Before we went on our latest sailing trip (from Norway to Iceland), my concept of sailing was, hmm – trying to put it lightly – romantically wrong. I learnt it hard way, but I have survived. I remember at some point one of our crew members – Marcin K. – asked me if I was willing to do it again. I did not hesitate. I said yes straight away. As for me there was no doubt about it.
It’s funny when people say to you – there will be a crossing taking more than two days. The boat is going to rock all the time. The wind will be blowing straight into your face and the rain will drop directly into your eyes, like it knows that this is going to annoy you the most. You will be constantly moving, even in your sleep your muscles are going to work hard, trying to fit your body into the tiny space of your bunk. Preventing you from falling out. You are going to be seasick and still expected to do your duty as a member of the crew. You will be asked to cook for the rest of your colleagues, regardless the conditions out and inside. You will have to cover your watch every 4 hours during each passage, which means you really should sleep whenever it is possible… And believe me – sometimes it wasn’t.
I do not get sick on any type of transport – car, plane, train, bus, ferry, boat… I am the person who can sit comfortably on the latest rides offered by the amusement park. Yes, I am scared, but I do not get sick. But the sailing boat is a different story – EVERYONE gets sick. There are no exceptions, especially for the first timers. Unless a little bit in your ear (labyrinth), responsible for your sense of balance, is somehow broken.
I suffered, my Marcin suffered, other members of the crew suffered… except from Daniel, but he is sailing very often and his body got used to it. My 12 hours encounter with the seasickness made me cry and swear in front of my husband and Marcin K., that I am not coming back on the boat after reaching Shetlands. I remember sitting with them in the cockpit, my husband behind the rudder and Marcin K. sitting next to me, trying to make me feel better… I sat on the bench, awaiting another seasickness attack. At that point I did believe I will leave the boat and I will not continue.
During these 12 hours I was fighting a battle against my body. Pushing it to the limits. Trying to make it behave like I wanted. I was forcing dry bread down my throat so I had something to throw up with. I was drinking water, which I knew my stomach could not hold for long. I felt like the rock in my stomach is getting bigger and bigger and my body protests fiercely. I have never felt so exposed, vulnerable and week. At one point I did not manage to attach myself with the harness to the safety rope and someone was holding my legs, when I was throwing up into the beautifully deep blue sea…
I am not sure what made me stay. I am not a quitter. Never has been. Besides we could not leave Kuba (our captain), Marcin K. and Daniel. Even though my sailing skills were, well, rubbish. I think none of them really believed me, when I was saying I do not want to sail further. I remember Daniel looking at me in disbelieve during our watch, when I said I do not want to continue. He simply said – You must – and that was it. I realized I really do not have a choice, as this is not only about me. I have signed to do something I did not realize was going to be that hard and as I did I took the responsibility not only for myself but for others on the boat. I knew he was right, even thought at this point I did not like it one bit.
At this point I cannot forget about my husband Marcin as well. He was there for me all the time, even though he was fighting with his own seasickness effects, looking after me and making sure that I am fine. I know that this trip was equally difficult for him and he was seriously considering leaving, like I was. And I knew that in reality the decision was mine, because he would do what I would decide. At the end we did stay and I am very happy and proud we did. I have learnt a lot about what I am capable of. Now I know that the impossible is just an expression.