And again a time comes to an end. My time on the Novel. 7 months full of ups and downs. Full of new experiences, enriching encounters, profound conversations underlined by the most diverse feelings.
We were on the sea for 134 days. That means about 30 tours. We met a good 1.000 people, got to know them and sailed with them. I cleaned the ship at least 30 times from the outside and especially from the inside. I have made 900 beds.
These are all numbers, but they don’t come close to reflecting what this time was like for me. I experienced and learned so much. About sailing, of course, but also about people and about myself. My limits were reached in all directions. Whether it is self-worth, privacy, togetherness or the most diverse human relationships. But above all, I have succeeded in one thing: I have always found myself again and remained true to myself. This time was a real challenge and I managed it and I don’t only have myself to thank for that:
Thanks to the guests
We had the most diverse groups on board. School classes, church communities, sports clubs as well as family and friendship groups. Most of them came from Germany and they all brought their own characters and stories. Some were eager to sail and others not at all. There were days when my role as motivator was a real challenge. And there were days when all sails were set and I looked out at the sea glistening with sunshine, full of satisfaction. Many faces have remained in my memory, and contact with some has lasted beyond the tour.
A side effect was that I saw the Germans from an outside perspective. I noticed that Germans are very concerned about safety. They are very precise but have the most different opinions about life and things in this world. It was very interesting to listen to them.
And there were also the students between 14 and 16 years old. I still don’t understand the youth of today, but I got an impression of how they tick today. It was amusing and nerve-racking at the same time.
Thank you all for this time. For accepting my direct, almost commanding manner. For taking me seriously and laughing together at the evening get-together. Many of you left an unforgettable impression on me and I hope I was able to give you a little something.
On 20 April I arrived at the Gependam in Enkuizen and I didn’t know anyone. There must be 20 ships there and they were all completely new to me. And then there was a knock on my cabin door in the evening and a few sailors who had gathered on the neighboring ship invited me for a beer. A fellowship developed, the likes of which I had never known before. On the alternate days of Friday and Sunday, the “hello” in the harbor grew. It was nice to see each other again after the tours. And even after a few weeks, it was a pleasure to see familiar faces. Talking to them about the tour and laughing together “in the little café”. It was like coming home.
My very special thanks go to the “Aperol Spitzies”. The name has a story, of course. This small group of four mates around me has grown particularly close to my heart. Especially in summer, it was hard to have everyone united in Enkhuizen. Each ship has tours of different lengths. But when we saw each other or even met a part of us in the other port, the “hello” was especially heartfelt and absolutely clear that we were spending the evening together.
Thanks to you, dear Spritzies. It’s really hard to say goodbye, especially because I don’t know if and when we’ll see each other again. There is so much ahead of you and no less ahead of me, but one day I will be back here on the Gependam, take your leashes, enclose you in my arms and together we will splash again.
The word “thank you” cannot really do justice to what I feel when I think of the time with you and especially with you Arnold. Such an intense time. We spent almost every day together on the Novel. You taught me everything I needed to know to work on the ship. The demands were high but today I know that your training was one of the best and I am a little proud of that. But you have given me so much more. You have made sure that I want for nothing. You have given me the feeling that I am always welcome, that I am not alone and that I can always rely on you, especially in difficult situations. You have taken me into Dutch life with you. And that from the very first day when you invited me straight to your home for dinner. With you, I simply met two wonderful people and I wish you all the best for the future. You deserve it.
And if reading my reports about my time as a sailor has made you want to do this job yourself, then I can only recommend the Novel to you because there are still a few weeks left for the next season. Feel free to contact me and I’ll pass it on. It is a unique experience!
This world around the clipper boats on the IJsselmeer is a world of its own. For some it is a big, wide and often new world, for me it is rather a small one. A community among very special sailors. The Gependam is a village. Here, eyes and ears are everywhere. But here you also help each other and in the end all are united by one passion: sailing.
And then it was already time. The last day of sailing, the last time going through the lock, the last evening in Enkhuizen. And as I left the port of Enkuizen for the last time with the Novel, the lump in my throat grew thicker. Goodbyes are part of my current lifestyle. Those are the not so nice moments. But I am richer for the memories and more fulfilled by the luck of meeting such great people, some of whom I have really taken to my heart. But there always comes a day when I have to say goodbye to them all again and don’t know if or when I will see them again. When I will enter this world of my own again.
Margreth gave me a tip. I should just say “see you soon”, then it won’t sound like a goodbye. So see you soon – tot ziens Netherlands!!!!