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Aannsha’s Blog #40 – Do I really want to be a sailor?

Bruised after our ordeal

I asked myself that question a few times in the week after we’d drifted onto rocks in our sleep and nearly lost A B Sea. It was such a horrendously scary ordeal for Barry and me. The sound of rocks crunching against the boat in the dark of that moonless night haunted us for several nights and I even had to sleep up on deck a couple of times. I could deal with the bruises. I just couldn’t bear to not be able to see what was happening around the boat, and needed to visually check if we were drifting again, despite having an anchor app set and trusting in our Mantus anchor.

But first, a review

Let me share my thought process with you as I type this while A B Sea is moored at the end of one of the pontoons in the marina at Las Salinas, Spain. Reviewing our first few weeks at sea, whatever my decision, I think Baz and I can be proud at our newbie accomplishments:

  • Troubleshooting the exploding mainsail block on our first sail out of the marina;

  • So many firsts – setting sail, mooring, anchoring, and fuelling to name a few;

  • Our first 10 hour passages across the Mediterranean Sea as we headed to and from the Balearic Islands from mainland Spain;

  • Trips from to land on our tender and learning not to wear good shorts because they’ll almost certainly get soaked in sea water at some part of the dinghy trip!Baz did a good job trouble-shooting the new outboard although it still isn’t running properly;

  • Learning to conserve our limited water supply.We were quite amazed that we only used 300 litres in one tank (out of a total of 600L) over the 4 weeks we were away.Happily discovering that I could have washed my hair a few more times if I’d wanted to!

  • Learning to like coffee made with thermos flask water and cold milk … which I ended up turning into iced coffee – nice and refreshing for summer;

  • Being resourceful with our WIFI connections thanks to free café WIFI outlets;

  • Working with a fridge that doesn’t have a freezer compartment.Using the salad leafy vegies first and then making coleslaw with sturdier vegies (cabbage, carrot and onion);

  • Overcoming a fear of jumping into the water from the transom (me, not Baz that is). Still working on overcoming fear of diving in.That’s a work in progress;

  • Scuba diving off the boat and snorkelling off the tender;

  • Sleeping on the boat even if there’s a lot of movement due to wind and waves and the boat rolls, pitches and yaws.Sounds are also magnified through the hull so wave slaps, fender bumps and creaking lines all give the impression that something terrible is happening to the yacht, which in reality only happened once …

  • Surviving and overcoming being washed onto the rocks at the foot of the marina wall when the new mooring ball we were attached to failed;

  • Processing and overcoming what we reckon was PTSD after that ordeal, which I am very grateful to have sailed away from with only scratches to keel;

  • Building a fantastic community of friends and followers on our social media outlets which is proving to be very satisfying and rewarding, and a great source of companionship and support as we live our lives so far away from our son, old friends and relatives.

So what brought about the question?

About a week after the nightmare, I found myself sitting on deck staring at the summer scene of pleasure cruisers and tourists having fun in the bay of Calpe at the foot of the iconic mountain, the Peñón de Ifach.

As I felt the last dredges of trauma seep downwards out of the bedrock of my being (that is literally how it felt), I realised I had come to peace with the experience. It no longer kept me awake at night and the sound of waves slapping against the hull didn’t immediately conjure up the remembered sound of boat grinding against rocks. I was very grateful to be free of that ordeal.

So why was I now feeling such a strong feeling of grief?

Penon de Ifach at Calpe

Sitting in our yacht looking up at the Peñón de Ifach I realised that it reminded me of the Glasshouse Mountains where our Australian home had been nestled in the Sunshine Coast hinterland of Queensland. And I found myself considering what I had chosen to let go of in order to buy our boat and become a liveaboard sailor with my love, Barry.

I’d adored that half acre plot of land sitting at the foot of Coochin Hills. I’d had a fantastic network of friends there, enjoyed my part time job and loved the meditation groups I facilitated.

Not to mention our son Luke. Our ray of sunshine wrapped up in enthusiastic young adulthood, Luke had decided to stay in Australia to carve out his own life path. What a brave young man to choose to do that and I respected him for his decision. But I miss him daily. Ironically, karma has a great way of letting you experience how someone else feels through your actions. When I left my mum in the UK to start a life in Australia, she must have had similar poignant feelings as I experience now as Luke’s mum.

Aussie Garden

As I sat there contemplating all that I loved and had walked away from, I felt a heartrending well of sadness fill my heart. This was the cause of the grief I was feeling. But it was also something more. Almost losing A B Sea eight days earlier had acted as a catalyst for me to address a dilemma I’d been living with on and off since we’d moved on to the yacht.

Whenever things had become difficult, or I’d felt annoyed with Baz (well, he’s my husband and the only person I can project onto these days lol), or frustrated with myself for not being such a good sailor as Baz, a part of me would ask “Do you really want to do this, or do you want to go home to Australia?” I’d always reply, “Of course, this is what I’ve chosen. Shut up.” But there was something sitting inside of me that wasn’t truly happy a hundred percent of the time. And that was the part of me that kept asking those questions.

I had to die to my old self

As I sat there in Calpe that day, I realised that I couldn’t keep this grief locked inside of me each day and hope to have a truly fulfilling life at sea. I couldn’t be a sailor and still remain attached to my old life. There was simply too much pull between the two. And it was tearing me up inside.

Something had to give. I had to let a part of me go in order to embrace my new life.

But could I?

Did I really want to go through another nightmare scenario again? Sailing can be as dangerous as it can be exhilarating. I knew that we would more than likely face other challenges that we’d have to overcome. Did I want to feel that much fear again? Could I?

in contemplation

But what would it mean if I did give it all up? What would happen to Baz? What would happen to our relationship? What about our home, our belongings? Our future? Our dream? I didn’t want to leave Baz. I wanted adventure. And I really wanted to step into being a seasoned sailor.

Realistically, I knew that I’d already made my decision. Already taken the steps. Already sold the Australian house. Already created the new life. I actually couldn’t go back ‘home’. It wasn’t mine any more.

Trying to hold on to what was merely a memory was tantamount to a form of madness and could be destructive to my sanity if I didn’t take the brave steps to resolve it now.

I didn’t want to leave Baz. I didn’t want to miss out on adventure. I could find the inner strength to face new challenges. And I knew all of the people I loved would come and visit someday. And I had the resources to see Luke if he couldn’t make it over to us.

But I had to step away from Aussie Aannsha in my heart.

Tears rolled down my cheeks.

Calling for help

I explained to Baz that I was going through some stuff and for him not to be concerned if I stayed in my own little space for a while. He respected my wish and I spent the rest of the day in quiet solitude.

In a deep and heartfelt chat with the Universe that afternoon, I asked for release from this grief that Aussie Aannsha was feeling, so that I could fully step into my new life as Sailor Aannsha. I allowed myself to shed my tears and gave thanks for all that I’d experienced up to that point. I counted my blessings for all that I had and those who I loved. I breathed deeply. And I waited.

Born anew

I’ve found over the years, that if I allow myself to go wholeheartedly through the process, healing happens gracefully.

The following morning I awoke with a feeling of enthusiasm for what the day held in store. I bounced out of bed (well, for someone who’s a night owl, I was fairly bouncy) and greeted Baz with a smile. Then I went up on deck, turned on the gas and made myself a cup of tea.

As I waited for the kettle to whistle, I checked in with myself. All felt well with me and my world.

In that moment, I knew that Aussie Aannsha had stepped aside and Sailor Aannsha was ready to take centre stage. Which for a Leo girl isn’t a bad position!

Looking around A B Sea, I realised that I now totally accepted her as my home and that my time in Australia is a fond heart-warming memory that I am so grateful to have experienced.

Temporary Spanish home

Puerto Marina de las Salinas

Returning to Puerto Marina De Las Salinas seems timely, given this is where our sailing adventure on A B Sea began. I feel like a teenager returning home to regroup before taking a fully-fledged journey out into the big wide world. I even rushed into the Laundromat with my dirty washing as soon as we touched shore!

Baz and I returned here to have the new standing rigging re-tensioned, and that was carried out yesterday. As we’ve discovered a few other necessary adjustments and fixes to our yacht before we do our longer passage from Spain to Greece in a couple of weeks, we’ve decided to have those attended to here as well. Mind you, it’s still a busy time of year and the Marina Estrella office is closing for 7 days next week, so Jose and his team has a lot of work to do before downing tools. That means we’re being squeezed into their skinny available time slots. Having said that, Jose is aware that we need to be in Greece by a certain date (as we’re being given the opportunity to do a radio interview) and is doing his best to honour our schedule. He’s here right now, making it all happen!

Sitting here, listening to the sounds of marina life as I type – throaty boat engines as fishermen offload their trawls, the drone of the boat travel-lift, and hammers chinking as work is carried out on yachts in the boat yard, and the occasional call of seagulls sitting on the tops of marina light posts – I am exceedingly grateful for these familiar surroundings which I consider our ‘home’ marina. I know we’ll not be staying long so it isn’t a permanent thing, but we did get A B Sea from here and stayed here for our first 3 months on board while we had the initial work done. So this busy yet peaceful marina, with its L-shape of shops, chandleries and restaurants does feel like our Spanish home.

Looking forward to the future

I’m now turning my thoughts to our future passage to Greece and realise that before I fully embraced my new reality, I faced our many new challenges with trepidation. Now I realise I’m actually excited! That in itself shows a real change has taken place within me.

Baz and I will be joined by our friend Mike who is an RYA yacht master offshore with 20 years’ experience - and his missus Elaine who we’re looking forward to meeting. It will probably take about 10 days or so to reach Greece from here, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to do some real sailing and gain some extra valuable experience under Mike’s seasoned guidance. As well as hanging out with two friends for a couple of weeks!

Then there’s going to be the fun of meeting one of Barry’s old DJ friends in Greece and having a radio interview! Then meeting up with my Greek mentor friend who lives on the mainland. And after that, there are all the Greek islands to explore! Oh wow, I can’t wait!

So what’s the pearl of wisdom here?

Realising that stepping into a new lifestyle doesn’t necessarily happen all at once for everyone. While Baz seems to have adapted overnight to simply a different daily routine, for me it has been a longer process. I had to acknowledge my heart connections with people and places too.

Letting go of the old is often a necessary step if you’re about to embrace something new, especially if it’s a large lifestyle change like we’ve made. However, letting go doesn’t mean you have to sever relationships. It simply means you allow yourself to accept the reality that you won’t see loved ones as often as you used to. But it also means realising that you will see them again in future, and also being grateful for technology which allows pretty instant connection (providing you’re connected to WIFI).

Reviewing our past can allow us to love it and let it go – and also see more clearly why we have chosen our current reality, enabling us to fully embrace the Here and Now with passion. After all, we only have the Here and Now. Everything else is a memory, a future projection or a fantasy.

So if you find yourself struggling with a big change in your life, be kind to yourself. Give yourself the patience you’d show to others. Take the time out you need to sit, feel, love and let go. And look for the part of you within that resonates with and is congruent with your new reality.

That’s how I have dealt with change. I’d be interested to hear your experience – do feel free to share in the comments below.

Until next time, love what you have, let go what you don’t and embrace your future potential!

Embracing change

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