I was in the Fwd Port watch this time around and my watch leader was a guy called Bill who is probably late 60's or in his 70's. He's sailed something like 12 times since 2001 (with JST I mean) and has done 21,000 nautical miles. His goal is 25,000 which is the equivalent of once round the world. For comparison, I started a RYA log book with this journey and have sailed 450 nautical miles. A nautical mile is 1.1 miles over land. Something to do with the curvature of the Earth.
Bill's a brilliant watch leader and a great guy. Always making sure that we were OK, that we knew what was happening, that we understood the whys and wherefores if at all possible. Once he figured out I wouldn't admit to being cold unless asked for fear of missing out, checking if I was cold at least once an hour. I found him much easier to talk to and work with than my previous watch leader. Possibly that's an age thing (my previous watch leader is younger than me and I do tend to find there is a big difference between most late teenagers and people around my age) but more than likely it's experience.
He loves to sail and gets dead excited about choppy seas and rough weather, putting up the sails and catching the wind. It's really fun and contagious when he gets excited. I can't really describe it, it's just something you have to see and can't help smiling at and joining in. At times I found the trip very emotionally challenging and draining and Bill was able to give me a lot of support and encouragement without really needing to do much or make it obvious. A very good sign of a great watch leader.
One day the ship was really heeled over to one side - the water was lapping over the starboard portholes below deck every so often like a washing machine full of laundry. And it was decreed that no wheelies (wheelchair users) were to go on watch after midnight. That was for safety reasons.
Next morning at breakfast I'm working on a toast and bacon sarnie and Bill comes over to greet me with a hug, a how are you today and to tell me he missed me on watch the night before. A bit later we're on deck and John the captain wanders over and asks me if I'd recovered from my rather spectacular seasickness. And someone ruffled my hair, put their arm around me and gave me a squeeze. Neither John or Bill would admit who it was but I have my suspicions.
That sort of set the tone for the rest of the trip. I got hugs from or gave hugs to various members of the voyage crew at different points but I don't think many days went past when I didn't get a hug from Bill.
On the Sunday we got to Oban about lunchtime so we could have a look around before we left the ship early on the Monday (I got the 08:13 train to Glasgow) and one of the voyage crew who had a son living in Oban left the ship then.
Sarah (my buddy) and I arrived back at the ship just as he was leaving and thankfully got to say goodbye and how great it had been sailing together and have a goodbye hug with him. Everyone was feeling a bit sad and sentimental at that time about the trip coming to an end and I was crying. Denis left and we got me up the gangplank onto the bridge.
It was a bit chilly and Bill and I had a hug for comfort. He then stayed behind me holding me to warm me up a bit. Steve the second mate of the ship just walks past us at that point in time looks at us and goes "ooooh passion on the bridge." and my tears soon gave way to laughter once again.
And that just about sums it all up.
Tough times and sad times, affection, happiness and laughter. All in all a good time and one I'm glad I didn't miss.