November 18, 2022
After arriving in Lorient by bicycle it was finally time to start sailing on the 4th of November. I said a last goodbye to friends, family and my girlfriend and hopped on the “Albatros” with 9 other crew and 2 captains. I was a bit nervous about the start because conditions where expected to be quite hard in the Gulf of Biscay and I tend to get pretty seasick… Without too much sailing experience I set off on this boat.
A rough start
Before getting on board I took some seasickness pills and hoped for the best. We set the sails and started sailing on quite rough seas. Wind speeds picked up to 25-30 knots (gusts up to 40) with headwinds slowing down our progress. We agreed on doing watches in teams of 3hrs on and 6hrs off, which allows for a lot more rest (compared to my last rowing adventure). These first days on the ocean I was very careful about not getting sick. No reading, trying to be outside as much as possible watching the horizon and taking my pills to prevent sickness. It means I wasn’t eating that much in the first few days, feeling nauseous from the motion of the boat. But, to my great surprise I didn’t get too much of it (I only threw up twice). After a 4 days I was even able to cook some food and eat it!
Learning the hard way
Sleeping is not very luxurious in some kind of hammock bed, especially the first days, where the boat was hitting those big waves pretty hard. It’s hard to fall asleep when having those loud hits every couple of minutes.
The sailing itself was a complete new experience to me and I had to learn fast. Luckily there are some experienced people on board who are helping me to understand. The boat is mainly French so using all these terms in another language is making it a lot harder to get the know of it. But I’m grateful to be sailing with such a wonderful team having the patience for me. After a couple of days I’m starting to feel like I’m contributing something on the boat.
When we almost crossed the Gulf of Biscay we had to find shelter in a port. There was a storm coming up and the captain decided to stay in the North Western part of Spain for a night. I think we were all pretty happy with that decision. It gave us the opportunity to have a good rest, food and a shower. The next day we start sailing again, against the last high winds of the storm, zigzagging our way through.
But, after this we kinda got stuck in a zone without wind. Because we were on a timed schedule it meant we had to use the motor for that part. We had some extremely calm seas and it sucked to be using the motor. We were on and off the sails several times. I accept that as I’m considering this sailing as a plan B and still want to cross Siberia to Alaska one day. And, at the same time I already rowed to the Canary Islands before.
After 13 days we finally reached Gran Canaria, here we are restocking and preparing for the Atlantic crossing. I’m happy to have found a good rhythm and trust for the next crossing. I’m starting to enjoy many aspects of sailing, but being not very physically active is hard for me. In the last days I was starting to do daily exercises to get rid of that feeling.
The big depart
We are leaving again on the 20th of November to do the big crossing. I’m feeling a lot more confident about the next part. This is part of a rally (ARC) where I think about 30-40 boats are participating in. It’s nice to be a part of it and meet likeminded people. Still, I’m enjoying my time on land for the moment, doing some running and climbing on Gran Canaria. I’m definitely looking forward to arrive in Panama where my bike is waiting for me and my girlfriend will join me cycling to Mexico.
The next 20 days will be off grid and I’m very curious about this experience! See you on the other side!