Nov 6, 2013 8:51 PM by Jeanette Trompeter

Sailors who've been at sea for 12 years stop in Morro Bay

Every once in a while you meet people who really have an impact on you. They help open your mind, change the way you see something, inspire you to dream bigger. I had that experience today and all it took was a drive to Morro Bay and meeting a couple from Holland.

All the beautiful boats in the Morro Bay harbor have a story. The 42-foot yellow one has a library of them. And the two people on board have lived every one. Sytske en Adri Groekhuizen have been sailing the Marida around the world...for 12 years. They've been sailing together since they were teenagers, but 12 years ago found themselves 61 years old, retired and not ready to settle down. "We had a nice house, a nice garden. What should we do? Watching TV? Sitting in the garden? Or should we go sailing? Oh let me go sailing! That's what happened." says Adri matter-of-factly. They only aimed to be gone 3 years, but it will likely be 15 before they head back home. "If we should sit at home watching TV, looking at all the problems, we should get sick." says Adri in broken English. "The world is going so small in a few years." says Sytske talking about what happens if you just give in staying home and aging.

They share a partnership strong enough to weather storms at sea and on deck without easy escape routes. "In the city, you can go out slam the door and say 'Bam I'm out.'" says Adri. "I have to swim around the boat and come back." he laughs.

Their shared curiosity about the world, history and people make them perfect crewmates. "And we are making friends all over the place. We come here, and the first thing that happens is a guy rowing on a dingy, 'Hey where are you coming from?'" says Audri explaining how long it took them to meet their first new friend. They had another curious visitor that same day, invited him on the boat for a drink and chatted well into the evening. "I bet we know more about him than many of his neighbors." says Adri.

They have more stories to share than most, but are eager to hear others and say exploring the world offers opportunity for connections rarely made at home. Local yachtsman Leonard Gentieu was eager to present the Broekhuizens with a bottle of the wine her serves on his boat, the Papagallo II which is docked in Morro Bay. "I would ask that maybe you carry this on the rest of your journey, and when you get back to Holland, crack trhis open and think of us." said Gentieu as he handed it to them. "Yes, yes! We will do that!" exclaimed Sytske as she accepted it.

After all they've seen and experience at sea in 12 years the hardest part is saying good bye to the friends you make along the way. After talking to them today, I know what they're talking about.

High winds and Hemmingway brought the Marida to Morro Bay, but only for a few days, and maybe a few more stories to tell once she finally makes it home.



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