Last month I had the opportunity to sail for five days in the Florida Keys. My friend, Captain Jennifer Maclean, had an open bunk for her 101/103 A.S.A. certification course. One of my goals is to become a certified ASA instructor, so this would be step one. I jumped on the chance and two days after I received the phone call, I was loading my things onto sv Indian Summer II. It was the perfect opportunity to, not only get certified, but to spend some time with someone I admire greatly. Not only does Jenn run her own sailing charter school (Sunshine Coast Adventures), something I aspire to do myself, but also is a massage therapist, and a practitioner of both yoga and tai chi. I was looking forward to hours of great sailing, yoga on the foredeck in the evenings and wonderful organic meals.
Jenn and I both belong to a co-op here in South Florida that offers fresh, organic and when possible local fruits and vegetables. (www.anniesbuyingclub.com for those of you in Florida) For forty-five dollars we receive a HUGE box of produce either weekly or bi-weekly. There is so much food I have a hard time eating it all in a two-week period. The reason I am sharing this, is that if you are still here in the States and have access to a club like this, I highly recommend it. It not only supports your local farmers, but the quality of the produce is so much higher and fresher than store bought. A simple Google search I am sure will find you someone in your area. Having just received her order for the week, we had an abundance of amazing produce onboard.
Joining Jenn and myself onboard was Nancy, an extremely sweet and determined woman from the West Coast of Florida. Nancy had recently made some life changes, which included regular visits to the gym, and changing her eating habits. This had led to her loosing several pounds (I think she said over 20!) increasing her energy level, which filtered into all areas of her life. She was also looking forward to an inspiring and educational time aboard.
Upon awakening each morning we each spent some time on the foredeck meditating. We would take turns and it never seemed like it was planned or forced. There was a natural rotation between studying our manuals while drinking our tea or coffee and making our way forward. After this time, Jenn would make us a nutritious breakfast of granola and fruit.
Once we had breakfast cleaned up, we weighed anchor and our lessons and testing began. We spent the days tacking and jibing; practicing each as both skipper and as crew. Indian Summer II is a Morgan Out Island 41 ketch with a roller furling on the headsail and a manually raised main sail and mizzen. During the time we were out, we had fairly steady 15-20 knot ESE winds, which led for some wonderful sailing. Soon we were practicing our tacks and jibes singlehanded. At one point, I asked Jenn why she was teaching me to single hand, and she just grinned knowing that I may be sailing my own 41 foot boat by myself soon. We both giggled a bit as I let out with the command “Prepare to jibe”.
As the days flew by, Nancy and I both noticed our muscles more and more each day. Nancy made the comment that she was feeling muscles she didn’t known she had. At the end of each day, once the anchor was secure and we were nestled in behind Tavernier Key, I would climb up onto the foredeck and begin my sun salutations, ease my way into some standing postures and then melt into the deck as I settled into some much needed long, deep stretches. Then came dessert… Bob Bitchin’s (Cruising Outpost Magazine, formerly Latitudes & Attitudes) favorite, savasana or corpse pose. Sinking (metaphorically speaking of course) into the deck, feeling the gentle rock of the boat as she hung secure, with the sun setting and a quiet breeze caressing my skin, I would drift into a peaceful and meditative place.
Yup, I could definitely live like this. Good thing that’s my plan! Each day, we ate the most delicious healthy meals (eating larger portions than I care to admit) worked the lines and sails for hours and then ended with some yoga to open and massage the muscles preparing them for a deep sleep and more to come the next day.
As we worked throughout the day, I was conscious when I was trimming or raising the sails of how I was standing and moving my body. I noticed how it felt when I wasn’t aligned and moving in a safe manner versus how it felt if I had that extra split second to align my body from my feet through the top of my head. Organizing the body and using the power of the core, made certain tasks much easier both to accomplish and easier on my body.
Naturally there were bruises. It’s not a good day (or five) of sailing if there isn’t blood or bruising, is it? I do believe however that Nancy took the brunt of the bruises, I am not sure what color her legs really were, by the end of the trip, they varied between a light grey and a deep purple. We both felt energized and exhausted by the time we finished docking on that final day.
Going into this trip, I was not only thrilled to be getting my certifications, but looking forward to a ‘healthy cruise’. When all was said and done, even with the massive amounts of food we ate, because the food was whole, organic and unprocessed –except for the chips we ate at lunch J, the physical movement that took place naturally from sailing and the yoga at the end of each day, I actually lost four pounds! Here’s to Healthy Cruising! Thanks Jenn!
Peace, Love, Laughter & Pirate Yogis!
SV Ave de Paso