October 27, 2013

gamming with the bark europa

Eric Kesteloo, Master of the Dutch tall ship Bark Europa.
Crew's Quarters, Bark Europa - Queens Wharf - Auckland, NEW ZEALAND (October 2013)

To Gam:  When two ships heave to, side by side, to allow the masters a chance to converse at sea.

I followed the "gam" between James and Eric - first time they have crossed paths in seven years.  Same boats, but a different port.  They discussed the constant movement of the Bark Europa circumnavigating the globe, leaving hardly any time for the dry-dock.  They laughed about the change of Anasazi Girl from a solo boat into one for a family of five.  Topping it off, James gave him a big congratulations on taking names and kicking ass on the tall ships' Sydney to Auckland race.  First to cross the line? Bark Europa!  The words put a big smile on Eric's face.

Until we meet again...  With luck it will be in the Beagle Channel in the new year.


The tall ships are in town.  Dutch sailor Laura Dekker knocked on Anasazi Girl's hull Saturday morning to invite us to walk in the parade with the crew members of the Dutch tall ship. The parade started in the Viaduct, next to our boat, on Hobson's Wharf.  It was a festive sight of flags, ribbons, banners, colorful costumes, sailors and pirates.  Our kids added their own style, excitement, and flair to the salty dog affair.

As we stood in the line-up among the crowd, James said to me that he had a feeling he knew someone in the parade.  It wasn't until we arrived at Queens Wharf and saw the Bark Europa that he realized that he had been aboard the tall ship before in 2006.  It was while stopped in Cape Town on his solo voyage.  Back then, he met a long-haired captain named Eric and they talked about the sea.  He wondered if Eric was still on board.

When the ship opened later in the afternoon for Auckland visitors, James cut to the front and somehow charmed his way onto the boat without waiting in the endless line that extended along the wharf.  In between talking to my kids, I heard the phrases, "Sex and sailing," "Sea captains, bars & whiskey", "Back then single" and "Look at me now with my three kids!".

The kids were suddenly inside, sipping a saloon soda while we talked to the barman who was from Perth.  Before Bark Europa, he had worked on the STS Leeuwin II, the same ship that James had spent one night aboard in Albany after he had broken his mast south of Cape Leeuwin in 2007.

Next we were in the crew's quarters where James was reunited with Eric, the same captain he had shared a glass of whiskey with seven years ago in Cape Town.  So cool for him to see a familiar face in a different port of the world.

Bark Europa heads next to the Falklands, South Georgia, Cape Horn and Antarctica.  It would be a real treat to see them again when we rock up to Puerto Williams.

MORE INFO: Bark Europa

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