The Flow of sailing (and what to do when you’re bored)

Back in Sweden, back at work, and halfway through the cold that seems to be my “welcome back to society”-gift. With a busy time at work I haven’t had time to reflect much, but I remembered that several months ago I wrote a text about sailing and flow that I would like to share with you. It started with Jens daydreaming about a faster, leaner boat that you could just land on a beach. He read a quote from a boat designer out loud:

“I have yet not met a person who thinks that it is more fun to go slow than to sail fast”

And I think everyone who knows me know that I am a rather impatient person. Which holds true also for sailing. Yet, maybe it’s my stubborn soul but something inside of me would like to protest against that statement. Because there is nothing like a really slow sail that enables me to think to the thoughts end. And isn’t that exactly what people are saying they miss out on these days? People go to yoga classes or a retreat, run miles in the rain or mow their lawn to get some space to think. Sailing slow will give you just that.

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Racing, or sailing through the night, will typically give you the opposite experience – a total focus on here and now.  When you are racing fast with the boat you are occupied doing just that – all attention on the compass, the sails, the waves and the wind in your neck. When it requires just the right amount of focus, skill and attention you get a sense of flow.

I think that the reason it’s much easier to get flow when sailing than at the workplace is that you seldom get disturbed. It is monotonous enough to get you in the zone and you can always find a way of challenging yourself. The challenge could be trying to steer an exact course, getting the perfect angle towards the wind to fill the sails, or facing the waves and surfing down fast while still keeping a nice motion of the boat.

On the same time, you can also often decrease the difficulty if it gets too hard. If the wind is too strong and its force on the tiller makes your arm go numb you can decrease the sail area. If you have trimmed the boat as good as you can and it’s still too challenging it may be possible to lower the goal instead, e.g. change the course a bit so that it is easier to surf down the waves without the risk of a gybe. Or have a star as your guide when it’s too hard to see the compass in the dark.

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This creates the perfect space for flow. That magnificent space of full concentration that distorts time and make you live only in the here and now. If there is one thing I know about this year it is that my comfort zone in sailing has been heavily expanded, and I can now for instance enjoy sailing through the night or racing with more than 10 m/s in the back.

Now I’m not the first person to think about this connection between flow and sailing. I found a blog on “The Psychology of Sailing” that had a post on this very topic, but from a sailing athlete point of view.

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When sailing is all you do day after day, month after month, the sailing in itself is not enough to entertain and stimulate the daily life. Probably your partner is not enough either 😉 You need to find some other source of entertainment and new perspectives. Listening to some good music during the night can both speed up the time and with the perfect soundtrack big scary waves in the dark can be transformed into a thrilling ride and enable a sense of flow. But then of course, there are lots of times when it’s too easy to sail and therefore easy to get bored.  The perfect activity then (except for making an apple crumble) is listening to a podcast. And to all our fellow sailors out there who are continuing their journey (or friends at home who want entertainment for their commute), here comes a list of some of my favourites:

TED Radio hour at NPR  “a journey through fascinating ideas, astonishing inventions, and new ways to think and create”. I’m a real TED geek, but I realised years ago that the radio hour can be even more interesting than the talks since they combine a number of speakers surrounding a specific theme. Try the episode on Failure is an option or The Hero’s Journey to get an idea.

Radiolab could be described as documentaries on various topics produced in a similar way as TED radio hour. The last one I listened to was on the subject of “K-poparazzi” which gave some interesting insights on cultural differences, but you can also learn about the story behind Candid Camera (Smile my ass), the world of hackers in Darkode or Patient Zero which tells the stories of how they have backtracked to the very first person with HIV.

One of my favourite radio shows in Sweden is “Sommar i P1”, a show where celebrities, scientists and entrepreneurs get to have their own show on a topic of their choice. It’s in Swedish but you can listen to a couple of episodes, including an inspiring talk by Johan Rockström, Professor in Environmental Science and the artists Lars Ulrich from Metallica, the global superstar Maher Zain and Tobias Forge, the singer in Ghost. For geeky Swedish-speakers I also recommend the podcasts “Snedtänkt” or “Allt du velat veta”.

 

What are your podcast favourites?

 

All the best from the cold land up North!

– Petra

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The Balearics part II: Relaxing at Formentera island

I think most of our friends would be surprised if we said that we loved the buzz at Ibiza. Sure, it was a very interesting place to visit and I’m glad that we did. But when you can’t sleep in a small bay at anchor because the club on the beach is still having a party at 4 a.m., you kind of long for a calm place where dropping an anchor means enjoying nature. The weather didn’t allow for us to visit northern Ibiza at this time, instead we left the insanely huge yachts at southern shore of Ibiza (note the “tiny” catamaran on the side of the yacht on the photo below) and headed south to the islands of Espalmador and Formentera. I’ll be honest with you, I had not heard about Formentera before we started reading in the pilot book of the Balearics our Norwegian friend gave us way back up in A Coruna.

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Simply put, you go to Ibiza to party and you go to Formentera to relax on the beach. Although Formentera has a nice village where the ferry from Ibiza stops, there is not so much else to do but to enjoy the sun and the sea. We decided to row ashore and enjoy the sunset with some sangria on one of the beach restaurants.

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The sunsets here are something else, and when the sun sets most of the yachts leave for their home harbour and you can enjoy a bit more room to swing around the anchor.

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At first, we didn’t intend to go to Formentera, but to the private island Espalmador – the island known both for its pink sand and the high frequency of celebrities. As usual though we arrived too late to get one of the moorings and had to drop the anchor outside Formentera instead. The next day we decided to take a walk furthest north on the island, to at least get a closer glimpse of Espalmador. There are beaches on both sides and low vegetation on the top.

DSCN0230DSCN0237The path takes you past both nudist beaches, beautiful cliffs and stone sculptures. Fomentera and Espalmador is separated by a shallow stretch of water and there is a beach on the north side of Formentera which overlooks the private island. Very few people make the effort to walk that far north and we basically got the beach for ourselves.

 

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After dropping of Caroline it was then time for us to leave the Balearics and turn back to the mainland again. By then we had realized that it was time for us to either sell the boat or head back home. The passage back went rather smooth but I won´t deny that it felt a bit sad.

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That journey has taken many turns since then, and we are now both back in Portugal to try and sort it out. Pleeease keep your fingers crossed that all the issues we have faced will resolve in this week so that we can get back home and start the next chapter in our lives – voluntarily land-bound.

– Petra

 

 

 

The Balearics part I: Exploring the party island Ibiza

The last couple of months has been a rollercoaster, and we´re starting to feel we only have bad luck. Before everything is settled we will not share the details here, but instead I’m trying to capture the last bits of our sail we had before heading back to Sweden 🙂

Ibiza, the famous bustling party island and the Balearic island closest to the mainland. I would never have planned a trip here by flight, but I am really happy that we went because this is an island that is very suitable to visit by boat. Even though the Mediterranean coast offer better anchorages than the Atlantic coast, you are mostly sheltered in only one direction, but at Ibiza you can usually find an anchorage no matter the wind direction. But you will not be alone. Some anchorages had up to 40 (!) boats and most beaches were crowded too.

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In Ibiza Today we read that every third minute a plane lands on Ibiza and the increasing tourism leads to environmental problems like:

  • Few toilets on the beaches means that the people are doing their needs wherever
  • The anchorages are overloaded which causes damage on the seabed
  • The lack of accommodation for all the seasonal workers creates camps on many places where it’s not allowed and put a toll on the nature/forest

San Antonio is the party capital, and here they have put out a lot of buoys to try and regulate the anchoring in the bay. In San Antonio the beach fashion is in its own league, besides that fancy and revealing bikinis and swimsuits you can see in the daytime, in the evening people wear the same – just adding a lot of make-up, high heels and maybe a see-through tunic. Since my friend Caroline was visiting, we made sure to visit some of the bars and have a good look at the crowd, drink some nice cocktails and enjoy the sunset.

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Besides the large amount of clubs and celebrities visiting, San Antonio is a rather dull town compared to e.g. Santa Eulalia and the old town of Ibiza – Eivissa. We enjoyed some really nice food by the park Vara de Rey before heading into the old town in Eivissa, which lies on a hill with an impressive town wall and tiny alleys. The cobbled streets are full of restaurants and shops full of design, handicraft or hippie-chic clothing (Ibiza really has its own type of fashion). Standing at the edge of the city wall you get a great view of the whole city, the sea, the ferried leaving for Fomentera and the flights leaving for the rest of the world.

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In the harbour countless luxury yachts are lined up. We didn’t even contemplate going into this harbour, since we heard that the fee a couple of years ago was 150€. Instead we visited the harbour in Santa Eulalia.

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Santa Eulalia is a tidy and pretty little town. Everything is nice and tidy (compared to the rough look of San Antonio), a little bit less shopping but a nice beach and a calm vibe. The prices in the three harbours at Ibiza are high, but since this is the least expensive we decided to stay one night.

But the best thing with sailing to Ibiza is the many sheltered anchorages. The thin you miss with the Atlantic coast as well as the Western Med is that it is hard to get sheltered in all wind directions. But in the Balearics you can always find shelter on one side of the islands and there are many bays that have shelter for at least 180 degrees. We had two favourites on Ibiza – the popular Cala Bassa on the west side of the island and the quiet fishing bay of Llentrisca in the south. In Cala Bassa it is easy to take on new crew/visitors since there is bus from San Antonio or the airport, and when Caroline arrived we took her on a cave/grotto tour in the dinghy. It’s also a great snorkelling spot if you like snorkling into grottos and also peaking at some small fish. The beach has a few restaurants and a ferry that goes to San Antonio.

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When you get visitors it is easy to get a little perspective on the life we have been living. For us it is natural to spend several days in a row at anchor, and row or swim ashore when we need something or want to take a walk. Even though we’ve had our share of conflicts, we are also used to the simple life living onboard, doing the dishes in seawater and taking a swim instead of taking a shower. Our comfort zone in what types of weather we are confident sailing in has also been heavily extended. We had a little rough weather for sailing with a newbie like Caroline this week in Ibiza, so it took a while before we could sail south again, but finally we got suitable weather and headed for Cala Llentrisca.

 

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This small bay host small fishing cottages, some built into the caves on the side of the bay and some small sheds. The little stone beach is only reachable by hiking a steep path down the hill from the luxurious villas on the other side – which is really worth the effort to climb if you anchor here! The bay is also pretty good for snorkelling.

After Ibiza we also visited the island of Formentera, which is really worth a visit. Hope to share more about that next time!

 

NOTES FOR SAILORS


Finally some small pieces of advice. Ibiza is a really busy island and it can be challenging to get a space either on the hook, mooring or in the three harbours (San Antonio, Eivissa and Santa Eulalia). Try to anchor on the sandy patches to avoid making damage to the seaweed. There is a bit of tactics involved in choosing the perfect anchoring spot – usually the smaller yachts are only visiting over the day and that means you will get more space in those areas over night. The best way is to either catch a good spot early in the day or come in rather late when the day sailors have left. Otherwise be prepared to move your anchor for the night. There also is a lot of charter boats that are not very knowledgeable on how to anchor, so keep an eye out for other boats dragging and offer an hand to help out if something happens. But besides these aspects Ibiza is a really good place for sailors who like to anchor! And it’s good if you do, since the cheapest marina Santa Eulalia costs about 93 €/night for a 10 meter boat…


 

– Petra

Two faces of Alicante

After Mattias left, we continued our sail north towards Alicante. And so it happened that we arrived in Alicante just in time for Midsummer, which is celebrated in Spain as the festival of San Juan. Although we weren’t in the party mood, it was interesting to see how the celebration of the shortest night of the year took place compared to how we celebrate in Sweden. Alicante is apparently the town that celebrate the most, and the celebrations include massive bonfires on the beach, which the brave try to jump over for good luck, thereafter washing hands and feet in the water for twelve months of good luck. Everywhere around the city massive sculptures in different themes could be seen, and I thought it was a bit funny that the one next to the harbour was called “Invadors” which was illustrated as Vikings. We felt very much welcomed 😉

All over the streets were street stalls, bars restaurants lined up for the party people, and there was even foam part going on in an alley in the middle of the day. Well, we were preparing for the passage to Ibiza the next day, and instead of enjoying the fun the usual tasks of filling up the water tank, cleaning the boat and doing grocery shopping filled our day and night. Since one of my friends had scheduled her flight to Ibiza just a week later, there was no time to relax. It was not the most convenient day to go grocery shopping, but since we knew that Ibiza would be expensive and not so easy to go shopping there really wasn’t any other way to do it. Besides that, we also needed to prepare some tax reports for the authorities back home. Big party pooper!

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I didn´t know much about Alicante before we went there, except that they have regular flights to Sweden, but I really liked the town and were curious about what it was like when the festival did not crowd the streets. Three weeks later we went back to Alicante from the Balearics, some experiences wiser and with a new goal – to head back home. The first night after our passage we anchored in the outskirts of Alicante, outside Albufeira and enjoyed a cool swim before watching the sun set behind the mountains. When serving some tapas onboard, we realized that the fish here were just like the Spaniards – they really like some matured cheese! With cheese as bait, I hoped that maybe we could catch some fish for dinner, but they were way to smart for me and the only thing I managed to do was to tangle up the fishing line and get frustrated 😉 The cheese worked better as a bait to get close to the fish and watch them eat, as you can see in the photo (the top right fish enjoyed the cheese a fraction of a second later).

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This time there was a bit more time to explore the city and there was one thing I really wanted to see before leaving Spain and Alicante – the castle on top of the hill in the middle of town “Castell de la Santa Barbara”. One evening off we went, after a full day of doing paint jobs on the boat in the heat. The perfect dinner was found in one of the alleys on the way up at Fast&Bio, where we tasted the different types of pizza, garlic bread and hoummus made with organic ingredients and a lot of love. The goat cheese pizza was delicious!

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Climbing up the hill was an effort, but there was much to see all the way up. First the narrow streets of old town, then the gardens on the side of the hill and finally the increasingly breathtaking views of the city, the sea, and the mountains. To walk up this steep hill in daytime would have been too hot, but on the other hand we were a bit late to actually get to walk around in the castle. The perfect way to enjoy it would probably be to bring a picnic and just relax the whole evening with the view.

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The last day I took a walk to the beach to get a few hours of relaxing sunbathing and swimming before taking off north. But it is hard to relax when you have somewhere to go. Next up, the weeks we spent in the party island Ibiza and every super yacht´s favourite – Formentera!

– Petra

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NOTES FOR SAILORS

The harbour in Alicante is a bit pricey, but an excellent place to swap crew or leave the boat to fly home. They have a rather large liveaboard community and people are friendly. There are also several anchorages along the bay that can provide reasonable shelter, especially East of Alicante. Alicante is one of the most common places to start a passage to Ibiza or Formentera, be sure to stock up on groceries before you go!


 

The first glimpse of Costa Blanca, a bay full of hippies and sailing Mar Menor with friends

After some busy weeks with hard decisions being made and us focusing on ourselves and getting the boat into shape for a sale I am now back in Sweden for a break while Jens continue to sail the boat. But before all these decisions were made we had some adventures that I would like to remember for the future, and of course share with you guys!

Leaving Almerimar in the morning with a hangover was a challenge, but we needed to take advantage of the first day of Westerlies in a long while, since we had visits from friends planned further up the coast. Of course, the winds were still not so strong, but at least they could hold out the sails. After just a couple of hours our sailor friend Stuart, who we partied with the night before on Pegasus, catched up and passed us on the way north. At least we made it around the Cabo de Gata which is the start of Costa Blanca and anchored up in a pretty sheltered bay among about 10 other boats by nightfall. When the new morning dawned we could enjoy the dramatic landscape, compared to Costa del Sol it felt like we were in the wilderness even though there were some people on beach who had arrived by car to enjoy the day. This day we sailed along Pegasus all day, and it was nice to not be alone at sea for once!

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The next stop “Cala San Pedro” just north of San Jose was meant to be a swim break together with Stuart, but we never really left. It was such an unique place – a good anchorage with an old castle and a hippie community. The isolated beach can only be reached by foot or by sea. The cove has a community of people who live there all year, built their homes with local materials and live disconnected from modernity and in harmony with the environment (read more here). Apparently the cove has a natural source of drinking water which enabled the inhabitants to live in isolation and it is a truly inspiring place, we were just sorry that we’re not good enough in Spanish to make some interviews on what it is like to live there…

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The landscape is dramatic, and from the anchorage it’s hard to see all the houses that exist here built into the cliffs and on the hillside, because they blend in and are sometimes covered by the vegetation. This is not a place for people who are convenient, but the creative and hardworking free spirits grow their own crops and build creative homes connected by narrow paths up the hill. The water is crystal clear and full of fish, the beach is full of naturists and tents from tourists that come here for a shorter stay and to party. One dinghy came over to our boat to ask who we were, what we were doing there and if we were coming over to the beach later that night with a bottle of rum to party with them 😉

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Continuing north the next day, the winds were not strong enough to take us to Cartagena, instead we stopped to sleep a few hours at Aguilas and then continued to the small coastal town of Mazarron. As the wind direction turned (of course not in our favor), we decided to stay one night and instead spend a day on the beach and get some stuff done in the cool office of the club house with their excellent WIFI. But with a friend arriving in Alicante just a few days later, we could not rest long. Jens took the night shift to get us up to Mar Menor, an inland sea between Cartagena and Alicante. This inland sea is the perfect anchoring spot, since it’s between 3-6 m deep all over. We spent the first night in the harbour and met up with Mattias and his brother the next day. It was nice to hang out with the family, go swimming and just relax. In the evening we dropped the anchor in Mar Menor, did some fishing and enjoyed some tapas together with Jens childhood friend.

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The next day it was time to head north and introduce Mattias to sailing. Since he brought some new gear we were fishing all day but didn’t have any luck – is there really any fish in the Mediterranean?!? We had a great day out on the sea and arrived at Torrevieja just in time for some dinner.

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On Mattias last night we celebrated with some ice-cream downtown. Thank you Mattias for stopping by and lighting up our stay at Costa Blanca! It is always interesting to share the cruising lifestyle with the people we love from home, hear what things they like and what they would not endure in this way of living. It is easy to imagine that the cruising life would be like an everlasting vacation, but unfortunately that is pretty far from the truth. The splurges we have done when we have visitors cannot be made every week, and most days it is all about sailing – longer hours and a greater distance than we would many times prefer. In all types of lifestyles you get a routine, a routine that can become dull and exhausting even though there are also many highlights. We have learned not to make any deadlines when sailing, but a life completely without planning is not so fun either, and when you know that bad weather is approaching there is no choice but trying  to get to a good place before it hits.

– Petra

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NOTES FOR SAILORS

To see the location of all the harbours and anchorages we stayed at on our sail along Costa Blanca click here. There are many good and beautiful anchorages along this stretch of coast, and we highly recommend staying Cala san Pedro. The harbours vary greatly in price, Club de Regatas Mazarron being one of the cheapest (16.19 €/night for us) and Aguilas being one of the more pricey (39€/night for 10 m boat).


 

Radical sabbatical – taking the leap and learning the hard way

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the thing you didn’t do than the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain

Taking the leap and building resilience. I would not say that I am a coward. But I would say that I am very aware of what people around me think and feel and that I prefer safety before risk. If given a choice between taking a risk or playing it safe, I would probably play it safe. With one exception – taking risks together with someone I trust. The best thing with my close colleagues back home and my partner on the boat is that they are the kind of accomplices that I trust to take a route that has not been taken before. In fact, I might even be the one who suggests it.

But even though I have been fortunate enough to have friends, a partner or colleagues that make me more courageous, it doesn’t mean that it’s easy to make life choices. And as a researcher I know that we as humans don’t always know how to foresee what the future would become depending on what choice we make. I have learned three things:

  • Memory is a treacherous thing – we remember what stood out more than what was the usual. (Unfortunately we remember the negative events better than the good ones…)
  • A traumatic or stressful event (usually) make you stronger rather than more depressed in the longer run.
  • The grass always seems greener on the other side

So how then should we live our lives?

As a TED-talk junkie, one of my favourite talks is one on this very topic. “How to make hard choices”. Basically she says that when given a hard choice (one which is not easy to rationally just list pro´s and con´s), you have to go back to yourself and think – what kind of person are you? Or rather, what kind of person would you like to become? This doesn’t mean that the choice is easy, or that the life you choose will not be full of hardships, it just means that maybe those hardships are worthwhile because in the end you have taken a conscious decision on what kind of person you would like to be. Which really is all you can do.

The blessing and problem living in the society today is of course that we have too many choices.

One of the advantages with this lifestyle is that there are more opportunities to read than in an ordinary life, which is usually full with stress running in between job and other activities, plus the constant stream of TV and internet always accessible. On-board we don´t always have that luxury, so we talk, read, play an instrument or talk to people.

One of the books that struck a chord in me I started reading even before we left, and it seems a lot of it holds true for our journey – Radical Sabbatical. It tells the story of an American couple that left their hotshot jobs in Chicago and left for Costa Rica, where they rented a house to explore another side of life and see if they could create opportunities for the future there instead. They describe their journey like this: “It was the greatest and most dreadful part of our lives” – a statement I think both me and Jens can relate to when reflecting on the journey so far.

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One of the things I reflected on when reading the book was that a lot of times they had a really rough time. One of them got really sick, the house was a mess, they argued a lot, had culture clashes, it cost more than they thought it would and they were once on the verge of breaking up. But they also had wonderful nature experiences, met awesome people and learned a lot more about themselves and each other in that year than they would have spending five years in their ordinary life at home.

This journey, too, has been full of challenges. It has been much harder than we expected. We have doubted a lot of decisions and there has been many painful conflicts on the way. We haven’t been able to “sail in harmony” as much as we wanted to, even though we constantly tried to lower over goals and expectations. We have got great friends we would never have met otherwise, the nature experiences and sailing experiences have many times been magnificent and there is a luxury of having so much time with your partner. But what we really have learned from this experience? I don’t think we know yet. The end chapter in Radical Sabbatical offered their perspective which I would like to share.

“Most of us live within our comfort zones. Our training wheels are on. Do you remember riding around with those pesky little wheels? You’d have to stay on the beaten path. You’d look at your friends and see them having a blast, riding faster to places you couldn’t go. They had more guts than you. They were having more fun than you. But you couldn’t get yourself to take the wheels off until one day. All you had to do was to get the guts to do it, and then off you went – completely free.

If you’ll take at least three months to go on a radical sabbatical to a place where your geography and daily life are drastically different, you’ll see the training wheels that were on your life. The great thing is, once you stretch, you’ll never want to ride with them on again. In that moment, you’ll wake up every morning, like we do, immediately thinking on how you can take life to a place where you never have. Don´t worry. You don’t have to jettison to bats, scorpions, and reverse high-speed drives down mountains. But you will want to pick something that creates a good dose of healthy discomfort, preferably in a setting where you’ve always wanted to live.

“But where will we end up in five years?” you ask. To that we answer, “Exactly”. You’ll end up exactly where you want to end up. After a radical sabbatical, it becomes all about the journey, not the destination. And you know what? You’ll automatically have the courage to live this way because you’ll have seen that no matter what you go through, whether it’s life after Pair-o-Dice Village or the unexpected vehicle that came along to pull us out in the Serengeti after 15 minutes, everything always works out if you’ll have the courage to let it. Fear becomes your friend. The training wheels are off, and it’s awesome, thrilling ride. There’s magic in it. It’s a life without boundaries. It’s a life that’s yours”

Radical Sabbatical, 2013, page 332.

We will soon get an opportunity to reflect on our experiences. Because we are coming back home. I have extended my leave from work until 1st of October, and then our “radical sabbatical” will end for this time. We don’t yet know what we will do with the boat, where we will live, and where our lives will take us. But we know that we have managed to sail through the UK in winter, down the French coast as the first visiting boat of the year and hand-steered all the way to the Mediterranean. The comfort zone is definitely extended!

We are making an attempt at selling the boat from the Med, see the Swedish Ad here, and simultaneously looking for alternatives to ship the boat home. Please share the ad to anyone you think might be interested.

But I´m also curious about you. What would you do for a “radical sabbatical”? If you would forget about the (time/money/relationships) limits that you have in your life right now?

For more inspiration, watch this TED-talk “The power of time off”.

– Petra

Sailing with whales, a grumpy girlfriend and skinny dipping

One of the perks with cruising life is the nature experiences it provides, since you are not only immersed in nature but also heavily dependent on it. Of course, not all aspects of spending between 8-20 hours a day outside is positive. When there is stormy weather and huge waves to balance, or you get exhausted and burnt by the sun it is possible that a day at the office seems like a much better idea.

But let me tell you about a day in the sun, that was as much boring as exhilarating (yes it’s possible to combine the two!).

We knew we were almost not going to be able to sail at all that day. The rumours about the Mediterranean are true – many times the wind is too weak to hold out the sails. This meant a long day by the motor, since the batteries last so much longer at low speed. After some hours it was getting very hot, even though it was a cloudy day. I decided that it was time for a swim! While it sounded like a perfect idea, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We still haven’t managed to install a swimming ladder on the boat, which means that you need to drag yourself up on push-pit and climb up by the rudder. Needless to say, eight months mostly sitting on the a** on the boat has not improved the physique and I barely made it up the last time I tried. After hesitating a while, we both jumped in.

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The water was crystal clear and refreshing. After a lot of coaching and help I managed to get up at the boat at the third attempt. Even though it led to a grumpy/frustrated face that lasted half an hour, the refreshing effect of the swim lasted longer.

A while later, I was cooking dinner when Jens called on me – “Get up here, there is something funny in the horizon, I think it might be whales!?”

I needed little more convincing. In a distance, we could see some large animals a little bit over the surface, sometimes diving up and down through the water. We steered a bit closer and tried to identify them through the binoculars. Was it whales? Killer whales? Or just another type of dolphins?

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When we got a bit closer we decided to turn of the noisy generator as well as the engine to not scare them off and enjoy the view in silence. It looked like several groups of animals, probably at least four groups of at least five individuals each. We drifted a bit closer to them, and they drifted closer to us. I got frustrated at first, “This is why I bought a superzoom camera! Now I only have this crappy 10-year old compact camera and the GoPro-camera that has been acting funny and not been working– why now!?” But those petty thoughts were soon dissolved as we watched the animals in awe.

After drifting next to each other on 1-200 meters apart, one group started swimming towards us. Their trubbiga noses shot out of the surface, and the black fin rolled through the surface. But most of all, it was the sound of their breathing that made it evident that we were so close. All of a sudden they were just some 20 meters from the boat, 10 meters, 5 meters, and then diving under the boat! There is simply no way of not being excited when animals as big as half the length of Mouni is swimming next to and under the boat.

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When I sat down on the side of the boat I could clearly see one animal swimming just a meter below surface straight towards the boat, just to turn as it was inches from Mouni and “slap” the keel with its tail! Soon they swam in group next to us, singing, bouncing into each other and making splashes and bubbles through the water. (We later learned that they were Long-finned Pilot Whales, closely related to dolphins and the baby whales swim with their mother the first three years.)

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Just like that we were now surrounded by these wonderful creatures, and the lack of technology to capture this perfect moment through just made it even more precious – to actually just be here and now.

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Later in the evening, the mountain line got glow from the setting sun, which finally turned the sky and sea bright red. The moon rose over the clouds and we could finally see the faint lights of our destination in the horizon.

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As a wise man once said – “Learn to appreciate cruising under two knots”

(We´re still learning)

– Petra