Happy Accidents

Back on Quest. Walking back into your old life. Not too bad I thought. Not too bad at all. Ok.. three metres up in Chaguaramas boatyard in Trinidad, we still haven’t gone anywhere yet. But in the meantime; 25 towels, two different kinds of Monopoly onboard, a Barbie camper van and five Harry Potter colouring books, it’s been the moment for us to de-clutter. While filling bags to give away this week, it was also hard to forget that when I was last on this boat, I was gluing myself to the floorboards. We’d never left her before. Then, after two weeks of getting her hauled out and shut down, Jack and I climbed down her boatyard ladder and, for the next eight months in the UK, I didn’t think about her once. Only to imagine her like she was a dream.

The truth is, Quest was a dream for us. Ten years ago, sitting in our big house on the Welsh coast watching boats come in and out of Aberystwyth’s harbour entrance from the safety of our kitchen, Quest started to appear to us in our dreams. Delphine had just been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Doctors had told us that they weren’t certain if or how much she would walk or talk. And that was it. The first day of the rest of our lives. I wish I could say now that I had some large, overall sense of perspective but I would be talking out of my… well, I won’t elaborate. Ha! We were just in it. I did discover that you don’t want pity in those situations. You just want to get through the day.

Skip forward three years. We sold the house. In her own way, Delphine did walk and talk. We bought a big motor boat reasoning that it was the safest way to get around. Indeed, perhaps it was but we discovered it was also the most expensive. There was nothing for it. If we wanted to go further than the Irish coast, large pieces of cloth-catching wind were our best option. With the decision made, the motor boat went out and Quest came in.

We left Wales in July, 2015. Two and half-years later, Quest is hauled out in Trinidad, in the south-east Caribbean. After sailing this far from the UK, I can see some things have changed while other things haven’t changed at all. This feels particularly evident when we look at the other sailing folk we’ve met. Most of them seem to be running away from something. The more you see it in the people you meet, the more you realise that our boat is no different. And we’re about as successful at it as everyone else is. Your old life catches up with you like a slow current.

Thousands of nautical miles of riding waves and I still worry what Delphine will do when we’re not here to look after her. I still gaze at her older sister, Lulu and imagine that one day she’ll have to fill in this caring role. During our trip, we’ve had multiple experiences with whales and dolphins. We’ve had huge fish caught in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. And what do I think about? The family dynamic.

Still, Delphine can climb up and down Quest’s boatyard ladder. It’s pretty damn high and she wouldn’t have to in our little bungalow in Wales. Meanwhile, Lulu can enjoy a game of Barbies even though she’s hitting thirteen this May. I’m sure she’ll thank me for saying it out loud! Sorry, Lu. But it’s the truth; our children are still children. And this, more than any other achievement for us, feels like our accidental miracle.

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