“Fancy a sail?”: a bit of background

Illusion in New ZealandReading Doug’s post about cruising safety reminded me of our endless Skype conversations when we first got together. Telling me about some of the people he’d met sailing, on more than one occasion the seemingly happy little anecdote ended with ‘and the boat sunk’, or ‘and he died’. An explanation would follow of how, with a little more care, the disaster could have been avoided. I think this was meant to help me feel better about the idea of going on his boat sometime, but it got to the point where I made him tell me the ending first, so I could be prepared. Most stories, though, are better told from the beginning. For example, how does an English girl based in Spain end up in Canada, about to wave her American husband off on a six month (or maybe seven, every time I ask it gets a little longer) sailing trip? And aren’t you worried about being apart that long? Well, it happened pretty much like this…

Saturday 19th September 2009: Living in land-locked Madrid, I felt independent, free, ready for whatever the world would bring my way – though I wasn’t expecting that to be a Texan sailor/engineer living in Vancouver. I was moving apartments, slightly chaotically, and, as I unloaded my messy assortment of bags onto the quiet, respectable street, out came Vicky, my new room-mate, with a man I hadn’t met before. We made plans to meet at a party later that night.

Madrid street, at night.

The Party: There’s something special about evenings in Madrid: the stones of the street still warm, the plazas full of beer and flowers, wandering the back streets around Tirso de Molina and Lavapiés. Then heading to a garage where you’re let through a graffiti-covered door into the hot sweaty buzz of a private party. Can’t beat it. Great place, great people. Didn’t really speak to Vicky and her friend, though, as I was having far too much fun with everyone else. But that’s ok, because I knew I’d see them at …

Three in an elevator: Vicky, Doug, and Sara heading to dinner. 21-Sept-09.

The Next Party: The even better thing about evenings in Madrid is that they never finish. Nothing weird about leaving one party after midnight, and heading back to your new apartment, where your room-mates are holding another one. Only thing is, your feet start to get tired by about 2am, so it was nice when Vicky’s random friend, who turned out to be visiting and American, said “Would you like to sit down for a bit with me?” People went off to a club at about 4am (oh Madrid, how I miss you!), we stayed put, drank some wine, spilled some wine, ate pizza at 6am with new room-mate Jen… and……

After dinner, 21-Sept-2009. Taken by Vicky.

The Next Couple of Days: Vicky didn’t seem to mind that I’d kidnapped her visitor, Doug. He was only in town for a long weekend, finishing some business, but that was time for a load of walks, talks, cervezas, and movies. Some time in the hours before he left he asked the fateful question: “So, would you consider going on a long sailing trip sometime?“. It felt like a test. I didn’t think about it too much: “that sounds fun”. I guess I passed because…

A few days later: I got an email from Doug, now back in Vancouver, with three photos, and the subject line ‘My boat’. A couple of pictures from his final night in Madrid, and one of his boat (see above) in its New Zealand mooring. I was hooked. Skype, emails, timezones and international flights were about to start to feature heavily in both our lives… (but I’ll save that for another post).

And no, in answer to all the questions, I’m not worried or sad about Doug going away for so long. I can’t wait! I’m excited that after all this time he is finally able to get back out on the ocean. And even more excited that he’s bringing Illusion back here, so we can, fingers crossed, at last sail together. Long distance relationships are not a whole load of fun, but I think we’ll be ok – you can’t fall in love with a sailor and then try to stop him going to sea.

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