Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Blue Eyes

There is something exciting and intriguing about meeting a young rebellious couple with adventure in their eyes and a definite wild side, who are sailing on a tiny hobie cat vessel, made from other people’s trash… hopping from place to place, without a care in the world like the Dick Brano duo.
There is something entirely different about meeting a couple close to the standard retirement age, who have quit their jobs, taken a few sailing courses, bought a sailing boat not much bigger than a dingy, and have sailed it 5 times across the ocean.
Little Blue Eyes is the tiniest sailboat out on the right side
 We were invited for ‘sundowners’ on a miniscule German boat called ‘Blue Eyes’ last night. All day, as we moved along the promenade of St Pierre, from laundromat to town square, to the mini market and back, I peered over at it, anchored in the bay.
We’d met the friendly couple who are both quite tall and didn’t seem extremists in any way, and I just couldn’t imagine how they lived on such a tiny vessel. At the time I didn’t even know about the 5 ocean crossings, but I was already confused and amazed. I couldn’t wait to get onboard for a ’tour’, or more like a lesson in how to stuff two live, moving bodies into a large coffin with sails. Not to mention where they could host 4 of us, making it cocktails for 6!
We arrived in one of the many small rain squalls to mark the evening. Dinghys tied on, we climbed into the cockpit. With 6 of us it was a tight squeeze, all knees touching, appetizers held in laps. Our host sat on his upturned liferaft while his wife sat on the entrance to the inner cabin. Rain whipped the tiny white tarp around us and trickled down our backs. But we laughed and sipped T-punch (straight rum, brown sugar and fresh lime).
We were offered the ‘house tour’ which consisted of peering inside, which held a tapering berth, and about 2 feet of floor room surrounded by small storage compartments, and lots of things which couldn’t find a place to go. I didn’t see a sink or a stove, so the conversation began, about how the basics of living were handled.
‘Blue Eyes’ has no sink, no shower, no toilet, no oven apart from a portable camping stove and drinking water is manually pumped at about 1 litre per 350 pumps. There is no fridge either. Yet it has been across the ocean many times.
We inquired about what foods made it across on the 30 to 45 day journeys they’ve done, and discovered that plain yogurt, butter and cheese all survive perfectly. Apparently a few tomatoes made it over 20 days as well! Canned tuna and veggies were of course staples, but through the whole lesson I just kept imagining trying to piece a meal together of any description in that space, or rather lack of it.
They mentioned that they didn’t eat much of their rations this time, as their last crossing was rough. Every day little Blue Eyes was thrown about, hour after hour.
There is no space to walk, no room to turn around or stretch or have ‘alone time’. No privacy as the toilet set up is a simple ‘bucket and chuck it’. Not glamorous. For me, not quite fathomable.
A week before we had visited another boat, this time a 44 ft  Lagoon catamaran, like ours, but that crucial few feet longer, which creates masses more living space. We came home to Shiloh with boat envy.
After our visit on Blue Eyes I laughed. With them for the sheer tenacity.  At us, for being silly the week before. Everything is relative. Shiloh is a mansion on the sea.
My captain onboard Blue Eyes, marvelling at the tiny circumference of the mast
What it really comes down to is what you are looking for. What you are trying to prove or escape, or what you really value. Living on a vessel that small proves that we don't need a 100th of what we think we do, not really. Happiness is not in belongings. 
And fears? Well if a boat this small can conquer the ocean many times, then most of us harbour silly fears.
If your boat gets you where you want to go, and if it is a home to you along the way, then it is good. Then you are on the right track. Happiness is in the journey. If your journey lacks a toilet and you are happy with that, then I say not only follow that dream, LIVE IT. 
What an inspiration!
The crew of Blue Eyes with us on a hike (on the left) - awesome, happy people.


  1. Thanks for describing what we think we "need" and what we actually need. Awhile back I stumbled across your original blog via moments of perfect clarity blog... and I enjoyed reading about your development work in Africa.

    I just found something that sailors and former development workers might like - be useful for cooking on the boat - especially for the couple who doesn't have a kitchen!


  2. I am speechless. I can't even begin to imagine how to do that, much respect for them.