When I wake up, Frits is already shamelessly washing himself on deck. He doesn’t care that I think the combination of sea, wind and sailing on the gennaker is enough form me, this early in the morning. I sigh, but don’t say anything. Why, from all the new friends that we made in recent weeks, is Frits the one that’s on board?
I think of all the lovely people we’ve met. In Coruña we made friends with Silvia and Xulio (she’s from Coruña, he’s from Vigo), with whom we spend evenings with local dishes and the coffee liqueur so beloved by Xulio. With Jacob and Facundo, whom, on arrival in Coruña we gave the remaining two kilos of the tuna we caught, we explore the bays around Coruña and we have a real Argentinian Asado on the beach, with Dutch Schrobbelér. At Islas Cies we meet a whole Dutch fleet with the Phi, the Karakter, the Zouterik and the Ben-NL. The Cies islands are a paradise. We keep sundowners on the beach and explore the island. Everyone in this little fleet is in the same place; they have chosen to miss family and friends to go sailing the seven seas, so we find each other and soon share love and sorrow.
Because of all the lovely people, here and at home, my birthday in Vigo is a party. In the morning the crew of the Phi comes to eat some pie, there is a present from Holland from Marleen, I can cut Laurens’s hair (curls are still there), my mother and Kees wish me a nice semi-live birthday and we have a night on the town again with Silvia and Xulio. The next day we can join the Sunday family lunch of Xulio and the families of his brother and sister. I feel filthy rich.
The Dutch fleet meets again in Cascais, Portugal. The fleet is expanded with the Mach3 and the Stormalong. The anchor bay will be transformed into a working-class neighborhood of sorts; the proverbial garden benches and crates of beer are almost, but not quite, standard issue on deck.
Despite the Dutch ‘gezelligheid’, we really think it’s time to continue our travels. We have been drifting along the Spanish and Portuguese coast for six weeks. From the Netherlands we get more and more questions and comments about our quite leisurely pace. Mañana, mañana people, it’s not a competition!
Anyqay. Next leg is from Cascais to Agadir, Morocco. Before departure we continue work on a list of chores, alternated with chats at the anchorage and farewell greetings. After all the fun and the great company, Laurens and I feel a need for a couple of days of being together. No better solution than making a long crossing. Five days of just the boat, the sea, the weather and us. Wonderful!
And then Frits arrives. To be honest, I am not in favor of having crew on board, but Frits looks like a stand up guy. One that you can easily have on your boat. No know-it-all comments, no complicated dietary requirements, no objection to sleeping on the couch and has experience with long crossings. The ideal crew, on paper.
It takes some getting used to, the three of us on a boat. No matter how easy Frits is, the dynamics change and you adjust. We worry if everything is to his liking and we take care of Frits’s daily needs. Frits, on the other hand, behaves less and less like a guest and takes more liberties by the day. He roams our entire boat in search of snacks. He leaves not a crumb. When Laurens scolds Frits that he should keep the kitchen tidy, Frits isn’t afraid to show us just how he feels about the scolding. On our own boat! A day before our arrival in Morocco, our involvement becomes too much for Frits and he flees on deck, to the front of the boat. We try to convince him to come back to us in the cockpit, but Frits gets even more upset. In a blind rush he goes overboard, and disappears in the night, which leaves us very upset. Well, Frits, we weren’t exactly birds of a feather, but we’re going to miss you. Fortunately we still have the pictures…
Meanwhile, we start to notice that we are getting more and more to the south. The duvet can be stored, the woollen cap in the drawer. The tropical sailing trip that we had in mind has finally started! In Agadir we are clearing customs for the first time. There is no trace of the ghost stories about the Moroccan bureaucracy and the ‘baksjees’ bribes. The formalities turn out to be a happy little mess. Three police and customs men come aboard and lift a few cushions at random, confiscate our drone for the time we spend in Morocco and conclude that everything’s fine. Laurens is allowed to go to the office to arrange the paperwork and, surprisingly, to enjoy the lunch of fried fish, calamari and shrimp with these wonderful gentlemen. In the evening the police chief neatly hands over our passports with the official government stamp to ‘Mr Tiago’. The yellow Q-flag can go down, we have cleared customs in Africa. We have been promoted from international to intercontinental sailors!