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Meet the Crew Monday: Deckhand Matti

What is your name, where are you from and how old are you? 
My name is Matti Borchardt-Hume, I am 23 years old and I am from London, England.

What is your role on board?
I am a deckhand. As with all deckies, sailing, maintenance and cleaning are my primary responsibilities, although I take personal pride in looking after the flags whenever I can!

What inspired you to join the crew of Bark EUROPA, how did you join the crew?
My very first experience sailing was as voyage crew on Europa last summer for an ocean crossing from Cape Town to the Azores. Learning to sail had already been on my mind for some years, and during this experience I fell in love with the ship and the ocean. Later, I rejoined the ship as a volunteer in shipyard before joining the crew on a more regular basis.

What is it like to live and work on a tall ship like Bark EUROPA? 
While the ocean may be a lonely place for some sailors, life on board Europa is immensely sociable. There are always people to talk to, stories to be shared and jokes to be heard, and tasks are rarely completed alone. The work isn't always easy, but there exists a shared sense of purpose that we are working on a unique and very special ship. I never need to ask myself if it's worth it!

What do you do when you are not on the ship? 
Before I began sailing I was a musician and music teacher, and between voyages I still spend much of my time practicing the piano and playing the occasional gig. Music remains an important part of my life.

Could you tell us about a unique destination you've visited on board EUROPA and what made it special? 
On the ocean crossing from Cape Town to the Azores, we stopped at the remote British Territory of Ascension Island. The wildlife there was extraordinary: turtles hatching and making their first steps into the ocean; huge orange crabs that live their whole lives in the mountain; dozens of silky sharks (including one less fortunate that we caught and ate! - the sharks were a pest there and fishing them was allowed). One can see how such creatures benefit from living somewhere so remote.

Can you share a funny or unexpected moment that happened during one of your voyages? 
On one of my first nights at sea I was on watch as lookout, gazing into the clear night sky. My watchmate and I were startled to notice a deep orange glow illuminating the horizon and promptly reported the sighting: "bright orange glow on the horizon, could be a ship in distress!". The reply from the bridge was emphatically brief: "that's the moon".

What's the most memorable moment you've experienced while sailing on Bark EUROPA?
Perhaps seeing fin whales breaching in the South Atlantic - the sheer force of these enormous creatures propelling themselves out of the water was breathtaking. Orcas between the icebergs in Antarctica were pretty special too!

What is the most important lesson you've learned from your experiences on Bark EUROPA? 
You can do a lot without much sleep! No, seriously, it has instilled a discipline within me that there will always be more to learn - everyone at every stage is improving their skills and increasing their knowledge, and no matter how well maintained we keep the ship, there will always be more jobs to do.

Are there any unique traditions or rituals that the crew follows on board Bark EUROPA?
A great deal of what we do has been learnt from generations of sailors before us, and I would like to think that some of the traditions of square-rigged sailing ships live on aboard Europa. Of course there is the equator crossing ceremony, but there are more subtle nods to tradition: we splice, grommet, worm, parcel and serve, and use the techniques that sailors have perfected over generations to maintain our rigging - albeit with modern materials. Above all there is a love of coffee and the regular times of day at which it must be consumed - forget to brew coffee for the crew coming on watch and expect to see some angry faces!

Can you share an interesting behind-the-scenes story or fun fact about the ship that most people may not know? 
Despite the unexpectedly long dry dock period in Cape Town recently, not a day went past where Europa was without a crew member to keep her company. It demonstrates the enduring love that exists for this unique ship.

How has being a part of Bark EUROPA's crew influenced your perspective on the ocean and the environment?
The vastness of the ocean cannot be understated. The responsibility of working sustainably falls entirely on us, and while we never compromise on this, it is clear to see how the ocean could be mistreated if not properly regulated. It is important for us that we not only treat the ocean well, but share with our guests why this is important and how they can help in their daily lives.

Is there anything else you haven't mentioned now and would like to share?
In May last year I was writing blogs for Europa's social media as a 'novice sailor', not knowing how I would fit in or whether I would enjoy life on the ocean. A year later, I am sailing as a crew member and having the time of my life. There is no better ship to learn how to sail and introduce you to the sea!

Written by:
Mattias Borchardt-Hume | Deckhand

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