Lærke Heilmann and Kiana Weltzien of non-profit Women and the Wind are finally ready to embark on their long awaited journey to the Azores aboard their newly restored catamaran Mara Noka.
They are sailing from Wilmington, North Carolina to the Azores and throughout their journey they will be collecting data on plastic pollution all the while filming a documentary with their filmer and photographer Alizé Jireh.
From this voyage they hope to show "the salty rawness of the sea, make people fall in love and encourage them to join the fight in protecting it. "
We're excited to share updates and stories throughout their trip, and you can follow along via their GPS tracker, which they'll share to their Instagram.
But, first, wanted to catch up with them to see what they've been up to since we last spoke, and to wish them luck, which we're excited to share with you all, so be sure to follow along.
We subscribe to the idea that adventure is when nothing goes as planned..
One year ago we naively thought that we would be able to restore a 50-year-old wooden boat in a few weeks and go sailing. A naivety that threw us into an overwhelming project that any experienced boat builder would have thought twice about. A naivety we are now grateful for, and which has led us to where we are today.
Sitting on the deck of Mara Noka, feeling the salty sea breeze, and looking back at the past year of hard work makes it feel like it was all a dream — like all the months of sanding, painting, glassing, and more sanding didn’t really happen.
One year ago Mara Noka was two canoes peeled down to the wood.
Now we are sitting on a beautiful black catamaran, gently swaying in the wake of the bypassing boats. Throughout this whole experience we kept believing we would sail in a few weeks — something that might seem stupid thinking back — but this was the carrot that kept us going. This approach attracted some unsolicited advice, much skepticism at times, but most of all: SO MUCH support and SO MANY helping hands which we are beyond grateful for.
Back then we imagined we would quickly patch up a few things and that the boatyard was just a pit stop before the big adventure. Now we know that things tend to take a lot longer than expected and that the adventure really started right there in the boat yard.
What did we cross off the to-do list?
- Replacing port bulkhead
- Replacing cross beams
- Replacing rotten wood with new
- Fiberglassing hulls
- Painting hulls
- Painting bottom
- Painting cabin tops
- Fiberglassing and painting decks
- Installing chocks to tie in beams
- Tying boat together
- Building a new wooden deck
- Replacing bulwarks
- New engine (holder) for outboard
- New boom and wishbones
- Painting and varnishing insides
….and much more
Check out the Captain's log for the full experience — close-up snippets of all the challenges we faced, and blood, sweat, and tears we shed.
With a floating boat and winds pushing from the south we are almost ready to follow the dream and cross the north Atlantic. After over a year in St. Augustine, this place has become home and we will leave with our hearts filled with good memories of lovely people, southern hospitality and the friendly Florida waves.
Our first sail will be about 3 days going up the coast to North Carolina. This will leave us 300 miles closer to the next destination, the Azores…
Follow the journey Women & the Wind
Photo Credit: Alizé Jireh