Crossing the ocean and the equator in a 39 FT sailing yacht with a crew of only two, sailing nostop for over 2.000 NM, is quite some achievement in itself indeed. And YES, we can, we will, we have all the tools to do so and most fullfillingly, we DID it! 🙂
Little do you know when you set sail what it will be like. You plan and prepare to the best of your abilities the sailing vessel, your only shelter and its ever so crucial equipment, the life stock and provisioning, the crew’s tasks and time watches on board, and not in the least the route and weather ahead… but still you set off into the big unknown…
Fearless and precautious at the same time, at some point you simply leap into the deep dark unknown, trusting that all will go well and knowing that you can fully depend on your own skills and inner strenght to get through anything that comes along on the way, desirable or undesirable, pleasant or unpleasant, fortunate or unfortunate, there simply is no turning back!
Slowly you realize that every NM, every short day trip, every medium long and multiple night crossing, every failure or breakdown and consequent repair, replacement and improvement of equipment, every single backset, each single experience that you have encountered and lived through so far on your sailing journey as of day 1 (and even the preparatory time before), has been preparing you for this main challenge.
It is amazing actually how, as with everything else in human life, the pieces fall into place one after the other and come together wonderfully into the whole of the experience, which is never what you expected, but precisely what you are up to and what you can handle at the given moment… Nothing more, nothing less.
It is what it is and it is an extra-ordinary and a unique experience… It brings you new insights, pushes you to your ultimate limitations and renders you to your deepest self, just to let you find out that you can go way beyond those boundaries. You will find renewed strength and new ressources whenever you need to… You get up and go on. No matter the circumstances, you simply do. And if eventually you do not want to do so for yourself, you do so for the other person. You help each other through! The energy you are flooded with when you unselflessly give the best of yourself to accommodate your partner, is limidless. You can sail or travel to the other end of the globe together if you would both set out to do so… That is what is what makes crossing an ocean truly amazing!
Our Atlantic crossing was no different. It was amazing and it has taught us many things about sailing, about being alone out there in the open seas, about being at mercy of the forces of nature and the mighty powers of the sea, about being pushed back into our ourselves and into many yet undiscovered layers of our minds, our bodies, our emotions, our personalities, also our (mal)functioning, our false unconscious pretenses and expectations, and no less about each other, about working together as a team and we managed wonderfully well.
The circumstances were overall favorable, which of course adds to the positivity of the whole experience. We had no extreme weather conditions or substantial damage to the boat., which is a genuine blessing. The first couples of days were quite rough though and we lost some equipment and food, being washed away by overcoming waves, but never did we feel in any real danger. Silmaril handled the heavy winds and rocky sea very well.
We sailed fast, very fast even for a small vessel as ours. We were shaken and stirred for most days of the journey. We sailed as safely and conservatively as we could, reeving almost all the time. We had to sail close to the wind as from the equator onward, but still we were fast…
We went through the doldrums fast, allowing for only a single day of really comfortable and enjoyable (motor)sailing, where we could sit jointly outside and relax, prepare food, listen to and sing outloud with some music, enjoy the gentle waves and calmness of the ocean in all its magnificence and the well-doing of an outside shower.
The remaining of the journey was simply fast, allowing for very little freedom of movement or possibility for activity, and thus our comfort was minimal. Preparing food down below was a risky expedition in itself, which we sometimes had to skip for (a) day(s). And also personal hygiene had to be reduced to the bare necessity, although it was very hot and humid. Sleeping below deck was difficult, noisy, rough, sticky and hot. But we managed these less comfortable circumstances very well nevertheless. It is facinating actually to notice how quickly you adapt to any of them, if you just go along and don’t fight the inevitable and unchangeable.
Considering all of the above, did we actually enjoy our first Atlantic crossing?
The answer for either of us both, although for differentiating reasons, would be “To be honest, no, not really”. To some extend, this probably is due to these circumstances. But then again, as said before, you get exactly the journey that you are up to and which becomes you. We were fast, and that is exactly what both of us essentially are… FAST! And probably also, impatient to some extend. Our minds focussed on getting across, getting there safely, smoothly and on going fast and so we did. Crossing the Atlantic was a means to an end, not a journey in itself. We were ahead of ourselves all along. We were already wondering about Brazil and enjoying its marvels 🙂