Koo's blog - crewing the Biscay aboard Chili III

The adventures of Chili III
Peter & Belinda Vernon
Wed 20 Oct 2021 08:35

Crewing the Biscay aboard Chili III

Peter asked me in passing to write a blog post, so with the smallest of bumps I’m doing it. It’s worth it so summarise such a good experience, and I have been thinking about it plenty. I stepped on board at Milford haven, the final stop on the line.                                                                                                              After which the Atlantic opens in front of you. I haven’t seen Peter and Belinda in a good couple of years, and only agreed to do it a week ago, so a little nervous. I see Peter first and we start chatting, then Belinda comes up from below and in ten seconds flat I know it’s going to be great.

We all head to bed early after folding sails, posting things and sorting food, which is done with lightning precision. (I find supermarkets drag me in and spit me out 30 minutes later). Next day we wake up and wait for the lock gate to open at 9.00 and we’re the first boat out. Oceans are scary glorious things and with sun and wind playing along it was exhilarating. The first day was full of common dolphins riding the bow wave, effortlessly keeping up. Watching them under the category ‘s’, a huge translucent sail the colours of the Swedish flag was sensational. P & B take great infectious joy in things and I’m sure we all shared it that day. The dolphins kept us company for the night, haloed in a fragile bioluminescence.

The sea got quite rough on the second night, worsened by our crossing of the coastal shelf, where the water dizzyingly drops away from c200m to 4000m. This was to be my first lone night watch, but thankfully Belinda kept me company from 12 – 3 in the morning, shaking around in some jarring waves, for which I was very grateful. While I occasionally did feel quite fazed by the situation, it was hard to be for long, because the vessel or my crewmates never ever worried me. Their mood is always high and always stable, a real level when the sea around you is being anything but.

The weather quietened toward the end of the trip but we got a lot of sailing done, and ate lunch as Chili III skimmed through the waves and an angle. I’ve been really spoiled on this trip because I saw a window into how good it can be, I was always comfortable, never felt cramped or overshadowed. The surroundings we comfy and gorgeous and I felt I could eat or rest. I actually think I preferred the cabin bed to my own, which say a lot about their mattresses. The final day before arriving in Spain was marked with what Belinda described as ‘lumpy bumpy seas’. We motored through these and caught sight of land around dinner time, which Belinda lit up like a christmas tree over, a set of winking red lights stretching across the port bow. We arrived in Vigo the following morning at 10, stepping onto sold shore, and being given gifts of bread and oranges by a lovely Irish woman, the third person we talked to in Spain. Her husband said his boat burned 200 litres of diesel an hour, which was slightly less nice. It was a hurried goodbye and I slightly rushed a delicious lunch. Peter walked me to a taxi, and the chat we had, like all the others was easy, enjoyable and really useful to me.

A final word on the trip, and it really is comparable to the sea that we crossed was the strength and shining quality to their relationship. I came out of the toilet to see them dancing together in the cockpit to Mica, who seemed to be the only music we brought on the trip. This was just one of many glimpses I saw between them, small and large. It gave me huge amounts of hope and optimism. It was a brilliant time, and my only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer. And maybe slowed down eating that lunch.



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