They were familiar, the questions my co-worker asked when I told her about my up coming trip. I had taken this sort of trip before, crewing on a sailing yacht, and was more prepared for the onslaught of questions.
"Do you know how to sail?"
"Who are you going with?"
"Isn't it risky to get on a boat with strangers?"
"I would hate that! I couldn't wait to get off the last boat I was on!"
This last was surprisingly common, to me. But I knew by now that my dream wasn't necessarily everyone's. I said that, and then that it was me alone joining a Scottish captain. And that, yes, it was risky. But I had learned to first notice, then trust my instincts. It had only been a few months before that I had cancelled a trip based solely on an uneasy feeling.
My father was used to my adventuring off into foreign countries and had seen me having a wonderful time sailing from Australia to Borneo a few years prior. Still, being the lawyer he was, he wanted as many facts as he could get. "You are so adventurous and resilient" he told me. "You are the most like me" he said the last time I would see him.
I set off for Spain in mid September and spent the night at a small hotel across the Mar Menor, a salty lagoon in the Iberian Peninsula, from where the Shalona was laying in a marina. The next afternoon I took the ferry and met David for the first time at the dock. He gave me a warm hug, took my bag for me, and introduced me to the marina Tomas Maestre. My first thought about David was "what a great smile".
We spent the next week doing some day sailing and getting to know each other. The rest, as they say, is history. We each knew we wanted to see the other again, and David invited me to visit him in Scotland over the winter. We didn't know at the time that we would be together again before that visit, because of unforeseen and tragic circumstances.