Wednesday, February 21, 2018

An Ocean Tale

October 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

ocean tale title

I recently spent 18 days at sea on an Atlantic Ocean crossing, and time feels like it stretches out forever when you’re stuck on the same boat as 15 other crewmembers. I realized I had two choices: I could focus on the beauties of earth and nature, or I could lose my mind!

IMG_5942I’d been on a mission to get a job on a yacht and travel to the Mediterranean. My favorite quote from Christopher Columbus inspired me: “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” Therefore, I was thrilled to receive an offer to travel to Europe by sea. I met up with the crew in Florida and we left for the crossing three days later. We were in a rush, as we had to get our mega-yacht to Barcelona, Spain for a show — talk about hitting the ground running (or in this case, floating).

The weather roughened up as soon as we left, so the captain decided on a route passing the Bahamas so no one aboard would toss a meal over the side. Once the weather improved, we practiced drills including fire, man overboard, and abandon ship. The importance of such safety drills aboard mega-yachts is high; if anything were to happen, everyone needs confidence in what they must do and trust the other crewmembers act the same.

When interviewing for a job on a yacht, the most asked question is, “Do you get seasick?” You must answer truthfully as during weeks at sea you don’t want to spend more time hanging over the toilet and the side of the yacht than doing your job. Squalls and bumpy seas can get to everyone at times, so our vessel had a huge stock of seasick medication and ginger candies.

IMG_6018We were scheduled to work every day, but were given small breaks. Depending on sea conditions, I’d sunbathe, nap, exercise, and gaze at the beautiful sky and sea. The beauty of the ocean is eye opening. Viewing endless ocean is like meditating for me, and I always jumped at the chance to watch the sunset from the sundeck.

Sometimes, you’d have company besides crewmembers — at times, the cutest and the most beautiful blue dolphins cruised along with us. They love the motion of the water coming off the bow of the boat and enjoy jumping and playing in the waves of the wake. I could be having a hard day at work and instantly smile at the sight of these playful creatures.

Despite such joys, I still looked forward to seeing land. Our first stop along the way to Barcelona was the Azores, an archipelago made up of nine volcanic islands in the North Atlantic Ocean that is part of Portugal. We arrived at 3:00 am and stopped to fill up with fuel. There was no time (or daylight) to sightsee, as we were still pushing to get to Barcelona on time. We did leave our mark on the nearby walls and walkways filled with signatures, drawings, and names of all the ships that had stopped there.

IMG_5961Next stop was Gibraltar, near where Europe and Africa almost meet. The Rock of Gibraltar is known for its wild monkeys who walk right up to you and steal your stuff. They are awesome, but look out if they get angry — things can become quite intense. We had to stay longer than planned in Gibraltar due to weather. The winds were exceeding 65 miles per hour and the waters so rough that the captain anchored the yacht off the dock because the rocking against the dock wall was hazardous, even with using all our fenders. We were philosophical about the conditions as yachting professionals (and all boaters) know how fast weather and plans change.

The Barcelona show had already begun as we pulled up right into the middle of it. Charter brokers were waiting to come aboard (I met some from New York) and we gave tours, served lunch, and answered questions. Once my shift ended, I was excited to get off the yacht and experience Europe for the first time. We ate at local restaurants — the food was so delicious in Barcelona that I could not get enough of it. Though my appetite and the yachts in this part of Europe were both large, the cars and apartments buildings seemed so tiny! One-person autos looked like go-karts to me.

IMG_5991Yes, my first glimpses of foreign countries and tastes of new foods was wonderful, but for me, crewing on a yacht was most rewarding for days and days on the ocean, sparked by the most incredible sunsets. Like Columbus, I now know that endless views of oceans make for countless stories to be told


Story and photos by Melissa McMahon

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enjoys water sports and boating with her family. She spends most weekends on the water and enjoys writing about her activities. Visit her website:

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