Boat Sitting ad Antigua

Oggi è esattamente un mese che sono sulla nuova barca, in totale manco da casa da 3 mesi e mezzo.

Finalmente sono di nuovo serena e contenta, ho ritrovato il mio equilibrio dopo aver avuto qualche momento di profondo sconforto, ma da quando sono arrivata ad Antigua tutto ha iniziato a girare per il verso giusto.

Stare sola in barca mi ha dato la possibilità di riflettere, di godere della solitudine, di aggiustare quello che si era incrinato nel mesi scorsi.

Il mio buon umore però non deriva tanto dal luogo, perché a dir la verità non è che mi abbia colpito più di tanto quest’isola, c’è troppa disparità tra i soliti resort di lusso, i mega yacht e la reale qualità della vita dei locali, ovviamente le spiagge con le palme sono incantevoli, ma forse ne ho avuto abbastanza. Ma, stavo dicendo che mi sesto felice soprattutto perché alcune persone mi hanno ridato fiducia nell’essere umano.

Primo di tutti Alessandro, l’armatore dell’attuale imbarcazione che, senza nemmeno conoscermi di persona, mi ha offerto ospitalità su La Regina del Mare, un bellissimo Beneteau 523, di cui mi sono presa cura in questo periodo mentre lui è via.

Ad un certo punto, terminate le due settimane di quarantena, ho sentito la mancanza delle chiacchiere tra amiche, così ho messo un annuncio su una pagina Facebook di Antigua in cui dicevo che avevo desiderio di incontrare delle ragazze, esclusivamente donne. Mi hanno risposto in tante, di diverse nazionalità. Dopo qualche scambio di messaggi è venuta a trovarmi una ragazza di Ravenna che vive qui da un anno e fa l’insegnate di Yoga, poi è arrivata la volta di Lissi, trasferita qui dal Guatemala 3 anni fa, lei è favolosa! Una persona super generosa, sempre sorridente e disponibile, mi ha portato, anzi donato, frutta e verdura (che qui è cara e difficile da trovare), mi ha letteralmente nutrito, si presenta sempre con del cibo già cucinato, ha messo a disposizione la sua auto per farmi vedere l’isola, mi ha invitata a casa sua e da lì la catena delle amicizie intercontinentali non si è più arrestata. Un suo amico della Repubblica Dominicana ci ha organizzato l’aperitivo in spiaggia al tramonto a Fort James Beach, il giorno dopo una coppia Colombiana ci ha invitate a pranzo e Patricia ha cucinato apposta per me le tradizionali Arepa di farina di mais, che io adoro.

In settimana sono andata a fare delle belle pagaiate con il SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board) partendo direttamente dal pontile dell’Antigua Yacht Club fino alla spiaggia di Pidgeon con un pompiere di Chicago (sì, proprio come il telefilm Chicago Fire); lui, quasi cinquantenne, andrà in pensione il prossimo anno ed è venuto qui a fare un corso di Yachtmaster per poi comprare una barca e salpare per nuove avventure. Ieri è stata la volta dello snorkeling, con Xiaolei, una cinquantenne cinese che vive da 25 anni nella svizzera tedesca e sta passando qualche mese ai Carabi per la prima volta da sola, senza marito e figli, mi ha tempestata di domande perché ha saputo che io viaggio in solitaria ormai da diversi anni, mi considera il suo idolo… che dolce.

La domenica di Pasqua, insieme a Lissi e a Xiaolei, sono andata ad aiutare Lexi, una ragazza canadese, anzi un capitano donna che vive sola su Wild Child, una barca da regata di 40 piedi, molto difficile da governare in solitaria e siccome ora è senza equipaggio, le abbiamo dato una mano a spostarla da Deep Bay a Jolly Harbour.

E’ stata una bellissima esperienza, Lexi prima di partire ci ha fatto una mini lezione di vela, ovvero abbiamo visto al computer tutte le parti della barca e le rispettive denominazioni in gergo marinaresco inglese, perché quando si naviga si deve capire al volo ciò che il Capitano sta indicando, sembra una stupidata ma nella realtà a me nessuno skipper uomo ha mai spiegato e nominato correttamente ogni cosa a bordo, si limitavano a dirmi lo stretto necessario di ciò di cui dovevo occuparmi (ancora, ormeggi, cucina e le carte nautiche per i turni al timone) senza considerare che magari in caso di emergenza mi sarei trovata impreparata. Invece Lexi oltre alla teoria ci ha portato in giro per toccare con mano, drizze, scotte, randa, fiocco, sartiame, poi per assicurarsi che sapessimo avvolgere correttamente una cima al verricello ci ha fatto fare alcune prove, perché se ti resta un dito dentro la forza del vento te lo trancia di netto, e l’idea non alletta nessuna. Una volta assegnato ad ognuna un compito, siamo partite per una fantastica veleggiata, con sole e vento di traverso a 17/18 nodi, la barca era talmente piegata che ci arrivavano gli schizzi anche oltre la paratia, lei è stata così orgogliosa delle sue Baby Sailors, ovvero neofite, che ha immediatamente scritto un articolo sul suo blog, che riporto qui sotto (in lingua inglese).

Adesso scappo perché ho molte cose da fare, sto iniziando il conto alla rovescia per la traversata atlantica, ma ve lo racconterò in un articolo a parte… giuro che lo pubblicherò prima di partire, ovvero tra una settimana circa.

Jolly Harbor Bay

Estratto dal blog di Captain Lexi

All Girl Crew

I was contacted by an Italian girl, Stefania, who is down here in Antigua waiting to crew a yacht across the Atlantic. She answered my ad looking for crew, she thought hey, why not make friends with another girl sailor down here. Although she was not in a position to come be my crew she does have a week free. She offered to bring some friends and help me sail WildChild over to Jolly Harbour. So Yesterday we did exactly that.I admit I forgot to turn on my GPS tracker for the sail yesterday so it looks like WildChild just magically appeared back in Jolly Harbour, whoops my bad.

Stefania was the glue that made this wonderful moment happen. She had recently met these other sailor girls thru facebook and all three of these women were happy to come meet me and help me move WildChild around the corner. If you have been following me for any length of time you will know that I am very much about female empowerment, I just love girl power.

This was a wonderful opportunity for me to meet other girls down here, make friends and get WildChild moved. I have never had 3 crew onboard before so I was a little worried it would be a challenge for me. I had never met any of these girls before yesterday. I brought my dinghy to shore and picked them up on the beach as planned and brought them home with me.

I was unsure about what their individual sailing skill level was and I knew nothing about their backgrounds. We sat down below on WildChild for an hour talking and getting to know each other. Each girl explained a little bit about their sailing background and experience. I asked for permission to give them a very short course in Captain Lexi’s sailing school to make sure we could all communicate using the same technical sailor language. As Stefania is Italian and Lissi is from Guatemala and speaks Spanish and Xiaolei is Chinese / German and English is her third language I knew we would need to bridge the language barrier. Sailing is so full of technical terms it is confusing for even native English speakers to learn and understand. None of these girls spoke English as their first language so I knew it would be harder for them. I knew they would need me to communicate clearly for them so they could follow.

It went great. The one thing that struck me was these girls, who have all been sailing with other (Male) captains had never been taught these terms before. Nobody had ever taken the time to actually explain the sailing fundamentals to them. Each girl had stories about how terrible it was crewing for men, how men grunt and expect them to read their minds. How male captains made them feel either like servants or to feel stupid for not knowing things. One girl crewed for a man for 2 months spending 8 hours a day cooking and cleaning for him for free, one day he turns to her and says “what’s wrong with you…. you act like you do not enjoy serving a man..?” ….!!!!   The girls stories really touched me and I know full well their crewing stories are not unique. Most Captains are men and most Captains are terrible teachers and communicators.

These girls were so happy to have the chance to crew for a female captain and they all just loved the experience. All three girls were just beaming with big smiles the whole sail, happy and appreciated. They thanked me so much for teaching them and explaining things to them and giving them the chance to learn and thrive. A good Captain can figure out how to empower her crew and bring the best out of them and I did a great job with these girls. They did a wonderful job as my crew. A boat full of estrogen was a wonderful experience of kindness and mutual cooperation.

We set sail around noon as planned for the short 5 mile sail over to Jolly Harbour. Being the queen of safety that I am I made everyone wear lifejackets and sailing gloves. I worked hard to make sure I was communicating clearly and making things easy for them to understand. I assigned each girl a station to control and before each maneuver I explained the dance we would all perform together as a team. Everything went so well. Raising the main sail, pulling the Genny, tacking when we had to, just so smooth and perfect.

These girls were a pleasure to have on my boat and I am so grateful to each of them for their help. Sailing is so wonderful when you have good crew, just a joy instead of a chore. With girls there was never any power struggle or challenging of the Captain. Each girl only wanted to be part of the team and figure out how they could help. Stefania was particularly wonderful to have onboard, she has a natural desire to watch and figure out how she can help, looking ahead. 

Any future Captain that is privileged to have her on board as crew is a lucky Captain. I got excited to see my girl crew drawing deep within to find their girl power to conquer the sailing tasks. Who says girls are not strong enough to handle a race boat.

We were running full Genny in 13-18 knots of beam reach wind and WildChild has huge 1 inch thick Genny sheets that are sheeted in manually using huge Barrient32  two speed winches. When sailing beam reach full Genny there is a lot of pressure on the sails. Even grinding the winch on low speed is still very hard. I watched with pride as Stefania got her whole body into the winch handle grunted under the strain but never wavered or failed to sheet the Genny….   GIRL POWER at it best.

Or check this out, little Chinese Xioalei is like 5’2″ tall and maybe weighs in at 120 pounds. This tough girl with lots of ocean experience was doing the main sail work for me. As we start to bring WildChild in a close haul into the wind we have to bring the main traveler up to windward. Under full sail and with good winds, even the reduction blocks are not enough to remove all the pressure on the main traveler sheets. This girl pulls and pulls and cannot move the car. I tell her she is doing great and not to quit, that she can do this. Xiaolei is smiling and determined, she digs deep inside to call upon her inner girl power, wraps both hands around the line, braces her foot against the companionway and uses her entire body to heave the car to windward. Despite the enormous load forces on the car this tiny girl can do it, she wins, she conquers the boat.

I was so proud of her I burst out whooping in excitement. She was smiling ear to ear when she won. Girls have been told by men their whole lives that they are “just a girl” and they cannot do things. I tell girls they “ARE A GIRL” and therefore they can do anything they put their mind to once they find and harness their inner girl power.

I admit… I just loved sailing with these girls. I just loved seeing what they could do when they were empowered by a good Captain like me. That was one of the best sails WildChild ever had and it was because of the spirit of the all girl crew.

Thank you girls

Captain Lexi

2 thoughts on “Boat Sitting ad Antigua

  1. Ogni volta mi bevo le tue storie tutto d’un fiato! Aspetto le ultime news cara Ste! 👏🏼👏🏼👍🏼👍🏼😘😘

    Like

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