Be careful what you wish for
Over the past few weeks I’d been having the occasional secret longing to be on terra firma, feeling firm earthy ground beneath my feet, hearing uplifting birdsong, smelling the resin-like fragrance of pine trees. Standing at the point on the beach where sand, waves, air and sunshine all meet. Cooking in an oven larger than a shoe box. Going for long walks when I fancied, by simply stepping out of the door.
Stopping to breathe and feel.
Basically I was yearning for a break.
That might sound weird coming from someone whose enviable lifestyle is living on a yacht and travelling from place to place at times and pace dictated only by captain, wind and waves.
I just think it’s about balance
When it’s sunny and warm, I absolutely love living on A B Sea. Upping anchor, setting sail, feeling the sea breeze and occasional splash of sea foam on my face as we head for unknown anchorages. Getting on my fins and checking the anchor is dug in at our new overnight stop. Eating lunch on deck and delighting in the clear azure sea that surrounds me as I marvel at the opportunity to enjoy a different culture’s architecture clinging to cliffs on small sun-baked islands. And before the sun sets in another glorious display of reds and oranges splashing over the now mercurial grey water, jumping in for just one more swim. I love it.
What’s not to love about an office that has a 360 degree view of our surrounding anchorage? Listening to seagulls. Hearing the occasional cry of “malaka!” as budding young sailors zip by in their tiny optimist sailing dinghies. Wondering if the wind surfer is going to make that next turn …
But there are times when I yearn for my girlfriends back home. To walk around childhood parks with my big sister. To hug my son, once, twice, three times.
Just because I love them and there are times when I miss them immensely.
I used to walk around the mountain that backed onto our house in Australia and knew the earthy track, tiny wild flowers and changing light on the hill so well. Whatever day I’d had, I could go for a short stroll in that ancient land and sensing the ancestors, surrounded by tall eucalypts, I’d feel right at home.
Yes. Every now and then, on the boat, I’d get a yearning.
Most times, there is too much happening in our adventure lifestyle that slips in and fills the emotional gaps that sea life can’t fill. But we were at the end of summer, almost at the end of autumn and we’d had a great run, visited countless islands, and met some awesome new friends along the way.
I was feeling tired. Sailing, filming, editing. Exploring, filming, editing. Sailing. The balance was slipping and I simply wanted to stop for a while on something a little less fluid. Land.
I wanted a break. I knew I needed one as I was getting tetchy with Baz for smaller and smaller reasons. I couldn’t wait to get to Limni, haul the old girl out (A B Sea not me!) and set up a semi-permanent camp in a studio apartment in the boat yard. I knew it would have a view of the sea and couldn’t wait to settle in for a few months. Even A B Sea was showing signs of needing to stop. The engine exhaust was still blowing smoke and that wasn’t going to get any better until we gave her some TLC.
Anchored in Chalkis by the bridge
We’d made it to Chalkis and were anchored in the south bay. We spent the next morning visiting the port authority and port police to pay for and get instructions about going through the bridge that evening. The bridge is low and slides out of the way to allow yachts and large ships to continue their passage north and south along the Evia Channel. Opening times are vague because they depend on tides and currents, both of which aren’t the norm in this part of the Mediterranean.
The port police told us to be ready by 9pm that night and we would be called through some time after that. Because the road is one of only two that service Chalkis, it is quite busy and only opens at night to cause the least amount of disruption as possible to vehicle traffic.
At 10.30pm we got the call and by 11pm Baz had negotiated the bridge and successfully docked side to at the town quay on the northern side of the bridge. I know Baz had had his worries about navigating and docking at night. I’d been nervous about being the one to jump off the boat and tie us up securely while Baz stayed on board steering A B Sea.
Between us, we nailed it and as I jumped excitedly on board, I gave Baz a hi-five and said “Congratulations!” As I did so, a little thought of pride comes before a fall wafted ever so quickly through my mind. Of course I ignored it, jumped down onto the cockpit seat to get back into the cockpit and managed to step on the end of the mooring line that was lying on the seat. The rope rolled, my left foot slipped, my ankle turned over and I went down with a nasty hot, spreading, tearing feeling in my ankle.
Baz told me to "Slow down and look where you're going!" which really didn’t help at that point. My thought was bloody hell, I’ve done it again, I’ve broken something. Shit. But there was nothing I could do. I didn’t want to wait another day and find a hospital and maybe be held up in Chalkis.
I just wanted us to get to Limni.
So did Baz.
So did A B Sea.
So the following morning I got Baz to buy me one of those elastic ankle supports, wore my supportive trainers and walked on my heel rather than put weight on my foot. I had some Ibuprofen from when I broke my wrist the previous September in Greece *rolls eyes* and wrapped my ankle in an elastic bandage at night. It if was a sprain that was the best I could do anyway. If it was broken, well, so long as I didn’t put any weight on it, I hoped I wouldn’t damage it any further.
The following day we made a quick one hour passage north to Artaki bay and spent one very bouncy night there as the swell came into the bay with strong winds.
We upped anchor the next day and hoped that the wind (predicted to get stronger) would allow us to sail north straight to Limni. The wind however had other ideas and after a while it became so bouncy that we decided to turn west and anchor at Ioannis Theologos bay which would afford us some shelter. It took us five and a half hours to reach Theologos in the most changeable and confused wind we’ve ever sailed in. But the large, shallow bay was a lovely calm anchorage where we stayed for two nights and regrouped.
We finally make it
Four days after I’d damaged my ankle on the 25th October, we headed to Limni boat yard which is just north of Limni town. It only took us 2 hours mainly motoring and we picked up a mooring ball right in front of Livaditis Boat Yard, Sipiada at 10.30am.
I was very relieved. So was Baz. He’d been tetchy that day and I know he was majorly stressed with doubts about the engine making the trip and how we would cope with boat work with my damaged ankle. We were scheduled to be hauled out bright and early the following morning and I still had to soldier on with my injury long enough to film Baz driving the boat onto the sling lift.
That would mean getting off A B Sea down the step fender into the dinghy. Getting the dinghy up and onto shore (with the camera) myself. Hobbling over the pebble beach and up to the boat yard entrance in time to film Baz and A B Sea from land. But I knew I could do it. We’d got this far. We were on land.
I’d had my 'break'. And soon I’d be on the break I’d been longing for.
How did we get on with the haul out? And how long would it be before I got to see a doctor? I’ll tell you next week.
You can see all of this in the video that accompanies this blog. Just click here