pirates of the Caribbean

The translation of the post title back into English by Google is funny.

We were on our way to the promised land, according to Atlantis and landed in Aruba, which is roughly in the same part of the world. We came at the end of January and only wanted to lick our wounds for a few weeks and also seal the leaking windows. The curse of the Caribbean weighs on this boat.

Sissi looks astonished. What is happening here on board?

Episode 1: The Propeller. We are confident. The Chapo is also still in Aruba and Charly is helping us with the treatment of our propeller by clearing his diving equipment and carrying out the dismantling and the due assembly the following day. We are happy because we have come a little closer to our goal of getting through as quickly as possible.

The supply of coffee urgently needs to be replenished. After a long search, I was able to find a brand that more or less lives up to our requirements.

Episode 2: The Skylights. You don't want to and don't want to get tight. Some of the screws are worn out. The old sealing tape is crumbling away. After days of trying, we finally manage to get the hatches tight. We are happy, we have been able to cross a big fat item off our to-do list. We announce our imminent departure. Together with friends, something like the last evening together comes up. We are optimistic that we can do the remaining work in a short time.

Anneke broke the ice out of the freezer. Some donkeys like to lick the chunks of ice. As long as I'm in Aruba, a weekly visit to the donkeys is almost a must.

Episode 3: Oil Spill. After a week and a half of treatment, we see the color of our carpet again. The floor no longer sticks. We enjoy the beautiful sight again.

Episode 4: The pulley at the top of the mast. When we sailed from Cuba to Aruba, we had some problems getting our mainsail down again. These problems were then lost in our memories, because afterwards we could only get to the clearing port without a drive under sail and with the help of a tug (see also episode 1).

Somewhat frustration builds up. Time begins to stretch. In order to get around the removal of the mast after all, we wait for the rigger and his opinion. Of course the mast has to be down. We are waiting. Waiting for an appointment.

Our teddy bear from Tobermory Lifeboats looks at what we're doing together with the port and starboard donkeys. Sometimes that is very, very little.

Epsiode 5: Lift the mast and let the credit card bleed. For a mere 800 US$, a truck-mounted crane comes to the Marina Varadero and is available to us for just under four hours. During this time we exude an endless zeal for work, after three hours the mast is back on the deck and is provisionally moored. The repair of the pulleys took less than ten minutes. The rigger should do the final trimming of the mast for us.

We are happy, because without the mainsail it would have been impossible to continue. We announce our imminent departure.

Rib with cabbage and mashed potatoes. Frankfurt national dish. We still have a few cans of cabbage on board. The Kassler is easy to get to in Aruba. When the soul suffers, it can be appeased a little through the stomach.

Episode 6: Toothache. Is there the absolute best time of the week to get a toothache? Is there! It's Friday afternoon when the dental practices are all closed. This guarantees a happy weekend and top motivation to do any work that may arise. Cooking isn't fun either. Especially not eating. After the diagnosis comes the wait. Waiting for a treatment appointment. The two hour treatment. Waiting for improvement. Another treatment. And waiting for improvement. This episode is still ongoing. I actually wanted to go to the practice again the day before yesterday, but the dentist made a bridging day.

A great joke. The day before yesterday was Friday and Thursday was a national holiday.

These tourists pose with the fish they have caught. Life can be sweet in the Caribbean. The weather is always nice, there are people everywhere who are spending a happy holiday.

Episode 7: The Foot. On the way back from a visit to Budget Marine, I do a pretty good job of walking. Today, two weeks after the incident, I can walk again without pain. But it's not completely over yet. I already twisted this foot on my way back from Cuba. In any case, every day of waiting before the possible departure is now gold for the foot. If I spare it for as long as possible, it will be better as soon as possible. I spare him pretty well.

The curse of the Caribbean, indolence, it is gaining more and more power over me. Or about us. Why should we prepare our departure? We no longer announce departure dates. How should we know when to continue? I can still feel my foot, but I have decided that it will not hinder our departure.

Inertia. With cats it is quite natural. In humans, the greater the number of frustrating experiences that have to be dealt with, the greater it is. At least for the people who live on board the Sissi.

Episode 8: The Fountain. Our engine is soaking wet. A trickle is running out of the engine compartment. What the fuck? Where does it come from. A first examination with the eyes and the flashlight does not shed any light on the darkness. I wipe everything dry and give it a day. The next day it is wet again. It's fresh water. Where did that come from? It is not from the cooling water circuit, all lines are dry and there is no dripping anywhere at the connection points. We find a T-piece that has a pin-sized hole in the side from which a lively fountain gushes. This episode has only been running for three hours now.

Jens wants to go to the hardware store to get a spare part or repair material. The hardware store closes at 2 p.m. on Sunday, which is roughly the time at which I write these words.

The curse of the Caribbean keeps us in the Caribbean Netherlands. I feel a little like the Flying Dutchman - just the other way around. My boat is not allowed to sail.

A minced meat sauce with fresh leek vegetables is just being born. There will be pasta with it. A simple dish, but it's always delicious. Pasta makes you happy. Especially with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. After all, the saying goes “love goes through the stomach”.

Every thing has its reason. Every action has its consequences. Failure to do so can also have an impact. We are still in Aruba due to a chain of unfortunate circumstances, delayed activities, indolence and a lot of bad luck. I like it a lot right now. Episode 9 also started recently. If episodes three to five hadn't happened, the ninth wouldn't have happened either.

Last night I had a really great, lovely woman on board and cooked dinner for her. Our second date. Then we were on the beach. Not anywhere, we drove to the California Lighthouse. It was stopped by the police, because we were not allowed to sit on a stone together because of the corona rules. I don't write any more, but Jens has already asked me whether my relationship would have any impact on our departure.

I am no longer making any statements about a possible departure. I'm not making a fool of myself. But it's fun to sit on the beach like two teenagers.

Yesterday our Eintracht won 5-2 against Union Berlin. The lady who was on board yesterday supports Bayern Munich.

nostalgia

For once we did everything right. We couldn't have taken the sails down at a better time. The wind picked up a lot overnight and with the gusts we are experiencing today, the genoa would still be in place. Bravo!

Cruise ship in March 2020 in Bonaire

Tomorrow is March 1st. Exactly a year ago we were in Bonaire and saw a cruise ship mooring at the pier every day, and on some days two. Of course there was this Chinese virus somewhere on the other side of the planet, but it had no effect on life. In the morning the crusaders stormed the island en masse, in the evening they disappeared again and we had our rest at our buoy - until the next morning.

Traveling was so easy. And cheap. We chose the island we wanted, when we cleared out we got the documents for the destination and then we set off. The entry into the destination country was uncomplicated, I just had to do the more or less long marathon through the various authorities. That was done in a period of between five minutes (Martinique) up to two hours (St. Lucia). In St. Lucia it took so long because the different authorities took their lunch break at different times.

The visits to the authorities cost more or less a lot of money, but it was cheap compared to the costs that travelers have to face today.

Martinique Carnival, February 2020

Now travel is complicated. And expensive. Those who want to travel these days have to prepare the bureaucratic part almost better than the sailing part. In any case, you should have additional supplies on board for two weeks in case a two-week quarantine is unexpectedly ordered at the destination. We want to move from Aruba to another island. Okay, what alternatives do we have?

Shopping street in Bridgetown, Barbados, on January 2020

Curacao. The shortest possible route. The prerequisite for entry is a negative Covid-19 test that is no more than 72 hours old. You register your trip via a website. You even have to give the estimated time of arrival in advance. The negative test result must be uploaded to a specific website. 125$ are required for each of the tests. Curacao can be reached in approx. 14 engine hours. Sailing is pretty crappy ... because the wind comes directly towards you. Choose a day of the crossing with a light wind. The number of Covid-19 diseases is very low.

Dominican Republic. Registration on various websites is required. They do not require a Covid test. When entering the country, the temperature is measured and that is basically it. Our friends at Chapo paid $ 260 in fees. This includes the service provider for the jungle of authorities. Sailing in the DR is very possible, because the wind always blows from the beautiful half-wind direction. The number of new infections with Covid is relatively high.

Puerto Rico. Is canceled due to a lack of health insurance coverage. This also applies to the US Virgin Islands.

British Virgin Islands. Still closed. The opening has just been postponed to mid-April. We cannot and do not want to rely on that.

Anguilla. When you're signed in, they let you in. There are also websites for registration here. They request a negative Covid-19 test that is no more than five days old. The problem here is that Anguilla is so far east that we have to fight quite a bit to get there. It'll take us more than five days. On arrival there is still a Covid test, followed by 10 days of quarantine and a final Covid test. That's pretty expensive, of course the normal fees come on top of that. After that life is fine because there are no more cases.

Party on Friday night in Gros Islet, St. Lucia, February 2020

There are no guarantees that the rules won't change overnight. Countries can close again because of the fear of the mutations or because of - uh - no idea. They can close, and so do they.

Grenada. The absolute toughest tour. 500 miles straight upwind. 500 miles against a current of up to 2 knots. Much harder than sailing from Cuba to Aruba. But our friends from Milena Bonatti were able to get their Covid-19 vaccination there. That would be quite a motivation for the ride. With an estimated travel time of over 14 days, we would probably no longer have to do quarantine. In Grenada the good AstraZeneca is used.

When our mast is repaired, we'll leave the island. For my soul, I would like a departure date before March 11th. We arrived in Aruba for the first time on March 11, 2020. The borders were closed on March 14th. The airport was shut down at the end of the month. Aruba went into a deep sleep.

Lockdown. March 2020

Curacao seems uneconomical to me, as the landscape is only slightly different from that of Aruba. The Dominican Republic is a so-called low-hanging fruit that is easy to pick. Will we be happy with that? All the islands in the east are difficult to reach. Should we go straight to France (Guadeloupe)? We can at least stock up there before we head back across the Atlantic to Europe in a few months. I dont know.

Or are we going to take on the effort for Grenada? The chance of a vaccination and possibly fewer visits to the authorities and Covid-19 tests in the future. I would like to use vaccination privileges. I'm still doing research.

There is still no opening perspective in Jamaica. Jamaica would be very easy to get to. According to hearsay, Jamaica will not open its ports again until cruise tourism is back on its feet. The few sailing boats that are sailing in the Caribbean are ignored by the authorities.

Britannia in January 2020. Comes too close for us between Barbados and St. Lucia. Our cell phones were in the on-board network. I can do without these things.

We'll likely be back in Europe when the first crusaders hit the Caribbean again. So Jamaica will no longer work this spring. Too bad, but not to change. Traveling used to be so easy, so spontaneous. "Hey, the wind is looking good for the next few days, let's go." Quickly to the authorities and then be free. You could change your destination along the way. The stop on Bonaire was spontaneous, we had papers for Aruba with us. I get nostalgic feelings, even though my career as a long-distance driver has been rather short so far.

I'm looking forward to a few days of sailing, even if they are exhausting. Sailing days are good for the mind.

Let your mind wander. January 2020.

High-rise construction in Oranjestad

The places of the big hummers were redistributed yesterday. The Freewinds has returned to its former berth. For this, the Carnival Pride is moored at the crusader terminal. Aruba may have had higher cruise ship mooring fees than in the pre-Corona period. There is probably a big discount.

High-rise building in front of my nose

For me personally, that changes everything. So far I have been able to sit in my cockpit and watch the sun sink into the sea. This is no longer possible, now it falls into the water behind the Carnival Pride. If you look closely you can see the black soot flags from the chimneys. Luckily I lie in windward wind, the dirt blows out onto the sea.

A few days ago I got one Article on Spiegel-Online jumped in the eye. As part of the Black Lives Matter movement, Twitter and other companies want to remove terms such as “master”, “slave”, “blacklist”, “whitelist” and more from their development departments because they are racist. That made me think. After all, I've used these terms myself for decades.

I then fought these thoughts down and went back to my luxury life in the hotel resort. The shower on the flamingo island is still the best shower and so the flamingos get visitors from time to time. It is always strange when there are only a few dozen people on the island, which is suitable for several hundred visitors.

Flamingos

A few days after the article in the mirror, Caren Miosga used the words “undeclared work” and “dark figure” in the daily topics. A quote from Bertolt Brecht "you can't see them in the dark". Somehow it clicked in my head again. Undeclared work, undeclared driver, black money, black painting, black eyes, unreported income, shadow economy, black cash, blackening, black market, black Peter.

Due to a question in a quiz that I play on my phone against a few friends in Germany, I am in the black Popelmann encountered. At that time Martin Luther himself advised parents to scare their children with the black pop man if they are not well behaved. As if a few multi-headed aliens didn't. The assignment of light and dark in the Bible is pretty clearly regulated.

I love salsify, black coffee, black beer, black chocolate and the delicious meat of the Spanish black pigs. Not everything has a negative connotation and it was only here in the Caribbean that I largely weaned myself off the beloved black T-shirts.

Street art from Oranjestad

There are also some graffiti in Oranjestad. This copy happened to be in front of the camera. They do exist, but they are scattered all over the city. Not as focused as in San Nicolas.

I've been working on this post for several days now. The cruise ships have disappeared and nothing more disturbs the enjoyment of the sunset. Aruba again has no income from cruise operations. I am drawing a few consequences and will pay more attention to my choice of words in the future. But I would not want to call a clandestine carrier a black driver. That is too bulky for me. Maybe a fraud.

As of today, 13 active Covid-19 cases are known on the island. I'm allowed to make a table in the Donkey Sanctuary. I've already brought the jigsaw. I almost stumbled across shrimp in a completely relaxed pose.

Only cats can relax

Tortuga sets sail

We met Holger two weeks ago. At that time he was anchored with his Tortuga behind the airport runway. There he had no internet and so the Corona outbreak and the consequences for all sailors initially passed him by. Although he noticed that the traffic on the quayside had completely stopped at night, he didn't know why. Holger waited alone for his crew on board. The previous crew could still fly home regularly, but the new crew could no longer enter Aruba. A real problem.

Tortuga at the gas station

A friend of Holger is sitting on Martinique and would help him with the transfer to Germany. But he is also not allowed to go to Aruba. So Holger wants to go to Martinique. He has made himself smart, knows about the 14 days of quarantine that await him after entering the country. Nevertheless, he goes to Martinique.

The lines are loose, the fenders are still being stowed.

We wish Holger a safe journey, perfect wind and that he made the right decision. Making decisions is not easy these days because the general conditions change so quickly and sailing boats are so slow.

Tortuga leaves Oranjestad

When we're out sailing, decisions have to be made all the time. Most of the time, weather and weather forecast are the reason why these decisions are necessary. We can handle that.

Boarded up shop window

Even if we have everything we need in Oranjestad right now, I am concerned about certain signs. There is a large motor yacht in the harbor of an old Dutchman who moved to Aruba 15 years ago. Yesterday he had large quantities of food delivered to his boat from the supermarket. He thinks people are relaxed at the moment because they still have money. That would be different in a month or two. There is practically no shop in the city center that hasn't boarded up the shop windows.

Maybe we'll move Sissi to the second marina in Aruba. The mooring fee is cheaper there and it is pretty much apart from everything. Shopping would be more difficult, but we would be far away from any stain interesting for rioters or looters. Or maybe nothing happens. On what basis should we make such a decision?

Sunset, always beautiful.

Under no circumstances should you make decisions on an empty stomach. We bought ladders from the butcher and put them in a delicious jerk tomato marinade overnight. Our big pot is full, it's a serving for five hungry people. I then had these ladders braised on the smallest flame for three and a half hours. Jutta fried piles of French fries and provided vegetables. Jens stirred a chocolate nut pudding. Together there was a big gluttony. The meat was perfectly tender and easily detached from the bones. The security guard from the marina almost jumped into the pot with the ladder. Lizards also like chocolate nut pudding. The decision is postponed, the stomach is too full for it. She can also wait a few weeks. Then we'll know more.

We now know one thing for sure: Corona makes you fat and round.


Addendum: The Tortuga is back in Aruba. Holger had to turn around due to problems.

seclusion

I have been on the phone with our sister very often in the last few days. She is in the home office like so many other people these days. Solitude is a problem for her. I receive emails from friends on the same topic. Also in the press there are many life support articles on the subject of “living in isolation”.

As a herd animal, isolation is a problem for many people at home. Often, however, the same people go on a Hallig vacation or book a lonely hut in Sweden. They seek seclusion and avoid contact with other people for weeks.

Parked car. We regularly pass it on the way to the supermarket.

We know that very well. We are in perfect insulation on the sailboat for days or weeks. We then have the toughest curfew that you can imagine. Anyone who leaves the boat on the way will most likely be dead within a short period of time. The Atlantic watches over it. We only see each other during isolation, we only have each other as interlocutors. We sit on top of each other in our little boat.

Social isolation

“Hamster purchases” are completely normal for us. We don't shop, we bunker. We load tons of food onto our sissi because we can't even go to the supermarket on the corner. Our curfew is so strict.

Useful activities in your free time

We divide our time into working hours and free time. Sissi is cleaned, groomed and cared for during working hours. It repairs what has broken. It is boiled and rinsed. And of course we make sure that the course is right and that we are not sailing against another ship. In your free time you can relax, read or watch a film. We are not waiting for something to happen. We make sure that something happens. Surfing the Internet via the satellite phone is only possible to a very limited extent, and we cannot really make calls.

At the end of the day

We conduct our lives in such a way that we feel that we have spent the day meaningfully. At the end of each day, the sunset and dinner come as a culinary highlight. Life is beautiful at sea. Life is lonely at sea.

In a safe haven

At some point and usually much later than expected, we come to a safe haven and the curfew is lifted. We celebrate that, then we are happy. It's always that way. It's a good thing.


Like every comparison, this one also lags. The holiday on the Hallig has a fixed end. At the end of the largest ocean there is land again, we can calculate quite well when we will get there. That is the difference.

The commonality is that we all have to make sure that the sky doesn't fall on our heads. That we all have to make sure that everyone is safe. I take care of Jens, Jens takes care of me. We trust each other blindly. We take care of each other. We're helping each other.

Steer your apartment through the shallows in Lake Corona. Be careful not to shipwreck. Lead your crew. You will see that at the end of the sea there is land again. There is always land on the other side of the ocean.

Anne Frank in Aruba

I'm not translating that, you have enough time to translate it yourself from Dutch. There are ways and means on the Internet.

Aids: We only see how far we have come once a day. We could watch more often, but that would be frustrating because with several thousand miles to go, the only hundred miles we cover each day are always small steps. Don't watch the internet around you so often. The planet doesn't turn that fast either.

Make yourself comfortable. Stay away from the TV. Better watch one or the other film on Youtube, this is a news-free zone. Read a book. Learn to bake bread - that's great! Think of the term “corona vacation” as a vacation from corona reporting. This helps. For sure.

On the high seas

Ribs with cabbage

Yesterday evening we had ribs with cabbage to eat. We last had that when we visited our parents on the occasion of their golden wedding in November. A can of sauerkraut has been stored in our Schapps for a while, we found beautiful ribs at the butcher in Oranjestad. That was the end of dinner.

Ribs with cabbage

The world around us is turning hollow because of the corona crisis. Most countries have closed their borders. We currently don't dare to leave Aruba because there is a great risk that we will not be allowed into the next country. What to do?


Jens: I haven't been doing very well lately. Something was causing me psychological problems, but I couldn't really interpret what it was. When we drove from Martinique to Bonaire, I sat brooding in the cockpit during my watch. As much as scales from my eyes. It's loneliness on this long journey. We met a lot of nice people along the way and made new friends. However, these friendships are usually short-lived, because either we go on or the others. In the end we are among ourselves. I miss being around other people and seeing my friends. I had to digest this knowledge myself and sat there for a while with tears in my eyes. After Jörg got up I told him what was so difficult on my soul. He had complete understanding for this and I felt a big stone falling from my heart that day. Despite everything, I'm glad that I went on this trip. Our experiences and adventure were worth it.


I talked it all over for a few more days. I always hoped to be able to change Jens' mind again, but I could also see how great his relief is that we will go back.

We decided to cross the Atlantic from west to east at the right time, around the beginning of May, to make a stopover in the Azores and then to spend the summer in Scotland. Here in the Caribbean we wanted to visit Jamaica and Cuba at least, maybe even take a short trip to Haiti. We planned to arrive in Frankfurt in September.


Then came Corona, the closure of the Panama Canal for pleasure boats, border closures at most of the country's borders and therefore closures of most of the islands for us. The impossibility of traveling further west makes the whole story a lot easier for me. It doesn't feel better for me if I can read new messages about the possibility or impossibility of passage through the canal every few days. That changes every day.

We are now waiting for Aruba until we can better assess the situation. Since we have already bought supplies for the Pacific, we could also drive non-stop across the Atlantic if necessary. But that would be unpleasant, because you don't see anything of the world.

Every day there is news, new developments and therefore new plans for us. We will use the remaining time of our trip to see as much as possible.

At home in Frankfurt there are ribs with cabbage again.

Oranjestad ghost town

Ghost train - only occupied by driver and conductor. There are usually a lot of crusaders in there.

Sometimes wishes come true. Sometimes dreams come true. If you read this blog regularly, you must have noticed that I have something to complain about in many encounters with cruise ships. They stink, they flood their destinations with people, they don't adhere to the traffic regulations at sea, they look shitty and they also often obstruct the view of the landscape or the horizon. I've always wanted a world without a crusader.

This wish has been fulfilled. At the moment we are calm in front of the cruise ships.

Crusader terminal in Oranjestad - there are usually two ships here every day

The reason why no crusaders will come to Aruba in the next four weeks is of course known to everyone by now. It's because Corona virus. Flights to Europe are also canceled.

Poster with rules of conduct

The borders were closed in the surrounding countries. We sailors usually go where the wind blows us. Then we go to the authorities, fill out a huge mountain of forms and get stamps on our passports. Afterwards we are in the country and can do whatever we want.

We read on the Internet that in Europe one country after another is lowering its barriers. It is no different on the islands in the Caribbean. That's why we stay here for now and wait for the things that await us in the next few weeks. It is clear to me that the whining is at a very high level, because we are in a very nice place, have access to good care in infrastructure and, if the worst comes to the worst, would also have a properly equipped clinic at hand. But we don't enjoy it. We are also with our thoughts with family and friends in Germany.

Empty pedestrian street in Oranjestad

There is a lot to read in newspapers and magazines that the virus will affect the economy. That most people will get it someday. There is much speculation about the danger and the development of a vaccine will take some time. There is a lot of panic, half-knowledge dominates the virtual space in the network, stupid jokes are cracked.

In Oranjestad we see clearly that damage to the local economy can occur immediately. The pedestrian zone is empty, so are the shops.

Empty business, they all look like this now.

The world changed within a few days. We now have another planet. Sometimes crazy politicians turn the wheel, circulate crude theories and point their fingers at other countries instead of trying to contain the plague.

The unsettled people react with actions that they would never perform under normal circumstances. Who (apart from us sailors) needs toilet paper in the house for several months? Our stock would extend to Australia. Who actually likes spelled pasta? And who is so crazy about washing his nose with vinegar?

The cashier in the supermarket just around the corner from our marina was wearing an operating mask and rubber gloves yesterday. In front of the cash register was a plate of sliced raw onions. Reason and madness right next to each other.

I hope that the planet will return to normal in the next few weeks. We're stuck, we can't go any further. The situation can change every day, every hour. If we keep going, we cannot be sure that we will be let into the port at the destination. We have received too many first-hand reports from other sailors who have experienced it firsthand.

It is poison for my personal mood. It's very, very unfortunate for our plans. It is a disaster for the people here in Oranjestad.

The train left.

The train has left for a life without the new corona virus.

Pan Pan

I wrote about our trip from Lanzarote to Tenerife that nothing special happened. That is not completly correct.

The radio was on every few hours Pan-pan Call repeated. This is the second worst call you can get over the radio. The worst call is one Mayday. It wasn't our first pan-pan we received, but it made me feel bad. Fortunately we were far away.

I felt like that Film Styx recalls who was in our cinemas last year. A refugee boat was missing or searched between the African coast and the Canaries, a boat with an unknown number of people on board. All ships were asked to keep an especially good eye out.

Ever since that film, I was somehow thoroughly afraid that such a boat could drive us to the bow. What should we do in such a situation? Especially when the boat is actually in distress. Fortunately we were far away.

If such incidents happen in the Mediterranean, there is a certain chance that you will read about them in the press in Germany. Here on the Atlantic, these boats are also lost, people die and nothing is read about them. At least not with us. However, there are no lifeboats around that could save these people's lives.

If I could wish for something for Christmas, for example, this would be the opportunity for these desperate people to just go to the counter and book a ticket for the ferry.

Full moon over Puerto Calero

Midnight is long gone, Jens has been in bed for a while. That's where I belong, our program for tomorrow is pretty packed.

I'm actually very tired and yet I can't tear myself away. I can't tear myself away from the silence, from the night, from the light that the moon casts over the marina. We have arrived in the Canary Islands. It is too late to add the miles we have traveled this time. It was a hell of a lot of miles. I have sailed more miles this year than I have ever done in my sailing career. Jens is no different in this regard.

Full moon over the marina

Once again it's in the middle of the night. I have no watch today, but can concentrate fully on this post without regularly looking out for other ships.

Of the DSV requires proof of over 300 nautical miles on a sailboat for the sports coastal ship's license (SKS). This driving license is not even mandatory, but voluntary. It is the “highest” license I have and is only valid up to 12 nautical miles from the coast. But then I was a lot further away.

There are other, even higher driving licenses that require a few miles more. I don't have it. I have the miles. Jens too. The miles are our bonus on the upcoming crossing of the Atlantic, not the printed paper. Nevertheless, I keep asking myself whether we are qualified enough to make the leap across the Atlantic. It will certainly not fail on paper.

Marine building in Puerto Calero

I take a beer from the fridge and take a short walk through the marina. There has long been silence on the boats, only noise comes from the marina building. One or two bars are still in operation. The wind has dropped noticeably for two days and as a result some boats have come in today. The crews are still partying.

Other boats left the marina today. Two had one ARC flag hanging outside, they are quite late for their regatta. It was quite reasonable that they were waiting for the strong wind to ease. Most sailors do not take unnecessary risks, they have respect for the water.

Palm trees in front of the marina building

I'm looking for the marina cat. She lives in the local shoe store, but is not at home right now. She probably has a second and a third home. Cats are very flexible. Are we humans too? Are we flexible enough to live for three to four weeks in the tight, constantly moving space without bothering in the meantime? The chances are good, since we have now five longer, multi-day passages behind us. But all five passages together do not add up to the length that is now in front of us. Are we dream dancers, hypocrites, idiots?

Children's rail carousel

My walk leads me along the quay wall. Many sailing boats are here in the harbor, most of them are equipped similarly to us. They all have similar goals, everyone wants to cross the Atlantic. Only a few permanent residents have their boats here in the marina. You can recognize them by the Calima patina and by the fact that they are not permanently inhabited. Those who want to cross the ocean often have decades more experience than Jens and I combined. Can it go well?

Boats in Puerto Calero

Our equipment is great, our supplies are gigantic. We have navigational stuff to vomit, nautical charts from all over the world. We have wind and solar energy, a watermaker and a good fridge. Our anchor is one of the best that you can buy on the market. We tanked up today and got an additional 100 liters of diesel in reserve canisters on board. Our genoa has been professionally repaired, our mainsail is also in top shape. We have hardly needed it since Roscoff. The storage loads bend due to the tin cans. All of our gas bottles are freshly refilled, so we can cook and bake them for at least half a year.

Our equipment is suboptimal. When I read in sailing blogs what the protagonists have installed on board, I occasionally get inferiority complexes. We don't have all that. On the other hand, Columbus didn't even have a nautical chart, Moitissier, Erdmann, Cornell and Schenk would have licked our fingers after our stuff. How far do you have to go with the equipment? When is it good How do you know you have enough?

Jetty in Puerto Calero

My steps turn back to our footbridge. The beer is empty, the can in the trash. We have a good ship. Sissi is over 40 years old, but she is stable and has been swimming for so many years. Other sailors envy us for the comfort it offers us.

We can handle our equipment. We know Sissi. Our navigation has so far been flawless. We made few mistakes when interpreting the weather forecast. We complement each other very well. What else should go wrong?

Our literature is up to date. The medicine chest is full and the medicine has not yet expired. The food is delicious. We can deal with fresh water as if it were not a limited resource.

After the trip to the Canary Islands, I was glad to be back in the harbor and no longer to hear the noise of the ship's creaking bandages, no longer stumbling through the area on the swaying platform and finally being able to sleep in again. Now I'm fed up with the harbor again.

Sissi on the jetty in Puerto Calero

It is only 2,800 miles from here to St. Lucia or Barbados. That's about 23 days for a 120 mile etmal. And in between is Tenerife, where we want to stop again. I'm looking forward to the vastness, to the seemingly endless ocean. I can not wait any longer. Doubts are normal, I have never met a sailor who did not doubt his abilities.

Our spaceship is actually ready to go. Only a few more weeks and then we can go.

Thirst and homesickness

Warning! Post contains homesickness. Or what Friedrich Stoltze wrote at that time:

It's a city on the wide world
Who like me as Frankfort,
And it wants to be in my kopp enei:
How can nor e Mensch from Frankfort be!

It is said that thirst is worse than homesickness. This is especially true in good weather in front of a beer garden. I now claim that the saying is wrong. A delicious drink can be found anywhere, but our Frankfurt is only available on the Main.

Frankfurt Romans during the Luminale on October 12, 2017 (Photo: Manfred Jonas)

I'm not really thirsty yet. We still have cider on board and can have a sip of Frankfurt at any time. But we have never been to Frankfurt for so long. I see that.

Our communication runs perfectly. We usually have good internet on board and can call home. We do that regularly. Occasionally we even use Skype so that we can see our parents again and not just talk to them.

We have met so many people in the past few months that could never be the case at home. Most sailors are very open people. When we have talked to new acquaintances in the cockpit for two hours, the acquaintance has almost almost become a friendship. It usually takes me months to reach this level at home. Maybe it's because most of the sailors we meet have a similar goal. Occasionally I get the impression that the Atlantic is getting cramped because so many boats want to go to the Caribbean. Perhaps it is also because most sailors have either taken a professional break or are already retired. Without the daily pressure to go to work, it is quite relaxed. Or it is the certainty that you only get on each other's mind for a few days. At some point the wind direction is correct again, the web community dissolves and everyone drives to their next destination. So you are forced to move quickly to a very personal level, otherwise important topics remain unspoken. I really appreciate this aspect of long-distance sailing.

I miss meeting places, friends and habits from Frankfurt. A friendship of many years cannot be replaced by a bridge acquaintance. Instead of going to the Waldstadion home games, we have to make do with the radio broadcast and cheer for the goals alone. As beautiful as it is on the way, we cannot sit anywhere on the banks of the Main. This aspect of long-distance sailing was clear to me beforehand, but I had no idea how intensely it would drill into me.

I don't always feel homesick. When the sails are up and Sissi hisses through the water, nothing is as far away as homesickness. It feels best when we are so far out there that we can only communicate with the satellite phone, without a cell phone network and without the blaring out of the radio. Then I'm deep in the now. Then the universe is limited to the few square meters of sailboat. Then the task is to arrive safely at the next goal. In front of the bow is the prospect of so much new, for which I like to let go of the familiar. In the night I like to switch off the ship's lights for a few minutes and enjoy the freedom to sail into the darkness under an undisturbed starry sky.

But if we are stuck, my thoughts often float home in the cockpit in the evening. It may even be the case that the ability to pick up the phone at any time increases homesickness. I would love to see our Eintracht live again or empty a meal in an apple wine bar. However, this train has left. At the beginning of June.

Frankfurt central station, platform 20, ICE to Amsterdam

In a few years I will go back to the banks of the Main and the forest station. Before that, I will go to the Canary Islands, the Caribbean and the South Pacific, see Australia and much more. This is going to be exciting!

This post appears during our crossing to Lanzarote. It is only about 25,000 nautical miles to Frankfurt.