I’ve taken a few ferries in my life. And that just about sums up the amount of time I’ve spent “at sea.” By this afternoon I am going to be living on a boat. I don’t remember deciding that I wanted to go sailing, and I still don’t know exactly how the idea spiraled from the category of all my other adventure fantasies to sitting in the Mexico City airport getting ready to board a plane to Zihuatanejo. It’s there in the port city midway down the Pacific coast of Mexico that I’ll be meeting a group of strangers and committing to living in a 44 foot vessel for an indefinite amount of time.
I found VIVA on FindACrew, a site that links captains and their boats with potential crew members. A boat’s profile describes the journey it will be undertaking, level of experience necessary to join, and details about the boat and captain. Like WOOFING, WorkAway or a dating site, those who are “looking” also create a profile to express interest in working onboard a boat and describe themselves. VIVA is traveling from northern Mexico to Panama and invited me to join the crew.
That was when it occurred to me that I should invite my little sister to move onto the stranger’s sailboat with me. We had individually conceived the dream of sailing years before via some podcast or another, but the concept had remained just that, a concept. In the years between then and now we made no moves to research sailing, take any classes, or even try it for that matter. But when the opportunity arose the timing seemed just right. My sister, Laina, would be taking a semester off school, and I would be between jobs doing my usual vagaban thing — why not give it a shot.
Bob, the captain of the catamaran, was gracious enough to not only invite one zero-experience person aboard but encourage me to bring my sister as well. Despite the fact that neither of us even know if we suffer from sea sickness.
We decided to meet the boat midway along their trip. We have the option of staying for as long or short of a time as we like because the boat will stop at ports along the way. So for now our plan only extends to seeing how it goes. You can’t exactly plan much further than that when you are about to be picked up at the airport by a captain who you don’t know much more about than the fact that we can expect him to be in the most obnoxious Hawaiian shirt in the airport.
In other words, this could be the beginning of a very short story about meeting a creepy dude at the airport and deciding to never get on board, or it could be the story of discovering my new favorite outdoor sport or mode of travel. I guess you never know unless you dive in — head first with no prior research as to the depth of the water, right?