‘The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.’

quote by Jacques Cousteau

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By Cath Hough – Deckhand

We’ve had calm nights, where the deep purr of the engine has rocked us to sleep; we’ve had rocky nights where you’re clenching your muscles every time we surf down a wave to stop yourself from falling out of bed! We’ve watched the sun rise and set each day, creating a masterpiece in the sky. We’ve shared stories, laughed, joked and ate lots of food. We’ve been kept busy daily, with a routine meaning you’re on duty every six hours, day and night, sleep or no sleep! We’ve shared a deep love and respect for the Ocean and all it houses, including the glimpses we’ve had of dolphins and whales. We’ve spent each day together, adapting to strange habits, learning about each other’s lives and sharing common interests. But most of all we’ve had an adventure! We’ve achieved our goal, conquered our challenges and come together as a team to sail Sea Dragon to Key West. A trip which we will all remember for the rest of our lives.

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Some highlights from the journey:

Surfing down the waves in following seas as we rode the twenty-five-knot trade winds across the Caribbean Sea. Seeing the boat speed increase to over ten knots and feeling the rush of momentum as the boat picks up speed and carries us down wave after wave. Being in control of the helm and feeling the wind in your hair. With no land in sight, you look out to the sea ahead, anticipating the adventures to come.
Stopping mid-way whilst we were becalmed for a dip in the Atlantic sea. Having had a frustrating night with little wind and the engine on a swim stop was so rewarding. Jumping into the deep, refreshing water created a new energy in everyone on board and gave us the motivation to continue.
Sailing with dolphins. As the bow of Sea Dragon glided through the water we spotted a pod of Dolphins on the horizon. As they came closer they started to play in our bow wake, dancing and jumping over the waves to give a great show in their natural environment. The pod of six or seven stayed with us for a good ten to fifteen minutes, allowing us a great view of their beautiful shape and admiring their grace and elegance.
Sun sets and sun rises. Over the course of the trip, we have had some pretty epic displays of natural beauty. On one particular evening, we had a picture perfect view as if an artist had painted the sky with a paintbrush, swooshing colors and mixing the clouds to create a spectacular masterpiece. To finish your night watch with the sun rising behind you was a special feeling, I always think seeing the sun rise and set at sea is pretty unique and breathtaking.
Sailing at night. Over the course of the passage, we had nine nights at sea, where we each took it in turn to man three-hour watches. It was wonderful to sail under the glistening stars and exciting and challenging to spot the lights of ships on the horizon and track their direction. Night sailing was really peaceful and surprisingly I looked forward to being woken up for my night watch to spend time on deck in the darkness.
Sailing the final leg into Key West. During our final night, the wind increased up to thirty knots so we reefed down to our third reef, rolled in the jib and sailed with the wind. Being at the helm was exciting and exhilarating as the wind blew from behind us, and the sea state picked up so we were surfing down the waves. Keeping control of the steering was difficult at times, however, I loved the challenge and it was great sailing conditions to finish the trip off with.

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The trip was my last trip on Sea Dragon after spending two months aboard as Deckhand. I have had an absolutely incredible experience and have had the opportunity to sail with some great crew and skippers. I am grateful for everything I have been taught whilst on board and this trip has really inspired me to go on and do further sailing. I hope I will get the opportunity to come aboard Sea Dragon in the future; she really is an amazing boat to sail on.

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