For me, the moment you step outside your comfort zone is when adventure truly begins. Sitting in the Azores with 1,800 miles of open sea behind me, I have now definitely stepped out of mine.
Working on a 30-meter sailing yacht landed me with the opportunity to cross the large (and somewhat empty) expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Setting off from the tranquil white sands of the Bahamas, with a brief fuel stop in Bermuda, I now find myself writing from these beautiful volcanic islands. If you, like me, have never acknowledged the Azores before, they are a collection of islands jutted out of Europe belonging to Portugal and a convenient rest stop for yachts to enjoy land before the final stretch.
I have always suffered from that well-known pesky travel bug syndrome combined with the irritable symptom of itchy feet, working on a yacht with ever-changing surroundings provides me with the perfect remedy. Lacking in real sailing experience, gearing up to cross an entire ocean was nail-biting to say the least. Leading up to it, I found myself battling between overthinking everything that could possibly go wrong outweighed with soaking up the Bahamas sunshine and ignoring what was to come.
The first couple of days of the crossing were surreal; traveling through time zones without stepping foot on a plane was a hard one to grasp. Add that to completely throwing your body clock out of sync and waking up at odd times to take watches in the middle of nowhere. Days merged into each other, starting with colorful sunrises and closing with enchanting starlit skies undimmed by light pollution. Daily conversations about weather became ingrained, as this determined our comfort, no matter how much we thought we were in control knowing that mother nature can flip at any moment definitely puts you on edge. Momentous events including dolphins playing in our wake, shooting stars and breaching whales made the long days seem worthwhile and highlighted how fascinating the ocean can be.
Undeniably crossing the Atlantic and experiencing endless horizon for days on end has an epic dimension to it. Of course, we have the first colonists to thank for making it achievable. On one hand, it provides you with total zen and on the other, it gives you that eerie feeling there is nothing else around you to prove that our world still exists. With only five other crewmembers for company, you realize that you are completely on your own out there if anything was to happen and seeing only one other boat for eight days does understandably build some anxiety. When that anxiety officially eases is the moment you see land, which is more surreal than the previous endless horizon. We arrived into the Azores in the late hours guided by bright lights and the promise of a cold beer.
There is a lot to say for an adventure that involves contemplating such vastness on one go, crossing an ocean in a straight line with no one else to get in your way may seem like a simple voyage, but it is far from it. Looking back on the last eight days seems like an eternity ago but once we have painted our yachts name and logo on the dock in true Azores tradition we will be on our way with another 1,200 miles to go, next stop Gibraltar!