Approaching the new year, it is time to reflect and see if we are heading in the right direction. This year has probably been one of the more exhausting one’s in our lives, but in the same time so rich in experiences. So what really happened this year? We will give a summary of the different steps on our journey, and in the end you can find a map that shows our track across the oceans so far.
In the first half of this year, it was all about preparations. We moved two times, spend hundreds of hours going through all of our stuff and thinking about the life on the boat and what we would need. I was working to fund our adventure and Jens worked hard on renovating the boat and managed to do a skiing expedition he dreamed about for years. There were several big jobs that he managed to do during the winter and spring – changing from diesel engine to electric propulsion, designing and building a bowsprit and moving the toilet to the forepeak to mention a few. In the spring we also discussed with our workplaces if it would be possible to get a leave from work and discussed a lot with friends and family about what it was we wanted to do and how we could make the dream come true.
In the early summer we moved aboard Mouni, while also increasing the pace of the renovation. June, July and almost the whole August past before we felt about ready to throw off the bowlines. During this summer, while we had high ambitions on what to be able to complete with the renovation, we also promised ourselves that we would never say no to someone who wanted to come visit us. So in the middle of the big renovation mess, we did meet a lot of our friends and family and had a wonderful goodbye party that will stay as a precious memory for us. It is hard to say goodbye, but nice to know it´s rather “see you later”. Even if we left a couple weeks later than we had planned for, the summer was rather hectic and we were quite drained of energy when we left.
The first phase going around Sweden was also spent visiting a lot of friends and family along the way. Sweden is such a beautiful place to sail and we really enjoyed exploring the coastline from the sea. It soon became clear that even this first phase was a big test on our vision about “sailing for harmony”. Leaving the stressful life behind, we still brought it along in our minds and had trouble deciding what was most important – progress in distance, fixing the boat or enjoying life. We still haven´t learned how to always sail in harmony, but we do know not to measure progress in miles. Because this is not what this journey is for.
Nevertheless, it was a milestone to sail to our first foreign land – Denmark. The reason for this detour was specific, we wanted to meet the supplier of our electric motor to do some tests and discuss the future. Besides helping us to trim the motor, we also got a sailing lessons and had some wonderful days in Copenhagen with our friends. We were really impressed with the ambitious sailors in Denmark who sailed all the way in and out of the harbours
By the time we got to Norway, we could really feel that we were on our way. This was also where we had our first experiences of hard weather. While we did sail in harder weather than we ever did before and really could put Mouni to the test, we also got land-bound several times. From that point the gale warnings would constantly follow us for the rest of the year. In Norway we also had our first crew aboard – a lovely couple of weeks with Jens mom that took us across the North Sea.
The sailing through the UK – Shetland, Fair Isle, Scotland and Northern Ireland has really shown us what a great hospitality there is here and that it is actually not so hard to make friends (at least if you get stuck :-)) We have sailed in cold and rainy weather week after week, learning how to deal with the tides (we´re not quite there yet) and learned the hard way how easily things break. The last month we have settled in Belfast and spending most of the time making Mouni safe and pretty.
One of the wisdoms from our guest book onboard says – “It’s not about the miles, it’s about the smiles”. So what did we really think about 2016?
What was the best with 2016?
Petra: Finding a new pace in life, getting to know lots of new places and friendly people. I have really enjoyed getting to know the sea and having that nature experience every day. I didn’t expect to feel safe on Mouni in the wide range of weather we have sailed in, but she handles the waves well.
Jens: 2016 was the year when we got to taste the first bites of the sweet fruit after spending so much time figuring out how to change the direction in life. It has taken several years to get here and as always when starting to learn something new it takes a lot of time. I can still remember all the thousands of different boats researched before before deciding on this one. All the reading required to learn about plastic work, rigging repairs, bow sprit designs, engine propulsion, marine wiring, thru hull fittings and so on. All the sleepless mornings figuring out how to do all the required changes and all the late evenings trying to finish one more piece of the puzzle before going home. This was the year when it all paid off and the feeling to finally set sail was definitely something special.
What was the hardest during 2016?
Petra: All the decisions. Where should we sail? How? What is more important – getting ahead, renovating for comfort and safety or having fun? Just having each other makes it really important to get along and agree. I´ve never been really ill during these months but have spent a lot of time with some type of physical problem that have drained a lot of my energy.
Jens: Long distance cruising can be done in so many different ways. Not too long ago cruisers still circumnavigated our globe without any engine or electrical gadgets at all. Some still do even today. But the development, especially on the technical side, has been tremendous last few decades so as a fellow cruiser put it – Today you can have your yacht automatically sailing around the world without even leaving your kitchen table. The hardest thing was definitely defining where on this scale to position us and Mouni. So far the philosophy has been to start off simple and let our own experience guide us in what kind of equipment to acquire. Hopefully this will end in a boat much more fit for our purpose and financial strength than listening to skilled sales agents.
What do you look forward to in 2017?
Petra: Sailing in warm weather and always being able to jump in for a swim! Anchoring in a bay with my love and enjoying some Mediterranean food. I am also looking forward to taking off from here and enjoying all the improvements we have done on Mouni. Hope I will improve my sailing skills even more!
Jens: We have discovered that sailing can be both exhausting and relaxing. The weather of course plays a big role in how the sailing is perceived but I also think that with the right knowledge, experience and mental attitude you can find most circumstances relaxing. In 2017 I am looking forward to increase my comfort zone and taking the first trembling steps to master the ever changing seas. Sometime in the future I hope that even fast moving tides, swirls, moving sand banks and technical malfunction still can be comfortable handled in sharp but yet relaxed manner.
Finally, here´s the map of the track we have made so far, we will update it as we go along!
We wish you a really happy new year, cruising through life in harmony!
– Petra & Jens