Laura's Blog

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30-03-2019

 

 

 

My new website has launched!

To read all about my new project please visit:

https://lauradekkerworldsailingfoundation.com/blog/

https://www.facebook.com/lauradekkercalloftheocean/ 

 

 

 

I was sick of all the lies, twisting of the truth and the back and forth of accusations and writings of blogs. So I decided to publish everything. These are ALL the mail conversations which have gone between LifeSail and Me or my Lawyer Peter de Lange.


I hope by publishing this people will be able to have their own read through it and that it gives clarity to the situation as to what really happened between the two parties. I also think it should clarify the untruthful facts which have been stated in their latest blog. And that these people are clearly not capable of safely sailing with children.


To view the mail conversation between LifeSail and Me click here.


Laura  


19-12-2018

New Project, New website

My new website has launched! To read all about my new project please visit:
http://www.lauradekkerworldsailingfoundation.com

https://www.facebook.com/lauradekkercalloftheocean/ 

 

ps! The 'zeilmeisje laura dekker' facebook or any other facebook with my name

is not me or in anyway controlled by me!

The only official facebook is the one mentioned here.
 


06-12-2018

A Letter to LifeSail - and still no word on Guppy

It's been 4 months since Guppy was wrecked on an atoll in de pacific ocean.
Life Sail has ceased all communication and pretends nothing has happend.
Guppy has vanished into thin air, I still have no idea what happened to her..
I wrote another letter to Matt & the LifeSail board a little while ago - of course I didn't receive a reply.  This is what I wrote:

Dear Matt Schulz,

You haven’t left my mind for months now, nor has my Guppy. Of course I had already learned that this world is a wicked place, but with al my might I hoped to make it just a little better by sharing, trusting and not be judgemental. I trusted you with everything I had, keeping only the memories and lessons I had learned on Guppy over the years. This has been by far the biggest mistake of my life, not only did it affect me, but you also destroyed something that has been very valuable to me and my family.
Guppy was my future investment which is why you weren’t allowed to sell her and she needed to come back to me in case of a brake in the contract. Not only did you brake the clauses in our agreement and ignored that, you also allowed Guppy to be reefed, wrecked and become a total loss. I know you weren’t onboard, but it was you who allowed it to happen. You made the decisions, you ignored my advice, you are responsible just as much as Lori Kallestad is, if not even more.
You proofed to me more than ever that this world is wicked beyond believe, that no one can be trusted for their words. What you have done to me hurts me more than anything. You destroyed what me and my family worked for very very hard! And even worse, far far worse even - you ignore this completely and keep living your life as if nothing happened. I don’t even know what came of Guppy, I don’t know what you did to her, I didn’t get to say goodbye or got a piece of her. And then to not even speak of the money you received from the insurance which should be for my family according to our agreement you have so evilly pushed aside. We are the ones who worked for it, how can you simply ignore a contract that’s made which says these very things? How is it possible that this disaster this unrespectfull, disgraceful disgusting behaviour is simply ignored?!
With every day of silence the flame inside of me turns more to anger, to unbelief - realising what a very disgusting person you are, Matt schulz! - I hope you simply don’t realise how much pain you have and are causing me. But I’m afraid you actually do know it…


Laura


 


08-10-2018

The loss of Guppy, a deep scar that may fade but will never leave.


It’s been two months since Guppy’s stranding, not a day goes by that I don’t think about her being smashed up and down on the reef tearing apart more and more. Tearing my heart up in pieces at the same time. The memories I have, every singly cm2 of Guppy that I’ve looked after and cared for like it was my baby..
The more I think about it the less I understand the set of actions that have brought her to this point. The stupid mistakes, the lack of communication and sheer ignorance of advice I kept giving. I just can’t understand it, it doesn’t come through my head how people could possibly be so careless with such a valuable object. How they could see Guppy just see as a meaningless thing. I can’t explain how much I loved this boat, how much she meant to me and how much it meant for me to let her sail away under LifeSails care so she could inspire more kids to live their dreams. It may sounds strange to a landlubber but so it is.

My trust has again been scattered, broken - smashed to pieces. There where so many promises-that they would look after her and never let anything happen to her, that they would keep me updated and take my advice. None of the promises and explicit agreements made they have kept.
From LifeSails recent blog I understand they decided to scuttle Guppy sadly without giving notice to me. The already bad communication quickly got to a stage of no communication. Through calling people on the island and other sources I got some info but still, even after two months didn’t get an update from LifeSail and only after repeatedly asking for it did I get a weak ‘’sorry’’ and 3 photo’s 3 weeks later.

But besides their untruthful update on Facebook and the Blog I haven’t had any details about Guppy from them!
From their recent blog I also understand now that the engines wont start, it’s the first time I’ve heard this from LifeSail.
I still don’t understand how they’ve managed to wreck both engines within two months after I’ve used them for 8 years without ANY trouble…
The engines have completely seperate systems, seperate fuel tanks, batteries, intakes, filters no connection at al to make sure in case of failure from one the other one always remains in working order. Besides that Guppy is a super sailboat and within seconds you could unfurl the jib and sail away!
Nor can I understand how they could let Lori skipper Guppy alone - with such little sailing experience it was simply asking for an accident to happen. Why didn’t they ask me what I thought? Why didn’t they listen to my advice.. How could she anchor in such an impossible place? It’s unbelievable that they used Guppy just as a fun holiday, cruising around the islands for so long that the hurricane season started in the northern hemisphere and they couldn’t safely continue to Hawaii.  

The fact that Guppy is gone and I had no say in what happened leaves my heart broken already - but how an organisation can be so cruel as to just plainly ignore me and the explicit agreements made.., this leaves me wounded inside far more, far deeper and probably for much longer..
Not a day passes that I don’t see Guppy crying and screaming on the reef, not a day passes that I wish I could turn things back, that I woud have seen earlier that the promises LifeSail have made were all  just show and in vain. I think about the great work Guppy could have done, how many life’s she could have changed. All these dreams and thoughts are now floating around in the warm clear blue water of Manihiki between the wrecked pieces of my beloved Guppy..
Not because of an accident but out of a lack of competence, respect & communication on Lori Kallestad ,Matt Schulz & LifeSails behalve.

Laura 


11-09-2018

 

 

 

 

 Picture's from three weeks ago.. by now she is fully submerged and confirmed a total loss :'(

 

 


31-08-2018

Initial Damage Report Guppy

Initial Damage Report of Guppy's grounding in Manihiki Isl.

Based on information gathered from different sources.

Vessel Particulars when leaving Whangarei Harbour May 2018

Build in 1978                                              Designer: Michel Joubert
Length: Originally 11.40 m  now  12.30 m ( professionally extended)
Beam: 3.76m                                             Draft: 1.90m
Weight: 11 ton                                           Cruising Speed: 6-7 kn
Bridge Clearance: 18.70 m

She was first thrown on the reef on the 10th of August 2018 during a squall in the night which is very common throughout the whole pacific.
The place of initial stranding was between rocks with big surge.
She was being bounced up and down for a few days before being thrown further onto the reef during another squall.
During rescue attempts the yacht moved resulting in her bow being completely under water.

The following is a list of damage known so far:
- Broken skeg
- Rudder and rudder shaft bend - the shaft is 80mm massive steel - different and much stronger then the original Gin Fizz.
- several holes in the hull resulting in water damage to the following: 

>Batteries, Electronics & wiring (  Guppy had very extensive and complex wiring this would need complete replacement due to salt water intrusion)
> Engines ( Both engines, their systems, props, shafts would need to be replaced completely )
> Interior ( Partly broken out because of rocks sticking trough hull, otherwise damaged by salt water which can never be washed out, the interior of this boat is part of the structural integrity and is now broken loose ( would need complete replacement)
> The deck is balsa sandwich construction which was in an excellent condition however with all this salt water intrusion it would rot away within two years - leading to a highly weakened and useless deck.

Since she’s on the ocean side of the reef there is constant movement and bouncing up and down this leads to a lot of structural damage that can’t be seen at first sight like:

> Besides the holes that are in the hull, big parts of the entire hull are delaminated.
> The entire rigging has suffered extreme forces it’s not made for, leading to delamination of chainplates under deck and metal fatigue of rigging, terminals & masts. - It’s absolutely amazing that the masts are still standing! ( all parts would need complete sonar analysing to tell what could possibly be reused)
> Keel and keel construction, ribs are broken, delamination around keel structure.

Then there is also of course a very extensive list of small parts damage.

Here is rough overview of the minimal costs in Euro’s to repair Guppy: 

Hull holes: € 30.000
Hull delamination: actually unrepairable but when wanting to: € 90.000
Fairing and painting: € 10.000
Broken Skeg & Rudder: €10.000
Batteries, Electronics & complete wiring:€ 60.000
Engines, engine systems, props, shafts:€ 55.000
Interior: € 35.000
Replacement of deck core: € 30.000
Rigging, chainplates, masts: € 50.000
Small parts: €15.000
Total: € 385.000


This is exclusive of salvaging costs, shipping, environmental costs ( already going on) It shows clearly that Guppy is a total loss already and not worth fixing - especially considering the fact that she will never be as safe as she ones was and LifeSails intention is to sail with kids. LifeSail should have Guppy insured according to our agreement, however the insurance probably won’t pay out more then the market value - which is around €70.000. In this particular case I don’t know how the insurance will handle the situation since Guppy was anchored purposely on a very dangerous spot.

Matt Schulz is still under the impression that they can salvage Guppy, but after making this damage report and cost involved it’s clear to me that this is not an option. With a heavy heart and many tears in my eyes I've come to the conclusion that the best thing to do is get her of the reef as soon as possible to limit more damage to the coral and environment and then scrap the boat.

Laura


30-08-2018

Photo's of Guppy's stranding

 Place of initial stranding.

 Guppy having been thrown further unto the reef after another squall - the place of initial stranding is drawn into the picture.

 Here a rock can clearly be seen sticking trough a big part of the hull.

 Guppy just a few weeks before her stranding - luckily there were no kids onboard during the stranding - there was one adult onboard during initial impact, Lori Kallestad got injured and had a gash in her forehead for which some stitches were needed! As far as I’m aware now she is doing well.


24-08-2018

Many many thanks for all the beautiful and heartfelt comments, they mean a lot to me :)
Sadly no such comment from LifeSail yet..

So far I haven't received any more updates on Guppy from Lori Kallestad or Matt Schulz on her state of being or any plans to get her off. I will certainly write as soon as I know more.
Guppy is stranded in Manihiki which is a little atoll in the northern Cook Islands. The Atoll is inhabited, has power and internet acces everyday. Of course seeing that they are online, receiving my messages and are able to answer but not doing so makes life very frustrating :(

Laura


17-08-2018

Guppy stranded on a reef :(

 

Dear followers, 

This last week has most likely been one of the saddest times in my life so far. My dear Guppy, my first home, my companion on the biggest adventure of my life has stranded on a reef in one of the atolls in the northern Cook Islands. 

I loaned Guppy long term in full faith to LifeSail a non profit organisation to sail with children after I had been promised to get paid for her by a couple who wished me to donate her to a good cause. The payment never happened - however I still decided that this future for Guppy would be the best and if she could inspire more children to live their dreams it would be all worth it. In April 2018 she left New Zealand with a crew of four. The delivery captain who was supposed the sail Guppy to Los Angeles was also onboard, I had gone trough the whole boat with him and had full confidence he would get her to LA safely - however during this trip the founder of LifeSail - Matt Schulz skippered the boat and decided sailing her reefed down and a storm jib in max 18knots wind was a great idea. Guppy is a racer/cruiser - she likes lots of sail and yes she’s a very wet boat, anything over 15 knots of wind means the decks will be wet and water will be in the cockpit. I’m guessing they didn’t want this but of course sailing her so reefed down caused the boat to sail slow and roll heavily on the ocean swell. Because of this the delivery captain made a crash trough the boat and broke his rib - he had to take a break in Fiji but was also not allowed to come back for reasons still unknown to me.

From there on Guppy continued her journey with a rather incompetent crew of which one by one left the boat until one person was left - Lori Kallestad ( Filmmaker - originally the onboard reporter) who has very little ocean sailing experience and was now left single handing Guppy. Because of this she mainly used the engine and was further directed by Matt Schulz who has very little ocean sailing experiences as well. I often attempted to tell them how to sail & maintain Guppy well, getting a big shock every time a picture would come by. They started having trouble with the engines ( probably because of filling bad fuel from jerrycans) that I have never had trouble with and were perfectly maintained before I gave the boat over, the suncover of the Genua started ripping off meaning the sail has been flapping to much or chafing somewhere. Lots and lots of canisters ( and other things) were tied to the railing against my advice of not leaving anything on the deck. Guppy has a low freeboard and therefore very quickly has lots of water on deck. The chance that the jerrycans are swept away and tear out the railing is almost inevitable.

On top of that they sailed to many islands which weren’t on the planning, sometimes even in the opposite direction of which they needed to go causing them to end up way to late in the season and actually unable to safely continue to Hawaii because of Hurricanes.

You can imagine how I anxiously watched the tracker almost everyday - seeing very strange sailing patterns and low speeds for winds in which I know she could perform much better. To my big shock and surprise Guppy was then anchored in front of an Atoll on open ocean where anchoring is actually impossible and very, very dangerous to say the least. I wrote a message straight away but it was in vain. I watched how the tracker moved onto the reef and stayed there. I’ve been given very little updates or information on what’s really happened or going on now but it’s confirmed that she is indeed on the reef, she has been there for almost one week and I know that no boat, not even a steel one, not even Guppy - could possibly survive this kind of impact.

So far the report of damage I have been given means she’s a total loss. Manihiki is a very remote atoll with very little resources. Lori Kallestad who sailed her at the time is luckily okay although needed some medical attention.

Somehow the news that Guppy is gone forever hasn’t quiet sunk in yet, it’s unreal, yet reality, and I will need to live with this…

The journey of Guppy ends here, but in my memory of course she will always sail on.

 

Laura

 


01-04-2018

To follow some of the work I'm doing in Mallorca over the next week with the Trofeo Princesa Sofia go to:

https://www.facebook.com/TrofeoPrincesaSofia/

Or  

https://www.youtube.com/user/Trofeoprincesasofia 

Laura 


17-03-2018

 Hello Everyone,

It’s been a while since the last update, I didn’t write because for my standards I haven’t been on a crazy awesome adventure lately. But actually I realised life is an adventure all together no matter where you are or what you do. I have been working full time since our return to New Zealand. I started a Job with a Marine Electrician. I’ve always loved solving problems and got more and more intrigued by electricity while working on Guppy’s systems. So I wanted to learn more and what better way then to work in the field, while earning some money too :) It’s been really great and my boss is a patient teacher. So far I haven’t blown anything up so I think I’m not doing to bad ;)  Furthermore the preparations to get Guppy to Los Angeles are in full swing. It’s now official that she’s going to live with LifeSail to give other kids the chance to get out on the water to learn some magical truths about themselves and where life could take them. Just like Guppy has done for me :)
Last month I flew to Los Angeles myself to see where Guppy would go and I loved the LifeSail base and team, I’m confident they will take great care of Guppy and lots of kids will get inspired trough the combined spirit of Guppy and LifeSail. If you would like to know more about Guppy’s new home you can visit www.lifesail.org
I will sail her to Fiji together with her new caretakers at the end of April when the Hurricanes hopefully cease bashing us and the winter storm haven’t woken up yet. It’s a sad moment for me, but it still feels like the right thing to do, and I’m really pleased to know that she’s continuing on to inspire youth and being taken care of well. This was really important to me.


Laura

 

 

 Presentation in LA at the Fundraising Gala to get Guppy to Los Angeles 

 Talking to some school kids in Los Angeles.

 And another school Talk in Los Angeles. 

 After the presentation at the fundraising Gala I was surprised with the Legacy Leadership award :)

 

 

 

 

 


06-01-2018

 Drawing, designing, making plans - the project is evolving

 

 Minicats ready for a sail 

 Because I sail almost everyday I leave the minicat inflated, stored with friends and just throw it on the roof of the Guppy car to get her to the beach :D 

 

 Short video of me sailing in the Whangarei Harbour 


 

 


25-12-2017

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

        Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone! 

 

I wish that you will get the best gift of all:
The company of people you love, good cheer and a smile.
May your New Year be blessed with Peace, Love and Joy

 

 


04-12-2017

A new home for Guppy

Sometimes it's good to let go of things and start with something new. And this is one of those moments. I'm ready to let her go, ready to move into a new chapter of my life.

 

It's with a heavy heart but also with joy that I announce that my dear beloved Guppy will move to a new home with a new life. However a very good life. She's going to move to Los Angeles and sail in a non profit organization called LifeSail. They run various sailing and boat building programs for children with the goal of helping children navigate through life’s challenges :) Their ideas about life are incredibly similar to mine:  Helping kids with core life skills, finding their true potential trough some fun sailing and encourage them to live their dreams.
And so I'm super exited for Guppy to go there and support their great cause.
It's been a wonderful turn of events, although I'm still a bit freaked out about the idea of not owning a boat for a little while to come. Yikes! Will see how long I manage to live on land ;)  At least I've still got my minicats ( and lots of sailor friends) But oh how I will miss being rocked to sleep, fixing things onboard, fiddling around with electrics, plumping, sails etc etc.. I'm starting to realize how much I actually like doing all that. After all, sailing around the world really is just doing boat work in exotic places ;)

Laura

 Also see: www.lifesail.org & Laura Dekker Call of the Ocean Facebook

 

 


06-11-2017

Dad up his mizzen mast, getting ready to hang in another stay:

 Putting boats up the yard for winter. 

 With Dad & Spot in the forklift putting boats away.

 Spot, still very fit and healthy for his 15years of age!!


 boat

 Room in progress :) 


22-10-2017

  Had the honour to sail singlehanded on a Mini 6.50 for the last week - was so much fun! :D

 

 

 

 Little boat - huge mast :)

 

 Took me a little while to get used to the daggerboards and canting keel.

 Night sailing :) 

  Under gennaker on the Northsea 

 


 


09-10-2017

 

Yesterday we visited an old Dutch friend I met along my circumnavigation. I  had last seen him in Darwin, so 6 years ago!  It so great to meet up with friends after such a long time and talk about the past. It made me linger back to my journey, with it many memories and emotions coming up. We watched some old video's, a lot of which I didn't even know it's existence. I loved watching Guppy sail, she's such a gorgeous boat :)  And of course it made me miss the ocean and Guppy incredibly much.. What I miss most about my trip is the time to think, to reflect back on things I did and saw, and what lessons I can learn from that. I miss the simpleness of live at sea. It was never easy, however life was simple. I just needed to keep Guppy afloat sailing in the right direction and keep myself alive. Big tasks, but in a way simple. And magnificent to work together with nature so closely to achieve these tasks. 

The friend we visited also sailed alone, on a little 8 meter boat. Now he lives in a house ( although still sails a lot on his little 'zalmschouw' ) The house is not huge but I realized how incredibly content he is with all he has. So happy with the kitchen, big bathroom and table. From his trip he has also gained this valuable lesson: To just be happy with what you have, to be content. I think it's good and very human to always strive for better, but I also believe it's very important to value what you have at the moment, to enjoy it and be content with it. This lesson I really learned along my journey, and it was beautiful to see that he had too, it makes life so much more beautiful  :)

Laura 

Here's a beautiful film clip he made from our travels together 


28-09-2017


09-09-2017

 

       Life on the famous side & Lessons I've learned

           Lesson 1,The Pressure

More and more often I see young people striving to be famous, posting every part of their life on social media, showing their skills, hoping to get into the spotlights and become rich & famous.

When somebody ask me, I tell them you don't want to be famous, or at least think it trough thoroughly...
What is the point of being ‘famous’ when all I need is 3 meals a day, shelter & real friends.
But then maybe I'm wrong, for some people it might be a lot of fun, after all I never wanted to become famous and was rather infamous to start with anyway..

Now, before I go any further I want to tell you that I hated being famous for years, I despised it, wanted to hide ( maybe it's even a part of why I kept sailing away) I just couldn't see the good part in it.
By now however I've learned to deal with it, and try to use my status for good. I hoped for years people would finally forget, however they didn't.. So here I am trying to deal with the state I have and making the best out of it. Yes it has good points too :) I have a big platform to show and encourage others to take the jump to whatever their dreams are. That failure doesn't mean the end but in fact is one of the best ways to learn new things. 
By now I actually enjoy doing presentations because I see how it changes people and their life's. I encourage them and they encourage me. I love teaching the skills I learned along the path of life.

On the other hand I find this brings along a lot of pressure, even though I have learned a lot along life's path, I am still young and know that I may be wrong in some of the things I believe in so firmly. What if people don't really think themselves and just follow what I say because I have the 'experience' what if they take whatever I am trying to say completely wrong and end up hurting themselves? I wouldn't want to encourage anyone to do something dangerous. Crazy maybe, yes, but then well prepared and with some knowledge behind it…

It's a few years ago now that I was listening to some new pop songs and realized the texts of the songs. I found them perverse, hateful and/or disdainful against other people. And then I saw little kids singing these songs and realized they look up to these people, whatever they do is their example. And quiet often what these people did was, well.. not exactly a good example.

Even though I was angry first at these public figures making fools out of themselves and giving that as an example to the world I realized we are all human, we all make mistakes but if your in the spotlights every little mistake is taken under the magnifying glass and send out into the world. It's only normal to either break under that kind of pressure or to just not care anymore..

But as to everything there has to be a balance, one just needs to find it.


Lesson 2, How being famous doesn't necessarily mean being rich..


Another lesson I learned, however not very quick is: when there's something to get, you will not be the only there to catch it.
I was launched into media, sponsorship & lawyers - things I nor my family knew anything about. So of course we said yes when someone offered to become our manager. From there on our trust rolled down with lightning speed, after two managers, publishers & film companies had cheated us, leaving us empty handed the world suddenly looked much darker. Where had all the nice people gone?
After these failures I took charge and left no one in anymore. From early on I have managed everything myself - it's been the best business school there is, but a very expensive one also.. As every mistake I make costs me, especially the mistake of taking the wrong managers.  
Contracts with hidden words I did not know, people talking nicely around points, and still, I'm trying hard to trust people but I keep falling down again and again..  

In many cases I realized I could start a court case against them but I simply didn't have the energy and will to start yet another court case - I just wanted to live my life and keep sailing.
Now I do have to be honest and say I didn't try really hard to become a good business manager because until now the business world just seemed to be occupied by lying cheating bastards and I didn't want to become such a person!
Yes, I know now, they aren't all lying cheating bastards, there is still good people - and I did also meet a lot of them and got lots of good advise :)  It just still doesn't really attract me to become a hard business woman.

After all I'm already a captain, wife, motivational speaker, author, traveller, and still very busy chasing my dreams ;)
Maybe my dreams would be easier to achieve if I had been a better business woman, but I think if I had been a better business woman I wouldn't have this new dream.

I still think that the love for money is what drives businesses. And after all that has happened to me and my family, I rather started to hate money and wanted to stay away from it. And that 'wish' did come true as I kept being screwed over and learned many hard lessons. In the end leaving us, well.. without money but many good lessons richer.

I really love living simple, I don't mind eating cheap foods, sleeping in boats, tents or cars, showering in the rain and rivers, paddling in sun and rain to the toilet in the marina - for me this is much more living then staying in a hotel or living on a big posh ship and having everything one could wish for.

We lived like this for years, and then realized life is good, but sharing it is even better.
We welcomed friends and family, friends of friends and traveled with them on Guppy and in our Guppy car showing them a way of life they hadn't seen before.

So we would work and earn some money and spend it again to maintain Guppy and on travels to show newly made friends and family our way of life and the beautiful places & people we have discovered.

This turned out to be yet another great, but also expensive school ;) We learned so much about touring around with people that know nothing about sailing, camping, living simple, hiking, climbing and more :)

But it's such a fun way to learn, it's a big part of why we want to start this new project.
We realized how much fun it is to show people new things and how useful this can be in their life's. We have seen this in Adults but even more so with the kids we've worked with over the last years. I worked a fair bit with some high schools in the outdoor program and we're always happy to take care of our friends kids and take them on adventures to explore what they are actually capable of :)  We've taken several kids under which a three old on a  'beginners cave and glow worm tour'  and we have also taken out a bunch of kids sailing, climbing and adventuring trough forests.

It's a true joy, and we wish with all our hearts that we can find some willing sponsors to help us set up this program so we can make it our mission to share our joy and life lessons, showing the coming generation what this world has to offer and how they can make the best out of it.


Lesson 3, 
The media


So I actually started writing this because I recently got some mails from people, wondering why we are looking for sponsors and don't just buy the boat we want. After all it's clearly stated online and in some articles that I must have at least half a million dollars!

Wait..? what! - That'd be nice, however we don't, and I have no idea why people write this kind of stuff on the internet like facts, which brings me to another hard lesson I learned as a 'famous' person over the last years.

There is a very close balance between being know as 'loving attention' or just being 'ignorant and feeling to good for the world' - which can very often be mistaken with people that are just living their lifes and are rather shy,  I'm a little shy by nature and take time to warm up to people, but since I'm famous I'm not expected to be shy and therefore when I don't talk to someone I must just be ignorant..

When I was in this stage of absolutely hating to be famous, of course I ignored the media and anything that came with it - after all I wanted to become unfamous again as fast as possible. However people didn't forget me and were curious what I was up to,  I very quickly found out that I needed to keep some updates and give some interviews otherwise journalist would just come up with their own stories about me, which very often were miles away from the truth and brought me even more trouble.

Which in fact is what it has done this time, not sure who is been putting it out there that we have half a million dollars but of course when wanting to find sponsors and setting up a fundraiser to start a new project this is not very handy…

I realize if I had done things right maybe I could have the money we need by now, fact is I was young and unexperienced and don't have any of the money I 'could've had - but I'm sure there's some lying cheating bastards out there that are feasting on it now, and I just hope they are using it well..  

After all, these people and turbulent years did teach me many good lessons, making me much richer in knowledge and wisdom.

I just hope to start over with all I know now and use it for our future and most of all in our new project & finding sponsors. 


Laura


08-09-2017

I just got back online after two beautiful weeks of sailing trough Holland, showing some family & friends my sailing life and why I love it so much :) Brought up a lot of childhood memories for me and it made them understand my deep love for sailing better. Most of the sailing I've done recently was in the hurricane season -  rather tough and very adventuress. It was great to have some smooth sailing for a bit.

Picture's will follow :)

Also just heard about the hurricane over St.Maarten, it's been in my thoughts a lot as I know the places on the pictures, I once walked there.. But now it's almost unrecognizable. Hoping for everyone to stay safe during the next coming storm and a quick recovery of the islands.  

Laura

 


16-08-2017

Here are some nice video's from our Minicat Meeting in Italy last June. Mum, dad, and I drove from Holland and spent the weekend with 50 other minicats on beautiful Lake Como - Italy.

 

 

 

 


 Presentation to the Minicat Family 

 The Minicat maze.

 Around the campfire at night :) 

 Mum and me ready to launch

 

 


15-08-2017

Havorns Masts

Another super exciting thing happened last month. Havorn finally became a sailboat! Her masts are stepped!
And even though it's without booms, gafs and only thin jury stays for the moment she looks so beautiful :)


 The mizzen being stepped 


 Fastening the temporary rigging. ( the real rigging will be much thicker ;) 

 Next Step: Proper stays, Booms & gafs 

 I think dad got enough light on deck ;) 


08-06-2017

A New Adventure

 

         A new adventure

Over the past years I have had many people ask me "Whats next?" - probably expecting me to start with some other adventure straight away. I might have disappointed some people, explaining how living a daily life in one place was the most challenging thing for me so far.
But even though I didn't talk of the many ideas lingering in my head - they are there! I just didn't want to go into too much detail yet. After all, I didn't forget what happened (being worldwide news in 2010) the last time when I mentioned that I want to sail around the world…

When I left as a 14 year old I was already different from most kids my age - simply because my parents raised me so. However - the trip itself was absolutely life changing. Opening my eyes to the world and teaching me more then I could have ever learned in school.


Over the last years in New Zealand I've worked with the Girls High School, doing sailing lessons, hikes, camps, survival etc. I was so exited about the fact that these programs exist in schools there, especially when exchange students came over and I could see the difference first hand. Those familiar with nature and other things then school books and theoretical questions behaved more grown up, more capable to take care of themselves and take on responsibilities.


During my trip I didn't quite realize what an amazing gift my parents had given me by letting me do many things by myself since I was a little child, allowing me to explore and learn by doing things and not by being told it's not possible. And of course once I was able to stretch my wings and fly off on my own at age 14 all I learned was seriously put to the test - while learning still continued of course, as it hopefully always will. All I knew when I left was western mentality thinking, which shortly summed up looks a bit like this to me: Get good notes in school - go to a good university - get a good job - in order to buy heaps of stuff over which you can worry for the rest of your life :)
I don't think there is anything particularly wrong with this - however the thing that I don't agree with it is that everybody is expected to do this. Whether they want to or not. Some people love to study, however others don't, but might be very good at something completely different. My parents never cared whether I had good notes in school or not. Dad never told me to do my homework either. He simply told me about the consequences of the different actions, but left the choice up to me. I loved learning and so I mostly did do my homework and did get good notes. But how is one to find it's capabilities if he/she isn't allowed to try? Of course kids will make mistakes and fall on their noses numerous times. So did I - really a lot as I am particularly stubborn. However through this I learned and found out which things I'm good at and which not.


Coming back to Europe I get a bigger shock every time - Seeing people so consumed with themselves, their own life, their own phone and holding onto it for dear life - not sharing a little bit of it.. :(  Don't get me wrong - there is still many awesome people out there, and also many that do share - but I do get a little discouraged sometimes.


I am very far from perfect - but one thing I did learn on my travels is that the people you meet along the way are the most important thing. They make it or break it. Some of the islands in the pacific are my favorite places not only because the land is so beautiful but because the people are. They share, they listen, they actually care and it makes them happy too! Even though they don't have much themselves, they will give you food, show you their land and their families. I met so many amazing people which - according to our western standards - have absolutely nothing, but they have a roof above their head, water from a river and food from the land and trees. This is enough to live and they were content, happy and more welcoming than most of the people I meet in our rich, busy society. It was a real good lesson for me to learn that happiness certainly doesn't come from materialistic things.


I wish I knew how to change the world. I wish so often I had all the answers and people would become nice again to each other and stop fighting over everything. However the conclusion I came to is that we're all human and none of us is perfect. And to change anything in the world I must start with myself  :)


If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you.


I have been working on plans to acquire a good size ship to take groups of youth aboard to gain life skills while discovering new horizons. Help them understand that we can be more independent than what we often act out on the one hand, but are more dependent than we often think in other aspects: the brands of our clothes, the latest phone, computer game or whether we act cool and up to date - these are things we do NOT depend on to have a place in this world! We can live independently of that kind of pressure. Plus - there's a lot of ability that young ones obtain, which is unknown to them, because they hear the words "You're too young for that!" or "You can't do that!" too often. Only the challenge will show, whether one is capable or not, and often it's just a matter of practice and exercise. There's a lot more independent capability in young ones, than many have found out!


On the other hand we depend on a good relation to friends, family and neighbors! A self centered attitude is destructive - because we depend on each other even more than we depend on nature - people and nature are our environment! So to act respectfully with each other and work/live together as harmonically as possible is of great value for a long, happy and healthy life.


The idea is that the ship will be used for adventurous expeditions.


Groups would vary between youth from 9-13yo to 13 -17yo.
There will be different legs to a journey on which they can join or they may join for the full length of the journey.


While sailing the focus shall lay primarily on building life skills and character that can be learned through sailing. They will be involved in all aspects of the trip - preparation, cooking, maintenance, navigation, watches, sails, provisioning etc. Through the trip we wish to achieve some core life skills, like team work, responsibility, self confidence, determination, discipline, become aware of our environment & experience the pleasure of simplicity (= how less can be more)


Of course they will also learn about life at sea (i.e. sail handling, ropes, navigation (celestial and modern), understanding the weather, maintenance (rope work, woodwork, engine…)


However our main focus is building confidence, determination, team work and responsibility as these are the important things in life.
The ship would make port several times along the journey. Explorations ashore may involve activities like hiking, camping, outdoor survival skills, cultural insight, educational (museums,..) and other activities depending on the possibilities at each port.


We have a lot of ideas on how to run such a program and get more excited every time we think about it - however even though the plans, ideas and motivations are there, we still need a suitable boat and enough funds to start putting it into reality.


       The quest for a boat:

I began searching for a boat last year, asking around and searching the entire internet for a suitable vessel.
I found it very difficult to find something that would be suitable for my plans.


I want it to be a non profit organization and to be affordable for all youth. So it has to be a boat that doesn't cost tons in maintenance and dockage. However still be big enough to take on enough kids to make trips worth it.
We've spend a lot of time over the past year traveling all over the world looking at boats and found some that were quite suitable but near sinking and far too costly to keep maintained. We did also find some well maintained boats in our budget, but then they weren't really suitable for sailing with youth. However after looking at so many boats and searching the internet for days we did get an even better idea of what our next boat should ideally be like.

 

The Ideal Ship


-  Around 24meters.
- A strong and seaworthy hull - preferably a long keel or semi long keel. It doesn't need to be super fast, more importantly it should behave well at sea. Not jumping around to much or rolling/ leaning over heavily as we will mostly have kids on board that are unfamiliar with the ocean.

- Be as maintenance free as possible, so no steel or wood. Fiberglass would be ideal but Aluminum is also an option.

- Lots of deck space for activities on deck while sailing - with a high railing all around.
- Bowsprit , because a ship needs a bowsprit :) and it's the best feeling in the world to stand there while sailing  (especially if some dolphins are jumping under you ;)
- A roomy and clean engine room with good access for maintenance.
- Proper space to do maintenance, have tools and gear stored - enough room to teach kids some handy skills too.
- Lots of storage space :)  After all the two minicats also need to come, besides lots of other adventure equipment, spare parts, sails, books, hiking, climbing and good foul weather gear for everyone onboard.
- Big wheel house with a good view, so that kids can be inside in case of bad weather and still see the ocean to observe and feel its power and beauty. I want to try to avoid the "being stuck in a hole down below deck and getting smashed around" kind of feeling ;)  So not to many walls and little rooms - lots of open and communal space
- Good size kitchen open to dining area so it's all a bit more of a social happening :)


We haven't found it yet - at least not something that fits our budget, which is the other BIG challenge!...
The money we will get from selling Guppy is not enough to buy a suitable boat even one that needs a lot of fixing - and then there will still be many more costs. So we will have to start doing some fundraising and finding sponsors.


We've even thought about designing and building the perfect boat ourselves.  I'm already drawing -  I love challenges :) Although some help from an actual naval architect wouldn't hurt ;)

This is what I have designed so far:  



Anyone willing to help or even just ideas for our project please feel free to e-mail us at: info@lauradekker.nl

 

Laura


22-02-2017

Part II

We go ashore the following day to hike to the peak of Mt Hirakimata which - with 627m - is the highest point on Great Barrier island and pretty much the middle of it too. It takes us 3h to get to the top after several crossings of a little stream via hanging bridges which are popular in New Zealand :) We also came by an old Kauri dam, build in the time when logging was happening in big style and without restrictions. Quite impressive size that dam, anchored into the rocks on either side. Unfortunately lead to the end of the era of big old kauris.
The ascent becomes steep towards the end and wooden steps are constructed by the DOC (Department Of Conservation) to make it easily accessible for many - but Kim and Laura complain about gravity's endless force making life so hard - so I get the chance to advance my motivational skills  and soon we're all rewarded with an amazing view of the whole wooded island, Coromandel and other islands and a lot of ocean. And Guppy waiting quietly on her leash in the bay. Another path leads us back down more gradually than the first one and a very different landscape too as most of it is a ridge walk - smaller trees and scrubs and still in the shade.
Laura: Our days at Great Barrier island fly by while we're doing whatever crosses our minds - like scrubbing the hull (that crossed Kim's mind!), doing homemade competitions involving running, swinging, diving, balancing etc. (also crossed Kim's playful mind) - and socializing with George & Ellen on Winddancer. After a lovely dinner we paddle back from Winddancer one night and Kim discovers phosphorescence for the first time - and in fact, more extreme than I've ever seen it before too. Every move with the paddle causes an amount of sparks to illuminate not just the surface but also the below. It takes a while until she's done playing and testing out different versions of the light show. How great to explore all the magical features of the world outdoors!
And thus our sailing trip came to an end - and before flying overseas we drove north to get a glimpse of Maori culture on Waitangi day at the Bay of Islands (a yearly celebration of a treaty made between English and Maori with lots of singing and haka, some rowing and canon shots etc.) and cape Reinga, to see the place where the oceans meet, and indeed, there's something mystical about that place.


Laura


22-02-2017

Beautiful early morning start - Great Barier Isl. in the distance. 

 Hiking up to Mt Hobson 

 views from the top of Mt Hobson

 Kim's game day :) Here we need to throw the rocks in the bucket


 Swing - run - climb, she had everything covered to get us tired :)

 Last of the Kim Games in smokehouse bay :) 

 Magical Cape Reinga.

 Of course Kim has to be upside down again

 Cape Reinga - where the oceans meet. 

 


20-02-2017

Once home again we got busy hosts - Dad and some friends from the US flew in to visit us over Christmas and New Years which was very nice :) (By the way, the masts on Dads boat are not mounted yet - as was inquired about in the guestbook. They're ready to stand up and will hopefully do so in the coming summer)
Shortly after he left, Mum and Kim arrive to keep us occupied with family adventures.
Mum stays with us on board Guppy for the first week and we do our best to quench her thirst for adrenalin :D We drag her through the tightest holes in caves, let her dangle on a rope between the Whangarei falls, make her walk up the highest peak at the heads and then cool her off in NZ's chilly ocean… but nothing stops her from still cleaning away on Guppy and planing more adventures with friends of old! :)
In the meantime we use our spare time to pack all of our things into sturdy banana boxes and store them on shore at our friends basement.
Then we take a week off to explore Great Barrier island with Kim - to make Kim's time in NZ worth spending plus we've never been there for more than a night either. So here's our chance! We leave without a breakfast early in the morning with lots of zeal to get there in a day, but get only as far as the bridge till we find out that they don't open during morning rush hours. Haha typical us sometimes! So we breakfast there tied up in front of the bridge :)
Wind's alright today and we decide to anchor at one of the Hen and Chickens islands and put our wetsuits on to scrub some of the hull. Just as we're about to jump into the water, someone calls out: "Uh, what's that over there?" … "A shark. Bugger! That's it!" the girls agree and turn back towards the cockpit. "It's just a small one!" I convince them "…and the prop really needs some attention." I jump in first as try-out-bait and Kim gets pushed in second. As she pops up again, she laughs nervously, trying to conceal her fear, but it is obviously not for pure joy, hahaha… Helped us all for a good laugh. Laura joined too and a few minutes later she tries to get our attention. We turn around and see a school of big fins passing through the bay. Pointy, dark fins make our alarm lights come on for a split second, but we realize quickly that they're dolphins. Alarm off, relax on :)
The wind has got a day off the following morning which means that we move slow - but it gives us the chance to observe what's all going on around us for breakfast at sea - sharks and dolphins stirring up schools of fish, birds diving like arrows for their share of the breakfast, and the girls find something illuminated in the water?! Dots of blue, green and yellow spark inside of a jellyfish-like creature. Early morning, sun's up and this 'something' has still got its light on… World of mysteries! Here we sail once more, after many hours at sea before, and find something unknown to us, right in our neighborhood!
Once the wind picked up a little, the lights disappeared and we sail into Great Barrier island to anchor in Kaiaraara bay in the late afternoon. The wind was forecasted to blow SW which would've kept us sheltered, but so far westerlies blow right into the bay.
The wind started to pick up a lot a while ago and Laura is anxiously watching wether we move in this floating neighborhood. We decide to keep watches and just as I get on deck, the anchor starts dragging. Laura races out to start up the engine and averts a collision that was about to happen. So here we are in the middle of a pitch black night, with wind and rain flying over the boat in an unknown harbor.. Laura isn't very exited about it! The bay on the opposite side is sheltered but to deep so we proceed to Smokehouse bay, which is sheltered too but apparently doesn't hold good. … Still our best option. A spot at 13m depth is the best that's available for us, because lil' Miss Captain doesn't want to get to close to other boats, as it's hard to make out where they are exactly in the dark.
Laura wakes up frequently during the night as we drag very slowly - just not enough to do something about it. She waits until the morning, letting Kim and me rest and then we re-anchor for the 5th time in 2days… I end up with the exercise :D For some reason our heavy CQR anchor did not hold good even though we dropped it properly in slight reverse and had more than enough of heavy 10mm chain out.

Laura


20-02-2017

Taking dad on a big hike on his birthday :)  Not sure if this was a great birthday present as hiking isn't one of his favourite things, but he had to admit in the end it had been a beautiful hike.

 Oceans Beach - seen form the hiking trail. 

 Kim doing some circus stunts while abseiling the Whangarei falls

 Laura Abseiling 'the Falls'

 Someone jumping down the falls!! We were very shocked as it is about 30m high! He survived although he admitted it wasn't without pain.. 

 It definitely made a huge splash bomb! 

 Practice keeps going, no matter where :) 

 Going for a hike with Mum and Kim.


 


18-02-2017

Imagine my surprise when I was checking my mails this morning and read in a newspaper article that Guppy has been sold?! It took me a good while to figure out what the article was all about... but as far as I am aware, my dear Guppy is still safely tied up in Whangarei and under my name while we are hunting all over the world for our next boat.
I am still trying to find the next best place for Guppy (youth sailing) and it's not easy to find a good place for 'Guppy', the boat that taught me so much and that I have so many memories with!
After reading the article through properly I found out that it wasn't talking about my Guppy at all but about the Hurley 700 (also called Guppy), that I had owned when I was 10years old. The boat that I used to sail throughout all of Holland. Apparently now she has been bought up by a dutch tv-program and is being fixed up for a sailing trip. I wish the new owner (Beau van Erven) all the best with learning how to sail and navigate and eventually for the journey.

Laura 


31-01-2017

Anna Rose delivery part II

Along the way dad sends us weather-updates via satphone text. It's looking like we are going to get some very gnarly weather soon. 30-40 knots of headwinds for the rest of our 800NM to Hobart. It would take us a long time to get there, and even worse, since there is no protection from land it means bashing into waves that keep building up. With a cracked porthole, jury rigged steering cables and the slowness of a heavy long keeler - that is not something I am looking forward to.
So we started heading closer to shore in hope of catching some milder winds, but we're also aware of strong currents along the Australian coast. A day before the southerlies are supposed to show up we're sailing along in a strong northerly, about 25-30knots. I decide that we couldn't continue like this if the forecast remains unchanged.  So I change course towards Port Kembla, which is the closest port of entry. During the next night the winds shift and we can't keep our course even on a close haul. We're bashing into waves, making little progress and trying to keep track of all the big monsters ( freighters) that are heading out of Port Kembla to different places in the world. We've got only about 80NM to go but at this pace (barely 3kn) and not even on course…. it would take us at least another whole day or even two - with north westerly winds blowing and a strong northerly current.
I sit on my night watch for a long moment thinking what is best to do now… then get up to let the sails out and steer Anna Rose down the waves to head further south - at a speed of 7-8 knots now! Attempted destination: Jervis bay. Although it's not an official port of entry, they clear yachts if there is a good reason for it - I'm not too certain what a "good reason" would be but hope our situation is serious enough and that they won't get upset with us.
Sailing is good on this course now - quite wet and rolly but fast and towards a safe bay which should provide good shelter for the coming strong southerly winds.  
Dawn reveals land in sight already and I manage to get in contact with the authorities to explain our situation. They seem very understanding. … Then I have a closer look at the map, and find a great section marked as "military practice grounds' right on our path into Jervis bay!
"Oh dear…!" That means we're not allowed to cross that section - but if we don't, to avoid that section we'll have to go down wind first and then back north into 30kn of wind plus the current. We wouldn't get there for a long time yet and the porthole is still a worry if beating into waves. "Oh darn! Land so close that we can see it, but so hard to reach! Why do they have to practice right in front of our nose?!" I'm not happy…

I contact the Jervis Bay marine rescue (JBMR) and ask whether they are training today and - if not - whether we could sail through.. I don't think anybody would be out in such weather, but… they are!, practicing - which means shooting. To calibrate their weapons the navy shoots at targets on the northwestern peninsula of Jervis bay. We'd sail right under their bullets if we'd try to cross…


A helpful fellow from Jervis Bay marine rescue says we can try to call the navy on VHF but also that they don't usually answer. Which we soon find to be true. But as he hears us try without success, he calls them up himself, explains our situation and they agree to let us pass, without any bullets flying over our mast. Wow! We definitely didn't expect such helpfulness!
That helps us to get into the bay about 4 hours later, but not into more sheltered water, as expected. The waves are lots less but the wind funnels trough the bay so that we have to take down more sail and the wind still keeps us heeled hard.
Once moored we smell good food besides the standard australian perfume of eucalyptus scent. Customs won't clear us till next morning though as it is to rough for them to come aboard. So close to the good food but can't get it yet… :(
The day ashore is a very welcome change after 17 days sailing. There's good food that we craved for and for uninterrupted sleep too. It seems as if the strong southerlies will prevail for a week which makes it timely impossible for us to finish this trip. What an annoying thing, to do half a job - we both feel that way. We go online in a cafe and find that the weather forecast changed since yesterday. Crossing the Tasman sea suddenly looks as possible as it rarely ever does - with rather too little wind in fact. Although we kind of settled our minds on "done with this", Laura and me get exited at this chance to finish what we've started. And this little break of a day was the perfect amount of recovery and re-stocking with food that we needed.
Next day: about 25nm south of Jervis bay we fill our fuel tanks at a busy fishing port in Ulludulla - to be able to make good speed in windless days so that we can outrun the next gale.
We sail some of the next couple of days whenever we can or use the engine to push us through a "sleepy" Tasman sea. We've heard a lot about it's infamous character and Laura even knew a family of sailors that disappeared when they attempted to cross that sea a few years ago.. Thank God that it is nothing like that for us. Dolphins show up in heaps but don't care about our bow much. Freighters show up in heaps too (until we leave the Australian coast) and luckily they stay away too. The sun keeps painting the skies for us twice a day and soon again we smell something like eucalyptus. Tasmania rises out of the water wildly. What a sight.
A day before we could have arrived in Hobart, strong southerlies force us into a sheltered bay again. On our way towards shore we spot a mount in odd colors, like pink, red, violet… "World of wonders!", I think and wonder about the reason behind these colors. Someone in Hobart tells us later that this mount is one of the sights on this coast to observe at sunset.
We drop the anchor in the dark and - what we don't know at this stage is that - Simon and Rosie ( Anna Roses owners) watch us from ashore as they spend a night in their camper van. It's magical for them as it has been uncertain whether we'd make it to Hobart or not, but now as they see us anchor below the stars, a bright shooting star even passes over us - to them a sign that all's going to be fine!
The anchor holds as good as a mooring in 40kn of wind plus gusts even much stronger the following day. Even in the bay. Great design that Rocna anchor. We leave the bay in the early morning after the 2nd night. There's a passage with shallow sandbanks that we'll have to pass at high tide ideally and after that the man-made Dennison channel. It turns out easy enough although we've got lots of wind on the nose. Good that Anna Rose's engine is a work horse. 120 horses strong. Once in the channel we remember places in Holland for some reasons and dwell in memories. The current is extreme in the channel and at the small turning bridge it funnels through and rushes through the row of posts that makes me wonder how much more until they brake. We're glad the current is against us, not with us. Good chance it would make you unable to steer and end in a disaster.
We arrive a few hours later in Hobart and meet Simon and Rosie for the first time. How nice to see them so happy to have their boat back. It makes it all worth even more!
At the yacht club we meet the commodore and Laura talks business with him about the presentation that evening. I'm so glad that I don't have to strain my brain that day no more. My girl can go far if needs! I wonder sometimes how deceptive appearance can be. She's such a …well, a rather small and lean girl - but never the less, there's some serious HP (horsepower) in that young heart! One wouldn't call her Guppy in that respect for sure.
We fly out without delaying much so that we only get a day to stroll through beautiful Hobart with all its odorous gardens filled with trees and flowers of kinds that give the town a mediterranean feel. A great way to finish one of life's adventures. Funny how the most ordinary and seemingly "small" things in life are the greatest rewards for extraordinary labor and solitude.

Laura


31-01-2017

 

 

 Approaching Jervis Bay. 

 Beautiful sunset above the heads of Jervis bay. 

 Filling up with fuel in Ulladula. 

 Crossing a sleepy Tasman sea. 

 found Tasmania! :) 

 On the last stretch now. 

 



18-01-2017

Part I delivery of Anna Rose

Delivery of Anna Rose


It's about beginning November as the doors of the plane open and Honiara's (Capital of the Solomon Islands) humid heat warms me instantly. I finally meet Laura at the airport again a few days later, after long months of separation. The plan is to fly to Lata a couple of days later - which is one of the Santa Cruz islands. There we would find Anna Rose, a 45ft yacht, and deliver her to Hobart. We're very eager to get to the boat as November is passing quickly and it's getting rather late to be sailing this stretch. The first hurricanes can come through in December already and we need at least a few days to get the boat ready. Our flight from Honiara to Lata gets cancelled again and again because the plane's engine was taken to bits and the mechanics are waiting for a part to be delivered in order to put it back together. We wait for more then a week, and are being told the same thing everyday from the airline: "Tomorrow! …maybe.."
So we wait in a town which is not attractive for waiters. One day we escape town on a scooter as far as we get in one day. Many smiles and waving hands greeted us as we roll through little villages where life seems timeless. Life close to the sea and in abundance of fruits, vegetables and nuts seems effortlessly independent. Kids enjoying the sun in the water, jumping from rocks, paddling in their wooden canoes, surrounding us as we stop to consume some mangos. They don't understand us but watch curiously what we're up to with their big smiles. A huge pig, longer than our scooter sits halfway sunk in a mud pool next to the road. What a life! I wonder whether these people have got an idea of what goes on in the world. Hard to imagine…
Some days later we board the plane finally, with too much weight too, but it doesn't seem to be a problem. As the plane lands on a grassy, bumpy landing strip in Lata, the suspension must be working hard. Titus, a loyal helper of Oceanswatch, awaits us and walks us through the little village and to his dingy which floats in water so clear that hovering seems to be a more suitable verb to use than floating.
A couple of very busy days finally start - getting the boat shipshape. We get fuel and water in jerry cans, check the rig and the rest of the boat, get some food - which was quickly done as there's no supermarkets on Lata. Most of our food supplies were lentils, pasta, rice and cans that were still on the boat and some fresh fruits and coconuts which we gather on Titus' land. It takes us half a day to get fresh water from a spring that feeds a creek as pure as crystal -  which is the water source for the surrounding villages and further downstream also a bathing and washing spot.


There's more to say about Lata and its friendly villagers and funny conversations that we had with a peoples that for example don't know their date nor year of birth and a mentality that is far from our way of living, that people don't even know what to answer, when you ask them what they work - "Nothing" one fellow said that helped us carry vegetables back to the dingy, "I stroll around.." he answered, not knowing what else to tell me. There's obviously some funny conversations happening when you talk to people so different from us :)
On the 21st of November we finally raise the two anchors (which were twisted like ivy on a pole). After 3/4hour of hard work Anna Rose is free finally and moving across the bay. A long journey begins with an unknown outcome. We expect fair winds for a week or so - any weather report further away can't be taken to seriously. And the Tasman sea is another mystery itself.
But the trip starts smooth, with winds that keep our sails full … and our hands too, full of work: Squalls keep us busy during night and day. We're glad, that it's still warm and the rain is a welcome refreshment, whether day or night. Just about every sunset is a different painting that changes colors like a chameleon - night after night. How entertaining! Laura spots two dolphins one day that stay playing in front of the bow and as we wave and call, they seem to look up as they turn sideways and we see half their belly. Dolphins never seize to amaze us - the friendliest creature of the sea! A few days after passing New Caledonia, a steady wind is blowing and we sail along nicely, until Laura realizes that the autopilot has turned off. She turns it back on, but it switches itself of straight away. Something is wrong. Laura turns the wheel and finds no resistance…Broken cables?,… the search begins. We find the bolt broken, that attaches the cable to the quadrant and I do the best fix I can think of. We also set up the emergency steering just in case and leave the quadrant accessible so that we can monitor our jury rigged cable.


Laura: Over the next days the weather is kind and our fix seems to hold well, but we're pushing the boat a little as we've got a satphone text from dad saying that a hurricane has just gone over the Solomon Islands and is heading for New Caledonia. By the time it gets to New Cal. we should be clear out of its way - but it never hurts to put as much distance possible between a hurricane and a boat!
Temperatures are dropping slowly, which we don't mind as it was very hot when we first left. The nights are pleasant and we love watching the stars and the bright phosphoresence that's around for most of the trip. And as a special effect the sea offered flashes of light in the dark sea. Flashes of about a meter in diameter - as if there was a deep sea disco going on and we sailed right through it. The light shows are amazing each night, whether it's the phosphorescence in the water or the stars from above. On some nights dolphins would be around and leave their green trails in the water as they shoot around Anna Rose.


I stand on the bow of the boat one day, enjoying the rise and fall of Anna Rose while she gently makes her way through and over the waves towards the horizon. I bent over the rail to look at her bow cutting through blue water and notice a beautiful blue Mamma fish with two little ones surfing in our bow-wave. We watch them for a long while as they play and surf along and check again later in the evening - and they're still there. The following morning I go to the front and am surprised to see the fish still surfing in the bow wave just as they had done the previous day. Sadly it looks like one of the little ones is no longer there… That evening they left and I wondered whether they had a destination or whether the were simply moving along as pilot fish? or using the shade? exploring? What would have made them travel for more then a 100NM in the wave of our bow?


For two days we see jellyfish gliding past. Big ones with an orange horse-shoe shape in the middle. Together with the jellyfish we often see something like a blown up piece of guts float on the water. It is slightly blueish, varies in sizes and gets up to the size of a hand. We wonder if it has something to do with the jellyfish that's floating by at the same time.
In my presentation I often get asked what I do when I am out at sea and how I can not get bored. Even after so many miles I discover new things out at sea, there is so much that we don't know about our oceans - there is so much life. It certainly isn't just a vast, blue and open space. To me, it's full of life, exiting, new and challenging.
About a week after passing New Cal. the weather is starting to become more challenging. Wind are rapidly dropping and the increasing again, changing direction, whipping up waves and tossing us around. With a heavy long keeler, and Anna Roses hull shape light winds are not so much fun! They make us roll heavily and unable to stop that. Often we would still move at 2 or 3 knots but the boat was simply to heavy for the wind to keep her from rolling. We try everything and in the end have to give in and take some sail down or start the engine for a few hours. I still find the state of no wind worse then a storm!


A couple of days ago, we had fixed a dribbling leak on the porthole above the chart table - which is on starboard side. We're still on a port tack this early morning as I wake up from the sound of a stream of running water, wondering whether the tap's running for some reason or what? Following the sound I find the porthole in the engineers cabin with a leak that is far beyond a dribble. It's a little stream. Besides a few serious cracks in the glass, the rubber has also shrunk with the heat of years in the sun. I get the boat up straight to stop the water from reaching the porthole and we do a fix with something like sikaflex. … Two bad portholes make me wonder about the last one on the starboard side and we find that one leaking too. A fix as easy as changing the rubber should've been done long ago...


Laura


18-01-2017

Photos

guadalcanal island

 Kids paddling around the shores in front of their villages. 

 Big pig cooling off in a muddy pool next to the road.

 Not sure wether this fire was on purpose or not.. nobody seemed very concerned so I guess it was on purpose to burn off a section for a new hut or some planting. It sure did smoke a lot!

 

 Finally arrived in Lata

 Checking the rig. 

 Getting fresh water from the most beautiful stream

 

 Floating our water jerrycans downstream where our dinghy is lying. 

 

 Getting coconuts for our trip.

 Enjoying meals and making meals with locals.

 

 And finally we are off :) Mid November 2016

 

 Wohooo! :)

 \


 Not very pretty, but functional :)

 Our three little pilot fish.

  The ocean never fails to delivery the most amazing sunset and sunrises. 

 

 

 


03-11-2016

Portland-Vancouver-New York-Victoria-Bellingham-Hong Kong

A lot has happened since I arrived in Portland three weeks ago. Lots of presentation requests came in while I was already in the area. I tried very hard and managed to squeeze in a few more in my already tight schedule. It would have been sad to be in the area and not be able to go to certain places.. Whoever needs to sleep anyway?Such a time consuming thing to do..

I figured I could catch up once I was on a plane somewhere. So far that hasn't really worked out, so I'm glad I have lots of experience with sleep deprivation and forcing myself awake :)  

All the travels and talks have still been amazing though. Even with little sleep I could enjoy the past few weeks very much. While I was here I have seen the trees change from green to amazing shades of red, orange and purple.
During the time in Vancouver I had the chance to meet up with family that I hadn't seen in a while. They live in Victoria (which is on Vancouver island) so I had to take the ferry across,I left just as the sun started to rise behind the islands, which made for amazing colors and shades on the water and transported me back to the many breathtaking sunrises which I saw out on the oceans. Good that even in these busy 'land days' I get moments where I can dream back to some of the amazing things that I saw along my journey.


I actually quite enjoy giving presentations if its not too often. It helps me remember some of the lessons that I learned along the way - but also to still learn new things from it, as I always get some new questions and have to think about how and why I did certain things. It's a great way to reflect and learn from experiences.
Mostly in life we're so busy,running around, rarely do we stop to think about all the amazing things we do. And that's quiet a shame. Because I feel I only really get say 10% out of the experience if I just do it and then keep going with life. But if I actually take the time to reflect on some of the things I did and the people I met, I get so much more out of it.


When I gave a talk in Vancouver I even met two couples that I got to know on my journey at the San Blas Island (on my first landing there) and on Bora Bora. What a small world!  Meeting all those amazing people along the way was such an great part of the circumnavigation. I learned many lessons from people along the way, wether they were sailors or locals. And now also - even though I am not sailing - meeting people in all these different places where I go, is what makes the places more special.
Still,… by now I'm quite ready to go sailing again - to have some time alone and to think about all the great places and people I got to meet. Quite ready for a trip, just as the trip is ready for me :)


I also made a short stop in New York and while I was there I got to sail on a Nacra 17 with a great girl from the Oakcliff sailing centre. That was AWESOME!  
I have sailed a lot of different dinghy's but mostly monohulls. Of course I have the Minicat and even though it sails very well, this is still something completely different. I was amazed at how steady it was when up on one hull and the speed at which it accelerates when a gust hits, is just mind-blowing!


I also sailed on a boat that is pretty much the opposite of a Nacra 17, when I was in Port Townsend on the west coast.
It was the more than a 100 year old schooner 'Adventuress'. I talked in Bellingham for the Waldorf school and every year they take their 7th graders on a sailing trip on this historic ship. But the parents need to come up with the funds - so half of of the proceeds from my talk went to their fund too, and I got to sail therefore - it was a good deal :)
I stayed onboard for one night together with the rest of the crew and it turns out that there is a lot of musical crew and instruments onboard. We had a very nice evening just playing along on several instrument. About 1.5 years ago I started to practice the violin, so by now I can play a few songs and it was so much fun to play with some more people for a change :)
I've now arrived in Hong Kong. I was expecting to be completely overwhelmed, but so far I have acclimatized quite well. I am staying onboard a boat in an area with lots of green hills and mountains, which is quite lovely. I went into the city and it felt very international.There wasn't much of the a culture shock. Of course it's different, but I think Hong Kong is so big that it has adapted to a lot of western styles and ways.( well and it used to be a british colony) All of the signs are in chinese AND english. Which is incredibly helpful as I would have had a hard time finding my way otherwise. I probably would spent 15 minutes at each sign just trying to figure out if the signs matched with the signs of the directions that I have to go to… But it would force me to learn some chinese, which it doesn't this way as I instinctively choose the convenient language… Well, there's pro's and con's to everything :)
For now I'm just super exited that I'm not stuck in the big city but on a boat instead - with a view of lots more boats and mountains - that's more the way I like it :)

 

Once work's done here in Hong Kong, I will fly to the Solomon Islands where Anna Rose (a 45ft yacht that I have delivered before) waits for a skipper to take her back to Hobart. A skipper and her man, in fact ;P
A longish trip but at least it's not storm season this time so I probably won't have to dodge any hurricanes - but the Tasman sea can be unfriendly at any time of the year. So we'll still have to see what the weather has in store for us, but at least we're out on the water, which is where I really want to be! 

 

Laura


02-11-2016

Pictures

View of Washington state from Victoria

 Going for a walk, don't worry there are no more trains driving on these tracks. 

 

 Victoria, Goldstream park

 Crazy growing cedar tree. 

 Goldstream park, Victoria

 Beauty of the leaves changing colors in fall.  Goldstream park, Victoria

 Watching the sun coming up during the ferry ride.

 

 

 Sailing on the 'Adventuress'

 I didn't just make human friends :) 

 What I didn't expect from Hong Kong :) Beautiful islands and nature not far from the city. Sai Kung town. 

 


10-10-2016

So about a month ago I left New Zealand on my own for a little tour around the world, by plane this time though.I stopped in Europe first, where I gave one presentation in Germany and two in Amsterdam. I’m always amazed at how short one month is to see family and get things done.
Of course it doesn’t help that the family is scattered all throughout Holland and Germany.And by now my little sister has also left home and is traveling all over Europe with the circus… But I enjoyed every second that I had with my family. Dad and me went sailing together a lot. In Kiel, where I gave the first presentation,we were invited to sail on a beautiful 12mr class yacht. They are wonderful yachts to sail - very heavy, which makes them smooth and quiet to sail on, yet very fast because of their (beautiful) design. Dad and me left Kiel to go back to Holland where we took part in a regatta on a boat that belongs to one of my dad’s friends. We have known him for a long time and I have spent a lot of time with him and dad racing on the rivers of Holland. I was usually on my own boat though. So this was a whole new experience. There was only 0-5 knots of wind during the race and our heavy displacement boat we stood little chance against the light boats. We were still pretty happy with the results in the end tho, and most importantly had a good-fun weekend. After the race I spent a mere two days on dads boat as we enjoyed the summery weather and went out wake boarding and sailing on dad’s Minicat. Time moves to fast when your having fun and before I knew it I was already on my way to the airport. I had just had enough time to have a few lovely days at mums place and to celebrate my 21st birthday at a pancake house with family and friends.
Next landing: Portland,Oregon.  When I was in Port Elizabeth I met two lovely couples from Portland. My very good friends on S/V Winddancer, who now live in Whangarei - and another couple that has now finished their round the world trip and returned to Portland. He is now the commodore at the Portland Yacht Club and got me set up for two presentations there (because the
first one had sold out). I have been here for a week now and managed to get around to see the area a little bit. Portland and the
Columbia river are amazing places to explore. There is a waterfall around every corner and lots of amazing hikes.
I have been away from home for a month now and it’s certainly not as much fun to travel all by myself as it was when I
was sailing around the world. At almost every presentation I get asked whether I wasn’t lonely. I think that up until now I
didn’t really know what it meant to be lonely. Since childhood I have done so
much by myself and I always just focused on sailing and learning more about sailing.  I had some good friends, but
because we moved so much I never made any permanent friends while growing up.
Of course I missed my family while sailing and still miss them.  But it’s just not the same as missing your other half.
I think the big difference here is that kids growing up have as main goal, becoming independent and leaving your parents. While the main goal in a marriage is, going through life together.
My travels aren’t finished yet. Vancouver BC, New York, Bellingham and Hong Kong still lay ahead before going home.
 

Laura 

 Sailing aboard the 12mr classic yachts in Kiel together with dad :) 

 

 Our high speed sail-race in Holland onboard Divi Divi. 

 Hanging out on the low side to keep the sails from falling back so we don't lose any speed. But which speed?.. 

 Celebrating my 21st birthday in Holland with family :) 

 View from Mt Hood. 

 View of Columbia Gorge from the Angels rest trail. 

 View of the Columbia Gorge from Angels rest trail. 

 A beautiful little gorge along the old columbia gorge highway. 

 After wading trough freezing water this was an awesome little reward at the end of the little gorge. 


27-09-2016

Me sailing Minicat

 

Me enjoying Minicat.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GlGqxQtauJc 

 


26-09-2016

Interview

 

 

 

Interview BNR radio (Dutch)        https://www.facebook.com/lauradekker.worldsailingfoundation/

https://www.facebook.com/lauradekker.worldsailingfoundation/videos/vb.1380334081994373/1397279046966543/?type=2&theater 

 


14-07-2016

Chantal flew back home to Germany shortly after the end of our road trip. 'Normal' life kicked back in for us, finding little jobs to do around Whangarei and ongoing improvements on Guppy, the car and so on. I have been fortunate enough to do a few more jobs with the Girls High School here, including Sailing lessons, and a 2 day hike at the Whangarei heads. How much better can it get then to go sailing and hiking for a job! Most of the Girls thought very differently about whether the hike was fun or not! and they could not understand that I would do that for fun. - We did get some good views on the first day though and they all agreed that it was pretty awesome. The second day was very rainy - but a tough trip makes coming home even more rewarding. I'm rather sure that they all appreciated the warmth of their own home and their bed very much that night, which makes it a grateful experience for them :)
At the moment we are looking after the home from friends of ours who went on a mission trip to Papua New Guinea. The house includes a big white german shepherd who is keeping us active. She is a young dog with much to learn, but a very gentle and loving character. We enjoy looking after her a lot and she gives us many laughs but some headaches as well of course.
We started taking her to Guppy as we didn't want to lock her up at home all day. It was a bit of a mission getting her into the dinghy the first time. She ended up flopping into it on her belly like a sea-lion. By the third time she already acted as if she had always done it, and gradually seemed to enjoy it more and more.
One thing that she seems to dread, is when Daniel and I go separate ways. She does not know who to stay with. So it had to happen as on that one day, when we three paddled over to the jetty, so that I could go into town. Daniel started to paddle back to Guppy, taking  Jazz (the dog) back with him. Jazz was uncertain for a moment as she saw me walk away into another direction. Suddenly she leaped out of the dinghy towards the jetty, managing to get her front paws onto the jetty but slipped back into the water rapidly. We turned our heads towards the splash and saw the whole dog dip under water, where it stayed for a few seconds before popping back up again. Lots of thoughts went through our heads and as far as we knew, she hasn't been in water before. Frantically she began swimming up and down under the jetty looking for something to grab and making it impossible for us to get hold of her. She was holding onto some lines under the jetty when we finally managed to drag her out from underneath and pull her up onto the Jetty. We expected that she would be afraid of the water, dinghy (and maybe even yachts ;p) from now on but no! she acted like nothing extraordinary had happened and happily jumped back into the dinghy again after I had left out of sight.


We will have Jazz for a few more weeks and planning to go to the states afterwards for the rest of the winter. There are still a few open invitations for presentation that I'd like to follow.


Concerning Guppy: she is still up for sale, but I am talking to a Dutch Trust at the moment that would like to buy her for youth training purposes. I think it would be a lovely place for her! She will be used for a good cause and I would still be able to sail and see her every now and then, when I visit. But… they still need to get the funding for the purchase and for the rest of the campaign together.., so nothing is quiet sure about that yet..
If you would like to know more about the Guppy project please contact the founder of the Trust: Henne Pauli:  info@hennepauli.nl

Laura  

 

 New wood around the NEW windows :) 

 

 Jazz getting comfortable on Guppy.

 Daniel escaping a "dog-shower".

 Always with a stick. 

 Cheeky cow trying to crawl as far as she can under the electric fence without being shocked. 


10-07-2016

Roadtrip Part II

Roadtrip Part II


We soon arrived in Stratford which is at the foot of Mt.Taranaki. Thinking that it would be fun to spent the night at the base camp car-park at an altitude of about 1100m, we drove up. Up 'n up it went through a thick green tunnel with odd and eerie looking trees.  Gobblin forest they call it. The night up there turned out to be a bit too exciting though as the wind grew strong during the evening - strong enough to make our car shake and vibrate with gusts. Felt a bit like sailing! On top of that it started hailing and within less than half an hour our car and the ground were white. We quickly decided to head back down lest we'd get snowed in with our poorly profiled tires, only a 2WD and no snow chains - of course (we were still in summer mode, not taking this winter serious so far). Winter was finally on and it hid the mountain successfully under its white veil of cloud (which could turn quite grey at times). In those few days that we spent around the mount, we never got to see its glorious stature and its white hat.
The road took us north from there, through lush green shires and past black-sanded coasts as we headed to some blue springs (that Daniel had seen a picture of and now insisted to see it with his own eyes, even though it was a leeway of two hours). We assumed that it was somewhat volcanic or hot, because we had seen similar colors of water in volcanic areas.
As we got there, we found out that it was not hot at all and the clearest and bluest water that we'd ever seen.  Apparently 70% of NZ's bottled water is tapped from this spring. Right at the springs the water has a very deep blue color, and even the flowing river is  blue and so clear that I could hardly believe it's real. - On this particular day Daniel had lost a card game and gambled on jumping into the next body of water. This one was 11ºC ..warm :D Brrr! He performed his part acting tough… and neither me nor Chantal could resist getting in touch with such appetizing water. So we all had a very chilling and wet but delightful experience.
By that time our road trip was almost at an end with a last stop at Karekare, which is a little place close to Piha on the west coast of Auckland. I had been asked to do a presentation at a film night for a group of locals there, which took place at the local fire station.  The place was not big and quickly filled with people so that I ended up giving the talk twice, to two different audiences. It was a wonderful experience. I enjoy doing these talks to small local groups… I feel that I can interact with the people better during my talk and it's more personal. But nevertheless it is a very tiring thing to do. I never expected that talking could be so tiring. Nervousness and the actual talking must eat up quiet some energy. It's not quiet as easy as sailing ;)

Laura & Daniel 

 

 Mt Taranaki, Goblin forest

 

 We saw this stunning view during a hike on Mt Taranaki

 Hail laying in a soft bed of the beautifully green moss. 

 Taranaki ascent, green tunnels :) 

 Mt Taranaki hiding in the clouds 

 Blue Springs


 A bit of New Zealand humor. 

 


07-07-2016

Roadtrip Part I

10 days later we picked Chantal up from the airport and escaped Auckland's highways asap - heading for the Coromandel. Explorations there took us into its wet green heart with lots of beautiful waterfalls and up misty mountains (which we marked as a 'pacific islander experience' because it recalled memories of hikes we have done on Tahiti) and some other wonders of nature like the Kauri tree high and thick, king of the New Zealand forest; idyllic falls of water that do their thunder undisturbed in the wild and…
the 'Cathedral Cove' and 'Hot Water Beach' were on Chantal's wish list too so - as responsible guides - we programmed her to low expectations, preventing a disappointment. 'Cathedral Cove' is a magnificent arch formed in lime stone and good enough for filmmakers to be used in Narnia e.g. It's an epic sight, but we warned her of lots of people with cameras, which is always the side effect of a place that's beautiful and well known.
'Hot Water Beach' (beach where hot water streams out of the sand into the ocean) - We've been there twice before and never succeeded in digging ourselves a little pool in the sand where the water was neither to hot nor to cold. But this time we managed! It was just about to get dark when we started digging with our plates & bowls :p so by the time we where done we could enjoy a starry sky and the crashing of waves onto the beach at a distance. As the night progressed the pounding of the waves came closer and closer until we finally had to abandon our pool which was about to be taken over by the ocean.
I am still - or rather 'more each day' - in awe of the beauty of nature. Whether it's the rock formations in riverbeds, waterfalls, trees or flowers. There is simply so much beauty in nature and then I am not even talking about the way it all works perfectly. Every flower and tree has their own unique way of spreading their seeds in ways we can't even imagine!
It's turning Autumn in New Zealand, so there is lots of trees shedding their colorful leaves. Autumn also brings more rain and cold winds with it, so that we're not swimming and enjoying the sun as much, but rather fighting dampness - trying to dry clothes and shoes in an already damp car.
On the way south of the Coromandel now and looking forward to the hot springs in Rotorua and Taupo!
… A couple of hundred kilometers further we slip into the hot natural pools while cold rain splashes silently on the water around us. Getting out of the car and into the pool was a whole different story though as the winter had finally got on stage. Most of the time the car wasn't far from the pool but even the few meters were agonizing sometimes. Although somehow it was quite fun and challenging as well.
Wet weather and short daylight forced us to huddle inside the car, playing cards while sipping on warm cups of tea. It got more and more out of hand as we started to make up punishments for the loser. Starting with the loser having to cook breakfast it went to having to jump into 11º cold water! … In the end we all ended up jumping in with the looser, but more to that later...
Eventually we had to drag ourselves away from the hot pools to head to Tongariro National Park. We hoped to walk the Tongariro alpine crossing but the weather didn't let us. So we tried the 5 hour return walk to the closest lakes. Which turned out to be tough enough as we were poorly equipped (some of our socks became gloves, which worked fine as long as they stayed dry:). Our shoes were drenched soon and not long after the rest of our body was too.
We had lots of layers of clothing on, so that I was not very cold and having a blast - marching against raindrops that were catapulted  by strong gusts to pierce our skin. I loved the fastness and the toughness of it. We managed to get to the lakes but fog was so dense that we couldn't see them. No lakes, no mountains. Just lots of scrubs and feet shuffling forward over rocky grounds, then muddy and across a couple of rivers. Big shame that there weren't any hot pools nearby…
But we forgot about the hot pools soon in the next few days as we drove over the forgotten world highway. We had chosen the route randomly and not known of its beauty.
Due to the big rainfalls there had been several rock slides which left huge rocks laying on the road. It took a long time to get across that road as we had to drive slowly and carefully. But that only served us well as none of us really wanted to leave this place behind quite yet. It was still raining as we drove through the gorges. Decent size hills were rising up on either side of us, maybe we could even call them small mountains. Clad in all shades of green, it gave the feeling of being in a rainforest. Very dense, green and alive, but quiet. Little waterfalls and rivers everywhere! A big part was unsealed road and we stopped occasionally to take in the breathtaking surroundings. One could have easily imagined being somewhere deep in a jungle. The road eventually led through to the Republic of Whangamamona. Yes an actual Republic! They weren't very strict on their passport control though.. but Chantal did get her passport stamped at the local Hotel / Officials quarters...

Laura & Daniel

 

 Cathedral Cove, Coromandel

 Coromandel Coast

 Big Kauri Tree, Coromandel

 And beautiful waterfalls

 

 Natural hot springs are great in winter, even if it rains! 

 Cold Mud fights! :) 

 Tongariro National Park, nothing but scrubs and mist. 

  We should have been able to see the lakes from here... 

  Tongaririo National Park

 Beautiful play of lights on Lake Taupo

 Forgotten world Highway. 

 

 

 

 

 

 The republic of Whangamamona

 

 


10-05-2016

Sailing

NZ summer was coming to a slow end: high time to take Guppy out for a sail again! …and besides that, it was a good opportunity to introduce Chantal to sailing and for her to find out whether the legs she uses are sea worthy or not.
The work around the windows was all finished and turned out beautiful, and - even after a week of rain and waves - the windows did not show any sign of leakage! So I think they'll be good for another trip around the world! (Just not with me).
Slowly we sailed up the Northland coast, stopping in small bays overnight and exploring the areas by dingy. Whangamumu is one of the bays we stayed in for a little while, it's an idyllic place, save from the swells of the ocean and horse-shoed in by lots of wild bush and patches of lush, high grassland. The dingy trip there took us past many caves. Once inside the caves the ocean swell hitting against the far walls sounded very much like thunder. It's an exciting area with clear water around the rocks and boulders. The little tracks on shore lead us either along a frequently falling stream or along ridges and through plentiful forests and green hills. A scenic jewel indeed.
The bay of islands was as far north as the winds took us and I realized once again how much more strenuous it is to sail along coastlines with ships, reefs and islands. But I do love these challenges and we found some cool little passages through various islands that led us to beautiful anchorages.
The Northland coast is quite epic and one could easily sail around for years and still discover new beautiful places to go to.
After only a day at the Bay of Islands we headed back south again and couldn't help but visiting the Poor Knights islands (where Chantal had previously done her diving course). Daniel and I (and Chantal now too) love these islands for it's abundant marine life and the untouched and ruggedly wild looks of it - no one is allowed on the islands. There are lots of caves and arches to explore around those high cliffs, which drop vertically into the water and make anchoring very challenging. We managed to find a spot to anchor at 11m of depth, very close to some of the steep cliffs. I had to get up regularly to see whether there had been any changes in the weather. It turned out easier then expected to get up very often, as there were hundreds of hungry mosquitos that would not let us sleep! It drove us crazy, they managed to get to us even though we had a net spun around us! We had to get up at leasts every hour to fight back all of those that had gotten inside of the mosquito net!  The weather was great most of the days out at sea though, and we loved the little adventures around those islands. Also - we had the islands to ourselves, although we were hoping to meet one of the dive boats as we had run out of drinking water surprisingly.... But no one came by that day and we had some bottles left for reserve, so we enjoyed the loneliness and the feel of an ancient jurassic world alone.
Chantal turned out to be a good cook onboard a ship, managing fairly well to cook while the boat was rolling with the swell. There was only a few flying objects… and no vomiting nor sickness! She's a natural, besides the use of water!
After our weeklong sailing trip Chantal left for a week to Fiji which gave us some time to finish some other little jobs that we had to get done before heading off for a road trip :)

 

Laura 

 

 

 Whangamumu bay

 Early morning swims :) 

 On our way to the bay of Islands, moving along at 7knots! 

 Anchored in one of the beautiful bays at Urupukapuka islands

Walking one of the many trails on Urupukapuka Island. 

 

 

 Our co-pilot, doing a great job. He must be a real pro, keeping us on course facing backwards! 

 A rolly anchorage and night, not all of the bays can be perfect, but they where all beautiful! 

 threatening but beautiful skies while anchored at the poor knight islands. 

 Poor Knight Islands.

 Daniel exploring the Poor knight islands underwater world. 

 


19-04-2016

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. We are replacing the windows around the upper part of the deck as they were getting pretty old. So while taking out the windows we figured it was a good time to replace some of the interior wood around the windows. 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 short video of me sailing the minicat in the bay of Islands

Laura 


31-03-2016

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 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

 

 

 

 


25-03-2016

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.

 


04-02-2016

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


03-02-2016

 

 Making the feet from the spreaders around the construction for the stays and terminals. 

 Bit by bit, day by day, the pipes are transforming into masts. 

 

 Cutting out parts for the spreaders. 

 Welding the spreaders. 

 Spreaders all welded together,we think it looks great but Spot doesn't know what to think of it.. 

 Ice in the marina,one day before leaving for Sliedrecht.

 On our way. :) 

 Icy decks and ropes, but at least no fog!

 

 Daniel enjoying his time on the wheel.  

 The Bruinvis & Havorn, Almost home. 

 The Laura Dekker edition Minicat! 

 


31-01-2016


So far Europe has been cold, wet, busy but also very nice. Well most of it anyway.. We spent New years eve at a rather unexpected place, namely in the hospital.. But lets start from the beginning.

We had spent an amazing christmas at Daniel's parents place in Germany, also together with my parents and my old dog Spot of course. It was amazing to be all together. Certainly worth leaving the New Zealand summer for the cold European winter… Just after Christmas we decided to go to Switzerland. Together with Daniel's brother Otto and Josefien who is a Dutch friend that I met traveling in New Zealand. Daniel's sister and some cousins are working in a ski area over there, and we thought it would be nice to spent New Years eve together with them in the mountains. The first two days were great! There wasn't so much snow though, so we just did some smaller hikes and spent time with friends and family. But of course we wanted some more action. So we packed some sleds on our backs and started hiking up a snowy mountain, with the plan to sled down again. The view got more amazing the further we got up and we even got some heavy snowfall once we reached the cable station. It was truly a winter wonderland. Heading down turned out more tricky than we had expected. It was not always easy to find the best paths and big patches of snow were very icy. Daniel and I were already a little ways ahead, going very slowly down an icy slope, when suddenly we see Josefien flying by. Her sled had gotten onto a big icy patch and there was no stopping it anymore. We yelled at her to get of the sled but before we knew what was happening the sled and Josefien started bouncing and flipping downhill. I was the first to reach her - she was laying on the cold snow, eyes wide open but no reaction. A lot of thoughts went through my head as I starred into her bright blue eyes. It was scary and we had to take action quick. Daniel and Otto were still trying to get down while I was speaking to Josefien trying to notice whether she could hear me. When I asked her to blink her eyes she did, but that was all! I got some more hope but the situation was bad. We were halfway a deserted mountain (the lifts weren't operating due to whatever, so there was nobody except us) and darkness was coming fast. We very carefully moved her off the ice onto the sled and gave her our jackets in the attempt of keeping her warm. She slowly came back to consciousness a bit as Daniel and Otto were trying to call the Emergency Department. There was blood coming from a wound on her head but it didn't look to bad. And except for a very strong headache she didn't have much pain. I was guessing that she had a concussion - and I was very glad she didn't start feeling ill or throwing up for now. Rescue was our only hope as it seemed. We couldn't get her down the mountain like this and besides that it would be dark before we could have managed.

While we waited for rescue, I sat next to Josefien hugging and talking to her in the attempt to keep her warm and awake. I was also shaking partly because of the icy cold going through my bones but also because of the shock of course. Finally the rescue helicopter came buzzing down with bright spotlights and picked Jo up and I also joined them - as a translator, mental support and... spectator of the landscape :) which I had to thank her for afterwards, because I have never been in such a machine and it was an interesting experience to see all these things plus the beautiful view of course. The nurses and doctors in the hospital were all very helpful and friendly. Luckily I was allowed to be with Josefien all the time so I could watch and comfort her - I even watched her head being stitched together again. So all in all it was a very educational Old Years Eve. We wished it would have been differently but were very happy that she was alright in the end and only had to stay in Hospital till the next day. We stayed in the Hospital for a few more hours, trying to celebrate the years' change a little. We decorated the hospitals' bed with some break lights and the hours went by as we talked and even laughed. Finally we had to let Josefien rest and drove back to town where we stayed, in hope of celebrating with the others and getting some rest ourselves... but that didn't happen.

The rest of New Years night and the 1st of January Daniel and Otto alternated in running to the toilet and trowing up. They were both laying in bed with a fever and I was trying to look after them and also had to go to see Josefien in the hospital again to pick her up later that day. It was a busy day! The chances were good that 2016 could only get better from then on..

 

Laura 

 

 Hiking up the mountain

 On the top. 

 Here we go! 

 New Years Eve in the Hospital..

 

 


16-01-2016

On the 23-24th of January 2016 I can be found on the stand of Minicat on the Dusseldorf Boat show to present the Laura Dekker minicat edition 


23-11-2015

After 2 years in the water, it was time for Guppy to get a serious manicure done. We hauled her out and worked like crazy for weeks to make her look all beautiful again. The rudder had to go back to bare steel to be retreated and so did some spots on the keel. I finally closed up one of the un-used through-hull holes which was always a potential leak… We polished the topsides to change its color back to her beautiful own red. And after we had put on some new Anti foul and anodes it was time for a sail!

 

 Guppy, all ready to go back in the water. 

 Guppy & Guppy car

We had 2 great days of sailing on which we had an average of 7.5 knots! Well,.. okay, I have to admit that we had very good winds, but the clean and smooth hull did sure make a big difference. It was such a joy to be out on the water again, and I am especially glad we managed to take her out before heading of into the cold winter of Europe.. We will be in Europe with Family a while. But at least Guppy can shine in all her beauty now.

 

 8 knots! Guppy and crew in their element :) 

 

I have been toiling with the idea of selling Guppy for a while now, I have fallen in love with the taiwanese style clippers - like the formosa 51 and hudson 50 yachts. And so,.. even though it still really hurts - I would have to sell Guppy. I won't just give her away to anybody though! After all she is my first love and baby and the best boat I could have wished for to do my circumnavigation on. If anybody is interested feel free to e-mail me at media@lauradekker.nl and I will give you some more info on her.

Another thing that has kept us busy is building a cabinet in our friends apartment. Over the winter they have been so kind to let us stay in their basement apartment which was warm and we didn't have to paddle in the cold and rain.They mentioned that they'd like to have a cabinet in the kitchen, so we thought we would just build one from scratch. Neither of us had done anything like this before and so there was a lot of thinking work involved, which was Daniels job. I stuck with glueing, staining, varnishing and… well, what I do best of course - supervising ;)

 Cabinet in the making. 

 The cabinet ready in it's place. The windows resemble a New Zealand fern, or a wave. Whichever you see first ;) 

We landed in Germany about a week ago - back in the fridge - and certainly worth the freeze as we really enjoy seeing our families again!

 A fresh late Autumn walk with my little sister. ( well not so little anymore..) 

 Maggie - my wonderful sister in law, Kim, me & Daniel - on top of the Drachenfels in Germany. 

 

Laura

 


01-10-2015

I want to start with saying thanks for all the lovely birthday wishes. I had a great day together with friends here in Whangarei. Daniel and I did a little birthday hike up to the top of Mt. Mania. Whangarei weather can be pretty unpredictable sometimes and we had everything from no wind and sunshine to downpours with gusts of wind. It certainly keeps it interesting, and makes for stunning views.

 My beautiful Birthday Cake, one of my friends here made it for me. It was delicious! 


For the last couple of weeks I have been keeping myself busy on Anam Cara. She is the Wharram catamaran that I sailed from Bluff to Dunedin. She had some rotten crossbeams and needed a good refit before sailing up to the islands. It’s been good to work a lot with my hands again. I really enjoy working on boats (most of the time ;), I always learn new things, and it’s great to use the skills that I already have! ☺ Anam cara is now back in the water and almost ready for her trip up to the Solomons with 'Oceans Watch'. I don't think I will be joining her for this trip, unless I manage to find a gap in my busy calendar - last minute of course.. ;) 

 Anam Cara back in the water and her crew ready to go! 

 

Last week I flew out to Melbourne to do some filming for a inspirational 5-minute film. The filming involved lots of sailing in Port Philip - the big bay in Melbourne - so that it’s needless to say I had a great time! ☺ Whilst I was in Melbourne I talked to somebody who was going to see Jessica Watson speak that same evening. Of course I wouldn’t let such a chance pass and so we ended up going to the talk together. I had never met Jessica before, although I did feel as if I knew her quiet well just from following her journey. It was really great to finally meet Jessica personally and get to talk to her. We had a great time sharing our story’s with each other.

I am back in Whangarei now, spring has finally arrived! It’s so nice seeing the flowers come back up and little lambs jumping around in the paddocks. And now that the weather is getting better, it’s time to get some things done on Guppy! ☺

 Jessica and I sharing our story's over some dinner in Melbourne last week. 


Laura


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