So how does an Aussie who has never set foot on a sailing boat end up spending 3 months sailing from the Carribbean to Sweden with 5 guys from Gothenburg? It’s rather strange how life can catch you by surprise and change so suddenly. I was actually in Thailand after just attending a mates wedding when I got the invite to join them on their adventure. It was really weird or perhaps perfect timing because I had only booked a one way ticket to Thailand. I was still deciding at the time whether to travel around S.E Asia or South America, or travel back home to Australia. Anyway I decided to jump at the opportunity and suprised them with a speedy reply that I’ll book a flight and meet them in Nassau in the Bahamas in the next few days. Our friendship had begun last September under strange circumstances, so for some unknown reason it seemed to me like it was suppose to be.
I met Anton and Love one drunken night while out in San Sebastian in Spain. I had just finished a couple of months work on a commercial fishing boat in Australia when I decided last minute to dust off my backpack and head to Europe in search of some more sunshine. They had just recently left Gothenburg with 4 other friends in hope of sailing to the Carribbean then returning home again. I was very curious and intrigued about their adventure and thought it sounded like such a cool thing to be able to do and experience in life. At some point during the night we had stumbled away to different bars and I never expected we would meet again. However 2 weeks later I was walking along a beach in Cascais in Portugal some 800kms away from San Sebastian when I heard someone call out ”Steve”. To my surprise I turned around to see it was Anton once again. I then met the rest of the crew of Eira, where I ended up spending the next few days hanging out with them on their yacht. When I ended up leaving Cascais I wished them a safe and exciting journey ahead and once again didn’t expect to cross paths again.
Once arriving in Nassau I was excited to be reunited with Eira and its crew and eager to finally head sailing for the first time in my life. It was important for us to do a little maintenance work and get the yacht prepared before we set sail, in order for us to cross the North Atlantic safely. We spent the next 2 weeks doing various tasks such as writing to do lists, sewing, painting, welding, drinking beer, sanding, vanishing, cleaning, downloading charts, buying supplies, breaking things then trying to fix them again, visiting plumbers, sailmakers, marinas, supermarkets, bars and hardware stores, writing more to do lists and drinking more beer. We had a workfree day for easter and prepared a nice big feast to celebrate. We also had a suprise visit from the Swedish consulate. He turned up mid-afternoon on his speedboat with gifts including a fishing rod, fishing spear, tackle, beer, vodka and even a hammock. He took us for a cruise around the islands where we had a really good time listening to Bahamian and Swedish tunes while consuming plenty of free alcohol. Later on it got us all thinking about how many opportunities had been lost in other countries visited who also have Swedish consulates. We strongly considered getting in touch with the Australian consulate while in Nassau if this was the kind of treatment one receives. A couple of days later, Love had just one wish for his 23rd birthday… Pizza! So we collectively decided to take no notice of our otherwise very discipined budget restraints and splash out on the finest ingredients to make what was quite possibally the tastiest pizzas I’ve ever eaten!!
With our stomachs happy and the jobs completed, the yacht was in tip top shape and we were all keen to leave the Bahamas. It was time to bring the anchor up and head the 800 miles north for Bermuda.
We made the decision before leaving Nassau to only use the engine when entering and leaving harbours. We had previously been hearing some some unusual noises with the engine, however with the lack of tools and knowledge available at the time, we decided it was best to just sail between destinations and use the engine as little as possible. Once exiting the harbour we shut the engine down, set the sails and were on our way to Bermuda. The first few hours were really exciting. We were making some reasonable speed on a good course and we were all feeling upbeat and positive. Then nightfall came and the wind disappeared. We could still see the lights of Nassau and even hear the music coming from the bars and clubs. Then daylight came and the wind still hadn’t shown up. But we were determined to not start the engine so we waited paitently. Then nightfall came again and the wind was still nowhere to be seen. We contemplated heading back in to join the partygoers for a drink, we weren’t getting anywhere fast! Finally the wind found us in the early hours of the morning. We were back on track and feeling more optimistic about the journey ahead.
Over the next few days we all settled into our routines. Eating, sleeping, 4 hour watch sessions, preparing meals, baking bread, fishing, reading, watching movies and tv series, eating and sleeping some more. We were also out to break some records. Love took on the challenge of seeing how long he could spend steering the boat without leaving, an impressive 28 hours straight. Oskar broke the record for how many passing boats he could call up on the radio and have pointless conversations with, Loe easily broke the record for the most amount of extremely sickly coughs produced in a week by a person (he’ll be seeing a doctor in Bermuda), Filip can lay claims to the biggest Mahi Mahi caught on board and Anton broke the record for the most amount of episodes of Solsidan watched in a day.
It took me a few days to adjust to life on Eira. I’ve spent the last 4 years working at sea but its totally different going from a 28 metre fishing boat to a 12.4 metre sailing yacht. The biggest difference I quickly discovered is the constant lean to one side of the boat. Whether its pouring coffee, slicing carrots, boiling water or cooking on the stove, everything requires a special technique and a certain angle of adjustment to combat the ‘lean.’ Getting used to sleeping hard up against the port wall of my bunk has taken a little longer to adapt to and i’ve conceded that there’s no way to prevent that, that’s all part of the adventure of this crazy thing called sailing.
We’ve spent the last week here in Bermuda where we took Eira out of the water in order to paint her. We’ve all had a busy week sanding, filling and painting and we’re looking forward to getting back to sailing within the next couple of days. We hope to reach the Azores sometime within the next 20 to 30 days all depending on the wind gods.
I’m personally really excited about the experiences and journey ahead and hopefully somewhere along the way I may even discover the reason I feel like ‘it was suppose to be!’