Weblog van Laura

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19-4-2016

Last week has been a very busy one - our days are usually filled with little adventures of some sort and sitting still doesn’t happen very often.

About a week ago I went to the bay of Islands for a photo shoot while sailing my new Laura Dekker Minicat.  We went out about 20nm on a 72 foot sailing vessel to a location where clear water rolled onto a white beach and then green hills took over the rolling. A beautifull stunning little bay! We spent some sunny hours there but at the end of that day the sailboat had to keep going to other locations - it was not returning home to where my car was. So I sailed the 20nm back to Opua. The wind was perfect. I had a great reach almost the whole way down with some bigger waves (well… big in Minicat terms) backed by 15-20knots of wind. I already capsized before I had even left the bay…

It took me about 3 hours to get back to the car. It was a fantastic sail in such delightful scenery. Lush green islands covered in fog with sun-rays breaking through to point out some beautiful details. Sometimes there is moments so beautiful that I just simply don’t know what to do with it. Do I shout out of joy or jump up and down? Do I put it on camera to capture it all? Or should I just sit and enjoy it? Mostly I end up doing it all but it still doesn’t seem enough. The natural beauty of this world is just to much to take in sometimes. How fortunate we are to be living in such a world! And what a shame that we are destroying it at a rate and with numbers we can scarcely calculate anymore..

The same evening my cousin arrived from Germany to live with us for 8 weeks. Luckily she is very easy going, because we had started to work on Guppy just before her arrival and are still eating in between tools, pieces of wood and dust. Guppy is a building site. We are replacing the windows around the upper part of the deck as they were getting pretty old and started cracking. So while taking out the windows we figured it was a good time to finally replace some of the rotten wood around the windows. When I bought the boat in 2010 it was standing in a yard without any windows at all so that didn’t make the interior any prettier! It never bothered me much as there were many more important things to be done first. But I am very happy that we are doing it now as it makes Guppy even more beautiful, homey and hospitable. And well, as in almost all cases, you have to start taking things down and making a mess before it starts to become more beautiful.

A few days after my cousin, Chantal, had arrived I was asked to be an instructor at a high school camp that was orientated around sea food gathering. Now - many of my faithful supporters might remember: I don’t like killing fish!!! I love eating it, but found out that breaking its neck, breaks something in me too. So luckily my main job was watching the kids in their kayaks and while snorkeling. Sounds easy, hm?! That's what I thought too, but I realized quickly how tiring it is to have such a responsibility and to stay focused for the whole day. Nevertheless it was great - I loved being out on the water and to see young girls learning to appreciate the outdoors and being part of a play with nature as our beautiful stage.

I am still alway pleasantly surprised by the kind of opportunities kids have in New Zealand schools. They do sailing lessons, camps, hikes - so many valuable experiences that I was only dreaming of in my class room years.

 Here's a video of me sailing the minicat back

Laura


31-3-2016

Back home! Our last two weeks in Europe were as always to short to do all the things that we wanted to and we never get to spent enough time with all of our friends and family.. I went back to Holland to spent another week with my dad and sister. One evening Kim proclaimed that she felt like skiing, so we decided to drive to a big indoor skiing hall in Bottrop, Germany, close to the border of Holland. Spot stayed with some friends and off we went. A good friend of dad joined us on our skiing adventure as well. But as we drove towards Bottrop looking out at the beautiful weather we didn't really feel like being inside a big hall. So we spontaneously decided to keep driving another 2 hours to go to Winterberg - which is a small skiing area about 5 hours away from dad's place. It hadn't been a snowy winter at all and even the entire drive to Winterberg we saw barely any snow. Only the last 10km some snow started to appear. We almost turned around as we just couldn't believe that there was enough snow to ski. But sure enough, when we were just about 5km out everything around us had turned white. Winterberg is located a bit west of Germany's centre  and somehow geographically privileged in a way that there always happens to be snow before it falls anywhere else in the area. We spent one full day on the ski trails. I decided to join the rest of the group and try skiing instead of snowboarding for the first time in 12 years - and it's not as easy as it looks! But at the end of the day - after tumbling down a few times and going straight into the woods instead of turning - I did pretty well. We all came back home without any broken bones - It was a great day ;)

From Holland I flew to Stockholm for a presentation at the boat fair. There were various sailors presenting their story but I had a hard time following, as it was all in Swedish.. Luckily I was allowed to give my talk in English - I don't think the audience would've understood my swedish very well :) I loved Stockholm, although I had hoped for some snow. But even so far up north was not a single snow flake to be found. Nevertheless it was very cold, which can be quite handy sometimes, like on the morning before the boat show when I went to visit a Hurley 700 for a radio podcast. The owner had forgotten the keys of the marina but - thanks to the cold, we could just walk over the ice towards the boat! Not handy for sailing though… It was lovely being on a Hurley 700 again. It had the typical Hurley smell and the layout was exactly the same as the first Hurley that I sailed on. It brought back a lot of good memories. And I realized how much I loved that boat. Although I did think "it seemed bigger at the time" after standing up straight and hitting my head on the ceiling…I used to be able to stand up straight in the cabin, but those days are over..

Last week we made the long journey home. I actually enjoy flying, but spending two days on a seat, breathing dry, re-circulated air is not my favorite… But saying that - there has to be things in life we don't like in order to appreciate other things more. Oh! and how I appreciated smelling the warm summer air, and the fresh breeze flowing past my skin. It is lovely being home again! But soon after we came back it started pouring with rain for two days straight. I was afraid that we had missed the summer completely! The rain was accompanied by big wind gusts making Guppy sway from side to side between her poles in the marina. Like a wild horse that wants to run and jump but it is tied up...  

Just before the big winds came my new Minicat, the Laura Dekker version arrived and I had a chance to try it out. This 420 version is perfect to sail with two people. I managed to convince Daniel that it would be fun - so off we went. There was a good breeze and we were flying from shore to shore. I was having a great time! Daniel a little less as he looked at the thin mast bending and considering the high speeds we where at, that could easily crash us when making a wrong move… although he did agree that it was fun in the end when we were safely back home. I'm afraid it might have to do something with my sailing style?! The 420 is definitely faster than the 310 version! We gave it a good test run in strong winds and bouncing over waves, But I want to go out to do some more 'test' sailing soon ;) 

For now we are enjoying the calm after the storm with one beautiful sunny day after the other. There is things to do on Guppy (as always) and we will be working on her, while trying to figure out where life will lead us next :)

 

Laura 

 

 

 

 


25-3-2016

I just came across this lovely poem again written by John Masefield. A woman read it to me last year before the start of a presentation and I thought it was very beautiful. 

 

Sea Fever  

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;

And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,

And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

 

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

 

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

 


4-2-2016

Josefien was released from the hospital and we all drove back together. Much rest and sleep were ahead for her, but quiet the opposite was awaiting us. Daniel and I had decided to help my dad for a while with building the masts for his boat. We've been here for nearly a month now. The aluminum pipes that were laying in the hall when we got here have slowly transformed into a mast. I have always loved to see these kind of things grow. Every time I am amazed at how much humans are capable of making just by going step by step, day by day. I loved to see dad's boat growing out of a pile of wood - and later the walls that made rooms, then the interior and now slowly the masts. It's a dream that is coming true - slowly but surely. And I feel very happy to have been and still be a part of it. It's been so much fun working with dad again for a longer time. Thinking about plans to make things work and dreaming about sailing this boat. We've had some small breaks from working, in which we went to Sliedrecht with dad's boat to tow back a heavy tug that had a broken engine. We started heading to Sliedrecht just after sunrise, but we never saw anything of the sun.. the clouds were creeping around us while I was standing on the bow peeking through the thick mist - trying to find the next buoy. The water was rustling quietly at the bow as the boat was gliding through the water. Without any radar or chart plotter it was a real challenge to find our way across the Grevelingen towards the locks. Once we were at the locks we decided it would be too dangerous to keep going in this thick mist without any good navigational equipment. So we called a friend who has a maritime navigation program on his tablet and asked if we could borrow it for a few days. That made live a bit easier. But we had lost a lot of time by going through the fog that slowly, so that we had to keep going full speed to get to Sliedrecht before dark. The "Havorn" doesn't have any navigation lights yet - they have to be mounted on the mast and in the rigging which is still in the making. So getting there before dark was a necessity. We were doing well for the rest of the day, steaming along at almost 10 knots, even overtaking some of the inland freighters that were steaming along the rivers. With only one more hour to go we were hopeful to make it, when a police boat pulled up along side suddenly and made signs that they want to come aboard. We had a little chat and they checked our papers. When we asked them for the reason for their visit, they said that we weren't in their system. Otherwise all was fine and we could keep going. That had slowed us down a lot and sunset had already started. We hit the gas again to make up for the delay and had still some hope left, but only 10minutes later that hope was challenged again - by the port control this time. We told them that the police had just been onboard, but since I didn't know the name of the police vessel they couldn't do anything with that information. Again we had to slow down and explain where we were going (without them coming aboard). In the end they decided to stay next to us to serve as navigational lights, because darkness was becoming an issue by that time. Half an hour later we finally got to Sliedrecht. After mooring the Havorn the port control left us in peace.

The next morning was clear, freezing - and early, as there was work to do. We had to tie the tug next to the Havorn - and what we thought would be an easy job to do, turned out more challenging as we found the ropes frozen. Stiff like steelwire. After one our of fighting we had the tug next to the Havorn and the journey began. The sun even accompanied us for most of the day on our homeward trip. Towing the tug went well and we also had some good laughs when going through the locks. The "Bruinvis" (the tug boat) always got called on the VHF before they tried calling the Havorn. Guess it's a strange picture to see a tug boat being towed. Although it was rather obvious that nobody was aboard the Bruinvis and it couldn't have towed us the way it was positioned on our beam - the ghost skipper of the Bruinvis got the first calls! :D Again we tried to push on hard to get home before dark and even managed to squeeze ourselves into a lock with some other freighters. Sadly for the freighter behind us it had to wait for the next turn. He wasn't to pleased with this, and made that clear on the VHF. "They should have gone through the smaller yacht locks" he said. I explained to the lock operator that we were to deep and also to wide for these locks and that there was no other way for us than to go through the commercial shipping locks - which kindled the next discussion… "How could a boat from 65ft possibly be 3.40m deep?" Nobody seemed to understand and they came to the conclusion that only 3000ton freighters would have such a depth. After listening to that whole discussion via the locks' VHF channel, I decided to tell them about sailboats… That sailboats need this depth, and that it was very well possible for a 65footer to be 3.40m deep. All we heard for the next 10minutes was complete silence. The freighter behind us had to wait and we could go through, which was really necessary because we were still racing the sun at 7,5 knots now. The tug boat and Havorn both got home safely!

A cold but very nice trip over the rivers and through the locks. I loved seeing Daniel's face every time he saw a bridge that opened in yet another fantastic manner. Some went sideways, some up, or rotated. And I started to realize that so many bridges and locks are very unusual outside of Holland.

The following morning was an early one yet again, no sailing anywhere this time though. We were on our way to the Dusseldorf boat show. I have been working with Minicat on a new boat. Early on in my trip I got a Minicat 310 onboard. This is an amazing small inflatable catamaran. This way I could fold it easily into two bags and store it on my boat for a crossing and do some sporty sailing when I was at anchor. Over the years of sailing with the 310 version I gave Minicat some feedback and we decided to make a Laura Dekker edition. It is based on their standard 420 edition. But it has many upgrades. The boat is also stronger - because it will have to stand the way of sailing that I like! …with lots of wind and rough conditions ;)

The first boat has been build and was standing on the Dusseldorf boat show. I was very exited to see it in real live of course. It looked great with the many colors in the sails, carbon rudder, boom and bowsprit. Even with my name embroidered into the trampoline. Fancy :) I have enjoyed the Minicat 310 a lot over the years and really can't wait to sail this bigger, faster and stronger edition!


Laura 


3-2-2016


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