The Spirt of Sailing
by Lucas Ayoub
Follow Lucas on Instagram: @lookatook
Half an hour ago, I fell 18ft onto the deck. Descending the newly installed mast steps after removing a old coaxial cable jamming the main’s halyard, the topmost step came off. Shit. As I fell the world slowed, I looked at the mast passing by and the step still in my hand, well I thought.. I don’t need this anymore, let go of it, crossed my arms and braced for impact.
Writing this aboard sailing yacht Amber Nectar crossing the Arabian Sea, the sail plan, navigate Cochin, India to the Med by way of several ports of call..first stop, an island long on my sights, Socotra. My name is Lucas and I grew up in Jackson Hole..in the winters I coach advanced skiing techniques while inbound guiding for Jackson Hole Mountain Sports School, the last days in the “office” saw me dropping Corbet’s on the daily and hiking Headwall. Now, here I am, staring at the endless blue.
A good friend once said after filming in the Darien Gap, the world is a small place…but in the biggest mountains, the greenest forests, and largest seas..it is endless.
Last June Tony & Karin wrote, “Hi Lucas, maybe you remember us, the yellow yacht you met in Malaysia”. We met three years ago this week in the northern Malay city of Terengannu, I had been hired to help navigate a catamaran down the South China Sea from Sattahip, Thailand to Singapore..the last chapter of nearly three years living in the Orient and no, I was not teaching english.
After receiving the invitation I immediately examined the charts to find, yes, the island of Socotra is en route! Replying I asked if they were interested in visiting this Yemeni island, they were surprised they had overlooked it but soon after looking it up, they were keen..I was locked in.
Originally the Stubbs asked whether I could join in Langkawi, Malaysia and sail through to Port Said, Egypt..but, with the understandable call of winter life we necessitated compromising to meet further along the route at the only public international marina in India, the Bolgatty Palace Resort..a beautiful relic of the old world first built in 1744, one of the oldest Dutch palaces outside Holland.
Arriving the evening of Sunday the 12th at Bolgatty Island after taking the train south from Bombay, I was warmly welcomed by Tony and Karin. They are happy to have me. Tony now 73 and Karin 69 with a litany of health issues, are still spry but they need the help. The days in Cochin were extremely busy, of the larger tasks: maintenance on the wind vane autopilot, installing mast steps to the spreader (for navigating Sudanese coral reefs *to be improved), new bearings for wind generator, and some structural wiring for the renovated “balcony” (the transom’s rail). Many more smaller tasks but time does add up quick when baking in the blazing sun and humidity..though I did bring a good hat.
Tony of England set sail some 27 years ago solo from Plymouth, England. While sailing through the Canaries he met Karin of Holland and they have stayed together ever since. Together they have circumnavigated the world for nearly three decades living aboard this homely Sweden Comfort 34. Over the past couple of years they began realizing that little thing called time and its effects on age, and so 9 months ago they wrote me, and now..here we are..the last leg on their journey to the homeward waters of the Med.
The island of Socotra is one of those hard to get to places. The airspace is a no-fly zone because of war in Yemen, of the countries that the United States is officially bombing to the south Somalia and north Yemen. The water’s in the Gulf of Aden have been reported to be teeming with Saudi warships, Al Q’aeda suicide boats and Somali pirates, but..far as I can tell that is the mainland..currently the only way to reach the island is by yacht and piracy is as quiet as it has been in years and after all, it is a big sea, so giddy up..let the winds blow!
While chances are you will see it on every world map, it is a Yemeni island that may have been taken right from the pages of Dr. Seuss. While I can take the time to share what others have written on this place, perhaps better to shed light from behind the veil of this Yemeni island in the weeks to come.
Winter and summer life in the mountains is as for some, as good as it gets, but without stepping out from time to time it just may do that, time will slip you by. So here I am trading those textures of snow for those of sea. Sail fast, living life slow. The boat rocks, feel water coursing around the hull, at night the waves light up with luminescence, and as the days pass no ships on the horizon..8 billion people in the world, but out here..there is no one. Breathe it in.
So until the following communication, keep it simple..now, onto the next book. Just finished George Menzies “1421: The Year China Discovered America”, next up, Fatty Goodlander’s “Red Sea Run”.
To conclude the opening remarks, I am very lucky. Half my body hit the dinghy which fortunately was soft as it has a leak, the rest broke through the wood fuel box. Sore & slightly bruised but grateful, today is a new day.