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After Ripping Our Balloner...

After ripping our ballooner the sea was dark and the coast hardly visible 15 miles away. The sea had built as 2-metre waves pushed us from behind. We took two quick waves forward and then stalled in the trough of the third. We had poles on either side to keep an even strain on the mast. The genoa was held out to the port side and the pole stopped it from collapsing as the boat stalled. To move the sail to the starboard side was a serious mission and one I didn’t really want to attempt in big seas as the boat pitched in the dark. Fortunately, the wind didn’t change direction and we sailed for three days with the genoa poled out as the wind pushed us along from behind. As we reached Cabo de Gata, on the extreme southeastern tip of Spain, the wind turned to the left pushing us all the way to Ibiza. 

On the fourth day, the wind dropped, and we motored until we reached Formentera, an Island just south of Ibiza, desolate, windswept, and beautiful as we moored just off the beach. Sailing is a mind experience, hours upon hours of nothing to do other than watch the sea and think or play the Ukulele. For me, reading is impossible on a rolling boat without feeling sick. Four days was enough and once the anchor was set we jumped into the sea to stretch and remove the grime of the past four days. 

We saw a lot of dolphins. Because ı promised Andy I didn’t jump in, but I really wanted to do that. I know it’s dangerous but… The dolphins are with their babies swimming and hunting… It reminded me of the Red Sea when I swam with them and was able to touch their babies… I desperately want to swim with them but I’m waiting for the time to come… I’m not able to swim with them but even seeing them makes me happy and hopeful… Dolphins always heal me and remind me that hope is not a curse…

On such a trip the nights are my favourite time, especially with a clear sky and no moon. Without any light pollution so far out the light from one of the planets lit up the sea as a dimmer version of the moon. The milky way is described perfectly, white like skimmed milk with cream stirred in. The planets are obvious simply because of the amount of light they reflect. The wind was constant and the movement of the boat predictable making the whole experience an absolute pleasure that I didn’t want to end. Meltem insisted on taking her watch every two hours but I could have happily stayed all night. However sleep is crucial, especially if something happens and with 30 minutes of sleep left Meltem woke me up as there were several alarms going off at once on the AIS. 

Like buses, all come at once you see no boats all night and then we had a tanker, a cargo ship and a high-speed ferry all bearing down on us at around 4.30 in the morning. With our genoa poled out and 20 knots of wind behind it would be difficult to change direction if we needed to. As a boat under sail we have right of way in theory but for them turning a tanker is not such an easy task. Our role is to stay on course and let the other boats take avoiding action. I was glad I had slept and was alert. We turned as far off the wind as we could in an attempt to take ourselves out the centre of the triangle and I figured they were far enough away to understand our action and not be confused. It did seem to calm the AIS and took the closest point of approach of two of the boats further away. 

During the night sailing, I was listening to Sandra Ingraman’s Shamanic Journey course… I’m very happy to join this course. I feel strong because I’m not alone. Some people feel like me… They believe you can communicate with animals, wind, air… And the middle of the sea hearing all these words about nature and healing was a privilege for me… I want to understand what the wind is telling us… I believe everything has their soul and you can communicate with them. I’m listening to the sound of waves and winds I really want to understand them. It opens my heart.

Once again I was thankful for AIS knowing that everyone could clearly see each other thereby avoiding an unnecessary collision. Watching ships pass in the night is a sobering experience, wondering about the lives of the people so close for a few minutes and then disappearing forever without a word. I always feel happy to be on Karisma, masters of our own small universe, free to go with the wind and faith in the boat to deliver us safely. 

Watching Andy is making me calm down. He is doing everything in a very calm way. I’m seeing how he takes care of Karisma and how he loves sailing. When we are sailing his whole attitude changes. He becomes more focused and happy. I believe he found his dream and makes it real. It helps me to share these moments with him and seeing him happy like this affects me too.

We stayed a couple of nights in Formentera and at first dawn on the second day started sailing to Ibiza. We went right round to the North of the Island intending to stay in a reasonably large anchorage. But as is often the case in the Mediterranean, the wind changed direction coming from the north making the anchorage untenable. We turned around in 15-knot winds and had a brisk sail down the picturesque east coast of the island to a tiny bay called Cala Negra, big enough to fit three lengths of Karisma. The inlet was tight like a steep, three-sided quarry with cliffs towering several hundred feet overhead. But inside the sea was calm as the clouds moved quickly overhead.

It was around 6.00pm and as we dropped the anchor the line tying it to the cleat became tangled as it hung around 3 metres off the bow. This was a harrowing experience in such a confined space because at first it was not apparent what the problem was and we were drifting towards the rocks. I needed to manage the helm so struggled to leave it and deal with the anchor. But a calm and meticulous inspection, as the cliff drew closer, made the solution apparent. 

By the time we had got the anchor was down it was dusk, the cicadas were noisy and there was a strong

smell of pine from the trees at the base of the cliff. The sea was calm inside and rough outside. It was idyllic, I could feel the calm energy of the place with the high cliffs towering up and the enclosed air and choppy sea over the exit. Meltem the artist couldn’t believe it, the place was unique, calm and dramatic. We stayed for three nights reading, swimming and sleeping. 

We had intended to leave anyway on the third day but events overtook us. The last night was nerve-wracking as the wind moved more to the North East driving waves and chop into our mooring. The calm was replaced by danger as waves pushed us in different directions towards cliffs on three sides as the wind swirled inside its natural step sided vase. I spent a lot of the night on deck to check on things and see how far we were from the cliffs. Much too close for comfort but I had chosen this place because of its sandy bottom which was the best holding for the anchor. If the anchor popped out we would be in big trouble, but of course, it didn’t. 

In the morning we were preparing to leave when the wind veered round a little further to push a building sea into our increasingly choppy basin. This change of wind direction was quickly becoming dangerous so we got the engine going, took up the anchor and punched through the now angry sea on full throttle. I was pleased I had sent the turbocharger back to be refurbished because we right then we needed the 3000 rpm only possible with a fully functioning turbo. 

When we anchored on an amazing beach in Formentera I feel living in Karisma is a very similar experience for how I feel in Elan Valley, a deep connection with nature. I love anchoring. I love to jump in the sea as soon as I wake up…I enjoy listening when Andy is playing the ukulele… Anchor means working for me… Cooking, answering email, check social media and doing my courses… When we are sailing I can’t read but I can Knit…

Even though I do mindfulness courses sometimes I lose myself in my thoughts… Especially after these sailing experiences, I haven’t got any question mark about living in the middle of the nowhere… I definitely want to live in Powys in mid-Wales. I don’t want a city life… I do not want to live in a big town. I want to live a small old house or cottage in the nature or very close nature…Sometimes in the middle of the sea, I’m missing mountains… I feel safe around mountains… My mind is not focusing on the sea these days… My mind is very busy with the future… I’m doing mindfulness but sometimes it’s not easy to stay in that moment… I don’t want to go back to the UK… I don’t want to stay too long in Leamington… I want to find my place for myself…

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


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