GUEST POST - Olek on the Galapagos passage

Two weeks as a guest crew member in a different reality. A reality filled with planning, calculating, repairing, bunkering, finding spare parts, carpentering, having patience (e.g. with Panama immigration, reminding me of good old DDR), taking turns at the helm, fishing, cooking food, eating superbly (all are great chefs), handling the unexpected, having a good time, and of course sailing. Sailing across oceans is not hanging around in the sun with a cold beer, except on occasions. Albeit, there are moments of great pleasure and satisfaction. As when the sky is filled with stars in the dark night, when we get a full family of red-footed boobies as passengers for the night, when dolphins jump around, when the swordfish is caught and when we finally got our wind.

We left Panama City into the black night. The city skyline and lights gradually disappeared behind us. A couple of days came and went with very little wind, and the little that came, blew straight against us. Motoring on a sailing vessel days on end is not lifting a sailor’s spirit. Moral onboard, however, was very good. We knew this is something happening in these waters just north of the equator, the doldrums. Days went by in the rhythm of taking shifts every three hours. The crew has an established routine, also including cooking lunch and dinner, followed with scrupulous and punctual loyalty. These guys have an impressive focus and a seamless, smooth way of collaborating. This came to a sharp test only two days into the pacific. First Lukas and then Simon came down with stomachache and eventually fever, both in bed. The next day a lightning hit the sea very close and in one blow wiped out most of our instruments. Crew acted rational and calm; first focus on fire, then on other vital functions. Spirit onboard remained good, adequate worries about possibilities to have things fixed in Galapagos. Another rational worry was diesel supply; the long and constant motoring had taken its toll in Kenobi´s tanks.

When the wind came you could sense a lift in spirit of Kenobi. All of the sudden this big and comfortable home turned into a sailing boat and speeded away over the ocean. We all smiled. And here on a more personal note: I came on board as the scarred veteran who knew about sailing. On my first “sailing” shift at the helm I felt like a freshman. The catamaran moves in its own way, the genoa and the mainsail communicate differently, this was new to me. Twice I had to start the engine to help myself out of embarrassing situations. Lukas helped me to sort it all out and I could gradually restore my self-esteem. There is a new veteran around in the family, however not yet as scarred.

A vessel on the ocean with room for a crew of four young men is a beautiful metaphor for life as life itself, a different reality, but also a more real reality, life actually.

Olek Wilczek
Guest crew member May 1st to 15th. Kenobi’s captain is my son.

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