While rocking and dancing on the waves, we pass the lighthouse of Curacao. A moderate breeze is healing Yndeleau and we tack every half hour to stay as close to Curacao as possible. We left 2 hours later than planned because we had to do ‘just a few things’ before leaving. A large current, and the wind right on her new shiny nose are slowing us down towards our holiday destination. “Shall we just make up the bed in the galley and decide not to rush but to sail through the night?” We are enjoying our sail, a lot of boats are doing this passage by motor or motor-sail because it is always against the wind and current. But after 10 weeks on land we are enjoying every bit of it. Just before the dark, we prepared a fish curry with a just caught Mahi-Mahi fish. The new freezer is filled up with the rest of this beautiful creature and in complete happiness we dive in the night. Our e-readers and podcasts are feeling better than ever. Our internal batteries are already charging and with the first daylight we see Klein Bonaire, the little island just in front of Bonaire.
“Yndeleau, Yndeleau, this is sailing vessel Doejong, this is Doejong”. Our radio breaks the silence, our Dutch friends that we haven’t seen since the Canary Islands, where we prepared for our crossing together, are calling us. “Yndeleau, Yndeleau, this is Zoma as well”. Our Danish friends are welcoming us as well and when we are close to the mooring field they are dinghying towards us. The beautiful reef is well protected and it is not allowed to anchor in Bonaire, you have to use a mooring, two strong lines tied to a concrete block under water. An anchor and chain would drag over the bottom and could kill/demolish the reef. “Yndeleau, Yndeleau, just follow us, we have a free mooring for you”. The Doejong family is racing in front of us to a mooring and help us tie to it.
Mesmerizing turquoise water welcomes Yndeleau and us to our mooring, after we thank our friends and have a small chit chat we lift our dinghy from the boat and prepare ourselves for our check-in. The same as when you arrive by airplane you need to go to immigrations and customs. In covid times this is even stricter, you cannot have personal contact with others and we have a recent PCR test done in Curacao. We have been to Bonaire before, so while walking to the customs office we enjoy many memories. The pizza place we have been 4 years ago with my family, the beautiful promenade, Karel’s beach bar, the friendly people, numerous pick-up trucks and the continuous view on the beautiful blue water and Klein Bonaire just a mile away.
The customs office is in the center of Kralendijk. Because of covid it is only allowed to enter with one person, as Suus did the check-out in Curacao, she goes in with all the paperwork. Just next to the customs I see all the colours of fishes swimming, I long for the ice cream at Luciano’s I see afar, and wow, all the boats at the moorings in front of Kralendijk. We are back to the life we dreamt of again. We have done a bit too much but at least we are ready to enjoy this beautiful island now. While I walk back to customs I see Suus coming out. “Uh, I need the check-out form of immigrations of Curacao, do you know where it is?” she asks. “I have no idea but let’s check” we go through the whole map but I can’t find it either. “Ok, I will tell them”. Suus goes in with confidence but I am getting worried.
Four years ago we were at Bonaire with my parents and my sister. The beaches are pristine and I can remember that everywhere you dive or walk into the water you find the most beautiful underwater world. I am longing for my first dive and snorkel. Not to forget the kitespot with stable strong wind and flat water in the south of the island. Oh, this place already had our heart but we wouldn’t have dreamt that we would be back here by our own boat, with a new wonder growing in Suus her belly.
5 minutes later I see Suus coming out crying. “We are not accepted, we have to go back to Curacao.” All kinds of things rush through my mind. Curacao is exploding with covid numbers, we have to do a new PCR test, sailing up and down will take at least 2 days, Suus her energy is really low now with almost 5 months pregnant. We have a doctor’s appointment here for Anti D shots, important for the pregnancy, for Suus. “The officer is making a phone call with their boss now but they probably won’t let us in”. After 3 hours, explaining our situation and finally speaking to the big boss they do let us stay. We have learned our lesson, and fortunately not with high costs. Suus forgot to check out at the immigration office in Curacao. After so many of the same procedures we just think it was the “pregnancy brain”. We made a mistake but are very, very grateful towards the officers in Bonaire that did let us stay. Walking back to the boat we were even too tired of emotions and our 24 hour sail to stop at Luciano’s for ice cream. But don’t feel sad, we definitely made up for that!
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It took us 24 hours to arrive at Bonaire. A lot of tacking needed but smooth sea and perfect conditions.
We arrived at Bonaire!
And in the end we were accepted! So happy to be here!
“Wow darling, we haven’t written anything in a long, long time” I say to Suus surprised while I am opening our website and see our latest post. It is in Dutch and titled “We are landlubbers”. It throws me back to our time in Curacao, when we were living in an apartment, with air conditioning, a swimming pool, a car and even had 2 bedrooms. Covid has its advantages. With tourists staying at home, and rent prices plummeting, we could afford this amazing place during our Curacao refit. Suus had taken on a 40+-hours a week project for the Dutch government helping Senegalese fishermen improve their marketing and sales with the purpose of exporting fish to the European market. I took the whole boat apart for the “baby-refit”. Suus is joining me and together we read my last written blog. “We haven’t even introduced that we were pregnant. It was posted 10 months ago”. “Ok, that is pretty bad, but in our defence; we had some other things on our mind” I reply, “but I would love to write again!”.
So, that is gonna be my promise to you. I will write more regularly again and I will write in English frequently. I hope it is better than what came out of Google Translate before though. Feel free to help or correct me, see it as Open Source software :). And please let me know if changing to English makes you stop following my writings? I will post the next weeks a new blog every Monday morning. Trying to get you up to the present moment as soon as possible! So, if you are up for a good story, or at least… something to read every first day of the workweek. Just to wait a little longer to go back to your work email. Subscribe for the mailing list to get an update in your email when the new story is live.
So back to the “baby-refit”. Oh, and hell yeah, Suus is pregnant during our landlubber time! While having low energy caused by the growing little shrimp in her belly she pushes through a large work project. It gives us the financial freedom to change the boat to be fully baby-proof. Every morning at 05.00 AM I drive to, Curacao Marine, the wharf. The winter months in Curacao are hot, African dessert style hot. So I try to be ready at 15.00 – which almost never worked out – and we try to keep our weekends free – this worked out 3 times. The hull (bottom of our boat) needs to be maintained, large parts of the paint are falling off. I redo the whole propeller/shaft installation, it leaked and we don’t want to continue thinking about it, it needs to be done properly now. We also add a washing machine for the washable diapers and baby clothes. To be able to wash daily, more water is needed, so a watermaker is installed. The bathroom floor is not completely watertight so I decided to break the bathroom out completely and rebuild it so Suus doesn’t need to shower outside late in her pregnancy. We also want to finish a lot of projects on our long to-do- list, so we can spend as much time with the little one before needing to go back to boat- projects. Next to a lot of small things, Yndeleau gets a nose job with a new anchor base and roller system, the large water tank of 1000 liters is divided in two 500 liter tanks and we install a new dinghy engine lifting system.
“Pffff, I can’t even lift my arms anymore, I need one more hour,” I tell Suus finishing the last paint on the nose job. “And I am almost done inside,” Suus answers. Five hours later, in the pitch dark, we are done. Yndeleau is shining and the boat is liveable again. Totally exhausted, we fell asleep in the harbour. After being landlubbers for 10 weeks we moved back to the boat again. Suus’ project and my 60+-hours a week tropical boatwork have totally drained us. But, we are sailing to crystal clear water tomorrow, it feels like we are going on a holiday, we are setting sail to beautiful Bonaire.
Ready to leave! Sailing via the beautiful Punda part of Willemstad. Do you see the coloured houses?
Sailing under the highest bridge of the Caribbean.
Building a new bathroom.
One of the biggest jobs; renewing the bathroom. We broke everything out and fully started from scratch… Built with wood, epoxy and glassfiber. New skills to me but pretty happy with the result!
Everything new and redone, we now have a watertight floor, a window, improved drainage, new location of the toilet, new sink, new countertop, new closets and a WASHINGMACHINE!
We have passed our last timezone yesterday and are now 5 hours behind Amsterdam. Local time is 01.51. Only 300 nautical miles to go. Yesterday was a great day again. Only one squal (an episode of heavy rain and a lot of wind, out of the blue) hit us during the day, and this one had way less wind than the numerous others we had. The waves decreased and became more stable. While before we have coursed more south to miss several thunderstorms ( the new predictions seems to proof that was a great idea), we have just turned the bow directly towards Barbados. Expecting to arrive on Tuesday.
Today another five questions in the second part of the FAQs:
6. What if you’re confronted with a storm?
J: First of all, we try to always dodge storms. In two ways; only do passages in the right season and to carefully study long and short term weather predictions. When the expected weather is not perfect, we do not move.
S: But even with these precautions it can happen that a lot of wind, really high waves or thunderstorms hit us. Every storm will be different but we have thought about many situations. We have options to make the sails really small or even lower most of them. We have a storm door to close off the whole boat. We have a droque, which is a sea anchor that can be used to slow down the boat and keep it on course when really larges waves hit us.
J: I think the most important thing is that you fully trust your boat and each other. We know Yndeleau is capable, and we will be prepared as good as possible every time it could happen.
S: And we do not see storms as the biggest danger. (What so we think is the biggest danger? See FAQ 8)
7. What if one of you becomes sick?
J: It starts with keeping as healthy as possible and be a bit more precautioness in everything you do on deck. In the middle of our crossing, we were 2500 km away from doctors, hospitals and pharmacies… Therefor, we look like a small hospital with a pharmacy ourselves. We have taken a lot of treatments, antibiotics, painkillers and even a emergency dental filling set.
S: Furthermore we have learned to inject, stitch and do all kind of first aids. Next to that, we can call the doctors in NL 24/7 with our satellite phone. They can advise us what to do. What kind of antibiotics to take, etcetera. We don’t even have to wait in the waiting room ;-).
8. What’s the biggest danger?
S: In our opinion there are two. Fire and a collision. A collision with a ship is almost impossible because of our AIS Alarm system. All boats (99.9%) have an identification system which we can track. The alarm lets us known when another boat is closeby. Hitting a submerged container or a whale are bigger chances. But that is still a really, really, really small chance.
J: Fire can also happen. But we have taken all precautions and have many fire extinguish options.
S. Rationally stepping in a car on the A1 is more dangerous really.
9. What do you like the most about crossing?
S: Just doing it. Being outdoors all day and night, seeing a lot of nature, feeling very alive with many highs and lows, facing fears, being so far away from ‘normal life and that makes you reconsider your life ashore.
J: While the basic of our day are the same; wind, water and views. The days are totally different. The sunsets, the sunrises, the type of waves and clouds, the playful dolphins, the silly suicidal flying fish and the endless thoughts during the night watches. Where do you find this kind of freedom and beauty? The scary thought of being so far away from others and help is at the same time a wonderfully experience in trust and acceptance of each other, the boat and yourself. Do I dare to say life-changing?
10. What do you dislike most?
S: Sometimes you feel so tired physically. Some nights the sleep is really bad. Broken shifts create a dragging physical tiredness, I can really imagine how hard the first months/years are for new parents 😉 let alone parents on a boat: you have my deepest respect! Some days you get smashed all over the boat with waves hitting. I have never had so many bruises. Yesterday I was brushing my teeth, and a big wave swept all dishes of the countertop. The fish bucket fell against my leg and the jucky juices drips down on me. Arrrrr…
J: The constant movement and shakedowns indeed. Sometimes I am really annoyed and just want to scream. I just baked bread and you couldnt stand without being thrown to the kitchen counter many times. Or when you open a closet and a big waves smashes onto the boat and everything falls out. Luckily, we didn’t have long periods of no wind yet this passage, that is very annoying as well.
That were the 10 questions. We will post more FAQs in the future. So let us know if you have any burning questjons? For now; 2 more nights to go. A thunder in the distance lights up the sky. These nights are so beautiful!
We have almost sailed 2500 nautical miles, 4500 km, from Tenerife towards Barbados. Champagne sailing is clearly over and it is rough now. We expect another 4 days until white beaches will welcome us in the Caribbean.
Looking back over the past few months, we decided to discuss the 10 most frequently asked questions. Let us know which answer surprised you the most, and if you have additional questions! Today the first 5 questions in part one.
1. Do you sail continuously or do you stop during the night?
S: When we have to sail several nights to get to a new destination, we sail continuously. In general, there is no way you can ‘stop’ during the night.
J: Currently we are sailing over water 11km deep with no land around us for days. There is no way to “take a break”.
S: There are exceptions of course; when you’re near land, you may anchor. But that does kinda mean you reached a destination. Another exception is the possibility to position the boat in such a way that it is a bit more stable. “Bijliggen” in Dutch. People do this in heavy storms to get some rest and sleep. But it also means; no progress. So we continue sailing during the nights, and that’s why we have night shifts! See Q2.
2. How do you sleep when sailing?
S: Good question! Our sleeping on passages developed quite a bit. Since we sail continuously, we take watches during the night.
J: Suus starts with 3 hours sleep right after sunset around 19.00h local time. Then I go to bed and when Suus slept again, I take a 4 hours sleep. Around 9 in the morning, I had 7 hours of sleep and Suus will take a small sleep of an hour or 1.5 to also make 7 hours in total.
S: We have started a tradition of having a cup of warm milk after dinner right before the watches start. It helps us calm down and to discuss the day together.
J: Oh, another “tradition” is to tuck each other in. With a kiss and a hug we wish each other a good sleep/good watch. We really miss sleeping together for almost 3 weeks now and this is a nice alternative.
S: At the beginning of our trip, we have slept in our normal bed during sailing nights. However, as the sea got more wobbly, and Jur once had left the bed with matress and all, caused by a big wave, we adjusted our sleeping plan.
J: We have two beds, on each side of the boat. On portside (left), we created a bed on the couch. Depending on the way we sail, we choose a side to sleep on. The boat rocks a lot from left to right due to the ocean movements, so we secure ourselves with lots of blankets, pillows and wooden planks. This goes pretty well in general.
S: But on nights when we shake a lot, this might result in some neck pain and blue spots due to the fact that you’re constantly adjusting and moving. If anyone has a solution for that, let us know!
3. What do you eat?
J: We eat pretty normal, to be honest. After 17 days of sailing we still have fresh vegetables and fruits. We bake our own bread. Pancakes are a big treat, it never tastes as good as it does aboard! In general, we adjust our meals to the sailing conditions. Heavy seas? Let’s just go for a one-pan dish like a pasta or a chili-sin-carne bowl.
S: Everything becomes a bowl-dish anyhow since a flat plate does not work with the waves. The quick one pan dishes are mostly Mexican styled with lots of beans etc. Easy, nutritious and tasty!
J: If the seas are easy, I also really like to cook a good dinner. The fish we catch for example, turned into cheviche, sushi, grilled chunks with baked potatos and a nice white wine sauce. (In Spain and Portugal they have really nice small fruit-juice-like packages of cheap wine, perfect for cooking). Sometimes we can even open our outside table with precaution. Only the beer and wine (for drinking) are missing…
S: When sailing, we focus on eating healthy, more than at home or when we arrive somewhere. We feel that it is important to be as fit as possible during any passage. It’s just the two of us, we have to rely on ourselves and therefore we take good care. We are thousants of kilometres away from doctors. On a passage, we do not drink, thus we are a so-called “dry boat”. Our bilge is filled with wine for our arrival, though 😉 Tomorrow we will answer the question “what if one of you does become sick?.
4. Do you shower?
S; Yep, luckily we do! Not as often as we’d normally do, due to the fact that the movement makes it so much harder, and that water is scarce. When the sea is calm, we sit on the deck on the back of the boat and shower first with salt water. Rinsing off with only 1.5l of fresh water, which we put in a pump to water plants (a so called plantenspuit in Dutch).
J: Yesterday I also took a shave and Suus a scrub. This “quality cleaning” really makes us both happy and gives a healthy and energizing feeling on the middle of the ocean.
5. Are you continuously steering the boat?
J: Fortunately not! We have two systems that can steer the boat. A mechanical and a electric one. The electric one, a so called autopilot, operates our hydrolic steering system with a pump. You can set it up on a specific course and it will follow this course. We are really happy with our auto-pilot, but since it uses a lot of power we mostly use our mechanical system. We call him Vannie.
S: Vannie is magnificent. When the sails are up, we set it up and it steers the boat without digital intelligence or power needed. With no sound of a pump or electric powering. It is like a invisible third person took control over Yndeleau. This feels as sailing as it is supposed to be. Vannie is a Hydrovane. Which is a pendulum based steering with his own rudder. We put the normal rudder in a fixed stand and then operate the Hydrovane. It is wind steering, which means shortly that you set it on a course towards the wind, it will make sure that you always sail at that same angle towards the wind. Quick explaination: the large vane on top moves from left to right. When it is exactly in line with the wind, on course, it does not move. But when the wind pushes it to the left, it means the boat is off course and the vane creates power to move the rudder. This will steer the boat to the correct course until the vane stands up right again. The harder the wind, the more power Yndele au
needs to be steered but also the more power Vannie creates.
What if we are confronted with a storm and what do we like the most about our first ever crossing? We continue our FAQs tomorrow
Jur can almost start a little bakery aboard, his bread baking skills improve everyday! White bread, bread with raisins, and occasionally a oh-bummer-i-forgot-to-add-salt bread. Getting the yeast to be consistent is the biggest challenge; sometimes, a dough rises like crazy and the next time it might stay a little low. Any tips on that? Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
Seriously, the minute after I finished my PredictWind update with a notion of ‘our first drops of rain’, we were racing upwind and I had to sprint outside to take the wheel and regain our course. The sky went dark and rain started pouring down. I throw all our books, electronics and cloths inside because it was getting soaked. The simple yet brilliant raincover we made with our sailmaker raincover is now in place. A weird excitement gets to me: this is it, a squall! We’ve read about the local little storms with lots of wind and rain, but so far we didn’t really have one.
The wind accelerates more and more, just as it does when you’re standing next to a big building on a windy day. I keep steering and ride this rodeo the best I can. Boat tilts right, I move left. I’ve grown a serious pair of ‘zeebenen’ (which is sea legs in Dutch, pretty sure that such an expression exist in English as well, not sure if the translation makes sense). Our beam occasionally dips into the water. These conditions are a bit too much for our windpilot, there’s only so much that this wonderful device can do. A wave throws us to the right. I steer back before we complete the turn, and when we face our course again, I counter the previous steering action. The wind pushes us really hard from a wave: we hit a speed of just over 10knots.
A rainbow appears, I’ve always been curious to see the beginning of it, and now I can clearly see it starting just 50meters away from me. Appearing out of the water! The waves are like mountains, we rise and we surf. When I look down from the top, I see flying fish enjoying the long flight they can take at the valley.
As the wind and rain slow down, I grab a towel and clean the cockpit with all this sweet water. Yay! Never have I been happier with rain; sweet water really is a blessing when you’re surrounded (and covered) by salty sea water. I look around and see streams of rainwater pooring down certain places, and I’m thinking about the best way we could build a water-collector to save this precious sweet water.
I brace myself for the next episode and put on my red-riding-hood, which I use to keep the hair out of my face. With the wind coming from behind, this really is a girls-pain. Jurre rolls out of bed and asks me with his cute, sleepy head, if everything is fine. This captain never truly sleeps and is always aware of changing situations. What a hero <3 Yeah, all is fine! Maybe I shouldn’t say it our loud, but I like this rodeo 🙂
Yesterday, we wrote about all the householding tasks that we do aboard. One of them is cleaning the solar panels to maximize their power production. A tiny bit of dirt on the panels drastically reduces the output, and we want to keep our batteries as full as possible. We reach the 100% state almost everyday, it becomes a bit of a challenge. We mainly remove salt stains. No bird poop here, yay! We’ve seen about 15 birds in total I think. Luckily, the flying fish haven’t reach these panels (yet). Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
Here's our biggest catch so far! The 80cm long mahi mahi, that we, unfortunately, had to give back to the ocean. We named him Frits. As you can see, he was already looking a bit sad due to his parasite infection (read more about that story on our Live Location page).
3 interesting facts: 1. Jur caught this fish with his handmade lure, using parts of a shiny bag of crisps as attractive material. 2. The , well... interesting belt that Jur is wearing, really is helpful! The wheeling in of the fish is quite a battle, it takes about 45min. With this belt, you can position and held the rod more comfortable. And 3. Suus did the actual 'pull the fish aboard'-action. That's an intense moment, because the fish can still get away, you're confronted with it's size and you are so very aware and thankful for this animal that will feed us.
After this catch, we haven't fished anymore. We needed a small break to process the situation. We might throw out a line again today. We're so much more confronted with eating meat/fish, we are much more conscious and redefine how and what we eat.
Day 17 has just started. Less than 900Nm to go! Wind is picking up and we are making good progress. Let's go!
Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
It suddenly gets to me. 12000m of water below our boat. 12km! More than 1000km behind us, but even more in front of us. I. AM. SO. SCARED. SOS.
The wind picks up, and waves throw us around. It’s almost impossible to do things, going to the toilet and making tea are the two main activities that we undertake. I want to share my fears with Jur. I’m afraid that he will be scared too, and then what?! Will we freak out together? After a little while, I decide to talk about it. Luckily, as always, we help each other out. Yes, it is scary and unpleasant at times. The reward will only be bigger. We prepped the boat and ourselves the best we could, and we have many backup options and communication channels. Getting into a car really is more dangerous than our undertaking, statistically speaking…
That might be true… But it feels different. We have to look after ourselves. There is no police or hospital nearby. There is no guarantee on this boat, we made so much of it ourselves so we have to trust ourselves. Nowadays, it’s so easy to rely upon others; experts or companies. It’s so un2020-like to fully rely on yourself and your partner!
The best guarantee of this amazing boat, is obviously the journey that we made with her thusfar. She showed what she’s worth, and she’s very capable! Yndeleau will probably outshine us, and we’re very happy about that 😉
We really learn to live in the now. That is all that matters, and it requires your full attention. It also helps to keep feelings of fear to a minimum. My mom shared a short video some time ago, I do not have access to the source or original text at the moment, but the main message is powerful to me. It goes something like this: You never have to worry. What do you worry about? Can you do something about it? Then do it, and you don’t have to worry. Can’t you do something about it? Well, then you don’t have to worry either. This is a bit simplified of course, but it makes sense. We deal with the problems that arise at the moment. Bad weather for example. Predictions help us prepare, but very often, the prediction is not accurate.
Last night, the wind kept picking up. I was a bit scared to reef in the dark. We already set one reef, to be prepared. But as the wind picked up more than expected, I layed in bed and worried about being on deck, with stormy wind, when should we reef, should we do that at all, so many things could go wrong… My mind was going crazy. When we finally decided to reef, I was shaking like crazy bút I wasn’t really scared because we just did it.
After a few scary moments, I decided to sit down and think about how I (succesfully) can deal with fear. These 3 tactics work for me:
1. When you feel scared, acknowledge it. With a neutral face 😉 So in my mind, I try to say “hi fear, I see you” instead of “omg fear wtf are you doing here?! You shouldn’t be here. This is all wrong, this shows that I can’t do it”. When you try to push it away, it gets even stronger. Think: pink elephant (Google if that doesn’t ring a bell)
2. Listen to your fear: what does it say? Try to be precise, the unravelling already helps to calm down somehow. For example: my fear would feel like “being all alone on this massive, deep water with stormy weather, what if something goes wrong?”. Some of the fears I can already eliminate by just making them more concrete: are we alone? Yes, more than ever. But there are still boats close by, and more important: we have amazing communication methods. Plus, our location is known by many. So that’s actually not so scary anymore. Massive, deep water-fears: I have never been a fan of going into unclear water. So here I am, fully surrounded by it. But we are safe and dry in our boat, and a boat hardly ever sinks. Even when people abandon boats, these are often found afloat years later. We wear our lifevests all day and night, and we use our safetylines almost all the time as well. So the chance of me getting into this water is really, really small. Stormy-weather fears: yes it can get
really rough. We already had 8bft, but it all went fine. Our confidence in this boat grows by the minute. It’s very unlike that we would experience something like a tornado, so generally speaking: we can cope. It might get really intense and unpleasant, but it won’t last forever. We have a sea anchor in case of really heavy weather to keep us more stable.
3. Use it as a scenario-practise. This might sound contra-productive; thinking about it even more, but for me it helps. Just go through the entire scary event and the steps you would take. Doing this helps me to gain confidence. Even in the very unlikely event of this scary thing happening, I know what to do. Also, by focussing on the mental challenge of the scenario-steps, my mind steps out of the fear-loop. Are you ever scared? What do you do when you’re confronted with fears?
*I wrote this blog in the first week that we left. I was a bit SCARED to post it 😉 since I didn’t want to frighten you guys back home. But I’m happy to share with you that I haven’t had such fears since then. And also, I always remember: this too shall pass!*
YAY! Today, we celebrate our HALF WAY POINT!! So awesome, from now on we count down instead of up. It’s kinda unbelievable to be at sea for already 12 days…! And still, we’re not bored. Nope, we do not have a topspeed. We are very cautious of all materials, and safety matters most. Furthermore, our Yndeleau is quite a fat lady with over 20tons 😉 We expect to take another 12 days to arrive at Barbados. We still have 1350Nm to go (that’s almost 2500km). All is well aboard. Still have plenty of water, fuel (we didn’t motor at all), fresh fruits and veggies (keeping them in boxes below the table works great), and we sleep well most of the time. Thanks for following along, we really look forward to connect again, this one-way communication is the only thing that gets a bit boring 😉 Sent from Iridium Mail & Web.
You’ve seen it in films. The Matrix, or Black Mirror, or Stranger Things. The main character stands in a place of absolute nothingness. The Other Side. The Upside Down. I really do not remember all of those names, but the feeling and image is pretty much the same. And it is exactly what I’m experiencing right now at my night shift. We are about 1/3 on our ocean crossing. It’s a very dark night, there’s no moon and clouds cover the stars. The wind just went down to a small breeze, the waves are hill-like: soft and gloomy. We fastnened the sails so they don’t bang or flap. The boat is rocking and slowly moving at a steady pace. The gps shows a forward motion, but all I feel is us tumbling around in the black nothingness. It’s not scary at all, funny enough. You don’t see anything, so nothing triggers you’re fear. It really is a weird experience. When I look in the water, I see small alges lighting up when the boat movement hits them. Leaving them behind is the only reference of speed. The boat is fully glued to the ocean, like movements through oil. You don’t hear blobs or other water movements, no water smashing against the hull. No sizzling waves braking. Just only motions in the dark void. You know it will change. But for a moment, it feels like there is no time. It was really a spacy, maybe almost a womb-like experience!
ps. The photo attached shows actually a ‘big’ moon on a very bright night! It’s still the best image to visually describe my experience and to show a bit of the darkness 🙂
When you ever have been on a verrrry long flight, you must have felt the unbearable impatience at a certain point, right? I do, at least. Any flight over 10 hours is just annoying to me. So… when we discussed to cross the ocean, which means 25 days and nights of traveling, I was kinda unsure if that would be for me. Is it doable? Well, let me share a bit of our daily things so you decide for yourself 😉 As for me: I do not have a choice atm, so… no, just kidding, I really enjoy it (most of the time!). The hours are just an indication, in reality, this varies a lot. But we try to have some schedule, this just feels good. The chill-time feels more rewarding this way.
• 09.00h: We have breakfast when we finish our night shifts. Making coffee, sometimes with fresh bread, or oats, or yoghurt. Doing a bit of tidying: making the bed, organizing the cockpit
• 10.00h: We take an extra nap when needed, sometimes we didn’t sleep well and we aim to make up for it during the day.
• 11.00h: Doing some boatwork! Such as: Checking all veggies and fruits to see if anything goes bad and needs to be eaten first, Fix something that broke (Jur has been very busy with the AIS antenna), Cleaning the boat, both inside and outside. Everything gets really salty, and we like to keep the cockpit as salt-free as possible since it is annoying to have salt all over yourself. Salt attracts water, so you become a sponge if you don’t watch out ;). Spotting other boats (only 2 so far) and have a little chat about the weather, Downloading the weather and determining the route, Mailing with our shore-peeps, Doing the dishes, Daily checks on the condition of crucial boat parts to spot wear and tear early on (such a long journey affects all materials heavily). Cleaning the solar panels to get the max amount of energy, Making yoghurt and bread, …. Plenty to do! We hope to add ‘catching and prepping fish’ soon, because so far: no luck.
• 13.00h: Fun time! Reading on our ereaders, Annoying each other (yeah that happens too), Writing blogs, Doing some freelance work if the sea is calm enough, Playing a game (haven’t done that before), A short workout, a little dance-off, reading through all the lovely cards from our farewell party, just staring over the water.
• 16.00h: waiting for the dolphins, sometimes a 0.0% beer when we feel like celebrating our progress, and making dinner! Yesterday, we had the most amazing dolphin show ever. It went on for about 3 hours, there were hundreds of dolphins all around us. They did all kinds of crazy jumps, some jumped as high as 4m. Backflips, “bommetjes” (Dutch), just crazy. We took a million photos to catch this moment, but no luck, they are pretty camera-shy (or we are just really bad photographers).
• 17.00h: dinner! Mostly one-pot meals, however, during calmer days, we even had dinner at the table with multiple dishes.
• 18.00h: Doing the dishes, securing everything for the night. Having a hot drink together, discussing the day. We realised that this ‘sit together and talk’ time is important, because days can just fly by without really connecting to one another. Can you imagine that, while you’re together on a boat?
• 19.00h: time for our night shifts! We take shifts of 3 hours. Jur starts, I go to bed first and take over at 22h. Etc. This way, we both get at least 6h of sleep. Both of us have trouble sleeping on the first shift. Your mind is still going crazy and you ‘see ghosts’. We frequently ask the person that keeps the watch: “is everything all right?”. I often have crazy dreams during this first sleep. I have asked Jur about whether he sees that ship without lights that’s in front of us, or whether he has seen that thing that is dangling on the boom. The mind is still so busy! On the second sleep, we both sleep so much better.
• All day long, we write our progress in our logbook. We note time, position, speed, course, the barometer pressure and any particularities. We adjust sails all day as well, we prefer to do so during daytime. If we need to adjust something at night, we put on our deck lights, so we have the best possible view.
With all of our activities, we have to follow the weather and movement of the boat. They dictate what is possible and what is not. Due to the heavy weather, we couldn’t take a proper outdoor shower. That just has to wait then. Same goes for bread baking: when the sea is too heavy, it has to wait. We learn to deal with whatever is coming your way.
Almost at 1/3 of our crossing! What an adventure. Thanks for following along!
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.
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!
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.
“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 ;).
Well hi there! Our first official blog post from sea, aka our message in a bottle to you.
This morning, we woke up very relaxed. We had never been so chill before a passage, let alone this BIG passage! Sun’s out, lovely weather, only some small tours to do, tidy up and get some fresh baguettes and the national flag of Barbados. Around 12, we felt more than ready and untided the lines while waving to all the people that had no idea what we were up to. We just made them our imaginary farewell crowd. After 5 minutes , just outside of the marina, Jurre heart a strange beep. It came from the engine room. Oh my. One look on the newly installed temperature sensor already showed the problem: the engine was over 100C and therefore the newly installed alarm went off. Both were functioning correctly, so that’s something at least. We turned around immediately, hearts racing, and docked again. Now what?! 🙁
After cooling our engine and ourselves a bit down, Jurre went on an investigation. He recently installed a new thermostat, together with the alarm and sensor, and it was clear that the problem was located somewhere around this new installation. I’m really impressed by Jurre’s improved problem-solving skills. Before, he would be more stressed and losing himself a bit in the problem. He’s now much more calm and confident. Ánd he’s also a very experienced engineer by now…
In about 3 hours, the problem was solved. Big thanks you to SY Puff for their support! It was my task to assist with the temperature checks, running the engine and finally: cleaning out the bilge, my favourite task, which I’ve only done about 387462 times since we have our Yndeleau. I have improved my way of working as well: use the oil extractor to start, and finish off by using a diaper on a stick. Email me if your oil extractor ever breaks down; I now know a million ways to get it working again.
Soooo we threw away the newly produced garbage and left again. We didn’t wave this time…
The boys from Aboard Belafonte shared with us that it brings bad luck to leave on a Friday. Well, nothing we couldn’t fix, fortunately, but it took our ultra chill mode away and made us extra focused. Maybe we needed that 😉 We felt more than ever: one does not simply cross an ocean!
Ps. Regarding the sweaty palms: we both experienced such an adrenaline rush! That’s crazy and beautiful, how your body preps you for an emergency situation. It did however, painfully confront us with the fact that our next shower will be in three weeks! We have some simple washing systems aboard, but nothing g beats a real shower 😉
“Ik verloor bijna m’n been. Het begon met een klein sneetje in m’n voet, en voordat ik het wist moest ik onder het mes.” De zaal hangt aan de lippen van zeiler Co Zwetsloot tijdens de Vertrekkersdag 2018 in Eemnes. “Spoel nooit een wondje uit met zeewater, want dat zit vol bacteriën”. Deze tip staat in mijn geheugen gegrift. Jurre en ik en onze Yndeleau, een Van de Stadt 44, vertrekken komend jaar voor onbepaalde tijd. Jurre is het zeilen met de paplepel ingegoten, voor mij is er nog heel wat te leren. We bezochten de Vertrekkersdag om ons zo goed mogelijk voor te bereiden op onze grote reis. Lees onze 7 lessen op Zeilen.nl
Elke winter weer trekken we dikke truien aan, lange warme broeken en liggen we binnen onder een dekentje Netflix te kijken. We stappen de deur niet uit zonder een dikke jas, een stel handschoenen en draperen ook nog een sjaal in ons nek om alle tocht tegen te gaan die ons eventueel een snifje kan opleveren.
En dan neemt ouder worden ook nog happen uit ons enige bedekte stukje lichaam. In het midden van ons hoofd, precies op de plek van de hersenen die verantwoordelijk zijn voor “complexe bewegingen” houden wij mannen rond ons 40e helemaal geen bescherming meer over. Wat is dat met mensen dat we denken dat we hartstikke slim zijn?
Hebben jullie ooit de stadsmerel een jas zien aantrekken? De vos een stelletje wanten uit zijn zak zien pakken? Of een hond (zelf) een jas zien aantrekken? Dat we dankzij Eva en haar trek in een appel, een broek aanmoeten over onze gevoelige delen snap ik nog wel. Maar dat we van de circa 5000 zoogdieren op aarde nou 1 van de 11 moeten zijn die haarloos zijn? En dan te bedenken dat dolfijnen, walrussen, dolfijnen, zeekoeien en walvissen ook nog in zee leven… Dat is de enige plek waar het logisch is dat we kaal zijn, of bijvoorbeeld op de Savanne (de olifant) of als we lekker in de modder liggen (varkens).
Ik kies er maar voor om naar de Carieb te varen, heerlijk warm en zonnig, daar smeer ik me graag een keertje extra voor in en daar ben ik blij om kaal te zijn. Want hoe vervelend is het om een duik te nemen met een volle vacht. Bovendien vind ik mijn vriendin toch wel sexier zonder een dikke bontkraag…
Brace yourself … the winter is coming! Every winter we pull on thick sweaters, long warm trousers and we curl up under a blanket to watch Netflix. We don’t go out without a big coat and we’re sure to top it all of with a scarf to minimize the risk of a tiny cold.
And as a man you have an extra challenge. The older we become, the less armed we are against cold. In the middle of our head, exactly above that part of the brain that is responsible for “complex movements”, we have (or had) natural protection: hair. Why is Mother Nature so harse for men in this regard?
Have you ever seen the city blackbird put on a wintercoat? Or a fox grabbing a bunch of mittens from his pocket? Or see a dog putting on a jacket? I can understand that with Eve eating the apple, we had to cover up ourselves a bit and become a bit more decent… But why do we, men, just belong to the 0.2% mammals on earth that are (partially) hairless? And to think that dolphins, walruses, dolphins, manatees and whales also live in the sea … That is the only place where it actually makes sense to be bald or maybe on the Savannah (the elephant) of mud (pigs).
I choose to sail to Caribbean, wonderfully warm and sunny, I don’t mind putting sunblock on and be okay with my bald-ness. How annoying it would be to take a dive with a full coat on… Furthermore, I find my girlfriend a whole lot sexier without a thick fur coat!
On September 1st 2018, we were featured in the magazine Waterkampioen by the ANWB. We’ve translated the article so everybody can enjoy the interview we’ve had. Thanks a lot, Erik van den Berg (interview) and Dirk Jansen (photos). See the Dutch article-photo down below!
When Suzanne and Jurre met 3 years ago, she was a kitesurfer and he a sailor. She taught him to surf, he taught her to sail. Together they bought their first boat: a 44ft Van de Stadt. The kiteboards will be joining them on board.
Jurre: “Suzanne windsurfed a lot and took on kitesurfing later on. I learned to sail in a Optimist and sailed with my parents from a very young age on several boats. Over the past few years, we got to use the Bavaria 38ft of my parents. We sailed on the Frisian lakes and to de Wadden (a set of beautiful islands in the North of the Netherlands). Suzanne taught me to kitesurf and we take our kitesurf gear with us wherever we go, resulting in just perfect holidays. We have been living together for over 2 years now and we work fulltime.
We wanted our own boat, so our search began. At first, we were looking for quite a young ship, nothing too big. But when we saw this Van de Stadt online, we both thought ‘this boat would be perfect, it checks all boxes’.
“This boat would be perfect, it checks all boxes”.
This boat was quite big, it had many features which would allow us to sail long distance, exactly what we were looking for. Before we can go on our long-dreamed-of adventures, there’s a lot of work to be done. The previous owner told us that the engine needed replacement, along with other repairs.
Before the deal was made official, the boat was towed to a nearby wharf to check the underwater ship. That was quite a scary first adventure, crossing the Westerschelde which is quite a busy shipping lane.
Once the deal was made and we had the boat on the wharf, the refit began. The waste tank was completely full, such a nice surprise, so I had to empty it with buckets… Well, this is how you get to know your ship!
We’re hoping to have a nice holiday aboard this summer. And we’ll take her out for longer journeys later on, but we’re still unsure about when we’ll be leaving…”
Jurre and I, Suzanne, had our first date on a sailboat. During that first date, Jurre shared his dream about sailing the world. Solo. I immediately thought to myself: I’ll join. And actually, I said that out loud 😆 and that’s where our shared dream started.
We sailed a lot over the past few years with the beautiful boat of Jurre’s parents. A big thank you for all the times that we could sail away with the Witte Zwaan! I learned so much about sailing. What struck me most, is the instant chill-ness once you enter a sailboat. Being on the water, in such a cosy, tiny space, really brought so much peace of mind. We enjoyed ourselves so much once we were aboard. Sailing, but also the slow and simple lifestyle: doing games, reading, having breakfast. Such a pleasure!
Entering a sailboat results in instant chill-ness
A few years went by and we didn’t speak much about our sailing dream. We thought it would be impossible to ever own a boat. Jurre looked into bigger boats on which we would be able to host guests. But I wasn’t too keen on having to work about 50% during our sailing trip. And as much as I like having friends and family over, I really like to have my own space 😇
And then this happened: Jurre asked me to marry him! 😍YAY! So excited! And as we were thinking about the wedding – and the savings – our sailing dream popped up again. If we were going to safe up all that money… shouldn’t we try to make our sailing dream come true?
So we started a new search for boats. We adjusted our requirements and we saw which boats would be within our budget. Older boats, steel, a bit smaller… we looked at many websites, going through them every night to see the new additions. We also looked on Marktplaats, a Dutch Ebay-kinda site for basically everything… and also yachts!
Realizing dreams by adjusting some requirements… that’s how we managed to find our dreamboat.
We did not expect to find anything on there, we always thought such valuable items would only be sold via an agent. But, you’ll probably get where this story is going: we found our dreamboat on Marktplaats. Located in Vlissingen, about 2.5 hours from Amsterdam. We spent several weeks emailing before we could finally visit her. And when we did so, we fell in love immediately. She’s big, rough, old, a bit rusty but very spacious and solid. Exactly what we wanted for our journey.
After two viewings, we decided to go for it. There was a bit of time pressure due to the previous owner leaving the country. It was one of those rare moments when you mainly just have to trust your gut feel. I guess that’s always the case with buying boats: you just fall in love. If you ever start doing the total math, or if you know in full detail about all the things that you’ll encounter, you’ll never buy one 🙉 So far, the boat did cost us a lot more than expected. And there were also many more repairs to be done than expected. In Dutch, there is this saying ‘koop een boot en werk je dood’, which translates to ‘buy a boat, and you’ll work your ass off until you die’. Not very positive… but I guess when you’re working on your dream, no mountain is high enough to keep you from reaching your goal. But yeah… we had quite some setbacks. More on that in another blog, let’s keep this one pure with our initial enthusiasm 😉