Crazy or What?
I got to tell you all about my stepsister.
When Anna turned 55, she married her second husband, a – soon to be retired – Dutch guy. He retired after a few years, and instead of moving to Amsterdam, he surprised her with his long kept secret dream. He asked her to travel with him around the world.
Wow, that’s cool, she thought.
But then he added … “on a sailboat!”
Anna, a petite, quirky, blue-eyed, blond, worked as a legal secretary her entire employed life. The only kind of sport she had ever undertaken was horseback riding. And her only fame to claim was speed typing. Anna had never set foot on a boat — not even a rowboat. She had no idea what she was getting into, when she said yes, while visions of golden sunsets over turquoise water, luxurious cabins, a smiling captain, a Chinese cook, and a mahogany bar, with shiny brass ornaments, danced through her little naive head. She imagined all the smart marine style clothes she’d wear, silk bed sheets covered with seagull prints, navy blue and white striped deck chairs, and an array of wide brimmed sunhats to shield her sun-tanned brow.
They sold everything they owned; horses, apartment, house, cars bikes, teacups…you name it…absolutely everything, and invested the money in a modest used sailboat, with a teeny little cabin and kitchen. “We will be on a tight budget”, her husband said… “After all, the money has to hold us over water, so to speak, at least six to eight years.”
“What?” Anna’s mouth fell open. “You’re joking, right?”
“No joke. We’ll need that time if we want to sail comfortably around the globe.”
My tall, gaunt, husband already has the stature of a sailor, she thought, as he crinkled one eye shut in a sailor- like wink, and puffed sweet aromatic tobacco in his Cuban pipe.
Before they set sail, Anna completed a sailing and navigation course, (with flying colors, I may add) and earned a licence for their MF/HF radio. And her husband, who already had absolved a coast guard training course, took lessons, from a doctor friend, in how to operate an acute appendicitis, just in case….!
Finally after a year of preparations, they set sail. From the first month on, my half-sister sent, per email, monthly updates with all the gory details.
She wrote about cockroaches crawling out of the cuspidor’s drain, while a native dentist treated her in some remote harbor. She described sudden hurricanes and monster waves, tossing their little boat around like half a walnut shell spiraling behind a speed boat. She described seasickness was like getting your insides turned outside … over and over again. She complained about feeling claustrophobic and bruised when they were tossed around in their miniature cabin. And she admitted to occasionally hoping they’d go under, just to end the endless torture. She prayed for help, more than she would like to admit, and asked herself hundreds of times, if her brain was out to lunch, when she agreed to sail along.
Their used sailboat was in need of constant repairs. After each sailing spree, they barely made it into the next harbor. One of the many big challenges was getting replacements for their broken equipment, which meant waiting it out for months at a harbor before they could set sail again.
But when the seas were calm and the wind was steady, she forgot the storms and basked in the beauty of it all. She wrote of the vibrant colors in the water, of dolphins diving through the still sunsets, flying fish, and whales. She described sunrises that filled the sky with a fiery fierceness. She wrote of snorkelling in the coves of Tahiti, Corsica, and New Zealand. And she wrote, with love, of the many friends they had made while waiting for their new equipment around the world.
She asked Hubby and me to join them for a short excursion between two countries. But thank goodness we agreed to say ‘thank you … but no thank you.’ The height of our adventurous nature is – taking a spin on a calm lake, in a big boat, with a bottle of Chianti wine.
Sometimes Anna wrote about being lonely, and how much she missed her family and girlfriends. She confided, more than once, that she is doing this just for the love for her husband. What a strong love that must be.
Anna is a landlubber now. She and her husband sailed twice around the world in eight years. They bought a piece of land in Thailand, built a lovely house and a guest house, and they plan to live there till the mighty sea – just may… who knows – beckon them back once again.