Category Archives: Surfing & Sailing

Night Sailing

Night Sailing - From Sines to Sagres

Breaking waves are smashing against the boat as if they try to grab Ropati. The wind whistles and suddenly I can hear them. The voices of the Sirens. They are calling my name: ‘Helmaaaaa. O, Helma, please come with us. Helmaaaaaa.’  My fear fades away and takes place for a deep feeling of satisfaction. Peace is on my mind. 

‘Yes, please. Take me with you. Ow, yes!’ I stretch my arms out waiting for the Sirens to grab them. ‘Helmaaaa’. Suddenly a bright light shines in my face and I see the French Seaman right in front of me. He snarls: ‘ Come on. Your night shifts starts in five minutes. It is time to wake up now.’

Dam’n it, I was dreaming and now I have to get up in the middle of the night to take over the watch. For two hours I have to sail alone, while the others are sleeping. I feel excited. Staying awake and being alone outside in the cockpit, while it is dark and windy… Even when the night shift just lasts two hours, at the ocean it feels like a lifetime, especially when the moon is dark and the stars are hidden behind the clouds.

I get up out of bed and dress myself in my sail jacket.  With a big skarf around my head I climb outside. Nervously I look around. No other boats. I try to keep on moving to stay warm. After one hour I get hungry, but I am too scared to go inside. What if there is suddenly a boat in front of us? Every minute I look around. My thoughts are drifting away and in my mind I go back to my first sail adventures in The Netherlands with my friend Judith and her father. I just turned into fourteen and together we went on a sail holiday in Friesland, Brittany of The Netherlands. During this trip I was not afraid at all. Not even a split of a second.

Here I am, sixteen years later, with more safety equipement aboard then in those days, and scared to death. Nowadays I can oversee the risks (for as far as possible), which is good on the one hand, but on the other hand this awareness has replaced my innocence. Tired and afraid I start seeing and hearing things. The sounds of the sea are like old songs hidden in my unconscious mind. The melody of the the wind and waves is soothing. Slowly I calm down and suddenly I understand how all the stories of sailors, the myths and the seaside sagas are shaped. Their existence is founded in the bewildered minds of seamen sailing at night.