Blessed as I was to be born on an island, I’ve always loved the ocean. From the soothing sound of waves coming in to hug soft sandy shores to the many shades of blue found in different parts of the island, Sri Lanka truly is a heaven for those who love the sea. That said, staying by the beach all evening and spending the night on a boat in the middle of the ocean are two very different things – and the latter is a life experience you will never forget.
When I went on my first sail boat with Sail Lanka, I hardly knew what to expect – other than the fact that I would be spending my weekend in Mirissa on the south coast, one of my favorite parts of Sri Lanka. It was around 4pm when we got on board Jade 52, Sail Lanka’s first and only sail boat which has cabins designed for overnight stays. The sky showed signs of a rain-free – aka perfect – evening ahead and the sea was calm and inviting. After an hour of sailing, we were able to see the outlines of the Weligama Bay, whose vastness and beauty goes unnoticed amidst the row of hotels that occupy the shoreline.
After spending time simply marveling at the splendor of the sea, I ventured away from the deck to explore the boat – and more importantly my cabin for the night. Jade can accommodate up to eight people in four cabins with private bathrooms which are located in pairs on either side of the boat. The common spaces include a living room with a fully equipped kitchen, sunbeds strewn across several areas of the boat and, to top it off, they also have a trampoline for those who are feeling energetic – or those who just want to take a snooze. But before I went exploring I had already found my spot on deck where I wanted to spend the next 24 hours and it was the best place by far.
Although we had initially hoped to take a dip in the sea, the weather gods had other plans for us, so instead we each grabbed a beverage and chilled out on the deck, preparing to take in the sunset. Having seen so many sunsets in my life, I must say it is quite a different experience to watch the sun setting while you’re sitting on the deck of an anchored sail boat in the middle of the ocean. It felt as if the sky had prepared a private spectacle just for us with shades of orange, pink and red blending together as the sun took its place hovering directly above the ocean.
As dusk set in, the breeze got stronger and everyone finally settled in – the novelty of being on a boat had worn off with the arrival of the sunset. We made our way to the dining area with the open kitchen for dinner: our captain-cum-chef had prepared a three-course meal, which started off with a plate of steam fresh crab followed by a modern adaptation of rice and curry and finished with a milo dessert which was absolutely delicious! Despite an overcast sky, the night turned out quite nice and instead of sleeping in the cabin I decided to lie down on the deck open beneath the starry night sky. Although it got quite chilly in the night I was so glad to be sleeping out on the deck where I could open my eyes and look at the night sky and truly enjoy the pleasures of being on a sail boat in the ocean.
Similar to the sunset, the sunrise too felt as if it had been choreographed for our benefit. Waking up was a slow affair: everyone stumbled into the morning light with a cup coffee or tea in hand, ready to greet the sun. In the next half an hour, the mood in the boat changed as we sailed further into the ocean hoping to spot the elusive Blue Whale go about his day. In the span of 45 minutes we were able to see not one but two whales – they made themselves noticeable by blowing water into the air as they took a deep breath, ready for the plunge. We all ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ as we watched the world’s largest mammal swim in its natural habitat.
After coming into shallow waters in a secluded area in Weligama Bay, we all dived into the ocean and took our long-awaited dip in the sea where I practiced my breast stroke under the supervision of one of the crew members. It was sunny and the water was at the right temperature which made it all the more enjoyable. Eventually our hunger got the better of us and we all got back on board straight to the table where a hot plate of food waited for us. Our final hours on Jade passed by very quickly without much notice: by then we had gotten quite familiar with our surroundings and wanted to spend more time on the beach. But alas, all good things must come to an end: my first experience on the sail boat has left me with the desire to venture out to sea again sometime soon.
By Sherwani Synon