December 3, 2019
Tuesday – 12:03 pm
The Atlantic Ocean Onboard the MSY Wind Surf
It’s been over 24 hours since I’ve taken a motion sickness pill, and I don’t feel like I could hurl. Woot woot! The seas have smoothed out considerably, and there’s truly no place in the world I’d rather be.
I’ve been using this time on ship to reflect on the Camino, and also to transcribe into a Word file my Shinola notebook that I filled during that incredible backpacking journey across Spain. My new routine is breakfast with J’Nell on deck, and then staking out a quiet place inside to work. I’m making good progress.
The ship continued on its southern route last night and we passed by the island of Madeira, and now we’re finally heading west toward the Caribbean. How very cool we’re using the same pathway and currents as sailors did hundreds of years ago. Makes me feel connected to the golden age of sea exploration…or maybe it’s just all the tequila I’ve been drinking.
With each day the air temperature gets warmer, and right now it’s sunny and 68. We’ll be in the 70s soon, and then 80s (which I haven’t felt since September in Spain). There is a pool and Jacuzzi on board, and I’ll be lounging in both with a cocktail in hand soon. But for now I’ll enjoy ambling around the decks donning a warm jacket, breathing in the clean, salt air.
I’ll close here, as I want a good 2 hours transcribing my journal, and then to spend some time at the gym. After that I’ll join J’Nell for my first adult beverage of the day in the Compass Rose bar in the stern (quickly becoming our neighborhood pub), which is open air and allows you to gaze out at the wake of the ship. Officially they call it teatime, with finger sandwiches and cookies, though for us it will Beverage Package Time.
Tuesday, December 10, 2019
Being out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, with nothing but sky, clouds, and the vast ocean in every direction, is humbling. Forget about the size of this sailboat, you realize how small you are, how insignificant your existence is considering the history of the world.
And then very nice server asks if you want another margarita.
Hard to believe it’s been a week since I’ve picked up this notebook, but the days undulate by in a languid bliss. Writing, reading, drinking, eating, and conversations with J’Nell and our new boat friends (whether passengers or the incredibly friendly and amazing staff). I do an hour at the gym daily and sleep like a baby every night. While I know getting to island hop in the Caribbean is going to be fun, I’d gladly take another couple of weeks at sea.
Crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Lisbon has been like attending summer camp (complete with model building contests, skits, and daily activities), but you’re doing it with cool grandparents and an endless supply of alcohol. While there certainly has been plenty of solitude, the trip has been a lot more social than I anticipated since J’Nell and I are two of the youngest onboard.
The weather has also improved significantly. Yesterday we officially crossed into the tropics, but it’s been perfect for the last three days. Yesterday I went into the pool and I’ve been in the hot tub several times. I just got another margarita, and I’m going to get into that bubbling water again while the sun is still up over the ship.
…. later on
Being in the whirling hot tub, sipping a cocktail and staring out at miles and miles of ocean and the enormous puffy clouds, is magical. Above me are the huge white masts of the ship stark against the blue sky. This is perfection, and I look forward to doing the same tomorrow.
With the 5 star service, decadent meals and being pampered 24/7, this is a stark dichotomy from the Camino de Santiago. On The Way you have to be self-reliant and ascetic, and here everything is done for you in a posh manner. Hand washing our clothes and hoping we’ll have enough sun to dry them feels very far away. Now we now leave our laundry in a bag every day outside our room, and everything is perfectly cleaned and hung up in our closet for us.
Do I feel guilty?
Hell no! Living the life of a pilgrim on the Camino day-after-day is what I loved so much about the experience, and I miss it tremendously. But you have to make peace with coming to the end of that, be it in Santiago, Finisterre, Muxia, or wherever you stop. You can’t keep walking forever. Why not come home on a luxurious ship, something like Hemingway would have done in the 1920s.
I must stop here and make note of the moon, which looks quite full and is directly behind the ship. The sun is setting at the bow, and here, in the stern, I have a perfect view of the round silver orb hanging above all the gorgeous clouds twinged with pink and gray. This is better than any painting ever done in the history of the world.
December 11, 2019
Wednesday- 4:01 pm
We’re now 400-or-so nautical miles from the Caribbean. What exactly is a nautical mile … that I cannot say. But I know it means we are close to land.
Surprisingly, the idyllic and calm days at sea have been replaced with a windy, cool and stormy one. Of course that means choppy water and a rocking and rolling boat, but thankfully no hint of nausea. The margarita still tastes delicious, and I can hear Jack the bartender shaking a new one for me inside the Compass Rose bar.
A few minutes ago J’Nell and I were at a table with Lindsay and Peter, the very nice and cool couple from Australia. Lindsay makes me think of Lady Brett Ashley, or who the character would have become decades after The Sun Also Rises. She’s tall, refined, stylish, and has a great sense of humor and wit. I actually thought she was British. Peter has the friendliness and cheer of many other Aussies we met on the Camino, and he has a very contemporary style about him. Though they are likely somebody’s grandparents, they’re both timeless in the way they converse with you.
I feel the same way about Miss Charlene (our dinner companion every night), and she could be a decade older than Peter and Lindsay. Then there’s Miguel and Stel, both wonderful people who we usually chat with at Compass Rose during teatime (retired, they split the year between their house in Mexico and with family in Wisconsin). All of them are rooted in the here and now, and have that easygoing vibe that more younger people should cultivate.
I’m at a table on the deck now by myself, and where once you could make out the horizon, it’s all a whitish gray. The ship is traveling at only 10 knots, and we’re never going to outrun this storm. Rain is imminent, and I love seeing it approaching. And now there’s a rainbow to my left (is that port or starboard?…I haven’t mastered the nautical language), though it soon disappears into the misty gray.
I retreated back into the bar just as the rain started, though it’s barely more than a sprinkle and maybe we’re on the edge of the storm. The captain said he was making W’s in the water trying to avoid it. We’ve really been lucky with the weather on this crossing (that’s what everyone on board calls this journey … not a cruise, but a crossing) and hopefully we’re sailing far away from all storms into the sunny and tranquil waters of the Caribbean.
But let it rain now and I don’t have a worry in the world. It’s 5 pm, and I have just been handed margarita number three. Beverage plan for the win! Let’s keep on sailing.