Pantagruel’s coordinates: 54º63.13’ N 009º93.06’ E, Arnis, Germany
As temperatures dipped below zero, Micha and friends worked hard to take down the masts, get the boat out of the water and construct a canopy covering the deck for the winter work to begin.
Micha’s coordinates: 51º36.256’ N 007º24.348’ E, Dortmund, Germany
When not at the boat Micha drove asphalt trucks to earn extra cash, and tried to sit still at a desk long enough to get on top of the financial administrative side of running a business.
My coordinates: 26º50.52’ N and 080º23.25’ E, Kanpur, India
I’ve tried to stay involved from 6500km away in India by building a new website (which you’re now on!), practising my german on the prospective crew and studying for my yacht master theory online.
It’s hard to remember exactly when we made the decision to do the circumnavigation. It was something which had been a dream for us both but we never quite dared to believe it would be a reality until last year.
I think the plan stemmed from discussions about charter requests for this year, leading us to debate Micha’s next route. He’d put off doing an Atlantic round for the last 2 years but it seemed inevitable that this year he would head over to Scotland and then the Caribbean, doubling the distance between us if I remained in India.
With this in mind, I decided that we’d been apart long enough (4 years) and that it was time to try coexisting. This gave us only one real solution; I would move onboard. With this decision in place, our conversations naturally turned towards circumnavigation routes…
These discussions animated our summer. Should we go around Cape Horn? When is the latest we could cross the Panama canal? How long would it take to cross the South Pacific? Should we stop at Easter island? Which areas have pirates?
Micha’s collection of pilot books which had been gathering dust in the corner of his room, suddenly got the attention they deserved. This combined with online sailing articles helped us to answer these questions and more.
We decided we would keep the charter business going whilst underway, partly out of necessity to keep the old girl afloat, and partly to include others in our adventure. But in order to take guests, we had to have dates. Finally we sat down at the end of the summer, laptops, iPads, books etc spread across the kitchen table, and compiled the schedule you see now. It wasn’t an easy task, especially when considering areas which are unknown (everything from Cuba onwards!). You never know how the weather will be, how the waves are, the currents, which visas you’ll need, how long you’re allowed to stay, which bays you can anchor in, which airports have the cheapest flights from Europe, etc… We still have plenty of research to do, especially regarding the later stages, but having the schedule written up like that gave our dream a physical shape, and meant we could start sharing it with others.
According to our current plan, the whole route will take a total of 3 years sailing (plus 0.5 prep), bringing us back to Europe in the summer of 2020, exactly 100 years after Panta was first built, and just in time to throw her a birthday party. Good timing.
But it’s not all plain sailing… How can the opportunity to sail around the world with the person you love, aboard a boat ready to cross oceans, large enough to share with friends and family and so beautiful it turns heads in any anchorage, be anything but a dream? But despite all this we both still have our own worries and insecurities about ‘living our dream’, and there are plenty of moments of frustration and lack of motivation.
Micha is not always super keen to leap out of bed in the cold dark depths of winter in Germany, battling the frost on the deck and the freezing temperatures outside to start things moving with the winter renovation, not to mention the tax declaration forms piling high on his desk… At the back of his mind are constant worries about the stress of a journey like this on the boat, and what life will be left in it after returning.
For my part, I have found it hard being so far away, especially when important decisions needed to be made. Despite my idealistic intentions regarding my lifestyle for next few years, I am not always as relaxed as I would like to be with the concept of dropping out of my career with no specific prospects for the future and relinquishing my financial independence. Plus let’s face it, on a boat there can only ever be one captain, and I’m wary of having my boyfriend as my ‘boss’.
But nothing good comes without a fight, and the excitement and support from our family and friends and influx of bookings is keeping our momentum from waining and we continue to tumble towards to start line in under 6 months!!!