To travel like a Viking

As part of Smart Art’s Collaborative Writers Series, we present a biographical account by sailor Eva Kullgren, where she narrates her navigation throughout the world and the experience of having concluded her journey in Dorado Beach.

When the Vikings set of in the 600 century they didn’t carry fancy navigation instruments, yet they managed to see a lot of this beautiful planet. So did I.

2010, Olina a 28 ft. long keeled sailing boat from 1967 left the harbour of Stockholm. She didn’t know the great adventure she was heading on, neither did her captain, Eva Kullgren a 47 years old Swedish housewife.

The journey set of in the footprints of the Vikings, following the long coast of Sweden down to the continent and further through the European waterways all the way to the Black Sea. With the sail set wind to wind Olina reached the magical city of Istanbul. The housewife had become a sailor. With the dashing of the waves and the salty skin life had changed.

Olina went to the remote harbours of the Mediterranean, to the small coves and fishing villages. Now inspired from Odysseus, visiting the ancient Greek sites and enjoying the delights she found. Every now and then she had to stop and find a job. This is not a story of a rich lady, oh no, this lady had to work her way through the Mediterranean. Never the less this became a blessing because of all the fantastic people she met and all the things she learned on the way.

One very windy day Olina came to Gibraltar and practically flew out into the Atlantic Ocean. Heading down to Madeira, Olina made her first real long leg and it gave taste of more. The Canary Islands, Cape Verde and there she was facing the Atlantic crossing. Without a wind vane or autopilot, Olina carried little equipment but a lot of courage.

It was an outstanding sail across the Atlantic Ocean. Water, water and more water as far as the eyes could see, the never ending horizon and the beauty of the stars at night. Olina was happy chasing dolphins. After 18 days without a sign of other boats Olina was back in the civilization again.

Brazil, since the journey on the river Danube Olina had sweat water under her keel again, heading up the Amazon river. What a challenge! A very mighty river and exhausting. Big trees, like this one, were floating down the river. Olina went deeper and deeper in to the rainforest. Up the river of Tapajós where the trees grow out in the water, where the dolphins are pink and it was indeed an amazing adventure. If there would not have been visa regulations Olina might still be sailing around there but after six month of pure beauty she had to leave.

The Caribbean… Olinas first port of call was Barbados and after that she went sailing between the islands, meeting other sailboats again. Almost five years had past, heavy winds and waves, Olina was of desperate need of a mayor reparation and her captain figured out a plan for that. So there she was heading north again… On her way to Turcs and Caicos the rudder fell of! What a disaster, her captain worked on a new steering system but it was a waste of time. In the end she set sails again and with the steering help of a drift anchor she reached land after four days of drifting.

Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico!! Like a lifeless fish on the beach… a terrible end of an amazing adventure. In moments of despair help can come from unexpected places. And it did. The guards gave courage and food. Strangers invited her to their house. Everybody held out a helping hand. The Puerto Ricans even bought a flight ticket back to Sweden for the captain. On Dorado Beach Olinas journey had come to an end but it was also the beginning of new friendships. An overwhelming experience of humanity and the testimony of the goodness of mankind.