Packing into sailing

A few days ago I had my first go at packing. I had previously said to Mick: Don’t worry, this time I’m really going to leave lots of stuff behind. I started putting my clothes in the small bag, and very quickly it was almost full and I hadn’t even put ¾ of my things, very annoying!. Mick didn’t look impressed either and that made me even more furious! I seriously think that he needs to spend a week with any normal girl and realize that what I have compared to any other girl, is really small. Yes, the joy of packing!!

It’s 7 days until we leave Ecuador to go on to the BVI to find our boat and it’s just hit me, just today, that this is really happening, I’m going to be living on a boat, this is going to be my life now. It’s exciting but also nerve-racking!!

It’s amazing how life works. When I was a little girl, from 7 to 14 years old, I used to sail on little dinghy boats called Optimists. During those years, I saw a couple of families arriving at the yacht club in Salinas, and I remember thinking: I wish I could do that one day.

navegando optimist

Then years passed, and I became a teenager and quickly forgot about my sailing dream. Later, when I was living on the Gold Coast studying at Griffith Uni I met this Norwegian friend, Geir. He had recently bought a boat but didn’t have much of an idea on how to sail. There was a public holiday coming up and he had planned to sail his boat to a nearby island and he invited me to come along as I had told him about my previous sailing experience.

I realize now how crazy I was, to jump onboard with a complete inexperienced sailor, but I did have a crush on him, so I didn’t think of the do’s and don’ts, I was just excited about the idea of being on a boat with him for a whole weekend.  I talked to my best friend about it, I got ready and drove to the bay where he had his boat parked. He picked me up on his dinghy and as we were driving back to the boat, he told me: I have some news! I have a girlfriend now! Thank God, he couldn’t see my face. I’m sure I went pale and my jaw dropped to the floor. All my hopes were crashed in seconds; No more romantic sailing under the moonlight, all the chances of romance went overboard.

Well, but the story doesn’t end that bad. The trip was still a success and we had a great time. I have really fond memories of this trip as I also had the chance to meet amazing dear friends, Aina and Egon (also from Norway) that did the trip with us on their own boat. And Geir and I also became good friends and still are until now. Those few days in the ocean reminded me how much I loved to sail and how much I had missed it.

Before coming to Ecuador, we were lucky enough to be invited to deliver a 62ft Lagoon Catamaran from New Caledonia to Australia.  Our friends Cole and Tiga needed some crew so we happily volunteered. We spent 8 days at sea and I can honestly say that I confronted all my biggest fears on that trip.

I usually don’t get seasick but I did get seasick the first night at sea. Then we had very calm days with not much breeze, and it was just beautiful. And then of course we had hauling winds and massive waves and I thought I was going to die!! I was so scared of the waves (had the image of the movie “The Perfect Storm” in my head) that I forced myself to sleep during the day so I didn’t have to see them.

But then the night came and I had to be up on deck to do my watch and when I got there, Mick and Tiga had life-jackets on and were talking about different possible safety scenarios if the boat was to capsize. I sat quietly but deep inside of me I was preparing myself to leave this world. I was sure that was my last day on Earth. Thankfully we survived the night and we arrived safely to Australia. It was an amazing experience but it made me realize that I have so much to learn.

So going to the British Virgin Islands and buying a boat feels a bit crazy, but at the same time, feels just right. I’m excited to have a boat as our home, to have the skies as our roof (so cheesy, I know!) and to arrive to different places by sea, depending on the weather and nature.

I’m looking forward to sunrises and sunsets over the sea, to pods of dolphins, to skies full of stars, to silence, to meeting interesting people, to new cultures, to learning to live in a small space, to managing resources and food stock, to surfing uncrowded waves, to feeling the sea salt on my skin, to watching Mick’s dream come true, to being rocked to sleep by the motion of the sea and to so much more.

And I know I’m starting this adventure with the right person by my side. Mick’s knowledge of sailing is far bigger and better than mine. He’s started sailing ten years ago and has done a lot of ocean crossings during this time.  I know he’s going to be an excellent teacher and I feel safe with him. During the five years we’ve been together, he’s been researching and learning about everything there’s to know about sailing a boat, how to fix it and how to survive at sea.

So for all the family and friends out there that are worried about us, we just want to say, that we’ll be ok.  We know, living on a boat is a bit different than what the rest of the people usually do, that for someone who has never been on a boat, can seem a bit scary (it’s a bit scary for me too!)  but it’s just a different way of life; and we’re not the only ones doing it. There are plenty of people like us, swapping a home in a suburb for a boat.

During these last days at my parent’s house in Guayaquil, I’ll be making sure to enjoy all the little things: their company, the food, nice hot showers, the comfort of a big double bed, internet access 24/7, my friends and family and all the nice things that I’m surely going to miss once we go. We’re ready to continue our travels and start our big new adventure. I just hope that I can fit all I want to take with me in that bag!





Author: Isabel Romero

founder of Mingas por el Mar

8 thoughts on “Packing into sailing”

  1. It’s amazing how quickly we accumulate things. Packing is always a challenge! I hope you are able to tap into some internet access regularly so we can hear about life on the boat. Enjoy the next chapter!xx

  2. Yes Lis! so easy to accumulate things but it does feel good to get rid of things that we really don’t need and learning to live with less. We’ll definitely make sure to keep in touch. thanks for all the good wishes! much love, Isa and Mick

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