Twice I’ve sailed on Tenacious, both in aid of Spinal Injuries Ireland. UK to Ireland in June 2022 and again as Watch Leader in March 2023. Around the Caribbean. On a Tall Ship. Where would you get it?
But this is no cruise ship. There are no deckchairs or pressed white tunics serving espresso martinis at sunset. No one to turn down your bed at night.
But there are ropes – lots of ropes. Each rope has a name and is attached to something on the other end, probably a sail. I never ask. We pull and sweat and 2-6-heave and tail and ease away until the ever-watchful permanent crew tell us “WELL!” and “MAKE FAST!” and “COME UP!”. No, I don’t understand it either but if they’re happy, we’re all set.
Anchor watch, harbour watch, mess duty, dinner at 6pm, bed at 8pm, woken at 11.30, 4hour night watch at midnight… hours flash by, days merge, “Happy Hour” turns out to involve a heady cocktail of deck scrubs, buckets of detergent and a fire hose.
I’m exhausted just typing this.
There are tears. Good tears.
When you see your new crewmate assisted out of her wheelchair, strap on her splint, grit her teeth and climb the rigging to the crow’s nest for the first time.
When you have random heartfelt chats out of nowhere with your bunkmate and they share their story, they shed a tear, you do too. It’s all good big guy, come here and give me a hug ya big lump.
When you watch as a wife peers through her fingers because her husband has just cannonballed into the bluest sea you’ve ever seen… lifted from his chair and literally thrown overboard by two crewmates to join the rest of the crew bobbing around in the waters off Guadalupe.
Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up.
Now, where do I sign up for the next trip?