When jumping into a voyage, there is no certain knowing how it will end up… or where.
Our boat ride was a completely different experience for each of us. On many levels it was intense. Also, our ride was much shorter than expected – but definitely long enough! After 8 nights and 9 days on open ocean, 1500 kilometers/1000 miles, we got off the boat in Sal – Cape Verde.
This is the story…
Discovering life at sea
When setting sail, we knew Patricia’s motion sickness would test her, and she was – as much as she could be – prepared to face it. We hoped she would overcome it, but in the end it was only a struggle without end. Either the sickness is gone after a few days, or you’re simply not meant to have a life on sea. Only experience can tell. Once you realize there is no getting better, no matter the length of the trip, every day will be one of nausea. Seasickness is much more than a physical discomfort and at extremity it can be dangerous for the entire crew. People become completely ill and there is no escaping. In fact, there have been many cases in the past where people have died due to seasickness – but no worries we’re still breathing! Being on the ocean asks for awareness and consciousness of what’s happening within yourself, the boat, and your environment.
It’s a battle of many faces. Following the nausea, Patricia was unable to keep down food or liquids the first days. She had little to no appetite resulting in hardly half a meal a day and in turn making her feel weak. The struggle to keep down liquids eventually led to a minor dehydration. Lying in bed was the best option, as standing up in a rocking boat often throws you from one side to the other. She tried to sleep through the nausea or when capable she crawled on deck. Watching the ocean she felt at ease and enjoyed to breathe with the swell of the waves.
Beyond Patricia’s level of unease, Sieger faced his discomforts also. Obviously a boat is very wet… but we underestimated the level of humidity, which reached 99%! The effects on the body were very much felt for Sieger, resulting in an uncomfortable feeling especially while sleeping. Everything is wet! Water drops fell down from the ceiling, mold grew on the mattresses, the walls and on all of our stuff. If it wasn’t the humidity then waves of 4-5 meters brought in water through any creases of the boat construction. Several moments we were shaken awake by loud crashing waves against the hull. As if the catamaran split in two! Not knowing the boat and which sounds are ‘normal’ while sailing, waking in the middle of the night your mind can easily take over in a negative way. Humidity combined with the constant noise made the rollercoaster switch on and off from entertaining to annoying. For example cooking was quite the undertaking! Everything flies around without a warning and placing a knife shouldn’t be without caution. But overall the ride was unique and fun, unforgettable and powerful.
Observing waves growing bigger than the boat was sometimes scary but exciting to watch. We have been visited by groups of dolphins multiple times and have seen whales spraying water into the air from a distance. We never saw anything on the horizon except for two tankers, which brings a lot of attention to the extremely small area we shared with 7 people.
(We feel the need to point out how calm the ocean seems to be in all the photos, although most of the days this certainly wasn’t the case)
Besides the three boat hitchers, our crew was very experienced. The two captains, Eric and Delphine, had been sailing together for years. Their friend Seb grew up on a boat with his grandfather and since has renovated several boats. For him the sea is home. Eric’s son, Coco, is heading towards the same life. Only 22 years old but building a boat from nothing! No matter what would happen or break we felt safe with this team in control. The constant jokes and laughter of Seb created a light atmosphere whilst with Leo, the other boat hitcher, we could have more deep and spiritual conversations. Together with Leo we took care of the food and cleaning on the boat.
Each person of the crew is an important piece of a whole. The vibe of a group is created by the vibe of each person on board. The importance of this was made clear when noticing one person on the boat was constantly having annoyance with our actions and presence, influencing the overall vibe.
Sadly enough, the only connection that didn’t work out so well was with the captains – more specifically with Delphine. Without sharing the same language and coming from different cultural backgrounds, there were many complications and barriers to communication. Several moments we found ourselves to be in her way, or doing wrong, without knowing how. It came to the point of her making rude remarks in our presence, but when we tried to confront the situation we were ignored with shifty eyes.
Besides the draining and disrespectful energy of Delphine, we had an awesome time with the rest of the crew and they assured us that we did nothing wrong and should not take the attitude of another person personally. Which we tried, but considering you only have a few meters of space to move with 7 people, it’s quite hard to ignore the building disturbances. Especially when the energy is directed, purposely, at you – for no specific reason!
Eventually, we did the best we could but somehow it wasn’t good enough. Our first night on board Anuanua back in November we were told the first and most important rule of the boat is communication. Small frustrations can quickly turn into gigantic outrages when at sea with lack of space and privacy. We realize there was never a full feeling of openness or compassion from the captains towards us. In the end, Eric and Delphine fully lack the ability to communicate themselves. With Patricia lying alone in her thoughts she already had decided it would be best for her to leave the boat. This was confirmed after one of Delphine’s episodes. An unpleasant conflict led to a mutual agreement and understanding that we would get off the boat in Cape Verde. We felt good knowing we wouldn’t have to deal with the level of physical and mental discomfort much longer.
If you don’t try you will never know. Now we’ve tried, so would we do it again?
I felt a great comfort in the middle of nothingness. Water and wind working together to slowly float towards other land is inspiring. And so much slower than I imagined… by an average of 8 kmph (4.5 mph). I learned a lot about life on sea. Also I had my first experience steering a boat! The crossing towards Brazil would have been possible for me, but we decided to make this trip as one. No matter how it runs, we find solutions and face things as a team. Stepping on the boat together and getting off the boat together felt natural to me. If it would not feel like this, we would not be able to sync our breath! 🙂
Patricia: highly unlikely!
But on the other hand, I’m not completely closed to doing a sailing trip again. Certainly, no long-term crossings across open ocean appeal to me anymore. Only something more relaxed, like a river trip. Although I wasn’t entirely miserable, I never felt optimal. Having the chance to jump into the water was by far my best moment, feeling the coolness of the water overtake my overheated body was like magic. For further perspective, brushing my teeth in a day was already an accomplishment! I’m extremely grateful for Sieger aiding me mentally – and for taking over my cooking responsibilities when I couldn’t handle to be on my feet! The mental discomforts were equal to the physical, making much of the journey unpleasant. Not being able to speak French had its positive and negative effects. If I ever had the desire to sail again I would definitely want to be sure there isn’t a language barrier and I would want more of a bond with the crew.
Sailing is a beautiful experience but is not to be underestimated. It’s not like making a roadtrip in a caravan, you’re taking much more risks and should be aware of many things. Also, it’s never possible to simply go for a walk or take distance, making every day more and more intense, testing your state of mind and balance.
Altering perspectives is something very important and learns not to take things personally. Also, this change of view should be with the same respect for each experience, taking away judgments of what is good and bad – simply making it a lesson. We think this creates understanding on another level, and teaches much more than sticking with plain judgments of experiences.
We once read that life can be compared with a mandala, and every fraction/experience is a piece of the whole. This way you can take distance without running away from things and without being emotionally attached.
There is no shame for us in telling you we didn’t cross the Atlantic as intended. Even though it was not always pleasant, we’re grateful to have had this experience. It was as much meant to get off Anuanua as it was to step on board. It was never our intention to accomplish something by crossing the ocean. We want to travel and flow with things how they go, without forcing any fixed goals into the journey. In other words – we don’t pursue specific dreams nor have a bucket list – simply, we try to make each moment a dream. And again this was another reminder to never have expectations; no plan is the best plan!
Patricia being seasick and us being so disconnected with the captains made it quite logic for us to get off the boat. What is the need to suffer? That is one of the many lessons spirituality teaches; there is never a need to suffer. We don’t gain strength by undergoing suffering, what creates strength is realizations. To have the courage to be vulnerable; to face weaknesses and in turn the power to change courses. And for us, in this situation, the best thing to do was remove ourselves from the uncomfortable condition. It is not always the case that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Think about it for a while.
Dropped in a tiny port on the island Sal in Cape Verde we honestly had no idea where we were going or what we would do. Actually, we had no idea where we even were! From the moment we anchored Patricia felt 100% better and knew soon the intense week would only be a memory. She felt immense happiness with new and better things coming. We packed our bags and with an incredibly impersonal goodbye from the captains, we said our thanks and hasta nunca Anuanua. With the warm breeze and African rhythms playing in our ears we were happy to be on land with only the two of us once again.
Sal is a small, dry, island and the south has been taken over with tourism. Luckily we found cheap accommodation for the weekend and covered our room with everything we owned to dry from the wetness of the sea life. With ‘no stress’ as the Cape Verde motto we felt relaxed in the African tempo and without any plans we were completely in the moment.
Not knowing how long we would spend in Cape Verde we thought we would wait until we found the best flight deals. Once we found internet we started our search and officially found ourselves to be digital nomads. Surprisingly enough we found the most interesting flights towards the Caribbean were within two days! One second to the other we had to think about packing once again.
Coincidentally enough, Sieger made the remark that the cheapest option would be to pass Belgium and for him this is exactly what happened! 9 days to be home with family and friends, drop some weight from our ridiculously large backpacks and wash clothes. Patricia had to legally avoid the Schengen Zone since she may have overstayed her 90 limit by… 2 months… so her route was to England then Caribbean.
So many people have asked “WHERE ARE YOU!? WHAT HAPPENED!?” Well, here it is! And totally unexpected our journey has led us to the Dominican Republic, where we stay for one month and then we are super excited to say we have our flights booked to Costa Rica!
Keep following our tracks…
…and maybe eventually our updates will be quicker 😉
From our hearts to yours ~