Europe | Germany – Sailing in Holland
I told myself I was going to make the most of this year, regardless of guts and regardless of cost (as long as it is in reason.) So a couple of months ago I signed up for this sailing course in Holland, thinking it would be a new experience and a fun way to travel. I had no idea how right I was about to be.
The last four days were just amazing, they are up with there with the best times I have had this whole year. There were about 28 of us students total, six boats, four of us to each boat.
At first I was a bit nervous when we were all introduced to the gang. To start with they all knew eachother really well and had sailed many times together, and secondly everybody was a bit older than me and I was the youngest one. My sailboat turned out to be a great group– it was me and two other girls who were also beginners (we were the only beginners on the whole trip). This fact alone led to some pretty funny and frustrating times on the boat, especially when we ended up in a storm and were losing personal objects to the wind and water. But our captain was just great, we couldn’t have been any luckier! He is a 6th year med student here, Captain Sebastian. Poor guy had no chance with three females on the small boat!
It’s amazing how well you can get to know some people in such a few amount of days. Our boat bonded, and the whole group had an even better time together. At first I thought it would be odd sleeping together in the open air, crammed on the floor, but it was just like a slumber party! Cozy, but fun. The first night I was really cold since I was stupid and didn’t bring a real sleeping back, so the last two nights I slept with the sail-cover as our blanket, and that kept me toasty!
I guess the part that was really fun, was how the whole group saield together. Out of the six boats, each one had their stereotype or title, and we were well-known for getting a little lost and running a little late, and always being in our bikinis trying to tan rather than sail, but it worked out well that way. A lot of people there were serious sailers and they know eachother really well and sail together a couple times a year, so they were happy to have three young ladies shake it up! We would meet up, do patterns together, swim between boats, steal eachother’s bouys during ‘man overboard drills,’ and one time we even tied another boat to us so we could play a drinking game i taught them! (thanks, phi sig)
I have realized how every country has things that they are unique for, and that there are many ways to see this. Maybe in the city, maybe in the country, perhaps with a host family, often with a train. But for the first time, I saw a country from the water. Experiencing holland from a sailboat was something I may never do again, we went places where cars can’t go, and trains don’t stop at. We travelled up and down canals between villages, and they were just precious, like in a movie. THey were all ligned up against the waterway, with peaks at each house, connected with huge flowers in front, and windmills everywhere!
The weather was perfect friday and saturday, and sunday morning it was great … but somewhere in the afternoon things turned. I was napping during a lunch break on the grass, tanning oil on, headphones cranked up, and good ole Captain Sebastian kicked me awake. I saw everybody running for cover, docking the boats, and putting on our rain protective gear. It was a bit scary at first, but I saw the coolest thunder/wind/rain storm ever, luckily form inside a person’s kitchen/cafe crowded with sailers! After a clearing we got back out on the water but kept having problems.
At one point we had to stop and wait it out, this time without cover. We were all crammed around a picnic table, cold and a bit hungry, trying to entertain ourselves. Everybody broke out in old children’s german songs, it was the cutest thing ever. They even did the body motions with it, no shame at that point. Then they proceeded to sing the song over and over ‘I lost my heart in Heidelberg.’ It was just so perfect, and at one point I realized myself choking up. I have lost my heart in Heidelberg, in more way that one. And I have come to realize I am not staying here forever, that my time here is coming close, and I will be leaving my heart behind when I head back to the states. I pulled myself together as we were running back to the boats because there was a clear patch, no time to get emotional:)
From there on it was windy and a bit sketchy, so it was a relief when we got to our destination last night and docked the boats. That night was our last night, and we spent the evening wandering the town, it was picture postard perfect, too bad my camera battery died. Guess I will just have to go back. We ended up in a classy small-town island bar, and my heart just wasn’t in it. So I ended up leaving on my own and got ready for bed. I don’t know how long I laid in that boat alone, rocking gently with the water, staring up at the clearest night ever filled with stars so bright I thought they would explode. It was a good time to think and soak it all up. I was a bit sad that this was all ending, it had been another experience I had looked forward to, and was now ending. Seems like everything has gone so fast this year, I have tried my best to keep up with it.
At some point Captain Sebastian got back, and we both laid there, with a ‘night cap’ talking and reflecting deep thoughts together, although he was not making much sense, he had celebrated just a little too much! Soon, though, we all settled into our boats and the last breakfast together came way too early.
Sailing to our final destination today was a bit sad, but exciting I guess. We sailed our best, showed off what we could do, and tanned one last afternoon. When we parted ways at the sailing school, once again my emotional side hit, and I was about to tear up saying goodbye. I stayed strong, gave some good hugs and kisses on the cheek, and tossed my bags into the back of a car and hit the road. Another chapter closed, another roll of film to develop and look forward to.
I know this doesn’t make the trip sound that exciting, but it really was… the wind carrying us at top speeds through the water, cutting lines, sails up and down, then relaxing over a bbq and telling stories, wandering around holland villages at night, and falling asleep staring up at the clear sky telling stories, and then crawling out of our sailboats in the morning for breakfast at the crack of dawn just to do it all over again… Ah, can I go back already, please?