Helen and Nadine set out to sail The Netherlands…

To be honest, we were close to giving up on our summer vacation. At the last moment, we received notice that Nadine passed her sailing test and a boat would be waiting for us a few days later. Our preparation consisted of making brownies (we were determined not to die from starvation), drawing our first trip on the map (which looked really impressive to newbie Helen) and throwing a laptop in a not so very waterproof bag (work is never finished).

Not much later, Helen carefully took her first steps on board of the boat. She was able to tie a knot, but she didn’t have the slightest clue what it meant to hoist the sails and to steer the boat. Sailing master Nadine started the engine and our journey had begun: bye bye safe harbor, good morning swirling sea!

The sailing boat transformed into a floating duck and toiled through the emerging waves.  With wind speeds of up to 6 Beaufort, Nadine enjoyed the flow. Helen was slightly less entertained and trained her capabilities to NOT get seasick by climbing in and out the cabin over 30 times. Everything in the boat was shaking and moving around in alignment with the movement of the waves. All there was to see outside the boat, were waves, waves and more waves. What did she get herself into?!

In the meantime, Nadine was telling stories about people sailing the world and sleeping on the boat while sailing. Helen wondered how these people were able to hang on, while she looked at her white knuckles and her hands firmly gripping the railing of the boat. Also, her feet we getting more support from the sides of the ship compared to the actual floor. Nadine explained to Helen they were surfing: the boat was making weird movements due to the waves coming from behind. Helen did not recognize the movement for one second comparing it to the movement she experiences when she’s on her surfboard.

It’s an understatement to say Helen was not completely relaxed and enjoying the experience. To top it off, she spent a considerable amount of time struggling on the deck while trying to get the Jib (the sail in front) down and inside the boat. Luckily, Helen won this faceoff and managed to tie the sail to the railing. Life on board of this floating duck was not easy for this landlubber. At some point she considered jumping overboard, but she decided that would be madness  (and wet). On contrary to Nadine’s shoe, a swivel handle and some coins: all of them went overboard. We were able to retrieve the shoe, but the swivel handle was lost forever. We suppose it took the money and decided to travel to less swirling places.

The signs of a tough sailing life were starting to show on Helen: here legs were covered with bruises and her knees were invisible underneath the layer of blood and scratches. Also, after the first day, she couldn’t afford the luxury of skin on all places of her body any longer. In her head, secret things were happening and taking into account she was convinced she saw a drilling platform in the middle of a lake, we have to assume she suffered some bumps to the head as well.  As a matter of fact, she wondered out loud whether a seal suffered from a concussion when all of sudden she heard a loud “klonnnkk” near the boat (no, no, no, there are no seals in that lake!).

Some loud thunder and a decent amount of (very wet) rain, provided Helen with the necessary clarity. Also, the next day we decided to cut the trip for that day short (for the obvious reasons and beside this: the water level was too low for our boat to maneuver much further). We spent the remainder of the day wondering why (and how?) people manage to walk their dog by taking them inside a boat and sail around the harbor. Oh and we ate brownies, loads of them.

The remaining part of our food supplies, was suffering. It was literally sweating from the heat. Things got worse, once we realized we didn’t have a working fridge on board the boat. The elements used for cooling, became too hot to handle and we had no means to cool them. Our alternative was buying bags of frozen peas and string beans and using them to cool our food and wine. It looked slightly entertaining, sipping your wine with semi-frozen little pieces of green vegetables.

The next day of sailing, Helen woke up with a minor hangover: was she supposed to toil through those waves for another day? Would she struggle again with 17m2 of sails? Would she end up swimming or would they get to the other side without sinking the boat? Stay tuned for the second part of Helen and Nadine set out to sail the Netherlands.



Helen and Nadine

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