Month: April 2014

April 19 / French Polynesia

Reappear in the world after a one month blink. Time that was lived  in “no place” because there was not a single nigth spended  in the same geographical coordinates as the night before. An intense journey from the moment the coast of the American continent disappeared in waves. A shock of impression when realizing “there was no turning back here”… but then … then the silence … a pause in life, a break from the pace of the man’s world.  A puse to observe the moment itself…

The calendar said it was Sunday when we saw the shadow of something sticking aut to the usual perpetual horizon. The days had lost meaning, the boat had been without electicity the day before, I could not remember the last time I took a shower, and it seemed  like I’ve forgotten the smell of soil because the salt. I saw the distant island for 24 hours before arriving and I wondered: What could be doing the inhabitants of Nuku Hiva? How it would be a normal Sunday in the remotest island in the world? The Marquesas Islands are probably the most beloved for those who cross the Pacific Ocean as they are the first land that one return to the man’s world.

We entered to Taiohae  Bay crossing the mountain gates. Other sailboats were resting in the water. We droped anchor and the movement finally stopped.  It stopped!  We floated with a slight sway and  jumped on the dinghy to go ashore.  While I was going away from En Pointe for the first time I turned to look at the small yellow world in which I lived.  I got a feeling of detach from something to which he had belonged.

I got to ashore. I walked with weak legs, sea legs, because my muscles had weakened. At the beginning  a little as drunk, or rather like a child learning to walk? I learned to walk again then. I jumped around  expecting that everything will move… but not…  then I found everything so fixed, so disturbingly solid. My mind was confused, again playing a joke on it. I was overwhelmed by all the new things I saw: trees, yes, they were Uru trees and were very green, mountains, flowers, animals, horses, colors… people, voices, houses, languages! (French and marquisien). So much for someone who has only seen blue for long. I walked and I got tired quickly, my heart was beating hard, I took a deep breath… it had lived at sea level  and suddenly I was going up.  I felt the change in the whole body, in my mind, in my impressed heart.

On the island of Nuku Hiva  the first thing I found were smiles. Kaoha! every person that crosses on the way said . The friendliness of the people of Polynesia is famous among sailors; relaxed and simple; warmly smiling  to welcome those who brought the wind.

Total population of the largest island in the region = 2,600 people. The Marquesas are “the garden of French Polynesia ” is pure nature, there is any big building, however I was impressed by the degree of “development”. Tecnically is France and that can be seen in their few streets as neat such as Switzerland, in Baguettes, in their laws, and in the education, and health system.


How is the land beyond the other side of the Pacific?

The Marquesas are a land of lava, young and green islands where everything grows. Are islands of towering mountains in the sea, floating mountains, hills newborn.

A land where there is no cold seasons but fruit in season all year.

A land that sleeps peacefully under the most beautiful spectacle of stars. Here there is no nightlife besides the ones made on the shore, no rush in here.

A land where few humans live and the language of their ancestors is learned as well as the national language  in the schools.

A land with talking drums and ukuleles.

An island where life is on land, but it is known that one belong to the sea.

Principal pueblo en Nuku Hiva, localizado en el un antiguo cráter volcánico que parcialmente se colapso en el mar.
En Pointe (yellow trimaran) anchored in Taiohae Bay. Photo: Tom Van Dyke
April 19 / Sailboats

– So you’d never been on a sailboat?

– Never

– And you want to cross an ocean by boat anyway?

– Hmm … well, yes…

– Well, at least you know how to swim!


People were impressed because I come from “the mountain” as they said when I talk about Guanajuato. Sailing and cruising is not part of the culture in Mexico -yet-, even if here there are the most popular ports for sailing across the Atlantic and Pacific. However I was more impressed with the lifestyle of “the sailing community.” I’ve found all kinds of people on boats;  people with amazing stories about how they came to this lifestyle, men who spent more than 20 years living on a sailboat,  young couples who live-work-travel from country to country in this way, families with children (where children have never lived ashore), people from diverse backgrounds and countries. I also discovered that the “community of sailors” is a small group of people around the world, and how they support to each other.


Living aboard a sailboat is having friends wherever there is another sailboat.


Then I came to travel and live aboard Romany Star.  Pablo, the Captain needed help to take his boat from Barra de Navidad  to La Cruz in Nayarit in exchange I would learn the  basics of  sailing. The first impression aboard was the recognition of the living  space, it seems all so compact, everything has a specific place and a way to accommodate,  each corner of the boat is well spent. After that, it comes the recognition of the space occupied by the boat in the water. Is to say:  Well,  this is the space where I live,  I sleep , I travel… and after that is water. There is a feeling of being a small floating little world, a disconnection with the world on land being seen from afar, but also a different and stronger connection to everything around;  nature , water, and its constant change. For me those weeks  were about to learn this way of experiencing the world living in the water.  It was then when the days passed floating that I realized how light we can be,  but I was also aware of how much we weigh.


Living aboard a sailboat is to live floating.


For three weeks I learned in English the basics of sailing. Sail names,  boat parts, the names of the lines and its use. I also learned of knots and that everything has a different name just for belong to a boat. I learned the language of navigation,  but mostly I learned the language of the wind,  because a sailboat is for the wind and  I was for the wind too.


Living aboard a sailboat is to recognize the direction and strength of the wind.


I’m always asked if I get seasick. It’s one of the biggest concerns that people have when talking about living on a boat. I do not get seasick but I have discomfort the first day of sailing.  I feel weak and if there is much movement I don’t want to cook ,  neither read or do anything.  I’m just sitting out in the breeze, looking at the horizon (to have a reference point). There are however many different factors and answers for this seasickness question. It is assumed that at some point we all get seasick but the boundary for each person is different. I know people who get seasick and they have been living on boats for years. Also it depends on the type of boat, the wind, and the direction of the waves. Is recommended to lying down on the floor,  the closest to the water; other people prefer take drugs or pills;  and others have become used to living like this because as everything else: it will pass, in addition the seasick is not all the time but  in certain circumstances (that can last days tough).


Living aboard a sailboat  is to live in constant motion.


In the last seven months I’ve meeting all kind of people, some with an  average economic level (depending of what is average I guess…) and some others who practically could buy anything they wanted … and yet in a boat all carry certain belongings that we can fit in and no more. The priorities are very different in a sailor’s life. Paul and Bob (both Captains) were successful business owners in the United States. They created their own business, lived a life of luxury and excess were car, properties, and a lot of  nice things.  Both one day just got tired of that lifestyle and sold everything , bought a sailboat and went to live in the sea.

At this time I have used no more than 4 shorts, 6 shirts, and two swimsuits. I have a pair of sandals and  tennis shoes… that’s all I need.


Living aboard a sailboat to live with few possessions.


In the other hand, it didn’t take me long to discover the disadvantages of this type of life. First, there is an attachment to the boat, once you own a boat there is a constant “concern” about it. Second, is that get very expensive, some people say “is like a hole in the ocean where you throw money.” Third, is that everything revolves around the boat , that’s the priority. And last is that it is hard work, there is always something to fix and even the simplest things like getting water it consume energy and time.


Living aboard a sailboat is work and have vacations at  the same time.


Something curious that happened to me when listening  conversations between ” boat people ”  is that they reminded me so much of being in my grandmother ‘s ranch.  My grandmother and uncles are farmers and most of their chats are about climate, soil, plants, etc. Among sailors you talk about the moon, you pay attention to changes in the waves, temperature, weather… your conversation will go all around fishes, corals, sky, or the visibility of the water.


Living aboard a sailboat is talk about weather.


Life in a sailboat includes physical work.  One feels very present all the time for being using the body constantly, in different ways. Also you naturally get into water sports; swimming, diving;  long walks when you get to land, biking, or just exploring around. Living on a sailboat one becomes sensitive to the body’s own cycles and cycles of nature. I discovered more aware of something wild .


Living aboard a sailboat is living barefoot.

Photo by: Tom Van Dyke
April 18 / Sailboats

Morning coffee

I come back from my contemplation becausuddenlyddently rocking back and forth, I put the lid on my cup. Ha! Those tourist boats passing so close!  making waves,  shaking my coffee  and throwing aside my baguette with jam.  There is no respect. They don’t see that people live in here?  I immerse in myself again…

There are memories that are like cracks, and cracks are like doors… there are moments that when evoked they transport us. They’re waterfalls.  Is living them again. Today I’m flooded with a memory.

Is there something that could be called “Beginning”?

1.  Today I went back to the moment I knew that someone had crossed the Atlantic in a sailboat. On sailboat ! The Atlantic ocean?  For weeks?  In the sea? A woman and… alone?  Incredulity, amazement, a shaking feeling of ” REALIZE ” something.  I was living in San Francisco. That day I was biking around the bay … down there of the Golden Gate Bridge I saw the little white triangles drawing imaginary lines in the water… I was amazed, they were so small and so fragile as paper boats the wind can blow them off. And yet it was possible…


Drums inside

I’m back in Polynesia. Over there, onland,  one can see the guys rehearsing for the dance competition. Drums and ukuleles. I see the rehearsal as a neighbor watching over the fence, but I’m onboard of one of those boats that were sailing in San Francisco.

What happened from the day in the bay  to the moment of now that connect them like parallel universes?

2. When I worked in Geneva, I went to visit some friends in Germany.  Pao married Daniel from Berlin, I spent a week with them.  During the dinner, almost by chance, Daniel mentioned that he was crew on a sailboat for 6 months in the Caribbean.  He quited his job as an architect, left his house and all. His former colleagues had placed  in the office a photo of him sailing in the Caribbean with the footnote: “Best Employee of the Month” while they were living one of the coldest winters in Germany.  I felt again a feeling in the stomach. I felt closer. Now knew someone from the “real life” that did it.


Hungry for something

It’s lunch time? Here in the boat you know it’s time to eat when you are hungry. There is not shedule.  And,  what does it matter if it’s weekday or weekend ? I heat the leftovers of yesterday’s dinner and return to where I was …

3. During the time in Europe I was finding what to me seemed small signs, those traveling coincidences that one tries to read as gypsies read hands. I visited Marseille, a city where the sea is very important, being the largest port in the Mediterranean. I was walking around the boats and I met a guy who found a crew position on the Internet. Then Olesia said in Ukraine she had been certified for  sail small boats, and Ola from Poland too. I asked them so many questions; I wanted to investigate more. Now I was feeling real the possibility.


The sun comes to the island

We’ve been waiting for “weather.  It is the windy Polynesian winter. Out there beyond the reef, the sea is rough. If onboard the boat the day and time don’t matter,  here the  Weather God  is who has the last word. I haven’t been ashore in several days.  There is a litte sunshine, so I take the dinghy and head to the dock, jump ashore and do a quick shark knot.

4. I’m going into other gap. I remember being in Czech Republic in the kitchen of a very old house where I lived with my friends Maga and Rami from Argentina. We were laughing and doing whatever on the internet, when I said – I know what I’m going to do next! As I wil  live on a sailboat, right now I’ll learn to do knots. With a serious attitude, I opened Youtube and looked for a tutorial… 5 minutes after quited. We laughed.  However, that day, “I had a certainty” as Maga says. I was sure that one day I would do it. I didn’t  know when or how, but I was sure.


Going out of the path

Walking around the island and heading to the mountains, -Ia ora na! -Bonjour! I came across kids saying ” good morning ” in Tahitian and French. I start going up and I feel like going out of the path marked with little stones. I turn left. I get lost among the trees.

5. When I returned to Mexico people asked me what’s next… I then replied with a tone of normality: “Ho well, I ‘m going to live in a sailboat.”  I’m from the central part of Mexico , I had never been before on sailboat, neither in Mexico sailing is common at all. It seemed crazy then, but I had that confidence. January came, I made my backpack, I left and went to the coast of Mexico. I decided to take a different path, “create” my own way of experiencing, and jumped into the void.


I Am Here

Photo: Tom VanDyke


Back to the boat, I’m playing guitar. I look around of these square meters of wood in which I’m floating.

I love this feeling of living floating in the water, water in movement.

 I feel light, mild, fleeting, momentary …

Like the foam of the waves.