It was in the afternoon on Saturday 4th of January when our watch got woken up from our precious sleep half an hour before wake-up time. No explanation, only the message that the captain required our presence on deck immediately. Now, if you finally can sleep for a meager six hours after a tiring double night watch, this half an hour seems like an eternity. You can imagine the look on our faces when we appeared from the Foxhole.
The scene we were treated to on that moment seemed surreal, as if we were still dreaming. The crew had put the dinghy, a small motorboat that normally is stored on deck, overboard and now the captain and some other crew members were driving circles around the ship, taking pictures, screaming like madmen and jumping into the water. The past few days the temperature had been building up slowly and we’d been longing for a refreshing swim between maintenance jobs for a while now. Unfortunately (and fortunately), the ship always has too much speed to be able to do this.
It seemed they had found a very entertaining way to overcome this. I couldn’t wait to get into that boat! When the first group returned, I grabbed my chance and jumped in. While we drove away, swimming was the only thing I could think of at first – until I turned around. There she was, in all her glory, fully rigged with all her sails, as if she came straight out of a kick-ass pirate movie. How different things can look when you change perspective! This had been our home for the past few weeks now, but it was the first time we all could see her how our surroundings see us: simply magnificent. At the same time, it stroke me that the ship somehow looked very small. At that moment, it seemed almost impossible to me that fifteen people could live together for so long on such a small patch of surface. Yet, we do.
Sailing this ship, that patch of surface and the people living on it turn into a world where all the things you knew before seem to disappear into the background. Life becomes beautifully simple: eat, sleep, work, repeat. Everything becomes a group thing, we all depend on each other. The wooden railing becomes the physical border with the only thing that is outside: the ocean. Literally stepping out of that world felt liberating and scary at the same time. Knowing that there is about 4,5 kilometer of water underneath you when you dive in makes you feel very, very tiny. But boy, did we enjoy it! We all returned back to our world soaking wet and with a huge smile on our faces.
We are three weeks on the water now and it won’t be long before we will see land again. I feel unsure if I will enjoy our re-entry in civilization. This world of ropes, sails, wood and steel and the family we made here are growing on me. But I’m sure I’ll adapt again. It’s just a matter of perspective.