2 hours from now, our dad will be embarking on his next great adventure: Pole2Pole. This adventure is not only his. It is our family’s. Our parents have started planning this big project years ago and despite the loss of our dear mother, their combined dream of circumnavigating the globe via the south and north poles will finally be seeing the light of day. We could not be prouder of what our parents have achieved in their lives and we are so fortunate to be an active part in these achievements today. From home, we will be coordinating and communicating Mike’s incredible journey in order to keep his followers updated on his exploits and whereabouts.
Mike and his crew of 3 will be leaving from the Monaco Yacht Club on Pangaea and set sails towards Namibia, where he should be arriving in a month’s time. The anticipation is definitely building up, but so is the sadness of seeing our dad leave. If all goes according to plan, we will be meeting him there to explore the Namib Desert and the Skeleton coast together. Today is above all an exciting day, it is the beginning of a unique adventure for our dad, for us and hopefully also for those following the Pole2Pole journey. Stay tuned for weekly updates across Mike’s platforms and let’s finally get this expedition rolling!
Living life gets a new meaning only when you can exist by being who you are. To be free is and certainly will forever be one of the most desired needs of mankind. History has taught us allot of what we know today about the word freedom. The word freedom has nearly become an obscenity and is slowly disappearing like the morning fog. The question is the following: What price am I willing to pay to be able to live with a certain amount of freedom? And what will I do with the luxury of freedom if I could acquire it?! I guess the trick question is, how do you define being free?
The big dilemma of growing up is that we lose our dreams, with that we lose our freedom. The solution to the dilemma is very simple in theory: Grow older but keep on dreaming like a child.
My father told me that if your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough. How can man ever sleep, if his dreams keep on eluding him? Freedom often gets imprisoned in our mind purely by ourselves and how we think.
Action is the key word that liberates the mind. To be free, you need action.
We often speak about luxury as something we cannot afford. The new luxury in today’s world is freedom; it can be bought without a currency. We can buy freedom by changing the way we think! We often move from one situation to another, thinking we will have more time only to realise that we don’t. It is like having six of one or a half a dozen of another. One day will always have 24 hours and that’s the same for each human being on earth, we all have the same amount of time. How we use it is a different question.
Working with freedom, doing what you love, staying true to yourself, trying to do what you always wanted to do, reaching success or failure learning from it, is all forms of mental freedom. Take a moment to look at your life, find what ties you down, doing your best at what you do, start loving the hard and difficult moments, helps us to frees up our mind.
We should not always think that by having more time is the only form of freedom. Liberate yourself mentally take on challenges and responsibilities. It makes you feel good about yourself.
In short, enjoy being yourself and love what you do. It will make you happy, and a happy man is a free man.
When you have worked hard for what you want, and then acquire it, you often realise that you do not have enough time to use what you have acquired, that belief frustrates and imprisons us. The freedom of enjoying what we worked for, without the pleasure of the action of using it has the reverse effect of what we imagined it to be like when we started pursuing our pathway to freedom. We often say when I have this I will do that… and we find ourselves with no time to do the “that”, this is where the game changes in our mind.
Instead of thinking of only enjoying the action part we should enjoy the whole process of acquiring as well, in fact enjoy everything we do in the ideal situation. Certainly there will be different levels of enjoyment.
Live in the moment, do not always want to be somewhere else, it liberates your mind and adds to the happiness that makes us feel free! Be happy with who you are, rather than unhappy trying to be someone else or what others want you to be. Freedom can be summed up in 3 words. KEEP IT TRUE.
What does all of this blab about freedom have to do with the Pole2Pole expedition?
The horn orchestra performed by the Monaco yachts upon our departure seems so far off in the distance now. Kicking off the expedition at the prestigious Monaco Yacht Club, I remember perceiving Pangaea as dwarfed by the sheer size of the adjacent giants. Not many vehicles can convey a unique story and character as well as boats do, though. That of Pangaea screams adventure. Her expedition-grade rigging and worn aluminum hull with dents and scars, which can each tell a story from the other side of the world, create a stark and curious contrast to the fine-polished hulls and delicate superyacht designs. Moored amongst them, she radiates an insatiable hunger for exploration, as though wanting to instantly break free from the mooring lines and made bound for distant shores.
Today, two weeks and around 3200 nautical miles later, we are hugging the Atlantic coast of the African continent as we cruise down South, having passed the halfway mark on our trip from Monaco to Cape Town already. So far we have been gifted with favorable winds and currents, enabling us to make great progress and push ahead of schedule. This time made good will come in handy soon as we pass the equator and the trade winds and currents start turning against us.
Ever since we’ve passed the Cape Verde Islands and rounded the westernmost tip of Africa, we’ve entered virgin territory for the Pangaea. After rounding the world several times and logging close to 200.000 nautical miles, the Pangaea had yet to be seen by the majority of the African Atlantic coast. The boat is an explorer herself, desiring to leave a track behind in the blank spots on the canvas that is the oceans of the world. This idea has recently been shared with me by Mike when talking about his expedition route choice and has added another layer of appreciation for the boat that we’re sailing on. In the past few months I’ve learned to feel at home on this boat during the expedition preparation phase at port. Now, with the boat making way, entire new facets of the boat are revealing themselves which I’m feverishly familiarizing myself with through the guidance and mentorship of Mike, taking in all the fresh information like a sponge, with the curiousness of the ocean sailing neophyte that I am. While the Pangaea is heading into the approaching waves at a close-hauled course, with the wind filling her freshly painted sails that propel her forward at eleven knots, with the waves tickling her bow as it pierces through the seas, you cannot help but notice her enjoyment and eloquence all along. Now, she truly is in her element.
Of the coast we don’t see much as we stay mostly more than 50 nautical miles offshore. But in the moments we do catch rare glimpses of it, the lights of homes send us imagining about distant and exotic cultures. There, at shore, must be a completely different world and life from what we know. At sea, we’re in our own little world, isolated and surrounded only by the horizon and our thoughts. The longer the duration we are at sea, the simpler our lives become. Watch periods, sail trimming and cloud studying become the cornerstones of our day-to-day life, and the daily progress we’re making stands above all else. We live for the gale that sends us hurrying all across the deck and crawling through sailbags, and for the serene nightwatch that sees the moonlight caressing the deck and the sails from both the sky and the sea; for the breathtakingly colorful sunset like you could only experience it at sea that brings the whole crew together on deck to marvel at the mesmerizing yet momentary display of art in nature; for both the intense times that make us feel alive, and for the tranquil moments that allow us to think about the ones that are important to us. The largest concerns of life at sea become reduced to coming on deck and being told just having missed the pod of pilot whales that passed by us two short minutes ago (happened to me yesterday), or the nightly tradeoff between the occasional spray hitting the face while sleeping, and a close-hatched, airtight sauna of a cabin (Mike could sing you a song about getting ripped out of sleep by a bucket load of spray). The fear of losing focus for just one fraction of a second and being thrown off the boom by the next better gust. And I won’t deny feeling homesick at times. But come that next thrilling storm, that next purple sunset, that next school of playful dolphins graciously surfing down our bow wave, and an overwhelming sense of beauty and gratitude takes over, flushing the most profound kind of contentment down my every fiber. Is this what sailors call “Finding the ocean”?
We are massively enjoying and enthralled by the momentum of the expedition start. The anticipation for what lies ahead is big. We are looking forward to crossing the equator by this time tomorrow, to the amazing things that are awaiting us in Namibia and Cape Town, and beyond all that, to the ever-looming grand adventure that is going to be the Southern Ocean.
With a pair of major expeditions scheduled for the next few months, Mike was able to go on HuffingtonPost LIVE and discuss his lifetime of adventure, and everything he has coming up with Makalu and Pole to Pole 360.
It’s a great interview, with some amazing stories — polar bears jumping into this sled, tips on avoiding piranhas and poison plants in the jungle — and Mike’s typical dry wit and wisdom.