My Top 10 Highlights from our First Month at Sea (Sept. 19, 2018)

It’s been exactly one month since we set sail on August 19, 2018 on our 6,000 nautical mile sailing journey from Stralsund, Germany to Gulf Shores, Alabama. We battled The Baltic, survived The North Sea, and sailed through The English Channel on our way into The Northern Atlantic. We have covered 1,062 nautical miles so far—just one sixth of our full journey.

We are currently sitting in the Camaret su Mer port in gorgeous Brittany, France awaiting just the right weather to take on our biggest challenge yet—The Bay of Biscay. We still have a long way to go! Maik and I were reflecting on our favorite adventures and experiences so far—the good, the bad, and the ugly. I was inspired to compile my Top 10 Highlights from our first month at sea. I can assure you the highs have greatly outweighed the lows!

These are my favorites (in no particular order).

1. Hoisting the main sail when we departed from Stralsund.

This was monumental! After months of planning and preparation, years of working and saving, and more delays than I can count, we finally sailed out of the old town harbor in Stralsund and cruised into the open Baltic Sea. When I hoisted the main sail, I was so excited I was practically doing handsprings on the deck! Even though I struggled with seasickness later that day, this was a remarkable feeling as we officially finally launched our adventure!

2. Unleashing the hounds.

I’m so happy we brought Cap’n Jack and Scout along with us! They have been such great company. They enjoy the sailing, and I know they just love being with us all the time. Those tails are always wagging! We really get a kick out of seeing them explore all the new places. When we approach a new port, those beagle noses go on high alert. I think they can smell land. Europe is very dog friendly, so take them with us everywhere we go—restaurants, laundry facility, marina shops—and we’ve been able to unleash them in most places. I love seeing them run and play and explore. They have played on many beaches and even explored the bottom of the sea at low tide. We’ve also taken several long hikes up huge mountains!  

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3. Visiting with Yvi in Heiligenhafen.

If you read my blog regularly, you know about my longtime friend, Yvonne Habermann. She lived with our family as an exchange student in the late 1980s, and we’ve been friends ever since. She is a badass German sailor and has given me so much great advice and support! We got to visit with her on our last stop before reaching Kiel. She taught me the secret cure for seasickness—just hold a potato in your left hand. Works every time!

4. Living on Seefalke.

I always thought I wanted to live on a sailboat and see the world from the water. But I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Even with all the bumps and bruises, cramped quarters, daily boat maintenance, no TV, no shower, and no ice, I have truly loved it! I miss the people from home (especially my children, family, and friends) but I can honestly say I don’t miss any of the creature comforts. I now know the true meaning of Robin Graham’s famous quote “At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.”  READ MY BLOG “A Day of Rest Requires a Lot of Work”

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5. Swapping stories with all three of Seefalke’s owners.

While waiting out the weather in Rendsburg during our Kiel Canal voyage, we got to spend an evening with the two previous owners of Seefalke and another sailor who spent a lot of time sailing her. It was a magical! Seefalke has only had three owners in her 44-year life, and they were all together that evening! It was just the coolest thing ever!

6. Sunsets and sunrises at sea

They never disappoint. Each time the sun kisses the horizon and melts into the water, I just get chills. Each one is unique and special. It always reminds me how small we are in this amazing, gigantic world—and also how connected we can be even from so far away. It’s cool to think that in about seven hours, my friends and family back in the U.S. will see that exact same sunset.

7. Our nonstop North Sea voyage.

We sailed 317 nautical miles in 82 straight hours from Helgoland, Germany to Dunkirk, France. This passage challenged us physically, mentally, and emotionally. It was exciting and exhausting . . . frustrating and exhilarating. I had some huge stumbling blocks during this trek and at times just wanted to give up and go home. I faced the challenges and became a stronger person and a better sailor in the process. This was the passage during which I earned my sailing chops and found an inner strength I never knew I possessed. I’ll never forget it.  READ MY BLOG “Taming the Bully”

8. Facing my fears.

As excited as I am about this adventure, I must admit I’ve been terrified at times. We faced a gale with 38-knot winds. I struggled with seasickness and was paralyzed with fear. I faced a terrifying first-ever night watch, and had more than a few crises of confidence. And now, we face our biggest challenge—The Bay of Biscay. But each fear was rewarded with grand experiences that will stay with me forever. Maik always says, “The brave one is not the one who has no fear. The brave one is the one who has fear—and does it anyway.” READ MY BLOG “The Baltic Sea - She’s a Mean Girl”

9. Dolphins greeting us as we entered The Atlantic.

We received the warmest welcome from a friendly school of common dolphins just as we crossed over the line that separates The English Channel from the Atlantic. They played in the wake of Seefalke’s bow for about 10 minutes and then just disappeared into the deep blue sea. It was magnificent! We felt as if it were a sign of great things to come!

10. Sailing community support.

I didn’t think anyone except my family and closest friends would care anything about following us on this journey. It has been so cool to see our 7,000-plus Facebook friends following us from all over the world. Reading your comments has been so fun and inspirational for us! Just one example is our new friend, Chris Newbill from Southern California. She had many sailing adventures with her husband until he died a few years ago. She is following us closely and reliving special memories of her time at sea with him. We are so happy that we could help in some small way to spark those sweet memories for her through our adventures. We also have a loyal following on Patreon. I’ll never forget how our patrons Dean Deslatte and Tom Gallimore updated us on the weather and wind every hour through our satellite tracker during our English Channel voyage while we had no Internet. It was like having a navigation team virtually on board with us. We have also built a following on Instagram. Even though we have only interacted virtually, Lisa from Sailing Music & Lyrics seems like an old friend, and I can’t wait to meet her and Erik in The Bahamas after we cross the Atlantic. And you just can’t imagine how many cool sailors we meet in all these ports. All this support helps me to feel like I’m not so far away from home! We appreciate you all so much!