During the first day, waves of three to four meters blessed our route, making what would be a “cradle rocking” movement into something that felt like a drunken tribal drumbeat. Most of my day was spent horizontally, in a deep slumber, with the implacable Caribbean sun blazing through the fairness of my skin. My stomach felt like Speedy Gonzalez was playing Dixieland Jazz with Pablo Picasso as a conductor. All the food intake quickly splashed into the turquoise waters that laid below. I just gave up, simply dozing out, eyes closed, so the points of reference wouldn’t rumba all around me.
“Yeah, it’s kind of rough out there, hey?” Dave, the captain said in his thick Aussie accent. He still smiled and acted like it was nothing. All of us passengers laid in the upper deck, scattered around just as if the Black Plague had suddenly struck. Inside the boat, coordinated movement was impossible, as the risk of falling over the dishes was too high.
As we approached the heavenly, paradise-like islands of San Blas, my spirit was massively uplifted, rejuvenated by the calm waters and the sun bathed landscape. A little dip into the ocean, a swim to shore and the rebooting process was done… Well, not quite… My first step on firm land was as wobbly as the drunk’s stride. I literally almost fell over, and the next few were as if the ground underneath was still shaking. Twenty hours of straight open water sailing makes you shaky as a leaf blowing in the wind. Even our First Mate Emma’s natural optimism wouldn’t make you that eager to get back on the boat: : “Let me tell you… you guys did really well… For the first time sailing, it was really, really rough out there… It was bloody tirrible!” “Bloody what?” “tirrible”. Oh, ok, terrible, yes, I get it. You and your Kiwi accent. I love it!”
And so we ended up walking around the islands and consuming loads of rum around our New Year’s Eve bonfire. Along with plenty of Italian and Cuban families and some of the native Kunas that always wanted you to buy weed. Fortunately they also had lobster, which was great. It ended up being a fantastic New Year’s Eve. An unusual sense of communion arising between Australians, Kiwis, Norwegians, Swedish, Dutch, Canadians and Portuguese. Everybody knew each other for just about a day. But our first day of the sea, everybody’s “maiden voyage” made the sense of belonging stronger and stronger. Of course the rum did help.