Still waters at the end of the day

OoH Jul 7, 2014, by Tessa van den Berg in Yacht

Update from the silent water, just under the little harbour lights of Yarmouth, while the moon is half its way and the stars of the Great Bear are hanging above our heads. It was our first day of sailing after days of rest for the crew and hard work for all the others. We have had an unforgettable warm welcome at Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth. Friends, relatives, people with special interest in the project and/or disease, sponsors and press were around. We had speeches, encounters and taster sails. Back on the sailing track it became an intense start on which we were forced to make a 180 degree turn...

The day starts peacefully, we are all happy to go back on the water. In the morning we welcome our new MS crew member: Phil, a dentist from Gosport whose nickname arrived before he did... We call him 'Phil the drill'. We have met him and his lovely wife and sons in the days before while we were in the harbour. He then promised to make us the dish he is famous for and, coming on board with his bag for the coming week, he also brought lots of plastic bags filled with food and fresh herbs. It will be a promising dinner.

We also welcome bosun Morton, a nice-George-Clooney-type-of-guy, with a fresh two day beard. He will take Bertram’s place for this leg. And we are in the safe arms of our own doctor on board. It is the beautiful blond Christa who, by the way, not only is a caring doctor but also appears to be a bloody good sailor.

At ten we were invited up to the Spinnaker Tower. It gives us spectacular views, however not so much enjoyment for the people who are better with water than with heights. But we all did well. The cameramen were circling around us to take pictures of the sea crew in their out-of-place high environment. With the sleep still in my eyes I wish I had made some effort, combing my hair at least before we had left...

It was at this height that Mikkel asked if I would still be on for the leg to Lisbon instead of leaving the adventure at La Rochelle... Well, this is a one life time opportunity - of course I’ll will stay on board!

After being safely on the ground we took some more group pictures, and some more, and well, just some more... we had another hour before our final departure to La Rochelle. Lots of groceries were done, and the dock became fuller and fuller. We say goodbye to Mikkel again. In Lisbon he promises to be back on board.

Finally, we take off.

Lovely, so many people waving from the harbour. Seems like lots of Phil’s friends are here. The cameramen seem to enjoy us quite a lot, they are back again. This time they circle round us in a speedboat. The pictures will be nice with the harbour and the striking Spinnaker Tower in the background.

We all feel relieved being back on the water. We recognize the feeling of the boat. Oh, yeah, this is what made the adventure so lovely. The sun is warming our faces and the wind is promising and warm. We go south! If we could only know...

After seven miles of motoring the wind is in our favour. We reef the mainsail and put it up. The current, however, makes us slow down. And then the waves are getting bigger and bigger. We are being thrown from the top of one to the other. The boat is rocking elegantly. It just goes on and on...

Being on shore for quite a while we are not used to this anymore. Our bodies are confused. Our balance has completely gone. This is hectic. To be honest, one after the other gets seasick. We need to be on deck, to breathe the fresh air but in some cases even that is not enough. It is a bumpy ride! Christa hands out seasickness pills and we all wonder why this was fun again.

After ten miles the skipper decides that this makes no sense. The current is against us, the waves are too much. We must not endure this any longer. We turn around and after the 180 degrees turn the wind seems to calm down and the waves are not battling us anymore, they gently push us forward. It feels like we ride them instead of roughly cutting through them. Although we’re going the wrong way this feels so nice.

We are slowly starting to breathe normally again. After an hour or two the cliffs called The Needles come back in sight and it is a beautiful sight, again! On our portside the sun shines goodbye for this day. She is stunningly copper coloured, giving the sky a more intense blue colour and paints the clouds above her pink. After all the seasickness this makes it all worthwhile. We silently take in the beautiful pastel coloured painting.

Here we cling on to a mooring. It feels like anchoring. No harbour, no people, no pictures taken, no waving. Back on our own with only the silent moon and the stars. We feel good enough to fill our emptied stomachs. 'Phil the Drill', did not say one word too much about his famous dish. His chilli is just amazing!

While we eat outside we make plans for tomorrow. The water will still be restless, waves will again throw us around. But after a good sleep we simply try again.
We go south!
La Rochelle, here we come.

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