Bear with, as Miranda might say.
Until relatively recently (in my comparative lifetime), I believed that the sea was something you visited. It was there. A repository for holidays. For times when you needed to ‘get away from it all,’ and just be. Childhood holidays centred around ‘the sea.’ Usually Devon, Cornwall or Wales. Mostly wet; the weather, and mostly cold; the sea. I remember once being taken out in a speed boat, south Wales, I think. I cried all the while.
I was not a child with a kindred spirit of the sea.
That changed relatively late in life, in 2001, when I met my (now) husband. A keen sailor, he was keen to entice me off-shore. I was keen to try (in my defence, I’d adopted a ‘try anything once,’ regime). After I’d learned to swim (another story), Pete took me sailing for the first time in the Greek Islands. Flotilla sailing. Genius. After a lot of screaming when the boat heeled, I decided I loved it.
Since then I’ve learned that there are different types of sailors. Different motivations. Different ambitions. Mine was initially only ever to be tolerant (please let me like it). That advanced to being competent (please let me learn how to be useful, and pleeeeease can I learn how to do a bowline). That advanced to being brave (please let me like passages, night sailing, any weather, being out of sight of land). I’m not sure I really passed that phase, as I always have enjoyed hopping from place-to-place. I digress. That advanced to being confident (please let me think of the up before the down. Please don’t let me obsess about the weather or the sea-state). Actually, I’m rather pleased with myself on this. Gig rowing has unlocked my confidence on the sea…
So, these days. I am a competent, even good (so Pete tells me), confident person around the sea. I have no desire to cross oceans (never did have). I have no real desire to race. I know what I love; exploring. I know that that on most days, there is enough to stimulate and develop my sailing skills. I am also a competent (though not good) gig-rower. I’ve even dabbled in racing, although I’m not naturally particularly competitive. I love, love, love being part of a crew, being out in the water, and being the best I can be in order to make the gig run well.
The sea accommodates all ambitions. All relationships. It is welcoming, challenging, beautiful, harrowing… dangerous. It is the sea.