09 May 2011

10 Questions for Berlin Express

be4 Stefan and Chloe plus about 50 other crew over 3 years have been cruising since 2007 in Berlin Express (or BE for short), a small boatyard Folkes in Canada, 39ft hailing from Berlin, Germany although they have never been there by boat. Since 2007 they have cruised from Melbourne, Australia to Fiji (eastwards) then to Europe (westwards, of course). You can read more about their travels in their website or contact them by email (stefan_huebbe@hotmail.com).

In your first year of cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
To stop spending money. I was so used to earning money and my cruising kitty seemed kind of endless that I still hit the club bar and went far to often to these money-traps called ship chandleries. Thousands of shiny stainless shackles later, I slowly realized what is really important and I probably sailed for the last 2 years on the same money I spent in the first 6 months.

In your own experience and your experience meeting other cruisers, what are the common reasons people stop cruising?
be1Speaking for myself, it was the need for money and the desire to discover something other than empty beaches.  I also wanted some new challenges. However well knowing that this will just make me miss cruising again, which is kind of good, because otherwise over time I may not appreciate anymore how amazing the sailing life can be.

Hard to say about others. Reckon there are many who see cruising more as sight seeing and as a proving ground. They haste around the world in flash boats, take photos for the web page and then are happy to return home with some adventures stories. And this is more than fine, too. Only a few find a sustainable long term-stimulating lifestyle in cruising, I guess... looking into any anchorage you will also see these two groups of sailors.

Is there a place you visited where you wish you could have stayed longer?
The Pacific! Leaving Australia, I sailed there first and had no idea what I had there until I left 6 months later. I am looking forward to the day I'll be back there with heaps of time sailing all they way east to west.

Why did you decide to cruise?
I always sailed and loved the sea. I just needed to do it 100% to fully be one with this amazing energy. Especially passages and remote places are my thing because they give you something you can never experience on charters or weekend sails. I believe cruising is the only way how you can actually
find real freedom.

Describe a "typical day" at anchor on your boat
Sleeping-in avoiding any thoughts about a dragging anchor. Long breakfast ignoring the long list of maintenance needing to be done. Just doing nothing and ignoring the clouds that could make this peaceful anchorage very uncomfortable. Finally arriving at the happy hour and realizing that this is actually heaven! maybe a little occasional scream of joy depending on if we are alone in the anchorage or not.

be2What did you do to make your dream a reality?
Saved like there is no tomorrow.

Describe the compromises (if any) that you have made in your cruising in order to stay on budget
I always did everything myself on the boat which really helps to save money but in the beginning I still treated myself to some upgrades here and there like a newish Spinaker, a Pactor-modem, new chain when the old one was still doing the job or overpriced 'International' paint, etc. Later I discovered so many alternative ways to get these things much cheaper. A sail can mostly be fixed even and there are good second hand ones, there is an alternative to Pactor and Satellite-phone, chain doesn't fail just because it starts slightly to corrode and the fishermen always know where to get the cheapest and best paint.

be5 Describe a perfect cruising moment that will make cruisers-to-be drool with anticipation
When you feel that the boat is perfectly balanced and running fast with great easy in a fresh breeze with an unobstructed horizon around you. Playful in tune with the nature's forces, cutting through the water like a dolphin. You feel the movements through your whole body and know that this is very special. (Again maybe a small scream of joy as there is no one around for hundreds or thousands of miles other than your friends...)

Finish this sentence. "Generally when I am provisioning..."
I think the huge pile of Asia-noodles and cookies will last at least for half a year... only to find them all gone in a month.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         What question do you wish I would have asked you besides the ones I've asked you and how would you answer it?

Do you think cruising has changed over the decades?

Yes! I can only envy the pioneers who sailed when most islands had no resorts and another boat in an anchorage was a pleasant surprise. Working with essentials on a small boat and being closer to the real thing looking at the barometer and not Navtex. But on the other hand,  I am still out with the sextant by over 50miles, so I will quietly sit down and just be grateful for what we still can experience out there.