaf Kings Lears.

After 3 days of motor sailing into the head winds Clive began to concern that the 6 cylinder Perkins engine was drinking too much of the 1000L of diesel we had on board. Spying a cay on the slightly-too-large scale chart he figured there there may be a fishing vessel anchored willing to sell us some oil (another of his terminology which confuses the others!).

We made our approach carefully – since the chart had no real detail of the reef. With some with some good old fashioned binoculars and Aslack’s hawk-eyes from halfway up the foremast we successfully navigated through 2 miles of open water – we were way clear of the reef!

From a distance we saw a trawler, Telstar from Roatan. No response on the radio – a problem we suspect to be on our side – so we anchored up and Aslak and I rowed over through strong winds and big waves.

Not only would they sell us as much diesel as we wanted (they had 2000 gallons!), but they had fresh water, oranges from the captains own farm, shrimps (which the others got very excited about), ice and a single can of warm beer.

Manoeuvring around we tied our bow to their stern and began 19 trips with diesel bottles back and forth until the Perkins was loaded, the fruit bags hanging and the galley smelling like a fishmonger.

It’s pretty nasty sleeping on the while the engine is running, and the noise is only the start of it. All the hatches and doors need to be open to allow air in, so the noise flies around easier than a greased up snake on a slide and the rest of the air becomes host and stuffy. Great conditions for drying laundry.

The engine is used when we want to go against the wind, so the boat is very up and down diving the noise into the next wave with a splash of water on the deck and every now and then pours down the front hatch like a bucket of water onto the berths below.

So we’re hot and noisy, unstable and 2 berths down (of 6). As the seasoned CouchSurfer (and shortest person…) I’m in the salon while Tom and Aslak alternately use my dry bunk (Aslak’s bunk is under the hatch and Tom’s is next to the engine room).

After 3 days of that, it was very welcome news when Clive announced we’d anchor here for the night. No Engine, no bars playing music, just the gentle sway of the waves and a cool breeze through the hatch thanks to the wind funnel.

The BBQ came out, I made salted + vinegared chips, Tom showed me some stars and the out door bug-free sleeping began. After swapping my recently cracked Kindle screen with one from my recently dead Kindle I swapped the musty (and now diesel tainted) bed sheet for a clean one and settled down in my very own bunk!

Tonight, I love sailing!

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