Här kommer ett nytt blogg-inlägg från besättnings-medlemen Mei på Lia Of Sweden. Mei är svensk men eftersom hon bor i London har hon skrivit detta blogginlägg på engelska, trevlig läsning!
By tomorrow we'd been out at sea for two weeks. After a few days of stagnation as part of a rescue mission to help out our Slovenia friends at "Lady Nor", we are back on track, heading west. Another week to go, and we shall reach our destination in the Carribeans, I've been told. We'll be riding the tradewind and it'll go fast.
My fellow crew mate Olof joked about that we've been going upwards, hence it's been slow, now that we've passed halfway, with the help of gravity, we'll go downwards, faster and faster, he gestured with both his arms to make his point.
Olof is known as Olle here on the boat. The inspiration came from the Swedish TV show "Fråga Olle", where the audience get to ask the host, Olle, all kinds of questions regarding relationships and sexuality. The answers are usually rather amusing. Our "Olle", him too, has been providing us with endless hours of humour. He'd often stress, "It is alright, as long as it is consensual."
I am the last crew member to join "Lia of Sweden" on this adventure to cross the Atlantic Ocean. In fact, I was sunbathing in the Carribeans just a few weeks ago. When I found out there were some last min cancellations, I jumped at the opportunity in the blink of an eye. After a 20h transatlantic flight, I found myself at Las Palmas Marina, the night before the race. I hurried to shop sailing clothing and neccesities early Sunday morning, just a few hours before we set sail. Hopefully the weather god will be on our side, as I didn't have a chance to shop waterproof trousers.
I am a fair weather sailor, participting in the occasional superyacht holidays and the annual regattas in the MBA league, representing Oxford, my alma mater. To be honest, I usually pick the division where it is more of a social gathering rather than hard core sailing. A few hours of sailing, mixed with night long partying :p This time, I've ventured out into unchartered water, to say at least.
Luckily, my fellow crew mates seem to know what they do. Pulling ropes and working on the wrenches as we left Las Palmas midday on Sunday. There are eight of us, plus Fredrik the super skipper. Some of them have their own boats and often sail in the Swedish archipelagos. Göran, the doctor is the owner of this vessel, a MORE 55, and this is her virgin voyage into the deep blue.
Five days into the race, out of the hundreds of participating boats, the MORE boats are all at the head of the pack; with "More Fun", the Russians, leading the crusing division, shortly followed by the Slovenian "Lady Nor", and us, "Lia of Sweden" at a respectable third place, advancing rapidly, averaging almost 10 knots.
It is on the evening of the 5th night, that we heard a distress signal from "Lady Nor". Something happened, in a heated moment of panic, the crew were ready to jump into the lifeboats and abandon their "Lady". As we were the boat that were closest in distance, we changed our course and hurried to rescue. We didn't reach them until early morning the next day, 6 or 7 hours later.
From the fragmented pieces of information I gathered, it turned out that "Lady Nor" lost part of their "rodder", probably as result of impact with a whale. As they lost control of their boat, two of their crews crushed into each oher. With one of them knocking the other in the face with his elbow.
It was quite a scene, waking up to five new crews on our boat, squeezed together, half asleep on the sofa. One of them with blood stains on his shirt, a swollen face, with probably one or more brocken bones.
Later I found out, "Ms Robinson", another MORE boat, also joined the rescue mission. Their skipper, our skipper Fredrik, and Robert, our unofficiall blogger, all went over to "Lady Nor". First to inspect the "rodder" and later to build an emergency "rodder", with materials found on the boat.
Robert has got this ordeal documented with his gopro. I often call him Moglie. With his hasel eyes, flowing hair, and a preference for half-nakedness, he's quite the incarnation of the character straight from jungles of Disney.
For the next 3 days, we've been more or less stationary as we waited for updates from "Lady Nor". During which time, we'd meet up with yet another MORE boat, "MORE grey", motoring back and forth to help transport fuels for "Lady Nor". Eventually, things looked better, the "rodder" had been patched together, all skippers and crews returned to their original boat, the heroes have been greeted and celebrated with champanes and we are all on our way again. "Don't leave us!" cried the Slovenians. And we agreed to accompany "Lady Nor" all the way to St. Lucia, albeit at a slower speed, or as fast as we can without risking yet another incident.
The journey to the west did not lack adventures. Already before the episode with "Lady Nor", we've had a bit of scare ourselves, when the "kik" suddenly broke and all the crews rushed to the upper deck. The sail, hatches and other things will eventually break, and we'd fix them one by one.
We've put up a map of the North Atlantic Ocean by the sofa in the dining area, and day by day we're making progress. I'd get up in the middle of the night, for my watch. Sitting underneath the sky, pitch black, decorated with millions of shining stars. Once in awhile, I'd catch a shooting star, and make a wish. The ocean is mostly calm, with the meditative sound of one wave crushing into the next. Gentle wind brushing my face. For as far as the eye can reach, there's just the imenseness of the ocean, no signs of others apart from the navigation light of "Lady Nor" at a distance, reminding us that we're not alone.
Christian is my company at these early hours. He's been out at sea for awhile now, with his long hair and beard, looked like a true viking. I've met him at a house party a year ago and kept in touch occasionally throughout his various sailing competitions and my incessant globetrotting. It was him that mentioned ARC to me this time.
The first time I came across ArC was 4 or 5 years ago. I was looking for a crew position on a boat and posted it on cruisersforum. Apparently twenty something girls were in demand, I received hundreds of replies within days, it was a bit overwhelming. Eventualy, I picked a boat and was ready for the passage, however, due to other commitments, I wasn't able to go in the last minute. So I was happy to be able to make the team this year, this experience has been on my bucket list for awhile now :)
From dawn to dusk, my favourite moments at sea are sunrise and sunset. As the clock approched 9am, my night watch would come to an end. I'd watch the sun pop up from the horizon, filling the sky and clouds with the colours of warmth, in a shade of orange and pink. After that, I'd go down to the kitchen, put on the kettle, make a simple breakfast, skim through a few pages in a book, as I waited for the rest of crew to wake up from their rest. Soon the boat would come to life to face another day at sea, and I'd retreat to my stateroom to catch up on some sleep.
It is at one of these times, while I was resting during the day. I heard an urgent knock on my door. "Hurry! Come to the upper deck! Quickly!" In my half awake state, I grabbed my lifejacket and hurried up the stairs. Their I was met with the entire crew, and our skipper Fredrik, his head covered in a perculier helmet made of silver tape and foil. In his hands, a spicky rod with forks taped to the sides. In a dramatic voice, he declared himself the Nordic god of the sea, and was ready to initate us into better sailors. But first, "Mei, on your knees!" He demanded. I had no choice but to obey. Before I had time to catch my breath, my face were covered in shaving foam, and I had to be cleaned from my filth. Next I know, a bucket of water was poured my way. Drenched in salt water and foam, I witnessed as my crew mates received the same treatment, one by one. That was not all. Next, we were each given a glass of stinky portion and a slice of meat. I've no idea what was in the ingredients, disgusting was all I know. I hardly managed to swallow it. Just thinking about it makes my stomach turn. As each of us went through the ceremony and carried out the motions. Fredrik finally declared, we've now sailed halfway across the Atlantic Ocean! The crowd cheered.
I start to appreciate the simplicity of life at sea.