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Published: June 10th 2017
Geo: 12.1279, -61.68
Sailing on a catamaran around the island of Grenada is an experience unlike anything I've ever done before. John and Mary, friends whom I met in China, invited me and Bill to come on a cruise, but Bill couldn't take time off from school, so, among three couples, I am the only single on board. This makes things a little challenging, trying to balance leaving them couple-time, but not being misinterpreted as my being aloof if I don't always join in. This is tricky, as is much in human relationships. And I am the only vegan, which isn't a problem for me, but seems to be for at least one other person onboard. So that's a different level of separation added to the mix. Other than balancing these sensitive personal issues, this cruise has been eye-openingly extraordinary, and we are just at the beginning.
There are seven of us onboard. John is the captain; he has spent much of his life on boats, but that is his story to tell. He loves and respects the water even more than I do. John taught everyone how to snorkel, although everybody has done it before, almost definitely in bad form. Two years ago was my first snorkeling experience (in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia); I didn't know what I was doing and kept getting water in my mask, so I had to stop every few yards or so to bail it out. And my flippers didn't fit well, so I jettisoned them. Now I know how to blow out through my nose to release water buildup, plus in preparation for this trip I bought a smaller-sized prescription mask that fits well and lets me see what's down there. And I know to wear socks inside my flippers so they stay on better and prevent blisters. Simple things once you know them, but what an enormous difference they make! Dressed in my snorkeling gear, I look like an exotic sea creature myself. Now I can snorkel relatively long distances with ease, watching the incredible activity below the water's surface, feeling almost as if I'm transforming into a fish. So far I've seen: many different schools of fish (some of whom surround me and kiss my outstretched fingers), many types of coral including a giant brain coral, sponges, a large turtle that I followed for quite a distance, and, yesterday morning, a series of underwater sculptures at Moliniere Point in Halifax Harbour. Amazing worlds exist below us if only we exert the energy and then open our eyes to look!
Our days have a rhythm, but no set points or schedule. Around 4:30AM I am usually the first to awaken and to come upstairs to watch the stars fading in the growing light, ready to begin the day. At night if we are moored, we turn with the wind, back and forth or sometimes 'round and 'round in circles. So far it is always a pleasant, gentle rocking, perhaps touching memories of our time spent in our mothers' wombs. Individuals in our crew keep saying how happy they are to be here; I am happy too.
Our evenings also have a rhythm. After dinner, and after John makes his hot chocolate, the crew gathers on the foredeck's trampoline to sit and gaze at the stars, to talk about the day's activities or to just sit and enjoy rocking gently with the ocean's constant movement, thinking our own thoughts. I love the rolling motion, and hearing stories about each person's life; this is a special time in the darkness, nestled next to each other, perhaps sharing innermost thoughts that would not be expressed in the brightness of the day's light.
I don't know if I could live this way forever, but I don't think that will be a decision I'll have to make, given Bill's and my necessarily frugal Yankee lifestyle. This boat, a Morrings 4800 (check it out online), is a fancy craft! Four cabins, each with its own bathroom, three salons, autopilot among other features, it oozes upper class living and wealth. I am grateful John and Mary invited me to come along, as I don't think I'd ever have this experience otherwise. But still I feel somewhat of a fish out of water. Backpacking, sleeping in hostels or inexpensive native-owned hotels or in Air B & Bs has been the mostly comfortable way I travel worldwide, a very good way of experiencing how people in other countries actually live. Eating three meals a day would be an unknown fortune to most people on this earth; to me it is neither necessary nor something I seek. But I am an experience junkie, and love adventures, so this trip is a gem of a gift, the lifestyle being as foreign to me as any of my other adventures living in third world countries, a glimpse into the lives of those living on the opposite shore.
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