Hope cuts through the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean while she spurs down the Pacific waves under full canvas. After weeks of bobbing around in the doldrums, we finally found the South East trades and have the wind in our back. We managed to restock on fruit and veggies midocean, we made new friends and we responded to an emergency call on the radio. In a very special way all these events started with a Dutchman from Friesland who migrated to the States and taught his grandson Dutch.
Ship on the horizon
I am navigating behind my desk. ‘Still 2250 miles to go babe, only 2,5 weeks left untill we arrive! Since we got the trades with us we are moving fast. We have almost forgotten the agonizing calms and now spend our time reading about the gorgeous islands which await us. Vegetables and fruit we rationed. If all goes well from now on, we have to live of canned food for ten days or so. When I am just about to finish up navigating I see
a sailing yacht on my screen via the AIS transponder; vessel name is Aria, 27 meters long and sailing 12 Miles behind us.
‘Sailing Vessel Aria, sailing vessel Aria, this is Hope’ ‘Hope, this is Aria’ For the first time in almost a month we talk with another ship. It feels great, we are not alone! ‘Aria, great hearing you, we haven’t seen a ship in weeks.’ Same goes for us Hope, we where about to call you ourselves’. I take turns talking with the crew members; Brandon from Texas, Tim from Georgia, Scott the British Captain and the American cook Wyll Dykstra which greets us in Dutch and is so very proud of his Dutch speaking skills which he learnt from his grandfather. Then the sun sets and time comes for the night watch. ‘Hopefully we catch up in the morning and can make some pictures under sail’ says Wyll. I hope so to, good night. Hope out’
Fruit and veggies for cigarettes
Come morning Aria overtakes us and at 7 AM the radio kreeks to life. ‘Hope, good morning, this is Aria’ ‘Good morning Aria, Hope here’. It is Wyll. He has come up with a plan in the night and offers us fresh fruit and vegetables. I am gratefull but have to ask him if he is sure. It is a challenge bringing two ships close enough together mid ocean and avoid damage. Wyll aptly recites a dutch saying ‘where there is a will there is a way’ so I smilingly accept his proposal and both vessels change course towards eachother. Then Wyll comes back on the radio; ‘do you happen to have cigarettes on board?’ yeah sure, plenty’ ‘that’s great!!’ (cheering on the background)
Aria lowers the sails and follows us on the engine. We remain under sail. On the high bow two boisturous seamen are ready to throw the pilotline. Aria is so big that Hope woud not survive a collision so Katia and me are somewhat anxious. Aria comes closer and surfs on a wave while Hope is stuck in throgh of the previous one. ‘Reverse!!’ the crew yells. But Aria’s bow keeps coming and it seems she is going to crush Hope. We hold our breath while the bow gently touches the top of the windpilot. That was to close for comfort. But we manage to do it and we tug in a big bag of fruit and vegetables.We return a small bottle of rum,some beers, packs of cigarettes and chewing gum.
Ship in distress
After this ‘pirate exchange’ Hope and Aria set full sail. Katia and I enjoy our apples while we can see the men smoke a cigarette on board.Terrific encounter. Aria slowly diminishes on the horizon but we remain in radio contact for the remainder of the day. Later Aria receives a broken distress call from a yacht nearby and I act as an intermediate communicating with the Dutch coastguard.They respond excellent and call us. After many radio calls we manage to figure out the problem. A sailing vessel several hundred miles from our position has lost it’s rudder. No immediate life threatening situation fortunately and they managed to improvise something. All good and we are happy we don’t have to take on extra crew. In the afternoon Katia prepares sweat sweet potato with carrot, grilled squid and flying fish. Lovely. Then the night falls and Aria sails out of range of our transponder. We are alone again.