This is the kind of ship I thought I was signing up for. (This is actually the ship that starred in 'Pirates of the Caribbean' - we spotted it while out and about in the San Francisco bay.)
And this is the kind of ship I was on - a beautiful custom-built schooner, impeccably designed, just not quite what I had in mind. But if the ship maybe didn't live up to expectations, the crew was better than anything I could have envisaged.
Over the course of the three days, we spent time learning to sail and navigate around San Francisco harbour - which confirmed my feeling that I am much happier in mid-ocean where there is very little to hit. Then we headed out to the Farallon Islands; deserted, barren, guano-rich
(i.e. very smelly) islands 25 or so miles away from San Francisco. The lighthouse-keepers there must have had a tough and unsocial time, even worse than my brief (?!) 103 days on the Atlantic.
For me it was a formative experience. I've been leading a rather insular life, and to be in the midst of a ship's crew of randomly assorted women was a new experience for me. There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs when disparate individuals are thrown into a group situation. First impressions are sometimes confirmed, but more often proved wrong. Only over time do personalities emerge, histories reveal themselves, current preoccupations make themselves known.
At the end of our voyage, we were presented with certificates of accomplishment, and our Paper Plate Awards. I believe this is an American tradition, and an illuminating one. Ah, to see ourselves as others see us... and to see others as they are at sea - on unfamiliar territory, with unfamiliar people, adapting to new roles. I came away from it with a renewed appreciation for the challenges that face everyone, every day. My challenges may be more conspicuous, but they are no tougher than those facing anybody else.
I will be offline and offshore for the next few days, sailing on a Tall Ship with 11 other women to raise money for the Tall Ships Education Academy.
I haven't been to sea since I arrived in Antigua over 7 months ago. It will be rather different this time around - bigger boat, bigger crew, and only 3 days compared with 103.
So hopefully also a lot more fun!
I am still only half way to my fundraising target. If you would like to donate, please click here to go to my fundraising page. Thank you.
The picture at the top is how I last saw Sedna - all safely tucked up, free of charge, in Hugh Bailey's boatyard on Antigua. The picture at the bottom is apparently where she is now. It may not look too bad, but I am so very worried.
First, she was moved without my permission or knowledge. Second, she appears to be in an enclosed container. Why does this matter? Every time she has been moved before, it has been by crane, suspended by straps. She has been treated as delicate cargo, to preserve her fragile, lightweight hull. She has been carefully placed onto either a trailer or a custom-built cradle. Now she is sitting on a broken pallet.
Also, she is now in a container, which doesn't have an open top, she must have been pushed in there somehow, very possibly by forklift truck.
The photo seems to show some damage to her hull. Or it could be barnacles. I won't know for sure until I see her in Miami sometime around 8th November.
I have asked Steve to have the Kleenex handy, just in case...
My most vital piece of equipment on the Atlantic was my watermaker. Yesterday I went to see where it was made, and to meet the President of Spectra Watermakers, Bill Edinger, himself a keen yachtsman.
It was immensely reassuring to see the rigorous testing that the watermakers go through before they leave the factory. My Spectra served me well throughout my 103-day crossing.
My only worry now is that I'd never had to 'pickle' a watermaker before (i.e. run chemicals through it to stop green stuff growing in it while it's not being used) and I may not have been at my most compos mentis when I attempted it for the first time in Antigua. So when I retrieve Sedna in Miami in a couple of weeks, I may have a small ecosystem where my water-purification plant used to be...