When I came back from my “Trip Around The World,” in June 2015 with 4000 Euro debt, I didn’t even think about going traveling again. But, I worked hard and after a while I thought about going to Morocco with a friend for four weeks in October, or crossing Iceland, or even going to Mongolia.One day, I also remembered the time in Colombia, where I stayed 25 days on a beautiful sailing boat. But, we never left port…
That’s when I started to dream about crossing the Atlantic Ocean, by sailing boat and return to South America!!! So, I checked every possibility on how I could do that. In Tasmania, I had sailed for two days with a ten-man crew. I didn’t even know what to do! I just followed the crew member next to me. I had no sailing experience. What could I do?
So, I thought hard about wanting to cross the Atlantic Ocean by sailing boat and return to South America. First, I created a ‘flyer,’ which I wanted to hang out in ports. The best places to find boats crossing the Atlantic Ocean are the Canaria Islands, Gibraltar or the Cap Verdin. Nearly all boats leave, at the same time to go to Brazil, or the Caribbean. The best time is from November to January, during the ‘No Hurricane Season’ and when the Passat winds, help boats to sail.
Secondly, I´ve read many articles on the Internet, where people found boats in these ports and really made it to South America. But unfortunately, the problem is that, if you are not really, really lucky, it takes a while (a few weeks or even months) to find a serious boat to cross. It still takes three weeks to three to four months, depending on the boat, how long and how often it stops in each port.. I didn’t have the money to wait that long!
It was not until then, that I remembered seeing a television report about www.handgegenkoje.de many years ago in Galileo. “Handgegenkoje.de” translated, literally means, “Hand for berth”; where you work on the boat and in return, you get a place to sleep there for free. Usually, the food is also for free or you share the food and oil costs. Sounds really cool, but sadly, nowadays, this platform is mainly used as a merchandising platform to commercialize “adventure sailing trips” for a lot of money. But, I was lucky! After searching through all offers, finally, I found two boats, who operated a ‘Hand for berth’ operation, like it should be!
The first boat was in Kopenhagen. A six-man crew was needed to convert a really old, wooden fishing boat, once used as a ‘spy- boat’ in WW2, into a sailing ship. Once this boat had been rebuilt, the main crew wanted to cross the Atlantic Ocean to Brazil. The total costs for a five month trip, including oil and food would have been around 2000 to 3000 Euros…(that was my budget!).
I was accepted as a crew member and I had already organized myself to go to Copenhagen. I began to doubt the mission, when I first saw the pictures of the boat. It was in a dilapidated state and from where I saw it, there was no way that this boat would be ready to leave port in two months. I thought, “what a kamikaze!” As well as that, we only had three of the six crew members needed to set sail. Two weeks later, the main crew changed their sailing date to July 2016. It was mid-September (2015) and I decided to quit. I knew I needed to be on a boat, but it was obvious, it was not this one!
Fortunately, another opportunity arose. Another German guy, who was already traveling for half a year all around Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France with his 10 meter Sport Boat. He called himself, “Watergypsy.” He was looking for someone, who followed and helped him, in return, for assuming all costs on the boat. The plan was to cross France, from North to South, by water roads. Honestly, that had nothing to do with my original plans, but it was still interesting for me. I always thought about going to countries, as far as possible, but I don’t really even know my neighbor countries. I thought it would be a great opportunity to see France, from a unique perspective! I’ve been to Paris before with a student exchange project, but I didn’t really like the city that much. In saying that, , I have met amazing French people on my ‘World Trip,’ so, I decided to give it a second shot!
Another point, this boat was not a sailing ship. It was a 10m Motor Sport boat with a maximum speed of 12km/h, without a current. Dirk, the ‘Watergypsy’ had a parallel project, as well. He was looking for a sailing boat in Malta, and as soon as he bought one, we should move to the sailing boat and sail around the Mediterranean Sea. So, for me, that was a really nice combination; to get a feeling for living on a boat, whilst driving through France, without any stress. I did not want to overspend on the money I had budgeted, whilst waiting for a boat to be prepared for sailing. I also appreciated the fact, that compared to the other offer, Dirk responded super fast to my emails, most of the time, in less than five minutes! He accepted me, as a crew member on his boat and he said he would notify me, in the short term, where we can meet, either in France or Belgium.
In the meantime, I considered that it could be quite boring on the boat. Dirk had informed me, that he was still working part-time in Germany and that is why he only had four days per week to spend on the boat. I thought about how to kill time and make money, at the same time. I thought about making head bands and hats. It had already started to get cold and I would drive through France in winter time. At first, I was a little bit skeptical, but, after a friend gave me the advice, , I just started to learn it from “YouTube.” After the first four hours, I had already made my first two headbands, already with my own logo:
MONEY FOR SAIL!
When I see my first head bands now, they really look horrible. At that time, I was really excited and with time, the headbands got better and better! At least, I could sell 19 of them, 10-20 Euro each, before I left.
Shortly before my new adventure started, Dirk sent me an email, informing me that I should go to Mons in Belgium. So, two days before, I booked a fernbus to Aachen (ca. 700kms) to say there for one night and hitchhike to Mons (ca.200 kms.). Finally, after just four months at home, I left for Germany again…