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Meet the Crew Monday: Deckhand Ayla (27) 🇩🇪🙋🏼‍♀️!

Meet the crew Monday! Get to know more about Deckhand Ayla (27) 🇩🇪🙋🏼‍♀️!

What inspired you to join the crew?

I've been sailing professionally on tall ships for the past 7 years. During that time I heard great stories about Bark Europa and all her adventures. It quickly became a dream to sail the oceans on her and to become part of her crew and family. I'm happy I could make this dream become reality.

Can you tell us more about your favourite voyage?

A very special voyage was the trip from Cape Town to Montevideo. It was the first time being afloat and finally sailing again for the old lady after she had been on land for a long time with a lot of maintenance done in that period. It was a very special moment for all of us to cast off lines and set sail after such a long time in Cape Town.

What is it like to live and work on Bark EUROPA?

I think this is one of the most difficult questions to answer. I believe that only the ones who experience it themselves will ever be able to fully understand what being a tall ship sailor means and how it feels. But what I can say for sure: it is just amazing and I'm proud to be part of the Europa family.

What do you do when you are not on the ship?

After being on the ship and away from land I like to spend lots of time with my family and friends. Preferably somewhere outside where it is green and full of trees to climb. As much as I like sailing, the forest and campfires are what I miss the most when being at sea. I like to keep my hands busy by crafting with different materials like wood, leather and metal. I appreciate a good card or board game and I enjoy making sure that my friends don't get cold feet by knitting them woolen socks.

Could you tell us about a unique destination you've visited on board EUROPA and what made it special?

The ocean. People sometimes ask: “Doesn't it get boring to only be surrounded by the ocean?“ No, it doesn't! It might be hard to believe when you haven't experienced it yourself, but the ocean never looks the same and often doesn't even look similar to how it looked yesterday. The colour of the water has more than 1000 shades of blue, grey, green, brown, silver, turquoise, and sometimes even red or pink. The colour of the ocean depends on depths, algae, particles, clouds, and the height of the sun and changes continuously. And not only the colour but also the character of the ocean changes all the time. Sometimes it is like a mirror with not a single sign of a wave and other times there are waves building up higher than houses. And in all that lies the fascination of the ocean for me. Always changing and never the same as seconds before.

Can you share a funny or unexpected moment that happened during one of your voyages?
We celebrated Halloween during an Atlantic crossing but instead of trying to make the most horrifying costumes we decided to dress up as objects or parts of the ship which ended up in some really funny costumes. For example we had the manta trawl, a varnish brush, the Klabautermann, a mountain of paperwork, celestial navigation, a tangled flag, the ship's horn, and myself as the spinning radar.

What's the most memorable moment you've experienced while sailing on Bark EUROPA?

The first one that comes to my mind is this one: I was up in the rigging hanging in a bosun's chair, slowly sliding down the flying-jib stay de-rusting and slushing the wire to preserve it when I saw a fascinating spectacle of nature I'd never seen before. A swarm of 12 yellowfin tuna swam at the surface hunting for flying fish which then jumped out of the water, spread their wings, and flew away from their predators. It was astonishing and breathtaking to see this from the perspective of an albatross.

What is the most important lesson you've learned from your experiences on Bark EUROPA?

Never miss coffee time! Leave everything the way it is (but don't forget to seafasten your tools) and stop working immediately to enjoy coffee time all together. It might save lives.

Are there any unique traditions or rituals that the crew follows?

There is one ritual involving the golden snake... but if you want to know more about it you should come on board and learn about it yourself.

Can you share an interesting behind-the-scenes story or fun fact about the ship that most people may not know?

As we're sailing in all kinds of weather conditions, the maintenance of the sails is an important part of the job list. We try to apply chafe patches where needed and do panel replacements where the canvas gets too thin before the sails break. Some jobs can be done with a big sail needle and a palm but for bigger jobs, we get Freja out of her hiding spot. Freja is a heavy-duty sailmaking sewing machine and sometimes can be quite moody. But with a bit of patience, some nice words, and a few drops of oil, Freja does a great job to help us keep all sails in good shape.

How has being a part of Bark EUROPA's crew influenced your perspective on the ocean and the environment?

I've always been fascinated by the beauty of the ocean and the creatures living in it. While sailing on Bark Europa it was the first time I've been directly involved in taking samples of microplastic in the ocean around us. This increased my awareness of our impact on the oceans through all the plastic items we use daily. Seeing how much microplastic the scientists caught during their research with the manta trawl was a sad reminder of how big the impact of our modern lifestyle on the environment is. It was concerning to notice that the closer we came to the coast the more plastic we found around us. But even in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, as far away from civilization as possible, plastic was always with us.

📷 Marretje Adriaanse

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