When my husband ... (still getting used to that) came up with an idea to sail the Greek isles for our honeymoon, I was immediately in; 100%. Sailing the Greek Isles: can a trip sound more chic than that? But aside from all the nautical imagery and Jackie on holiday inspired ensembles I drummed up in my mind, was the slightly less glamorous reality of a long trip at sea. An adventure, would be a more realistic way to frame it— and trust me, it was. 

Anyone who’s had experience sailing knows that spending an extended amount of time on a boat is an exciting way to travel, but also comes with its own potential challenges, set-backs and genuine risk. The most influential factor being the unpredictability of weather, which ended up rerouting some well thought out itineraries (goodbye outfits coordinated to specific islands, well thought out vision boards, my beautiful excel spreadsheet and countless reservations). There’s also the unpleasant reality of seasickness, which might not be a problem after 4 hours of sailing but try adding 5 more and voilà, you’re in need of the prescription only, drowsiness inducing patch I fortunately procured ahead of time

However, all these things I managed fairly well. Especially considering my evolution in letting go of control and just plain gratitude. When our captain informed us upon arrival  about how weather conditions would affect our well thought out itinerary, changing when and which islands we’d make it to, I took a deep breath and let it go. 

We re-routed for a start in the Ionian region of the Aegean Sea, unsure if weather conditions would allow us the chance to cross into the Cyclades, where most of the islands we planned to visit lie. We spent the first couple days with pleasant sails into a few islands that weren't on our original itinerary, as our captain rightfully prioritized safety and a pleasant sail over honoring my spreadsheet. 

But knowing our strong desire to visit islands in the Cyclades region, our captain made a plan to closely watch the weather and be honest about the possibility of crossing over. So the minute her deemed the journey over safe, Arthur and I both agreed we were up for the 9-10 hour, rocky sail.

This is when things got real. 

I can honestly say I don’t regret our decision to cross, but can tell you that I don’t ever plan on repeating it. With wind speeds around 20-24 and waves reaching 1.5-2.5 meters (4.5-7.5 ft), it was a less than desirable sail, to put it lightly. And it lasted almost 12 hours. 

But in hindsight, it was a learning experience. Or just plain experience

While Arthur somehow found a way to sleep the majority of the day, I on the other hand sat up top with the captain and my thick September issue of Vogue, attempting to reassure myself that we wouldn’t end up shipwreck remnants while immersing myself in the revolutionary concept of Fall florals (which I fully intend on embracing as soon as I got off this boat). And of course no matter how much self-therapy I did, it was extremely difficult not to think about the absolute worst. 

Letting the waves carry me through the rocky seas was yet another testament to my ability to let go of the facade of control, and quite-literally, ride the waves as they come. Sometimes we rode with the waves, sometimes straight against them. In either scenario, my own desire for agency over the experience was tested. I wittingly came up with an idea for a blog post called, agen-SEA on the Aegean. Post rocky sail it's not quite as clever but I give myself points for finding something lighthearted to ponder amongst moments of sheer panic. 

However, eventually I had some more positive realizations. Trusting the captain was the big one, reminding myself that he wouldn’t put myself or Arthur, or himself in a dangerous spot. Trusting that he knew what he was doing after professionally sailing for more than 30 years and that my only real talent was keeping with a nautical theme, was a valuable reminder. It didn't exactly help that he liked to take one, sometimes two, mid-sail vodka shots, but what can I say. 

Another major realization was having gratitude that I know how to swim and have enough physical agility to make it off the boat in case of an emergency. Gratitude that I’ve lived a very fulfilling life so far, as morbid as that might sound. That’s one of the reasons I try so hard to be in the moment, mindful of the future, content with what is now and what might invite itself in. So I did my best to watch the waves bob up and down, take a deep breath and let it all just happen. 

And in my sporadic moments of self actualization, I found these exercises in humility extremely relevant to my everyday life, outside this boat and sea and honeymoon trip. We can do our very best to make sound choices, particularly the ones that toggle between comfort and adventure, but we can’t fully control what comes our way. This concept made me think about where spirituality and religion comes into play for most people, how we all must find a way to acknowledge the classic human struggle between self-determination and destiny. There will always be things we can’t change- amazing things, mediocre things,  tragic things. 

And unfortunately, something tragic did in fact happen on this trip. Not sailing, but we recieved some very sad news in the midst of our trip. There was a death in my husband's family. This unexpected, devastating loss, was already horrible enough, but having to be so far away from home and family while in the midst of our honeymoon just made things even more sad. At one point we strongly considered leaving early, however, we eventually decided to stay and try to make the most of it as best we could. 

It was no easy feat, but we took the next couple days very slow, with ample opportunities for me to let go of any pre-planned activities, an already familiar process for me since our initial arrival and the straight dismantling of my well thought out itinerary. We had no other choice but to live in the here and now, so we embraced it. 

After the heartbreaking news and some more tough days of sailing, it's safe to say me and my September issue of Vogue were pretty beat up. I can't tell you how many bruises I acquired just standing still as the boat jerked when ferries came to port or the number of bandaids I gave up on fulfilling my rope duties as we docked and set sail. My skin needs some serious hydration after being salted in the ocean like smoked deli fish and there were a number of meals that caused horrific inflammation in my calves and ankles. Bordering on comedic, despite the very serious pain it cause, my ankles literaly doubled in size. I am fairly certain it was due to a combination of the increased salt content in Greek food and the lack of circulation my legs were getting in comparison to my Orangetheory workouts leading up to the wedding. In any event it was a major reminder of how inextricably linked diet and exercise is to my general wellbeing. 

But eventually the sun did rise, the wind broke, the ocean as rough as it was still carried us from one amazing island to the next and I realized that fighting against the big waves just wasn't as effective as riding them. 

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit fearful each time they threw us up top, but I learned to trust they would also welcome us back down. 



1 comment

  1. My Grandpa had a sailboat - vodka (and limes to prevent scurvy) was always on board! And I had super swollen ankles the first couple days of my honeymoon in Tahiti. I figured it was the flight that did it.