Hi there! My name is Laura and I'm from the little town of Eureka on the northern west coast of California which is where I met Roel and Jacomine. I was waiting tables at a local restaurant when my co-worker, who knows I long to sail across the Pacific one day, came up to me and told me, "You should go talk with the lovely Dutch couple who are dining outside because they are living your dream!" So I did. They told me a little of their adventures, and I shared my desire to be a crew member on a sailing trip across the Pacific. Later Roel came up to me with their sailing card and said they would be leaving in two days to sail to San Francisco; and if I wanted to gain experience, I was welcome to tag along. How providential! What an opportunity! I knew I couldn't pass it up. My mom and I met with them that evening so we could all get to know each other and rest assured none of us were weirdos before sailing off together. I immediately felt very comfortable and at ease around them. Roel and Jacomine were so warm and welcoming, as well as very experienced sailors. That evening the excitement was so overwhelming I couldn't sleep. I felt like a little kid on Christmas eve.
When the day finally arrived my family came to see me sail away. The sun was shining bright and it was such a beautiful day until we sailed straight into the thick cold grey fog. Classic Eureka. Roel explained the radar system, buoys and marine traffic. Then he let me steer the boat for a bit. Later that evening I decided I would cook enchiladas for us which, thankfully, I had partially prepared ahead of time. Down in the cabin you could really feel the motion of the waves! Luckily Jacomine came to help me. We were both bracing ourselves against whatever we could and working quickly. It was actually quite comical. They have a gimbal stove/oven that is on some sort of hinge system that allows the stove to swing level as the boat rocks back and forth, and there are pot restraints to hold the pots and pans in place on the stove top. Quite fascinating, yet scary when you're frying tortillas! All worked out well; however by the end of cooking I started to feel a bit queasy. I was tossed about trying to get to my cabin room to find Dramamine; and then I came on deck to stare at the stable horizon. The dramamine kicked in just in time so that I never did get sick. Now I could actually enjoy the feeling of the ocean rocking the boat, and when it got a bit more intense I found it exciting.
Another thing I found fascinating was their self-steering windvane. Requiring no electrictity it is completely mechanical and keeps us on course. The vane is set directly into the wind and as the boat goes off course the wind hits on either flat side of the windvane making it tip. Since the vane is attached to the rudder, it causes the rudder to maneuver the boat back on track by pulleys that are attached to the steering wheel. How neat!! What an incredible invention! So ingenious, yet so simple. So I stared at this auto-pilot system for a good long while just in awe watching it constantly pull the steering wheel a little to the right then a little to the left. Meanwhile Roel was reading and Jacomine was watching for other ships ahead. Such a cool system. I couldn't imagine someone having to steer the entire time!
The next day Jacomine made some delicious breads which we enjoyed with some coffee on deck as I asked them about their adventures of sailing all over the world and their lives back home in the Netherlands. Such an adventurous couple! They are so incredibly inspiring and make such a great team. When we started to approach San Francisco bay there is what Jacomine calls "the welcome committee" which consisted of birds, seals, porpoises, a dolphin and even a whale!!
That morning it was extremely foggy. We saw the Point Bonita lighthouse on the left, Alcatraz straight ahead, and the whole Golden Gate Bridge which was completely covered in thick fog only revealing the very bottom of the bridge. Once we crossed under it to the other side, the sun started to shine through and as I looked over I couldn't help but notice how pleased Roel was to safely arrive in the great city of San Francisco where their next adventures await!
Thank you both so much for taking me along and for such amazing hospitality. What an experience, one I will never forget!
It was special for us to have you on board too! Normally we are reluctant to take somebody out to the ocean on a frist sail cruise ever. Your desire to sail was so strong that we figured you would either love it or find it very hard, but you would get the experience and survive the 2 days sailing to San Francisco. It was not an easy sail trip. We had a good following wind, but ocean swell that was around 5 feet high at the least. As we were sailing over underwater canyons and mountains and around Cape Mendocino, the sea corresponds with each one of those and adds to the motion and the height of the waves. The boat swings form one side to the other, and the forces are considerable, not much for training first time sail handling. We were impressed with how well you managed the trip, learning along the way and helping out where you could, that is really something to be proud of. We enjoyed your company and hope this was just the first step of your sailing adventures!
Roel and Jacomine