I wrote this in advance of the Parade of Sail which will be happening today.
Six years ago I stood on the end of the harbour wall in Carrickfergus and watched the ships do their parade of sail out on Belfast Lough after a fabulous Tall Ships Race festival. This was the last time that the tall ships came in en masse after a race across the Atlantic to Belfast.
I remember thinking to myself that I so wanted to go out to them and get a closer look, to see them gliding by all elegant and fabulous. I remember seeing all the boats go out from the harbour and marina wishing we had our own little boat so we could go out and see these beautiful vessels up close. I was determined that the next time this kind of event happened I would have my own little boat so that we could do just that. That was my dream in 2009, to own a sailing boat of my own. To have the freedom of sailing at my own finger tips and to not have to rely on others apart from my hubby. I was not brave enough to dream big – to dream about going on a tall ship again, let alone race one, not back in 2009.
My disability was all very new to me. I was still living in the mind that I would get back to full health yet knowing that this may never happen – a kind of denial. I now live in the mind that I may not have got back to full health, however I can live with my disability and make a life around it. Back in 2009 to sail a tall ship was too big a dream to even come true and I dared not dream and wish for it through fear of disappointment and losing yet another part of me.
I can’t believe that 6 years on I have succeeded in both of my dreams. In 2010 I got my little sailing boat and we have had some great fun sailing her since then. She has been out of the water for a couple of years due to cost and time but I still have her. I still walk up to her on the drive and touch her knowing she is mine. We did have plans to put her back in the water this year especially knowing that the tall ships were coming back to Belfast. That was until a dream I thought would forever remain a dream came true and I managed to secure two places on board Lord Nelson for the Tall Ships Races 2015. Coveted places that go very quickly, as it is a very popular event. I am a very lucky person to be sailing in this years Tall Ships Races, and even luckier to be sailing from my home port.
I still can’t believe I have my own little boat, which if I weren’t sailing today on a tall ship I would have been out sailing her in Belfast Lough to get a closer look at the tall ships. Even more so I can’t believe that instead of being in my little 20 footer looking up at these majestic vessels close up I am actually sailing in the parade of sail on Belfast Lough in a tall ship! Plus I may get to see my favourite aerobatic display team, The Red Arrows, from the deck of a tall ship!