Monday, March 23, 2009

Gone to Gan

23 March 2009 - Anchored at Gan, Addu Atoll, Feydhoo, Republic of Maldives

I haven’t been blogging because it sometimes seems cheesy and disingenuous. I write pages and pages journal-style, then later try to quickly edit down a few blurbs for the blog…but I edit all the real stuff out and leave in all the “surface” stuff…so it’s not only boring, but doesn’t really say much. It’s tough because you all know how much I want to tell you the frustrating and hilarious stuff…but it’s a public blog, so, well, you know… Also, I was having a pretty big meltdown in the Andamans and just wanted to whinge about all the stuff driving me crazy.

Alyssa and I are calling my meltdown the North Button Meltdown. We had anchored at North Button, a tiny deserted island in the Andamans, for like three or four nights. Surely a lot of my meltdown had to do with being a high strung, city living banker for 8 years, suddenly confined to a yacht in the tropics…but adjusting to boat life has proven difficult for everyone, not just me. Sacha would probably disagree (since he’s a contrarian), but I think he had a bit of a Sea Passage Meltdown. Alyssa has most assuredly had a Maldives Meltdown. She was a vision of joyfulness and strength during my North Button Meltdown, but now that I’m acclimated, she’s resolved to get off the boat – way more resolved than I. We’ve both thoroughly enjoyed the past 6+ weeks, but we both have limited time and money to travel and want to try something else. Neither of us wants to anchor in the “paradise” of Chagos for six weeks. We have three rough plans in progress and it’s going to be a complete surprise and totally hilarious to see which plan comes to fruition.

By the way, before you start worrying about us and our breakdowns, don’t even think about it. Alyssa is hilarious and we laugh hysterically about all of it. If she weren’t here I would have gotten off in the Andamans, but since we stayed in it together, we’ve built a repertoire of inside jokes about everything under the sun…and we can’t even look at each other in the morning without bursting into giggles. So…these are good, funny meltdowns. Besides, we’re sailing the Indian Ocean…who cares about a few little meltdowns.

The sea passage was about the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’d put up with almost anything to do that again. There’s a 900 mile passage from Chagos to Seychelles, and I’ve seriously considered doing the 6 weeks in Chagos just for the passage to Seychelles. Turns out, though, there are quite a few opportunities throughout the year to help people do long sea passages…so I think I’ll have plenty of opportunities to do it in my life.

So…the big lesson of the past few weeks is that I love sailing and sea passages, but I do not love anchoring in “paradise.” I can see why John and Nat love it. I think you have to be settled in your life, own the boat that you’re traveling in, and know that people whom you’re traveling with (preferably family, friends, lovers). That would make confinement in paradise more pleasurable – you need something specific to do. John is a really interesting and totally self-contained guy…he built Millennium himself 16 years ago and moved onto it permanently 8 years ago, giving up his job, his marriage, his life. He loves his lifestyle and he knows every square inch of this boat like the back of his hand. He can fix anything and he likes to design things and build things from scratch. He’s the first person I’ve really gotten to know who’s been brave enough to give up all the trappings of security and comfort to really go out and live at sea. I hope to write a lot more about him at some point. I’ve learned a lot about him on this trip.

But here I go babbling again and not really saying anything. I’ll just fill you in a little bit on what’s gone on since we left the Andamans…

We arrived in the Maldives late in the day on 16th March after 14 days at sea. We crossed the equator that morning and had a big Equator Party. John dressed up in an Equator King costume we constructed out of a defunct spinnaker…and Alyssa made Equator Crowns from all the recyclable wrappers from the candy we consumed on the journey. Sacha made one super cool folk art crown out of a Thai beer can and gold wrapper…I think it’s art and want to take it home with me. I hadn’t really slept in 3 days so the equator crossing is all a blur to me. I took the 3am shift until about 8am every morning, by myself while the others slept. It was my favorite time, I love watching the sunrise in solitude and silence. But…I drank a cup of coffee at 4am every morning and it triggered a crazy adrenal fatigue insomnia episode where I didn’t sleep much for three days at the tail end of the journey. I’m recovered now.

I can’t believe so many days have passed since we got to Gan. We haven’t done a thing and I’m not bored at all. We’re anchored in this tiny harbour with a handful of other boats headed to Chagos. There’s nothing to do in Gan aside from a bit of snorkeling, which I’ve not even done yet. There’s a quaint and shady little community center with a youth icafe and an outdoor hut restaurant. We hang out in the shade, play on the internet and sip iced Milos (Nestle chocolate milk) in intervals throughout the day. We dinghy back and forth to/from the boat. We walk the long road to a different restaurant for almost exactly the same food. We sit with the local guys and talk about nothing. Sometimes we sit with them and don’t talk at all. Everyone here is so chill, it’s just a nice lazy place to be. There’s a teenage metal band that sets up in the community center every afternoon and jams to 1980s Metallica songs over and over again, until everything shuts down at 6pm for prayer. Everything resumes at 7pm and we sip our iced Milos to very distorted renditions of Master of Puppets, Seek and Destroy and an occasional cover of the Cranberries’ Zombie. The metal guys are adorable carrying their guitars, wearing Pantera t-shirts, with longish hair and rocker attitudes. We only see them when they arrive because they practice behind closed doors.

Yesterday, Mas-Ood and Musaid took Alyssa and me out on motor bikes so we got to go through some rougher terrain to get to pretty vistas. They’ve offered to take us on an overnight (or two) boat/road trip to see other islands in the atoll. We hope to leave today. But who knows…things just happen when they happen around here.

I wrote a ton about the sea passage to put on the blog…but I’m just way too lazy to post it.

Maybe one day I’ll get tired of doing nothing, and I’ll do something…