It’s easy to think the world is flat when you’re sitting on the edge of a sailboat, legs dangling bare feet over the foamy waters.
When all around you is a vast ocean of turquoise blue that stretches on and on until it disappears in the horizon, a long, straight line that depicts far-sighted possibilities and endless hope.
When we first signed up for our maiden sailing trip with Juan this week in the Whitsundays Islands Coast, I hadn’t really imagined what sailing would be like.
It turned out that after the first half hour of getting acquainted with the boat and it’s rhythmic bobbing up and down on the choppy ocean waves, my body soon found itself slipping easily into tune, in harmony with the heartbeat of the ocean. The further we sailed from shore, the choppier the waves became, and morning showers brought strong gusts of winds which were perfect for sailing.
I found myself lost in thought as I stared at the faraway horizon, absorbing the blue-green hues of the waters surrounding me.
The lull of the sailboat soon made me sleepy, and closing my eyes, I felt all my other senses jump to life. I never knew how salt would smell like, but then the intensely salty sea air filled my nostrils, opening my mind to the smell of salt, something we traditionally associate with taste. Once in a while the waves jumped high and droplets of the ocean would grace my lips, strong and tremendously salty. After a couple of hours of bleak weather, the sun started peaking from behind the clouds, and it brought with it strong rays of sunshine that gently caressed and warmed our skin, cold from the winds and ocean breeze.
The initially foreign feel of being out in the ocean had subsided and gave way to a gradual sense of comfort and peace.
Without even realizing it, I had become hypnotized by the sparking rays of sunlight reflected off the ocean’s surface. Twinkling in the day like a sea of diamonds, they captivated me, held me, and transported me to another reality and dimension.
On the Iceberg boat, we met people from many different nationalities.
Among the 12 people who had signed up for the trip, there was a mixture of cultures including Belgian, Italian, German, Greek, British, Singaporean (me) and Argentine (Juan).
At the command of Iceberg’s wheel was our skipper, Hayden, an Australian who has been sailing for the past 12 years, a jolly young 30+ year old sailor who slapped on copious amounts of sunblock on his cheeks and high forehead, which made me think he had put on shaving cream on the wrong places.
Tim, a 20+ year old future UK marine who relocated from the UK to take a 6-month break working on board sail trips, was in charge of cleaning the boat and making our meals – which by sailboat standards were pretty impressive – including stuffed baked chicken, German Kartoffelsalat (potato salad), Gnocchi in a rich, thick tomato and bacon sauce, freshly baked garlic bread, English muffins and a cold cuts sandwich. I was really impressed – given that it was only Tim’s second time working on board the sailboat.
Other than the amazing views and our generous snorkeling and sunbathing time, the best part of the trip was the amazing company that everyone on board the boat made.
As with any trip, there was a joker on board, and this time it was a Belgian guy who regaled us with hilarious stories and humorous tales, all conveyed with an exotic French accent. His girlfriend, Asunta, an Italian girl from the South of Italy now living in Brussels, was a pretty and funny lady, whose hand gestures and Italian vibes made me wish all the more that I can one day live in Italy for a couple of years.
Her explanation of how she couldn’t order pizza in Australia, because it wouldn’t measure up to Italian standards, and her approximated recipe for pizza dough – these all left me wishing I was back in a kitchen, kneading and shaping dough, then baking it and slathering on tomato sauce, fresh mozarella cheese, olives, capers and anchovies. Ahhh… La Bella Italia..
Other campers from the UK, including the beautiful Vicky and her boyfriend Alex, were victims of the harsh Australian summer sun. Before the first day was over, Alex had already been terribly sun-burnt a bright crimson shade, and looking at his burnt skin just made you hurt. Soon after, Alex started applying thick amounts of sunblock too, taking Hayden as his role model. When in doubt, do as the Australians do.
All in all, Juan and I had a beautiful time on board our first sailing trip.
It was our maiden exposure to so much Australian sun, which, according to Hayden, gets reflected off the waters so you get burnt even under cloudy skies.
We posed and preened next to the sails and at the stern.
We even pretended we were re-playing the scene from Titanic where Rose says to Jack, “Jack! I’m flying!”
We got adjusted to balancing and walking aboard without holding on to the metal railings.
We began to feel one with the ocean..