10.30am, Tuesday 24 November. Land has been sighted.
Heather has won the game – first one to spot land doesn’t have to help with the dinghy. To put this into context, sherking dinghy duties is the ultimate prize today and something to be very smug about. Re-erecting the dinghy has been a job both Holly and I have been dreading since we dismantled the thing on Day 1, a 4 hour long Dakar sweat fest often described as a bigger ‘low’ than Locustgate. With “it WILL fit in the bag, it’s been done before” still ringing in our ears, we embarked on the task of piecing it back together along with several other very unenthusiastic crew members (Heather looking on from the comfort of the cockpit) as this would be the trusty vessel which would ferry us all from Sea Dragon to our treasured land.
Personally, I’d rather stay on the boat, turn around and go back to Dakar than to take on that dinghy again but judging by the excitement of the other crew members at the sight of land, that wasn’t an option.
I would love to say Brazil looked glorious spread out in front of us as we made our way towards her like intrepid travellers but the truth is Recife looked like a concrete jungle, towering up out of the horizon, a horizon that up and until now has been an endless extension of our blissful bubble that we have been living in. Connected to the outside world by a couple of emails, if that, our existence has been basic and simple, a trait of the trip I have relished and shall miss. Each day activity options are simple; on watch, asleep, on ‘domestic duty’, eating, at Science school, doing laundry or hanging out. That’s it.
This simplicity has faded out the noise of modern life, focused the mind on the tasks in hand and allowed us to be truly present, albeit with a healthy amount of day-dreaming. Last night, as the sun set on our beloved horizon, dolphins came and reminded us of the beauty of where we are, playfully ducking, diving, jumping and even attempting to ‘walk’ on the water. As I’m writing this blog, ‘Dolphin alert’ has just been shouted by Heather (she’s really on her game today!) as a group of bottlenose dolphins have come to check us out, once again reminding us why it is so important to protect our ocean and the magical marine life inhabiting it.
There are mixed emotions on board regarding our arrival into Recife. The proximity to steak, pop, French fries, burgers, cocktails, ice cold beer, men and probably more than anything, normal water that hasn’t been purified to an inch of its life is slightly overwhelming. Amanda for one, is struggling to contain her excitement even plucking her eyebrows to mark occasion. These mouth watering luxuries have been discussed, craved and fantasized over at length during pretty much every watch session so to finally have them in our sights makes the end of our trip very apparent. Mobile phones are now switched on and calls have been made to families, parents and ‘dates’, again, signs that strongly indicate we are re-entering the real world.
Our blissful bubble has been popped, returning home is just around the corner, a realization that fills me with sadness, not excitement. Leaving this group of women who have been my family for the past three weeks is not something I am looking forward. Don’t get me wrong, temporarily disengaging and going for a run alone and in silence once on land is extremely appealing, but leaving this group permanently, is not something that fills me with joy. Amanda described meeting our group as having gained sisters, mothers and aunties. I can second that. The preconceptions of an all female group were unfortunately expected but in hindsight are odd. Women are wise, they suffer no fools. Newly named eXXpedition Ascension Atlantic crew has successfully created a fun, honest, caring and inspirational environment to be in and one that I shall look back on fondly.
An all female boat, for me, has been the making of this trip not the downfall. The question for us all now, is, how do we take what we have learnt about ourselves, women, the ocean and our environment and put it to good use? To make sure we are not sucked back into a world of habit and ease. Tonight our science discussion will recap on how we can make positive changes in our own lives and what we can do to influence our local community to ensure the knowledge we have gained on this trip is translated into actions and lives on. Tune into my follow up blog tomorrow to find out what these are and see how you can help us transfer our learnings from boat life into real life.