18th December 2020
Portimão Marina, Portugal
Mankind is addicted to Dopamine. As a species we’d go to great lengths to get our bodies to release it. We’d chase animals looking for the reward of a great meal, we’d chew coca leaves hoping their stimulate would release it, and we’d create gods to worship thinking that the high from meditation had something to do with them and not the natural release of this drug. Dopamine is also released when we’re stimulated by something new, novel or exciting and this is the route that we’d taken to getting a Dopamine high on Ruffian.
The first Dopamine hit happened on board Callista as they unwrapped a brand new, never used, highly sparkly Sailrite sewing machine. We’d worked out that Brock could just fit on the foredeck (while we’re offshore), but for him to be safe and shipshape he’d need a nappie. Our own sewing machine was away for a much needed service, the Sailrite was the machine for the job and the man for the job was Paul.
Paul’s grin grew from ear to ear as he measured, straight stitched, back stitched, zig-zagged and edged. The mechanism of the machine was hypnotic as axles spun they moved all the parts in perfect unison from the foot that walked to the needle that stabbed, from the wheels that spun to the thread that whirred. The Sailrite flew through the job and with Paul having a natural dopamine high, so did he.
Continuing the Dopamine addiction, we found ourselves in the novel position of being far from the sea, looking down from the high hills of Monchique and exploring the eeriest of places. Overlooking Monchique and the whole coastline is the eeriest of places, an eerie abandoned Convent, surrounded by an eerie forest full of black trees, where the clouds float in making an eerie scene even more eerie.
As we took in our surroundings things were about to get a whole lot eerier. Like magic a little man appeared and ushered us into the inner sanctum of the convent. Inside we found the alter waiting for worship, the apse haunted by a lack of idols and the bell tower threatening to fall on any unwary. To top it all, a tree grew through the central courtyard, its branches reaching into every crevice casting shadows that wafted and waned with each puff of wind.
Revelling in everything novel and new (for our fix) we felt that nothing could be any more novel or new than seeing the sunrise from the highest point in the Algarve, looking down on Ruffian in the far distance while braving freezing temperatures and gale force winds.
As the winds buffeted us the sun seemed to take forever to make itself known over the horizon, but as the sky brightened, layer upon layer of hill was revealed. As the moments passed the sea started to shine, the mist was highlighted in the valleys and shadows started to appear and shorten second by second. The rays of sun burnt away the predawn frost replacing it with a new day ready to be filled with novel new experiences.
The new, novel and now excited experiences came thick and fast. There were spa towns with tiny waterfalls, roman ruins surrounded by swamps, pink flamingos feeding in lagoons and marauding cows (complete with horns) fiercely protecting their young. The most new, most novel and most exciting was still to come. What would that do to our dopamine levels?
With the sun shining, the swell down, beaches everywhere and willing parties in the marina, outboard engines revved and we were all off for a dinghy adventure. Our dinghies blasted out of the harbour, out under the cliffs, scooting over transparent water and past stunning beaches. Our attention was on the scenery and not on what was behind until we were aware of blue flashing lights, sirens and big men with bigger guns.
With our Dopamine levels soaring we were told in no uncertain terms to turn tail, head back to harbour and curtail our adventure. We have no idea what laws we were breaking, no idea what we’d done wrong, we could only surmise that we were drug dealers of the highest order. Dopamine dealers.
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