A Dane Abroad: Caught in Atlantic’s crosshairs

Penny for your thoughts? But not literally: that would be unhygienic (photo: Pixabay)
May 15th, 2022 5:00 am| by Kirsten Louise Pedersen
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In the wake of Covid becoming a firmly integrated and dreary part of life around the world, and work life turning bland and monotonous due to the restrictions, an opportunity to sail an 82-foot schooner across the Atlantic Ocean presented itself like a ray of light through dark clouds. 

As my fiancé is a professional master mariner, having crossed the great dam more than 20 times captaining fully-rigged sailing vessels, this opportunity was too good to pass up.

Neverending Tivoli ride
A few months later I am sitting here in the belly of a 1938 vessel, anti-slip mats and tea towel-wrapped glassware in place, rolling around in the Atlantic Ocean. Our crew of eight strangers left the Canary Islands just days ago, and we are now heading into the choppy great ocean. I am still mastering the art of  ‘gyro hand’ as I hold my coffee mug in a bendy outstretched arm while typing and, let’s face it, deleting a lot with the other.

The crew consists of a rather varied bunch of relative strangers. The age range on board is between 21 and 77. Our journey ahead is a big daunting sailing adventure on one hand, and an almost equally daunting social experiment on the other hand. We face three weeks together in the rolling sea in what roughly equates to a two bedroom Copenhagen flat constantly moving like a simulator ride at a funfair.

Coffee went … swell
As the mooring lines were finally cast in Tenerife, we slowly floated out of the marina by engine, fully loaded up on provisions and nervous excitement, and it started to sink in that we wouldn’t have any connection with the world for the next three weeks. Everyone, including myself, did a last minute scramble to make our final Instagram posts and updates before being cut off for good. 

After successfully setting the sails, the schooner soon started rolling in the massive swells and a period of adjusting to constantly bumping into things and dropping things, as well as learning not to free-pour anything during big swells, ensued. The first lunch was chaotic. No-one knew where to stand, and food slid randomly off the counters as we scrambled to figure out a method for such a simple activity as making a sandwich without it ending up on the floor or on someone’s t-shirt.

We are now officially inhabiting another realm. Contrary to normal everyday life, moving around comes with the risk of hurting yourself or falling overboard, fresh water no longer comes from a limitless supply, going to the toilet requires acrobatic prowess, and the only way of generating power is by starting up the diesel engine. Tasks that before were rushed and trivial now take precedence and become the centre of our days. Out here we are at the mercy of the old ship, and I think about how infrequently human beings are at the mercy of anything but themselves these days.

Living in the moment
Our journey has just begun. We still have about two and half weeks to go. Who will we be when we reach the other side after disconnecting from the world and instead connecting to one another, while making the journey of a lifetime and only seeing sky and ocean for days on end, I wonder? 

Only time will tell, and while I’m pondering this I’m gonna head up on deck, drink a cup of coffee and feel the sun and salty sea spray on my face, trying not to think too much about what Putin’s been up to while we’ve been away. 

Kirsten Louise Pedersen


Born and raised in Denmark and a resident of New Zealand for over 14 years, Kirsten has lived a pretty nomadic life since her early 20s. A physiotherapist, yoga teacher and keen home cook, she is passionate about food, good living and natural health. Email her at kirstenlouise@protonmail.com

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