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  • Kerri King

Hold Strong, Live Free

6 things I learned on my epic sailing adventure in the Greek Islands


I just completed a 100 nautical mile sailing tour of the Aegean Sea aboard a beautiful sailboat called Grateful...she her captain taught me a thing or two about life.


There’s something about the vastness of the ocean and having a peek into the life of a sailor travelling the World that puts life into perspective.


When I got the call that Grateful was available for a week charter about a month ago, I said YES without hesitation. It was just something I had to do - not sure why. A calling I suppose - and when my gut speaks these days, I listen. Fortunately, I was able to rally an amazing crew within 24 hours and we were booked.


The crew included my sister and two friends. When the ladies asked me where we were going and what the itinerary was, I said “I have no idea” - and for some crazy reason, they too said, ok, “we’re in”!


All we knew is that we were flying into Athens and that we’d meet Captain Duane (who we’d met on IG) somewhere in the Greek Islands depending on where the wind blew him between the time of booking and our arrival in Athens. Sounds kinda crazy, huh?


The day before we left home, a destructive tornado ripped through Ontario leaving much of our area without power, internet, and serious destruction of trees and property. I thought the trip would be off for sure. Even if I went, I was sure some of the other crew members would have to cancel for some reason.


It also seemed like there were a million reasons I shouldn’t be going; my power was out as a result of the tornado, the tick bite, the new knee, the workload, the responsibilities, the cost…and the list goes on.


There always seems to be a million reasons why we should put our dreams on hold, right?


Over the past week aboard Grateful, I learned a boatload of life lessons that I’m pondering and I thought I’d share them with you while they are fresh in my mind....


When we first set sail from Paros after a wild night in the tiny town of Noussa after meeting the locals, dancing with strangers, sampling the local fare and a couple rounds of Ouzo, Captain Duane began outlining the rules of sailing on Grateful. Here are a few that really stuck with me:


1- LISTEN: Now, I’m not usually one for rules. Let’s just say that. But I quickly learned that I needed to listen up and follow the captain’s orders and rules if this thing was going to go well. Enough said.


2- HOLD STRONG: A key lesson that was strongly impressed upon us is to HOLD ON because when you least expect it, a wave or the wake from another vessel could hit us and thrash us about the boat or thrust us into the sea. What??? Ok, Captain! You now have my undivided attention.


3- BE HUMBLE: because you’re not in control. And, I have to say that it was marvellous to let go and allow the adventure to unfold as it did. Every day was full of magic and surprises which were brilliantly curated by our Captain. It felt so good to truly let go. Nothing was planned by us. Just the plane tickets


3- GET RID OF ANYTHING THAT YOU NO LONGER NEED: Captain Duane told us how he gets rid of anything on the boat that no longer serves him. It’s part of keeping the ship clear, clean, and organized. I’ve been thinking about this as I schlep one suitcase and about 4 additional loose items home from my adventure. It has me thinking: Why do I think I need so much stuff?


4- LOOK AHEAD: always be on the lookout. Each of us had the responsibility of being on watch for oncoming boats and other navigational duties. Not only did we have to trust the boat and the skills of our captain, but we also had to trust the abilities of our fellow crew members. TRUST is key.


* As an aside, I don’t know about you, but sometimes in life, when you’re hurt and trust is lost for any reason, it’s hard to learn to trust again. But I realize more and more that if we let go of the past, and really allow ourselves to trust the flow of life, we will experience so much joy! I think it’s worth the risk.


5- SET YOUR COURSE (COMPASS) & GO FOR IT - Why not set your course and really go for it?


6- LIVE FREE - Captain Duane embodies this. As my dear friend and crew mate Orsi pointed out, not only was Duane the "captain of the mothership on our voyage, he also showed us how to live the human experience with passion, expression, abandon and how to be one with the planet". What a gift!


I highly recommend a trip with Duane and his rescue dog Athena for anyone who is seeking adventure, freedom, fun, knowledge and personal transformation. You can find Captain Duane Heil on IG at @grateful_travel or at www.gratefulsailor.com.


So now I am setting my sights on some new intentions: Hold Strong + Live Free. 💫


Sending you love and light,


Kerri xo




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