15 Dec BLOG: CAPTAIN OF MY HAPPINESS
In good spirit Frieda and Léon started their journey on the sailing boat Puff, but their dream turned out to be filled with obstacles. From 2014 to 2017 they sailed along the Atlantic coast. The weather, the waves and fear of the vast ocean took their toll. In the book ‘Kapitein van mijn Geluk’, meaning Captain of my Happiness, Frieda describes her development as a sailor and as a person. She takes the reader with her on a journey across unknown seas and on a quest for freedom and for herself.
A PASSAGE FROM THE BOOK: ‘CAPTAIN OF MY HAPPINESS’
… Port side, the blue ends and the mountains of Isla de Juventud begin. It will be our first introduction to Cuban culture. It does not reveal itself easily. To get there, we have to take a narrow passage through the reef. There are several passages, but not all of them are navigable. Via the shortwave transmitter, we received information about the pass, but this information was not clear so we had our doubts. We relied on our own gut feeling. With a swell from behind, we sailed to the entrance of the Paso de Quitasol in a controlled manner. It looked well marked.
“I see at least six tons, Léon.”
“According to the information it is a concrete fairway,” he responds.
“Well, it must be this one,” I say, barely convinced.
“We’re doing it”, Léon concludes.
Sails down, engine on and go. My heart is beating in my throat, I still can’t get rid of my fear of passages. I’m so scared of losing control, and not knowing what is ahead. But I can’t hide, and I can’t turn away from the situation. I have to face the fear and assist Léon. I think about my first sailing holiday with Léon. On board De Gaper, my father’s boat, we entered the tidal Beaulieu River on the south coast of England. The tide was low, but my father wanted to enter anyway. Fight or flight. I fled to the toilet and hummed the nerves away with my hands over my ears. Now I decided to take my responsibility and stand on the lookout on the bowside of Puff.
The passage is narrow with green-blue shallow reefs left and right in all imaginable colours. To my relief, the dark blue of the deeper fairway is clearly visible. Every fifty meters I ask Léon how deep it is. The depth remains around three meters everywhere. At the end of the pass, the water turns cloudy and the depth gauge drops back… I can’t see a thing, I feel my initial sense of control slip away. Fight or flight. I am about to flee and squint my eyes. Léon tries to calm me down. Then the depth gauge increases again. My heart rate drops again. We reach the other side without any problems.
Pushing boundaries is one of the inevitabilities of this lifestyle. Today I overcame my fear. The adrenaline gives way to pride and a feeling of invincibility. Beyond the fear, the options are endless. This is what freedom feels like.
Captain of my Happiness; also on shore!
Four years ago, my dream trip ended abruptly and sadly. My world came to a halt. A lot of emotion, ups and downs, but I came out stronger and above all, wiser. The lessons I learned, I explained in the book. I wrote about the journey, about its sudden end and life since then. These are the same lessons that I continue to hold on to today. My own coping mechanism. If I had to pick one lesson to share with you today, is that life is unpredictable, but you can learn to play the game of life. In times of corona, this seems truer than ever. See life as a game; you cannot change the rules or influence the cards, but you can determine your strategy. Your life is an outcome of your own choices and every day you can decide to make a different choice and to change course. That is the idea behind the title of my book.