Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sailing to Hobart

I forgot what date we are on today. Days are fading, a minute has no meaning anymore. There is only the endlessness of the ocean. How can it be that what was so important to me on land seems without meaning when at sea. I dream a place of no confusion, of low cost living and happy people. The more I talk about sailing, the more I believe that maybe that is the way to go. The freedom of being free. Of not having to obey rules, or at least not the ones that are governed by politics and money.
But then I think maybe I am an ignorant person if I'd withdraw myself from the material world and disappear into the void of seamanship. Will I not run from my responsabilities towards society, towards family and friends?
Filosofers plight to say that the only responsability we have is towards life. But what with your mom, your dog, your lover? By all means what with responsability towards burocracy.
I know I stand for at least 6 inches of paperwork. I'm into the idea of confusing the hell out of the ones organizing my documents by sailing to a place where no laws apply and then get myself into some trouble.
Maybe I am doing just that.
If someone would have told me a year ago that I'd be navigating half the world on a black motor yacht hunting down a whaling fleet and sabotaging it with crew from all over the world I would have laughed at the idea. Now I am sailing to Hobart, Tasmania. Then on to a continent that belong to creatures that love blizzards. It's all a bit weird.
But somebody's gotta do it and it might as well be me. Marine wildlife is being slaughtered as we speak. We don't seem to care. We are reluctant to admit any relation to those inflicting the pain or those receiving it. Plastic wrapped food has made us insensitive to the origin of it. We are disconnected of the world around us. All that matters is our next car, the status of our jobs or the health of our own children. We have become numb.
Governements are not acting out the words they speak and wildlife is dying because of it. When will we understand that whatever we do has a direct impact on ecosystems. If we take out sharks for instance, the largest living predators on earth... if we take that chackle out of the foodchain then we erradicate a lot of other ecosystems that depend upon these predators.
If we murder the lungs of the earth then there will be no oxygen left for us to breathe.
Decay has set in long ago, decadence is just another rollercoaster to extinction.
I am here now and I will do the best I can but it will never be enough.
I am not scared of harpoons, I am scared that they will never understand. Human ignorance is the source of all evil. Enter Kali ...
I am on watch now as I will be for the next three months.
Operation No Compromise.
Better hold on.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

04 september 2010
We left Barcelona at noon. The weather was great, the conditions were perfect. About 30 people to wave us off, including my father, Fabian & my doggy Luna.
It's always hard to say goodbye...

05 september 2010
The sea is flat like a mirror. We cut through black water direction Orion. The moon is a hammock but you can see the contour. A zillion stars & the milky way.
On my evening watch i saw tunafish and dolphins and a few birds. I don't know if it's because we were still close to land and it was the influence of pollution but the sunset was fire red, burning flame and also took longer than I am used to.
I'm still a bit anxious, the routine hasn't set in yet. 4-8 and 16-20, thats my working hours. I look at the red coloured radars at night and look out over the ocean at daytime.
Silence and peace.
We are now: 39' 45"N and 6' 19"E

My first sunrise on the Steve Irwin.
The sun came out suddenly and within minutes it was full blast.
I remember now, I remember the taste of morning ocean mixed with coffee.
Of salty air and warm wind.
I remember now, how the waves of thought become longer and slow down.
How long distance view sharpens and senses grow stronger.
The bow of the ship sways before me and from my viewpoint on the bridge it looks almost as if it were a different entity. As if it would be able to break free and go its own way.
I feel safe, this ship is beautiful.
For the next 6 weeks this is my home.

09 september 18:10
Incredibly beautiful sunset with a veil of clouds. Swimstop at 16:00. Warm Egyptian water. A bird with us the entire day. Bonding with the crew. It's getting warmer every minute. Wrote and email to Ulla. All is good.
Tomorrow we reach Egypt.

12 september 06:34
We are in the Gulf of Suez. Oilrigs all around.
The sea is fierce, choppy and it's very windy. It seems hard for the ship to stay on course. After a day of mirror flat surface this feels like a semi storm.
27° 45. 92' N
33° 46. 34' E
SOG 13,5 knots
I steered us out of the anchorageplace in front of Suez and to the pilotstation and yesterday I steered us again out of bitter lake and back into the canal. It feels nice.

13 september
Humid heat envelops us. Everything is wet when the sun is asleep and when the sun is out it pounds merciless, penetrating everything on this black boat. There is nowhere to hide from this, every cabin, every corner is hotter than the next one. Ventilators blow hot air. You can't decide whether you want them on or off... Showering with your clothes on, then positioning yourself in front of a ventilator seems the only bearable thing to do ... if only for the 5 minutes ... During the day the boat heats up even more. Black paint absorbing fotons. When the the sun sets it takes hours for the walls to stop radiating. You burn yourself touching them.
Then night brings no salvation. The humidity is false hope. It sets on your skin, closes the possiblity of breathing. Pores, desperate for oxygen are deprived of it. Suffication.
I look down and even the pitchblack water looks inviting. My fear of swimming is being silenced by the need for cooling.
Visions of icebergs, thought of Antarctica, a craving for a place I have never been.
The barometer broke, probably collapsed under this weight.
The sea is stuck on my skin.
We are now one.
The crew is incredible ... putting up anti-boarding spikes on the side of the boat. Welding, working hard for our protection against pirates. In this heat I can only look at this in awe. Their energy and commitment on a voluntary basis deserves eternal respect.

19 september 05:00
It's crazy weather out there. The ship is jumping up and down, rolling to the sides and catching waves in the proces. We had our first downpour. Fierce, heavy rain in an angry sea. Washed off the desertsand and the salt of the Red Sea. All fresh again. It's hard to stand up without falling. Things keep flying around the bridge.
The Arabic sea is emerald green, like the eyes of a princess.
We are in open sea now, for the first time in my life. But I am not scared. I have faith in the capacities of my captain but above all I trust this ship. It might be 37 years old, I can feel its strong heartbeat under my bare feet. The deep regular groan of the engine makes me calm.
The ship is withered and tathered and it leaks here and there but it has lived and survived for many years. It's knowledge of the oceans is indisputable and I think that Alistair is right when he says "a ship is the only piece of machinery with a soul"

22 september 2010
At 15:35 we slid into the southern hemisphere. While Helen was being baptised and humpback whales were breaching not far from the ship I crossed yet another milepole. For 18 of us this was the first time. We underwent a ceremony (quite a disgusting one) and are now introduced in the Mysteries of the Deep. After this ceremony we jumped in the ocean..... with 4000 metres depth under me it is by far the craziest thing I've ever done.
I am exploring new horizons, stretching my limits and finding new, beautiful places within myself. I cannot possibly be happier than this.

04 october
De laatste dag op zee. De reis is gedaan. Transit compleet.
We zijn letterlijk de halve wereld overgestoken. Het dringt nog niet goed door.
Ik zit aan de andere kant van de globe, het is bijna niet te geloven. En in de laatste 12 dagen hebben we 1 schip gezien. Er is veel zee.
Vandaag heel het schip gekuist. Wij, Nuño en ik, de brug, de Deckies de buitenkant en de meisjes de binnenkant. Vanavond pijamaparty, Dan anchorwatch en dan slapen. Morgenvroeg docken we en dan .... AUSTRALIE!!!

Zo ver van huis ben ik nog nooit geweest .... :-)
I have never been this far away from home

Thursday, September 2, 2010


To whom it concerns

I arrived in Barcelona 4 months ago with my car, some important stuff and my dog. I was so lucky as to find a warm home. A loving friend called Buzz took me in (straycat that I was)
Emiliano and Fernando completed the household, 2 incredibly talented and enchanting Argentinian men. The four of us shared this summer. Lots of things happened, some good some a little more challenging. Most of it was amazing though. I found what I was looking for, peace, friendship, fun and sun. I was turning into a dying flower back home. But here in Barcelona, with these people, I found the right soil and perfect amount of fotons to grow again. I feel strong and beautiful now. I feel centered in my element. I am once again the Catherine that I want to be.

But chapters have an ending and it was time to move on. I probably set that in motion a couple of weeks ago. I went through a challenging time, matters concerning the heart. I had to sit still and observe my interior landscape. I had to be kind to myself. Let me feel what I needed to feel. Disempower this overwhelming pain. I had to accept the seasons of my heart, just as I have to accept the seasons of the earth. I watched it become winter in my heart, and then spring and then summer.... I lived ... I learnt. I am better than I was now. I give thanks that I was given this lesson.

A boat showed up here in the port. A big, strong black boat with a pirateflag. They call it the STEVE IRWIN, after the crazy enthousiastic Australian that loved crocodiles so much he tried to hug them all the time. He showed the world that we are all connected. That we need eachother to sustain the balance of life. Without sealife we die also. Without forests the world will be no longer.
The boat belongs to an organisation called SEASHEPHERD. The founder is Captain Paul Watson, his fellow founder was Robert Hunter, who died in 2005. They were the founders of GREEPEACE, but after a dispute over the methods used to stop illegal slaughter of seamammals they decided to break free and form their own organisation.
They are an ocean conservation group. They go to Antartica to stop the illegal slaugher of whales, they cut open net here in the mediterannean to set free Tunafish that were caught illegaly. They film the greatest massacre of seamammals on earth; the yearly returning killing of hundreds of thousands of baby seals in Canada. And they try to put an end to 'finning', the removal of the fins of shark when they are still alive to then throw them back in the ocean for them to sink to the bottom and die a slow and painfull death.
The methods they use are controversial but effective. If you want to know more about this go to

I went to the boat about a week ago and applied. Well I just walked on basically and started to work. One week later, exactly one week before leaving for Australia I was told that I could come along.
So here I go, we leave on the 4th of September 2010. We will pass Sicily, Malta, Greece and then on the the Suezcanal. We pay 24000€ to just pass the damn thing. Then we will find ourselves in the Red Sea with all its scaryness of pirates and all. When we get out the other end of the Red Sea we will be in open waters. The great Indian Ocean. We pass India south, Sri Lanka too. Then on to Indonesia. Paradise ... We stop in Palau for a week. The waters of Palau have recently been declared Shark sanctuary which means as much as: no more fishing can be done. Ofcourse we find that a good thing. Then on to Fremantle, Australia (WA) just under Perth.

If all goes well and I am still on the boat, I will join them on their Arctic campagn. We go to Tasmania to prepare and then to Antartica to fight the illegal Japanese fleet of whalers. Whaling season is from december till end february/beginning of march.

Apart from the coming 45 days at sea without seeing land, I have no idea what my life in the coming months will look like... Am I gonna see a kanguru? Am I gonna travel? Am I gonna stay or go? Will I be able to go and see my family in New Zealand? I have absolutely no idea. I take it as it comes. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am taking it with both hands. I want to fight this injustice, this is the way. I feel it. This is my way, it fits with how I am.

My dad arrived yesterday by plane and will take the love of my life home, my doggy Luna. I will miss her more than anything and sometimes I don't know if what I am doing is correct. But I know that she will go to a home that is equally as loving, caring and good for her than the one I provide. The incredibly beautiful Wendy, a friend for life. We are connected forever. She was my friend when nobody else was. I love you very much and I am humble in your presence.

Fernando, my flatmate for 4 months. I have grown to love you deeply. We have been through enough to connect us on a profound level. You are my friend but I am also still deeply in love with you. I hold what we have in the palm of my hand and look at it with awe. You taught me to relax, to love in an open way, without judgement or resentment. And you taught me also how to trust. I don't want to think about our moment of separation. For now I am happy that you are still with me and you are the first thing I see when I open my eyes in the morning. Have faith my love, life always has a way of working things out.

I will be at sea for 45 days without any way of contact. No phones, no internet (for personal use). Just open sea, dolphins, turtles, 21 commited crewmembers. Silence ...

To all of you: each of you have a purpose to fulfill, in this world and towards the people around you. We are all drops of water, together we can form a watervall, an ocean.

Be well, live, breathe, dance, sing. Life is too short not to.

Catherine, 2 september 2010

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

Full moon party

The princesses of Fire

and lots more that I didn't film ....

Cleaning up is always a bitch

But somebody has to do it! :-)

Post Cabaret Massage party

The wonderful 'hang' instrument

Other very weird but beautiful instrument

Cabaret Primavera in our house!

Awesome percussionists!

Buzz being mariposa gay
My teacher trapeze... the wonderful Leticia!
Brazilian singing, her voice, his guitar... a perfect and enchanting combination
Emi doing the cord but it's out of focus because of the laser light
The audience ... niceness ...
Buzz and Nora

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

Not in India but In Barcelona

Leaving BelgiumCows in Luxemburg

Status update .. look at that and its 13 years old this car
Drawing closer to my destination.... ooohaaaaa
found this and loved it!
Yay olive/winery (god knows but it made me happy as a child)
Stretching the legs :-) all of em
Getting sick and tired of sitting in the car
Niceness but shitty weather
Almost and anxious!!!

So, Barcelona, city of angels and demons ....

I have recently moved here. Arrived after two days of watching the landscape change around me. I think I love that most about driving long distances. The fact that birchtrees make way for pinetrees and pinetrees eventually make way for schrubbery (and with that remembering the knights who say "Ni") It's a constant change that reminds us that nothing is forever.

Lucky for me I have fallen into a warm nest. My house is spacious and welcoming, and my flatmates are kind and loving. I'm located in Raval, probably the worst area in Spain but it's ok so far. It's central, and with that I mean the centre of the world. So many nationalities surround me I feel we're in the Arch of Noah. My neighbours helped me unload the car, it was all done in less than 5 minutes. The kindness of others ...

Missing my family but nothing more than that. Here I am. I live with the choices I've made. I wished to break with this past of mine. And it worked. Uit het oog is uit het hart they say where I come from. It means that what you can't see you can't love sort of. I have that ability to completely surpass things if they are not right in front of me. That is also why long distance relationships don't work for me. If I can't see you my love how am I supposed to love you?

I'm anxious to see what the future brings. I haven't the slightest idea where I will end up. Is it really that important? I want to Live with a capitol L. Where or what is not necessarily important, HOW is important to me. So I look around me and see ... the world ... and I glow ...

My heart shines from sorrow and grief ... but it shines nevertheless. I like my heart, I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Love from Barcelona

Thursday, April 8, 2010

For all those who don't have facebook...pure vanity

Malta 2007

North India 2008
Peru 2001, Jimmy and me

Dress fashionshow 2008

Spiti valley, India, 2008



First contact after 6months of absence ...
Barcelona august 2009

Granollers, january 2009
Sin palabras
Barcelona, Plaça Catalunya, enero 2009

In an ideal world...
Antwerp cathedral
Grandma and me, June 2008
Nieve december 2009, Luna
:-)) Pushkar, India

No copywright ... :-/

Catherine en Ester
Happy In Palma
She's gonna kill me if she sees this

On top of the world!!!
Kudle beach, India
Home sweet home
Kudle aka Paradise
On the road ....
Too good to miss
Objects in the mirror are always closer than they appear ....
Anjuna beach by sunset

Arambol and the time of my lifeHome, Belgium ...
Strike the pose! (trying out my new camera)
Autumn colours in Belgium