Summer hols were spent with partner, my boys and his son on a yacht, sailing from Greek island to island. Yes, it was as amazing as I thought it would be, but there was also a day when I was so deeply grateful to be alive when we finally stepped on shore, that I burst into tears. It was a release… a letting go of the anxiety I had been trying to hide from my kids as we sailed in very windy conditions which were not dangerous, but which I was not used to.
My love and I have been looking out for sailing opportunities this year, but had found none and it was only one week ago that I thought I might try Meet Up to see if there were any sailors there looking for crew. I did not expect to find an opportunity for myself so soon, but with my love working away and the boys otherwise occupied, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get in a little practice and escape for a while. I wanted to get more comfortable with sailing and the only way to do that is to go out on a boat. So, I took the leap this weekend and joined a sailing Meet Up group down in Portsmouth on Friday night. This was my third time sailing with strangers.
I met Peter, our skipper, in The Lightship for a seafood dinner together before going to the boat and meeting fellow sailors for the weekend, Antoine and Nagima. Antoine had recently rediscovered a love of sailing, had taken part in a race the previous weekend and had brought his girlfriend along this time in the hope that she would also enjoy life at sea. We retired around midnight, spending the first night in Haslar Marina where the boat was moored and during early breakfast on Saturday, we were joined by Karina, the fifth member of our party. At around the same time, Peter received a text message saying that the sixth sailor would not be joining us after all, so we made a plan for the day and set sail into the Solent to watch the Round the Island race. The mass of boats, brightly coloured spinnakers bulging in the wind, was a sight to behold.
Peter, somehow, managed to navigate through the sea of sails and we picked up a mooring buoy just off Shanklin. Nagima was feeling a little unwell and was grateful for a break for lunch at around 3pm. Our original plan to sail to Brighton had altered over breakfast and after a break and a sandwich, we headed slowly in the direction of Chichester Harbour. Having worked in Chichester for five years on and off, this was my first time in the Harbour area and what a beautiful area of natural beauty it was. We enjoyed a meal together at The Boat House Café in the evening and planned to leave our mooring at around 9am when the tide was high enough for us to easily get out. The whole area, at low tide, returns to sand, so there was a window of opportunity straight after Sunday morning’s breakfast of croissants, cheese, ham and jam that we took. Not only was Peter a calm and clear skipper in his approach and instruction, he provided well for his crew. That we had never met before this weekend made his generosity of spirit and supplies even more appreciated… the kindness of strangers in action. Any anxieties I had about sailing with a group of strangers subsided the moment we all met. It is important to have faith in your skipper as you head out to sea and I had full trust in Peter and his abilities and it felt good the way Antoine, Nagima, Karina and myself pulled together as a crew.
Peter was most welcoming and his calm demeanor disguised any frustration he may have been feeling at some of my silly questions due to nerves and lack of practice (oh, how much I had forgotten in the space of a year). His love of sailing was apparent from the off and his willingness to teach and encourage made the whole experience a joy, even when I was way out of my comfort zone… flaking the main sail as we went along made me wish I was a little taller, had stronger muscles and better balance. The confidence will come. Hopefully the fitness too, with practice. To say it hurt even to turn the car steering wheel this morning would not be an exaggeration… I have discovered muscles where I didn’t know I had them!
By Sunday, Nagima was standing happily at the helm for a long stretch and claimed, by the time we left the boat, that she would like to sail again, though not in a hurry. Chocolate snacks and cups of tea kept us going through the brief shower on Sunday and Karina and I laughed at how often we found ourselves yawning… the motion of the boat rocking us into some kind of hypnotic trance at times it seemed. We decided, by the time we parted, that we would happily sail together again and I hope that we will have the opportunity to do so. I would certainly join another Meet Up for sailing, but I do hope my love will be free to join me next time and we can sail out to sea again together… it was he, after all, who introduced me to this wonderful world of sailing which was not even on my radar until just over a year ago. So many reasons to be grateful!
So if you are thinking of taking part in some new hobby or pursuit, looking for new friends to share the experience with, I would certainly recommend Meet Up. If you want to take the leap, but being with a group of strangers is holding you back, don’t let it… as an introvert, being with a group of people requires some recovery time and there was more than a little anxiety on my part in the hour before we all met. But all of that slipped away when we came face to face and connected over something we all wanted to do. If I can do it, so can you!
If there is a dream you would like to pursue, but you feel you would benefit from a team to support you, please join the Dream Seed Magic workshop that I will be supporting Diane Leigh in running in London this Sunday. Tickets are selling fast and your last chance to buy will be Thursday before 10pm, so I would urge you to take the leap and sign up now. I can promise you a day of inspiration and encouragement. I will be sharing my own dreams and look forward to supporting you in living yours too.