De dagen smelten aan elkaar. “Kwam de wind nou gisterochtend of de ochtend daarvoor?” Ons logboek geeft nog een structuur maar de tijd zelf gebruiken we alleen om te vergelijken met de windvoorspelling. De M, T, W van Monday, Tuesday en Wednesday op de windvoorspelling is de enige reden waarom we soms nog weten welke dag het is. Dag 8 geeft het logboek aan. We varen “langs Kaap Verdie” en slaan op dit moment denkbeeldige rechtsaf. Nu varen we echt de oceaan over. Tot nu koersten we zuidelijk om de passaatwind op te pikken. In de boeken wordt aangeraden om zuidelijker te gaan dan de 20 graden noorderbreedte. Aangezien de voorspellingen er op lijken dat de Passaat zuidelijker beter en stabieler staat komende weken en op 20 graden veel windstiltes zullen zijn, varen we zelfs richting 17 a 16 noorderbreedte. Meer zuidelijk dus.
Een bordje met “Passaat rechtsaf over 100 mijl” zien we in onze gedachten passeren. We verwachten na alle verhalen bijna een voelbare bump als we zouden inchecken in de passaat wind. We hebben nu al 3 dagen goeie stabiele wind. We maken goed vaart maar hij verschilt wel erg in snelheid en vergt veel zeilaanpassingen. Zouden we nu al op de passaat wind zitten? Tot nu toe zijn de golfen erg onrustig geweest, vannacht waren ze wel 4 meter hoog. Zonder zicht vanwege geen maan kwamen de klappen elke keer weer enorm onverwacht. Het lukte mij alleen om een podcast te luisteren, lezen en filmpjes kijken lukte niet doordat ik continue bezig was om te battlen tegen omvallen. Elke klap die je krijgt schrik je daarnaast toch van en kijk je op. Een podcast luisteren en rustig voor je uit kijken geeft dan meer rust.
Mijn zelfgemaakte aasje had vannacht beet. Maar na een korte “trrrrrrrt” hield hij al snel op. Toen Suus hem ophaalde zaten er 2 zuignapjes op. Zouden we nou met 6.5 knoop een inktvis beet hebben gehad?
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Migrant boat confrontation: we live to sail, they sail to live
“Panpan, Panpan, Panpan. This is the coastguard with a general safety message. Please look out for a ship with migrants, heading from Africa to The Canary Islands. ETA 16.00h at Arrecife, Lanzarote.”
All day long, this message is being broadcasted on the emergency VHF channel 16. As time passes by, we hear more and more information being shared. The ship is either 400m long, or it has 400 people on board.. that we couldn’t quite understand.
I plot the coordinates on our map and conclude: that’s really close by! We sailed that trip just recently… The coastguard mentioned that this boat comes from Rabat, Morocco, which we’ve left just a few weeks ago… We both are shocked by this realization.
Back in the Channel between The Netherlands and England, we heart a similar message of a migrants ship. The feeling of ‘it’s everywhere’ starts to grow within me.
I find it so bizarre and shocking, it really gets to me. How desperate one must be to put your life in the hands of a smuggler, to have absolutely no idea where you end up or if you even survive. I’ve had some pretty bad seasickness episodes, and I can’t wrap my head around how horrible it would be for those people migrating over sea… most of them probably never went on a boat before. They lack food, water, suitable clothing, medicine, sunblock…
We live to sail, they sail to live…
Whát can we do? Would my help make a difference? I guess if we would actually ran into them, we could only host a few of them on board, and then what? They might be sick, traumatized, hurt… where should we take them? Probably to the nearest coast.
A few weeks ago, I read the book Grand Hotel Europa, by Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer. The writer compares the refugee crisis to other human crisises that we had. He writes about the cruelty of Europe: letting migrants drown in our own backyard. Offering very little help to the European islands that are the preferred landfall spots. People migrate as long as we walk around on earth. Who are we to determine where one would be allowed to live? Wouldn’t you leave if you had a very shitty life, if you couldn’t provide for your family, if healthcare was extremely poor… And by the way: haven’t we all migrated at least once in our lives when we moved to another house? On a microlevel, we all search for the best possible life and try to create a nice environment for ourselves. On a macrolevel: people have migrated all across the earth ever since humanity was present.
Pfeijffer hares some interesting thoughts that helped me in wrapping my mind around this topic:
– Migrants can actually contribute a lot to ‘dead European cities’, such as Venice. This city, like many others in Europe, has become a museum, fully flooded by tourists. It would bring an economic diversity, and this would replace the touristic monoculture which nobody likes.
Taking this thought one step further, Pfeijffer claims that migrants are the salvation of a Europe that is becoming nothing more than a fancy museum to the entire world. All it has to offer is it’s history. The technological and economical prosperity are found in other parts of the world, Europe’s role is becoming smaller and smaller.
– Interesting paradox: everybody is willing to help someone in need. But all of us get pretty scared when there are thousands of needy persons knocking on our door. We need to keep our eyes open to see migrants as likeminded humans, not as a collective threat.
– There is no such thing as a ‘threat to our culture’, since cultures are made of diversity of people. Cultures are always evolving.
– War is just as threatening as poverty for the wellbeing of people. Why do we only allow and care for war victims?
– Hopefully, we’ve learned by now (with reference to recent wars) that there is no superiority between certain groups of people. If we strive for equality, we should allow people to live where ever they’d like. If the argument of ‘not enough space and/or resources’ is mentioned, we should go back to the fact that Europe needs young and healthy people in order to continue the society due to the lack of children that are born.
I could cite the entire book here, it has so many interesting insights. If the topic interest you, I really recommend reading this book. It’s also beautifully written and has an interesting storyline. It’s not all gloom and doom 😉
So what can we do… I really do not have the answer. I guess starting with awareness is important. Challenge my own thinking. I try to keep my eyes open to this problem in stead of looking the other way… that’s pretty challenging already. Acknoledging that this feeling of fear and being overwhelmed is normal, since the problem feels so big and impossible to tackle. Focussing on the individual stories of people, realizing that we are all equal and trying to make the most of our lives.
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Moving from right to left. Everything in the boat moves with the motion of the sea. The sails are flapping and when Suus wakes up we drop the mainsail. There is no wind and with no pressure in the sail, ir is making many noises and bangs from left to right. We have a “bulletalie” (best sail word ever) that stops the boom from moving but the sail itself slams from left to right. Not good for our mood, and especially creates more wear and tear to sail, boom and mast. After an hour we are not even moving anymore. The current is moving us 0.7 knots in the right direction. The discussion wether to motor or not is quickly concluded in an unanimous no. The waves are ok ish. And we do not see a option to motor for a couple or hours to find the wind. The wind is gone in a large area. We will sit it out.
The weather is great and we have to set up our sun blocker. We have made a squared textile with elastic bands which we can hang up where we like. It works perfect and we can relaxt a bit. A weird feeling since we are not moving but it is working… we do relax. Unfortunately Suus her migraine is not gone yet, after breakfast she dives in bed for some hours.
Just 30 minutes ago the wind picked up a bit and we hoisted the main. We are. Moving with 3 knots which is still really slow but with pressure in both sails we are rolling a lot less. The gives are good and it is beautiful here!
Suus is now showering with a bucket on the deck and I will follow her lead after posting this blog.
We are sailing again! The speeds already goes up to 4 knots while I am finishing this writing!
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Quicky it shoots towards us. Strong small lights with an arrow of glowing water following the dark head. The light is playing in the water. With a sound, water is blown out of the surface. An cheecky sound resonates true the steel hull of the boat. Dolphins are playing wih the boat and their swimming, lights up algaes. You see them swimming towards us in a quick movement. At the same time I see a falling star with a green tail in the sky. Amazingly beautiful to see. But so quickly that you always wonder; “Did I really see this?”
Trying to follow the dolphin-rockets I am listening to a podcast about farewell. “My mom asked me what time it was. I answer, four ‘o clock. In about 15 minutes the doctor will come to inject the fluid. At the same time my mom’s face changes. Her eyes are showing a deep sadness and emotion. It is the first time I understand: It is not only me going to miss my mom. But she will loose and miss everything.”…
The presenter tells this story and I am crying together with him. His story makes me realise how lucky I am. Being able to start such an endeavour together with Suus. This trip gives me a course in enjoying small things, the falling star, not even 1 second of light in the sky. A small line. Dolphins that light up the water. But also Suus making breakfast, a cold beer and yes. This passage also new clean underwear ;).
At the same time I feel selfish. For people back home, our trip can sometimes be hard to understand, emotional and scary. I am crying because I am scared losing my family and friends. Just like the presenter lost his mom. But by crossing an ocean, we scare family and friends, Isn’t that selfish? I know what a boring and shitty friend I have been the last 1.5 years, spending all my time with Yndeleau. To prepare her together with Suus to even spent more time away from family and friends. But every single person gave us this opportunity by supporting us. So many people helped us to be able to cross this ocean. With work on the boat, with supporting words or just being themselves. And while I am watching the dolphins I feel immensely grateful. I am gratefull that we are allowed to be a little bit selfish.
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“Trrrrrrrr. Rrrrrrr.” The fishing rod almost produces smoke. When Suus rushes towards it, it stops as sudden as it appeared. A disappointed and grumpy “mmmm” sounds from outside while I am finishing my quick stop at the toilet. We apparently lost the fish, and it even gets worser. “Oh, no. It feels like there is no lure anymore, hun.” The only, squid like, lucky lure we brought. We couldn’t find them in Tenerife. The time that the rod is almost wheeled in, it is clear, we have to find a new lucky type of lure…
First nights are always heavy for us. We do not get enough sleep and last night we had to do a sail alternation every shift change. Suus starts sleeping 3 hours around 20:00, then I sleep 3 hours and continue doing that for 2 shift each. We are always trying to wait until a shift change to do big sail setup alternations if possible. We once had to decrease the mainsail, put the genua (front sail) on the other side and the mainsail needed a side change as well. In pitch dark these manouvres always take more time and energy. Especially when you just wake up or about to enjoy a nice sleep. We have to get used to working together smoothly again and that creates some friction.
A good evaluation during a cup of coffee this morning created the great atmosphere that we have the whole day. No fish biting in the new lure but lots of reading, listening to podcasts, dancing, enjoying the sun, and contemplating. More on that later ;).
130 miles done, 2870 to go!
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