Well, not sailing exactly but crewing for a friend who has a converted trawler. It’s seaworthy but not entirely luxurious so his wife, who hates boating anyway, shies away from any extended trips. Time for me to step forward. I love the sea, don’t mind weather and don’t get seasick. We had travelled down from Brindisi to Sicily were we rested for a day. The trip across to Malta was about 100 miles which doesn’t sound far but is when you’re travlling at about 7 knots which is about 8 miles an hour.
The great thing about this is, as the coast falls away you gain a fresh perspective. The trip takes about 13 hours. All you can hear is the deep throb of the diesel engine and the sound of the wash travelling past the hull. You might be aware of the time the journey will take, and feel some impatience to arrive but all that is pointless. The boat is going as fast as it will and that’s the end of the matter. In the end, the drone of the engine and the sway and dipping of the hull lull you into a kind of peace. You have no choice but to settle for were you are.You may want to rush life but it will take it’s time however you chafe and snarl at the frustration.
To the uninitiated the view is nothing but waves as far as the eye can see. But for the sailor every smudge on the horizon spells excitement and a discussion of what kind of craft she is. Every slight change in the sea state sparks a new conversation. because there is little to see, you see everything. Calmness is forced on you because you have no choice in the matter. Landlocked concerns lose their potency as you watch the bow rise and fall in the swell. Any choices you may have are of a practical and immediate nature. Landlocked concerns with prestige and vanity or conversations about the news cut no ice in this vast perspective You forge a closer bond with your shipmate based on the interdependence you have to get the craft safely home. The onset of weariness you experience as the coast forms a dark smudge on the horizon and the gradual rise in tension as your face the trickery of docking without damaging the boat are balanced by your confidence in each other and the experience of having done it all before.
Malta Harbour was bathed in a glorious golden evening sunshine. The majestic colonial buildings of Britain’s vanished empire surround it but seemed oddly out of scale with the small Island. As we cruised towards our docking station I could half imagine myself sitting on the bridge of some warship entering it in a different era. All was peaceful now and our spirits were buoyed by the thought of a good meal and some beer to wash it down