“You’re so lucky Dougal! You get to work in such lovely places and meet such fascinating people. I wish I was as lucky as you and got to travel the world, sailing beautiful yachts and getting paid for the privilege”
I am incredibly lucky. To the extent that I was born with relatively few health deficiencies, to two very supportive parents in probably the best country in the world. Really being from Scotland is like winning the lottery if you want to travel, no-one has any negative preconceptions about the Scottish, we are internationally blessed with popularity.
However me swanning around the Caribbean like a Ray-Bans clad Jack Sparrow has very little to do with luck so I resent the remarks I invented for the start of this post. I believe I am where I am today not necessarily through lots of hard work but by making the right decisions. I chose to not go to university (after I got rejected), I chose to take a job on a boat in the Bahamas (after I got sacked from my summer job) and I chose to hitch a ride on a yacht sailing across the atlantic when everyone else was heading back to the mountains and the snow. I think you have to make your own luck, if you have at least some idea of what you want to do in life then do yourself a favour and throw yourself bodily in that direction.
Although there may be some exceptions. I often noticed whilst sailing on a previous yacht that, regardless of how miserable it seemed the conditions were going to be, when the owner (a very wealthy banker) showed up for his weekly yacht around The Hamptons the weather was invariably impeccable. It could be an all out storm, lashing rain with thunder and lightning thrown in to boot but by the time he stepped on board the grey clouds would have parted. The birds would set up a whistle like they were in on the joke, the sun would be bouncing off the startled wavelets and with a clap of his hands Mr Boss Man would say “Right what are you all standing around looking so soggy for? Let’s go for a sail!” Of course it would be perfect. We’d up anchor and a fresh breeze would take us up and down the sound for as long as the ladies could stand the gentle motion of the ocean. Then, as soon as the chauffeur driven car had disappeared around the corner, the first rain drops would start to fall. Our seven hour sail home would become ten ours with the cruel head wind that had blown up and we’d have to zip our heavy waterproofs right up to our eyeballs to keep the wet out.
Another meteorological example occurred this morning. A different yacht and another ludicrously wealthy boat owner. This incredibly successful entrepreneur had organised the sinking of an old ship to become a diving attraction and ultimately a new living reef. They made a big wire Kraken and had it designed so it looked like it was consuming the back of the ship, I’m told they’re going to implant coral on it and there will be Go-Pros set up to capture the whole process with time lapse photos. It’s going to look pretty awesome. The day of the sinking arrives, I could hear the rain hammering on the hull when I woke up. Sitting on the aft deck having some breakfast it seemed like they wouldn’t need to put any effort into sinking the ship but merely wait for the thing to fill up with rain. At 10 o’clock we climbed into our tender, all of us bedecked in fowl weather gear, and headed off to watch the sinking. Before we got to the sight, about 10 minutes drive away, it had stopped raining. We now learnt how long it takes for a ship to sink and for those of us who happen to work on them it was a reassuringly long time. Had it been pouring with rain it would have been miserable, had the sun been out it would have been torturous (especially for me as I’d forgotten the aforementioned Ray-Bans) but it wasn’t. Of course the conditions were nothing short of ideal, the sky was almost entirely overcast for the three hours it took The Kodiac Queen to go down, which during the Caribbean summer is pretty darn pleasant. In the very last moments though disaster seems to have struck, the ship is going down on it’s side, it looks like it might even land upside down, completely crushing the intricate Kraken structure which has taken a team of men months to construct! Just imagine the sorry sight of the upturned hull with all the wee Kraken legs sticking out the side like a squashed Daddy longlegs. Of course it didn’t though. During the 60ft decent the remaining air in the hull righted the ship and she landed evenly, Kraken side up. That was lucky….
I did intend to write about my time working in Greece and eventually get to how I came to be laying on a spinnaker on the bow of this 105′ yacht but I guess being british talking about the weather just comes all too naturally to me. Next time, I promise.