Sailing the world with S/Y Casablanca
From dream to reality
Sailing the world has become an adventure far more amazing than I ever imagined. I love all aspects of long-distance sailing.
The dream of living on a boat
In 2013, I made the decision to go on an adventure. It took 4 years before the dream in 2017 was realized.
I have been sailing my entire childhood with my family. I started with a small inflatable boat. It was quickly changed to first a slightly larger dinghy, then a small 7 meter sailboat and then an 8 meter sailboat.
The sailing expeditions went to both Sweden and all around Denmark.
To do like everyone else
Even before I in 2012 bought a small 2 bedroom apartment in Copenhagen, I had the dream of living on my own sailboat. But like most others, I chose to buy an apartment rather than following my dream.
The fact that I chose the apartment at the time was probably due to the skepticism I was met with when I told others about my dream. The reactions were “You can’t stay on a boat and certainly not in wintertime” and “isn’t it a bit gypsy-like”.
In 2013, it simply became too boring to live in an apartment – I missed the water! The freedom of releasing the moorings and go sailing to a quiet anchorage became too big and the apartment was put up for sale.
After a few weeks the apartment was sold and the hunt for a sailboat set in.
My parents who were tanned sailors helped me in the search for the right boat. The criteria were that the boat should be solid, of good quality, on a manageable budget and at the same time be capable of sailing on adventures.
Lady A & the preparations
Lady A fit the purpose perfectly. She was found in Heiligenhafen in northern Germany. A 12 meter Swedish solid and classic quality sailboat from 1986.
Many things were new, although I was quite a skilled sailor (despite my young age). But sailing on a long trip is not the same as sailing on a 3 week summer vacation.
I joined networking groups on Facebook which all were about long distance sailing and sailing the world. I had long lists of everything the boat needed to be prepared and equipped with.
Lady A covered into anti-algae chemicals
The list was relatively long and expensive, so a deadline was set for when the boat should be ready.
In 2016, after 3 years of savings and preparation, Lady A was ready.
Before sailing, solar cells had to be installed to produce power on board. And space to have a inflatable boat hanging at the back of the boat was required.
A good autopilot should be installed to control the boat as well as a “watermaker” to clean and produce water and a lot of other things.
Throughout the 3 years, there was also time to sail around Scandinavia. With 2000 nautical miles each year, the expeditions went to several locations in Sweden and Western Norway as well as around Denmark.
Along the way, I worked at Atea, which was on the sideline and fully informed of my plans. But adventure costs money and my list of equipment continued to be long. Although I wanted to leave, I also had a great desire (and need for the money) to continue in my work.
Atea gave me great support and approx. a year and a half before my scheduled departure, we agreed to postpone my departure for 2017. It provided a year more savings and a year more in an exciting job position.
My family and friends were obviously very involved in the project and were curious.
In fact, I think that much of the courage to realize the dream of sailing the world was that I had told everyone about the project and, not least, set a date for departure.
Postponing the adventure for a year was clearly something that had to be done only once.
Doubt quickly arose as to whether I got off at all. For some, the dream can easily end up being postponed again and again.
Guests and helping hands on board
In order for sailing the world to be possible at all, I searched for 2-3 people who would like to crew on board for approx. 4-8 weeks at a time.
To have others on board is important for both budget (more to share the cost), but especially for the social aspect.
However, it can be a challenge sometimes. After all, it’s not always that everyone has the same opinions and beliefs, but it’s both educational and inspiring.
What used to be my home now becomes our home 24 hours a day. In 4-8 weeks you get to know each other really well, and then you start all over again with getting to know new guests – it can be tough.
It’s a bit like having 3-4 roommates in a house, which is replaced every 4-8 weeks, just in much smaller space, in 30 degrees with limited resources on board.
Potential co-sailors came past Lady A for a cup of coffee and a talk about the adventure and what it entailed. We got to see each other face to face, tested our chemistry and they got the opportunity to see the boat and evaluate if it was something they would like to join.
As a result, over the first year I had a total of 8 guests on board.
During the trip, however, coffee visits got a bit complicated, so conversations with new guests were moved to Skype – when the internet allowed it.
The time of departure approached with rapid steps.
The to-do list continued to be long. The days went primarily with my full time job in Atea and evenings to restore Lady A.
I clearly remember when I could say “now is the last summer holiday before departure” and “now it’s the last Christmas at home in Denmark” etc.
On August 5, 2017 I sailed from Frederikssund harbor. My family, close friends and a lot of colleagues stood on the harbor waving goodbye.
It was very touching to see and say goodbye to all those who showed up. Many of them I haven’t seen in 3 years now. It’s crazy.
The first years of my circumnavigation expeditions typically lasted 4-8 weeks, depending on how long time we were on the water and where we were sailing. The longer we had to sail, the longer an expedition lasted.
The length of an expedition is not only based on the expedition itself, but also depending on proper weather conditions. Occasionally you have to wait for better weather.
The last thing you want is to feel pressured to sail because someone has to reach a flight. So plenty of time is the keyword for sailing long distances.
First year adventure
The adventure and circumnavigation started along the coasts of Spain and Portugal, and from there on to Cape Verde. In November 2017, we sailed across the Atlantic to the Caribbean.
Our first Christmas was celebrated in the Tobago Keys in the southern Caribbean along with another large Danish sailboat, S/Y Roselina.
April 11, 2018, we sailed through the Panama Canal and out into the Pacific. From there the trip went to Galapagos and on to French Polynesia with the first stop in the archipelago of Marquasas.
The Pacific was definitely Lady A’s longest distance
From Galapagos to Marquasas the distance was 3068 nautical miles and we spent 22 days on the trip. It was almost magical to see and come ashore after such a long time on the water – on May 25 we arrived at the island of Hiva Oa.
The plan was to spend about 1 year in French Polynesia. We sailed towards Tahiti when I was due to fly home for my brother’s wedding in late June.
In fact, I had promised others and myself not to go home during my circumnavigation. But when your big brother is to be married, then you have to be there and join.
I brought the newly married couples back to Tahiti on a 14 day sailing trip around French Polynesia. From there we sailed around the Atolls in the Tuamuttus archipelago.
Tuamuttos are my favorite islands of the entire trip. A series of beautiful atolls which provide good anchorages, crystal clear water, good diving spots, the most beautiful beaches and small cozy villages.
Time to try something new
By October 2018 I had to acknowledge that my circumnavigation was much more exciting than I had ever imagined. I was just crazy about all aspects of long distance sailing.
I admired the big boats we met along the way – especially the catamarans. They had far more space and good interior. It was almost like an apartment on the water.
I had never tried sailing a catamaran – in fact, I hadn’t even been on one.
I could see that this type of boat was popular out here. In Denmark, I had only seen a catamaran twice, while out here it was often half of the boats in an anchor bay, which were catamarans.
I decided to put Lady A up for sale! I wanted to find a boat with more space.
Lady A was 12 meters, designed with plenty of space both in cabin, cockpit and on the outside – primarily designed for the cold sailing days in the north.
I’ve had Lady A for more than 5 years and had sailed more than 20,000 nautical miles with her. Now it was time to try something new – and sometimes you just have to jump into it.
Lady A was sold fairly quickly. In fact, she was sold to the first ones who approached and on the first day with a for sale sign on.
Lady A’s new owners were a family from France who had moved to Tahiti. They immediately fell for Lady A and today the family sails, frequently around Tahiti on weekend expeditions.
Welcome to Casablanca
The huntfor a new boat was again started. This time for a boat that could offer a variety of other things than Lady A could.
I wanted to try something completely different. In the Papeete Marina there was a beautiful Lagoon 45F. A 14-meter catamaran that was only one and a half years old.
The owners, an elderly Australian married couple, had bought her in France from new, and were in the process of shipping her home to Australia. Unfortunately, they had been afflicted with illness which made them unable to continue their journey.
In addition to the catamaran’s fantastic comfort and multiple beds, she was also the perfect home for anyone wanting to live on a boat.
After a while, the papers on Casablanca were signed and in November 2018 I was able to continue my circumnavigation with Casablanca. It was a crazy feeling.
Casablanca has made the adventure at sea even more fun, even more comfortable and a lot easier.
Lady A was also a nice and sturdy boat, but it’s a dream now to be on a boat with much more room to move around, space for diving equipment and with more beds.
Casablanca and Lady A side by side on Tahiti
If there’s something I’ve learned, it’s to catch the chance when it’s there!
Love in the air
Just as I think the adventure can’t get any wilder, I meet Norwegian Ann Kristin.
Ann Kristin is the captain of her own sailboat and sailed from Norway just 2 weeks before I sailed from Denmark.
In fact, I met Ann Kristin the very first time in the Caribbean – in about 5 minutes. I remember I thought she looked amazingly beautiful.
We meet again a year later. From 5 minutes talk, it has become a lot of talk since. We soon found out that we had many common interests, which we now spend a lot of time talking about.
I have never met anyone with whom I found a “connection” so quickly.
Yep … I’m totally crazy with Ann Kristin and she gives me a heartbeat every time I see her. She has the most beautiful smile, the most beautiful eyes, a sweet Norwegian accent and then she is just amazingly beautiful to look at.
After sailing together for 4 months, we parted again. We were each going our own way, but agreed that in May 2019 we would sail from French Polynesia and continue our circumnavigation together.
In May, we headed for Niue, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu and from here to Indonesia. Along the way we have sailed side by side, every day, lying side by side in the anchor coves. It works almost like we sailed on one and not two independent boats.
From 2 to 1 boat
It’s been wonderfully nice to be 2 and along the way the emotions have grown. We have now decided to sail on one boat, Casablanca.
In fact, while I am writing this. Ann Kristin is sitting next to me sewing a new sun sail for her own sailboat, Jovial. Jovial must be fine and get ready so we can put her up for sale.
Jovial is a 33 foot – just over 10 meter – sailboat that can sail on a relatively small budget. We hope to meet some people who can see the possibilities in Jovial and thus take over a well-traveled long-distance boat that is ready for yet another circumnavigation.
Until Jovial is sold, we sail around Indonesia. Right now we have Ann Kristin’s parents on board. They help get the boat ready for sale. Ann Kristin has moved in firmly. It’s so cozy.
Our plans are to sail back to French Polynesia in June 2020 – we absolutely love French Polynesia and will need to spend some more time there.
We gather a team to sail with us and revisit Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga and Niue. Last time we visited the islands it was just tastings – now we know where we want to spend some more time and where the good places are.
If you have a dream, then take the chance
The beauty of an adventures is that adventure cannot be predicted. If you have a dream, then you have to take the chance, live in the present and be positively attuned – then you are often smiled by luck and happiness.
Ann Kristin and I now dream of continuing the adventure and our circumnavigation together. And by sharing our dream with others – such as family, friends and guests, we can fund the extra years we plan to spend.
We are in no hurry to return to a more normal daily life 😃
Would you like to be either an assisting Guest (Deckhand) or just a Guest?
If you would like to join us on an expedition and feel the life of when sailing the world, contact us for a chat.
You can read much more about who we are, where we are and our many experiences on our website “Sailing Casablanca“.
The article was written in collaboration with Martin Herløv from S / Y Casablanca.