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Living the Sailing Dream
On a sunny Monday in April, my life drastically changed, as I boarded the plane for my first international flight.
Sailing had been a dream of mine for as long I could remember, and I had signed up on the Crewbay website at least six month prior to meeting Eal. Crewbay is a website connecting captains to interested crew members. Eal was the captain who had reached out to me.
I had already made plans with a friend to travel to Greece during the summer, and when Eal randomly contacted me about helping him through the spring; the dates aligned perfectly and it seemed meant to be. I booked my ticket just twelve days out; I was heading to Europe!
I spent 36 hours at the airport/ on planes.
From Pit- Iceland, Iceland- London, and finally from London-Cyprus. You may think 36 hours sounds a long time to get to Cyprus, and yes, you are correct. But this is how you get the cost of a plane ticket from $1,200 down to $275.
I arrived Tuesday night, still full of nerves. Cyprus is only 300 miles West of Syria, and passport control leaving the airport was no joke. The man fingered through my passport multiple times before looking at me and questioning “first time out of your country?” “Yes” I replied with a nervous smile, to which his stern face broke into a giant grin “have fun” he replied with a thick accent, and handed me back my passport
In the airport lobby I met Eel, who is a software developer that works from the boat. He takes on crew to help with cooking, boat maintenance, and to sail while he works.
During the hour long drive from the airport to the Limassol Marina, Eel filled me in on the boat and life at the marina. Still when we pulled up I had wide eyes like a child. It was so beautiful!
The marina was lit with pretty blue lights and surrounded by giant fancy houses. Shiny white boats lined the docks and the moon’s reflection danced in the sea water.
It was hard to believe that a place so extravagant was going to be my temporary home.
Over the next few days I settled in and learned the ins and outs of the boat.
The boat is a 40ft Catamaran with three cabins and a salon. The salon is large with a kitchen area on the side and surrounded with giant windows. There is a front and back door, both which usually stay propped open throughout the day…
From inside you feel the sea breeze, smell the salt in the air, and hear the accents of all the different travelers docked nearby.
On Friday a boat of 7 Israelis pulled in down the dock. They filled the air with sweet music from there guitar and soft singing voices. Later in the evening they invited us over for beer and fruit. I sat, sandwiched between two men, drinking corona and eating cantaloupe, trying to make out what little broken English they spoke. Their stories, their laughter, their love for each other, I felt as though they were my teachers in this strange new land.
In the morning one of them invited me to join them on their 28 hour trip back to Israel. “Someday”, I promised, and blew them kisses goodbye.
On Saturday, we had a bit of wind and took the boat out for the first time.
I had the hugest grin plastered across my face as we pulled out of the harbor.
We traveled 12 nautical miles South East, at about 6 knots. Then we lost the wind, and motored for the duration of the trip.
I was surprised when an hour in my stomach turned and I felt green.
It may perhaps take a few trips to regain steady sea legs.
On Sunday I took Eel’s bike and rode into the common area of Limassol. With every step away from the marina comes more Greek language and authentic culture. Street markets with tables towering with clothes for 3 euro, men in speedos roaming the beach, couples kissing in the park.
And though I tried to blend in, I suppose I did not. For I noticed many people staring at me, at which point I decided to keep my phone in my pocket and not to bike too far.
At one point I was sitting on a park bench when three guys came up to me and asked “picture?”. I had just watched a video about how con artist in Europe sometimes work in teams and try to distract people before swiping their wallets, and so I tightened my grip on my coin purse, and asked them several times “why?
“Picture? picture?” they asked again.
Because I am American? Because I have blonde hair?”.
It was as if they had learned the English world “picture”, just to ask me for one, for I never did get an answer to my question, nor did I hear any other English words.
I finally agreed, and they took turns standing next to me.
The whole thing was so weird; they must have thought I was someone famous.
Despite the unfamiliarity, I am loving this place!
Each morning I wake to the views of the Marina outside my cabin window.
Each day I find more beauty in this new world and the travellers around me.
I have been here just less than a week, but already it feels like a much longer.
The plan is to stay here in Cyprus until June 1st, at which point we will begin to sail to Croatia. Mid June is when I will leave the boat and fly to Greece to meet my friend.
I feel so blessed to be here and to be having this experience.
I feel so lucky to have had this dream become a reality.