“Of course, it’s not the same if you smoke out of curiosity and retreat, than belonging to the joint-smoker family, in which case life becomes bit by bit something flat. Investigators say so”.
No I didn’t lose my mind, or my English skills, but I did burst into a fit of giggles after Ava read this out to me from a (very badly!) translated Spanish newspaper somewhere off the coast of the Canary Islands. And that was only the first fit of the day, there would be at least a dozen more.
Ava is the just-turned 21 year old, Texan, or better put Austinite, who has been taking a year off language studies to sail the seas. She is almost always smiles, except when she’s not, in which case she bounds down the companion way, looks in all the cupboards and proclaims “Everything sucks!”. I give her a hug and we both break into a burst of laughter over how ridiculous this sentiment is. She was the optimistic, carefree Frambly member. We sung sea shanties together, gave each other massages almost every day and seriously chuckled a whole lot. I spent more than 50% of my day in hysterics. I can’t remember the last time I had laughed so much. Our friendship blossomed into a beautiful connection, and we both grew because of it.
Brad is the 36 yr old New York lawyer. He took things pretty seriously, and wouldn’t buy into our L.A.R.Ping pursuits but is a great budding philosopher and many an hour was spent together discussing our views and ethics. I can be known to chew the cud, so to speak, as good as the best of them, so it was nice to have someone else to bounce ideas off, argue and tumble over moral issues with. Brad would cook everything in his famous Tae Kwan Do position – legs apart, firmly planted, knees bent in a squatting position and pivoting at the waist from the sink to the stove. It seemed to work better than whatever I had going on, since one fateful evening my spaghetti sauce ended up over and under just about everything.
John is still John. The solid rock, ever inspiring, ever encouraging. He took every opportunity to congratulate, boost and marvel at all of our qualities. During the course of the sail I came to BELIEVE that I could do a great many more things that I had previously thought. I’d have a dream about some goal or other, mention a few pitfalls, and John would be the first to flatten them all, say “GO FOR IT” and convince me he was right. There were also less cheery moments, when we would have our ‘little talks’ and he would quietly mention things that needed improvement or that he was disappointed in. These times were obviously difficult for John, since he doesn’t like confrontation any more than I do, and hard for me to take too, especially since I have so much respect and admiration for him, but we both understood the importance of communication and struggled through them when the need arose.
We were a team. Every three hours, at a quarter to the hour, someone would come off their watch, gently wake the next person, pop on the kettle for coco and disappear up the stairs again while the other res-erected themselves from an often fitful sleep. We read Patrick O’Brian’s navy novels to each other, told jokes and countless stories. We powered on wind, water and love. From Europe to the America’s we consumed not a drop more than 10 litres of diesel. TEN LITRES! Our drinking water lasted, with plenty to spare, and what energy we used came from a line genorator spinning off our stern. We obeyed Captains orders by clipping in while on deck, wearing safety gear and listening up when “Teddy Bear” was called. But really, in the end, we were just four friends on a fun adventure. We had great down wind cruising which we zoomed with thanks to the ‘Twizzle Rig’, a Genoa out on each side, held up by whisker poles and suspended in mid air. We had some rough seas and a little rain, but no gales or even any major squalls.
And finally, ghosting into the Virgin Islands at two o’clock in the morning, dark shadows of land all around, a summery lightness in the air – my life finally stopped becoming ‘bit by bit something flat’ and I had gained a whole Frambly of friends.