Three years ago my ankle was so painful that I started to think that my sailing days were over. However a skilled surgeon fixed it and by 2007 I was ready to get afloat again.
I responded to Jim Marco's advert on "Find a Crew" website and to my amazement he took me on. I spent the best part of 3 months crewing on his 37 ft yacht Intention in Vanuatu. Thanks so much Jim for giving me this opportunity - it was great. I learnt so much and it helped me start to regain confidence.
The first photo shows me at the wheel of Intention with Cathie Jones, a swimming friend from Byron Bay who came also came along as crew. Cathie left after 3 weeks as her leave ran out and she was replaced by 2 more swimming mates - Nicky Greenlaw and Lee Fenton. All 3 have been rash enough to volunteer to crew on Little Dragon - see the post about the "4 shielas launching" coming up soon.
My sister Pat visited from September to December last year and as I mentioned in the blog "It's in our blood" we have both followed the family sailing tradition. In fact she has owned and raced her own dinghy single handed until she decided a couple of years ago that pulling the dinghy up and down pebble beaches in England was getting too hard and she moved over to crewing in keel boats.
We decided to try our hand at chartering a bareboat in the Whitsundays, a Catalina 28 for 7 days. It was the first time we had sailed together since we were kids and I think we were both a bit nervous of the sisterly dynamics. I reckon it worked well and I was very willing to defer to her as skipper (Pat I challenge you to add a comment with your perspective). Photo 2 shows us about to set off on Ripple.
We had a ball, the Whitsundays are stunningly beautiful, the weather good, the snorkelling superb and the sailing an enjoyable challenge. I don't think I need to go into the details of the failure of the macerator and how we ended up using a bucket rather than the head for most of the week.
I have sailed on the tall ship Soren Larsen several times over the last decade as "voyage crew" and really wanted Pat to have a similar experience. It is very different to crewing on a keel boat in chilly England, so we decided to do one sector together. In October we sailed out of Santo in Vanuatu and round the Banks Islands for 10 days. I recommend sailing on Soren Larsen to anyone who dreams about the romance of sailing on a tall ship in the South Pacific (although on bow watch at 2 am in gale force wind and heavy rain the romance wears off quickly for many voyage crew).
This photo shows the two of us showing off on Soren Larsen's bowsprit.
The final photo is of the 4 - 8 watch on Soren Larsen (Pam 4 from left and Pat 2 from right). On arrival all the voyage crew are put in a watch and expected to stand watches whenever we are underway. The officer of our watch was George, First Mate. The two permanent crew had a tough job teaching the six voyage crew their bunts and clews.
So to sum it up - by the end of 2007 I felt I had the confidence and certainly the enthusiasm to sail into 2008 - it was just a question of how.