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The first Atlantic experience: Island hopping on the Canaries

An endless blue desert, two-meter-high dunes whose crowns atomize in the strong north wind and cover everything like a fine mist, endless silence except for the monotonous and yet never the same pounding of the waves. We had finally arrived in the middle of the Atlantic. Morocco had closed its ports to us and so we had no choice but to sail from Tarifa on a direct course to the last European enclave, the archipelago of the Canary Islands. Just under 600 nautical miles south of Gibraltar and 100 miles west of the Western Sahara, this Spanish outpost is a popular destination for sun-seeking Europeans in the winter months. And for us, a welcome pit stop on the road to Cape Verde. Thanks to the constant and strong trade winds, the Amadie covered the nearly 1100km in just four and a half days, a new long distance speed record – and almost exclusively with the genoa and only three crew members (Jan was still on his three-week home leave). The only excitement was a daring escape attempt by our dinghy, whose tow rope snapped in the middle of the night. Fortunately, this was immediately noticed by the guard, who sounded the alarm and initiated a turnaround. After three minutes of searching in the darkness, the dinghy was spotted again. Nevertheless, attaching a new tow in the middle of the night in three-meter waves was a nightmare that we would definitely not want to repeat with a person overboard. Unsurprisingly upon arrival on the small desert island of La Graciosa, the crew needed a day of rest to catch up on some sleep from the exhausting night shifts of the crossing.

Arrival at the beautiful beaches of La Graciosa
Desert planet La Graciosa
…and Maspalomas on Gran Canaria

The barren, desert landscape of this sandy planet with its azure waters and white beaches invited us to linger, so we spent the next four days exploring the impressive volcanic landscape of La Graciosa on foot, by bike and with flippers. For the first time, we felt like we had really left Europe and were on a true WORLD-circumnavigation. The following crossing to Arrecife on Lanzarote was after the previous experiences hardly more than a six hour cat jump. While boat carpenter Tilman continued to work on fixing our rudder, which was still giving us headaches because of its stubbornness to move where ist shouldn‘t, the rest of the crew received Silas in Arrecife. We were all happy that this longtime scout friend and roommate of Tilman’s from Saarbrücken, will enrich our crew with advice, action and silly sayings for the next three months. You can marvel at the crossing to and arrival on the canareis in this first video:

The still strong north wind carried us further briskly south. Interrupted by some beer and swimming breaks we passed the southern tip of Lanzarote, Fuerteventura and finally reached several remote bays on Gran Canaria. Despite the supposed remoteness, we met a handful to several dozen other sailing yachts in each bay here. Many of them were also long-distance sailors (easily identifiable by the solar panels and wind generators installed on the outside) preparing for their own ocean crossing. A short shore excursion to the dunes of Maspalomas rounded out our visit to this island.

A day’s sail later, we reached the beautiful bay of Los Christianos on Tenerife. Shielded from the northeasterly winds, this offered us a relaxing week-long retreat with panoramic views of the 3,715m Teide, the highest mountain in Spain and the heart of the island. Here we finally had time to put a long discussed project into action: Our diving license. Three days Tilman, Hendrik and Silas (Philipp already has his license) were instructed in the handling of the equipment, the dangers and the behavior on and under the sea surface and all kinds of useful tips and tricks on topics such as breathing techniques, safety or communication under water. The feeling of a dive can probably best be compared to that of a weightless floating astronaut, whose possibilities of movement are not only extended by a third dimension, but who also discovers a whole new world with numerous bizarre life forms for himself (an extremely helpful metaphor, since surely more of you have been in space than in water).

Spain’s highest mountain: The Teide
Celebrating the diver’s license
Hiking on the Teide

After Jan’s inevitable return, however, he and Philipp did not even think about keeping the exhausted diving trainees company during their well-deserved day of rest. Teide had been towering over Amadie for too long. Unfortunately, one needs a permit for its ascent during the day, which can be obtained at short notice only through organized tour operators. Starting from 7 o’clock the entrances are supervised by rangers. Normally no problem, since there is a hut just below the top, to which one can comfortably ascend on the previous day, in order to be on the summit just in time for sunrise. But of course it was closed because of Corona. So we took the bus to half height in the afternoon and started our evening/night climb. The first section of the route led through sparse coniferous forests interspersed with gigantic menhirs and sharp ravines. The view above the clouds on the sinking sun was simply breathtakingly beautiful. At the foot of the volcanic peak, Jan and Philipp tried rather unsuccessfully to get a few more hours of sleep. With temperatures well below freezing, they didn’t want to spend too much time waiting for the sun at 3,700m. The midnight assault on the last 800m led through a bizarre crater landscape, whose gigantic boulders protruded into the darkness like the shadows of solidified giants. Barely 400m below the summit, however, we were caught up by cold, fatigue and the warning that a heavy penalty by the rangers might await us on the descent, and we decided to break off. Well, better to try and fail than not to get out of bed at all. This gives at least material for half a blog entry 😉

A day later we left Tenerife and headed for our first port in five weeks (Mótril near Granada): San Sébastian on La Gomera. The thick cloud cover around Tenerife had not done the Amadie’s water supply any good, so we happily took the opportunity to fill the tanks and rid the good lady of the dust and dirt of the Canaries. We circled the island and reached the famous Valle Gran Rey, a green canyon where many dropouts and hippies settled in the 1970s. La Gomera is known for its unique microclimate, which has created a dense cloud forest in the center of the volcanic island. Of course, we didn’t want to miss this hiker’s paradise, so we packed our backpacks, tents and stoves and grabbed the first bus into the national park. From there we hiked for two days through the green hills and canyons full of mossy coniferous forests and exotic savanna plants. The views that regularly presented themselves from the crests of the hills provided a beautiful panorama not only of La Gomera’s forests, but also of its neighboring islands: Mocking Teide and the black volcanic eruption cloud that has hung over La Palma for weeks. Days after our departure from the Canary Islands, we still were to find ash residue from this active volcano on the deck of the Amadie. We spent the night on the only campground on the island, some stony terraces with a small but fine restaurant, which hopped up our evening. The way back the next day through the cloud forest was still a very welcome change to the otherwise rather barren and rocky Canary Islands. Depending on the need for exercise, the evening ended with a view of the sunset from the highest point on the island or a 15km descent through canyons lined with palm trees, cacti and goats to the Amadie.

Sailing and hiking around La Gomera
Misty forests on La Gomera
View from La Gomera on the volcanic cloud on La Palma…
…and the Teide on Tenerife

All in all, the Canary Islands could convince us with their natural diversity and the pleasant climate. As a sailing area they do not reach Croatia or the Caribbean, but they offer a welcome change, especially in the cold winter months outside the Mediterranean season. Finally, we would like to invite you to some moving images in our second Canary Islands video:

Two set backs and one achievement: Our last mediterranean stretch

The Amadie leaves Málaga…
…for the last mediterranean stretch along southern Spain

Heavily laden with guests and supplies, the Amadie trudged out of the port of Málaga and onto the final stretch of our Mediterranean leg. The usually reliable Spanish wind had died down and we drifted leisurely for a whole day towards Nueva Andalucia and Marbella. The region is known for its year-round mild climate, beautiful beaches, swanky villas and the highest density of golf courses in Europe. What brought us to this place?

You may have noticed that we have been trying to get our hands on a seawater desalination system for some time now, a product that can take several weeks to deliver even at regular times. So imagine, in the middle of the Corona crisis, you have to have a 5,000€, 30kg package set, of which the delivery date is unknown, delivered on time to a place in a foreign country that you yourself don’t know, because your house unfortunately has the stupid habit of shifting its location by 30km every day. In short, it was a two-month administrative nightmare, but after a few dozen emails and phone calls in three different languages across four different countries and a misunderstood delivery of the water maker to Barcelona, we finally had a suitable set of dealer, delivery address and date.

Our new rainman watermaker

So, Nueva Andalucia. We were overjoyed to meet Kai and Eliana, acquaintances of Jan, who handed over the long-awaited machine and recommended a few places of interest in Marbella. The next day we strolled along the kilometre-long, beautiful beach promenade between the two towns. The excursion culminated in the whitewashed, flower-filled old town of Marbella. The immaculate squares there are just as tempting to drink a coffee as to visit a traditional Spanish tapas restaurant. We and our culinariely interested guests didn’t need to be invited twice, and so dinner on board unfortunately had to be cancelled once again due to acute overeating.

After some more food shopping (the supermarket shelves in Málaga had been plundered at some point to our complete dissatisfaction) and refuelling, we ended our visit to this region with a fiercly contested football match on the beach, which the crew of the Amadie lost by a hair’s breadth and completely undeservedly with 10:5 against their guests from the forest residence. Well, we all know who the winners of hearts were.

Well deserved dinner after a fierce football match

The final stretch carried us past the Rock of Gibraltar, the mighty British enclave that keeps vigilant watch over the entrance to the Mediterranean, armed with cannons and monkeys. Just beyond lies the port of Tarifa, where we sought shelter from the wind and waves in the late evening hours of our arrival. Unfortunately, the harbour does not provide moorings for sailing tourists, but two policemen were kind enough to let us moor at the ferry dock for the night, provided we would leave it before their boss arrived the next morning. Their first question after we had moored was immediately whether we had suffered any damage from orca attacks. We answered in the negative, only to be told that killer whales have been attacking sailboats of our size in the region every week for the last year or so. 50 boats this year alone, half of which were so badly damaged that they had to be towed away. This novel behaviour of the otherwise shy animals still puzzles marine biologists. Not too rosy prospects for us, at any rate.

The rocky fortress of Gibraltar
Tarifa, the southernmost point of the spanish mainland
Crossing the strait of Gibraltar early in the morning

On the advice of the policemen, we attached a signal flare to a boat hook to scare off the orcas under water if necessary. Guards were posted, the cargo secured and before dawn we set off for the four-hour crossing to Tangier on the African continent. Fortunately, apart from some evasive manoeuvres around large cargo ships, the crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar was uneventful and the anticipation of finally entering a new continent was palpable. The shock came only when we were about to enter the harbour in Tangier. Due to current Corona restrictions, it was possible to enter by plane, ferry, car, on foot, by camel and on a tricycle, but the ports remained closed to private sailing yachts. Nothing could be done, all praying and begging did not help, the border police remained firm. (Unless, of course, we had had orca damage, then they would have let us in). Bitterly disappointed, we turned our backs on the port city, which suddenly seemed three times as attractive, and returned to Tarifa.

The despair was great, the rum consumption corresponding, and so we consoled ourselves with a fun evening in a pizza restaurant in Tarifa. We spent the following days doing minor boat work and snorkelling in Tarifa, swinging between the Mediterranean and Atlantic sides of this headland depending on the wind direction. Our guests left us and Jan also travelled back to Germany for a three-week home leave to say a proper farewell to friends and family before heading out to the other side of the planet. Philipp finally finished his bachelor thesis on the energy system of the Amadie and so on 5th of October, after exactly four months in the Mediterranean, everything was ready for our big departure into the Atlantic.

While we are now struggling with wind and waves on this wild, unknown ocean, we are just a little envious at the thought that you are currently relaxing in the comfort of your still flats enjoying our latest video:

Goodbye Mediterranean Sea

The Arabic influence: Southern Spain from Granada to Málaga

It was the 21st of September 2021, the sea was rough, the caipirinha limes were running low, Olaf Scholz was about to become chancellor and the crew had not yet seen a single cat at Cape Cat. All in all, not a particularly rosy outlook. You could say it was time for some royal glamour in our lives.

As soon as we left the lee of the cape behind us, the wind whistled around our ears with 5 Beaufort (=20kn / 38km/h). Although the autopilot soon went out in the rough conditions and we had to steer by hand for most of the day, the genoa alone was enough to sail at an average of 7kn for the day and reach our destination of Motril, 66nm away, in only 9 ½ hours. A wonderful sailing experience. By comparison, we had already needed more than two days for this distance in the windless parts of Albania. The reception in the small harbour full of motorboat storage racks was friendly and helpful. We were also able to practice our linguistic autodidactic skills further when the harbour staff explained to us in Spanish that we’d better not go out today and tomorrow because 5 Beaufort winds were forecast. Luckily, we had walked here 😉.

If you are not familiar with Motril – there is no shame in that – the small coastal town has little to offer except that it is the sea access to the famous city of Granada and its famous world heritage site, the Alhambra. So early the next morning we took the bus inland and a little later strolled through the old town, which is well worth seeing. Beautifully situated in a large valley between wooded hills, historical religious sites are lined up here with ornate administrative buildings and sprawling, white-painted residential houses. The city’s landmark rises majestically on a hill on the outskirts of the city: the fortress and palace complex of the Alhambra. We wandered for several hours through the paradisiacal gardens of the Generalife, marvelled at the exhibits in the museums of the royal palace and were dazzled by the beauty of the filigree wall decorations that adorn the entire Nasrid palaces. We did not dare to estimate how many thousands of hours of work and craftsmanship must have gone into the detailed construction of every square centimetre of floor mosaics and wall reliefs in these magnificent chambers. The evening view from the fortress walls over the city and valley was a breathtaking conclusion to this excursion into the magnificent Moorish past of southern Spain.

Admiring the Generalife
Beautiful courts of the Alhambra
Royal palace
Museum tour
View on Granada from Alhamabra’s towers
Nasrid palace gardens
Filigree wall ornaments in the Nasrid palace
Securing a refugee boat in the open sea

Next destination: Málaga. On the pleasant crossing there, we encountered several schools of dolphins in the afternoon. Dozens of animals swam curiously around the ship and rubbed against the bow of the Amadie. Much too late, we lowered a tow line into the water, wearing diving goggles, and came face to face with only a few stragglers. The lights of Malaga harbour were already flashing in the distance when the helmsman suddenly shouted: “Flotsam in sight! Or an abandoned boat. Or containers. Hard to see.” All three reasons enough for us to change course and take a closer look. In fact, the ominous green object turned out to be a drifting boat. Barely three metres long, glued together in the simplest way from GRP, without motor or rudder, a suspicion immediately arose. The shoes and musty clothes left behind confirmed this: Apparently we found an abandoned refugee boat a few kilometres off the Spanish coast. We could only guess what fate had befallen the occupants, but we hoped that the barge had only been abandoned on land and had drifted out on its own. We towed this aimlessly drifting danger to ship traffic into the port of Málaga and deposited it there in safety.

Panoramic view of Màlaga

Early the next noon, every square metre of the Amadie was again filled with noise and life as our guests, Paul, Meo and Friedrich moved into their bunks. Together we strolled through the parks and streets of this southern Spanish cultural and party metropolis in the afternoon and evening. The evening ended – how could it be otherwise – in one of the numerous bars on one of the many squares. Until late into the night, we toasted old friendships and new experiences cheerfully and in the best Teutonic way with lots of beer and little else.

Old friends…
…visiting the crew
Raiding the spanish supermarkets

We were approaching the Strait of Gibraltar and thus the Atlantic. Soon our crossings would become more frequent and longer and we could no longer rely on having all the food freshly available at all times. Consequently, it was time to use our last stay in a major European city to think about our supplies for the trip to the Caribbean and beyond. Non-perishable foods such as fruit and vegetables would of course still have to be bought fresh locally at every opportunity, but availability and price were two good arguments for stocking up on at least all durable goods already in Spain. So after everyone had digested the beer of the previous evening, we began to raid the shelves of the nearest supermarket. It took 20 hiking rucksacks and 5 trolleys loaded to the brim to transport one food load after another on board throughout the day and stow it in every imaginable and even most unimaginable compartments. At the end of the day, we were almost 1,500€ poorer, the Amadie half a tonne heavier and our nerves calmed that we would not have to do without brown bread and red cabbage in the foreseeable future.

Before we stowed the items, the labels were removed from all canned goods and the contents were labelled with a sharpie. Packages with thin packaging, such as oatmeal, were sealed in foil. Both serve as a safeguard against moths and other larvae that can nestle in the paper and make entire pantries inedible. To keep track of our consumption, we made a list with the quantity and storage location. Especially the latter information saves the squirrel syndrome in the long run with 21 different food cupboards and hatches. We no longer run the risk of forgetting which nuts we buried where.

At the end of this blog entry, for a change, there is a little homework assignment while you watch our latest video. Why don’t you email us some recipes on how to combine 12 jars of pickles with 24 jars of applesauce to make a tasteful dish. Other similarly tasty combinations can be found in the list of our stored supplies below the video:

Pineapple, American Cookies, Applesauce, Artichokes, Asia Sauce Sushi, Asia Sauce Sweet, Brown Sugar, Double Cookies, Peas, Ready Tomato Sauce, Whole Tomatoes, Green Olives, Oatmeal, Oat Milk, Honey, Coffee Powder, Cocoa, Mashed Potatoes, Ketchup, Corn, Jam, Mayonnaise, Flour, Milk, Muesli, Nuts, Nutella, Olive Oil, Strained Tomatoes, Hot Peppers, Pesto, Peaches, Quinoa, Roasted Onions, Red Chilli Beans, Red Cabbage, Cream, Salty Bread Chips, Salty Biscuits, Sour Gherkins, Sauerkraut, Brown Bread, Black Olives, Mustard, Sunflower Oil, Salami Sticks, Tortillas, White Beans, White Wine Vinegar.

Fun at work: Discovering the Spanish east coast

The thunderstorm was at first just a low hum in the distance, barely perceptible above the whistling of the wind that had carried us southwards from Barcelona for almost 150 miles in the last 30 hours. The sombre sunset made it difficult to see the dense cloud formations. We had just dropped our anchor off the ugly industrial harbour of Castéllon de la Plana to take our guest Rafael to the train there the next morning when the spectacle began. Electrical discharges twitched through the cloud cover on three sides around us every other second. The spectacular weather glow, accompanied by the dull rumble of thunder, bathed the deck of the Amadie in ghostly flickering white light. Occasionally, lightning shot down to the surface of the water, at first at a reassuring distance, but we felt the electric charge of the water all the way aboard our ship. Several times that evening our electrical navigation failed and had to be restarted. While some crew members celebrated the flickering sky as a thunder god’s disco, others crawled into their bunks, careful to keep a minimum distance of 1.50m from all metallic objects so as not to risk a charge jump in case of a lightning strike.

Finally proper weather
New perspectives on the Amadie…
…and her baby

Fortunately, it remained an audio-visual experience and we were able to continue our journey under motor early the next morning. Only to run straight into a driftwood field of thorns, branches and vines that quickly entangled our propellor. Half an hour of diving with knife and work gloves freed the hull from the undergrowth again, but we could only continue our journey in the driftwood slowly and with a lookout at the bow. This was not how we had imagined our 100th (!) day at sea. The ceremonial Glennfiddich was nevertheless unpacked.

In the early afternoon, Valencia finally came into view. We immediately liked the modern and inexpensive harbour near the beach promenade and party mile, so we decided to spend two nights here to recover from the strains of the trip from Barcelona. Besides, the 101st day at sea was urgently needed as a hangover day. Nevertheless, we used the weekend for an extensive sightseeing tour. The old town of Valencia has a lot to offer with its huge city wall gates, churches and historic market halls, but the highlight is certainly the Jardín del Turia. This “green lung” of Valencia stretches 100-500 metres wide in an old riverbed once through the entire city and is the perfect highway for cyclists, joggers and walkers from the harbour to the old town. An exotic and varied flora, numerous meadows, sports facilities, skate parks, playgrounds and small streams flow into one another here. The futuristic-looking museums and theatres in the middle of the Jardín are particularly worth seeing and have certainly earned their reputation as the city’s unique architectural feature. Valencia’s city centre doesn’t come close to the turbulent Barcelona, but a visit is strongly recommended.

Futuristic architecture in the heart of Valencia

We are often asked if we have good weather on our trip. Well, the answer to that is a very relative assessment. Two-metre waves, whistling wind under a dense cloud cover, splashing spray and 7kn sailing speed are a near-perfect day from our crew’s point of view. From the point of view of some of our guests hanging over the railing with green noses, rather less so. So to avoid the waves, at least at night, we entered the port of Venecia the next evening (no, not the world-famous lagoon city in Italy, more like the sad leftovers you pull out of the dumpster behind a Venetian supermarket and then sail to Spain on a rotten fishing trawler). Nevertheless, this was a good opportunity for our crew to address a problem that had been a thorn in our side for a while: one of our winches squeaked a lot when we cranked it and gave us reason to worry that abbrasion was building up here. When we took it apart, we found that the winch had probably never been properly cleaned and greased in the 13 years since the Amadie was born. So much for our day off. The crew spent eight hours disassembling our four winches into every single part, cleaning them in solvent, re-greasing them and screwing them back together. And lo and behold: suddenly it was child’s play to hoist the dinghy engine or brave crew members up the mast. The necessary effort had almost been halved! And there was even time for an evening game of volleyball on the city beach with our guests Matthias and Katha.

Feeling the wind
View from Punta Bombarda

Despite all the luxurious amenities of a harbor stay (showers, running water, a floor that doesn’t shake), we longed back for secluded coves, crystal clear water and forested shore cliffs. The last stay in a real bathing bay was already four weeks past and half a sea away in Sardinia. So we endured (or enjoyed?) a bit of nocturnal rocking in the coming days to experience the wonderful over- and underwater world of Isla del Portixol and Punta Bombarda. The former not only offered rich schools of fish, which Philipp finally used as an occasion for his first dive, but also the opportunity to explore the densely overgrown island and its secrets scrambling up the rocks. Punta Bombarda, on the other hand, was a swimmer’s paradise with its warm, deep blue water. Exploring a derelict open-cast mine and the lighthouse at the top of the cape provided plenty of variety on land.

After so much opportunity for bathing and showering, and with full guest cabins, our fresh water supplies soon did not fare well and we set course for the next port: Alicante. (If you’re counting, you may have noticed that we’ve now spent more nights in ports in Spain than on our entire journey so far combined, thanks to strong winds and reasonable prices). The city is rather poor in tourist attractions, but offers a great abundance of bars, restaurants, clubs and every conceivable combination of these three evening establishments. A good opportunity for a proper farewell dinner with our guests, all of whom are already planning their second or even third visit on board. The following day we had to take our usual weekly care day: cleaning, shopping, laundry, minor repairs. All the more fortunate that we had a few hours left to visit the Volvo Ocean Race Museum in Alicante harbour. This most challenging and demanding team world circumnavigation race has had its start in Alicante several times. Reason enough for the city not only to draw attention to the inhuman strain and technological finesse of this historical race with video clips, exhibits and information boards, but also to display a decommissioned Ocean Racer. Admittedly, this thoroughly optimised metal box may have had a knot or two ahead of the Amadie in its prime, but this nautical equivalent of a space capsule couldn’t even begin to match its tantalising charm.

The work on board never stops
Following the political events at home

With our pantries stocked, we caught another breeze the next day (where do they all come from?) and let it carry us another 250km south over our next night shift. Our wind timing since Barcelona had been almost perfect, so that with a minimum number of sailing hours we had already left two thirds of the Spanish coast towards the Atlantic behind us. Now we had one last quiet night at Cabo de Gata (“Cat’s Cape”), a rugged prairie landscape with flat sand houses strongly reminiscent of the American Wild West. If we had known what was in store for us in the coming days, we would certainly have slept in longer.

But more about that in our next blog entry. Until then, enjoy the corresponding video:

An urban adventure: In the dry dock in Barcelona

Calmly and purposefully, the Amadie drew her lines through the water like a bird migrating ever southwards, the sea an eternal blue desert around us, full of loneliness and life, stillness and movement at the same time. For two days we had been sailing from Sardinia, at first laboriously against the wind, finally with a relaxing breeze from behind. Suddenly there was a whirring, a jolt through ship and crew. The clicker on our fishing rod had finally struck! Was the luck of our last fishing attempts still with us (a seagull, a jellyfish, a plastic bag) or was today finally the day we were destined for greater things? Cursing, Philipp jumped on the rod and began to crank methodically. The struggle lasted 15 minutes, then, finally, a shimmering bluish shadow appeared just below the surface of the water. With combined forces, boat hook and knife, we hoisted our wriggling prey on board and quickly put an end to it. In front of us, covered in blood, lay an 80cm long tuna, weighing a good 10kg, the wet dream of every sushi chef. Without hesitation, we went to work with our usual learning-by-doing mentality and cut out everything that didn’t look edible. The rest landed in the pan just minutes later. Sautéed with a little salt and lime, two hours after taking a bite, a dozen browned tuna fillets lay on our plates – and even our fish-sceptic Tilman had to admit: This was the most delicious fish any of us had ever eaten. The best thing about it: We had enough left over to feed the whole crew for two more days. Our fishing fever is awakened!

Harsh sailing conditions leaving Sardinia
Our first catch: An 80cm tuna
Without wind, there is only one way to move the Amadie
Damaged rudder bearing
Parts abbrasion

Two more days later, we caught sight of the coast of Spain, our sixth travel country, on the horizon. Unfortunately, our lucky (or very unlucky, depending on the angle of the participant involved) encounter with the tuna was not the only event during the crossing. During a routine inspection of the mechanics, we had noticed that the bearing of our rudder had developed play and thus produced some material abrasion in its suspension. Not an acute drama, but definitely a problem that needed to be addressed as soon as possible. So, with these worry lines on our foreheads, we entered the Port Olimpic, a remnant of the 1992 Olympic Games, after a very wavy and restless night off Barcelona’s city beach. The first surprise was the cheap accommodation prices compared to our previous travels (60€/night in the middle of Barcelona’s 5km city beach), which stayed the same way throughout Spain.

So while we took our first walks through this (rightly) world-famous Spanish-Catalan metropolis and some short day trips on land and water with our guests for the week (Vidu, Martina, Bernhard, Olli and Jenny), a local mechanic took a first look at our rudder installation. It quickly became clear: this damage could not be repaired in the water, the Amadie had to go into the dry dock. All praying and begging did not help, the crane reached under the old lady and mercilessly hoisted her out of her natural element. The crew and guests moved into an AirBnB in the city centre and the mechanic went to work. Unfortunately, the damage turned out to be more complicated than planned, so that a large part of the spare parts had to be manufactured anew and individually. The delivery time of the parts and the poor availability of the crane for the removal and installation of the rudder kept delaying the repair by a few days, until we finally ended up with nine days in dry dock and total costs beyond 5,000€. Of course, we used the time to do some small repairs to the antifouling on the hull of the Amadie ourselves. Fortunately, our insurance covered a large part of the costs in the end, but we will do everything we can to avoid such repair escapades in the future. But the Amadie is a 13-year-old ship, the stresses of sailing around the world are immense and the seven seas are still full of surprises.

Craning a 13 ton boat
Nine days in the dry dock
First sight of Barcelona’s Arc de Triomph

But let’s get to the good part of this episode: our two weeks ashore in Barcelona! Suddenly, a completely new world opened up for us, a completely new attitude to life. Our shared flat was suddenly no longer on the water, but like any normal person‘s on the third floor of a block of appartment houses. The constant up and down of the waves was replaced by that of a lift, the shrill cry of the seagulls by rattling car engines and the warm rays of the sun…well, it’s the sun. It’s the same everywhere. The point is, we suddenly felt teleported back to our normal lives, at best those of a common backpacker travelling abroad. And it was nice. At least for a moment. It only took a few days and we had built up a real circle of friends in Barcelona. Be it through our guests, acquaintances from Germany on holiday in Spain, Tinder dates, local board game groups, random night-time acquaintances with exchange students. There was truly no shortage of lovely and fun people to fill our days in Barcelona. And the city itself did the rest.

5km beaches in the heart of the city

Fun at the beach with Amadie and friends
Night out with old and new acquaintances

Barcelona’s cityscape is characterised by numerous parks and sports facilities, seamlessly integrated into the symmetrical blocks of houses. The city beach is huge, well-kept and dotted with volleyball courts, exercise equipment and attractive Barcelonians. The old town is winding, ornate and dreamy. Restaurants and bars of all kinds line the streets and make for an excessive nightlife, despite the Corona-related curfew after midnight. The Sagrada Familia, the Güell Park, the ornate Gaudi houses and numerous churches make the city a fairytale land for anyone interested in architecture. The nights on the city beach and in the lively parks and squares made a stark difference to our usual solitude on the sea.

World’s highest church: The sagrada familia

View on Barcelona from the Güell Park
Bizarre architecture in the Güell Park

A special highlight was our excursion to the mountain monastery of Montserrat. Spectacularly situated on the flank of a towering rock massif, this monastery complex is a far-reaching magnet for tourists and hikers. Jan, Hendrik and Tilman also took the opportunity for a two-day hike through the wooded hills in the foothills of the rugged monastery mountains. Forests and floodplains and lonely campsites in wild nature were balm for our water-soaked scout souls.

Beautiful view from the mountain monastery
As beautiful from the inside as from the outside
A rocky way down Montserrat
Whispering giants are watching our campsite
Nothing better than a lunch break after a long walk
Hiking never without our scout flags
Finally back on the water!

Finally, on 08.09, the Amadie sank back into the blue waters, cleaned up and with a sigh of relief. We spent the morning loading our beloved lady with supplies and the next batch of guests consisting of our now regular guests Matze, Saskia and Rafael as well as our new arrival Katha. With a shout of joy and a broad grin on our faces, we hoisted full sail and plunged into the waves. With Poseidon’s favour behind us, the Amadie shot south towards her next Spanish adventure. Finally, freedom again!

As always, you can marvel at the moving and stirring pictures of this urban adventure in our video:

A voyage into history: Adventures in southern Italy (part 2)

On 05.08. the third disadvantage of Calabria’s cape-bay-structure made itself felt: Since there is generally little sailing traffic in this region, most of the harbours hardly have any berths ready for guests. The first two harbours we approached that evening were completely overcrowded and only in the third harbour, Agropoli, did we find a sheltered anchorage in the harbour entrance from the nightly waves. We could have done worse; The old town of this small coastal town had everything needed for a romantic evening stroll: wide stone steps, narrow streets and a medieval fort (and of course ice cream and pizza no. 3). Tilman and Philipp used the following day to strategically saw apart the floorboards under our saloon table to give us access to additional storage space in the footwell – a forward-looking expansion of our pantries for the approaching Atlantic crossing. While Réné was already saying goodbye, Jan, Hendrik, Maike and Leonie used the day for an extended hike to the picturesque coastal town of San Marco (ice cream and pizza no. 4).

After an emotional farewell the next morning to our last guests, the Amadie moved further out along the Italian coast, several historical excavation sites in sight. The first stopover took us to Paestum. On about one square kilometre, the foundations of an ancient Greek settlement were uncovered here. The absolute highlight are the three well-preserved temples, which with their broad columns and triangular gables are reminiscent of the Acropolis in Athens. The neighbouring museum offered a number of colourfully painted grave slabs, which provide an insight into the 3,000-year-old death cult of the settlers. The sultriness and exertion of such a lengthy excursion forced the crew to develop a new technique that afternoon: It turned out that with a life jacket and safety line attached to the anchored Amadie, one can float quite excellently on one’s back in the water and enjoy a cold beer without any effort at all.

Thus strengthened, we continued to Salerno, where Matthias, Caro and our youngest guest, six-month-old Matteo, moved into their cabins. The following three days along the Amalfi coast offered some fantastic views of the steep slopes of this headland, opportunities to snorkel and explore the lemon orchards and touristic towns. The penetrating heat, however, drove us steadily forward in search of refreshing bays and shady restaurants. Finally, on 12.08, we reached a long-awaited highlight of our Italian trip: Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius.

Rarely had we seen an uglier city on our trip. The whole coastal strip in front of Pompeii stank like a horrible cesspit, the shore strips were littered with construction waste, rubbish and industrial plants. Neither of these things prevented the locals from enjoying their swim, but we just tried to cover the three kilometres from the shore to the world-famous excavation site as quickly as possible, past busy roads and run-down rows of houses. The excavation site, however, offered everything we had hoped for: ancient Roman villas whose well-preserved frescoes, walls and even furnishings gave the impression that the inhabitants had left them one and not two thousand years ago, entire bar quarters whose counters and kitchens were ready for immediate re-use, temples and theatres, streets and avenues, and finally a marketplace, over which Vesuvius towers majestically and menacingly, that apocalyptic conservator of Pompeii and its 10,000 inhabitants. Using a special casting technique, the imprints of some of the corpses found in the metre-high layers of ash during the uncovering of the city were also reconstructed. The black bodies in cowering postures, arms folded protectively over their heads, illustrate in a cruel, depressing way the fateful last moments of our 2,000-year-old fellow human beings.

The next day could therefore only hold one goal in store for us: The ascent of the volcano itself. First we took the bus to 200 metres below the summit. The view over the Bay of Naples was already spectacular from this height, the crater-like rocky landscape of the volcano’s slope eerie and alien. Unfortunately, access was blocked. Only with tickets to be booked online, which are always sold out three days in advance, could one cover the last two hundred metres on the official access. But we don’t give up that easily and we wouldn’t be scouts if we couldn’t find our own path. So we made our way to the back of the volcano on more or less official hiking trails, climbed a few scree slopes and racked our brains to no avail as to what the many signs saying “Passaggio vietato” might mean. Finally, we reached the edge of the crater and stood in front of a last barrier. The ranger posted here looked at us very irritated at how we had managed to walk along a hiking trail that had been closed for four years. He angrily radioed his colleague further down, who of course hadn’t seen us and we hadn’t seen her, and then graciously waved us to the edge of the crater for two minutes. After all, we had walked six hours all the way up here from Pompeii (or so he assumed). A quick look into the yawning maw of the inactive volcano and we were shooed back down the slope. After dodging the ranger at the entrance to the trail a second time, we made our way back to the bus, joyfully excited about the beautiful hike. Helpful as we are, on the way down we gave useful practical tips to a desperate, sweaty American who had already been trying to get tickets for the ascent for a week, on how to do it without – at his own responsibility, of course.

Glad to finally be able to leave the cesspit in front of Pompeii, we briefly plundered an old sail wreck and set course for Naples. Before our stay in this pulsating metropolis, however, we made the obligatory weekly stopover in a small marina to replace the damaged dinghy propeller, scrub the inside and outside of the ship and do some minor repair work. In Naples itself, we found a good anchorage next to the Castel dell’Ovo peninsula. One of the advantages of travelling with your own sailing ship is the opportunity to anchor regularly for free in spots with a picturesque view of a city for which any hotel would charge a three-figure premium. We spent the next day and a half extensively touring the forts, museums, palazzi, catacombs and churches of this aging but very lively metropolis. Aimless walks through the old town gave an impression of the dynamism and vitality of day and night life. In a side street, we unexpectedly enjoyed what was probably the best pizza of our lives (and it wasn’t even a Pizza Napoli). This discovery was immediately used for ice cream and pizza no. 5 and 6.

Positively surprised and with full pantries, we set off for Sardinia on the evening of 16 August. Twenty hours later we reached Ponza, a last insular outpost fifty miles from the Italian mainland. We were all the more surprised to see that the crescent-shaped island, not even six kilometres long, was populated by hundreds of pleasure boats. More ships were gathered here in one spot than we had seen so far in the whole of Italy combined. To this day, it is still a mystery to us why so many holidaymakers took the trouble of a night trip for this beautiful but unexceptional island. We, on the other hand, continued our journey west after a short swimming break and were soon alone again with the sea and the wind. Our night shift system works smoothly by now, the manoeuvres are rehearsed, detailed commands superfluous. Calm winds are bridged with swimming, unsuccessful fishing attempts and films on our on-board beamer. The only excitement: during a night shift, our dinghy tore two poles of the equipment carrier, to which it was tied, out of their moorings. Three men secured with torches and lifebelts spent a good hour rescuing our solar modules and stabilising the carrier. For the time being, we will only tow the dinghy behind the Amadie.

The northern tip of Sardinia is an unexpected sailing paradise. Plans for a detour to Corsica were quickly discarded. Many small islands and numerous bays with paradisiacal sandy beaches mix here with a strong wind system in the Strait of Bonifacio. The landscape is wild and beautiful, the proliferation of hotel complexes still in its infancy. We visited an old fort, spectacular rock formations, went jogging and snorkelling and spent three very relaxing days. On the last evening we stumbled abruptly into a small valley, the beach beautifully situated between white cliffs. A hundred hippies had gathered here. Between small tents and rudimentary dwellings, people were dancing, drumming, consuming all kinds of questionable substances and exuberantly celebrating a full moon festival. The spectacle around the small colony was lively and fun and is probably known in the community far beyond the borders of Sardinia. It was tempting to linger.

But we were called by another spirit and free love or not, there is no room in our lives for but one lady. So we said Arrividerci, bella Italia! The next adventure is calling!

As always, you can relive this one in our video:

Pizza, caves and excavations: Adventures in southern Italy (part 1)

“Land ho!” On the afternoon of 29 July, the stereotypical call of the steering watch rang out as the first hills began to appear on the hazy horizon. Bella Italia! We had reached the southern tip of the boot after five days and almost 1,000km.

The crossing from San Torin had been largely uneventful. After twenty-four tiring but fast hours in the clutches of the Meltemi, we came into the lee of the Peleponnes, motored for a short distance and then cruised along at a reasonable speed for two days, interrupted only by our first whale sighting and Hendrik’s birthday. On the fourth day, the wind suddenly dropped and after half a day without sailing, drifting aimlessly in the fog and with no prospect of the weather improving, we managed to cover the last 150 nautical miles (277km) under motor.

What a refreshing sight now, after all the stony greyness of Greece and all-encompassing blue of the last few days, were the green forested hills of our fifth travelling country. As soon as we approached the Strait of Messina, the wind in this strait suddenly picked up and we crossed the last miles towards our first Italian checkpoint: Reggio di Calabria. At the quay, Jan’s family (Maike, Manuel and Leonie) and Réné, a friend of Philipp’s, were already waiting for us. Despite a strong breeze, the mooring maneuver, practiced many times by now, went off without a hitch and once again we had solid ground under our feet accompanied by the obligatory land sickness. Apart from the opportunity to fill our pantries, Reggio di Calabria, probably one of the ugliest southern Italian towns, had nothing to offer and so we set sail early the next day towards the north. While our guests gained their first sailing and steering experience, we enjoyed the view of Sicily and the strait of Messina straight ahead.

The southwest coast of Italy is geographically characterized by alternating capes and up to 150km long bays in between – the Gulf of Gioia, the northern half of Calabria, the Bay of Salerno, the Bay of Naples. From a sailing point of view, this offers two major disadvantages that we were to experience again and again in the coming weeks: Firstly, there is usually a paralyzing calm in these coastal sections due to the shielding capes at both ends, and secondly, they do not have any natural, sheltered bays to find protection from swell towards land at night. However, this was compensated somewhat by the fantastic panoramic views of the wooded (and at most half-burning), long green hills and mountains of Calabria with their numerous villages nestled close to the slopes.

Braving the weak wind, Amadie fought her way bravely across Capo Vaticano to Tropea (ice cream and pizza no.1), where we renewed the worn-out ropes in our mainmast and prepared the rigging for our gennaker headsail. We continued for two days and nights to Capo Palinuro. A good opportunity for cave diving, snorkeling, bouldering and jogging was offered by the beautiful natural harbor of Baia degli Infreschi with its ice-cold freshwater inlets. At the cape itself, we explored half a dozen caves that could not have been more different and varied. From a penetratingly sulphur-smelling grotto into which we could swim for half an hour in complete darkness, to rock domes with spectacular stalagmites reminiscent of a clutch of eggs from a giant cave spider, to a cave so vast and winding that after more than two hours of hiking and climbing in the light of torches we still hadn’t even seen every tunnel. We recovered from this exciting exploration tour in the mountain village of Pisciotta (ice cream and pizza no. 2). The evening was only overshadowed by a small accident when we rammed a stone with the propeller of our dinghy motor and bent it hopelessly.

Enjoy some impression of our cave tours (among other things) in our first Italy video. How the story with our motor continued and which voyage of discovery into antiquity still awaited us, can be read in our second blog entry on Italy (coming soon):

Our odyssey: A voyage through Greece’s rocky coasts and islands

Ah, Greece, ancient civilisation, cradle of European bureaucracy…or something like that. At least that’s how we felt when we moored at the customs office in Corfu Town on 28 June and tried to declare our ship in Greece. A marathon awaited us, but in our case it was not a matter of defeating a Persian army, but of overcoming the hurdles of Greek bureaucracy. We spent almost two days in the old town of Corfu (which is otherwise well worth seeing) getting Corona vaccination certificates, passports, boat papers, vignette proofs, bank statements, a pink elephant and whatever else was needed for the declaration. Only to be told at the end that we would have to go through the whole process again the next day, 01.07., because a new month would begin. That was too much for us and after visiting the Venetian fortifications, we preferred to set sail south. The last night of our guests Tobi, Andrea and Michael at the southern tip of Corfu had a special surprise in store for us: a dive in fluorescent plankton that glowed like a cloud of stars with every movement under water, giving every hand gesture a sparking magical aura.

With reduced manpower (Hendrik had left for Germany for the second Corona vaccination), we continued southwards: after a short stopover on Paxos to fill our water tanks and enjoy a burger at the stern of the Amadie in a restaurant on the quay, the winds carried us steadily forward over two days, past Ithaki and Kefalonia to the coast at Araxos. There we wanted to pick up our next guests, Matthias and Saskia, but the wind and waves were so fierce that we could not spend the night on the agreed beach and instead had to hide behind a headland in the approach lane of Araxos airport. So as not to compete with the light buoys marking the approach to the airport, we turned out all the lights, drew all the curtains and had our first and only dinner to date below deck.

Poseidon blessed our journey with strong winds and the next day, with a strengthened crew, we roared along to Zakynthos. The highlights here were certainly the beautiful crater bay off Keri, a hike across the island’s parched olive groves and rocky fields, adventurous cave dives, but above all the beach at Navagio. Here, in a narrow bay in front of steep rocky cliffs, an old fishing boat rusts away on the beach and offers a truly spectacular sight. Of course, we did not miss a detailed inspection and climbing tour. The following night, however, the Amadie’s wide stern made itself felt: Even the smallest waves rock the Amadie at anchor, and that night no plate or glass remained in its intended place.

A longer crossing to Voidokilias and Methoni followed, where we visited more Venetian fortifications, strategically located all along the Adriatic coast. From there we continued to the southern tip of the middle finger of the Peloponnese, where we came across Hendrik and a bunch of lionfish – the plagues of the Mediterranean. There are numerous legends surrounding one of these southernmost points of mainland Europe, and an evening at the tip of the finger offered correspondingly much: the gateway to Hades, a millennia-old shrine to Poseidon, majestic tower houses on the tops of the withered hills, a magnificent, clolourful sunset at the lighthouse.

The next stop on our island tour was the hiker’s paradise of Kithira. Matthias and Saskia did a flying exchange here with our next guests, Jonas, Janusz and Rafael. Thus ten people met on board the Amadie on the evening of 9 July to celebrate Jan’s 29th birthday. A very funny evening with sick consequences for the hungover guests on the next, stormy day. Good thing that the bay of Diakofti offered us sufficient shelter. But first we filled our water tanks by hauling 300 litres in canisters from a backyard water tap at the ferry dock to the Amadie, as the actual water supply to the dock had unfortunately broken down and the local sheriff/harbour master/fire chief could not help us any further. Unfortunately there is no plumber to be reached in Greece at the weekend. The next two days were characterised by relaxing swimming breaks, strenuous hikes, delicious restaurant visits and diving along another spectacular wreck, whose underwater world seems both spooky and busting with life at the same time.

We continued on to Milos, a volcanic island with cute villages and white volcanic rock beaches. Here, to our regret, our longest guest Maite left us, with whom we had spent more time on the Amadie than without her.

The beer-heavy party mood of the current crew could now only be satisfied by one destination: The party island of the rich and beautiful – Mykonos. We felt poorly out of place when we finally anchored in a bay among dozens of mega yachts, most of which could have accommodated the Amadie in their dinghy garage. If they had one at all and the owners were not flown ashore directly by helicopter. At the associated bathing beach, where the champagne was flowing in gallons, we were basically chased away with a broom when we tried to land with a load of dirty laundry and a few rubbish bags. The tour of Mykonos Town was also very pretty at first glance, but ended up being an overpriced Disneyland of Greece. Fortunately, the search for a laundrette led us to Paradise Beach on the third day. A beach that was clearly more in line with our (price) level, where we spent an extremely sociable party evening with numerous party enthusiasts of our age from all over the world.

Now loaded with Philipp’s family, Erhard, Corinna, Nadine and our youngest crew member to date, four-year-old Finn, we continued to the neighbouring island of Delos. The island hosts an impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site: The ruins of an ancient city that housed 30,000 inhabitants at its peak. The remains of numerous temples and, in some cases, entire city quarters give a good impression of the life of a Greek metropolis 2,500 years ago.

Next destination: Naxos. The old town of the island’s capital, although also touristy, gave a much more natural and lived-in impression of a Greek harbour town. In addition to the striking white stone houses and streets, we found some culinary specialities and the opportunity to top up our food, gas and water tanks.

The last destination of our odyssey through Greece was the volcanic island of Santorini. Spectacularly, steep cliffs rise up in a ring around a small central island of gigantic volcanic boulders, as if a giant had smashed his stone jar. At first we had some difficulties finding an anchorage on the steep cliffs, especially as the Meltemi, the prevailing strong north-south wind system in eastern Greece, was whistling strongly in our ears. We were immediately chased away from the mooring buoys everywhere, as they were reserved for day-trip tourist boats. Finally, we threw a shore line to the central scree island and climbed and dived for a while in this Greek Mordor plagiarism. The next day was no less windy and we first tried calling a good dozen boat taxi companies on Santorini. Unfortunately, all of them were fully booked, no longer operated or were florists and wedding planners by now. In desperation, we tried again to anchor at the harbour of Oia and lo and behold – we got the only free place on the tiny quay wall in front of the cliff town. Of course, this town also lives only from tourism, but that did not detract from the nightly sight of the illuminated cave houses and white terraces overlooking the gigantic volcanic crater of Santorini. A truly spectacular finale to our trip to Greece.

On 24 July, the Klick family left us, we installed our AIS system so that we could be located live at all times and set full sail for our longest crossing to date, 950 km to Italy. If and how we managed this first open water stress test you can see in our newest video:

Europe’s hidden coasts: Travelling through Montenegro and Albania

At noon on 15 June, we crossed our first international border from Croatia to Montenegro and sailed into the Bay of Kotor under strong westerly winds that forced us to make our first reefing manoeuvre. Suddenly the wind and waves dropped and majestic forested mountainsides rose up around us on all sides, leaving barely enough space for two rows of houses in the many small villages on their shores. Shortly afterwards, we took our next guest, Hendrik’s brother Tobi, on board in Tivat. The sheltered bay combined with some financial incentives seemed to make it extremely attractive for numerous multi-millionaires to park their mega yachts off Tivat. About 30 luxury yachts were anchored here, most of which could have accommodated the Amadie in their dinghy garage. The majority of them, however, had one decisive, inexcusable deficit despite all the pomp and comfort: a glaring lack of sails.

It took us almost a full day to enter the winding bay. It was not until the next morning that we reached its end in the form of the old harbour town of Kotor. An evening climb up the surrounding city walls gave us a beuatiful sunset over the bay, a stroll through the picturesque old town a party life most of us hadn’t experienced since pre-Corona times.

The next morning, the crew, excluding Philipp, who had to continue working on his bachelor thesis on our energy system, set off on a three-day hike in Montenegro’s hinterland. A half-day bus ride took us through a densely forested mountain landscape, crossed only by narrow roads and deep river canyons. Inaccessible, wild and green, a real European jungle. The first stop on our hike was the Gora National Park, an untouched primeval forest around a small lake in the middle of the mountains. In just a few square kilometres, there are more plant species, amphibians, insects and bird calls here than in most German states combined. The next two days inevitably took us up the surrounding mountain slopes. A strenuous undertaking, but the views of the unspoilt Montenegrin mountain landscape more than made up for it. As a reward, we had a sumptuous dinner of freshly baked cornbread, goat cheese, ham, onions and potatoes on a lonely mountain farm. Our conclusion on Montenegro: A real insider tip in the heart of Europe for all those who love hospitality and mountain hikes.

Back on the Amadie, after the first relaxed “training weeks”, there were some bigger distances on the route plan. First we went a little further to Budva, where we stocked up on food, and finally set sail to Durres in Albania for our first night trip across the open sea. We can’t quite escape Corona yet, so Philipp and Tilman had to disembark there to return to Germany for a few days for their second vaccine shot. The rest of the crew used the time to declare the ship in Albania, do laundry, explore the not very attractive city and refuel. Unadorned skyscrapers and a lot of traffic were the most characteristic elements around the industrial harbour. Refuelling was also a bit difficult, as there are no harbour petrol stations for small yachts in Albania and we were told that there are only petrol trucks with >3,000 litres capacity. During our sightseeing tour, however, the friendly and somewhat crazy harbour staff managed to manoeuvre a pick-up truck with a diesel barrel next to our boat. By sucking on the hose, the supplier finally managed to spray the truck, the harbour, himself, the Amadie, but fortunately also the tank of our boat with enough diesel that we could continue our journey.

The next few days were characterised either by leisurely bobbing along in barely bearable sultriness and racing along in foehn-like downdrafts from the mountains near the coast. Most of the time the water was so shallow that we could safely anchor kilometres off the coast. Scenically and architecturally, there was not much of interest to see near the coast, except for a larger salt lake behind a busy bathing beach that was declared a “nature reserve”, despite the numerous villages around it. Nevertheless, with reading, board games, playing music and swimming, the time flew by and finally we reached the northern tip of Corfu. After taking two more guests on board, Andrea and Michael, we returned to Albania’s southernmost coastal town Saranda. An absolute highlight here was the visit to the Butrinti peninsula. In a strategically important position for controlling the Adriatic, the various major Mediterranean powers settled here for 2,500 years, leaving behind a gigantic, beautifully situated open-air museum in which entire history books of ruins could be seen, from Greek temples to Roman forums and villas to Venetian and Ottoman fortifications and pagan cult shrines. A surprisingly impressive end to an otherwise rather unimpressive week in Albania. But feel free to see for yourself in our latest video as we make our way to the next ancient high culture, Greece:

A stonny beginning: Sailing the Croatian island realm

In good spirits, we hoisted the sails on the afternoon of June 2nd and set out to spend the first of many nights in a secluded bay. The first furling of the sails was duly doused with a 15-year-old Glennfiddich, a special drink for a special moment. After the conversations had died down, we stayed up late that first night sitting in Amadie’s cockpit and admiring the vast canopy of stars above us, far from the nearest source of human light.

The next day began with a liberating swim in the sea – at least until we saw two fins swimming around our boat. But an expert drone flight reassured us: this was not a dreaded Mediterranean shark, but a rare blue marlin, also known as swordfish. In the next few days, we got to see larger swarms of fish and some schools of dolphins on numerous occasions. The Mediterranean Sea is in this respect a not to be underestimated place for fish watchers.

After we had made a small repair at our Dinghi engine in Sibenik, the first miles flowed under our keel. In the following days we were able to test the sailing characteristics of the Amadie on rope and cloth and so far we are very satisfied with the good steering characteristics and comparatively high hull speed (the physically maximum possible sailing speed) of about 9 knots. Only in the evening hours the wind in Croatia often drops strongly, so we could not avoid now and then to drive the last meters into the next bay under engine.

Our journey through the Croatian islands led us past numerous sights and natural spectacles. Among them were a walk along a 500 year old fortress wall against Ottoman land attacks, a climb of the cliffs on the peninsula in front of Split with a fantastic view over the surrounding bay, a dinner in a remote island village, a dive in a cave that must have been a smuggler’s hideout in its past and so on and so on. The urban highlights of these first two weeks of sailing were three of Croatia’s most famous and touristic cities: Split, Korcula and Dubrovnik. In all three, in addition to the beautiful, historic old towns with their numerous winding alleys and impressive buildings and city walls, we were particularly struck by the absence of the usual crowds of tourists. An aftershock of the Corona pandemic, which is very much to our liking. This went so far that we were interviewed in Dubrovnik by the Croatian RTL to report on the restored travel opportunities.

As always, you can see the best impressions here in our video:

In Split we took our first travel guest on board, Paul Anderheiden, who energetically accompanied us for a week of sailing, housekeeping on the Amadie, snorkeling, hiking and drinking beer. In Dubrovnik there was a flying change to Maite Andersen – and we can continue to look forward to numerous personnel changes thanks to you 😊.

The last experience in Croatia was a nighttime walk-through of the Hotel Belvedere, which was abandoned only six years after it was built during the Yugoslav war and has been a prime example of a “lost place” for thirty years by now. And indeed, we lost ourselves several times in the gigantic complex with its countless floors, annexes, halls, rooms, staircases. At night, an experience that just cried out to be the prelude to a horror movie in a haunted hotel.

But we survived. Barely. And now we can look forward to telling you about our adventures in Albania and Montenegro in our next post!

Love on first sight: Buying and equipping Amadie

When we decided in the summer of 2020 to actually put into practice the fix dream of many bar evenings and talks about travel videos of other world sailors, none of us could imagine what should expect us. And now, almost a year later in the salon of the Amadie three days after the start of our journey, we still can not really believe what we are doing here. But first, let’s review the past exhausting Corona year from the perspective of a crew-to-be.

As always, it all started with googling, this time for online boat exchanges. We had predefined a few parameters: Minimum 40 feet in length for comfort and sufficient safety and stability on a blue water trip. Ideally three cabins for Philipp, Hendrik and Jan plus a guest cabin. And not too expensive, 90 thousand including all additional equipment to be installed we planned as a limit. The list of boats in this size and price category was (fortunately) very manageable. We quickly contacted the handful of owners whose yachts came into question for us, coordinated four meetings in Croatia on one weekend and planned the trip within 10 days. Remember, traveling was not without effort even in the summer of 2020 due to Corona, so we hoped to gain as much experience as possible for the further search with a singular trip. The first yacht we visited was directly a bitter disappointment; a 15-year-old Bavaria charter yacht, which already showed so many damages at even at first glance that the necessary repairs would probably have exceeded the costs for the purchase.

Quite differently already the second yacht: Harbor Sibenik, salesman the Austrian premium charterer Luga Yachting 2000. Between all the brightly polished giant catamarans the Amadie seemed almost somewhat inconspicuous and small, although it did not have to hide itself with its navy-blue coloring and 43 feet length behind the cruising yachts of other world sailors. We liked the boat so much right away that we spent the next 24 hours disassembling the ship in every way we could think of, looking into every hatch and behind every hose to make sure we didn’t miss any major damage. But except for the expected signs of use on a 12 year old charter boat, we only noticed a few minor things that we were able to negotiate with the seller. We also agreed on the price, which was very fair from our point of view, after two rounds of negotiations and were able to conclude the purchase agreement already in October 2020. The remaining yacht viewing appointments on this trip we kept short or canceled them altogether. That we would find so quickly a suitable boat, we would never have hoped in advance!

The following months were characterized by numerous organizational video conferences due to Corona and Jan’s work in Mali, in which we extensively discussed all technical and administrative to-dos. Furthermore, from February 2021 our crew was completed by our fourth member Tilman. We could not do without a second inspection of the yacht, so Hendrik and Philipp traveled to Sibenik again in March 2021 to measure the yacht in detail for the installation of our electrical system. In the course of this, Philipp managed to combine the useful with the practical and the most effective by not only registering the planning and simulation of our solar and wind energy system as his bachelor thesis, but also by finding a generous sponsor in the company Solara, which provided us with corresponding solar panels for every free square centimeter of our deck in exchange for the corresponding energy production data.

Finally, on May 24, the time had come. Tilman and Jan had quit their jobs, Hendrik and Philipp had finished their bachelor. Almost two tons of material and equipment had been ordered and partly delivered to Sibenik, partly loaded into the cars of our helpful drivers to Croatia. At this point another big thank you to Eduard, Gabi and Erik is due! <3

Arriving after a 15-hour drive, we took little time to relax and immediately set to work with boxes of tools and a seemingly endless to-do list. A fantastic support were the employees of Yachting 2000, especially our contact Leo, who helped us with all questions and problems with local knowledge and yachting expertise. For 10 days we screwed, sawed, glued and wired the Amadie, the working days sometimes lasting until 10 p.m. only loosened up by the culinary delicacies of the self-proclaimed ship’s cook Jan and here and there an occasional movie or after-work beer. While Tilman mutated into a tireless ship’s carpenter, Philipp disappeared into boxes for days on end to re-lay the entire electrical system, Hendrik focused on the construction of our solar panel support, Jan became a first-rate dinghy tinkerer. In the end, we knew every hardware store, garage workshop, yacht specialist in Sibenik.

A (non-exhaustive) list of our work to get the Amadie seaworthy includes: Building the solar equipment rack at the stern, installing and connecting 8 solar panels, building and wiring a wind generator, repairing the torn dinghy, hoisting the new extra tear-resistant sails, building a mount for our new 8 hp dinghy motor, installing a dozen additional shelves, installing new batteries and sensor systems for the electronics and last but not least a home cinema system.

But see for yourself in our video:

On 02 June the time had finally come and we weighed anchor for departure into an uncertain but certainly fantastic and very very blue adventure!