One year on.......
It is hard to believe that we started living onboard The Ocean Deva from the 8th July 2020 and now a year has already passed – we are still married, in love and happy being the sea gypsies that we have become.
It is almost like another life time has been squeezed into this year. We know that we are fortunate to be able to make a lifestyle of our own choosing that includes the comforts and the challenges that make up an exciting adventure as we try to persuade the wind take us where we want to go.
Since we took the boat we have sailed over 3,800 nautical miles (x 1.85 for kilometres), from Medemblik in The Netherlands to Norway (Mandal) and down the very busy English Channel. Around northern France, stopping at Dieppe and Cherebourg to Cowes on The Isle of Wight and then down to Brittany where we
spent the last (very wet and windy) winter in Brest (also stopping at Roscoff, Aber Wrach and Camaret Sur Mer). This year we continued our journey and have sailed over 2,200 nautical miles as we searched for sunshine and warmer weather with less rain and snow. Heading towards the Mediterranean Sea, we crossed the Bay of Biscay, stopping at Porto and Lisbon in Portugal. Taking short stay in Gibraltar for the addition of more equipment and then onto Cagliari in Sardinia. Finally, we have beautiful turquoise waters that are warming up to 25 deg. C and an air temperature in the low 30’s with a fresh breeze to prevent it getting too hot. We eat pasta, pizza, drink ice cold prosecco and very occasionally indulge in taste-bud exploding gelato from the artisanal gelaterias.
In comparison to the first few weeks onboard where we felt overwhelmed with the enormity of our simple project, everything we had to learn, all at once and in a short space of time, we are now a little more relaxed and starting to enjoy the lifestyle we have chosen.
We have learnt so much about sailing, how to handle our boat as a team, about electrics, electronics, batteries, solar power, diesel engines, generators, plumbing, how to predict the weather, satellite communications, water makers and the list goes on and on. Everything is still a little overwhelming, but we seem to have managed to find our peace and equilibrium when conditions require a cool head and resourceful action. Our task is still enormous, but fantastically stimulating and each small step increases our confidence levels.
The occasional fish is always an excitement. Though I have lost more fish than landed on the boat, we still have tuna steaks in the freezer. My last Mahe Mahe was a big beast and I am almost glad it got away as the freezer was too small for it !
In addition to the fish, we find dolphins everywhere – the North Sea, The Bay of Biscay and all around the Mediterranean Sea. It is as if they see our boat coming and they rush to play with in the pressure wave from the bow, taking turns to slip from one side to the other. After about 30 minutes they get bored or hungry and disappear as fast as they appeared.
Every day we learn something new and there is a list of things that we need to delve into when we have time and opportunity to do so. There is never a dull moment and we are never bored. We splice ropes, make sun shades, mosquito screens, elastic bungies to meet every need – there is always something to create to make life a little easier next time.
We have not managed to exercise the way we expected, but our healthy diet and outdoor activity seem to keep us fit and in good shape. Having no car, we have to walk to the shops (and back) for everything we need and having to carry it all.
Life onboard is great and we are used to the small spaces that are available for us. It is only necessary to be disciplined to keep the home harmony that we enjoy – washing up straight away, putting things away after use and keeping everything clean and tidy.
With a fully equipped kitchen, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a small workshop, indoor and outdoor dining, we really do not lack anything – in fact, we have a lot.
With solar power and our own de-salination system, we can be well off grid for long periods of time, we just need to stock up on bread and fresh vegetables when the need or opportunity arises.
We have had many visits from friends and family. Some came for dinner, some for a late lunch, some to drink coffee, others to drink champagne or do yoga. Some have sailed with us and lived aboard for many days and some keep coming back in spite of everything !
There is always a warm welcome for anyone who would like to join us, whether for food, for drinks or to sail. We have space and love to have people around us, so no excuses, Just Do It. (Friends Welcome, Relatives by Appointment Only).
We meet many other sailing couples, doing the same as ourselves, some for a few months and others for the long term with no end date in mind. Safe contact is easy as none of us spend time in crowded bars or in busy gatherings. A flag from a different nationality is always an excuse to say hello and ask where they have come from and where they are going. From this there is always a good exchange of information and sharing of local knowledge – and an opportunity to meet later to watch the sun go down from the cockpit of the boat with a cool drink in hand while we share stories, experiences and learn from each other. Some people you know you will never meet again and with others you keep bumping into them in every port as we head for similar destination that the wind is taking us in.
We have just completed our circumnavigation of Sardinia (over 400 nautical miles), where we have been on our own for the complete period of time. Our anchoring, sailing and night watches were shared between us rather than having additional crew to help us out. The voyage has been successful and we feel that we have made sufficient progress so that we are now more and more independent and ready for the longer journeys planned for the future.
We learnt a lot about anchoring and how the boat can move 360 degrees with the changes in the wind. How this affects our proximity to other boats and nearby rocks (boats at anchor attract other boats, as people think that if someone is already there, then it must be a great spot!).
We also sailed through the Passage del Fournelli – this is a passage between 2 islands, that saved many hours of transit time on our journey to the south. The drawback is that it is very narrow and shallow, so it is necessary to follow very closely to a course that is printed on the chart. With jagged rocks, a strong wind and incoming waves, it can be daunting for the feint hearted. Needless to say, that we passed through without a problem, but it was important for us to have the courage to do this rather than to take the easier and longer route (another small victory and confidence builder for us).
Our next leg will be to sail to Sicily and spend time around the offshore islands such as Ustica and The Aeolian Islands (Including the volcanic island of Stromboli).
My fish hooks are sharpened and we are discussing further techniques for successfully landing the fish I catch, rather than watching them disappear back into the blue at the last minute.
Some of our friends say that we live in paradise. Well, in some ways, yes it is idyllic, but it is not always quite as easy as the photos makes it look. It is hard work, taxing, challenging, occasionally stressful, tiring and frightening, but for the moment we would not swap it for anything else.