Sitting on the deck, whilst all rest below, could feel like Alexander Selkirk or Robinson Crusoe- me and the vast blue expanse of sea.  The sun rises, announcing its arrival with the “Lalima,” or burnished redness of the skies.

The blue waves lap the sides of the boat gently, as it docks- these very same waves can heave and sway and shake one’s insides, making one feel disembowelled, when the boat is set in motion.

Will I ever find my sea legs but regardless of whether I do, what I have discovered is the team spirit of those who are close to nature.  Till recently, only linked digitally and strangers whom I have met barely a few hours ago, reach out to me in compassion and kindness, as my body violently rejects intakes of food and drink.

Elizabeth, our Writing at Sea Team Leader, had earlier spoken of the need to trust.  And it seems to me that this is the most important virtue to be shared, when one lives close to Nature and has to deal with its many vagaries.   Perhaps, proximity to Natures brings its own kind of bonding, not just with the elements, in their many manifestations, but also with one’s fellow human beings,  in a way that may not be possible in more artificial surroundings.  Where there is more self-sufficiency, there is less give and take.

For instance, each time the sails have to go up and come down during docking and sailing, there are a dozen or more things to be attended to, which cannot be done single-handedly or in a hurry.  Sailing calls for team spirit of the best kind- it also teaches a great deal of patience, as a pattern of actions, needs to be traced.

Sitting at the helm is also a lesson in endurance.  Captain Eric gives me a go at the steering and I realise this soon enough.  You cannot steer by just looking at the numbers, as the wind and the waves have minds of their own. So, the movement of the boat has to be factored in and time given for it to adjust itself.  In days of yore, people lived in tandem with nature.  It seems to me that sailing keeps one close to nature, as one is dealing all the time with the elements.

Patience,  courage, and team-spirit seem to be the virtues that surpass all others.  Besides, having a strong stomach of course!!

The proximity of close confines can bring with it bonding (as the days, move on) or it could work the other way.  So far, it has been a good journey with each one displaying a keenness for peaceful co-existence in the time that Chance or Providence has brought us together.  The shared laughter, the pulling together and the learning will stay with me for the rest of my years.

And if Captain Eric succeeds in what he has promised:  “I will make a sailor out of you, before the end of this trip,” my reply will be, “Aye, aye, Sir. Let’s hoist the sails and be oft and away!”

POSTSCRIPT-  Space was reserved for this PS, at the suggestion of our very efficient First Mate, Shanley the Great.

This morning started with blog-sharings and readings by Elizabeth.  I am then fitted out with fins (courtesy of kind Meg, who lends me her pair), a mask and the breathing apparatus for Snorkelling.  The Captain chooses to partner me, as this is my first time.  After some starting trouble on how to hold the plastic bit in my mouth (feels a bit like how a horse might!), I am ready to explore the secrets hidden beneath the deep, azure oceans.  What I see below transports me into my childhood memories of magical tales of what goes on beneath the waters of the sea.  There is a whole world there of which I had been totally unaware- except, maybe in fairy tales.  I see live corals in myriad shades and hues,  dancing to the tune of the waves or the music of the spheres. I look down in amazement as fish of many varieties, frolic around the corals.  They swim away in gay profusion, oblivious to the world above.  Eric points out a Sting Ray, which the fish give a wide berth to.  I recall the one that did in Steve Irwin, the Aussie environmentalist, but he went too close.

Yesterday whilst beach-combing,  we were saddened to find plastic on the shore.  It is such a shame to think that an anthropocentric view of the world will ruin not just the lives of the creatures, who live on  the earth but also those who dwell under the seas and have as much of a right to a peaceful  existence, as mankind on earth.

Elizabeth asked us to look out for magical moments on this trip.  My first was the magic of the dancing stars (they give this impression from a moving ship) while lying on deck.  Today, I have discovered that there is magic not just up in the sky, but also many fathoms below!

A Haiku from Ally:
I write a haiku
a day to make me mindful
of you in my head

– Melanie, Writing at Sea, April 10, 2015


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