Cabo Verde West Africa – The Last Trans-Atlantic Stopover

After spinning our little track-web outside the harbor in Palmeira (if you didn’t catch that whole story you can check it out here) we finally got the engine started, motored in and dropped anchor. I spent 5 days on the island of Sal still aboard Cosmos, getting my first taste of what Cape Verde had to offer.

A few random facts to acquaint yourself with Cabo Verde.

  • The country was a Portuguese colony until it became independent in 1975
  • The nation’s expatriate population is greater than its domestic population
  • It is estimated that the islands have one goat for every two people
  • Total population is 570,000 people spread among 7 islands.
  • Portuguese is the official language but people also speak Crioulo, an Africanised Creole Portuguese
  • 53% of the population works in agriculture and fisheries. 75% of the food they consume is imported. There is almost no fresh water on the islands

So what was I up to during the couple weeks I spent in Cabo Verde?

I ate Cachupa, feijoada, and lots and lots of fish. I drank grogue (pronounced grog) and ponche.

*Cachupa is kindof the national dish, a slow cooked stew of corn, beans, cassava, sweet potato and some kind of meat. Feijoada is a Portuguese dish that is ver popular in Brasil where I first tried it, a bean stew with lots of random bits of pork. Grogue is the local fire-water, made from sugar cane, it is essentially the same as Cachaça and as in Brasil, is also often drank with sugar and citrus, like a Caiparinha. Ponche is more like a liqueur, very sweet, thick and syrupy, often made from mango or passion-fruit. 
This was a very typical mean for me in Cabo Verde. This would have cost about $3.50USD

I became acquainted with the other hitchhikers who were trying to get rides, most of whom had been in Mindelo for a couple weeks or more. There was about 14 of us, each with different levels of experience and plans. Every once in a while someone would find a boat and everyone is happy, a comrade gets a ride, the competition narrows, and hopes are rejuvenated. I spent hours each day hanging around the marina. I would use to see when new boats were arriving so I could be one of the first to chat it up with the new arrivals. I made a map of the marina and each morning would walk the pontoons erasing boats that departed and identifying new arrivals that I could talk with.

I found the island of Sal to be a windswept dry unspectacular island apart from the people. The winds thrashed the island constantly, the air was full of dust, the landscape was completely uninspiring. Was Cape Verde going to disappoint?

Frosty the Snowman suffering through a Saharan desert snowstorm in Sal

I spent my 40th birthday alone on the island of Santo Antão, the leeward island I had reached by taking several ferries from Sal. I was gleeful. Very happy for the solitude after spending so much time co-living in tight quarters on Cosmos. I could not have asked for a better place or way to spend my 40th, in this random far-flung corner of the world, an island nation off the coast of Senegal, absorbing truly unique and stunning landscapes. A reminder that life is a gift and if it’s true what they say (life begins at 40) then I got off to a nice start. No, Cape Verde was not disappointing me.

I swam for a good two minutes just one meter above a beautiful sea turtle, watching her glide through crystal clear waters.

I discovered that Cape Verdian people are great. They were really friendly, helpful, and curious.

Music is a really big deal in Cape Verde, the island I spent most of my time on was St. Vincent, where Cesária Évora is from (click to hear her music if you don’t already know it). I’ve been a big fan of hers for many years and was lucky enough to see her live once before she died so I was excited to be in her hometown where she is revered like a demi-god (The airport is named after her). She brought Cape Verdian “Morna” music to the world. There is a really vibrant music scene in Mindelo, the main town on St. Vincent, and the unique thing about it is that it consists mostly of small bars and restaurants that invite anyone to just come up and jam, and foreign visitors are just as welcome to join. So you might see 5 locals jamming it up on guitar, bass, percussion, shakers, cavaquinho, etc. and then some Belgian with his clarinet joining in. It’s really cool.

I was pleased to see the locals here also played mancala, a traditional African game, with bonduc seeds just as I had seen twenty years ago when I was in East Africa.

         Throwback to 2001 – Lamu, Kenya                       
On the streets of Mindelo 2020

I ran into Richard, the Swedish captain who I sailed with from Lisbon to the Canaries and got the update…His Fiance Ivy had found a job in Las Palmas and he decided to sail alone to Cape Verde and leave the boat there while they focused on saving some money to ready themselves for the Atlantic Crossing the following year.

While on an amazing hike along the north coast of the island of Santo Antão on my birthday, it occurred to me that even if the sailing world does call to me, and I am excited to fold it into my lifestyle. In my heart I will always be a land-traveler. I understand that for some the vastness of the sea opens their mind and heart to the wonders of the word, but for me it will always be the mountains and valleys, the rivers and lakes, the smells of a busy Asian market, the chaos of a Latin American bus terminal, and all the thousands of faces you encounter, each a grain of salt sprinkled onto your experience, each giving it just a little more flavor.  The earth below my feet, the strain of my leg muscles as they haul me up a mountain, the changing landscape and passing people.

I spent most of my time in Cape Verde in the town of Mindelo where the only marina is on the islands. It’s also the second most touristic town in the country. It has a certain charm to it with its small but bustling fish market and central market, a nice city beach, and the architectural leftovers of Portuguese colonization. It reminded me at times of parts of Brazil (such as Salvador). I enjoyed walking out into the streets that became more and more familiar to me each day….

…the exception to this was the days when a cruise ship was in the port, it was as if each time one arrived the bow of the colossal ship tore through the fabric of the town completely changing the atmosphere. Two thousand European tourists pour through the rip in the fabric, skin freshly rouged by the African sun. Red cheeks hide behind cameras pointed at the marketplace, the municipal building, the guys playing samba near the port for spare change. They spend their 20 euro contribution to the local economy on a caipirinha, a bottle of water and a souvenir sea turtle made out of a coconut shell and then they are back on the floating beast. They have no time to actually get to know the culture or have a meaningful conversation with a local. Maybe I’m just bitter from the terrible experience I had in my limited days working on a cruise ship, but I would be happy if I never saw another one in my life.

Mindelo on a day when there was no cruise ship in port

On the evening of my birthday after a long day of hiking, it’s already dark when I arrive back in the town where I am staying after hitchhiking from the other side of the island. Walking through the streets I hear music and follow the sound to an abandoned building where I find a samba band practicing for the upcoming carnival. There is no roof on the building and the moon competes with a single light bulb to dimly illuminate 20 people banging on drums in unison creating a sound that is so loud, so intense, that despite the fact that it sounds more like noise than music to me, I cannot pull myself away from it. (The video does no justice to just how LOUD it really was)….

With the Cosmos guys the day they set sail for Suriname

The Cosmos crew arrived in the marina in Mindelo a couple days after I did. I hung out with them often as they were getting Cosmos ready for the crossing to Suriname. William introduced me to a French captain named Thibault who he had gotten to know while dealing with some boat issues in the Azores. Will and the rest of the Cosmos crew tried to convince him to take me on as crew but he insisted he was a devout single-handing sailor who never takes crew. Worth a try.

The day after my birthday I did another amazing hike even more impressive than the first. I hiked for 4.5 hours along a beautifully constructed stone path through terraced mountains with occasional views of the sea in the distance. During the first 3 hours of the hike I only ran into people one time, this old couple who were slowly carrying sacks of grain up a hillside on bent backs. They came across me as I was taking some photos and were curious about the camera, I offered to take their photo and got this nice one (followed by a few more from the hike to give a sense of the landscape):

I hitched a half dozen rides around the island of Santo Antão during my stay there, one of them was a couple from France and Lebanon, they were on vacation and had rented a car, but neither of them knew how to drive it! It was a manual transmission and they had managed to make it to where they picked me up, but shortly after I jumped in the road entered the mountains and became very steep. The first time the car had to stop for some goats in the road the guy didn’t know how to work the clutch to get the car moving again with such a big incline. And so it was that I was able to return the favor for their picking me up by becoming their chauffeur 😉.

The day after the Cosmos guys set sail to cross the Atlantic, Thibault, the devout single-hander finally caved and offered to take me on as crew. We would leave the next day. The conditions were that I would be in charge of the provisioning and all the cooking. The destination…Grenada. Offer accepted, after 8 days of thumbing it I was going to cross the Atlantic!

The night before I was supposed to set sail to cross the Atlantic I had a small bout of “What the hell am I doing?”. Something even with my entire life experience of doing this kind of thing I am not completely immune to. It usually only appears briefly and in those twilight hours laying in bed when we tend to review and evaluate our day’s decisions. The full extent of my very non-conventional life rarely stands out to me. It’s just my life, for me it’s normal. But every once in a while some of the absurdity of it comes into focus and I see more clearly just how out of the ordinary it all is, and in those moments sometimes a rogue spark ignites a tiny flame of doubt.  Not so big…just big enough to enhance the adventure “Tomorrow I will board a small boat with some guy I barely know and will sail from Africa across the Atlantic ocean?” Yes. You will.

And that brought my time in Cabo Verde to a close. The main event had arrived. I would cross the Atlantic on a 33ft.(10m) boat named Moya with a crew of two people, me and Captain Thibault. More on that soon….

In the meantime a few more photos from my time in Cabo Verde


Homework and Cereal cups….Another kind of Adventure

I got an email the other day from my sister-in-law who reads my blog. She felt inspired to email me her own “Jordan-style blog post” to update me on what’s going on in her suburban life raising two children. I loved it so much I asked her if she would let me post it here. So this is a special guest blog post written by Mia Jones coming straight from the wilds of a Las Vegas suburb.

I last left you in the plushness of my new down  comforter, a gift from my husband who I knew purchased it for himself as much as he purchased it for me.    Early alarms sounded as the still-dark morning graced its presence around our abode.   Our dwelling, an ancient white stucco with unique tile roof, wasn’t the newest or fanciest in town, but it suited us just fine. The minute I walked in, I felt the hours of video game playing, homework struggles, screaming and wrestling that would take place in the common areas. It would never be quiet here, but who wants quiet.

I turned off my alarm on my now-antique IPhone 8 and stumbled to the bathroom.  Sorry Burley, that dog always gets an early morning trample from me.   The toilet was a cold porcelain with no lights- my husband hadn’t changed the light bulb in days and I had to guess when wiping.  Always an adventure.

The toilet….fully illuminated

My next task was to get the children out of bed. Even the difference in age couldn’t keep them from sharing their desire to NEVER wake up for school.  It always began with the sweet good-morning-Mommy voice and ended 15 min later with threats.  What isn’t commonly known is the usefulness of threats.  Many people have heard of the power of positivity, but let’s not underestimate the power of stripping blankets to the floor and screaming about missing recess and no time for foods.  Some days, chants of “I swear to god” and “Stop Arguing and just get dressed” would echo through the bare stucco walls.  Just as the ancestors used to do.

The Laundry Mountain I have to climb almost every morning.  There was one day I almost didn’t make it

On Jan 6, we headed out to start our new semester of learning, a new decade, they said.   We had celebrated the end of the decade in the same place we had started, years full of driving and walking and the occasional jog.   Here is a GPS of our travels:

As we walked out the door for the first time, wonders anew and abound, we clutched our generic vanilla coffee and cereal cups, a stellar tip I learned from a Mommys group back in 2004.  (For those who don’t know, a cereal cup is a large plastic cup filled with cereal and milk, as opposed to a primitive bowl that can spill and is need of a spoon.) The groans of excitement are still audible & and we await our next adventure, uh, morning, with feverous apprehension.And if you want to track my movements, you can pretty much find me in the same four places around Summerlin.  No need to click anything.   Or just text me.


I just want to say that although I do lead an adventurous life, I have massive respect for the adventure of raising kids. In its way it is MUCH more adventurous than anything I do! Thanks Mia 🙂

So I don’t have time to write another update about Cape Verde because…..drumroll.  Well, I’ll just leave you once again with this link to track my location. (I wrote this post on Jan. 21st and set it to go live on the 23rd.) [Thanks Scott, and Happy Birthday 🙂]

See you on the other side of the pond!

Sailing the Cosmos, Canaries to Cabo Verde

I last left you in the Canary Islands after a crash landing onto a nude beach following a 6 day sail on open waters from Portugal on La Fortuna, an old Swedish built sloop. You can click here if you missed that update.

So I had a beer (on land!!!….first beer in a week – all boats flying under a Swedish flag are dry) with Richard and Ivy to celebrate our safe arrival then we said our farewells and off I went to stick my thumb out once again, traveling to three islands hitting up marinas and posting my “personal ad” wherever I could. Some tidbits from the Canaries….

I knew exactly one person in the city of Las Palmas, the guy who had rented my bedroom while I was to be away traveling. He’s from Las Palmas and would be there for the Christmas holidays. In the 5 days that I was there, in a city of 600,000 people. I ran into him two times randomly on the streets

I got a feel for just how much competition I was up against when I saw a motley crew of more than a dozen vagabonds from all over, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Holland, etc. They were camped out on one of the main city beaches next to the marina cooking over a little gas stove. I knew immediately when I saw them that they were hitchhikers. I struck up a conversation with them….of the 6 or so I talked to they had on average been there for more than two weeks looking for a boat. 😬

I celebrated Christmas Eve alone eating in at an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. It suited me just fine 😊

I was contacted by two guys readying to set sail for the islands of Cape Verde, they had room for more crew, had seen my profile and thought I might be a good fit. I met them for a beer and toured their boat, a 45 year old 12.8m(42ft.) Danish racing boat….They would become an big part of this next chapter of the story…

I had a good connection with them from the start, was happy to see the boat was well equipt and kept tidy and organized. The only issue was their itinerary, they were heading to Cape Verde and from there crossing the Atlantic making landfall in Suriname (For those who have no idea where/what that is you are not alone….it’s a Dutch colony part of “the Guyana’s” between Brazil and Venezuela)

The boat and crew were a great match, but the destination would make it really hard for me to stay on my schedule and keep my goal of not flying. But I talked it through with the guys and it was decided I would go with them to Cape Verde and once there give them an answer as to whether I would stick around for the crossing.  And like that I had found my next ride! I was gonna set sail again. So on Christmas morning I caught a ferry to the next island (Tenerife) where they had sailed to and boarded my new ride…Cosmos.

Our captain was William, a 35 year old Dane (via Lebanon & Syria). He had bought the boat 5 years ago and had slowly slowly been making his was south from Denmark with the ultimate goal to cross the Atlantic and do a full circumnavigation. There was no doubt that Will was a character. A strong personality, full of energy and bravado and with his own brand of logic. He’s very intelligent and full of all sorts of knowledge and facts, I just had to learn to sort through them to find which were based in truth and which were based on conspiracy theories. He had some Trumpian qualities for sure (who he openly admired). Political correctness had no place in his discourse, he could say things that would offend the likes of most people. But unlike a Trump, his brash ways would often be contrasted by actions or remarks that showed (genuine) empathy and a big heart. He’s a walking talking paradox, you never know what will come out of his mouth or what position he might plant his flag in on a subject.

Will’s first mate was a 30 year old polyglot who grew up between Luxembourg and Ireland. Kevin (or Kev as he prefers to be called) loves beer (was a professional brewer for years) and had done a fair share of traveling in his days. He got the sailing bug when he was living in Panama managing a hostel and went out on some sailing trips with some people he knew there. He had joined the crew of Cosmos also as a hitchhiker for the first time in 2018 back when Will was still in France with the boat and had spent bits of time onboard off and on since then. He knew the boat well and had a good working relationship with Will. From the get-go I knew I wouldn’t have any problems with Kev. He had the Irish propensity of joviality and good humor and a well-balanced demeanor.

I also met Aksel for the first time when I reached the boat in Tenerife. Aksel would be the fourth crew member who was also just joining the boat and had found Will and Kev in the same sailboat hitchhiking group on Facebook as I had.

A young 20 year old from Denmark, still wet behind the ears but well on his way to being a proper sailor (he already had his own small boat back in Denmark.) I got to like Aksel a lot, he was mature for his age and resolute in his desire to become a true sailor. He had a good head on his shoulders and kept a positive attitude.

On December 27th we set sail from the island of Tenerife bound for the neighboring island of La Gomera.

The Cosmos Crew

Some stories and observations from my time onboard the Cosmos…

In total I sailed 960mi/1550km miles on Cosmos, this was the route:

While moored in Tenerife climbing onto the boat, my phone (Fully loaded with podcasts and apps for the crossing) fell out of the pocket of my hoodie, bounced off the deck of the boat and fell right into the 15in/40cm gap between the boat and the dock. Plop….right into the water.

In the same marina where I lost my phone we had been admiring this beautiful fancy 50 meter yacht that was moored near us. On Christmas night we noticed they were throwing quite a party onboard…music and dancing. We walked closer and I said, “Wait! I think I know that girl!” In a crazy random coincidence I did! A friend of a friend I had spent a week hanging out with doing some day-sails in Barcelona. Small small world.

I was involved in another disgraceful crash landing in a dinghy on a rocky beach in La Gomera, did some nice damage to my shoulder and ribs which made it impossible to sleep on half of my body for the rest of the trip

I decided to try and dive down and recover my phone in the marina, at least I would have my SIM and SD memory card. We guessed the water was 20ft./6m deep. After a couple attempts I just wasn’t getting down fast enough, so in addition to my fins I made myself a weight belt (to the amusement of the rest of the crew) and tried a few more times. It was only after those failed attempts that someone finally thought to just check the depth meter…62ft./19m!!! .😳 R.I.P Sony Xperia XZ1

Having completed my second long crossing, I learned that for me they are not a thing of constants. Your mental state is in always in flux. One day you are totally exhilarated by the experience, the next you might just want it to be over, many days are just apathetic and/or lethargic. It’s only natural out there that your emotions come in waves too.

We completed the crossing in record time with nice broad reach winds behind us. Cosmos may be old and heavy but she was still built for racing. We averaged 6.65 Nautical miles per hour. Most boats do the crossing in 6 ½ days. We did it in just under 5.

For three days the sky was muted, a dull miserable yellowish color. We were sailing through a massive sandstorm that originated in the Sahara Desert, sometimes it was so thick you couldn’t see the sun at all. Massive amounts of dust where being blown into the air and would eventually be taken by the trade winds across the Atlantic where they provide essential minerals to sustain the Amazon forest on the other side of the pond. But before reaching there much of it had opted out of the wind in lieu of hitchhiking on Cosmos, which was completely covered in dust.

Check out the dust on that line

I became convinced that the word “lurch” defined as “an abrupt, unsteady, uncontrolled movement or staggering motion”, was most certainly invented by a sailor. I have never lurched so much in my life as I have since I started sailing.

We sailed the entire way hand-steering in shifts (for those who aren’t sailors, this is almost unheard of nowadays as most boats utilize some sort of autopilot to maintain their course). This despite the fact that we had one of these fancy autopilots onboard that cost several thousand dollars and works perfectly well. Just one of Will’s little quirks.

I got to scramble up the mast with a safety harness to free up a line that was stuck and I got a birdseye view of Cosmos.

You always need someone awake at the helm which means you often have to wake up at one in the morning to sit alone in the darkness of night for several hours, this along with the rocking motion, the constant noise from the water and the boats rigging, and just general sleep irregularity on a crossing totally messes with your biorhythm and leaves you in a constant state of impaired awareness, also probably a big contributor to the emotional waves.

In 5 days we never saw a single other boat.

Despite diligently putting out our lines everyday, and checking on them incessantly, by the last day of our sail we had still not caught a fish. And then all of sudden hits on both lines! A hysteric scramble ensued. We had not quite perfected the protocol for hooking a fish. But we managed to pull in our catch (we were hand-lining). Two nice Mahi Mahi (Dorado)! Our giddy happiness perhaps a bit overexaggerated for our small accomplishment. The smiles say it all.

Aksel got a bit carried away…like I said, we were pretty excited

We rang in the New Year right around here: CLICK LINK

Nightshifts are a solitary march through space and time. It’s hard to describe. First the alone-ness is compounded by the reality of the fact that you are a tiny speck floating through a pitch dark night with no land or man-made thing in sight. The barely perceptible horizon extends evenly in every direction creating a sense almost akin to vertigo. And then above you there is a full 180 degrees of dark blue sky ripe with shooting stars just waiting to be harvested by your eyes. And then there is the phosphorescence, “magical” blue and green light that flickers and dances in the ripples of the water like telescopic photos of the cosmos. And this magical phosphorescence is delivered by the waves, which on a moonless night you can’t see approaching like you can in the day, so every once in a while a 4 meter wave will hurl the boat in once direction or another and you have to wrestle not to get knocked too far off course. Speaking of which, when you aren’t staring the elusive horizon, harvesting shooting stars, staring at the magical phosphorescence, or wrestling the helm, (and when your handsteering) then your eyes are glued to the glow of a spherical compass that just never seems to sit still no matter how much you try and micro-steer. You can only get away with taking your eyes off the compass for about 4 seconds max or you risk veering far enough off course that the sails could jibe (when the boat changes direction so that the winds forces the sails to the opposite side of the boat). The whole things somehow manages to be both stimulating and monotonous at the same time, all with a serving of introspection, loneliness, and moments of feeling very much alive.

We arrived in the small fishing village of Palmeira in Cape Verde on the island of Sal at seven in the morning on January 4th, very excited to get into the harbor, drop anchor and make landfall. Went to start the engine to motor in – Nada. There was such a thick layer of dust on the solar panels that we didn’t have battery enough to turn the engine over. So we had to sail around in circles just outside the harbor for 5 hours!

Our GPS track upon arriving at the first island in Cabo Verde

The important thing is that in the end we arrived safe. In total I would spend 16 days onboard Cosmos. But after being a few days on anchor in Palmeira, in an unfortunate and unexpected turn of events, Will gave up my space on the boat to a couple who he had sailed with a few months prior. I wasn’t too pleased about the circumstances around this, but I guess being captain has its benefits and there was not much I could do about it other than try not to let it get me down or take it too personally.

So I found myself once again with the thumb out, looking for my next ride, having traveled thus far 750mi/1150km overland and over 2000mi/3200km by sea.

So here I am on a tiny African island nation off the coast of Senegal…a bit closer to my goal but still a long ways away. I’m currently on the Island of San Vicente in the town of Mindelo, spending my days hanging around the marina pestering every new boat arrival along with about a dozen other hitchhikers (most of whom have been here for weeks). I’m trying to keep a positive attitude, I’m sure I will get a ride soon 🙂 But there is more to Cape Verde than marinas, and I hope that in the next post I can share some impressions of the country with you. Until then, click to view a few more photos from the trip (if you move the mouse towards the bottom of the photos you will see some have a bit of commentary)

And if you want to track my movements (and maybe get a sneak peak of any departure across the Atlantic that I make before I get out another blog post) you can always use this link to see where I am in the world: (Click on “View all Tracks” in the upper right if you want to see my prior routes)





Setting Sail from Portugal

If you didn’t read my last post feel free to check it out, it explains how I found myself being dumped onto the floor of a 45 year old sailboat while being tossed around in the middle of the sea.

About 24 hours prior to that I was meeting the boat’s skipper for the first time at a marina just outside of Lisbon. Captain Richard is from Sweden and got into sailing a few years back. He bought his boat and has been sailing around in the North Sea gaining the experience he would need for his big plan….to sail from Sweden along with his fiance Ivy to the Philippines where she is from. Not bad!

I felt comfortable with the crew right away. Richard turned out to be a super easy going mellow kind of of guy.

Ivy was the lively, expressive and spontaneous one.


Richard had also accepted another crew member who was in the same boat as me (damn pun…literally and figuratively). Maksym was about the same age as me and aside from some sailing lessons as a kid had not been on boats as an adult and was also just curious about the world of sailing, wanted to do a decent size crossing to see what he could learn and how he liked it.


I got a little introduction to the boat, went on a shopping mission with Max to get provisions to feed 4 people for a week at sea, and then when the wind started to pick up around midnight we hoisted the sails and floated out into open waters. I would spent 9 days aboard La Fortuna. So what was it like?

  • I learned a LOT about sailing. The most important and scary thing I learned? Just how much more I have left to learn
  • Max jumped into the freezing cold Portuguese Atlantic waters and swam all the way to the beach near where we were anchored. After this he was affectionately referred to onboard as “The Crazy Ukrainian”.

  • I watched a giant full moon rise out of the sea three nights in a row and bathe the boat and the water with pearly light
  • We set sail from Lisbon and traveled a total of 870miles/1400km.
  • In all my travels it has always been my way or the highway so to speak, well, actually it was my way AND the highway. But the trip was always my own or I had entered it with a partner and it was “our” trip. Now it was interesting for me to have to adjust to being the tag-along on someone else’s trip. I learned a lesson in letting go of control, that not every decision was mine to take.
  • I learned to cook in a tiny galley with waves tipping the boat to 40 degrees in each direction
  • This journey has been to learn to sail but also to learn how much sailing I would like to do. I don’t want to buy a boat and outfit it for a circumnavigation only to find that after 2 months of it I am bored. My hopes are this trip will let me know what my true appetite for sailing really is. I can say that on the first day, in 4-5 meter swells and feeling slightly seasick, I already had doubts just about finishing this one Atlantic crossing I had just set out on! By the end of the trip I had gained appetite for more, but still not for a full circumnavigation (something that would take 2.5-3 years). At the time of writing this I would say I am still excited to buy a boat and do a real sailing mission of my own. But I think I would have my fill of life at sea after 8 months or so. We’ll see how this appetite grows or diminishes as I the journey continues.
  • I had to make some adjustments to my bed so that I wouldn’t get dumped on the floor every 5 minutes.

  • Max and I tried for 30 minutes during the peak of “the high seas” to capture with the camera what a 5 meter wave looks like as it rolls towards the boat. We hung off the side of the boat from different angles and tried different perspectives, trying to include more or less of the horizon or the boat in the photo…we tried everything. But  camera simply cannot capture the depth of field necessary to get a feel for the height of the waves. So you’ll just have to trust me, they were big 😉
  • During one of the times we had no wind and were motoring the motor suddenly died. This will deliver a shutter of anxiety to any sailor. Luckily it was just a fishing net caught in the prop and we had a crazy Ukrainian onboard who didn’t hesitate to dive in with a knife and free us.
  • Seasickness. I have been on several boats in my life and on more than one occasion there were crew members vomiting off the side while I was making myself a sandwich. I thought I was well immune. But when we first set sail from Portugal in rough seas with swells of 3-5 meters….I did not feel well. Nothing to the point of wanting to vomit, but I was definitely “on the spectrum” of seasickness. I didn’t eat anything for almost a whole day. This was very disturbing considering that it was the first day of an adventure that was to keep me at sea for 6 weeks. I hoped and prayed it would not last


  • I pined for a shower. By the time I first got one it had been 10 days since I had had a proper shower.
  • We conversed with a pod of dolphins

  • When I was still on the boat but about to disembark, I remember thinking to myself that if someone offered me another ride across the Atlantic leaving that next day that I would find it hard to accept…I felt I really needed at least 2 or 3 days on land before just heading back to sea. But the next morning (after one night on land), I had already had my fill of land and would have happily joined another boat
  • While Max was swimming through the icy cold Portuguese waters to the beach, Ivy had already donned her wet-suit and was swinging from the halyard line into the sea. Feeling the pressure, Richard and I each took a pathetic swim barely making contact with the water long enough to get wet.

  • We reveled in the fact that with each day’s sail we were going further south, away from the European winter and the cold. By day 3 I had shed one of my layers, and by day 5 I was even walking around in shorts for a brief moment. But we were always hoping for weather that we never got. We just wanted one day of full sun. It would peak out here and there, but never for long. This shot was taken during the brief 40 minutes we had on day 5 when the sun came out in full and the water was nice and calm
  • For three nights after making landfall I would wake up in the middle of the night, in a bed, on land, feeling my body move side to side with the waves.
  • I listened to LOTS of podcasts and audiobooks.
  • Arriving in the Canaries I immediately sprang into action looking for the next ride across the Atlantic. I hitchhiked from the south of the Island to the north stopping at 3 marinas to leave my little flier on their announcement board. Even on this much-less-trafficked island there were already about 8 fliers up from other crew seeking boats. Competition was going to be fierce!
  • The seasickness I felt as we cast off from Portugal only lasted for about 18 hours. After that I was happily cooking down in the galley while 4 and 5 meter waves tossed us about. HUGE relief that it was something I just needed time to get used to.
  • On the last night in the boat we dropped anchor in front of a beach at about 11 at night after 6 days on the open ocean. The next morning, we piled into the dinghy to motor to shore and made perhaps the most disgraceful landfall ever. We totally botched the timing of the waves and came careening into the beach sideways getting totally soaked with people jumping over into the water trying to keep bags from getting wet everyone shouting conflicting orders….a total disaster. And when we finally gained composure and looked up, about 4 meters away was a couple in their late 60’s naked as the day they were born with big smiles on their faces having just thoroughly enjoyed a good show. We had anchored at the nude beach.
    Don’t be fooled, this picture was taken during the tiny 30 min. window of nice weather that we had

    So, the journey has begun! I don’t have many pictures from this first leg of the journey but there are a few more to see if you click this link.

    I don’t want to give away too much of what will become the next update, but lets just say that I rang in the New Year of 2020 right about here: Click Google Map Link  I’ll update when I can the story of the boat I ended up on and what’s in store for me next. Happy New Years to all 🙂


Hitchhiking Across the Atlantic

….An introduction to the next adventure

I had been laying down for a half hour or so listening to a podcast when I decided it was time to get some sleep. I pulled my earbuds out, turned off my phone and literally within 60 seconds of relaxing my body and turning my focus towards sleep my entire body was hurled off the bed and with a big THUD I found myself on the floor.

About 10mm of fiberglass separated me and the Atlantic ocean that plunged below me to a depth of one and a half miles.  Outside a bright full moon illuminated waves that reached 5 meters in height at times. I had by this time already been sailing for about 24 hours in these huge waves, ever since we pulled anchor from the southern tip of Portugal. I was on a small 45 year old 33ft/10m monohull sailboat bound for the Canary islands. It would be another 5 days before we would spot any land.

“Throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor, catch the tradewinds in your sails. EXPLORE. DREAM. DISCOVER” – Mark Twain

So another adventure has begun! I had been preparing for a big Africa trip all year. Much of the planning had already been done, the rough itinerary, visas, even a review of what vaccinations I was due to renew. The idea had actually been conceived of a couple years ago and had already been shelved once in lieu of the Siberia adventure (more on that here) The plan was to fly to Rwanda in late December of this year, buy whatever little Chinese made motorcycle the locals were riding and attempt to ride it overland across Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, and Namibia, finishing in Cape Town South Africa. Wild camp along the way, and explore a part of the world I don’t know so well.

The VERY rough itinerary would have looked something like this:

However this plan fell apart when I learned that security issues in Sudan have improved some since the last time I had considered a long overland trip in this part of the world. That opened up the possibility that perhaps I was thinking too small. Maybe I should instead be planning to just do the whole thing overland….that is to say starting in Barcelona with a motorcycle and going all the way overland to Cape Town. Once the seed of this new plan was planted it grew like a weed and the decision was made. But a trip like this requires much more planning and money, not to mention I wouldn’t want to set off driving through Europe in the middle of winter. So the Rwanda trip was scrapped to make way for the bigger and better plan that would come to fruition later…perhaps next year.

Maybe something like this…

But I already had my heart set on some sort of adventure to escape the winter in Europe so I decided to make some new plans. I had become more and more interested in learning to sail in the last couple years. Having familiarized myself quite well with land travel it just seemed like a natural evolution to want to tame the seas as well.

One might ask, “But Jordan, didn’t you already try that back in Colombia 8 years ago? Didn’t that end in a near-death shipwreck experience”. Yes…and yes. For those who became readers of my blog after that feel free to read the story here.  But I once heard someone say that there are only two sailors who have never run aground on a boat. One never left the port and the other was an atrocious liar. So I have got that out of the way.

So as a first step back into the world of sailing this last summer I joined several sailboat hitchhiking groups online that are meant to connect sailboat captains with able-bodied crew. I wanted to spend a chunk of time on a boat, gain some experience and also just to see if it was even something that I had an appetite to do more of. I ended up with a misfit group of sea pirates lead by a couple of young Italians who had scraped together some money to buy an old 31ft. boat named Mon Amour. There were six (yes SIX on a 31ft. boat) of us onboard this little boat for the 10 day sail from Rome to Sicily.

Mon Amour

The atmosphere onboard was all “Summer in the Med” lots of fun, beers, snorkeling, swimming, great food (one of the captains was a chef), stopping at every beautiful little island along the way occasionally hitting up a pizzeria in some small port town. Beautiful blue skies and a perfect 80°f/28°c daytime temp with water temperature about the same. There was even an active lava spewing volcano to spicen up the adventure. The crew were all young enough to be my kids but we were all like-minded life-hogs and despite being 6 of us on a tiny boat we all got along swimmingly (sorry for the pun). It was basically hedonism with some sailing involved. I already knew I had a taste for the former, and I learned that I also enjoyed the latter. So this is what sailing can be like? I had a feeling it’s not always like this but I my interest was piqued. I began dreaming about buying my own boat in the next couple years to set off on a long ocean journey.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For more photos from the summer sailing trip CLICK HERE

So when Africa got delayed I turned all my attention to the seas. Perhaps I could take a more serious crack at learning to sail and turn it into a great adventure, my Plan B for escaping the winter. So I signed up to take my RYA Day Skipper Theory Exam….kindof the first step towards becoming a licensed sailboat captain and as I worked through that I was scanning every website, Facebook group, and forum that exists to connect crew with boats. I first found a couple boats in Asia that were interested in taking me onboard. But I’m trying to fly less nowadays to keep my carbon footprint down so Asia was not my ideal option, it would require two long-haul flights to get over there and back. The ideal plan seemed to be to hitchhike across the Atlantic ocean. A carbon zero ride to the other side of the world so I’d only require one long flight home.

When I told my parents about my idea to hitchhike on a sailboat across the Atlantic they were not surprised, they have long since ceased to be surprised by my ideas, the first thing they said was “Ahh well, then you will not be so far from home, you can pass through for a visit before returning to Spain”. The original idea was simply to cross the Atlantic, spend some time tooling around in the Caribbean jumping on other boats gaining some more experience, and then head back to Europe just in time for the arrival of spring. But a visit home added the possibility of a new dynamic and objective to the trip. The objective….Barcelona to Las Vegas without stepping onto an airplane.  If I could just get myself to some Central American coastline by sailboat then I could travel overland through Mexico and into California. Et voilà! It would all depend on what opportunities I could find once in Caribbean, but it’s a worthwhile objective.

“I can’t wait for the oil wells to run dry, for the last gob of black, sticky muck to come oozing out of some remote well. Then the glory of sail will return.” -Triston Jones

Anyways, first I have to get myself to the other side of the pond hitchhiking on a sailboat and the problem is I am not the only one with such ideas of hitching rides across the seas. Especially nowadays with more and more people who have a lust for travel but an aversion to flying. Basically there is competition to get on boats. A LOT of competition especially for the Atlantic crossing. Cute experienced girls get picked first, then cute non-experienced girls, then super experienced sailors next, and then it gets harder and harder for each demographic with non-experienced couples and vegans at the bottom of the list. So at least I have an edge on some.

All boats follow more or less the same route across the Atlantic and there is only one window of time during which the weather conditions are favorable for an East to West crossing, late November through February, with most boats choosing to sail late November or early December in order to reach the Caribbean in time for Christmas and to minimize any time having to endure anything resembling a winter. The route is Europe to the Canary Islands where most boats leave from directly to cross the Atlantic, those that don’t leave from the Canaries will instead continue further south to Cape Verde to start the crossing from there, this somewhat shortens the crossing.

In any event I focused all my attention on the online resources to find a boat. After about 6 weeks of scouring every website, online forum, and Facebook group I finally found a captain sailing a 33ft/10m boat named La Fortuna from Portugal to the Canaries and eventually to Cape Verde. He didn’t have plans to cross the Atlantic but like any hitchhiker you take whatever ride will get you closer to your destination.

So on December 9th I left my home in Barcelona and boarded an overnight train to Lisbon (opting out of what would be a much cheaper flight) where I would meet Captain Richard, his fiancé Ivy, another crew/hitchhiker named Maksym from Ukraine, and La Fortuna….the boat that we hoped would get us all safely to the Canary Islands.  And that is how I ended up dumped onto the floor of a boat in the middle of the ocean surrounded by giant waves tossing us about in the sea. I’ll leave you there for the moment and will try and get out another update in the next days to describe the journey in more detail.


Click here to read the next installment….