The sun warms my face and legs as I sit atop a sharp rock above a valley in Spain. A man-made lake glistens in the breezy sunshine below and the Mediterranean casts a sharp horizon. The road passes below me on its climb up the rolling hills to the white washed village of Periana. It is quiet and beautiful in Andalusia, but its time to go. Two and a half months after leaving Seattle, my Spanish adventure has gone bust. Lost in Spain, it is time to start again.
I came to Spain – Gibraltar – to earn my Yachtmaster ticket from a Royal Yacht Association (RYA) licensed school. It is a rigorous 15 week course taught in a variety of 37 to 44 foot cruising monohulls. The sailing takes place in the busy waters around Gibraltar, with frequent crossings of the Strait plus cruises to Portugal and Spain. My girlfriend, Dawn, came with me to gain enough RYA certifications to work as crew. It was the perfect way to spend a winter and start my “retirement” – earn a commercial license, then buzz off to the Caribbean to skipper and crew a charter catamaran in paradise.
Except…..I dont want to skipper a so-slow condo-maran full of bitchy “clients” in the Caribbean. And I dont want to learn the stuffy, calcified, “so very British” RYA way.
Nope….I want to skipper a light and lively trimaran (Maravilla) wherever I feel like taking her. Fast, free and easy, soaring, lifted…beach her if you want, fly when you can, hair blown back in the apparent, big smiles on sun-browned faces.
That was the original plan, to refit a poor lost classic trimaran and see what we could do with her, while sharing the adventure on these pages. But the course became the priority and dictated our schedule from the moment we left Seattle. We didnt sail Maravilla as we expected and I didnt communicate here as hoped. After two weeks in Gibraltar it all came flying apart.
The RYA program is rigorous and proscribed. There is an RYA way to do everything – from chart work to VHF calls to mooring and sail trim. Largely self taught, irascible, cantankerous and independent, I did not take easily to being newby crew on a dead slow monohull. Fifteen weeks of slow sailing, sleeping on a smelly moldy salon bench in a drippy crowded boat, doing things the RYA way was more than I bargained for. Maravilla and freedom called…visions of her skimming through the Keys came while helming the Bavaria at 4 knots across the Straits. It was no use, I am a trimaran sailor of all things, with my own ways, and I hate sailing slow. Time to bolt from here and head for home.
Abruptly, I left the course and set my sights on returning to Maravilla and running her down the Florida Keys as soon as able. An Exumas cruise will follow and we may still get her down to the reefs and Cayes off Belize.
Maravilla takes me to the quiet, wild places I crave. Power reaching air raids across azure water to perfect far-flung beaches and keys are her thing – and mine. A few weeks without the acceleration and rush from a big bow-down bear away on her and I am like a strung out addict – jittery, nervous, knife-edge temper, nervous tics. But there is a magic little bay off Hawke Channel, and she is ready to fly me there – recovery is imminent.
Look for The Trimaran Journal to undergo some changes in the near future. There will be more reporting on our own adventures, plus more articles of general interest. There will be more boat comparisons, gear reviews and articles featuring interesting and notorious boats and sailors. Trimaran sailing is boiling with under-reported activity that entertains and inspires. Reading it might even cure that nervous tic developed without a regular dose of your own blast reaches.
Sea bag slung over my shoulder, I’ve got visions of Maravilla, the islands and calypso reggae dancing in my head. Thank you Andalucia for the gentle nudge back to where I belong. I owe you one. Adios….