Being back on land after almost one year at sea. Trying to summarize…

It has been a long time since writing the last blog post – land life came up with all its challenges. After our last weeks at sea crossing the Mediterranean Sea from Gibraltar back to Italy we arrived at our home port Marina di Pisa on August 9, 2019. We planned to arrive on that date in advance and invited our families to come down to Pisa from Germany to celebrate with us. What a feeling after so many months and days at sea seeing the first buildings of Marina di Pisa popping up on the Ligurian coast line! This is where we started our journey on September 7 the year before.

When spotting the first sights of our home port, I had tears in my eyes. Also the last days on anchorage in Sardinia and Corse were quite emotional for us. We talked a lot about our experiences of this inspirational year, our learnings and impressions and started to plan our first steps back on land. How to find a place to live? How will it be to sleep in a normal bed inside a house? How will it feel to be back at work? To take a long shower with lots of warm water? To wear shoes???? We were both lucky enough to have the possibility to return to our old jobs in Munich. Probably the most challenging task was finding an apartment there. Crossing oceans on a 12 meter sailboat – no problem. Finding a nice and affordable place to live in Munich? At first it seemed impossible and we started to develop first stress symptoms especially Stephan booking a hotel for his first weeks at work – not that easy due to Oktoberfest around the corner. But then we realized that also this difficulty was easier to solve than thought. Yes – it is still possible, also in Munich – we found a landlord who simply liked our story. My parents (great job!!) visited the apartment and we got the confirmation right away via a phone call on the way to Alicante mid July. We couldn’t believe it. This is how things fall into place sometimes. So we shouldn’t have been so worried for many weeks in advance. Also a good learning for the future – maybe a good idea to trust more and worry less from time to time.

Coming back to our last day at sea, we remember our arrival at Marina di Pisa with mixed feelings. From absolutely excited to some sort of sadness that the journey is over. I think if we could have been able to turn back time, we would have jumped back to December 14, 2018 with our arrival at Rodney Bay, St. Lucia with all the Caribbean adventures ahead of us. Slowly approaching the marina entrance in Pisa we went through the highlights of this journey like in time-lapse and and right at this moment the engine suddenly started to complain due to low oil pressure. We started to laugh, even on the last miles back home there had to be something to fix on the boat – a reminder on the daily routine for liveaboards: boat work, maintenance and repairs. We had to switch off the engine to take care of the issue and then, of course, the wind died. Again, as so often, we arrived later than planned. But with a running engine, a smile in our tanned faces and with all our courtesy flags up. Blowing the horn, our families waving hands, a blue boat with three white stripes entered the marina with 15 courtesy flags flying in the wind, with two people on board with smiles and tears in their faces, pride and gratitude.

After two days of celebrating with our loved ones, telling many many stories and eating lots of pizza and ice-cream (thanks to Maura’s and Alessandro’s fantastic ice-cream shop Macumba) we started to prepare the boat for the shipyard and the winter and packed our suitcases. The boat has been our home for such a long time and it was a weird feeling to think about what can stay on the boat and what goes into the box for “chapter land life”. On August 12, Johanna got craned out of the water, we cleaned the hull and our floating home returned to the shipyard ready for the next round of boat work on the hard, but that’s all on the list for 2020.

So many of you will probably ask what happened next…

A new place to live…

We moved back to our parents first who were already looking forward to getting rid of all our stuff. Especially Stephan’s parents had to park their car outside their garage which was completely full with our furniture – many thanks to them! Our new apartment in Munich was already waiting for us. The only difficulty was to buy and fit in a new kitchen for a space of 5m² – it truly felt like boat work again.

And the job?

As mentioned before we both had the possibility to return to our old jobs. Whereas Stephan continued his work as before there are some major changes for me. I will also return to my old job as an engineer but I will work part-time. I realized once more that there is much more than engineering that makes my life fulfilled. I will continue my work as a pianist and composer, currently working on publishing the soundtracks I composed on our journey and I am looking forward to sharing my first album “journey” with you next year. And there will be a completely new chapter in my life with my further education to become a coach. My favorite topic – guess what – is how to live dreams and the courage to change. I am looking forward so much to this new journey on land that has already begun.

And what to say about our journey? Is it possible to sum it up in a few words?

No. Not yet. A journey like this deserves a lot of time to think about, to reflect and to draw a complete list of conclusions. In the last weeks we had a look at tons of pictures and video clips, travel diaries and the logbooks. We are also working on an article about “re-entry” for Yachting World. Having a look at the logbook we can conclude the following:

  • Duration of our journey: 341 days (about 53% on anchor, 27% in marinas, 20% at sea)
  • Overall miles traveled: 12897 nautical miles = 23885 kilometers
  • Miles under sails: 83%. Miles under engine: 17%
  • Maximum wind speed: 52 knots (10 beaufort, 96km/h) on the Atlantic between Bermuda and the Azores
  • Minimum wind speed: 0 knots in the Mediterranean in summer…. 🙂
  • Countries visited: 16 countries (14 countries we entered by boat)
  • Islands we dropped anchor: 62 (7 uninhabited, birds only)
  • Longest stay: Bequia with 14 days (followed by Dominica and Las Palmas with 11 days each)
  • Shortest stay: St. Kitts & Nevis with 1 day only (we didn’t like it there, too many cruise ships and jewelry shops)
  • Highlight: Seeing the first lights of Martinique and St. Lucia after 19 days at sea and the arrival at St. Lucia (one of many highlights – see below)
  • Most dangerous situation: a wild and aggressive donkey on Barbuda (that was not in the logbook but it’s one of the most FAQ we received)

Arriving at St. Lucia can count as highlight No.1 as it was the fulfillment of our dream we had in our heads and hearts for a long time to sail to the Caribbean on our own keel. And we made it despite of all the challenges on the way there such as a really bad passage on the way to the Canaries with seasickness and a failing autopilot, followed by unexpected repairs on the rig in Las Palmas (maybe some of you remember the corroded spreaders…). A friend recently asked me “tell me about the highlights of your journey” and I didn’t stop talking for a long while. It could probably fill a whole book. Or also a next blog post. Let’s see. At last there is one conclusion, probably the most important one – yes, we would do it all over again!

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