Portrait of a Cruiser: Thomas and Evelien Rodemeier

Now in its eighth month, our “Portrait of a Cruiser” this month shows that not all long distance offshore cruisers wait until middle age to cast off the dock lines. Newlyweds Tom and Eve have put a hold on their careers as Architects to sail an Atlantic Circuit, kitesurf and explore.

Published 5 years ago

Names of Owners: Thomas and Evelien Rodemeier

Nationality: German (Thomas) and Dutch (Evelien)

Boat Name: Scehawk of Tamar [Seahawk]

Boat Type/Model and Size: Sigma 41

Home  Port: Amsterdam

Blog: https://this-side-up.blog/

How did you start cruising?

It all started when we were living in Switzerland, pretty much as far away from the sea as it gets in Europe… We were planning a 3-week holiday when we stumbled across a video of liveaboard kitesurfers and were immediately sold. Our holiday would be in January, so we were looking into chartering a boat in the Caribbean. Until we saw the prices! We figured that for 3000 dollars a week times three, we would have a budget to buy a boat instead of chartering one. So we started looking for boats! Then we figured when we buy a boat, why not take the opportunity to travel around a bit before life gets serious and we get settled. That’s when we decided to become liveaboards and go cruising!

Describe what sort of cruiser are you:

We are a full-time liveaboard couple. We are architects so we also love houses and land life. We are taking a break from our careers but do intend to go back next year.

What type of cruising are you doing currently?

We are doing long-distance cruising. We started in the Med with little sailing experience doing coastal hopping on day trips. After a few months, we started doing overnighters and longer distances. Until now, our longest passage was 500 miles. In two weeks we’ll cross to Cape Verde and after that the Atlantic Ocean!

What were the key reasons you selected your current boat?

We intended to buy a boat in the USA or Caribbean so we wouldn’t have to cross any oceans to get to paradise. We quickly found out that boats are much cheaper in Europe, so we started looking closer to home instead. Our dream boat should be capable of crossing the pond, in good shape and built around the 80s / 90s. We looked at Dehler, Beneteau and the Sigma we decided to buy. Sigma has the reputation of being a racer-cruiser and are known to be very strongly built. The 41-foot Sigma is the biggest they built, and is definitely a spacious and fast boat! Not if you ask Thomas though, he bumps into everything because he is tall and I hear ‘this boat is too small for me’ at least once every day.

What other boats have you owned?

The Sigma is our first boat, beside a rubber boat we used to float down rivers in Switzerland.

What changes have you made to your current boat?

We basically only wanted to change the doormat. Other then the hideous doormat, the boat was perfect and ready to go. On our shakedown cruise, we found out the headsail furler was dying of old age so we replaced that before we left. Sad enough after a couple of months cruising the engine had to be replaced as well. If we had more time and money we would change our second head into storage. Seriously, who needs a second bathroom in a 12-meter boat?

Most useful equipment fitted, and the reasons for this choice:

We love the Hydrovane for saving electricity, our solar panels for generating electricity and the AIS for keeping us visible and safe, especially at night. Also very useful is our new engine with 120 amp charger!

Equipment regrets, or things you would do differently:

We can’t think of any regrets. We avoided buying equipment before moving onto the boat, so we would get a better feel of what we would need and what we wouldn’t need. Thomas regrets not buying the personal AIS beacon, but I vetoed that because of the costs.

List the countries you have cruised:

France, Italy, Spain, Morocco & Cape Verdes.

Future cruising plans:

After buying our boat in January ’17 in France, we explored the western Med and Morocco before sailing to theCanary Islands. From there we went south to the Cape Verdes and will shortly be crossing the Atlantic. We will cruise the windward islands and the east coast of the USA before crossing back to Europe.

List the oceans/seas you have crossed: Until now, only the Med!

Approximate sea miles: 4000

Scariest day on the water:

Apart from all the scary moments when our engine failed, we had a pretty scary night sail from Sicily to Sardinia. We had strong wind and were making really good progress until we sailed right into a thunderstorm. We had to turn around 180 degrees but after a little while, we were completely surrounded by lightning. The wind died so we were aimlessly bobbing around. We decided to start the engine (luckily, it worked!) and powered out of it. We weren’t hit but it was very close!

Best cruising moment:

All the nautical miles sailed in the Atlantic. Sailing through Gibraltar was a thrill, we had more than 40 knots of wind and saw 16 knots boat speed! The boat handled the weather great, we gained so much confidence that day. From Gibraltar up until the Canaries (where we are now) we’ve had strong, steady winds in the right direction. It is just amazing sailing compared to the schizophrenic Mediterranean Sea!

Favourite cruising area and why:

We loved Corsica and Menorca. Both seem to be undiscovered by mass tourism and the islands have so many great anchorages!

Favourite anchorage:

Difficult question! We enjoy being an anchor surrounded by nature, but we also love the proximity of a city. Going for a compromise of both, I am going to say the anchorage in the bay of Calvi, Corsica. The bay is big, well sheltered and has a sandy bottom. There is a great beach on one side of the bay and the city of Calvi is on the other side.

Favourite cruising Apps:

We use navionics as a double-check for our chart plotter with ageing charts. We also love to see what other cruisers are up to on Instagram.

Favourite cruising websites:

Noonsite and personal blogs.

Favourite cruising books:

Imray pilots, but not all. The one of Corsica was pretty bad. I also love to read books from other cruisers.

What advice or message would you want to pass on to anyone new to cruising or thinking about casting off the dock lines?

Get a good old boat and a thorough survey. We have seen many newer or even brand-new boats with big problems, it is really worth investigating getting a well-designed older boat (25+ years) and doing the needed upgrades. Most boats in the 80s and 90s were not designed to be material-efficient, but to be strong. Don’t fall for cheap ex-charter boats. Calculate the worst-case scenario.

Why cruise? In a few sentences, what is it that inspires you to keep cruising?

Cruising is not a super easy and chill life like everyone expects it to be. Its also work. We get a great sense of accomplishment from fixing stuff that breaks, keeping the boat in great shape and discovering new places under sail.

Any other comments:

A big topic in our cruising life is hosting guests or crew. It would be great to read the opinions of other cruisers on this matter.

Our second cabin is almost always filled with guests. This brings, of course, the joy of being able to share our experiences and lifestyle with friends and family, but also comes with downsides (sailing to a schedule, increased costs and less privacy). Before we started cruising, we thought it would be awesome to have 1 or 2 (pairs of) guests a month. This somehow turned into almost back-to-back chartering on our boat during the summer. Most of our guests are not interested in sailing, but just want to spend their holiday on the water with us. This means that we are doing the sailing, cleaning and chores while trying not to turn into alcoholics with all the vacationing going on on board.

How do other cruisers manage?! Should we turn down half of the requests, ask to contribute to the costs of boat maintenance, ask to do boat chores? This all feels counter-intuitive because it’s just our friends and family enjoying their 1 or 2 week holiday.

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