I’m sitting in a picture-perfect Greek anchorage. There’s a small beach with a taverna on the hillside and behind us a tiny island, all cliffs and scrub with the tiniest white-washed church with a congregation made up entirely of goats. All lined up along the shaded side with their bells clanging away when they move.
I’m contemplating the places we have visited, time spent with the kids and the inner transformation that is being demanded of me by me in order to get the very most out of this excellent adventure.
After collecting both kids in Symi ….the day after that anchoring incident….we set off to explore more of Symi and then Tilos and Nisiros before heading to Rhodes to drop off Ambar so she could fly home to Australia. That, and get our alternator fixed for the second time. The alternator is really important and you cannot go for any length of time without one. Luckily, we have a generator which has allowed us to keep sailing and top up our batteries (the job the alternator usually does) otherwise it would have been straight to Rhodes and bye-bye holiday for the family. We were able to sail via Khalki on the way to Rhodes giving Ambar a good taste of the different islands in the Dodecanese group. There was no shortage of wind or drama but also no shortage of laughter and swimming, good food and sundowners. We swam in the crystal clear waters of Tilos, hired a car and circumnavigated the island of Nisiros including a visit to the crater of the extinct volcano that IS Nisiros and swam and swam and swam and of course, ate cheese.
Saying goodbye is both a blessing and a curse. Blessing because we have had the opportunity to get together and curse because, once again it means saying goodbye and seeing our kids wing off into their lives in different parts of the world, far, far away from us.
Nick, however was able to stay longer and was super helpful to Rick as they replaced the old alternator with a new one in Rhodes and then had to trouble shoot why it wasn’t working. He’s much more useful than me when it comes to that sort of thing. But even with 2 excellent brains and a fair knowledge of electrical systems they couldn’t work it out. It was a hard day on the good ship Intention when by the end of the day there was zero progress….except that a new alternator had been installed correctly (no small feat). A visit from the local auto electrician the next day fixed the problem in no time. He was some sort of wizard and despite not a word of English he got the job done, money was exchanged and we were ready to go. So that afternoon we provisioned, got washing done, filled our water tanks ready to leave the following morning. We island hopped from Rhodes to Symi then Kos and finally Kalymnos where we hung out with Nick until he had to leave and head back to his new home in Spain.
So now it’s back to just us. And I have become aware of my growing edge, that place that you could ignore but is actually demanding that you lean into the tricky part of your psyche. This life demands awareness and I have to be conscious of what I am doing with body, mind and emotions all the time. For the first 2 months, despite good balance, I have looked like a car crash victim as I have been absolutely covered in bruises and scrapes. I bruise very easily but I have also run into every bit of the boat usually when we are under sail and I am getting tossed around a bit. But that is improving and currently I look quite normal which means that my awareness is getting better and I am learning to slow down particularly when under pressure.
But what I have been becoming increasingly aware of is that since the ‘Symi incident’ I have been getting more nervous about med mooring, coming into marinas and even anchoring. As soon as I know we are moving my stomach lurches and I begin to tense up and by the time we arrive at our anchorage I am actually quite anxious. And it’s always fine but ironically I am not. And this is new for me.
So what do I do? Breathe…yes. Counsel myself…yes. Keep on doing it until it becomes second nature…definitely. But underneath that there’s more and it’s about control. As I become aware of it I am able to surrender it. Rick is a very competent skipper and I don’t need to second guess him and worry when we have made a decision together after talking through our options. I just need to work on what I can do that helps me improve in the jobs I do. And let go. Good old Carl Rodgers, the eminent psychologist says ‘Change cannot happen until we acknowledge where we are at’. Accepting that I am a bit of an anxious control freak is a bit embarrassing but the territory is not entirely new although the anxiety is. It’s just that the stakes are higher now as we carry our home with us and we are at the whim and the mercy of the seas with nothing but our common sense and knowledge to back us.
People we have met who have been living this life for a number of years have raised eyebrows at our pace and we know there is still some slowing down to be done. Now commitments to other people’s travel plans are done we have that opportunity. Our plans have changed somewhat and we will be in Greece until we leave for Australia in early November and this will give us time to get further into the rhythm of sailing life. For now we are well provisioned, we have water and diesel aplenty which means we can let the wind either carry us along or stay and swim and visit the monastery and the goats. Or if the hankering for calamari gets strong we can have our arms twisted and visit that charming taverna on the hill.