Jan has started sailing when he was 10 years old, I have never sailed in my life before. As a child, my family used to visit the German north sea though, and I always LOVED to be on boats, out on the water, no matter how rough the sea was. Or making a sightseeing tour over the river of Rhein. Of course I was on fire to be taken on a sailing trip by Jan on his stunningly beautiful and elegant boat Henrietta!
As you can see in our blog-diary, the year 2020 was very busy and eventful. Even though we didn´t feel much of the Corona craziness that was going on in the world, the Universe decided to keep us grounded, literally, and so a mysterious electric problem occurred in the electric engine. Jan had to send the parts to Finland and the repairs took unusually long. The boat stayed silent, we stayed on Graciosa in our tiny safe bubble.
It was one day before Christmas eve and it was getting really stormy. Henrietta was suffering, and so was Jan´s sleep (worries in addition to the pain in his leg).
One thing that is so beautiful about Graciosa is that the people just have it in them to help and support each other. It is just a necessity in such a small and secluded place and Jan has found a real allegiant friend in Paul George, who was by his side when Jan was still on only one leg. But also no time for too much rest for my dear Jan!
The decision was made to lift Henrietta on land. I was immensely nervous during the whole process (I have never in my life witnessed anything like this before, and after all that had happened before, and I just know how much this boat means to Jan. I feel like his life force is connected with her, she is a reflection of his inside). But God sent us a beautiful rainbow to literally shine over the whole process. No more accidents and dramas. Everything went smoothly, oh the relief.
Spring 2021 is slowly starting! The „energy“ is very low with Henrietta, we need to put lots of love into her! It will also be very important for Jan´s emotional well-being. Giulio is still with us for a few days and he helps us to make a start with the boat. Sanding, varnishing, painting against fouling… But also the inside job is immense. Jan has to fix some stuff with the electricity, the gas,… and we are still in the moving-together-as-a-couple-process after the loss of the clay house. It is like a clearing ritual for really finishing Jan´s journey from Finland over the open Atlantic to his new home for good. He has found his home on Graciosa, in our Quinta. We get his last belongings out, deeply clean the boat and set it up for short holiday travels. Also more rearranging in our Quinta, setting up a workshop for Jan.
In May Henrietta is put back into the water. Continued below…
And then the reward for all this tough work! It is the first time that Jan and I go sailing together since I have met him (and Henrietta) two and a half years ago and we are a couple for over one year! I must say I had gotten impatient, but which is not a bad thing, so Jan was motivated and supported to clear out some (starting to get) heavy stuff from the past and get this part of his life up to date, into the present. De-cluttering can be the best self-care!
The trip we are doing to Terceira now is actually meant to go for a consultation to the hospital for Jan´s leg, a standard check up after the accident in November. We would get the trip by plane paid by the health system here in the Azores, but why being forced to wear these shitty masks when we have this alternative?
I am in some romantic cloud when I prepare our trip, looking forward for some holidays and a lovely time out on the ocean.
Reality hits me hard.
Henrietta is an old, classic wooden boat from 1947, small (back then in the old times she was considered as being very big and sporty), very heavy and stable for her size, but still small compared to modern boats, and the conditions of the waves and wind direction are far from optimal. Especially for a first time tip. But we are limited in our schedule and so there is no choice.
My enthusiastic smile vanishes very quickly and I just get totally spaced out and nauseous. Seasick.
Eating lightly, low in histamine, and ingesting Vitamin C against the sea sickness, what used to work perfectly for me when going with the big ferry between the islands (I got sick from mast cell activation syndrome in the end of 2014 after a severe health crash) is doing nothing for me here.
In the beginning Jan does a good job at keeping me busy with things like steering the boat, but it is getting worse. We are just at the outer edge of Graciosa, having sailed for already over one hour, when Jan gets a phone call that his hospital appointment is cancelled! „You are really not looking good and the appointment is cancelled, we could just go back“, he says to me. No! There is no turning back for me! I don´t give up. I want to have this experience, want to be able to have a sailing trip with my beloved! Not speaking of going all the way to the Caribbean, just to our neighbor island! So we go on.
In the end I am just spending the trip inside of the boat, lying down, resting between sleep and some half-wakefulness for many hours. I have vomited three times, but when I keep my eyes closed and not look at the like crazy up and down bouncing horizon from my bed I am really happy. Just feeling the waves under me. In Henrietta you are extremely close to the waves and all movements. I realize a deep letting go, surrender, to a deep fatigue. There is nothing to fight by intense work, just being. Being taken care of by Jan, who is in constant motion adjusting the sails and other things. I have reached a big goal, but a bit different to how I thought it would be, and now I am carried into the unknown. The crazy erratic wave patterns seem to dissolve my complete energetic being. All the heavy things that have happened the last months, like Jan´s accident, my father´s and our friend´s Sibylle´s death in the same week, the loss of the clay house, the preparations for my divorce, among other things, are released from my nerve cells. A place to fucking deeply rest for real. No more distractions.
The night is like some hell-death experience to me, where I can just surrender my body and soul to the Gods. The weather is, for my personal taste, very harsh, it is just pitch black, Jan is outside all the time, I think he is secured by a belt but I am not sure. Waves are splashing over him and the boat is rocking hard.
Thoughts come up like what I am gonna do if he falls over board. I am drifting in and out of consciousness and I know I would only notice it after hours. At some point he is lying next to me for a while, the boat being steered by Jan´s wind rudder, and I am just deeply relieved. I feel like I am traveling in a space craft through the endless cosmos with constant speed. I forget how stability, how being me, feels like and I just let myself carry. Can you imagine that for an autistic control freak like me? My Ayahuasca trips were really pleasant compared to this.
The next morning (it took 15hrs, the next time we can make it in only 10 hrs) I am greeted by the beautiful sight of Monte Brasil and a sunset over Angra do Heroísmo. We are still alive, great! I can tell you, I am not the same person that has started the afternoon before. From Sailor-Maiden to Sailor-Woman overnight. Thanks my Jan. Cheers.
I almost kiss the land. LAND! Just so happy, OMG. I immensely enjoy the city trip, we have a lovely time together AND: They somehow caught wind of that we came here with the boat and we get a call from the hospital and Jan is invited to an alternative appointment the next afternoon! It was good to follow my gut feeling, persist and push through.
The trip back is not much better, but this time I really go on empty stomach and we start early in the morning, the conditions are slightly better. We are not too flexible with the time because we are expecting guests.
But in the end we are rewarded with a spectacular light phenomenon in the sky, which was hard to really catch on a photo. Jan for the first time enters the new Yacht Marina in Barra, Santa Cruz, which is completely calm, unlike the fishing harbor, where the fishermen start the engines of their small wooden boats at 4am. We spent one last night in the boat, because it is getting super windy again and Jan must see if everything is fine with the mooring. We also just don´t want to stress out, we are both exhausted after the whole day on the ocean. I must say that I sleep super well in Henrietta, I enjoy the movements, rocking us to sleep.
May 2021 and finally! We go sailing! Proud excited fresh sailor-girl (or should I say naive?) Setting up the sails Preparing everything for a lovely trip with my big love In the middle a table can be set up, and Jan has built it the way that the benches can be made into on big bed that fills the whole space. In the front is the kitchen. Tiny house life. In the afternoon we start Proud, happy Still smiling, Ilheu da Praia in my back. After: Cleared of all the naiveté and romance about sailing. From Sailor-Maiden to Sailor-Woman overnight. So lovely, cooking and eating in the boat. A relief and variety from the farm house, kind of super easy and focused tiny house living. Eating organic vegetarian in the Casa do jardim in the botanical garden of Angra Shopping tour „Hey how funny, this man looks exactly like Franco (our Italian friend, film maker who breeds the old donkey race of Graciosa)!“ „Yeah strange, haha, crazy! Oh! It is because THIS IS Franco!“ The whole Azores are for real a village.*g* I have to introduce Jan to the Sushi place that I had discovered with David last time! Morning bath in the marina. Very enjoyable to have the ocean directly in front of our door instead of 2 km away! Returning home Spectacular light phenomenon and view on the wind rudder Jan built Spectacular light phenomenon Watching a romantic sunset in Barra The next morning in Barra More rainbows. I am proud of my self, and Jan is, too. Henrietta´s new place, like a beautiful monument or artwork, in the middle of the unfinished Yacht harbor of Graciosa.