A swim, a turtle, and a little glimpse of land

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What certainly helps ease the potential presence of cabin fever is a string of exciting events happening onboard. Now personally, I was not afflicted by such a fever, as having alone time, reading my book and being what other people may call ‘bored’ are things that I genuinely enjoy doing. But for the more restless among us, it was great news that the latter half of our crossing was to hold some dramatic activity.

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First of all, approaching the halfway mark means one thing and one thing only. It’s time for captain to stop the boat and we’re allowed to leap into the water for a dip. For me, this conjured up images of jumping off the sun deck, maybe even doing a few front crawl laps of the boat. But in reality, it was an operation taken uber seriously, with all the proper safety precautions in place, which ultimately you’ll realise I was grateful for. The waves were rather a bit larger and more choppy than we would have liked, so just five brave souls willing to swim sat peering into the foamy waters with apprehension, as the life ring attached to a line was deployed. Captain gave a debrief to inform us of the correct way to enter and exit the water. It’s best to dive in when the boat is most level with the water, i.e. not when there is a 4 foot gap between the deck and an incoming wave. Immediately swim away from the boat to be well clear of it, so it won’t come down on your head. As you can imagine, by this time, I was one more piece of advice away from a nervous breakdown. What struck fear into me the most was the proposed method of getting back on. ‘How does one climb aboard with no swim ladder?’ I wondered. Well, it’s all about timing isn’t it! You must time it exactly  so that you approach the boat when the water is level, but be careful! If you get it slightly wrong and the boat lurches up, you can be sucked underneath the boat. Underneath! Bloody hell. But anyway, the boys threw caution to the wind and jumped in, meanwhile captain gave me the push I needed by counting me down from three, two, one…

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And it was magical! Four kilometres of brilliant blue sea glittered before my very eyes. I pretended to be a mermaid and kicked down as far as I could go, before bobbing up and being hit with a wave to the face. Beneath the water I was graceful, magestic even, but on the surface I was in struggle city. Thank goodness the line was there to hold onto, or else we all would have been in the strong grasp of the current, potentially ending up way over yonder.

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After having my fill of exploring the deep, it was time to attempt the dreaded embarkation procedure. With captain up top booming his instructions of, ‘Not yet, not yet, not yet, now, now, now!’ I gingerly swam towards the cusp of the platform and found myself with no ruddy chance of hauling myself up.

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My dad has said in the past that I have difficulty getting in and out of cars, and it’s true, my awareness of my own limbs is near to non-existent. So here I had captain above, Jhel filming, Rory and Steve all safe out of the water, while Heather and Gabriel carried on gripping the line. Basically, a lot of people were around. Steve gallantly grabbed my arm, heaved me onboard as a wave proffered momentum, and I fell at his feet with all the grace of a slippery seal. It is some sort of miracle that during the fiasco documented constantly by Jhel, there is no video evidence that I flashed my left boob to the entire crew, but a sighting was confirmed by multiple witnesses. A low point in my yachting career, so far.

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Dramatic event number two occurred a mere two days later. Our radios came alive with the sounds of Graham describing his sighting of a turtle in trouble, trapped in reams of fishing netting. Captain, being the hero that he is, immediately stopped the boat and proclaimed, ‘All crew, all crew, grab a pair of binos and come outside, we have a turtle in trouble and we’re going to treat this as a man overboard drill.’ Well, wasn’t that exciting! We had spotters all around the boat whose job it was to spot the turtle, point at it, and keep pointing with their eye on it all the time. After about 10 minutes of circling the area it was last seen, by sheer luck, Jhel and Maria caught sight of the light yellow buoy that was attached to the paraphernalia trailing behind the poor creature.

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With the boys guiding captain the entire time, he managed to manoevre the boat right alongside our ‘man overboard’. Rory fetched a stick with a prong on the end, and attempted to hook on.

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But Mr. Turtle evaded the stick and swam underneath the boat! We waited with baited breath at the other side, and sure enough he bobbed up and the boys were able to grab him.

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Graham set to work cutting the poor thing free.

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With Rory keeping a tight hold of Graham so that he didn’t go overboard, they set him free. We were all a bit giddy by this point, clapping and cheering as he swam away, happy as Larry. No word of a lie, he genuinely bobbed his head up to look back at us, as if in thanks and farewell. Michael caught the whole incredible escapade on video, which will surely surface on my Facebook page sometime soon. Wifi permitting, of course.

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Sage butter & ricotta gnudi (like gnocchi, but with no ridges) with shaved parmesan.

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Celeriac & apple soup, with toasted hazelnuts and crispy sage.

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Glass noodle salad with an Asian peanut dressing.

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Pork chops with apple sauce.

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Sweetcorn, tofu & lime leaf fritters. Everyone was happily tucking into them until someone asked, what’s in them? When I responded with ‘tofu’, there were a few forks put down, just on principle. Quel problem with tofu?!

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Salmon with a caper, raisin & pine nut salsa.

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Puffed brown rice bars with cashew butter & hazelnuts.

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Michael’s steady hand.

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Before our last glut of bananas went off, we put them to great use in a fudgy browned butter banana bar, topped with a vanilla glaze. Simply incredible in every which way. It tasted like a sort of banana brownie, and the crew gobbled them up so quickly that another batch was requested for the very next day. A keeper!

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Sweet potato mac ‘n’ cheese.

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A quick and easy soda bread. Very good if you’re in a pinch.

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Leftover ratatouille & feta puff pastry tart.

Our first port of call once the crossing is over is the beautifully named Paradise Island, in the Bahamas. Paradise Island is home to the five star Atlantis Resort, complete with 24 hour casino, numerous bars and restaurants, shops, a nightclub, water park, aquarium, dolphin centre…I could go on. We will actually be docked in the hotel’s very own marina, and as crew, we are given access to the entirety of the hotel grounds. All I can really say to that is, I love my job.

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