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 When I  afraid  
when we are sailing 
dolphins always with me
They always find me…
My family in the sea
When I see them 
I believe I’m safe…
I'll be protected and happy...
Our walking routine changed when we were going to see boats around the UK with the “Kitty Home”. I started learning boat brands. Andy wanted to buy a “Hallberg-Rassy” or “Najad”. Then we thought maybe we should consider  Oyster’s, then I discovered “Amel” and Andy like it too. We started watching Delos and we both felt really excited about “Amel”. Our search changed. We started searching for Amel around Europe. In 2018 We found Karisma in Port Leucate in July and Andy definitely wanted to buy her and he did.  

Karisa is an Amel Super Maramu. She is a long-distance blue water ketch-rigged cruiser packed with features like push-button electric furling and winches, watermaker, generator and washing machine. It's the attention to detail that makes her so comfortable and desirable. With two double cabins each with ensuite heads and spacious saloon the Maramu is light and airy down below.  The centre cockpit is a perfect size for living with the helmsman's throne to port with all the necessary navigation equipment at your fingertips.

We were so lucky because Karisma had only one previous owner and has rarely been cruised. She has been staying in Port Leucate and has been maintained seasonally. I didn’t sail before but I was so excited because sailing gives me the opportunity to be close to dolphins very often… 

 I have a very strong relationship with dolphins. I swam with wild dolphins in their environment (ocean) They always welcome me… They always play with me… I feel like they are my family… I needto swim with them regularly… But I gave a promise to Andy if I saw dolphins I will not jump in the sea (which I want to)... 

 Our first long-distance (2 days) sailing was a round trip passage from Port Leucate (France)  to Port Lligat (Catalonia) and back. The weather was so cold and the waves were  2-3 meters,  but I saw my dolphin friends and they gave me power.  Furthermore,  when arriving in Port Lligat the wind was strong, waves choppy and for the first time in my life, I found myself lying flat, hanging over the front of the boat trying to grab the line of a buoy without losing the boat hook or my self over the side.  I can write a novel about it but it's later...   I think I need time to get used to sailing…

Last year we sailed quite a lot but never too far (around 80 miles) and not at night so cautious early steps. It is a lovely time having people on the boat. It is a relaxing space and a great environment to get to know people in a way that is less guarded and more honest than other social situations. Spending hours in a confined space must do something to the psyche but people open up and you feel you know them in a way that surprises for its honesty and candid conversation. Everyone that has been so far I really look forward to having back which is really nice. 

 At the end of the season, a French friend (Christian) and I sailed Karisma through the December night from Port Leucate to Barcelona. Not the best time to realise the newly installed AIS had not been wired correctly and also to find the Radar looked like it worked but did not pick out the coast. But we did a good job and it was so much fun. 

It’s quite exciting for me to be in Karisma after ten months. When I saw her she was in Port Leucate but now she is in Port Ginesta.  In these ten months of my life, my perception about life and love has changed a lot. So much so that I don’t even know how I feel about being in Karisma. I changed, and I changed with pain despite myself…

I was last in Karisma in February when the lockdown was announced, and I set off walking to the airport at 1.30 in the morning for my 9.30 flight. I always feel sad, leaving her and full of joy to see her again. She is a caring soothing mistress, always exciting, calming and a pleasure to be with.

I feel very calm in Karisma, you can follow your routine, you don’t need to socialise, and you are in nature. It’s not like a mountain, but it is a different feeling in the sea. The wind tells a different story and the night and the moon… Their languages change in the sea.

A boat is like a motorhome in many ways. It has two functions, in the Marina, like in the camping field it is an apartment, comfortable and relaxing. Leaving shore and starting to travel the wonder of the equipment never leaves. Such a comfortable space can cross oceans in gale force winds and high seas and you still feel safe and cocooned in her wave proof shell. The technology is a wonder, simple enough to repair but well thought out to perform the intended task. Just like the Guy Clark song “Stuff that works”

When we arrived in Karisma at first I didn’t know how I felt as if I met my old friends. Things change a lot, but Karisma has greeted me lovingly. We are in  Karisma far from everything. 

Each time I leave Leamington I leave my old life my new one begins as I see her again, just where I left her, still floating (thank god) and her lines and dinghy still intact. She is comfortable and solid and reminds me of Bilbo Baggins house with her corridors, solid rounded doors, brass lights and fittings and old world mahogany from a Dickensian gentlemen's club. Time for a rum and ice, lie down and smile 

Boat life always has a surprise for you and our surprises is we haven’t got water because the water pump and toilets are not working. But we felt calm. The solution was we had dinner in a restaurant in the marina. Two days we haven’t got water in the boat. It was an interesting experience for me. I remember my childhood days, the days when the waters don’t flow. Our situation not that bad because we have a tap near Karisma. 

Andy has been working every day very seriously.  We automatically create our routine. When he was working, I did my courses. Before sleeping, I draw. Some mornings we run. Beach is only 5 minutes walk but we swim rarely. When we focus on our stuff, we both lose ourselves in our world. On the other hand in the boat,  I have a corner. My corner near the table and that corner, I can write, I can draw. I feel safe and comfortable so somedays as an Aspie I even didn’t go outside the boat. I’m living inside the boat like its a small toy house. Doing my courses, drawing, writing and reading. A simple life is perfect for me.

Port Ginesta is a big marina but it’s very empty. Only at the weekend, you can see more people but overall it’s empty with more than a couple of restaurants and shops not opened this year. When we go shopping we have to use our mask. Walking from marina to town takes one and a half hour and we do this every week and sometimes twice a week.  It was a pleasure to live quietly and calmly, listening to the sounds of the waves that I miss, without my phone ringing constantly. 

It is coming up to two years since I bought Karisma and there have been far more job hours than sailing hours. This time I expected half a week but we have been here 24 days and only one day off. I have fixed the water pump, air con, commissioned the water maker that hasn’t run for five years plus a number of small fiddly jobs. And fixed two electric toilets and securely bolted them to the floor.  What I have learned is boats are complex and things break, especially after 20 years (she was built in 1998). She is like an old car, everything can be taken apart and put back together again by hand. Also been up the main and mizzen masts to fix the AIS and deck light. It appears there is no complexity that a screwdriver and hammer can’t sort. 

Tomorrow we are going to sail to Gibraltar. For me, today is my cooking day. I cooked ginger cookies for seasickness, a chocolate muffin without sugar and flour because we want to eat very often when we are sailing. Also, I cooked aubergine meze,  courgette and green bean with olive and cornbread. When you feel seasick, bread and fresh ginger help a lot. I’m so excited for tomorrow because this time I want to understand my relationship with the sea. I will learn more about sailing, and I want to listen and understand what the sea will show and teach me.

We are up at 5.30 tomorrow morning to leave as soon as there is enough light to safely navigate the harbour. We are heading to Gibraltar which is 500 miles or so away. August weather is looking benign and the wind is favourable being on our beam or behind. We will get a chance to figure out how to use the Amel ballooner and Mizen headsail, and both sails are unique to Amel. Just like the Citroen DS, this boat is full of French ingenuity. This should be a leisurely trip stopping in Morayra to meet up with an old friend and then check out Alicante as a fun place to berth Karisma next year. My last big sail was in December from Port Leucate to Barcelona, so I am excited. 

We will write again when we arrive in Gibraltar… 

All the words in italics have been written by our captain Andy Parker.


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