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The subtle art of getting slow

After nearly 8 weeks onboard Lady Roslyn, we are very much into the rythmn and flow of living life on the water.

I remember looking at myself last year and finding that I had small bruises all over my body and small cuts and nicks on my hands.

Sailing and managing a catamaran as big as Lady Roslyn is sometimes physically demanding and it is great to go to bed feeling that I have worked muscles which now feel tired. Life on a boat is much more active than when we are at home, going to the office every day, which certainly accounts for some of the knocks and bumps we experience.

This year, I made a concious effort to slow things right down from the day we stepped onboard in Athens in early May. Many of us live lives at a fast pace, rushing here and there, getting through our busy lives. I've found that when I bring that busyness and shore based pace onboard, I end up getting bruised and knocked about.

On land, we operate in a static environment through which we, as humans, move and navigate our way. When you want to go from A to B, you can get there knowing that the table or chair or cupboard is where it is and so you your senses allow you to move through the space freely and at speed.

Onboard a boat, even one as stable as a catamaran, things are different. You are moving through the space and so is the boat. The table or chair or cupboard is not necessarily where it was when you set off to get to where you wanted to go. Even with our mantra of "One hand for yourself and one hand for the boat" those stair edges still manage to move and crack you on the shin if you move too fast.

I've noticed that slowing down the decision making process also leads to better outcomes. When coming into an anchorage, we don't charge into the bay at full speed but slow things right down from a distance and give ourselves time to assess the bay and all the permutations which may exist to ensure we have a safe stay. Before dropping anchor, we will often stop the boat where we think will be good and just hold ourselves in position to see what other boats around us are doing and how it feels to be there. When we set the anchor, there's no rush, so we let it sit on the seabed and settle itself in before reversing and checking the set.

We did exactly that yesterday when we arrived at our anchorage of last evening. We are in a small bay on the east coast of Symi island in the Dodecanese. There are very high and steep cliffs plunging into the ocean on 3 sides of us with pine trees clinging to parts of the slopes where they can. The small beach made of light pebbles curves towards a small church nestled in among oleander bushes and pines. The water is crystal clear turquoise blue.

Being as beautiful as it is, it is also very popular with day trippers coming on boats from the main town of Simi. When we arrived here yesterday the bay was full of gulets and other yachts, but there was an opening between two gulets that looked good close to shore on one side of the beach. We approached slowly and just stopped where we wanted to anchor and waited. When we were happy that it was a good spot, we dropped the anchor and let it settle before deciding to attach a line to shore.

By late afternoon, all the day trippers had left and we had the entire bay to ourselves with only a small herd of goats and the sounds of cicadas for company.

At sunset a couple of gulets, a catamaran and a power boat joined us in the bay and as the full moon rose over the water last evening, I lay on the trampoline with Catherine and our eldest daughter Sarah-Jane and we marvelled at the twinkling light on the water from the moon and the glow from the gulets nearby which looked like pirate ships in the dark.

Had we rushed into the bay and made a snap decision, our natural reaction would have been to turn around and motor right out again to look for a more secluded spot.

I'm glad we didn't and am happy to keep learning this subtle art.

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