The Sound of Silence

10th November 2023 on the Thor Heyerdahl. 09:30 am, waking up after restful six hours of sleep: “Moritz! Moritz! Wake up! It’s 09:30, breakfast is ready and the sun is shining. And if we are lucky, they turn off the engine today!” Slowly crawling out of bed and getting dressed. Walking into the messroom. Some people are already eating. They are talking and laughing. Eating. Cleaning the messroom. “Can somebody hand me the cleaning supplies, please?” Water is splashing around and the deafening sound of the vacuum cleaner is roaring across the hallways. 11 am, sentry duty. Setting all the sails that aren’t already set. Unbuckling the ropes. And here we go: „Heave the halyard! Slack the downhaul! Slack the sheets! Aaand STOP! Make fast!” And all this six times in a row. All the sails are set now. Wow that looks amazing! 12 o’clock ‘horn: “Watch out for the bell!” Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. “Watch out!’” Truuut. And again “Watch out for the noise!” Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.



Wait what? Yes, silence. The engine is off! Finally! This is beautiful. In all those weeks we have never been able to just sail. Now that the engine is off you notice how noisy it really was. Everyone is so happy. They are laughing and applauding, and some are even hugging each other. We’ve almost forgotten that the engine was on all this time but now we all feel how peaceful it is without the constant sounds and the vibrating machine. Ding. Ding. Ding. Oh, the little bell that tells us lunch is ready is ringing. Everyone goes to the main deck. The students on galley duty are telling us what they have prepared for us. Singing for Anja because it was her birthday. Again, Ding. The minute of silence has started. Wow, again so peaceful! No engine. You just hear some seagulls screaming, the water is bubbling around the ship and sometimes the sails are fluttering. I feel the sun on my skin and I think about Germany, about my family. I wonder if they have ever experienced such a beautiful moment. I wish they did. I think about how they… Ding. “Enjoy your meal. Eating. “Oh, are you bringing back your plate? Could you take mine too please?” Back to sentry duty. After watch, theory lesson. Ding. Coffee. Small break. Searching for my water bottle. Using the restrooms. Sea water flushing down the tubes. Ding. Dinner. Gorgeous sun set. Playing board games with August, Lilly, Felix and Willi. The sounds of rolling dice at the table next to us. Pens scribbling on the paper of some diaries. 10:30 pm. Brumm. No! Not the engine again! 11 pm sentry duty against the sound of the engine. 02:30 am going to sleep listening to the machine. 09:30 am waking up in… SILENCE? Are we sailing again? Yesss let’s go!

Four weeks on the way and only four days of pure sailing and silence, but those days were the most precious of all those beautiful days. They gave us an idea of a different type of life on board. Where you can hear the sounds of the sails and the water, and where voices and laughter of fifty people create the rhythm of our daily routine. Where you can smell fresh air and sometimes food from the galley, but no fumes. Where your thoughts can wander around to the sound of silence.