When I hopped on board Oceans of Hope in La Rochelle, where I was picked up by Søren in a bicycle taxi at the train station, I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t want to have any expectations, because who knew what was waiting?
Now we have been in three different countries in only six days, and you begin to understand, when the rock stars on tour every once in a while say: “Hello Sweden”, even though they are in Copenhagen. In under a week we have been to a music festival in France, spotted dolphins and had sangria in Spain and last, but not least, there was the annual port wine festival, when we arrived here in Porto, Portugal!
Porto in general is a mix of religious festival, food stalls and local crafts. You sit at the tiniest little café in a narrow cobblestone street and have fried fish, while the cars are squeezing close by, the kids are playing football in the streets, and suddenly a balcony is opened, and the tunes of Dire Straits are flying out to underline the contrasts. There we sit in the midst of the hanging laundry and elderly men with cigarettes on the balconies, and are on one hand placed in a modern pulsating city, and on the other, in the siesta of another time.
We did not have endless time, so we took the easy way jumped on a sightseeing bus around the city. We jumped off at the famous port wine cellars of Porto and had a guided tour in the Sandeman cellars, where we learned a lot about how to make port wine. Right next to it, on the sun bathed river bank, we stumbled upon the annual port wine festival which had nice music, food stalls and a chance to taste many different port wines.
Right now we are sitting in the sun in the marina and are almost ready to head on southwards. All we need is the last bit of provisioning, before we set the course towards Cascais with 25 hours of sailing ahead. I am a little anxious for the upcoming night shift – it is quite magical, when you sit there in the dark and look at the fantastic sky full of stars, while you from time to time hear a dolphin breaching the surface to “sneeze” out its blow hole.
When you sit there and think of the coming trip down to Cascais, you naturally continue the line of thought to the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. It is still with equal parts of horror and excitement that I have now got an idea of what is waiting out there. I now have, what I hope is, some more realistic expectations to what it means to go to the open sea for a longer period of time. I have realised how changing it is to be sailing offshore. It can be both extremely hard, but at the same time there are so many moments, where you just sit and look and all that water, water and more water that you are always surrounded by.
No matter what’s waiting, I am sure that it will be a fantastic experience, which I am looking very much forward to!