Sander, 35, left Heerenveen with his girlfriend Yvette, 35, earlier this year on a round-the-world trip. Aruba was the starting point for the tour. “I’ve chased this dream from an early age. Yvette has a passion for travel and she came with me, even though she’s not a fan of ocean sailing.”
The couple reached the Galapagos Islands unharmed and the Great Transit to French Polynesia began in mid-April. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with 2,000 nautical miles (about 3,600 km) left, things went wrong.
“It’s my turn to keep watching,” Sander says by phone from the island of Heva Oa in French Polynesia. “Yvette was asleep. Normally you could hear the sound of the water under the boat, because you’re sailing. But now all of a sudden I heard terrible noises, crackling, and glare.”
The boat suddenly stopped. Sander rushed out and saw no more mast. It turned out to be broken, out of nowhere. “I cried, darling, get up. Put on your life jacket, mast at sea.”
Sander checked if there was more damage, or if the ship was making water. It seems that this is not the case. “You lose control for a moment,” Sander says of that tight moment. “Everything.” “But since there was no immediate danger, I was able to act calmly and see exactly what was going on.”
It turns out that the mast could not be saved. They had to leave it in the ocean. Guess exactly why it broke. “Maybe there was a weak point. The wind was very strong, but we were sailing calmly. It was amazing. And very painful, everything was new.”
After a phone call with his father, the couple worked out a solution: a kind of emergency mast with a small sail. The ship was able to advance again, but was slow at 3 or 4 knots. †
Hot send and pull
Sander talks about a “terrifying journey.” “You can’t imagine in advance what you’d do with such a ship. It’s sailing so precariously, we’ve rocked and rushed back and forth for three weeks. Every now and then those high waves. It was hellish, worse than any storm I’ve been through. Rest, cook and sleep. …Everything was difficult. It gave us such a headache.”
Fortunately, the couple prepared well, and they had no shortage of food and drink. “We’ve been storing food for 3 to 4 months.”
After three weeks of “floating”, the Earth finally appeared on the horizon. The two are now trying to recover from the adventure, as it has greatly diminished. “We have to deal with this. Especially for Yvette, this experience has been traumatic for her. He was far from her comfort zone. She is not used to sailing, especially not in the ocean in these conditions. It was a real survival. Admiring how she succeeded” .
Finding peace on Hiva Oa, one of the islands of French Polynesia, remains challenging. Because Sander and Yvette face another setback. “We need a new mast, but the insurance won’t pay, I wonder if we can still take our ship out to sea. Cost is an issue. We’re still positive. Our friends are trying to help us. We’re happy about that. A little tailwind but you also realize that some people in The world needs it more than we do. However, we are very happy with all the support.”
looking for a solution
sailing ship Blue Beryl Sander once bought in Malaysia. It was shipped to Holland and Sander refurbished it there. A year-long project, to be able to take this journey.
The question is whether Sander and Yvette can continue the journey. For now, the couple will remain in place, looking for a solution. At the same time, enjoy the environment. “Up until this point it was a dream trip, seeing the most beautiful places on earth.”
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