The Octopus is absent today (for reasons which will later be explained) so Adam takes over as chief blog writer to document the Navily team’s summer outing.
A day at Sea with the Navily Team
With everything that is going on at this time of year, it was always going to be difficult to pin down a date for the Navily team to celebrate surpassing 400,000 users. Nonetheless, after two separate business trips to Galicia and Madrid for Manu (“business trips”), the joyous arrival of Giuseppe’s first child, and the not-so-joyous arrival of a couple of debilitating Covid cases, Thursday the 5th of August was finally selected as the day that ‘L’équipe de Navily’ would (and could) take to the waves.
The instructions were clear: rendezvous at the Port of Nice for 09:45 and leave the rest to the bosses. The vessel, a beautiful 17-metre custom-made Finnish sailing yacht named Copihue, was prepped for departure and shortly after the fashionably late arrival of the Italian cohort, we were ready to set sail. Or motor, better said, as insufficient wind dictated that the spinnaker and jib would not be unleashed until later that afternoon.
As we set off, the boat was appropriately divided between the unpractised landlubbers of Antoine (Marketing intern), Loulou (French country manager), Angelique (Developer), Peppe (Italian Country Manager), Alberto (Commercial Intern), Manu (Spain Country Manager) and myself (Advertising and Partnerships manager) at the stern, and Navily co-founders Ben and Ed, half-French/ half-Finnish Skipper Alex (an honorary Navily member for the day) and seasoned sailor Thomas (Project manager) at the helm. The Octopus (Digital Marketing and Communication Manager) was also lurking around the rear end of the boat, much to the disquietude of the rest of the team who were weary of his tentacles slithering anywhere near the wheel.
Despite the lack of wind, the one metre swell made for a slightly bumpy ride out and various members of the inexperienced ensemble were having to focus somewhat more than usual on deep breaths and the horizon-line. Alberto in particular was very grateful that he had followed Ben’s advice to take a couple of sea-sickness tablets prior to departure, although he was probably not so thankful for fellow countryman Giuseppe’s insistence on blaring the Pirates of the Caribbean theme tune from his phone as we bumped from wave to wave.
At the helm of the vessel there were no such issues. Completely unphased by the undulations of the Mediterranean, Ben, Ed, Thomas, Alex and The Octopus were able to pass the time recalling old tales, including the story of Copihue which was initially commissioned by a wealthy businessman who was planning to sail the world with his beloved wife. Unfortunately, the sailing yacht was declared “too small” by the businessman’s other half (ouch), and in response to being told that his vessel was not big enough, a larger boat was commissioned whilst Copihue was sold to Alex’s family. And whilst the Navily team was delighted to be cruising aboard the smaller Copihue, the story goes that the businessman’s wife would sadly run off with another man before the larger vessel could even touch the water. It really goes to show: ‘it’s not about the size of the boat, it’s the motion in the ocean that counts’
A quick check on Navily dictated that Anse de la Scaletta would be the perfect anchorage for the day, with overwhelmingly positive user-ratings and most importantly a protection score ranging between 87% – 95%. As our application had suggested (hey, it works!), the mooring spot was very well sheltered from the swell outside and consequently we were able to safely anchor amongst a backdrop of superyachts and hoist the Navily flag ahigh. With crystal clear water and an assortment of fishes for company, the Navily team leaped into the pristine sea for a first care-free swim of the day.
Manu snorkelled in his colourful trunks, Loulou demonstrated why she used to be a triathlete and I was particularly impressed by Angelique’s ability to pull of what can only be described as the ‘public swimming pool grandma stroke’ (not that kind of stroke) – breaststroke without submerging your head underwater. Notably, Angelique was also the person to blast you with the hose as soon as you tried to climb back on board. Angelique by name, not so much by nature…
When our merciless developer did eventually let us back on the boat, we were greeted by a mouth-watering Pissaladière (a traditional dish from Nice), some delicate little pastries and of course a couple of bottles of rosé wine. Could we be any more French? Well apparently, I could, and so as we drank, Captain Alex educated me on the French language by teaching me the age-old adage that:
”Un marin plein est un marin qui navigue bien.”
”A drunk sailor is a good sailor (or something like that).”
As far as mornings go, this one was one of the better ones; in fact, I would have said it was the perfect morning had it not been for the retina-scarring image of Giuseppe wandering around in the tightest pair of speedos you have ever seen – just another example of the Italians intent on ruining my summer. To be fair, it wasn’t just Peppe and his traumatising budgie-smugglers causing me discomfort, I too was living up to my home nation’s stereotype by losing a battle against the sun. As will come as no surprise, I was by far the whitest person when I got on that boat in the morning, and by far the reddest when I got off it at the end of the day.
After a spot (too much) of sunbathing, a couple more swims and one last drink, we were finally ready to weigh anchor and leave the increasingly busy anchorage which had treated us so well. As we headed off listening to The Octopus’ tenta-cool reggae playlist (sorry…), I was struggling to buy into Mr. Marley’s conjecture that I need not worry about a thing. See, as we rocked from side to side in the morning, I used my Navily Premium privileges (oh la la) to digitally recce the day’s anchorage and consult the swell levels for the afternoon. Much to my horror, our beloved application was not presenting me with the information that I wanted to see (not so beloved after all), but instead forecasting not one, not even one and a half, but TWO metres of swell.
“Surely that can’t be right?”, I thought. “Surely the Navily bosses wouldn’t take a bunch of amateur boaters out in a swell of two metres? Would they?”.
Well, as it turns out, they would. And not only would they take us out in a two-metre swell (again I must commend the application for its darned reliability and spot-on prognostic), but they would also let Peppe and Loulou steer the ship. Now I’m not saying I don’t trust Loulou or Peppe, but at this point I was starting to have flashbacks to the old National Accident Helpline adverts as I was becoming increasingly certain that I was about to have an accident at work that wasn’t my fault.
To a certain degree, my niggling trepidation and general scepticism was proven to be justified. I don’t know exactly what happened, but when Ben handed over the wheel to Loulou we had not long left Anse de Scaletta and it appeared as if we were heading fairly efficiently back to Nice. Fast-forward 30 minutes and we were now not far from the coast of Monaco and what’s more, at an almost complete standstill. As Peppe sheepishly handed back control, I was thankful that we had Ben and Alex once more at the helm. Notwithstanding, the journey back to Nice (post Loulou and Peppe) was still going to be less than straightforward.
After changing course to head back home, we could now not help but to collide with every oncoming wave head-on leading to a much more subdued ambience onboard with almost no chatter whatsoever. In fact, the only sound you could hear for most of the voyage home was the Octopus’ now extremely irritating reggae playlist echoing through the boat’s Bluetooth speakers, completely in juxtaposition with the mood of the boat, and annoyingly, stuck on repeat because the only person who could turn it off – The Octopus (who had already fallen down the stairs of the cabin earlier in the day) – was now re-painting Copihue’s hull due to seasickness.
At this point, I will admit that I too was having to focus particularly hard on not regurgitating the Pissaladière for the fishes, and as ‘I shot the Sheriff’ played for the twenty-seventh time, I started to think to myself: “I don’t think I’m having fun anymore”. But that’s when I started to understand what sailing was all about. Like the waves themselves, there are highs and lows, peaks and troughs. Working at Navily, I’ve spoken to sailors who have been attacked by Orcas off the Spanish Atlantic coast and I’ve moderated comments from boaters who have had rats climb on board via stern lines in Greece with others being swarmed by “arsehole” wasps in Croatia. We speak to countless boaters whose motors have failed, hulls have been damaged, and bones have even been broken on board. Yet I have never spoken to anyone who says they want to give up on the nautical life. Yes, sometimes the wind doesn’t blow, and other times the swell makes your torso feel like a washing machine, but despite this, the good still outweighs the bad. And for me, at least, the good that day certainly outweighed the nauseas bad.
I guess a major reason that I could be so positive was that I was always confident that our crew would get us home in one piece. Skippers Alex and Ben looked as relaxed as ever and at one point Alex even took his shirt off which I found somewhat offensive considering that I was looking like a lobster by then. Furthermore, Ed’s professional-looking fingerless gloves, masterfully manoeuvring our every tack and jibe, instilled a confidence in me that he would single-handedly fight the waves if he had to. And Thomas, well Thomas was the coolest man on the boat. In fact, he even had a date waiting for him the moment he stepped off it.
Before Thomas’ mystery woman was able to greet him though, we had to negotiate the final challenge of wrapping up the sails in increasingly strong headwinds – a task that we succeeded in completing largely trouble free with the only minor inconvenience being the valiant Octopus attempting to help the team by winching but ending up retching instead. As we made our way back through the port entrance, I was grateful to be out of the open and relieved to be back in calm waters (feelings that I imagine were shared by The Octopus). Antoine on the other hand had his mind elsewhere, and his first words for 20 minutes were “what am I going to eat tonight?” in a truly outstanding display of French nonchalance seemingly oblivious to the biblical waters we had just endured.
Alex reversed Copihue into her long-term berth with the upmost precision (he really puts the Fin in finesse), and just like that, the Navily outing had finished. Before finally disembarking, I had a little chat with the day’s skipper about his affinity for sailing and how often he takes the boat out. Alex told me that he tried to get out every other weekend, although sometimes it was difficult due to failing to coordinate times with friends. When I asked him if he could not just head out by himself, he responded that he could, of course, but questioned what the point would be. He stressed to me the importance of the social element of the nautical life, and that boating, for him anyway, was all about sharing experiences, creating memories, and simply enjoying life with the people that he most enjoyed spending it with. Having now had time to reflect on that conversation, I can start to see why Navily has only ever continued to amass support since its inception seven years ago.
When Ben and Ed started the project, they wanted to unite like-minded people with a shared love for the sea and they wanted to do so by creating a platform with the sharing of experiences at its very core. Despite the app’s recent growth, Navily has never wavered from that raison d’etre and I think that now, more than ever, Navily continues live up to its name – The Navigation Family – even if that family is now slightly bigger than at the start!
As the Navigation Family continues to grow, the little family behind the application will continue to work as hard as ever to ensure that our community can spend more time doing what they enjoy and less time worrying about booking berths and finding the best anchorages. We will also take care of The Octopus and make sure he gets back to full fitness by the time the next newsletter comes around. All in all, it was a fantastic day, but when we pass half a million users, maybe we’ll just go bowling instead.