Dancing on the beach until the sun comes up as if it was your last dance ever is incredible...seeing sunsets that create colors you did not even know existed is cool...taking a cold champagne shower in a fortress from hundreds of bottles being popped open seems unreal...sailing in a regatta with costumes ranging from absolutely nothing to unicorns is more impressive than Halloween in Santa Barbara (non-Americans, Google it) is gangbusters. Although these experiences seem unreal and only believable in a Yacht Week YouTube trailer (trust me, they happen weekly), they are not what I enjoy most. What keeps me coming back as a skipper from California is the cultural experience.
This past week I was lucky enough to sail a group of Spanish girls around the Croatia South Route. Although their English wasn’t perfect, and my Spanish is horrible, we didn’t have a difficult time communicating. I have heard 80% of communication is non-verbal and I would definitely have to agree. By spending so much time with crews from different countries, from Luxembourg to Brazil, you learn how to understand them without understanding them.
Being able to understand your crew is really what makes The Yacht Week such a cultural experience for me. I learned a couple of Spanish dances; I ate Spanish tortillas and jamón de Serrano and listened to hundreds of Spanish songs (or maybe 2 Spanish songs a hundred times). Even when they were in fiery conversation, typical girl arguments, I could almost understand what was going on. There are not many other experiences where you can be thrown in with a group of strangers and practically be best friends with them in 5 minutes. Whether it was having a dinner party with 18 Spanish people on a catamaran, or singing Fest Hos Mange with a boat of Swedes, you really get to understand what makes every different country so great.
The last few days of the week ended as most weeks end, with an open invitation for me to visit Madrid and for them to visit me in San Francisco. Although the sailing and partying is what makes The Yacht Week, meeting new friends and experiencing new cultures is what draws me to this place that is nothing like the real world.