Yes, here we are at last, my first entry in the log… a long time coming I know, but not as fast as the last year has been. My fastest year on record. Wow, what a journey it has been since I met Jamie in Antigua on Christmas Day 2003. From falling in love with those deep brown eyes and embracing smile on that fateful holiday to the launch of what we have fashioned into our own special dream… today, on a crisp, sunshine-filled Bodrum in mid Winter. So, how do I come to be here? How did this happen? If I’d been asked that old clichéd question 12 months ago… Entangled as I was in the monotonous call of endless hours in the rat-race the idea of dropping out and buying a boat with my life-partner would have been some kind of other-world fantasy – the sort of thing that happens to fictional people in magazine articles and second rate novels. Nah, not ever-sensible and security-minded Elizabeth. I would have said that the rest of my days would have been about sticking out the daily grind until I could draw the pension, with a few laughs and holidays along the way. Eventually I’d buy that place in the country to spend time gardening and painting – maybe even a bit of writing.
So, here I am watching our yacht going into the water for the first time. Our Esper. Not named officially yet, but in our hearts she’s our Esper. I watch with apprehension, crossing everything… hope she doesn’t fall off the rather flimsy looking slings as she is carried by crane to the water’s edge. Will she float, or just fall like a stone straight to the bottom of the harbour? Have all the sea cocks been turned off? Is she going to let in water? Intake of breath… a prayer to Poseidon… at last they let her gently feel the water on her keel and she’s in… she looks BEAUTIFUL! It’s the first time we’ve seen her properly and we’re blown away by her grace. She’s one gorgeous lady.
Now, I check and re-check the weather forecast, concentrating on wind direction and speed. We’re going to sail round the island opposite in a clockwise direction. That means we’ll have the wind behind us to start with, then head back slightly into wind. It’s no problem – probably one big tack, followed by a shorter tack just after the castle then straight back, with the wind once again pushing us along and home. The adrenaline is starting to pump. What are we going to find when we unfurl the sails? Will we have to replace all or any of them?
Jamie and I are silent with concentration, lost in our own separate thoughts. I’m taking photos of him taking video footage of me taking photos of him. We are demented with expectation. We each feel that this first voyage is a big step and represents our future together. It better go well. We’re both going to burst if we don’t get moving soon. Then it happens. Or rather, it doesn’t happen. The engine solenoid doesn’t work. B*ll*cks.
Nevermind, we say to ourselves. That’s what this exercise is all about. It’s about discovering what problems there might be and what needs to be done to fix them. It’s no big deal. The minutes tick by. Yat Lift bring the engine specialists in and in no time they’ve fixed it. And all of a sudden we’re off. We’re motoring away from the pontoon, with Jamie at the helm. Jo’s putting up the mainsail, then the Genoa and mizzen… WE’RE SAILING! It’s everything we had imagined. She handles like a dream. She loves the ocean and the wind. We get up to 7.5 knots. We add the stay sail and now have 4 sails up. They’re all in good condition. Then I’m at the helm as Jamie takes video footage. I’m like the Cheshire Cat – all smile and nothing else. I can’t speak because I’m smiling and totally alive. This is what it is all about. This is what I had no conception of 12 months ago. This is why we are doing the right thing.
This is freedom.