Introducing Pete, ‘Cap’n’, and me, Miranda, ‘First Mate’.
We’ve been greedily sailing our way from Croatia across the Mediterranean in stages for the last five years.
When we met in 2013, Pete told me he was a professional skipper. Which was not, as it turned out, true. He had been a professional skipper in Croatia for the two years prior to our meeting but was by that time living back in the UK and victim to the old nine ‘til five like the rest of us.
He must have judged that, “I’m a professional skipper”, had a better ring than, “I work for my family company”. And he was right.
I’ve loved sailing since I was old enough to walk, so was hooked like a fresh sardine.
Writing five years later, I’m pretty happy with Pete’s selective handling of the truth as our shared love of being on the water has led to some great adventures and hopefully there are many more to come.
Pete took up sailing when he was 26, having had the sort of epiphany that makes other people turn to God. When faced with redundancy from a record label in London, despite having never been on a yacht, with no family history of sailing, he awoke one morning with a plan – he would become a professional sailor.
Nine months and 5,000 sea miles later, he was a certified Yachtmaster.
Pete was quickly snapped up by Sunsail to work at their base near Rogoznica in Croatia, where he spent many months leading flotillas up and down that stunning coastline, teaching and generally misbehaving.
After two dreamy summers and a perforated eardrum from flirting with one Croatian girl too many, he returned to the UK, to take up a more land-based, straight-faced, shoes-laced sort of occupation. Then he met me and bought a boat.
I am proficient on the water but should be a much better sailor than I am, having been taken out on boats since babyhood. But, unlike Pete, I was never taught to sail.
My father, who is at his happiest on a boat, expected his three daughters to master the sport he loved through a sort of mental osmosis.
“Miranda, get the jib in!” he would confidently instruct.
“Oh, don’t worry,” came the rapid response as he leant past and completed the simple task himself.
Then there were the early teenage years when being on a boat meant arguments, expletives, sulking ‘down below’, then a grudging return on deck and smile when we – namely dad – unexpectedly did well in a race.
By my late teens however, I had just about worked out where the sails should be relative to the wind and which ropes to pull when certain orders came – and had, against all the odds, nurtured a love of being at sea that tugged at me whenever I walked past a harbour and remains with me to this day.