A Travellerspoint blog


Sailin' fine!

Somewhere off Trivandrum


Sailing is like a game of cards, or a tabletop game. They explain it to you in great detail, you think you understand, and then on the first round you realize you have no idea what you’re doing. By the second round you’ve got half of it, and a few rounds later you wonder how it is you had doubts in the first place. So it is a bit similar here. We’re realizing that no matter how much we read and talk and demonstrate, doing is quite different.
Feels like longer we’ve been out here, even if it’s just a couple of days. Maybe it is because many things can happen in a day, so they feel very, very long. Or because we’ve been on this boat for more than two months now. Also might be because the nights are active too. Unless there’s absolutely no wind. Like last night… but even then I was woken up by the radar, big ships coming our way, it said. Nothing dangerous, just have to keep them in sight. Until now, only one cargo ship we’ve had to contact.
There are certain rules in the sea. For example, any ship that overtakes another has to take it into account (meaning go around it). Also, as a very general rule, sailboats have the right of way. So it is interesting to see a big cargo ship changing its course for us. A bit different than the land world. Here go are all equals, all creatures of the sea.
Creatures I say, not people, for it seems we have a passenger on the boat. Gerd went up the mast and, to everyone’s surprise, out flew a big, sleepy and startled fishing owl. It would not be strange it if made of our mast its new base for a few days at least. And under the boat we have a few resident fish under the boat as well. We’ve been sailing next to the shore to have some land or sea breeze, depending on the time of day, so there are some hours when there is no wind. Flat. So twice now we’ve gone swimming and diving and scraping the hull. We like the birds, and the fish too, but not the mollusks. Sorry, mollusks, it’s just how it is!
We’re almost at the tip of India. now There’s just no wind in this place, that’s why we hug the coast. But there is wind up ahead, we can see it in the maps and forecasts. So as soon as we get there, we’ll start shooting off towards the south point of Sri Lanka. More than twenty knots of wind over there! Better than our lazy three knot wind of the past days!
It’s great being out here. We ate flying fish today, it was given to us by some fishermen as thanks for not going through their net. It was better than the usual boats who come to us asking for cigarettes and alcohol. If we had brought a couple bottles of vodka with us, we’d be bathing in fish oil by now. But there are no drugs on this boat. Well, just the 20 kilos of coffee and tea! Apart from that, no drugs: no alcohol, nicotine or pot. No meat or cheese either! I’ve been craving a grilled cheese sandwich for a couple of weeks now. I’ll have to wait ‘til Dili for that... We’ll arrive there as planned it seems, sometime during the next 40-50 days. In the meantime, we are learning steadily. The other day I successfully hoisted and dropped the foresail on my own, with no fuck-ups. As if to compensate, I also dropped it into the sea. We lost some potatoes to the maggots, and a couple of old green beans. Apart for that, we are great! Healthy and tanned!
I’ll later try to add some photos, if we get another internet session before leaving the coast! But if not, well, see you later!

Posted by Zaspirucho 01:11 Archived in India Tagged fishing sailing fishermen liberty open_sea Comments (0)

Slowly but surely

We're leaving!!

View Liberty Goes East on Zaspirucho's travel map.

It seemed like it would never happen, yet now we are gone. The pier was clutter-free, things got stowed. Tanks are full of water, engine running smoothly. We just need to get our papers back, adjust this and that, clear out and be off. But we have a nicer view now, have left that bloody pontoon. It hasn’t really sunk in. We have left the port.

We destroyed this pier

We destroyed this pier


We had our good share of problems. After a year in India, the boat was covered in a solid coat of gunk. Most metal surfaces were rusty, and some important ones had even rusted away. So we remade them in wood, stronger than before. We cleaned and replaced and threw stuff away. Then we threw some more stuff away. But it is done now, and a new leg of this journey is beginning. Building is done, time for sailing has come!


It’s not that I don’t like India, but I’ll be glad to see it shrink in the distance. This time here has not been easy. I've never had this many communication problems. Anywhere. It’s not even a language barrier, since most people even understand some English. It’s something else, deeper. A barrier exists that I cannot properly describe… And it doesn't help that this whole experience has been very tiring and tense.
It is incredibly demoralizing to miss a deadline. Especially when it happens not only once, but time and time again. First, we wanted to leave by mid-November, but the weather didn't agree, so we had to change course. The new plan was longer, so we had to prepare the ship better, get everything tighter. Then Ali and Majed left, so we lost a couple of days of work, and two able hands. So that was another week. And then Ryan left. A family emergency called him back to Alaska. In a way, it was even good that we had been still in India, it would have sucked big time to get some bad news in arrival to Timor, or worse, in a remote island in Indonesia where he couldn't even get off the boat. He’ll maybe (he better) meet us back in Timor.

See you soon man!!

See you soon man!!

At least, right before Ryan left we managed to take a day off and explore some of the Kerala Backwaters. There we remembered why we are doing this, and where we want to go. Just getting out of the city made our hearts grow stronger, our lungs filled deeper. We got to a place where people asked How are you? not Where you from? They smiled and welcomed us… We didn't sail there, but were testing the dinghy’s new outboarder. It was an eventful day; we got stuck on shallow waters, motored at night and got in a fight with a fisherman. It was dusk, and a fishing line got entangled in our propeller. Although the net wasn't marked, it was still our fault, and we should have compensated him, after all, we did cause some damage to his fishing net. But he got very aggressive, very quickly. Seeing his paddle raised in front of me, where he could have easily broken my arm, did not make me want to reach for my wallet. So we broke his hold on us and sped off (rather dickishly) into the night. Not proud of it, but it is how it is. We must learn from to be extra careful with fishing nets.

We don't want to get into a fight with them!

We don't want to get into a fight with them!

So we are now three men crossing to Indonesia and beyond. It is not easy, things are tense. There were some motor problems, and last minute fixing of this and that. But it is all nearly done. We cannot clear out on Saturday, nor Sunday, for we must go to three offices, and at least one of them is closed at a time. But at least we have now left the Marina! Port Authority gave us permission to anchor in front of them, so here we are. Last minute fruit buying in town, and then off! This shall be my last post in India...

So now. We have read and listened. We have practiced our knots and ropes. We know what to pull and when to do it. We have ached and bumped and hurt. He bled, we healed. I would say we are ready. Let’s hope the sea agrees!! In the end, it was one month later than what I predicted. But it seems on one thing I was right: we sail on the Full Moon.
See you in Timor!

Lets sail!

Lets sail!

Feel like funding us a lump of cheese? A funky hat? Click here!

Posted by Zaspirucho 11:47 Archived in India Tagged ocean india sailing done working liberty departure thoughts stowing Comments (0)

Some thoughts from the pier

sunny 19 °C
View Liberty Goes East on Zaspirucho's travel map.

The world of sailing is one of wind and water, wood and metal. The forces of movement and stillness are ever present. It is a world of danger and adventure. Above all, it is real, and it is human.
Sailboats are built in the human scale, not citylike monsters of iron and diesel, but small manageable vessels. In them, most all things are important. Boats are systems, they become almost like living organisms, that exist in a symbiotic relationship with humans, who turn into sea creatures atop them...
The offshore, unplugged life also approaches us to the most basic human conditions. There's many things we have forgotten, living in our cities, condos and buildings...

For one, in Liberty there is no fridge, so we have to remember how to store food that it lasts the passage... At dusk, Tihomir peels off the skin layer of an onion. If it looks fine, it goes to the longterm pile, if it doesn't, he passes it to me. I inspect it for moulding and double cores, clean everything and, if it seems ok, I add it to the medium-term bunch; else I give it to Ryan he'll cut the rot off and cook the rest. In such a manner, chatting in the dark, we go through kilos and kilos of onions... This familiar scene has taken place in a similar way in other places, and in other times. We had headlamps on, others had fire, or maybe no light at all, but we all sat in circles, enjoying the company of others, and the meal to come. We thus engage in the real world, in the human world...

All the food we bought shall be likewise inspected, now and on the way. We must take care to eat what is weakening, not the strong and lasting. Also, before they even touch the boat, sacks are drenched in seawater, to kill or remove all bugs; cardboard boxes are left on the pier, bananas and most others are thoroughly rinsed to later be stowed or, like the now inspected potatoes, spread on deck, to dry. Cockroaches on a boat can be a nightmare, and we already saw one hanging around the machine room. Not to mention rats. You thought it was all buying, storing everything on a coolbox and flying away? Think again.
But food is here, most of it. So it's almost time to go meet those white collared people in that big, tall building, with their papers and stamps. Customs. Immigration. Bureaucrats. The way things have been here in India, I bet they won't let us go that easily...

Feel like helping out?

Posted by Zaspirucho 11:34 Archived in India Tagged food sailing pier liberty thoughts stowing Comments (0)

Unexpected farewells

27 °C
View Liberty Goes East on Zaspirucho's travel map.

Everyone reacts differently: the same moment may be experienced on a completely different way by two people standing side by side. And while I thrive in chaos, some don't... Ali and Majed are gone now, gone their own way. Difference in worldviews, plans and opinions, they gave us a lesson in persian pride. Will be missed.
Bye bye, persian guy!

Bye bye, persian guy!

Gone too is my laptop, the screen died one night, during a stowing away manouver. I just may have stepped on it. Nothing to do now! I've still got my iphone, so I can post from there, or borrow someone's computer. I'm not going to need it at sea anyway! Books need no batteries.

So it's only the four of us now: Gerd, Ryan, Tihomir and me. Trapped in India, we feel like the dear rats that walk on the pier at night, and fall prey of the rat traps. They gnaw all night at the bars, some of them manage to get out. Hope we're like those!


We've postponed departure once and again, so it's difficult now to believe any forecasts. There's yet another cyclone forming in the bay of Bengal. Perfect weather for us. Perfect wind. But we need to get out of this pier for that. We've gone full circle. I started tapping rust out of the stantion posts on the first day, was doing that again yesterday. Yet we ARE advancing. We've turned the boat around twice, and can now hoist and lower the sails on command. Just not advancing fast enough.

Clear out, sail away. Can't wait another day. Yet we are. Still.

Care to help out?

Posted by Zaspirucho 01:09 Archived in India Tagged india sailing working liberty departure Comments (3)

Liberty's looking east.

Provisioning starts.

View Liberty Goes East on Zaspirucho's travel map.

For some days here, morale wasn't too high. Motivation was difficult to find, and the heat didn't help. We started to slack, but then, the engine started. With it's deep roar it gave us a much needed energy boost. Then the new battery was hooked up, and music started to sound. We can do it, it seems! We can get out of here!!

A month I've been now, in this limbo. Neither at sea, nor in India. Days and days we've spent on this Bolgatty Island. With it's green garden and blue pool, it's not a bad place to be. For a week maybe. But then again, we plan to spend weeks at a time sailing, even a whole month! At least here I got space to walk around. And fresh food and water. Gerd cooked one night something akin to what we'll have on the third week at sea, when all the fresh produce is gone, and we have only some staples. Flour, powdered milk, potatoes, onions, garlic, and ghee. Some canned or dried food might complete the meal. Peanut butter for some luxury.

Ryan arriving!

Ryan arriving!

The food commission (formed by Ali, Majed and Ryan) got the first provisions today. Four boxes of noodles, peanut butter, coffee, oil and some more things. Promptly everything disappeared into Liberty's holds. With all the junk we've thrown away, there's plenty of space for food. And water, we'll be taking a ton of that. Literally.

Feng shui?

Feng shui?

So what is there left to do? Some projects we have going that started the very first day. Everything feels now like it's at 90%, but it's those nasty little details that take the longest. As Marc said, it's so that the first 80% takes 20% of the effort. Yet things are starting to fall into place. We're now spending more time into sorting things out and stowing them away, than in cleaning, or making them. Yet I'm going to bed as tired as always! Don't seem to ache as much in the morning though. Maybe I'm getting stronger? Maybe workloads have just gotten smaller. Even paint jobs are getting done, we're now painting inside: the floor, the walls. Green is the best color against seasickness, says Tristan Jones, so we paint the floor dark green. But Gerd wants a parrot boat, so there's also orange, yellow, blue, and bright green going around. Try everything! He said. It's going to look great on film. There's a new bamboo project being though of. Relatively quick to put in place, and will increase Liberty's anti-yachtness. We shall see.

Paintin' the mast! Taken by Majed Neisi

Paintin' the mast! Taken by Majed Neisi

For now, the ship has made it's first movement. up till this moment, we had been working with it looking westwards. For years it sailed in that direction as well. But we have turned it around. We now look east. It is important not only for it's symbolical significance, but because we got to work on some details on the other side, and because the harbor opens eastwards. So, in other words, we are getting ready to leave.

And I must not forget. If you care to contribute with a beer or some fishing lures, come here!

Posted by Zaspirucho 10:27 Archived in India Tagged food india sailing liberty crew beginning provisions morale Comments (0)

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