Not that I understood it at all… It felt like something quite distant. I had a lot of things to prepare before my trip on Oceans of Hope, so the time came up earlier than expected. I felt like it was another job that I had to prepare for. Sailing was not new to me, but the dream of going out in the world sailing on my own was crushed due to, amongst other reasons, my diagnose of MS in 2007. Thanks to my friends back home I was pushed to apply for this journey. I was surprised to be chosen to join the leg from Fort Lauderdale, USA through the Panama Canal to Panama City. THE DREAM LEG. It was unbelievable.
The day came and I left my loved ones who wished me the best trip of all times. My expectations were not easy to determine. My concern was not so much sailing, but the interaction with the other crew members. I said to myself that one of my jobs should be to use my experience at sea to help other MS crew have their journey of all times. I arrived in Fort Lauderdale the 3rd of January, where I saw Oceans of Hope for the first time in real life.
Only a few of us had arrived, so I went to take look at the boat. My first thoughts were that she looked even more rigid than expected. Was I as rigid as her when it came to it? Late in the evening we all met, at what turned out to be a birthday party for Bernard, a local guy with connection to the Bahia Mar Marina, where the boat was docked. Mikkel, Bertram and Jan arrived and we briefly made plans for the days to come.
The next day everybody rushed to prepare the boat for the coming journey. Provisioning was the absolute biggest issue here. Buying all the stuff for 10 days and finding a place on board to put it was for sure a challenge. On January 5th, we found ourselves bound east for the Bahama Islands. Our first challenge was to get out of the Gulf Stream. We set out with north-easterly winds of forces between 16-18 knots and for the first time the Atlantic swells showed their real face, causing the stomachs turning for some. I had the luck to make dinner for the first time on the boat under these conditions.
Somebody said traveling safe at sea has nothing to do with the boat you're sailing on, but with whom. I will briefly tell you about my fellow crew members whom I have come to know a little bit now.
Our captain, Mikkel, is also our doctor. I have found him to be a guy with good control of the boat and crew, not being afraid of our opinion in certain issues. He has a fine sense of humor and cares about everybody. It makes him trusted in all senses.
Our Bosum Bertram is the youngest of us all, but with the very most widespread of jobs going from instructing the crew about safety and practical issues to telling the sickest jokes. In spite of his young age, he has my full respect for his skills and also for listening to an old man from time to time.
Jan is our 1st mate having the responsibility of running the boat safely at sea. Listening to him tell his stories of sailing around the world is so inspiring. Not only as a seaman, but he is good for everybody's mental health with his calm and charming way of approaching us as his crew.
For the MS crew, Hans is our “farther” who speaks out loud what is needed. This is usually followed by a smile, which must have melted some girls’ knees in the past. Marian is our “mother” who always makes sure everything is made in the right way, with her caring personality she will always get a yes. Giovanni is our Venezuela/Italian friend who almost always ensures our food has an Italian touch. He is a perfectionist and the most polite and likeable person one can meet. Guy is our Londoner, always finding way for his humor which helps us, and even himself, through a tough day with seasickness. Jakob is always able to give us a lesson in fighting the waves, the seasickness with his workshop humor spiced up with a touch of nice Aarhus dialekt.
I will always trust anyone on this crew to lend me a hand when needed. Me, as the ship’s technical guy, enjoys using skills used long ago to comfort everyone aboard.
We are now passing south of Cuba heading for Montego Bay, Jamaica in calm seas and blue skies carrying the spinnaker and doing seven knots. It is not possible to be anything but positive in my mind. Although my thoughts are going to my loved ones at home makes me a little sad, I FEEL LUCKY.
Report from Bosun Bertram:
The winds turned and they died down all right. We got 10 knots out of the east, with a due westerly course, forcing us to go more south than we wanted in order to keep a useful angle to the wind. On the upside, we got a chance to try out our new asymmetric spinnaker, which is pulling the 45 tonnes boat alone with a speed of 8 knots. The sky is clear and the sun is searing, giving us a taste of whats waiting in panama. We have the covers up to prevent our crew members from overheating completely, and you can almost see a line forming to use the deck hose, spraying the lobster red backs with cool sea water.
Approximately 160 nautical miles left to Montego Bay, Jamaica Bay - hoping to arrive tomorrow the 12th before dark.
Local time on board is 16:30 and our current position is 18'59.88N , 75'31.51W