I started my adventure on Skimpy in the very end of June on Tahiti together with the three permanent Skimpy-members (Tue, Alessio and Simon), two semi-permanent members (Maria and Andre) and two newcomers as myself (Mette and Charlene). FYI Andre was replaced with Thomas a few days after my arrival. The crew was a mix of friends of Simon and Tue, all people with an extended sense of enjoying life and from the very beginning a great success. My first sailing with Skimpy was the day after my arrival and the day after a massive night out that included countless number of cocktails, a Miss Tahiti contest, a tasteless nightclub and lots of dancing. All together not the perfect timing and a timing that made me turn my inside out in extreme vomiting in the entire 4 hours the sailing lasted - definitely not the best beginning on a 5 weeks voyage through the south pacific. But I only had myself to blame and in a situation where you feel death is close it's always good to put things in a perspective and I kept repeating to myself: "you're actually not dying and it's your one choice to be on this boat". So I survived my debut of sailing and gradually my sea-legs improved during the rather short cruises around the islands in French Polynesia. This might not be classified as the toughest sailing in the Pacific but it provides a gentle introduction to the concept. The two weeks sailing around the societies in French Polynesia can only be described as happy days full of holiday spirit where breakfast was pancakes; where we snorkelled 10 min's after we woke up in the morning; where cocktail hour was mandatory at every sunset; where excessive amounts of great food was enjoyed and appreciated; where dancing and partying was always an option; where laughter was constantly present; where strangers became friends; where swimming with manta rays became daily life; where crystal white beaches and water in thousand colours of blue came without a price and where every day felt like the best day you ever had. Beside the wonderful life centred around Skimpy the first two weeks was also a unique introduction to the people and to the lifestyle that sailing- and particularly crossing the Pacific is. We quickly realized that a special community or club exists between the sailors and although we, who were only sailing for a short period, had hoped to be accepted in this club we just had to admit that we couldn't and that we were only given the privilege to take a glance through the windows. We missed one thing - we hadn't done "the crossing". The crossing is the 3 weeks sail from Galapagos to the Marqeusas Islands and an achievement that distinguishes "real sailors" from the rest. Distinguished them from us and with good reasons because sailing for three weeks without seeing land is something very few people accomplish in this life and it definitely requires a strong character and mind - so Tue, Simon and Alessio you have all my respect. Anyway this club consists of around 130 boats per season that cross the Pacific around the same time and bump into each other at different destinations along the route. The members of the club consist of a range of different type of people with each their reasons and motivations for choosing life on sea for a period; handsome super stars as the guys on Skimpy with a dream, no commitments and where only the sky is the limit; families with children escaping an ordinary life where daily life and work kill your dreams and passion; young idealistic Swedish Vikings on a budget where lack of money is no reason not to turn your dream into reality; young couples enjoying the last bit of freedom before committing to a settled life as a family; solo men living a life on sea because that's the only place on earth they feel home and most of all wealthy retired couples getting the most out of the last chapter in life. However, despite all the differences between these people they all share the same dream, the same need for adventure and most of all they share the same worries, dangers, frustrations, wonderful experiences, joys and moments that nobody in the "real" world would understand. Additionally, everybody is aware of the mutual dependence on each other that can mean the difference between life and death. All together this gives a strong, open minded, social and inclusive community that helps each other when needed and makes it out for friends and family in a situation where they are far away. It was a truly great experience to get to know all these people who was friends with Skimpy and with whom they've shared many memorable moments. I could see in their eyes how sorry they felt for me when I told them that I was only sailing for 5 weeks and that the reality- which they've escaped from - was waiting for me around the corner. For them sailing was something you did for years and the reality that was waiting for me was no longer an option for most of them.
This part of my story includes the sailing from French Polynesia to Cook Island and further on to my final destination Tonga. Two stretches of five days sailing each. The crew on the boat consisted now of the permanent members which was named the A-team and the B-team, which included Thomas and I. While French Polynesia was the smooth introduction to life on sea this was more like the real thing. The first two days on each stretch I was again haunted by sea sickness and when you realize that this horrible physical condition can potential last for five days it takes something extra to keep up the good spirit. For those of you who haven't tried it, it feels like having the worst hangovers you can ever imagine and at the same time being heavily sedated on valium; constant nausea, frequent vomiting and constant drowsiness. So being trapped on a boat with no option to get out of this miserable condition is exhausting and drains you physically and mentally. Thomas was my partner in suffering and since the A-team was long past any remnants of seasickness they did everything they could to make us feel better, which basically meant just to let us lie in a constant horizontal position. So we tried to do that except when going to the toilet which we tried to avoid since that was a terrible vomiting-inducer and why I brought a plastic back with me at all times. Thomas was definitely better at accepting the fact that lying down was the only thing that makes you feel better resulting in me vomiting a lot more than him. After two days with my mind rapped in heavy clouds I woke up on day number three with a clear mind and a feeling that this could be a day without vomiting and a day where I more genuinely could appreciate the fantastic life sailing is and maybe even understand why it becomes an addiction for so many. Life at sea is the exact opposite of a "normal" life in an urban society. During the days at sea time disappears and loses its importance, the only world you can relate to is the world on the boat, the only impressions you receive and the only choices you are confronted with are related to something on the boat, nature is extremely close and you are absolutely dependent on its mercy and you have basically no contact with the world outside the boat. In the world where I and most of us come from time is something extremely valuable, we are confronted with the entire world just by looking at our smartphones and nature is basically absent and something we go to see in the park. Sailing is the opposite and you have to enjoy this to enjoy sailing. But when you set your mind to that sailing gives you the opportunity to feel as free as you will ever feel; to feel safe in a plastic bathtub being thrown around in 5 m high waves; to feel the power of nature when wind and sea decide to take a battle; to understand how tiny and fragile we are and how endless an ocean is; to view incredible sunsets and sunrises with you as the only audience; to see countless numbers of shooting stars on a night sky decorated with stars so many as you will never see again; to catch beautiful fish and welcoming whales passing by; to have the time to reflect a bit over life; to feel that the rest of the world is far away; to share thoughts, experiences and moments with your fellow sailors and to share the joy when land is spotted and you know that the rest of the world is still there. So despite worries and a few odds against me becoming a sailor I loved every moment of it and it was with a crying heart I left Skimpy, Tue and the rest of the crew on Tonga. But despite feeling miserable I was also filled with appreciation and awareness that this was not my last experience on sea. I might not be a sailor yet but I'm definitely on the right track.
Thanks to Simon for sharing Skimpy and his dream.