A different travel narrative

In 2018, I met curious English people in France who were interested not only in my journey in a small boat, but also in my motivation for doing it this way. They said I must have a special concern to take on such trips in a boat that is not exactly comfortable. I would not interest in “collecting trophies”, i.e. reaching far-flung goals, listing many ports of call or putting as many miles as possible under my keel. Far too often, I would stay in the harbour and look around, let the area and the people have an effect on me. I would probably be more on the lookout, wanting to discover something. There are more people like that than you’d think – people who spend a lot of time on their boat, make it the centre of their lives, and are very happy with themselves.

At that time, I felt it more and guessed what I hoped to find. If you are looking for something, you certainly want to find something. Sometimes you discover something that is actually constantly present at home. One of the first things I noticed when I returned to Hamburg: there is a lot of ranting here. Likewise, work seems to be the most important thing in life, always present, in conversation (everything terribly exhausting), at every appointment (don’t have time) and in the cityscape (hectic people). Some claim that this is “real life”. These phenomena were really absent on my trip.

On my sailing trip along the edge of the hectic world, I am not interested in taking a kind of time-out, in moving outside “real life” for a while. No, I am looking for answers whether we can also feel, think and act differently. In order to understand other thinking, other feeling and other acting, one has to free oneself from structures that imprison one. Being on the road for a long time, sailing for a long time, seems to be a good way to do this. This letting go of obligations, deadlines and tensions does not happen automatically. I also met some sailing people who were travelling according to a timetable. For example, they had already booked a return flight somewhere. That’s where they had to go, no matter how nice it was, what their mood was or what the weather was like.

This time I was also on the road very quickly, because I wanted to get around Spain, i.e. with a target. I had a schedule that was slow down a bit in Aber Wrac’h, but especially in northern Spain. Those were places with longer port days, when I realized, that having time is something very important. The one thing is that no one is forcing me to enter my homeport in autumn 2023. The other is a special value: you have to learn to watch time pass. I don’t have to do anything with “my time”, I don’t have to plan anything or work through a list. Everything can be postponed or is even superfluous, doesn’t have to be.

So I decided to make a break for a while in Aviles, to write down what had happened, so as not to forget it. It was and is becoming difficult to remember all the little events that impressed me. The specialness of the experience simply fades too quickly, especially when you have to deal with the daily craft of sailing.

January 2023