How Did I End Up Here? – A Sailors Mourning

How Did I End Up Here? – A Sailors Mourning

 

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This short travel piece ‘How Did I End Up Here?’ is an excerpt from my sailing diary in 2010 somewhere in the Solomon Sea off the coast of Papuan New Guinea.

 


 

Twenty minutes in and I am still trying to squirm into my jacket, my crew mate had hurried inside the second she’d felt rain leaving me at the helm with no coat. The boat wasn’t helping, under a strong wind she’d been pulling to the right the whole time.

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By the time I switch hands I notice that the hood is on backwards but it’ll have to do. I sigh, at 5am the sun was usually making its bold approach and I’d bid farewell to scorpio who was always the most stubborn constellation, but not today. The clouds have swallowed my usual companions and I’m left to maintain a steady course with only a frequent drenching of salt water for distraction. As the wind increases my nerves rise and I call for help, the captain is instantly at my side who also clips his harness onto the railing. Soaring above 30 knots the gale soon starts to howl, “We’ll have to hove-to” he yells and I brace myself to release some resistance on the wheel. By moving through the wind we’ll set our sails against one another and slow down. We count to three before letting our yacht bank sharply to the right and there’s a huge crash from below. The captain rushes below deck just when a strip of lightening touches the ocean floor, the crack sending shivers of awe down my spine. A wave swallows the deck and floods the cockpit, as if making a sudden dash for freedom my paw-paw lip balm floats by, “I’ve been looking for you for a week” I whimper as it cascades overboard.
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How Did I end up Here? Sailing off papuan New Guinea
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I stop marvelling at the ferocity only when I see a hose poking its way out of a port hole, my awe draining to fear as if an automated switch has rerouted my adrenaline. A meagre spurt implies that we’ve taken on little water but then a pale version of my crew mate appears, “The water’s over my toes, we need buckets” she stammers. Buckets means trouble, not that her wide eyes didn’t give it away but this is no time to panic. Replacing myself with a rope I lash the wheel in place, surprised that my fingers do exactly what I ask. I unclasp my harness, crouch down and slowly crawl along the deck, the sky has closed in on us as if protecting the rest of the world from our desperation. I clip onto the railing beside the main hatch perched a meter above the ocean. Peering down at the two scared faces below I try not to notice that our home has become our paddling pool.
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It’s a fleeting thought that the wind whisks into the darkness, “How did I get here?” There’s a vision of a girl who wants adventure, who yearns to leave home and take to the seas but this is no time for visions.
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.How Did I end up Here? Sailing off papuan New Guinea
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Written by

Rebecca Mayoll is a ‘just turned 30’ freelance writer and photographer from England. She is the co-founder and author of straightondetour.com, a travel website with the mantra ‘find your own adventure.’ Promoting adventurous destinations, independent travel and giving a humorous insight to the World of travel is what Becky does best.

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