My story

The Atlantic

It was great to be finally in the warm sun of Spain. But on it went, with no rest for the wicked.

I rounded Cape Finisterre to reach Bayona, where in the beautiful anchorage of the old town I repainted to deck and gave Gaia II a thorough checking over, still not sure where I was going.

Lisbon became the next on a list of great historic seafaring town along the voyage. The weather remained light and I enjoyed some great sailing. I docked in the old harbour, tied up to a commercial wharf with a bunch of other sea gypsies.

In Lisbon I met a pretty young Australian girl who was sailing with her family around the world on a boat called Meikarina. We spent too much time together and my ongoing voyage got delayed. But at least I had a destination now – Australia.

We sailed in company around Cape St Vincent to the small town of Porte Mao. Gaia II was due for an anti-foul so I put her on the beach. Unfortunately I had not taken enough notice of the tide tables and had trouble refloating her.

Here Meikarina and Gaia II parted ways. At least for a while. They were bound for Gibraltar, I for Madeira. A few days in I got sick with a nasty flu and had trouble leaving my bunk. Despite the light wind put some deep reefs in the sails but could only do the most basic of navigation and watch keeping. After five days I began to get better and started putting things back in order, getting the boat sailing at a decent pace again. But by now I was almost past Maderia so decided to sail on to the Canary Islands, Porta Ventura and Lanzerote.

A few weeks later Meikarina turned up and we sailed on to Las Palmas. Unfortunately, in a small anchorage on the way my 18-year-old zodiac got stolen. After much pondering on how I might acquire a new dinghy, I decided to buy three sheets of plywood and, using my tools, some spare materials and Meikarina’s generator, fashioned myself a very elegant three metre rowing dinghy in the space of one week.

Now Gaia II needed some serious attention to ready her for my first solo ocean crossing. I stocked her with two months worth of food, knowing things would be expensive in the Caribbean.

With a stop in the Cape Verde Islands, I arrived in English Harbour, Antigua after an interesting but largely uneventful crossing. The wind got up a few times and some of the line squalls were especially nasty but Gaia II proved a great boat and handled it all well. Though the lone skipper was running low on books by the time of landfall. There followed a pleasant Christmas and New Year in the lovely setting of English Harbour.

I had a delightful trip down the Windward Islands, stopping in beautiful anchorages and sometimes catching up with friends on other yachts.

After arriving in Port of Spain, my by now fiancée flew home to Australia and I got on earnestly on with the job of getting Gaia II ready for a one-stop voyage across the Pacific. Everything needed checking and anything suspect replaced. I sewed some spare sails by hand out of an old mainsail, hoping I would never need them.

With preparations complete I set off from the island of Magarita, off the coast of Venezuela, where I new I could get some cheap fuel at 25c a litre. Then there was a short stop at the island of Curacua. It was here I first started making sketches for a new, bigger, faster proa. Gaiasdream is almost identical to those early designs, just slightly bigger than the 20m I first envisaged. I still have those drawings, though they became damaged in a flood that nearly derailed the whole project. But that is a later story.


1 comment

  1. wakataitea

    we have been in the caroline islands this year… nice proas there..
    good luck hans

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