Six months ago I was standing on the dock at the V&A Marina in Cape Town, South Africa. It was time to fly home to Sweden, after another amazing trip with Delos and her fantastic crew. For 1½ months I joined the crew in fantastic sailing, going on safaris, eating excellent food, meeting great people and, I got to spend time with Karin. But now the time had come to say goodbye.
(Karin and I taking a selfie to remember our magical day on Table Mountain, Cape Town.)
Brian ordered an Uber to pick me up and take me to the airport. It came much too soon. These goodbyes really rip my heart out. I know it’s au revoir and see you soon, but that is not what it feels like. It feels like my heart is shattered and my world comes to an end. So I give Karin a last hug, telling her to be safe and that I love her SO much! We glance at each other and I turn to get into the car, while my eyes fill with tears.
I cried the whole way to the airport, trying to convince the driver that I was okey. He didn’t look like he believed me. How can something be so wonderful and awful at the same time? All the thoughts twirling in my head. When will I see her again? Will she be okey? What if she needs me and I can’t get to her? How will I cope? Leaving my beautiful daughter, that I love more than I can ever explain, to go to the other side of the world. Not knowing when I will see her again. Is that even the right thing to do? Why does it have to be this way?
And then on the other hand – What can be more wonderful than your children fulfilling their dreams? Well, nothing! Probably this is just the right way to live life, for her and for me. And we all know that everything in life, yours and mine, always has two sides. There are to and fro, ups and downs, nights and days, storms and lulls. Sailing and not sailing. Being here and being there… That’s right, what if you are here and the ones you love are not. Because they are – there!
(Together. When I close my eyes and find peace of mind this is what I see. Karin and I walking along the beach, talking and just spending time together without any special agenda or goal.)
That is what this blog is about and that is what has been my life for a number of years now. So let me tell you how I feel about being a mum whose daughter is there, while I am here, because she is circumnavigating the world. Well as you already realize – it’s wonderful, and awful!
I live in Sweden, on the island of Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea. No one in the family has been sailing that much, but the sea and the shores has always been an important and energy giving part of our life. And along came Brian. I was in Sweden and Karin was studying in Melbourne, taking a weekend trip to New Zeeland, when she text me: “I am fine, but just so you know I met a great guy, so I will stay here a bit longer.” A mother’s nightmare! Is he kind? What will they do? Where will he take her? Well, this is over five years ago now, and as you know the funny ways of life brought two beautiful souls together. He is kind! And they are sailing around the world together!
(Karin and I on a fishing trip in northern Norway.)
Karin and I have done so many amazing things together. Travelling, taking care of animals, skiing, shopping, hiking, talking talking talking…When we have the chance we speak every other day, about everything and nothing. About small daily matters and the meaning of life. The close bond we have is something I treasure very much. Thanks to Internet it is to some extent possible to keep in contact even if we are a globe apart. When I don’t hear from her for weeks in a row I try to convince myself that no news is good news. Which often is a poor comfort, but I have learned to live with it. I live my life working and enjoying leisure time with friends and family, like most mums, maybe with one exception – I carry my passport with me everywhere I go. If something happens and I have to go to Karin nothing should slow me down!
Do I get used to it, having Karin so far away? You might think so, but no. To some extent it has actually gotten worse over the years. The love for my children, Ragnar and Karin, still grows stronger for every year. And therefore the space in my heart that long to be close to them also grows bigger. Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not bitter or sad. Not at all! I have more than I could ever wish for and I would not want Karin, or Ragnar, to live their lives in any other way. But it is tough, and this is something we don’t write or talk about so much. It is tough, both for us that are “left at home” and for all of you out there that have your home on a circumnavigating sailboat.
(Here they are – Ragnar and Karin – my beautiful son and daughter who fill my heart with so much love, together on Delos when sailing in Borneo.)
Well, a lot of you know me by now. You know that one way that I handle the situation is that I travel to join the Delos crew as soon as I have the opportunity. And they are all so amazing and open their home (Delos!) and hearts for me whenever I come. I have been island hopping in the Philippines, gotten drunk on a jungle party, sailed around the tip of Borneo, seen the death star sailing into Singapore, avoided pirates in the Malacca Strait, sitting on night watch guided by dolphins, rounded Cape of Good Hope … And that is just a fragment of all the crazy and wonderful things I have done thanks to Karin and the Delos crew.
(Nothing beats a jungle party in the Philippines!)
To be a part of The Delos Tribe is so humbling! That also gives me some comfort during the rest of the year. I know what it’s like on Delos, where Karin sits on her night watch, where she makes her tea and some of how the everyday life when sailing is like. It’s hard to explain how much this knowledge means to me. A lot! One short message that they have been diving or have taken Maggie to visit an island, and I can picture all the work that is involved, what they do and how they do it. It brings them closer and I do not feel so far away.
(Helping Karin with some of the everyday work on Delos.)
So, how do I wrap this up? Well I don’t think I can. There is no solution or magic pill. It’s just the way it is. The way of life. And it is wonderful, because guess what – My daughter is circumnavigating the world. And it is awful, because guess what – My daughter is circumnavigating the world. I love her SO much, I miss her to the extent that my heart explodes and I would not want her to live her life in any other way! Crazy isn’t it?!
This has been a difficult post to write, for me to “put myself out there” and for the worries that maybe this is not a post that you write on a website about sailing. But here I go, I’ve done it! I hope you liked it and that I have given you a glimpse of the other side of sailing – not sailing!
For as long as I can remember, traveling and cruising has been a constant background to everything that has happened in my life. I grew up in Sweden, hearing my parents dream of their next sailing adventure, and seeing the hard work they put in to make it come true. When I was just a little kid, my dad started building our first boat – Nausikaa – right in our backyard. In the summer of 2004, after over six years of saving and hard work, the boat was finally finished and we set sail for a year in the Mediterranean. Me and my brother Joakim were in elementary school at the time, so we spent our days travelling through the channels of Europe while learning all about the great and terrible things that had taken place in the countries we were traveling through. Such an amazing way to learn!
(My brother and I at School while sailing towards the Caribbean)
Once finally in the med, we realized this part of the world wasn´t actually ideal for cruising. Things were quite expensive and it was getting colder by the day, so we decided to make a turn for the Caribbean! Even though I was only ten at the time, I´ll never forget the feeling of accomplishment we all had as we approached Barbados after our first Atlantic crossing. Having never been to any tropical place before, I was completely blown away by all the smells, the blue water, the palm trees and the white sandy beaches. It felt like arriving in paradise, a place I had only seen in movies and pictures! Everywhere you went on the island there were massive speakers blasting reggae Christmas carols, and in every direction there was something new and exciting to look at. This was a huge contrast to the wet cold winter that was happening in Sweden at that exact time.
We spent the season cruising around in the Caribbean and it wasn’t without much hesitation that we steered away from Trinidad, heading not for Panama and the circumnavigation like many others that we had met, but back to Sweden for school and jobs. I think we all would have loved to continue through the canal, but the cruising kitty was running low and it was time to head home.
(Family lounging around )
Coming back was a strange thing. We´d been gone for just a year and not much had changed back home, whereas I felt like a completely different person from who I was before we went cruising. So much had happened in that year. Me and my brother had both made lifelong friends with other cruiser kids, beginning by just using hand gestures and smiles and ending with us both speaking fluent English by the end of the year. We’d gotten to see how differently life could be lived – everything from people doing ceramics in muddy huts in Morocco to multimillionaires living onboard massive super yachts in Anguilla. Cruising and constantly coming to new places and meeting new people had taught me more than I will ever truly grasp, but it had also left me lacking in what was considered important back home – what to wear, who the cool new celebrities were and that it apparently was time to start wearing makeup. Me and my old friends were simply on completely different wavelengths, and it was quite a shock coming back from the open and worry free environment of being a cruiser kid, trying to adapt back into the confined social environment that is our average western society. Eventually I did adapt, for a while. However, I always kept with me the curiosity and wanderlust that I had acquired over that year, and in that sense more than any that first year out cruising has really shaped my life and given me the curiosity to always continue exploring.
Years passed by as my parents worked hard to get a new boat that we eventually bought and sailed back to Sweden from the Med. As mum and dad planned and prepared for the next sailing adventure the time had come for me to go to high school, and there was really ever only one option for me – the sailing college. It´s not as it may sound a college which is all about sailing, but rather about having the world as your classroom. To make this possible, the students sail for 2 months each year on a 50 meter (about 150 ft) long square rigged tall ship named Gunilla. You learn all about old school sailing, new cultures and how to work as a team with your 44 classmates and the crew onboard. Together we´d take her through Europe, down to North Africa, over the Atlantic to the Caribbean and back each year, although you´d do different parts of the trip over a total of three years and six months of sailing.
(My friends and classmates aboard Gunilla, sailing somewhere)
Looking back, I so appreciate the time I got to spend onboard Gunilla, how every year you´d get a break from the stress of school and modern society where you could just focus on the now and the tasks at hand. When you’re onboard a ship like that, working your ass off every single day doing four by four watches filled with maintenance and old school sailing with not an electrical winch in sight, doing schoolwork and quite a bit of mischief, eventually all the buzz of land life just starts to fade away. You focus on what the next meal is going to be, and whenever you can, you try to get at bit of sleep. You don´t have the time or energy to worry about what´s going on back home or what´s going to happen in the future. You become a part of something more important – keeping the boat afloat, on course and moving towards the goal of your journey.
Three years went by in what felt like a second. I finished high school, and for my parents the time had finally come for the beginning of their next journey – a circumnavigation. So I spent some time working and saving up money, and then flew out to Panama to join them for the pacific crossing and French Polynesia. It was so cool getting to spend some time cruising with my parents again, after spending the past 3 years sailing on such an old school boat. I was in heaven as we sailed the beautiful and remote little islands in the Pacific. After a few months of cruising my money had run out and it was time for me to head back home where I eventually started medical school, which has really been an adventure in itself. By this time in my life I was very ready to be stationary for a while, and I spent one and a half year living the most normal life, going to school, hanging out with friends and getting into the routine of everyday life.
(Me trying to be a good student)
Meanwhile, my parents had sailed their way to South Africa and I decided it was time to fly out and see them again. Mahi Mahi, which is the name of their boat, was tied up in the V&A Marina in Cape Town where they were going to stay put for a while to celebrate Christmas. It was so amazing to see them again and be able to share everything that had happened since last time we spoke without the constant bad connection of skype and Facebook calls.
And then one day when I woke up, there was a new boat in the spot right next to us. I remember walking down from the showers later that morning and being called over by mum who was sitting in Delos´s cockpit chatting in Swedish with Märta and Karin. Brian and Brady were downstairs still sound asleep from last night´s adventures, celebrating their arrival around the Cape of Good Hope. As things usually go when cruisers meet up, they all came over later that night for some sundowners on Mahi, and that´s when I first met Brady. We all had a great time, and ended the night with some good old Star Wars watching onboard Delos. A few days later, me and Brady decided to go out for a night to see the local comedy club. Granted, we didn´t actually end up seeing very much of that, so I can´t tell you a lot about the show itself. What I can tell you though is that we had an amazing time, and that after that night I ended up spending most of my remaining time in Cape Town onboard Delos.
The following weeks it felt like someone had just turned the color back on in my life after having spent the past year focusing on school and upcoming exams. Getting to have my parents and my brother all close by, spending time with Brady and discovering the beautiful city of Cape Town was exactly what I needed at the time.
(My brother and I with Brady, Brian and Karin in the V&A Marina, Cape Town)
That month in Cape Town flew by in an instant. Even when Brady and I first started hanging out, we already knew I would be leaving within the month. But the closer to that day we actually came, the more absurd it seemed to me that I would never get to see neither Brady nor the rest of the amazing Delos crew again. Sitting at the airport in Cape Town, I realized just how happy I´d been over the past month, and how little sense it would make to let this be the end of it. So after flying back home and having Brady come out to visit me in Sweden, I got straight into sorting things out to be able to fly out and sail with Delos this summer.
(Brady and I hiking around Cape Town)
And now here I am back on Delos typing this blog somewhere in the Indian Ocean. I have been aboard for about two months now, and it still feels a bit unreal. I am so grateful that my parents were crazy enough to take their kids sailing at such a young age. Looking back, it really ingrained something into my soul that keeps feeding my urge to go sailing and traveling. I have had so many great experiences and memories from the past few months on Delos but the time is flying by and I have been offered an amazing opportunity to come work on board the tall ship Gunilla. I will be heading back to that floating college that I called home a few years ago but this time instead of being a student I will be one of the teachers and crew. I’ll be part of the crew sailing her from Sweden to Portugal over the next few months, and after that I´ll see where life will take me
Many people envision the cuisine on a boat as not much more than eating cold baked beans out of the can and rationing out water and moldy pieces of bread.
But not on Delos! The galley is fully kitted out with a gas stove, microwave, ice machine, fridge, freezer, bread maker, soda stream and all the cooking utensils you would need to make almost any meal, as well as a huge amount of storage space. We also have two stills on board, to make alcohol, and a water maker that can pump out approximately 200 liters of water an hour.
Burger Night on Delos (Fry’s Veggie Burger for me!)
We have two special diets on Delos, being Karin who is intensely lactose intolerant and I am a unashamedly a bunny-hugging vegetarian (although I am open to the idea of eating fresh fish , killed and caught as humanely as possible by the crew.)
It has been surprisingly easy, so far, to cater for the both of us and I really appreciate the crew’s efforts in making me delicious veggie alternatives.
The four boys, on the other hand, eat pretty much everything and anything, including all my leftovers.
Each crew member has their own day to take charge of the galley and for that day you are responsible for lunch, dinner, as well as all the dishes. It may sound like a lot for one day, but it is quite enjoyable and for the next 5 days you can park off and get fed by the other crew members as you have time to contemplate the next feast you will cook up.
‘Swedish Tex Mex’ by Karin.
We have a real big mix of personalities on board and that in turn makes for some interesting and different meals, each person having their own flair and flavor palette. Brady likes to make ‘mix ups’ or ‘mash ups’ where he pretty much puts a huge variety of ingredients into a stew, soup or pie , his other specialty is Mexican food. Dillon is the pasta king and takes huge pride in his perfect ‘al dente’ pasta. Karin likes to add the word ‘Swedish’ as a description to her every meal, whether it is a ‘Swedish Tex Mex’, ‘Swedish Pizza’ or ‘Swedish Chocolate Cake’, her flavor balance is perfect and always makes me feel right at home. Brian likes to cook greasy and meaty but is always kind enough to provide me with a delicious veggie option. Kiril underestimates his cooking, always fretting about what he is going to make on his day, but he has a great style in the kitchen and is one of the best choppers I have ever seen. I am more inclined to cook spicy curries (although I have had to tone them down a bit for the sake of the crew), I am from Durban after all. Variety really is the spice of life!
Thai Green Curry, one of my favorite meals
Living on the ocean can really build up an appetite and I find myself constantly day dreaming about food. I am hoping I don’t put on too much weight during my time aboard as we truly eat like kings.
Below are just some of the amazing meals we have had on Delos during our time in South Africa (each meal is lactose free and vegetarian or had a veggie alternative for me)
Veggie / Chicken Stirfry
Salad, roast veg and roast chicken
Coconut Cream curry
Cous Cous Salad
Part 2 (the crossing from SA to Reunion)
The first 3 weeks eating on Delos was mostly at marinas with only 4 days cooking out at sea. After the 15 day passage from SA to Reunion, I have decided to write a bit about how our meals changed while out at sea. Firstly, I was horribly sea sick for almost half the passage, which made keeping my food in my stomach very difficult. Nothing really appealed to my appetite and my cooking day was quite tough on me.
Secondly, the ocean was really rough for most of the passage, with only a few calm days. Cooking while the boat was surfing down huge swells and beating into 40knots of wind was not easy, you had to strap yourself into the galley so you wouldn’t fall and break your face. Prep had to be done carefully, chopped veg had to be put into containers on grip pads so you didn’t have pieces of carrots and cucumber flying around the galley. Hot oil was a bit hazardous and frying was to be avoided, hot water for tea and coffee could also prove to be a little dangerous if you weren’t careful.
Bread ran out on about day 3 so go-to easy sandwich lunches were done with and had to be replaced with meals like 2 minute noodles, wraps and pancakes. Anything really goes out at sea!
Burritos by Brady!
The veg was all refrigerated and lasted surprisingly well! We still had edible tomatoes, potatoes, onions, butternut, oranges, apples and even a cucumber that survived two weeks at sea!
I think everyone’s favorite meals of the voyage were those provided by a beautiful Tuna that we caught on day 11 out at sea.
Being vegetarian, I don’t support any mass produced meat industries as the animals suffer , live short lives and are often treated badly, let alone the environmental destruction caused by mass fishing and factory farming.
But our tuna was a good size, killed swiftly and fed 6 hungry sailors for 3 meals. I thanked the ocean for his sacrifice and enjoyed the meals thoroughly, feeling no guilt.
The first fish dish was divine, Brady made seared tuna steaks with a thin sesame seed crust and ginger and honey rice on the side. The meat was tender and flaky and something I had not experienced in years, the simple meal was a real treat.
The next day, Karin and I made sushi for lunch. It was my first time making sushi and I really enjoyed it. Surprisingly, we had all the ingredients for California Rolls! Sushi Rice, seaweed, avo, carrots, cucumber, the raw tuna, sesame seeds, topped with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. I was quite good at rolling the whole bunch together in a long, neat cigar.
The end result of our California Rolls!
Our third meal provided by the delicious tuna was a tomato, olive and tuna pasta made by Kiril and Dillon, which was also a hit.
Karin also made a Swedish chocolate cake, which was a real treat out at sea, we ate it out of the tray like kids. Everyone probably ate a little too much and we experienced a buzzing sugar high and then a crashing sugar low.
All in all, the meals were simpler, we ate lots of one pot meals, as they are obviously easier to make than complex dishes with loads of different textures and tastes. But the crew really impressed me, everyone still put so much effort into making great meals even if they weren’t feeling so great themselves.
No matter where or how I travel, food is always something to indulge in, enjoy with good company and will ultimately bring back memories when you eat similar meals in the future.
Cheers for all the tasty meals and great conversations around the dinner table Delos! I hope to dine with you again one day!
Don´t be fooled by social media, you don’t need a yoga mat, blocks, or even a cute crop top and yoga pants. There is nothing wrong with indoor yoga studios and all the yoga gadgets, but you cannot experience the elements in an air conditioned studio or the comfort of your bedroom.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana) on Mossel Bay Beach: Strengthens thighs, calves, ankles and spine. Stretches groin, inner thighs, chest and shoulders. Helps you to find your balance.
During my yoga practice, I like to get my feet a little dirty, I seldom use a mat and often embark upon a session spontaneously. I like to feel the breeze on my face. Sun on my skin. Ground beneath my body. Soft sounds of nature. All you need while practicing yoga in nature is yourself and the magnificent mother earth.
Warrior 1 (Virabhadra 1) on St Francis Bay Dunes: Stretches chest, lungs, shoulders, arms and back muscles. Strengthens all muscles in the legs. A great power, self-confidence and positivity pose.
While traveling with SV Delos, I was fortunate enough to find beauty, balance and bliss on beaches, beneath waterfalls, on sand dunes, in gardens and on the edge of cliffs with active volcanoes in the distance.
Living in a small flat, in a big bustly city, this is not something I get to experience on a day to day basis, and often have to resort to yoga in my lounge. I felt so lucky and appreciative to explore and connect with such diverse surroundings!
Half Lotus (Padmasana) on Port St Francis dock : Calms the mind. Stimulates pelvis, spine, abdomen and bladder. Eases menstrual pain, and frequent practice and can ease a pregnancy and child birth. Stretches ankles and knees.
I would really have liked to have done more yoga during our two week passage from South Africa to La Reunion, I envisioned myself in peaceful half lotus pose on the bow at sunset, being totally at one with the majestic ocean. Unfortunately life had other plans for me, the ocean was extremely rough and I would be tossed from a simple tree pose by every wave that hit the beam. On top of that I was horribly sea sick for almost half of the voyage and my attempts at yoga were little more than a few stretches in my bunk. But on the bright side, this was the perfect time for meditation, having loads of alone time and being surrounded by a rather angry but awe-inspiring ocean. I really enjoyed my time out at sea, having many moments of silent contemplation to myself, but it was a relief to spot land after 15 days out at sea, with on and off nausea hovering over me. It is a lot easier to do yoga with some solid ground beneath your feet.
Side Angle stretch (Utthita Parsva Konasana) on Reunion Island volcanic desert: Improves flexibility and posture. Strengthens back. Stretches front body and legs. (shoes worn as it was extremely sharp lava rocks)
Even though I have been practicing yoga for a few years, I am still very much a beginner. But good things take time, I have no need to rush, I have the rest of my life and I take joy in the smallest progression.
I encourage anyone wanting to start their yogic journey, to go at your own pace and start slowly. Try not to compare yourself to other yogis, there are a lot of crazily flexy and bendy people out there.
Let yourself be enveloped by love and light as you immerse yourself in nature, deepen your stretches and discover new places that bring peace to your soul.
Camel Pose (Ustrasana) under waterfall on La Reunion : Stretches full front body, ankles, thighs, groin and throat. Improves posture. Strengthens back muscles, stomach and next. Great pose when learning to trust yourself in trickier poses.
Never really having been photographed during my practice before, I was a bit skeptical of having a camera on me. I was understandably nervous that it would take away from my breathing and mindfulness. I even considered writing this blog with no attached images. However, Kiril Dobrev (the photographer of all these images), and I worked really together, he would just snap away silently while I did my thing, at times I had no idea he was there. I am really happy with how all the photos turned out, they really show the essence, individualism and simplicity of how I practice yoga, and I would be so happy if they inspire even just one person to step out of the studio from time to time and reconnect with nature through yoga.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana) on a cliff overlooking a volcano on La Reunion: Strengthens ankles and calves. Stretches thighs and hips. Improves concentration and balance.
Never having had a case of sea sickness during my many voyages, totaling around 8000nm, I was extremely surprised when I started feeling waves of queasiness almost as soon as St Francis Bay disappeared behind the horizon on our trip from South Africa to Reunion Island. I have always claimed to having a stomach of steel, never experiencing motion sickness and being able to eat street food from some of the grimiest holes in India with not one case of the infamous ‘Delhi Belly’.
At first I tried to convince myself that I was just finding my sea legs after an extended time on land and the weird feeling in my stomach would soon pass. Perhaps it was just nerves or excitement for the long passage ahead of us. I couldn’t possibly be sea sick!
It’s all in the eyes, reading could not even take my mind off my sea sickness.
It turned out I couldn’t hold down my first meal of the passage, a Thai green curry, one of my favorite meals, although not so tasty coming back up. I tried to keep up a cheerful composition, but after day 3 of continuous vomiting, I felt like a brain dead zombie and was so weak that just getting in and out of my bunk required maximum effort. I somehow still managed to do all of my watches and even cook for the rest of the crew on my cooking day, although eating hardly anything myself. The scariest thing was knowing that there was possibly still two more weeks left of the crossing and I couldn’t bear the thought of feeling like this for even a few more days.
Some of the rough weather we experienced on the crossing
The weather may have had a part to play in my uneasy stomach, we were really beating into it, Delos rode up waves and then crashed down the bottom of them tirelessly. There was no rhythm in the movement of the yacht and waves often seemed to come from strange directions, but I had sailed in rough weather before and had never taken a sea sickness pill in my life.
I fully believe in mind power and spent hours trying to ‘think’ my sickness away as well as meditating on positive mantras and pictures of nature and health. Mind over matter, right? At times I felt better and had bouts of energy but I still couldn’t eat anything and even the smell of food cooking in the galley completely nauseated me. I couldn’t think of one palatable meal and even plain crackers and water left me feeling ill.
It was time to turn to the pills, to be honest I probably should have resorted to them days before. But I have never been a pill popper and medication for me is always a last resort. At first they didn’t really seem to work and then on the morning of day 6 I woke up feeling slightly more human and was brought back to life with a piece of cheese on toast and a glass of Apple juice, I will never forget how delicious that kiddy-sized meal was. It was an amazing feeling to get my appetite back, although my stomach had shrunk quite a bit after my many days of ‘feeding the fishies’.
Somehow still functioning and doing my duties as I write my log after a watch.
I truly have a new found empathy for all those prone to sea sickness, it is really one of the worst feelings I have ever experienced. Thankful to be feeling better and have my usual sparkle back, I began to enjoy the passage and spend less time in my bunk and more time outside sailing, although I still had bouts of nausea during rough weather and even threw up a couple more times after my ‘recovery’. After 15 days out on the ever moving ocean, I was ecstatic when we spotted still, stable, solid land. Glorious land! The one and only cure for the sea sick!
“So, when are you guys headed to the Caribbean?”, Behan asked. My face tried to show that I’d never been asked that question before but in fact it was probably the 50th time that week. You see, when cruisers are together, there a few topics that are guaranteed to make it into the conversation at the cruiser pot luck dinner. First and foremost, the weather. How is the weather? How was the weather? How will the weather be? Where do you think the wind will be coming from and how strong will it be? This discussion is usually followed by something like; how long are you staying in this anchorage? – which you always seem to answer with “I’m not sure, it depends on the weather”. You can see how these topics can feed each other for hours, especially after a few rums. The next topic that will creep its way into the conversation is usually something like; so, where are you guys headed? What’s the big plan? How long will you be cruising for?
It was sometime in September 2015 in Nosy Be, Madagascar. We were at the local yacht club with SV Totem and a handful of other boats that had just crossed the Indian Ocean and were on their way to South Africa and beyond.
La Marina Yacht Club in Nosy Be, Madagascar
“Hmmm I’m not sure Behan…All we really know is we’re stoked to get to Cape Town and enjoy some time at the dock.” What I did know is that most boats were leaving for the Caribbean from South Africa around January 2016 but for us that seemed way too soon. We were planning on being in Cape Town by Christmas and from that time forward all we knew is we were ready to stay in one place for a while. To have a bit of a routine, to be grounded and have friends, to have familiarity for a bit. From the outside, I can clearly see how the cruiser lifestyle can be clouded with countless beaches, rainbows and sunsets with cocktails. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of the above but it all comes with a sacrifice. You are constantly on the move, thinking and planning around weather, considering the safety of your anchorage, figuring out the local language and sorting out parts for the countless things that are always breaking and then figuring out how to pay for the parts. And to top it off, you spend so much time away from friends and family, and just when you make good friendships in your current spot, it’s time to move on and say goodbye as the cyclone season is fast approaching.
Repairing a seized wench, Madagascar
Trying to re-build the water-maker pump, Madagascar
“What about you guys?” I asked back, half knowing the answer. “We are leaving Cape Town around mid-February and plan to be back in the states by July next year!” Behan replied with a big smile. “Whoa! America!” I said back surprised. Being away so long I often think of the States as I used to think of the rest of the world; far away and very foreign. “What a crazy place” I told her with my eyes wide as if I was talking about some far off jungle in Asia. “So much to do and see, and it’s cheap! And your family and friends are there…” I went on for a while talking about America and all the cool things that I had heard about but never seen. I remember that conversation vividly and especially the excitement I felt about the prospect of being back home where everything was familiar.
Brian came strolling up with a plate full of roast pig, potato salad, stir fry and a cupcake all piled together. When cruisers get together it’s an amazing event. A buffet with flavors from all over the world thrown together and everything is boat made with love.
Breeeyawn the Braai Master, Nosy Be Yacht Club, Madagascar
Brian joined in on our conversation about the cruising life and familiarity, family, friends and the possibilities of where we were headed next. “Hey you could always just come back to Madagascar” Behan said, knowing how much Brian, Karin and I loved the country. We laughed it off and continued the party as we poured another rum.
The cruiser party continues at the local bar, Madagascar
Fast forward about 3 months and about 2,500 miles later. We made it to Cape Town by Christmas and settled into life tied to the dock. Normally, this is the time in the cruising season where we would leave Delos and go off to earn some cash for the next season of sailing. Whether it be writing code from Delos, random hospitality jobs, internships or super yachting; it had been the trend from the beginning. This season was different though, we decided to spend all our time and effort on Delos. We went full ahead, editing episodes and compiling a list of all that needed to be done! We have so much love for the amazing Delos Tribe around the world. Without you this journey wouldn’t be the same. Your support, combined with the exchange rate of the South African Rand, made the option of focusing on Delos and editing more episodes possible.
Delos at the V&A Waterfront Marina, Cape Town, South Africa
Christmas in Cape Town with Karin’s Mum
All that we had been craving was suddenly right in front of us. It didn’t take long for Brian, Karin and I to develop a routine alright. In fact, Delos didn’t even leave the dock for months on end. We quickly got into the “normal” life of waking up, going straight on the computer to edit videos, work on our T-shirt shop, answer e-mails, comments and messages, release videos to YouTube and Patreon, and of course film and enjoy a summer in Cape Town. The “office” hours would usually go on until we got what I like to call the “clicks”. That point where you’ve sat at the computer for far too long and you just start clicking randomly on the screen. Opening and closing emails and your web browser, searching for things on google then forgetting why you searched for them in the first place. Yea, the clicks can be a bitch. We’d then move onto boat projects and, holy shit, we had a lot of things to fix and repair. Delos is 16 years old now and so many things have failed or were about to fail. Countless hours were spent in the engine room, in the bilges, behind the cabinets, and up the mast, fixing, painting and getting Delos back into tip top sailing condition.
The scrum board of To-Do items
Cape Town also turned into a great place for me to heal. While traveling non-stop and constantly being introduced to new environments, new experiences and new people, it can be hard to step back and take time for yourself. Moments of calm and reflection can be tough to find when there is always something new to do and experience. Cape Town gave me that time to really be one with myself. It’s tough going through a break up, especially when the relationship was as good as Josje and I’s. When she left Delos in Madagascar, I didn’t really fully process it until we got to Cape Town and settled in, whether subconsciously or not. I got into a routine in Cape Town, and took time for myself whether it was meditation, meeting up with friends, or taking the motorcycle for cruise. Slowly the Delos videos I was editing with Josje in them became much brighter and my inspiration for work turned to happiness. I am lucky to get to re-live the great times we shared together as I edit more episodes. There is no doubt in my mind that our paths of life are exactly where they should be and both of us are living life with smiles, love, and laughter.
Me taking Delilah, our motorcycle, for a cruise around Cape Town
As the weeks blurred together and March was fast approaching, we kept getting asked the same question over and over. ”So, when are you guys leaving and where are you going?” By this point the 3 of us had gotten so used to dock life and so accustomed to all we were missing months earlier in Madagascar. We had the routine, the friends, and the familiarity we craved. We could walk to the store to buy groceries and fresh veggies, take long hot showers at the marina, treat ourselves to dinners out, party with new friends and leave Delos for a day or two knowing she would be safe in the marina. I even developed a Dad Bod. Apparently it’s from a lack of exercise and an excess of sitting in front of a computer consuming lots of food and beer. I’m told from a credible source (the same source that diagnosed my dad bod) that my dad bod is IN right now and in high demand. So I’m pretty happy about that.
Me reppin’ my dad-bod along side Karin and her mum
Before our eyes, Delos turned from a world cruising boat, where we had to conserve everything, to a very small floating apartment with unlimited power and water. Those things we craved so much. The comfort, the easiness, the convenience started becoming less and less special. We found ourselves asking each other; are we really ready to get to the Caribbean and the States? Are we ready for constant convenience and simplicity? The same things that we craved months earlier were now becoming a reason not to keep heading west into the Caribbean and America. A perfect example of the grass always being greener on the other side. It almost felt like we were about to head west just because that’s what you’re supposed to do once you have rounded the Cape of Good Hope. You surely weren’t supposed to sail East around one of the most dangerous capes in the world, in the opposite direction. But it took so much work to get to this part of the world. To make it to the Indian Ocean is not an easy task, especially if leaving from the West coast of the states. It took over 6 years to get this point covering over 30,000 miles. It took a while for the three of us to come to terms with what our minds had already made up, but we finally made the decision to leave Cape Town in May of 2016. We were to head East, back to Madagascar and the Indian Ocean for one more lap of the unknown, the tough, and the unconventional. Once that decision was made, the weeks started flowing even faster as we had a goal in our minds. Our focus turned to planning our next cruising season into the Southern Indian Ocean. The to-do list slowly got smaller as we worked day and night on Delos.
New machined heat sink for generator
New coolant water pump for main
Re-wiring sail control switches
Sweating over the broken A/C
Wiring the new anchor windlass control
Adapter for our broken main mast foil
Dirty, dirty, dive locker
Replacing the old water heater
Painting furler gearboxex
Replacing old, broken instruments
Re-wiring new instruments
Adjusting timing belt
Installing new instruments
Meanwhile, through some friends of ours, I met an awesome girl. Camilla was in Cape Town on a little break from studying medicine in Sweden and just so happened to be visiting her family on their sailboat at the same marina as Delos in Cape Town. Camilla and I hung out in Cape Town for the month that she was there having what I thought was the most normal beginning of a relationship I had experienced in a long time. We did the normal things I think most land lubbers do; went to dinners, comedy shows, movies and hikes. The time flew by and Camillia was headed back to Sweden to continue her studies as a medical student. At that point, Brian, Karin and I were just waiting on parts to arrive and the other work could be done from literally anywhere with an internet connection and my laptop. So, I decided to say fuck it and fly to Sweden for a few weeks, leaving Delos, Brian and Karin for the first time in over a year. As I was leaving Cape Town, I remembered my visa extension stamp hadn’t been put into my passport yet. In the South African Home Affairs system, I had been granted another 90 days of stay, so of course, there shouldn’t be a problem once they look up my passport number… or so I thought. Well, that was stupid to assume. As I tried to talk my way out of the situation with immigration, I was declared “undesirable” at the airport and kicked out of South Africa. Why would a country not have the immigration computer at the airport linked with the database in the capital? TIA (This is Africa), I said to myself as I was told I wasn’t allowed back in the country for 1 year. Thoughts raced through my head of making a run for Delos. Or even flying back from Sweden to a neighboring country like Botswana or Namibia and sneaking across the border; or even having Delos pick me up in a bordering country. Luckily we had a friend in Cape Town who helped us get our visa extensions and happened to be an immigration lawyer! I love how the smallest things or chance meetings make a big impact later in life. My 10 day planned trip to cold snowy Sweden turned into almost a month, as papers were filed and I once again became “desirable”. Although it was cold, I can’t say it was a bad month. I love seeing new cultures and experiencing cold weather. It really reassures me that choosing a life on the warm ocean is for me. The awesome news is Camilla will be on break from her University soon and will be coming to sail with us while in the Indian Ocean.
Camilla and i with our Jager-Meister friend
So here I sit, somewhere in the Southern Indian Ocean south of Madagascar, sailing East towards La Reunion. I am surrounded by awesome people, including our new crew contest winners from South Africa. We have only been out at sea for 6 days now and I can already feel the seahab working its magic. I am sleeping good, eating good and laughing a lot. All the land “problems” and stresses that come with being so connected all the time have melted away. It’s crazy the amount of work we did in Cape Town in front of the computer and I find it hard to come to terms with how much time was spent using the internet. It baffles me how many times I checked my emails a day, and how I would check how many likes or comments a certain post would get on Facebook. I got stressed over things as trivial as a forgotten e-mail or a slow internet connection. It was all noise at the end of the day and made the weeks melt together like hours. But now, at sea, it has gone silent. The noise of the connected world has faded and time has slowed down to normal pace again.
Sunrise over the Southern Indian Ocean
Awesome new friends, Kiril, Carmen and Dillon
We have come to Dr. Ocean and we are forced to relax, breathe, read, write and most importantly, adapt to and listen to nature. If the wind is blowing, we sail fast, if it’s not, we go slow and bob around. The uncontrollable aspect of it all takes the weight off our shoulders. If the sun is shining and our solar panels are putting power in, then we can pull out the laptop and work on the next Delos episode or just lay on deck. Eventually, we will come across internet again, things on Delos will break and I will stress over things that don’t deserve it. Life will get noisy for a while, but I know the sea will always be there to quiet my mind just as it has silenced the past 6 months in only 6 days. I feel so blessed and grateful to be able to see and experience all aspects of life, and ride the ups and downs as they come. Iv’e learned too much of one thing is bad and you will never appreciate the sunsets with out the storms. The key to appreciation is balance and moderation.
It was this time just about a year ago. Delos was in Thailand and we were preparing to cross the Indian Ocean. There are lots of stories about this immense body of water floating in the cruising community. Did you hear about so and so that lost their rudder rounding Madagascar? How about that couple that abandoned ship off the south coast and was rescued by a cargo ship? Did you hear the Volvo Ocean Race boat ran aground north of Mauritius? Did you know that there are 60 foot standing waves off the coast of South Africa? Indian Ocean planning in Thailand
In the northern Indian Ocean there are seasonal monsoons that blow one way, then switch 180 degrees the next month. The Southern Indian Ocean bumps right up to the Southern Ocean and has massive low pressure systems rolling through that would make any sailor wee their foulies. Oh yeah and then there are the tropical storms that come ripping through in both the North and South.
Not to the mention the pirates! If you decide rounding the Cape of Good Hope and massive low pressure systems is not your cup of tea you can head north. But then you run the gauntlet of Somalia Pirates and Yemeni Militia men that would just as soon shoot or kidnap you as wave to say hello. Not fun!
Sailing towards Cocos Keeling
So because of this you see a lot of cruising boats hang out in Asia. They meander back and forth from Thailand to Malaysia to Indonesia and back in an endless visa-extending loop. Maybe up to the Philippines for a bit if you’re feeling adventurous. It’s a warm, comfortable, and extremely easy way to spend a few years. I think there is a definite mental block when it comes to leaving this paradise. I know because I experienced it firsthand with sweaty palms while we dreamt up the easiest way to sail across to Africa.
Even if you put the crazy weather and trigger happy pirates out of the picture leaving Asia and heading towards Africa is a big cruising commitment. Especially if you take the southern route it commits you to sailing either to Europe or to the Caribbean which can easily add a year or two to any cruise. Once you leave and head Wests it’s pretty damn hard to come back so you just keep on going and going and going until you get somewhere you can chill for a while.
All that said the Indian Ocean has a lot of things to offer. It is incredibly remote, barely traversed, and has some of the best sailing we’ve ever seen. I’d venture to say that the SE trades in the Southern Indian Ocean rival the South Pacific. Maybe even better. And the South Pacific is kind of the yard stick that we measure trade winds by.
Delos anchored in Cocos Keeling
The small specks of land (of which there are few) are spectacular and incredibly isolated. For many weeks on end we found ourselves with an entire island, atoll, or certainly anchorage all to ourselves. Which is a pretty special experience.
We mention this because last season as our time in Madagascar was coming to an end we came up with a crazy idea. What if instead of sailing across the Atlantic on the normal “safe” route we try to stay in South Africa longer? What if we stayed so long that the cyclone season ended and instead of sailing West we’d sail East again and hit some of our favorite spots again?
So we pondered and pondered our options. All the pro’s and con’s. It meant another year of cruising before we’d see the Caribbean and also our family in Florida. It meant another season with our eyes glued to the weather as we dodged low pressure systems and ran from port to port down the Wild Coast of South Africa. But it also meant returning to some very special places that are incredibly hard to get to. You either have to sail from Asia or from South Africa to the Indian Ocean, and it would be a very long time, if ever, that Delos would be in Asia again.
So over a delicious Sushi lunch one day we sat down and made our decision. We all blurted out the same thing at the exact same time. Let’s do it! Let’s spend another year exploring the Indian Ocean and Africa.
Possible routs for the next season
We’ve always talked about returning to someplace we fell in love with. Like going back to Vanuatu, or New Zealand, or the Philippines. But the seasons and winds have always pushed us West. And now this is our chance to spend more time in some of the places we loved the most. Particularly Madagascar which absolutely blew us away.
So we’re gonna do it! We’re gonna leave Cape Town after the cyclones are over and turn left instead of right. It will be a crazy cool sail skirting the Southern Ocean to make enough Easting before bearing off North to make for Le Reunion. But from there we will have sweet sailing for the next 6 or so months then return to South Africa which we also love very much for another incredible summer. So it’s a win, win, win for us. And the Caribbean isn’t going anywhere right?
Once again I am back as “The Sailing Mum” on Delos and have the fantastic opportunity to be a part of her great crew. This time we are going to sail around the Cape of Good Hope. How crazy is that?! Few places have the same mystical vibe to it. I feel that this is a place where everything is and has been set on edge. In Swedish we have the word “lagom”, which is sort of in between everything, not too good not too bad. A middle ground. That is not Cape of Good Hope. Here it’s either black or white. There are so many wonderful and awful things that have happened here.
I’m sitting in the cockpit of Delos. Its half past two in the morning. For me this time is so special. I love to be on watch in the middle of the night. Even though I’m not an experienced sailor I don’t feel scared or unsure, only humbled and blessed, and a bit on edge. But I have been on night watch before and Karin has gone thru all the instruments and things I need to watch out for and I know what to do. The night is calm. Only a few cargo ships and they all show up with their data on the AIS. None of the fishing-boat-crazyness that we had in Malaysia last year.
Last evening was very special. We passed the southernmost tip of Africa, Cape Agulhas. How amazing is that!? I am on Delos sailing with Africa on my right, sorry starboard, and Antarctica on my stern. This also means that I sail from one ocean to another, from the Indian Ocean into the Atlantic Ocean. So many firsts for me. First time in Africa for starters. And then, just when we leave the Indian Ocean, we get the most amazing sunset with the sun setting in the Atlantic Ocean. Oh yes!
Brian, Karin and Brady had made a thorough check of the weather before we left St Francis Bay. These waters are known for their scary weather changes and I am glad the Delos crew is so skilled and safe in the way they sail. We waited for the wind to turn to easterly, and had hopes for some nice downwind sailing. It got calmer than expected though, and we ended up motor sailing most of the way. Which is quite okay, considering what weather can be like here just next door to the roaring forties.
When I start my watch at one o’clock there was some wind, but it almost completely died out during my first hour. The water is so calm it almost feels spooky. Delos plows her way over the ocean floor. The sky is as black as the water and shows a million billion trillion stars more clearly than I have ever seen them before. I understand why it’s called the Milky Way, something that you rarely see with lights all around. After checking the radar one more time I sit on the side of the cockpit taking it all in … And that is when they show up, right beside me. Dolphins! One, two, no many more! Wow!
It doesn’t get any greater than this. To sit on night watch and have Delos accompanied by dolphins. It is as if they want to make sure that I’m okay. They greet me and guide me on my way when I cross their ocean. I’m a guest in their world were they know everything and I really don’t know shit. I feel so big and so small at the same time. The bio luminescence makes the water shimmer when the dolphins break the surface and leaves bright tracks under water when they swim away. Magical.
At three I see the lighthouse on Cape of Good Hope for the first time. Cape of Good Hope … Hope for what? Just the lighthouse is a symbol of hope. A light in the dark that will lead you in the right direction and keep you safe. I’m thinking about the early explorers from Portugal, Holland or China that rounded the Cape in tough conditions without a light to guide them. What was their hope? Tea from India, new land, free religions? And the native people, that got their way of life changed forever, what did they hope for? Well, now we know that something’s turned out good and something’s turned out very bad before changing to hope in this special and beautiful country.
The Cape is also a place where you change direction. You make a turn and doing so you have a chose in what direction to go. And as this is Cape of Good Hope it is the perfect place to make a turn for the best. So let’s do it, make a turn that will send a message of good hope. There is so much craziness going on in the world, has always been and will always be. But so very very very much more is wonderful, awesome and beautiful in so many ways. That is where I want to turn. This will be my New Year’s wish.
I make a turn at Cape of Good Hope and I make it a turn for good hope to all.
In Swedish the word Hope is “Hopp”. And Hopp has two meanings, Hope and Jump. So I will start the year with a jump for hope!
As it was just thanksgiving in ‘Murica I couldn’t help but think about the interesting holiday and what it really means…Well, right now I am sitting in a car driving through Botswana. If you would have asked me a few years ago, to point Botswana out on a map of Africa I would have had no idea where to look. And now, here I am, spending another thanksgiving away from family, in Botswana. I am thinking about what they are up to. The turkey, cranberries, stuffing, green bean casserole are all running through my mind. Only this year my thanksgiving is spent driving.. Passing wild elephants, giraffes and zebras. Driving somewhere I don’t know that I have never been and have no idea what to expect….Life is a strange, beautiful, intense journey and I’m so thankful to be on it.
Delos has been on a crazy journey for over 7 years now with big ups, big downs and everything in between. All of the people that have shared time on Delos have had their own ups and downs as well. The journey has taught us patience, balance, acceptance and most importantly to be positive and appreciate the little things in life like long showers, good food and hugs.
We are thankful for this opportunity to see the world and to share this beautiful planet with you. We are grateful to have our health. We are thankful to constantly be surrounded by people we love and for receiving sooo much love and positivity from the Delos Tribe. You are all a part of our journey and we are extremely blessed to have you along for this ride called life.
We are grateful for all the people we have met along our journey and the people we still have to meet.
We are thankful for the oceans, the land and the sky and every living thing that occupies every corner of the world. It is these living things that create balance that we as humans don’t fully understand.
Sometimes you forget how lucky you are to just be alive, to have the warmth of the sun shine on you, to have shelter, food and family. These are the most important things in life.
Unfortunately, thanksgiving happens only once a year although it should be an everyday thing; Be thankful every single day you have something positive in your life. Turkey, cranberries and beer should also be an everyday thing.
With all the crazy things happening in this world it’s hard to focus on the light, so make an effort to smile more and create random acts of kindness.
Life is too short to have enemies or animosities so forgive, accept and rebuild relationships.
Sending positive vibes and love to everyone around the world.
Keep laughing, loving and smiling for these are the things that make the world a better place. Much love from Delos in the motherland, Africa!