But what have we really experienced?
Real life on board. Adjusting to a life with very different and sometimes uncomfortable guidelines, living in a small space, thinking up creative solutions to entertain ourselves in this very small space, never having any time alone, fresh water management and the resulting change in hygiene habits, procurement of food in out of the way places, strict policies to avoid bugs on board, never ever ever ending boat maintenance, an ongoing worry about safety on board and a nagging fear that something horrible will happen or something critical will break down.
Wonders of nature. Mountains rising up out of the clouds, craggy cliffs and caves, startlingly blue water, awe inspiring waves, incredible sunrises and sunsets, the wonderful variety of shapes and colours that the sky and sea can produce and the thrill of ‘land in zicht!.’ Hearing a hippopotamus grunting next to the boat, the storm kestral that kept us company in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a huge humpback whale gliding in the water a few meters away, exchanging a smile and a wave with a group of dolphins frolicking off the bow…
Memorable Arrivals. The English coast in the distance after our first overnight voyage, passing the waypoint buoy off the coast of Suriname following a 14-day Atlantic crossing, the statue of liberty as we entered New York Harbour, my parents welcome in St. Andrews New Brunswick, the Lange Jaap in the distance as we sailed the final miles.
Amazing people. The boy in Gambia who lived in a mud hut but had a poster of Zinidane Zidane on his wall, the Irish musician adventurers who had sailed both the Northeast and Northwest passages , the Russians that were attempting the same adventure on a rubber raft, the unassuming Spanish man in Cape Verde with a huge homemade boat and a flying dinghy, Laura Dekker the youngest solosailer in the world, the many kind people in Newfoundland who offered us so much support, the warm welcome at a wedding celebration in Fair Isle, a uniquely open and supportive cruisers community and some really extraordinary friendships that I know will last long after this adventure is over.
The Family Unit. Being a snug little entity of our own, completely relying on and trusting each other seeing the thrill of new experiences reflected in the eyes of the people you love most in the world, Seb’s grin when he reeled in his first fish, Emma’s proud face when she swam under the dinghy, Macsen’s squeak of delight as underwater wonders appeared before his diving mask, long hikes in the wilderness, playing in the snow together for the first time, drinking hot chocolate in the cabin when it is cold and raining outside, never missing a moment, being so close and intimate and generally feeling that when we are together nothing is impossible.
What an experience! So pure and so real. We have now come full circle and we bid farewell for now to our life on board with very deep sadness looking forward to our new lives knowing that we will always have this wonderful adventure.
Pjotter standing by…