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The seasick crossing

Exchange children
February 21, 2017
Africa for beginners
March 3, 2017

february 5th - 13u30


Will our second departure succeed? All day they have been testing the motor and the huge smile on skipper Dieter his face gives away everything. She is running like a horse. Again, we almost leave without a notice. We thought we would take time for lunch, but Dieter commands to clear the lines and manoeuvres the boat away from the pantoon. On the other side our harbour mates do notice the departure and make it clear with loud horns. They wave and blow on the horns until we disappear. Off we go!

At the moment we raise sails, the radio screeches “houdoe for Jatinga, houdoe for Jatinga”, in Dutch the same as “Bye for Jatinga, Bye for Jatinga”. We don’t know who is saying bye, it must be one of our Dutch harbour mates. Far in the distance we see a motor yacht speeding up and coming closer. Jean Marie and Lina would have said goodbye but arrived on Mexican time at Gerrit and Frieda their boat. ‘Houdoe’ was not a greeting, it was a radio call from Gerrit his boat ‘Houdoe’. By channel 77 we hear the last words ‘buenas noches marmot!’ (referring to Zoë her sleeping qualities)’ and they wish us a safe trip with a round of honour before they turn back.


Quickly we leave Las Palmas behind and sail on open sea. The sails are up and the next seven days we will have a quarter breeze. ‘Down the wind' like they say and from then on the boat will start with the rhythmic swing. Straight after the practice for our vestibular begins. It doesn’t understand what is going on. Luckily the plaster behind our ear smoothes the effect, for Zoë it even is the remedy. Seasickness determine the pressure of the adventure. It makes our feelings about the first cross differ a lot.

"The first three days are easy-peasy-japan-easy. I am dancing in the kitchen and can stay down as long as I want. Proud I tell Margrit that I don’t feel seasick." ~ Zoë

For Olivier it is another story. Although Dieter is able to prepare an high standard Swiss Römertopf in the middle of the sea, it becomes fish feed. Nevertheless, the evil was probably inside the warm cup of milk that Olivier drunk during the night watch. On Captains advice, he first lays down for a while before he undresses. For Olivier not the plaster, but sleep sleep seems to be the best remedy.

"In the morning you wake up, for a second lighted of pain, but it’s just a matter of time. Three swings and the unbearable nausea is back. The fresh air does good, but appetite does not exist anymore. A cracker or dry muesli seems impossible and every drop of water shakes the stomach." ~ Olivier

“In the middle of the sea, no other boats, no land, alone on the world as far as the eyes can see. The majesty of this water mass is indescribable, our futile little boats swings days and days, it never stops. You watch, enjoy, read, eat and sleep. The majesty of the ocean makes live on board timeless, and meanwhile time flies.”


Zoë doesn’t feel any of this, but has her own issues. How do you manage to do nothing when you feel healthy like a dancing queen? There is no better training for patience, stress and your ass than being on a sailing ship in the middle of the ocean. Our tiny boat is nothing compared to the enormous force of the sea, but she is moving like a brick of soap. For three hundred sixty degrees the horizon is empty, the only feeling of time is the sun. The change to see an other ship, minimum 15 miles away, is so small that it is a moment of excitement. Everybody is outside to have a look, when we see one of the three dots on the horizon. In collaboration with Sail&Whale we stare for hours at the water surface, searching for marine life. Every hour we note the state of the ocean and hope to note sightings. Mostly we note hours and know the state of the sea almost better than our captain, but sometimes we are lucky. In the beginning far away but later playing around the boat. For a moment the seasickness disappears, very short, because every exercise has a big counterpart.

"Day four, and on advice of the manual we take of the plasters . You can put a new one on the other ear, but we save them for the next trips. Anyhow, I don’t need one, I feel great! Until then. Every swing more makes me remember how disgusting seasickness is." ~ Zoë


The ocean is getting wilder, waves of five meter short behind each other. The fist days cooking was not more than a test. Where do I strategically leave my knife when I don’t use it. But with these waves it’s not only a puzzle it’s also a guarantee on seasickness. Also during the day the sea is rough. No possibilities for a nap on the deck and for spotting whales the waves are to high. The power of the ocean makes you feel small and hearing the noise of waves breaking against the boat, makes you wonder when a shipwreck will happen. She is strong and she makes her miles, every day and night. She is indestructible like the Captain. He is making hours on deck to navigate his boat.

"I want to jump, in the ocean, away from this nightmare. Six days, six nights, no end will come. The boat keeps on going, from left to right, squeaking, cracking, stop!" ~ Olivier


The strong wind makes us fly. After six days and six nights we see land, ahoy! We can't arrive by night so have to take the sails down to the lowest reef. On snail's pace we float ahead, a torment that breaks Olivier in pieces. Mentally he is at the lowest point and non of his thoughts are rational anymore. He is even questioning this world trip, why did he leave? The freedom of a sailing boat feels like a prison. It is time to go shore and get rid of all the negative minds, to safe the positives. At the moment we enter the harbour Sunday morning, a very special feeling appears. Proud! To arrive in Africa over seas!

"When we enter Mindelo harbour, the seasickness slowly disappears. Mentally I am not yet ready for the next, but the feeling of proudness rules. Regret? Definitely not!"

1 Comment

  1. Remon Schreuders says:

    Congratulations on your first crossing,
    Well done!!!

    Remon, S.V. Northern Light

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