There has always been a certain romance attached to the sea. According to science, it is our ancestral home. In years gone by, “going to sea” was often a last resort for a young person who wanted to escape poverty, see the world and start a new life.
And the ocean itself, with its endless horizons, evokes powerful emotions. Some are afraid, while others find peace. Dutch couple, Tom and Heidi, belong in the latter category. They call themselves Sailingshalom, with “Shalom” representing an inner state of harmony and contentment, but also peace in a wider sense. “When we say the name of our ship on VHF, we wish the other person peace,” says Heidi.
Nowadays, many hit the waves to relax from the stresses and demands of modern life. Sailing requires your full attention, so there is no time for your mind to wander to unanswered e-mails or office politics.
“Tom and I are both social workers. When we are at home, we’re so busy. Our days are occupied from morning to night with appointments. We needed to get away from it all, and sailing is an excellent way to unwind and get a fresh perspective.”
Growing up in a family that enjoyed boating, Tom has always felt the pull of the sea. First he enrolled in a sports academy to learn the ropes and now he has a permit to say he’s allowed to skipper vessels weighing up to 500 tons.
“Sailing around the world is one of my dreams,” he says. “Then suddenly, Heidi walked into my life. She’d never sailed before and wasn’t sure if it was something she ever wanted to do. I took her out in the boat one day. Luckily, the conditions were perfect, with no wind, and she enjoyed it. Naturally, not every day has been like that, but said she wanted to give it a proper try, which we certainly have.”
Even though Heidi has grown used to life on a boat, she doesn’t want to abandon all the comforts of home. “Tom tries to make it as comfortable as possible for me as he knows I appreciate it,” she says. “And if there’s one thing I am really happy about, it’s our Dometic CFX40. We don’t have a huge boat – it’s a 37-footer or just over 11 meters – so there’s no room for a big fridge. This one is just perfect for us. Now we can store meat, yoghurt and similar items that would otherwise spoil. I don’t know what I would do without it. At some point in the future, I want to invest in an Origo stove from Dometic and a new CFX to freeze meat and fish. Now that would be a dream come true,” she says with a smile.
Tom and Heidi live for the day and where the ocean breeze takes them. “That’s how we like it,” says Tom. “We’ve been on some wonderful trips together. The first long one, from France to Spain, was memorable in so many ways. The sunrises and sunsets were out of this world and we had dolphins for company. We both felt incredibly privileged. But when you’re out at sea, you have to stay focused. It can be a dangerous place if you lose concentration – or if the mainsail breaks, which it has done three times. That’s why we don’t drink alcohol on the trip.”
We wish Tom and Heidi fair winds and following seas – and, of course, peace.