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Boat hunting

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Looking for a boat to hitch hike the Atlantic is quite an adventure in itself. A selection:

A small catamaran with an extended family of 6 persons on it. They really had no space for me.

A French family on a catemaran with a young kid. They are interested in taking me, but he has thin lips and an unfriendly smile. So, I’m not going with them.

I had borrowed the dinghy / Zodiac from my current boat and during my search for all the anchored boats, I passed a yacht with a kid on it. I asked him whether his parents were on the boat. He responded negatively and asked me why I wanted to know. Feeling a bit unsure about talking to a kid alone on a yacht, I approached with the dinghy and I noticed he had (literally) a live monkey on his back. The kid and I talked a bit and the idea of crossing the ocean with this kind of people seemed very appealing. Later that day, I heard from two independent and reliable sources that the father was particularly unfriendly. Which ruled them out as 3 weeks on the ocean with unfriendly people is a definite no-go.

After lunch I ended up on an old large steel boat. When I told the owner that I am searching a boat in order ‘to cross’ he looked at me like I was his long lost son. Hopefully I am not. The guy and his wife were particularly filthy. The boat was in desperate need of a cleanup too, not in the last place because of the two big dogs on board. Their excrements were still on the deck as the owners were probably busy repairing the boat. The captain confessed he didn’t know the boat well and sometimes the chain for the rudder fell of but ‘only for a maximum of 5-10 minutes or so as it happens often’. In addition he was going to experiment with a home-made auto pilot that he ‘read about on the Internet’. Which took away the last tiny bit of doubt for wanting to join that particular boat.

One of the first boats I had spotted was a beautiful yacht under the Dutch flag. The owner (from the north of The Netherlands) and his friendly wife spoke at length with me. Unfortunately, they told me right at the beginning that they weren’t looking for anybody.

A Swedish guy had a very unlucky accident on the boat 1 day down from the canary islands. His wrist was broken in a nasty spot. They send a helicopter to take him off the boat. This meant that there was a space on that boat for me. The co-owner and myself chatted for almost an hour yesterday and ran into each other twice today, but unfortunately We couldn’t follow up on our earlier discussion as it looked like a good boat.

When I asked a captain of moored boat in the harbor whether he was looking for crew, another guy, who was just walking by, informed me that he knew of somebody who was looking for a crew member. He had been looking as well and really could recommended this guy. I went to see him. A friendly Englishman, on a big 2 mast yacht build in The Netherlands. He is looking to leave in about 10 days for the Grenadines, leaving ample time for me to discover the islands. A nice option indeed.

Further down the harbor I ran into a Spanish couple that I had seen the day before. A really friendly and smiley guy. His girlfriend who was on the boat had fallen ill and as they had to leave in order to make a deadline, they were looking for a replacement. Today we had a short chat. The girlfriend had fortunately recovered completely, but it meant that this boat was no longer an option.

The most spectacular option came last in the evening. An English gentleman in his late 60s, who had been an engineer on particle accelerators in the USA. I scored major points when I told him I had started yesterday to read a book on Richard Feynman. He confessed he never met Feynman, but had worked intensively on another Nobel price winning project. Things went great from there. He’s a collector of classic cars. His oldest car is from 1928 and he has a jaguar e-type from 1969. He has got to be back in NY by May as there is a classic car rally he has attended for 32 years consecutively (without missing a single year). After his wife passed away he sailed 3 times around the globe, went 4 times to the Antarctic, etc. etc. A very experienced sailor indeed. The big ‘but’ is that he is looking for somebody who will go not only to Brazil, but directly to the Caribbean as well. Which not only is a long trip, but forces me to backtrack to Brazil afterwards. Hmmm….

One thing is for sure, there are quite a number of characters to be found here 🙂

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