“Hey John, I didn’t know that you had a boat. Why haven’t you invited me before?”. I asked John who is my work colleague. I was a little anguish that he hadn’t asked me before. At the same time, there was some excitement about the possibility of being out at sea on a boat. I continued with my rather insensitive mannerism, “I need the experience on my travel CV. I have been on mountains, remote places and interesting cities. I can’t swim but I need to have this sailing ‘sea experience’. I can be your cook”. John, looked rather confused and perhaps astonished with my “demands”. How obnoxious, he must have thought. Fortunately, we know each other well. All this came about when I heard a few colleagues had just returned from a fishing trip on John’s sailing boat.
The following week, to my surprise, John invited me to join him on his boat to the Great Barrier Island, north-east from Auckland. Getting leave from work at this time seemed ridiculously tough. Blame it on shortage of staff. I was unperturbed. Without expectations, I submitted my leave. One week later, against all obstacles, it was approved. However, john was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he was off work. I contacted him on his cell phone but to no avail. I could only leave a message. There was no reply. Four days before the journey, I managed to advice John that I am available to join him. Finally, the “expedition” was on. An opportunity to sail on open water. My task, however, was clear. I offered to be the cook and John reminded me and was now my responsibility. The date was set, 10th March 2015.
Now, my mind was preoccupied with the task on hand. What should I bring? I made a list. I was unsure the number of meals to cook on board. I know that there is a fridge and freezer. I made a list of ingredients to bring and at the same time thinking of the menu combinations. John did mention, “not all Indian”!
I had been on a sailing boat once before on my brother’s friend’s sailing boat. In a windless day, we motored from the pier in North harbour to Motueka Island. With this invitation, I was excited as well as apprehensive and mixed with a certain fear. I can’t swim. Is this a stumbling block? Am I taking a high risk? My anxiety is slightly alleviated with the thought of John’s abilities. Furthermore, I am overwhelmed at the opportunity of a sea exploration and to see the beyond.
Three days before departure, i had a family dinner at home. More questions were asked about my impending journey. Do you need to take water? Can the husky that I planned to take fit into the gully?, How long is the journey?, How big is the boat?, What kind of boat is it? How many nights are you in the boat? Will you be stay in an accommodation on the island? Do you trust your mate since you can’t swim?, And so on. I seem not to have any answers. All these questions were meant with good intentions as well as subtle dark humour. Friendly advice on types of meals were given freely. Well that’s family.
One day before departure, I called John hopefully to get some insights to the questions posed by my family. “Do you have a freezer and how big is it? Nonchalantly John replied “mate, we are only going for three days and we are not going to feed everyone out there. I had survived on baked beans alone. We may have to give away some food and will definitely make these folks receiving happy”. Well I called since I was excited, anxious and nervous at the same time. I also wanted to get it right. After I hung up, all the questions I “needed” to ask remain unanswered. Well, best be well prepared I thought.
I shopped for all the items I wanted and packed them into appropriate containers separating the perishables and stored goods. As usual, my journey had begun from the time I said yes to john, five days ago. Steve, at my home dinner, informed that the Easterlies will be blowing this week and should make for good sailing. That’s encouraging. Now my next thought was focused on gear!