One Tonic, two months at sea, three times we almost lost the mast. Four awesome crew members (r five, or three), five islands on which we stopped on the way. Six knots of average speed, seven whales that we saw. Dozens of watched movies, hundreds of adventures, thousands of nautical miles.
8000 nautical miles, to be precise.
The last day was peaceful. Almost as if the sea new that we had lived through so much and wanted us to have a smooth finish. The blurry horizon begun to sharpen and familiar faces started to appear on the dock. Aha! Looks like they’re waiting with a party!
Sailing the Atlantic is not an easy endevour and having done it makes us proud, invincible even.
I’m on top of the world!
Life goes on 😉
We left Kiel well provisioned in fuel for the humans (yes, of course I mean beer!) and for the boat, which was surprisingly difficult to find and we were actually facing the danger of spending the whole weekend looking for an open gas station, but Alf, the newest crew member, proved himself worthy and together with Agata (who had already proven herself worthy plenty a time) made the diesel-searching mission a success. Oh, it’s such a good feeling when small things make you happy 😀
With strong wind and choppy sea pushing us towards the Danish islands, some of the crew needed to harden their stomach but the short stay on Anhalt helped Alf get over the sea sickness. Consider yourself sea-baptized 😉
And what a trip that has been!
We were motoring our way to Kiel full of mixed feelings – Piotr and I were about to leave Tonic, Nils and Agata a few days before the end of the cruise, but on the other hand this was the closest we had been to home for a very long time.
We all put our warm and cozy rescue suits on, as the weather wasn’t very generous, and we were making the most out of the last few hours together. Passing through locks, driving along the canals, admiring the peaceful and luscious green scenery we came closer and closer until we found our way to some dock in the Kiel marina.
A friend of Nils’, Alf, had already been waiting to fill in for the two missing crew members. We grabbed our backpacks, gave a few good hugs and went on our way.
Thank you Nils, for giving us the adventure of a lifetime and some valuable lessons. Thank you Agata, for being a great friend, listener and . Thank you Tonic, for carrying us and being a strong and trustworthy, however moody, companion.
It was hard to say goodbye to Amsterdam, but our next destinations are calling and, after all, we did want to see that canal and lock in day light.
Our lovely marina in the heart of Amsterdam ? just a short walk from the best bars 😉
After a fun night and fun day of walking around the little streets and along the canals of Amsterdam and a lot of bar hopping, we packed ourselves back onto the boat and left just before 6 pm. The lock was so much easier now that we could see it!
The sea has treated us well, the night was calm, and during the day we were exterminating hundreds of flies, maneuvering between the famous Dutch windmill farms (unfortunately not the rural romantic ones…) and making pizza for our last dinner together.
It was midnight.
The mesmerizing lights were coming from everywhere. We were just about to enter the promised land, but which light should we follow?
Well, ok, the reality was less dreamy than that – we were standing in front of the lock that would take us to the Amsterdam canal and had no idea where the entrance was. It’s really hard to figure out with some many lights and neons, you know?
We finally managed to find our way, leveled down about 20 centimeters to the Netherlands altitude 😉 and followed the canal all the way to a cozy marina right in the heart of Amsterdam.
Whoohoo! Let’s hit the town!
Hey, we had visitors last night!Right in the middle of my shift the radio starter talking: “Tonic, Tonic, this is French custom officer, over!”. 10 minutes later there was a military ship following us and 15 minutes later there were three people in very serious uniforms jumping onto our boat from a dinghy.
Nils is generally not a big fan of being woken up an hour before his shift without an actual reason, but he agreed that having French military is a rather good motive, so he was there to welcome the guests with all honours and we spent two nice hours chatting about our trip and the beauty of Normandy, making sure there wasn’t anything illegal on the boat, analyzing passports (well, if a border officer is impressed by your passport, you know you’ve done something right!) and trying to explain that the facts that Nils work in a green house and Piotr is a chemist are not related and they don’t cooperate on any legally dubious matters.During the day the wind wasn’t gracious (again!), but the currents were, so we were still race-speeding with 8 knots on the plotter. This made us feel like we’re part of the highway – when we reached Rotterdam area and were navigating around the 700 other boats and ships – that looks pretty impressive!
As the weather ultimately refused to cooperate and offered us an overview of its best tricks, including sharp strong wind, biting rain and short, powerful and massive waves, Nils and Agata consulted a neighbour ship about the forecast. It didn’t look promising, so they made the call to turn south and wait the storm off behind the corner, or maybe even dock into one of the Normandy harbours.
After they had spent 4 hours sailing south, the weather decided to ignore the forecast and suddenly got much better. Oh well, in that case we should just turn back to course.
And on course we had the charming town of Dieppe, where we filled up on moulles mariniere, croissants and wine, had a hot shower, made all the laundry in the world, filled up on diesel and with new hopes and new resources left for Amsterdam at 6 pm.
Hello Europe! We have missed you so much!
Entering the English Channel was a whole new experience. So far we have tried to travel with the currents, they would usually give us an extra knot or two, but in the channel – without even trying hard, our speed went up to 10 knots! This didn’t last forever, though, because every few hours the current changes direction and soon we found ourselves going a dreadful 3 knots, and that’s with a little help of the engine…
We arrived to Jersey, one of the Channel Islands and felt almost like at home.
We explored the town of St Helier, grabbed a few beers, observed how the marina was preparing for the boat show that was just about to start.
Already on the next afternoon we consulted the currents and the weather. First ones said they would try cooperate but made no promises, the latter one – not at all. With wind directly into our nose and the tricky currents we began our struggle yet again.
As we are slowly entering waters way richer in traffic than the ocean, Nils has been briefing and instructing us about interacting with fishing boats, crossing highways and behaving in a lock. It’s a whole new sailing world – it happened that we didn’t see a single boat for a week and now there’s more and more of them on the radar!
The wind is rather sharp and strong, letting us sail at an angle, fortunately it’s the angle that allows cooking. And it gives us a pretty good speed too – the average on my shift was an impressive 7.7 knots!
On our first May evening we are starting to notice the first lights from French coast!
What is more –we even manage to scrape off some signal, call out close ones and get all our messages 😀 It’s so nice to know the world remembers you while you’re off sailing the ocean…
These are the days when time flies almost unnoticed, one wave follows another, fishing remains unsuccessful, sailing remains uneventful. We are starting to see the coast of Galicia – on the map, not the actual coast, but exciting enough 😉
Nils prefers not to enter the Biscay Bay, so many shipwrecks along the coast of Spain remind the sailors that these are tricky waters! So with a pretty impressive average speed of 6.5 we’re following the straight line to the edge of France while watching multiple movies and munching on the chocolate that’s still aboard only because we didn’t eat anything for the first three days of the passage.