Of plans and changes of plans

Today, on 5th November, we should already be on Tenerife. Maybe laying on the beach, drinking something cold like fresh orange juice or walking around in Santa Cruz, visiting the city and going shopping. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? That is how I picture a perfect relaxed day on Tenerife.

But not yet – we are still on our way. In fact, we have been on our way for a month now. The weather has forced us to stop again and again. It has completely changed our plans since we have constantly been waiting for better conditions. However, unexpected stops and changes of plans gave us some really useful time to learn a lot about the ship, gain some insight into nautical knowledge and we got to work together as a crew. Now that I think about it, we probably learned something from every stop, let’s see:

First change of plans: Stop at Brunsbüttel. That was still just after passing through the Kiel Kanal. There, we stayed about three days and fixed our generator which is crucial for life on board. First lesson learned: You can always use some extra time on board. During those three days we were able to do some really important safety training. With all the water surrounding you, you would not guess but fire is actually the biggest threat on board.

Second change of plans: Stop at the island of Borkum, where we also stayed for three days, waited for better weather and bought new fuel. On Borkum we had the possibility to go ashore and touch land for the first time. Second lesson learned: As I wrote in my German blog about Borkum, I went on a little walk through the mudflats with some friends. Believe it or not the island of Borkum has a shape that looks like an animal we called “Borki, das Borkentier”.

As soon as the weather permitted, we left Borkum and headed to England. We headed towards Falmouth, but … Third change of plans: Stop at Dover. The weather was just too bad. Third lesson learned: You should always stay relaxed. Stress and pressure do not get you out of situations like a really difficult berth manoeuvre. The day we tried to berth in Dover was really really stormy. So currents and wind made it quite hard to berth. And the entrance to the harbour was so narrow that we all thought we would never be able to pass it. But in the end we did it! So never say never!

After that we headed to Falmouth. Wait no, actually we did not. Fourth change of plans: We anchored in a bay near Brixham for a day. There, we decided that the weather was ok for us to sail into the Biscay Bay. This way we did not see Falmouth at all. Fourth lesson learned: Never exchange too much money – all of us still have pounds we do not need any more.

On our way through the Biscay Bay a storm and strong currents made us stop at another harbour than planned. Fifth change of plans: Stop at Santander, a pretty big city on the northern coast of Spain. There, we went shopping. We all bought tons of sweets, tried tapas and talked to our parents. Mine really enjoyed talking to me. Fifth lesson learned: Having some free time is a nice side effect of all those stops.

The next plan was to go further west. That is what we did but we stayed in a beautiful bay for a day until we continued sailing or rather creeping forward always as near as possible to the coast and finally arrived at A Coruña. And we did it even though our engine worked really hard and our captain thought about turning around more than once. Sixth change of plans: Five days in A Coruña. We stayed for so long because waves were expected to reach 8m and higher and wind force 10 bf or more. We even felt the effects at the harbour. It was quite adventurous. One night, three mooring ropes broke. The night after, two other ropes broke. Because of that the ship constantly moved forward and backwards so that we had to use the engine to stay in place. Finally, we were able to change the berth and got a more protected place to stay. Sixth lesson learned: The “Tower of Hercules” in A Coruña is listed as UNESCO world heritage site because it is the oldest lighthouse that is still in use. Also, I ate churros for the first time in my life and they were sooo good. And finally, our red rain jackets have proven to be really useful – against the ongoing rain and because they make it easy to recognise other KUSis wherever you go. It is such a nice feeling to run into friendly faces even though you are in a strange place or town.

New plan (as part of the change of plan): On Saturday, our last day in A Coruña, we took a bus and went to Santiago de Compostela, the end of the “Camino de Santiago” a famous path for pilgrims. We visited the cathedral, walked around downtown and ate delicious churros again. Lesson learned: We had to trade an apple for other items and you would not guess all the things we got for just one apple! We also talked to pilgrims, interviewed them and they all were so open-minded and polite.

Yesterday we left A Coruña and are now heading towards Tenerife. But we already know that we will never be able to stick to our original plan and berth in Tenerife on 3th November. We would have to travel through time. Seventh change of plans: Reaching Tenerife in about a week. Let’s hope for the best! Fingers crossed!

As you can see, we have changed our plans A LOT. Nevertheless, what I really liked is that we always made the best of the situations and had a lot of fun. Through all these changes we have learned how important it is to stay flexible and how adaptable we already are. I think these are some really important skills in life. And now I am really looking forward to being able to hoist more sails, turn off the engine and finally start to sail towards a warmer climate.