Sailing as a kid instilled in me a sense of adventure and a love of the sea, but it didn't really teach me how to sail. Sure I could helm the boat, and I understood how the boat should "feel", but I didn't know any more than that. I remember steering the boat across the Whitsunday Passage when I was about 12. The wind was quite strong and the sea was up, but we cruised along nicely, surfing down the waves. Dad let me helm the whole way. I remember that feeling of pure exhilaration, and I felt that again many years later on my own boat. Here is a photo of me helming the boat at 10 years old, with Cristi & our family pooch Cindy. The thought of sailing my own boat was always a niggling thought in the back of my head while I was backpacking and traveling around the world in my 20's. For some reason everywhere I went, I seemed drawn to the boats. Here I am being helped aboard a "felucca" on the Nile in Egypt. I hiked in the desert heat to go and capture this photo of a "ship in the desert" at the Suez Canal. I had to go out on the sea in Indonesia and so ended up on this little skiff boat with outriggers. It was amazing when we had dolphins swimming along with us. When I was in Marmaris Turkey I spent hours wandering around the harbor looking at the most amazing old boats I had ever seen. I found those old harbors dating back to Roman times in Europe so fascinating. It was a lot of years later that I came to sail on my own boat around the southern tip of Africa, across the Atlantic Ocean to Brazil and up the coast of South America to the Caribbean. I never could quite quell that feeling of exhilaration when helming a boat. The more the wind blew and the more the boat surfed, the more fun I seemed to have. We rounded the Southern Tip of Africa a few times on other people's boats to get experience before we went on our boat. On one of those trips the owner was in a hurry to get to Cape Town and so he decided we would go to sea despite the gale coming. "It wont be too bad though", he said, "it will be from behind us". He gave us the option of getting off the boat, but as none of the men opted out, I was not about to be left behind. I remember leaving port and feeling a bit sick at the thought of what was coming, because you just don't mess with the Southern tip of Africa. Yes, we got walloped but it was from behind us. The wind was blowing the froth sideways off the tops of the waves and we were surfing down HUGE waves, but I did my share of the shifts. It took all of my strength as a skinny little 27 year old to helm that big heavy boat down those waves. My boyfriend (now husband) opened the hatches to check I was still there in the cockpit. There I was in my foul weather gear, harnessed in with a smile from ear to ear. You just don't forget that feeling easily!
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