With the New Year and the first post of 2015, we’re introducing Roads Less Traveled – NO&YO new blog series featuring men and women who live unconventional lives, following their calling, dreams and pursuits while taking the roads less travelled.
NO&YO is excited to introduce Nike as the first tribeswoman in the series. Nike is a young woman from Germany who set out on the adventure of her life, travelling across the ocean to Panama and buying an old boat that she had to retrofit. She flies solo, not counting Karl, her boat, while creating the video series Untie the Lines, highlighting her adventures as well as her daily life.
The sea has always had a magic force of attraction on me. The sound of the waves crushing onto the beach, the widely expanding horizon and the salty taste in the air. You automatically calm down, time seems to stand still and you feel at peace. Sailing the world seemed to be the perfect way to travel, even more than that; it appeared to be the perfect way to live.
Few years ago, I found myself at Varkala beach in India with a group of travelers, drinking beers and chatting away about life and happiness. The idea of my dream to buy a sailboat, to untie the lines and sail the world came up. One of the guys said to me “Hey Nike, if you think that this is something that would make you truly happy, why don’t you just go for it?” All of a sudden, everything seemed so clear. My conviction, that it would make me happy seemed reason enough to completely turn my life upside down and try it. And that’s what I did.
Why did you decide to buy a boat on a different continent?
During the four years when I went back to work to save up some cash, I was looking for boats all around Europe. I realized that if I bought a boat in Europe, I would have to invest nearly all my savings to buy and refit the boat and there would not be much money left to cruise for a longer time.
A sailor friend of mine told me about a boat in Panama – Reinke Super 10, built in 1992, made from aluminum. The boat has been sitting in the marina since 2009 and he told me it wasn’t in a too bad of a shape. And it was a bargain.
I got on the plane to Panama to take a look at Karl because I really wanted to get going. I think I thought, “at least I will have a boat for a small price and I can do the refit under the palm trees”. Nothing could have been worse at that moment than not starting this dream because I couldn’t find or decide on the right boat. So I just gave it a shot.
Were you already an experienced sailor when you got Karl?
I knew the basics of sailing when I bought Karl. I sailed with my parents a bit during vacations, but nothing serious really. When I decided to go for this dream, I went with my friend on two trips in the Northern and then the Baltic sea which gave me some overnight experience and a good practice with stronger winds.
All in all, I didn’t have any experience with longer passages and also never sailed just by myself before. I attended some additional seminars about first aid at sea, training for emergencies, weather, navigation, marine engines etc. and had to get a pyro license and Long Range Certificate. But really, that was all just a theory.
Your video series “Untie the Lines” is part of the WhiteSpotPirates platform. What does the name White Spot Pirates mean?
“WhiteSpots” are undiscovered areas on each individual’s personal map of life. They’re not necessarily places you want to go, but can be any kind of dream that you wish to come true.
We all know how alive we feel when we are chasing one of these dreams. All of a sudden you have all the energy in the world and you feel that you can move a mountain. It’s brave and fun to put your dreams into reality, and once you start, nothing can stop you. And that’s where the “Pirate” part comes into place.
My idea was to document my experiences in tackling my sailing dreams with my video documentary “UNTIE THE LINES” and through that to build a community of people who chase their dreams and inspire each other in doing so: the WhiteSpotPirates.
How have your experiences been so far?
Looking back, the decision to go on this sailing adventure has been the best one in my life so far. I have learnt so much about very different topics in the past one and a half years and I have experienced so much happiness along with quite some moments of despair; but I think I never felt as alive as I have since I bought my good old Karl.
What was your darkest moment?
It was the moment when I hauled out Karl. That was around one year after I bought him. When he was on the hard, I wanted to take off some brittle paint before starting to sand the hull to renew the antifouling.
That’s when I found the holes…I think it was 13 in total in the end or something like that.
In that moment, the whole world around me seemed to break into pieces. I felt overwhelmed by the problem, financially of course, but also because I didn’t know what to do. I felt alone and desperate and I had the feeling my dream was going to end before it had even really started, after all this work and money that I had already invested into making it come true.
Many people told me that I should give up Karl and called me insane that I even wasted a thought about keeping and fixing him.
Luckily, I was too stubborn to give up. But it cost me a lot of energy to evaluate the situation and take that decision…and even more power to actually deal with the consequences of that choice.
What advice would you give to people that are thinking of following your footsteps and living the life while taking the roads less traveled?
For me, it helped to take a very close look at the reasons that I thought were stopping me from pursuing my dream to sail the world. And to analyze, if those were really my fears and worries or just something that was planted inside my head by what other people around me were thinking or feeling.
Just like anyone, I have fears but I know that I can overcome them by building up more experience and therefore feel more secure – step by step. At the end I make the decisions on what is best for me since I’m the one living with the consequences of those decisions.
And a healthy amount of respect for the forces of nature is actually pretty essential in sailing, in my opinion. Don’t even think about battling against nature…you will always loose. So be prepared and be humble, but don’t be too afraid to go out there!
What are your plans for the future?
For now I’m taking a short break in Europe, but I hope to be reunited with Karl in March. I hope to gain some more experience in singlehanded sailing in the Caribbean and hope to be crossing into the Pacific this year. Let’s see what comes then! I’ll surely let you know in the second season of UNTIE THE LINES.
Do you know anyone who takes ROADS LESS TRAVELED? – Drop us a line and they may be featured in the NO&YO blog series!