It was a month before the lockdown started when we had a chance to sail. I don’t know why I only remembered to blog about it after more than a year, but anyway, here’s that 16-hour sea adventure.
Our General Manager at the time was asked to do a site visit to one of the islands. He wanted more people to join him. He thought, more eyes are better than just one or two, so he invited some more colleagues to join, but we had a problem – the cost. There were seven of us. If we’re going to the site by domestic flight and if all of us were going to book for rooms overnight, the expense would shoot up. It would be questionable. And so they found a solution – to sail overnight. It was a business trip. But for me, it was an adventure. My mind was imagining scenes from Pirates of the Caribbean (of course, that’s a bit too much but…).
We boarded our Catamaran at nine in the evening, armed with snacks, ready for an approximately 150kilometer-sail. It has three bedrooms, a kitchen, two hammocks in front, and sitting areas behind. It has bathrooms as well, so sailing overnight wouldn’t be a problem.
I brought a book and my laptop as I thought I would have time to read or write though I shouldn’t have taken those things. There wasn’t a need.
Few minutes after we left the island, we were chitchatting at the sitting area behind the Catamaran, eating chips. And then we moved to the cockpit and bothered the boat captain. We asked so many questions about the sea and his experiences. He told us that he brought that same Catamaran from Seychelles to Maldives years ago. It took him about one week. Imagine that. A week of sailing in the Indian Ocean. In the rough, open sea. My mind was wandering while I was listening to his story. He also brought one vessel from Turkey to the Maldives, and it took him and his crew about two months before they were able to reach the Maldives. That was due to bad weather and a lot of stops to refuel and restock their food. The journey must have been thrilling.
After bothering the boat captain while eating more chips, we went to the kitchen and cooked instant noodles for supper. Yes, we ate a lot. We usually eat a lot.
At almost midnight, everyone found their spot to lie down. I took a pillow with me and used my sarong as a blanket. I lied down on one of the hammocks. Everything was pitch dark except for the headlight from the cockpit. The wind was so strong, it hummed with the waves and the engine along with the flapping of the sail. It was cold. I fell asleep and woke up around half-past two, chilling to the bones. I thought I’d need to move inside so I sat and rubbed my eyes. Then I heard something. PLOMP. I was suddenly wide awake. I heard it again. PLOMP. I looked at the water and my gut feeling was right. Dolphins were jumping and playing with the waves created by the hulls. I quickly ran into the front beams. The water was as dark as the velvet night but I could see the silhouette of the dolphins as they played beside the hulls. I was torn between running inside to get my phone and take a video or stay there and just enjoy the surreal experience. I chose the latter because they might just disappear quickly even before I could come back with my phone.
It was an exceptional experience. I never thought dolphins are awake at that time. I felt they sleep in the night (haha).
When the dolphins disappeared, I moved to the sitting area behind. The three benches were in a U-shape, so three of us slept there. The other three slept in each of the bedrooms, one slept on the indoor sofa, and the boat captain and his crew were awake all night.
We arrived at our destination just before sunrise. My ears got used to the engine’s noise, that when it stopped and docked, I woke up because of the sudden silence.
I am not a morning person, and I don’t usually see the sunrise. But at that point, I didn’t have a choice since I slept outdoor and the sky was my window. I woke up before six in the morning. It was already bright yet still tender. The color of the sky and the sea were mellow blue. The breeze was so fresh and rejuvenating; I felt energized and excited for the day even though I was sleepy as hell.
We prepared ourselves and hopped into the island to inspect it. We stayed there until lunchtime then jumped into the Catamaran again just before two in the afternoon.
Sailing in daylight was much more interesting as I could see the ocean’s vastness and the tiny islands dotting it, like broccoli in a vast basin. The sea colors were mesmerizing that I would have jumped if only they stopped and gave me a chance. All of us felt sleepy after having a nice lunch. The breeze on our faces and the boat’s dancing to the rhythm of the waves lulled us. Some of my colleagues slept, others got seasick, but I sat still beside the boat captain and stuck invisible toothpicks to keep my eyes open. I was fascinated with his stories about the sea. In the old days, they didn’t have GPS, so they have to trust their skills and still sail with or without GPS, unlike the younger boat captains. I was even more fascinated by his knowledge of the sun, the clouds, and the wind and how he could predict the weather and use them as directions. Those were life skills that one could only learn through experience. It was fascinating (how many times have I said fascinating? That was how fascinated I am).
Our then General Manager told me that he could not understand why some of his friends love sailing. He could only see water everywhere. He wasn’t thrilled at all. Then he asked me if I like sailing. Of course, I said. He asked why and I wasn’t able to explain. How could I? If he could not see the beauty laid in front of us, how could I explain it in words?
The wind picked up, and the rain was about to fall when we arrived at the island around eight in the evening. My body was tired, but my mind couldn’t get enough of the experience. And if I had another opportunity to sail like that once again, I’d say yes.