OK, here’s something we need to tell you about. We became victims of immense psychological violence.
The journey itself was absolutely amazing. Another time we might write more about the endless sea, the playful dolphins, the flying fish and the stunningly fluorescent plankton like a fairy dust competing with the sky almost about to overflow with stars, where the Southern Cross and the Big Dipper met at the same place and time.
For this kind of information you might also want to have a look at Wendy’s description of the whole cruise.
But the captain of the yacht we sailed appeared to be a dangerous, persistently and extremely abusive person. Initially, the captain appeared to be a rough soldier type. He tells you what to do and you better don’t ask any questions and better do it fast and well, even if he knows you’ve never done it before. If you ask him anything or do anything wrong, he yells at you, swearing and calling you names. All right, I realize a lot of tough people do behave like this, I’ve seen it in the movies about the Vietnam war (which by the way he had fought in) and I can put up with this. I was doing my best, accepting the challenge, appreciating I can learn a lot and even enjoying the test of manhood in a way. I did well and became a better sailor.
But what happened later was incredible. Reading this, you might think I’m just a soft guy who didn’t sustain rough treatment. Well, this is not the case. The methods of psychological torture this guy was using on me I had only read about in books like “1984” or one about SAVAK, the Iranian secret police under the brutal reign of Shah Pahlavi.
Towards the end of the journey the captain developed an opinion about me in his mind (which was completely false), and based on this opinion started to attempt to break me down, as well as destroy our relationship with Wendy. Being very exhausted after a few days of hard physical labour and lack of sleep, I was subdued to continuous verbal violence aimed to convince me that I am a worthless piece of nothing deserving only to be locked away from the rest of humanity. He was repeatedly telling Wendy that she was blinded and should immediately leave “this fucking worthless piece of disgrace for the human race”. He was under this kind of abuse amok from time to time for an hour or two, but in the end it lasted for approximately 24 hours from when we first stepped onto dry land (we had to wait for customs to get our visas and be allowed out of the shore area). I am not going to go into more details, I’ll just say what he was doing really did cause psychological mechanisms I had read about in the aforementioned books. Like for example reaching a state of mind where I actually started seeing him as a safe guardian when he spoke to me normally, instead of calling me a “brainless piece of shit”.
If only I wasn’t where I am in my life, if I hadn’t done the Vipassana course that taught me to know and recognise who I am, if I hadn’t met all you beautiful people and if our relationship with Wendy wasn’t filled with love, goodness, compassion, understanding and conscious care, we might have broken up and stayed traumatised for years.
Arriving to beautiful Dili, we luckily met Emily, a wonderful and most caring person who’s been such a great support in recovering from this trauma. We are just sitting in her beautiful garden, listening to the sea waves, looking at goats and pigs roaming around and neighbours climbing palm trees to cut coconuts we later drink chilled. East Timor is marvellous and we are learning the Tetum language and preparing for a trip to the east of the country.
We are alright and hoping that what happened won’t undermine ourselves and our relationship. We are working towards it. What I just wrote now is a part of the therapy and a warning for you that such things might happen and it’s important to know who you are, to be in peace with yourself and embrace life as it is.
Looking at the events now, about 6 weeks after it happened, I don’t regret taking the trip. But that’s because at that particular moment we were very strong, both individually and as a couple. I hope this article to be a warning for anyone considering a cruise with Graeme Hay on Skye Melody. We were strong enough at that moment, but other people might not be that lucky (as you can see in the comments below, up till the very bottom of the page). Graeme might be working towards good reasons but he is very dangerous at the same time. He’ll find something about you that will lead him to preconceptions his mind which he will use to build an image of you (towards the end he claimed he knew how much money I had on my bank account or what clothes I had in my bag even though we never really talked about anything). Then, he’ll start severely punishing you for what he thinks you are, even if this image is absolutely false. And psychological violence is definitely something he knows a lot about, even if initially he might only seem to be a very rude person. I know a cruise from Darwin to Dili is a great deal, but if you’re wondering whether you should go with Graeme or not – just don’t.