From the photo you will notice I did get to sail from Antigua, with a stop off at Jamaica then completing the journey at the San Blas Islands and mainland Panama. My hopes to blog during the trip were soon to be unrealised due to the vagueness and unreliability of the internet connection. However, I do have enough notes for a book…. not a walking book as my first one – see Kiwi on the Camino: A Walk that Changed My Life – but a book about my experience as a novice on the high seas. Never before had I been on a small boat out of sight of land.
I arrived in Antigua to join the 14 metre Beneteau yacht (Zehn) with three questions foremost:
- Would I cope with being out of sight of land day after day?
- How would I cope with the intense dark during my solo night watches?
- Would the three of us crewing the yacht get on well enough to ensure a pleasant journey for all?
I was delighted to find I thoroughly enjoyed the sail. I didn’t mind that I couldn’t see land and living on the periphery of Coromandel town, New Zealand, where it is dark at night due to the absence of street lights and a small population, the demons didn’t worry me at all during the deep dark. And thirdly, the three of us enjoyed and appreciated one another throughout the journey. That is not to say we where without tense moments. When the unexpected happened, for example hitting a submerged log, and experiencing extremely messy, rough conditions crossing the Jamaica Channel, we were (mostly) able to remain supportive and good companions.
Back to the title of this blog. Fidelity. A word used and developed by Joseph Conrad in The Heart of Darkness. He wrote of having fidelity in work and the vessel. I read an article in a sailing magazine at Miami airport detailing Joseph’s development of the word, fidelity, I converted the word fidelity to trust during the journey. Trust in my brother as captain and his skills and knowledge acquired over many years of sailing as a professional captain, and also trust in the yacht. I knew that Wayne would have ensured that Zehn was outfitted with the required safety gear and that he would have the most modern technology possible. Therefore, as we sailed across both calm and rough waters, I had confidence (fidelity) in both captain and vessel. The knowledge calmed my fears, settled my nerves and gave me the emotional space to thoroughly enjoy the challenges that came our way.
Our days and nights were broken up by the ‘sleep, eat, watch’ routine – day after day – as we carried out our three hourly day watches and two hourly night watches. At times asking ourselves the proverbial, “Are we having fun yet?” The answer, sometimes after a brief pause, had to be a resounding Yes.
What a journey, what an experience. Then back home to writers’ block brought about by doubt in my abilities to write. Other writers are so much better! Having published one book, I am now wrestling with doubt demons; how could I possibly have had the audacity to write a book in the first place and now I’m considering a book about sailing across the Caribbean! (My second book was to have been about living here in the Coromandel and seeking to live with the lessons learned while walking the CAmino, but the unplanned for yachting trip needs to take precedence I think.)
My current challenge, then, is to be content with who I am, no more and no less, accepting my limitations and acknowledging my strengths as I take up ‘my pen’ once again.