“Have you seen my reading book?” Niels turns to me and nods in the direction of my pillow: “There, under the mill.” A few quick lines later, we both fall asleep exhausted and then go out several times in the night. This time, not to adjust the sails or to check the anchor, but because it is very hot. Our moon is on dry land, where it is pampered from head to toe. “Does everything really revolve around the moon?” I ask myself sometimes. Because yes, we wouldn’t be here without her. But given the questions we have received in recent weeks, it often revolves around us. Because yes, we wouldn’t be here without us.
There is no wind. Our moon stands on six legs under the blazing sun of a shipyard in Martinique. Armed with the grinder, scrapers, skin feeders, sea cranes, paint rollers and cans of antifouling, we circle around and in the moon for five days. We have never been so hot. We sweat and toil for more than 12 hours a day to get back into the water on time. “Sweat runs in my eyes!” », Breathes Niels by performing a shoulder to shoulder operation in the mini-cabinets to replace one of the marine cranes. Like an accomplished OR assistant, I regularly dab his forehead. As soon as even her ankles start to sweat, I stop. “Come on, dry off outside. We also received some great questions by e-mail ”.
Questions and answers
Question: Have you ever thought, “Now I would like to live in a house with all the comforts and luxuries”?
A: Yes, especially NOW we’re in the backyard, but we don’t think it’s worth renting another house. We naturally got used to this comfort and luxury. Living on a boat takes a lot longer – cooking, washing, odd jobs, shopping, traveling – but at the same time you also have time for that. If we ever go back to live in a permanent home, it will certainly not be the same. We dream of a simple house with a lot of space to move around, because it is also luxury.
Question: Is your feeling of traveling for 1 year still a “kind of vacation feeling” or rather “is this really our life?
A: It’s definitely not a vacation haha! Sometimes it even looks like a full time job, but then we work in tropical places with a different view and we don’t work from 9am to 5pm. The holidays are a short break / an escape from your everyday life. It looks more like a business. This is our real life as long as we can / want to finance it. A common declaration is therefore:
“Cruisinglife is about repairing your boat in exotic places”
Question: Do you have sailor’s legs / nausea ashore?
A: On our first long sailing trips together about 10 years ago, we looked like a bad Jack Sparrow imitation from the moment we landed. But now we will never have seafaring legs ashore again. Strangely, since the start, every time we start a crossing, I have always been slightly seasick for a few days!
Meanwhile on the moon
Now that the boat is out of the water, it no longer cools down at night. It is now 35 degrees inside! To delay bedtime as long as possible, we watch a movie in the cockpit at night. Niels falls asleep halfway. Normally, I call him three times to come to bed too, but this time… Like a starfish, I occupy the whole bed – with the chopper and here and there spare parts for the engine – and put the fan in the hurricane position. Because of that, I don’t hear those miserable vampires either. Two mosquitoes with a stone, so to speak. The underwater hull is now equipped with a new antifouling; a substance to prevent the growth of marine life that is effective for about a year. “Where will it be next year”, I dream away. “Maybe New Zealand or Australia? We can’t answer that question yet, but the next one may …
Questions and answers
Question: How do you feel when you are out on the high seas and there are no other ships or sailboats around to help you in a storm or your boat breaks down?
A: It feels good ! It is precisely other ships, and sometimes land, that are more dangerous than the open sea. They must be taken into account constantly to avoid a collision. As long as there are no other ships, all you need to do is watch your own ship and your course. Then you also have the time and space to fix something, for example. If there really is an emergency, where we have to leave the ship, we can call for help (via satellite and / or VHF) and as a last resort we always have our liferaft. In that case, we might be a little scared haha.
Question: How long did it take you to get comfortable on the road (slow down, let go, accept, etc.)?
A: Let go of our old life: immediately. We experienced the slowdown for the first time in Porto Santo; our first tropical island. Before that it was three months of transit along the coast which was quite difficult to navigate. In Porto Santo it was very relaxed for the first time in terms of C measures and there we met for the first time other international cruisers who did not yet have fixed follow-up plans. Very inspiring. Now, in Martinique, we have again entered a new phase, we will talk about it later.
Question: What are the make at is not bee apnea?
A: A great question too! In a word. To do outside: good equipment, consisting of snorkel, goggles, fins, weight belt, wetsuit and gloves (to protect yourself from corals, sea urchins, lionfish, etc.). Things to do internally: keep calm from start to finish, take a few deep breaths beforehand, clear your ears in time, do not make unnecessary movements, etc. Best advice perhaps: I started practicing by pulling myself down via the anchor chain to get energy to save and linger every few feet to even out the ears. So the dos and don’ts are quite the opposite from above!
Question: Is it difficult to kill a (marine) animal?
A: It depends. I found our very first mackerel in the North Sea difficult, especially with this craziness, but the fact that we eat fish (and meat) and that is the purest form of consumption, we believe it is just being able to do it ourselves. How we kill the condition of the fish here described, day 11 during our crossing of the Atlantic. Spearfishing is a bit easier because it is done from a distance and you also see which fish you are going to kill. With a fishing rod on the back of your boat, you can also simply hook up a Marlin, Which was not funny!
Meanwhile on the moon
The last full day of work is the hottest. We think we’re almost ready, that we can take it slow or do a little more ‘good to have‘chores, but cheers too soon. Water testing on land is not totally unwise. The hull fittings appear to be waterproof – although we won’t know until our moon has set halfway again – only marine cranes are still squeezing water drops from the metal fittings. The three sweaty curves are again closed by four sweaty armpits. The mini lockers are apparently there to scream too.
Questions and answers
Question: Greetje, what new quality of Niels did you discover on this trip?
A: Niels seems to have a sixth sense when something threatens to go wrong. For example, he suddenly has the urge to check something, for example the engine compartment, and then it turns out that something is seriously wrong or could go wrong. This has already saved him several times worse. And if something goes wrong, he almost always knows how to find a solution: troubleshooter!
Question: Niels, what new quality of Greetje did you discover during this trip?
A: Greetje has an excellent ability to relativize. Very valuable in difficult or stressful situations to watch the gasoline and be able to filter the noise that surrounds it. This way, we were often able to make the right decision in difficult situations while talking.
Meanwhile on the moon
Maantje sinks into the water up to her waist. We quickly check all the valves: the question is whether we also stay dry from below due to the water pressure. We give the crane operator the green light and sail towards our anchor of confidence. Our three noses sway wonderfully in the wind; back in our element. “Are we not doing anything tomorrow?” Niels suggests. I agree. “Cocooning and watching movies”. We make a nice, leak-proof bottle of French wine and have been sleeping through the night for a week. In the morning, I set up the outdoor cinema, while the very last odd jobs disappear from view. “Just put this one on the back, then the movie’s marathon will really begin… LEAKS !!!”
Question: What’s the hardest thing to experience on a boat?
A: Mentally, the boat is still number 1, followed by the crew (as a team) and finally by the individual. Your own need is therefore subordinate to what is fundamentally necessary for the ins and outs.
Question: What makes life great in Maantje?
A: The freedom to go where we want. We travel the world and always come home every day. Maantje is our center, our everything to make this dream come true!
At the end of July 2020, Greetje Tops and Niels Eikelboom, in their thirties, left the Netherlands with Black Moon, their Taling 33, for a world tour. Every three weeks, the editors of Zeilen receive their mail in bottles, containing all the adventures and challenges.
Click here to view previous adventures of The Black Moon read!
Tekst: Greetje Tops | Foto’s: Black Moon Veil
More exit stories? Read all about Column Anna, Sailors for Sustainability and watch Yndeleau’s vlogs.