A boat born to win
It all began from a simple email. I've had this big dream already for some of years, since I started sailing. “One day, I want to cross the Atlantic Ocean on a ship and throw myself into the unknown – fly like a bird and be free from all my ordinary duties.” However, I thought it could not be realistic, until I saw the announcement of the Tall Ship Races RDV Regatta on our sailing association’s newsletter. Without thinking for a second, I decided to apply for it. Surprisingly, I was chosen to be part of the Aava Transatlantic Sailing crew on s/y Vahine, a legendary Swan 65 boat – the first one ever built in 1973, in Finland. The same “sister” boat won the first Whitbread Around The World Race. (Now known as the Volvo Ocean race.) As you can imagine, I was thrilled.
Following Columbus’ footsteps
There we were 11 of us at the port of Las Palmas, Spain, waiting for the adventure to begin. It is a famous stop-over place for many crossers – even Christopher Columbus visited the city almost every time he sailed to America. Most of us were under 30, and the majority had not been sailing outside the Baltic Sea. Fortunately, we had met a couple of times before the trip so we knew already a little to whom we would be almost “married” for the next coming weeks. And still, there were plenty of things to arrange before we could sail off – grocery, fueling, cleaning, repairing sails and filling water tanks, to name a few.
Powered by wind, sun and veggies
The first task we got was to install the solar panels we had received from our sponsor. It was not so easy but luckily our boat was filled with helpful, real engineers. Afterwards almost all energy we needed on boat came from the sun! We were prepared to be at sea for one month so the amount of food we bought was crazy – I have never seen so many bags, boxes and cans in my life on the pier for one boat! First it looked totally impossible to fit them in but somehow we managed it, although later the zucchinis, onions and eggs kept popping up from very unexpected corners along the way – even from the toilet paper closet. Fortunately our boat was filled with vegetarians so we did not need to worry about rotting meat!
I felt like a zombie for the first three days as I was not able to sleep at all. It was way too hot and the noise during the night from the sails, winches and ropes was terribly loud. But then, suddenly, when you become too tired, you simply learn to sleep and you get used to everything. After that, things started to be better and I began to fully enjoy my time. The weeks went past so quickly – and we even survived the famous Bermuda Triangle!