After loading SeaBelow onto the freight ship I traveled the next day by plane to New York. That was already a very big change compared to the three months in the Carribbean. But already entering the plane I struggled with this different mode of transport. I had planned to get a pullover and long trousers out of my rucksack before I checked it in but due to a misunderstanding with the woman who did the safety check, it was gone before I could take something out. I had to pay for that mistake later.
The flight was uneventful but I got cold because the air condition kept the cabin temperature at too low temperatures for someone who had been living at minimum temperatures of 25°C.
So in New York the first thing was to get warmer clothes on. And honestly I enjoyed the cold evening breeze in NYC of about 20°C. No sweating when moving in the sun.
I easily found my way to the hostel called „The Local“ in a part of Queens. The area seems to be an industrial area that is now becoming a place for artists, galeries and other creative businesses but is still interspelled with down to earth businesses like car garages or a brick layer school. The buildings are unlike in Manhattan mostly only three stories high, with some newer buildings of several stories, but by now means skyscrapers. Nearby a small but fine grocery store with European like choice but at posh NYC prices.
The hostel had been around for only one year by now so it was all still new and shiny but it also had its price, $50 per night in a 4-bed-dormitory.But it was good fun there, I met nice people from Ireland, USA, Canada and the Netherlands.
On my wish list I had the Ground Zero, the Meatpacking District, The High Level Park and Greenwich Village.
Ground Zero did not exist when I was there last time, back then the two World Trade Centre buildings were still standing.
Now there are two big square black marble wholes where water is flowing into a big whole. I asked myself what this is supposed to tell us.
It looks so depressive and self pitying. It seems as if the Americans had lost there positive look on everything and as they felt as if they were sent to hell by the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center.
The look of the fountains created a very cynical picture in my head: The Statue of Liberty being flushed down these wholes symbolising that liberty, freedom of mind and free speech, freedom of press and civil rights were flushed down the drain in the aftermath of 9/11. So many laws to control people and useless attempts to reduce the risk of terrorist acts have been released in the USA and Europe that they seem to bury the Western Freedom so that Al-Kaida can claim a full success in destabilising the Western World and Culture. But this „success“ has been implemented by our governments, not by Al-Kaida. And that is the sad thing about it all, that our governments did not withstand the terrorist pressure that was put on our societies. On 9/11 2977 people died, a very sad event. But at the same time over 11.000 every year gun related homicides are committed, that is almost three times the casualties of 9/11. 11.000 per year sums up to the terryfying number of 151.000 since 9/11/2011 to date (Source: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_violence_in_the_United_States ) That is 50 times the 9/11 deaths. So why have all these wars been fought, soldiers and civilians killed, cities and cultural sites destroyed in the name of so called home land security when a much bigger death toll is created within the USA itself and could be largely reduced at almost no cost other than voting for a law restricting weapons in private hands?
But apparently even the Republicans in the US are starting to realise that they might have overdone it with their hunt for terrorists. The Republican Senator from Kentucky Rand Paul said this week „Those who say it is the end of the world and that the jihadists will overrun us, just want to scare us and step by step we allowed to loose our freedom“
So hopefully the world gets back to more reason.
From New York I flew in an uneventful flight to London in UK and stayed at my step fathers house. As I have been to London many times before I was not so into sight seeing and because he needed some help in his garden we worked a little bit there. But then the cold air from the flight from St. Thomas to New York got back to me and I fell ill with a cold for almost a week resulting in me staying at home most of the time. I only went to the eye department of the St. Thomas Hospital in London to get the retina of my right eye checked by a scan. Luckily it turned out that everything is ok.
And I was early enough fit to celebrate Brigitte´s birthday. She had sailed with me in France last year so I was very happy to meet her again and we had a great evening out first for dinner and then later in a club in Soho.
Unloading SeaBelow in Southampton
From London I went to Portsmouth to see my old friend Kathleen and her family. The next day I went to Southampton to pick up my boat.
I was quite shocked to see that my boat got a serious damage. On the starboard side below the stern cleat the deck was broken. A 2mm wide and 140 mm long crack had occured and the deck was dented downwards. The lashing (Spanngurt) which was attached to the starboard stern cleat had apparently been tightened too hard. The cleat was bent over and the deck cracked.
On the bow the lashing belts were put through the fairlead (Lippklampe) on the bow and also here were tightened far too much so that the the fairlead (Lippklampe) was partly pulled off the deck.
The forward support on the starboard side was in between two bulkheads (Schotten) dented the side of the boat. The support should and could have been put further forward where a bulkhead is. This would have prevented the denting.
I immediately informed the load master of the ship who took photos and my insurances. As it was not a damage that prevented me from sailing on the Solent I first went to the Town Quay Marina in Southampton for the night.
Here I was very happy to find out that there was a couchsurfing meeting that very evening where I went and had some really nice chats.
Crossing my old course line
The next day I sailed to Portsmouth and moored at the pontoon of the Portsmouth sailing club directly in front of the Ben Ainslie America´s Cup Challenge Training Building.
Also here I was happy to meet an old crew member again, Drew, who sailed with me from Portsmouth to Ouistreham in France last year in July. This means here I crossed my old course line from last year!
The PSC has a nice bar where I liked to go and on Saturday they had a barbecue in their boom yard.
I saw the boat builder for the repair and he gave me an estimate for the repair.
And yes, that evening was also really great. I had dropped a message in the Facebook group of the local Couchsurfing group whether somebody was up to meet for a drink. And I got a reply from Sam who turned it into a Couchsurfing event. Eventually about 15 people turned up in the pub next to my boat. After some beers in the pub we went to a club in Gunwharf Quays and when the club closed at 1 am I went with two remaining party goers to the casino next door. One of us was in the mood of spending some money so we had some fun with the Roulette and slot machines.
Monday morning after that weekend the surveyor (Gutachter) came to look at the damages and to tell what needs to be done. It turned out that only the crack at the stern at the cleat needed treatment. So after he was done I motored SeaBelow to the Southsea Marina in Portsmouth Eastney where the boat builder has his workshop.
On Tuesday they started the work and by Friday it was finished.
Besides supervising the boat builder Sam and Aldara visited me on Monday evening with two GoPro cameras and made an interview with me about my journey.
On Thursday evening my father arrived and we tried out the Indian Restaurant at the marina which had been several times recommended to me. I have to say that it was average, after everybody had been raving about it I had expected more. But we had a great view over the bay and a nice sunny evening.
On Friday my father went to see the HMS Victory in the Historic Dockyard and I urged the boat builder to finish the repair because I wanted to get going.
Portsmouth to Brighton
On Saturday at 1 p.m. my father and I set sail to Brighton.
Despite the wind from the back it was a challenging trip because the strong wind against the tide caused a chaotic sea in which the boat was veering from side to side and my father on the helm had a hard time to get accustomed to such circumstances. Late in the evening at 22:30 we arrived at the Brighton Marina entrance. It was low tide and not all buoys in the entrance channel are lit and at one point we got stuck in the mud because at first we did not see where the channel was. But with some trial and error (i.e. getting stuck in the mud) we found the channel. Getting stuck in the mud at low speed is absolutely no problem because the mud is very soft and you just put the engine in reverse to pull yourself out again. Sometimes you do not even realise at first that you are stuck. You just wonder why the boat is not moving any more until you find out that your are stuck.
The next day, Sunday we went to look around Brighton. It was a lovely sunny day and the town was full of young people who had visited the Wildlife music festival http://wildlifefestival.com/
After some fish and chips, a walk through the park of the Royal Pavilion and the little alleys of Brighton we went back to the marina to meet Chris. Also him I had met last year through couchsurfing in Brighton. He lives on his boat in the marina and had just changed from a 22ft boat to a 31ft boat. We had a bottle of white wine in his cockpit, exchanged some seafarers stories and talked a lot about the economic and social circumstances in England and Germany. Really an intellectual conversation totally to my taste!
Brigthon to Eastbourne
The next morning, Monday, we left Brighton at 11 a.m. to sail to Eastbourne.
The wind was forecasted to be 3-4 Bft from north east and in the evening to increase to 5 –6. Bft. With the distance being only 21 miles we thought we would be easily there before the wind to increase in the evening.
But exactly until Beachy Head, the headland after which we had to turn north east the wind was 4 Bft. But from there it was 6 Bft, much earlier than forecasted. But SeaBelow once again proved brilliantly that she is a sea worthy boat. With no big problem we sailed close reach with her going nicely over the waves. Of course we got several times splashes of water over the deck up to the cockpit but other than that it worked out well. We found the fairway buoy (Ansteuerungstonne) and went into the entrance channel and through the lock into the harbour.
In Eastbourne we were stuck for 5 days because the wind was alway strongly blowing from north-east, exactly the direction to go to Dover. But finally on Saturday 13. June the wind changed to south-west and we got to Dover safely although admittedly at the headland of Dungeness it was quite bumpy.