written by Paul
Legends are told about the mighty North Atlantic Ocean. Especially when crossing it during winter or early spring, things can get rough. Coming out of the moist and warm Caribbean climate, we were harshly hit by the cold weather of the North and the stormy and wild sea. Often the wind is at force eight or even more and we were forced to reef the sails and rapidly learned to keep the bulkhead doors closed. In order not to get any water inside of what we sometimes call our “submarine”. In case of a storm we can close every little opening in the hull, to prevent water from coming in. Soon after departure stage one of this closing up process was initiated and we closed up the skylights with metal plates, preventing any water or air to come in. Now the AC was our only source of fresh air below the deck. Of course, besides of a security issue, the north Atlantic ocean is like a playground for sailors. Traveling at 9 knots powered just by the force of the wind is a great feeling. That good speed also enabled us to turn off the machine for multiple days, bringing pleasant silence between bow and stern.
The degree of setting sails has to be exactly modified to fit the current wind situation. Forecasts arrive aboard once a day and are from time to time presented to the whole crew, to give it a feeling of the current situation. In order of being best advised on our journey across the Atlantic, we are also receiving a weather report by our project manager Ruth and by the German weather institute. After comparing all these sources to each other, Captain Detlef modifies the course and the sails to the new situation, making us able to continue our journey without having to fear bigger storms.
On the other hand, leaving the tropical climate zone, we are able to reduce some of our security guidelines. For example, to prevent illness, arriving in the Carribean we removed all the towels from the bathrooms. Now we were able to bring them back. Also, as the food was served outside back then, we were not allowed to put more than five slices of cheese on a plate, because otherwise, it would have melted, eating inside again, this kind of problems do not longer exist. But it is still advisable not to put too big amounts of food on your plate, because it could be slipping of, when the next big wave hits the hull.
Surprisingly enough, no one got really seasick to this point, which would not be a big surprise, considering the amount and size of the waves shaking us all over. This way, everyone was feeling quite well and was able to participate to the watches, helping in the case of maneuvers. The only thing the crew really got sick of, was not being able to walk the way you want. Hitting the wall every time, instead of walking a straight line. Hitting the wall gets especially annoying when ones hits a door. Popping the door open with your shoulder not only may reminds someone watching of ‚Rambo‘, but it can also lead you to lying on the floor inside a cabin, while the inhabitants of this cabin look at you very estranged.
Way more dangerous than taking a closer look to the floor is hot water. We have two 5-liter cans of coffee and tea water in the mess room, which can be quite a risk. So we have to be very careful, one hand for yourself and one hand for the ship.
All in all, the north Atlantic Ocean is an unique experience to every sailor or seaman. If crossing the Atlantic Ocean once was an achievement, crossing it twice and this time through the stormy and wild northern part, is an even bigger one. Also, after several weeks within the warm Carribean, it can be quite a pleasure not to sweat in your bunk. Hopefully we don’t get sick of waves and the cold, until we reach Kiel on the 24th of April.