How does one become a sailor?
I think for many people it is relatively ‘straight forward’ – you spend your childhood near a larger body of water, so life along or on the water is practically cradled. Maybe you even grow up on a ship. Others find their way into sailing life via detours or by accident, as was the case with us. But let’s start at the humble beginnings…
Patricia and I have known each other for more than 10 years now, we spent most of this long time as a couple. We have traveled a lot and far. By train, mobile home or plane – privately or for work. Be it the busy streets of New York and Hong Kong, a road trip in a motorhome in New Zealand, football trips to Bulgaria, or business trips all over Europe – we have seen and experienced a lot, but still never got enough. We have always been drawn to the near and far, because the world is big and wants to be discovered.
So we didn’t hesitate for a second when Patricia’s sister Carmen and her boyfriend Iñaki (we’ve never heard his Basque name either) asked us if we would accompany them on a two-week sailing trip to the Cape Verde Islands. Both of them are experienced sailors with many miles of experience, above all Iñaki, who worked for a long time as a sailing instructor and skipper for the Neuhaus sailing school on Lake Thun in our home in Switzerland, which is our stunning home country.
After a turbulent trip to the Cape Verde islands (including a cancelled flight from Zürich followed by an unscheduled overnight stay in Lisbon), all of a sudden we were residents of a Beneteau Cyclades 43.3 called ‘Whisky’ for two weeks. It is difficult to tell what we were experiencing in these two weeks in a short blog text without writing an entire book in an excessive manner. Maybe we will do that later tough? From calm winds up to 4m high waves, from complete calm to catastrophic seasickness, over silver waves in the moonlight with phosphorescent swarms of jellyfish – the list is endless. Everything about the trip totally blew us away. It was clear that this had to be repeated: as soon as we got home, we were practically planning the next sailing trip.
Suddenly, in August 2018 there she was – Iñaki discovered her on the Internet. Her name was Orcella. She was/is a monstrous 75 foot (22 meter) long Frans Maas expedition sailing yacht, berthed in the Carribean. Our Milagros is already a beautiful sailing ship, but Orcella was simply an absolute gem. We could immediately imagine our everyday life on the ship and started dreaming and planning the conversion from land to sea in our heads. The discovery of Orcella turned our lives upside down.
We started to investigate and quickly, thanks to the marvels of the internet, found out a lot about the ship. After an incredibly expensive phone call with an inspector from the Carribean, who had checked the ship several times, we were suddenly in possession of up to date and detailed photos of Orcella. Although she had to be an absolutely sick vessel in many respects, we came to the conclusion that Orcella might not be the big love story.
It quickly became clear that Orcella had been neglected for a long time. She had big problems with leaks and moisture and would have been a huge and expensive project. There was water damage and rust spots everywhere. After the broker turned down a completely crazy offer from Iñaki, we decided against her with a heavy heart. Personally, I still think t we made the right decision to ignore Orcella, because in many ways it would have been too great a risk.
But from that moment on, the idea of giving up our existence as landlubbers and instead becoming sea doggos didn’t let go of us…