It’s an amazing and calming experience to watch a sunrise at sea. There are no objects whatsoever to block your view, and when it’s a calm sail, the peaceful swoosh of the water running along the hulls is the only sound. I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve watched a sunrise on land, there is always a good chance that something or someone is going to block my view of the full-on sunrise. Whether it’s a building, trees, mountains, cars, or something else, I never can get a full shot of a sunrise on land.
However, onboard Snowflake at sea, I get the full experience. (Sadly, I do not have a single sunrise photo in my collection, so you will just have to trust me on this one.)
That’s how it is this morning. After a rather calm night sail, I have just started my watch as the sun starts to rise. Standing in the cockpit, looking towards the East, I sip the steaming cup of coffee my partner had ready for the start of my watch. The aroma fills my senses and the rich, smooth taste calms my mind.
The engine is off now, making it much more peaceful than it was for most of the windless night. We typically are not so quick to run either of our two, thirty year old, Yanmar sixteen-horsepower engines (we are sailors, after all) but we were faced with no other choice once the winds died down last night. The west going current would’ve carried us too far off our course, making it difficult to reach our destination in Arrecife, Lanzarote.
In the very first light of the morning there was the hint of breeze, so just before changing watches, we took the opportunity to turn off the engine, raise the mainsail, and unfurl the headsail. Now, the only sound is the slight adjustment of our trusty old auto helm, the occasional luff of the sails, the gentle breeze and the sound of Snowflake gliding through the tranquil Atlantic swell.
Taking another sip of the aroma filled brew in my large coffee mug, I watch the sun as it slowly rises. It almost looks like it is coming straight out of the sea — as if Africa is not even there, just one hundred fifty nautical miles away.
Once the sun is full, round and orange in the sky, I smile and thank Snowflake for taking us safely through another night at sea. She may be old, just turning thirty this year, but she sure is a tough old girl. Over the last several years, our Richard Woods designed Flica F3 catamaran has proven herself worthy and capable of taking whatever Mother Nature throws our way. She has gotten us through Force 8 winds in the Gulf of Lyon, five-meter swell around Cabo de Gato, the choppy currents of the Strait of Gibraltar, and many more challenging moments. She may not be a fancy catamaran like the Cantanas or Outremers with their pressurized water, large bathrooms, or more modern interiors, but she shows us over and over again that she can hold her own and take care of us. And for that reason, we love her and do our best to treat her well.
Leaning back and chillaxin’ at the helm, I take the last sip of my now lukewarm coffee, and think about the day ahead. It’s very likely we will not make landfall in Lanzarote today due to the light winds. That means another night at sea for Snowflake and her crew. While some people would agonize over another night at sea, I find that I quite enjoy it. So, I don’t complain or feel negatively at all about our leisurely progress. Based on my experience over the last several years, time at sea is very therapeutic. There is no news, television, or internet to push negative press in your face. No ringing phones or constant checking of emails. No real sense of time — just a calm, steady routine at sea. If you’ve ever felt like you needed a break from technology, the stress and anxieties of the world, or if you’re just in need of some down time to re-program your mind… I highly recommend going to sea.
Slowly, the slight breeze begins to drop even more, until both sails are flogging, no longer filled with wind. I check our course and am pleased to see that we have made enough progress so that the current is no longer a concern. What to do, what to do? Turn on a smelly diesel engine, burn up some fuel (and money) to get us to our destination in a rush? Nope. Not on this vessel; not with this crew. We learned long ago that a sailor in a rush typically makes bad decisions and misses out on life. What’s one more day, after all? What could possibly be better than relaxing, while floating in our home at sea — enjoying the great view, working on several projects, washing laundry by hand, baking bread, playing cards, reading a book, or perhaps even watching a movie on the laptop with a bowl of freshly popped corn? To me, this is heaven.
So, for those of you who follow this adventure online and wonder what we do when Snowflake is moving at such a slow pace…there you have it. That’s how we take whatever life throws at us onboard Snowflake.
Interested in how I make money and can afford to travel the world at such a slow pace? Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d love to hear your story, share mine, and help you figure out how you can create a life of your dreams as well!