Sailing away from the western society: Lorelei's story

Sailing away from the western society: Lorelei's story

In my previous life, I never thought I would end up on the seas. Possibly I would not have ended, if I hadn't refused to go on with my worker life in this efficient western society. However, a lot of things came together. It all started with my habit of visiting the sea shore at my home city, Oulu, Finland. Spending time gazing endlessly at the horizon, I was hoping to see land on the other side - were it Sweden or any other country, I didn't care. I knew, deep inside me, that I had to leave, to find out other worlds, find out my own stuff. But it was only after a dinner discussion with my ex-girlfriend's father, I actually realized that I could, and I should, buy a sailing boat.

I knew that this society was keen on taking away my liberties (by giving me another superficial set of "freedoms", like the freedom to take a loan for buying a house). I knew that I didn't want to get stuck in the same kind of work for years. I knew I could not contribute to corporations and their selfish agenda endlessly, that I would be approaching my limits. Hence, a multi-part plan manifested itself in my thought-patterns: first thing, get a boat. Then, second thing, rid yourself of the corporate evilness. I would end up slowly bleeding money with no income whatsoever, but I had stopped caring, I would figure something out if need be. Ultimately, get rid of the apartment, and all its nice amenities (including dish-washer and sauna and all little niceties). At that point, I had reduced my stash to some pseudo-minimum set of necessities, loaded them up in my boat, and given up the apartment. After acquiring some crew, I was ready to leave.

This was actually the first time in my life when I had completely taken my home with me. Previously, when leaving the country as an exchange student, or later for an internship period, I had always kept half of my stuff at "home", and this meant my native country. So there was always something to return to. I had wondered for a long time why do I always keep coming back to Finland although I always like to say "Suomi on paska maa" (Finland is a shitty country). Well, the material connection was of course only one of the reasons, but in this essay I deliberately sidestep all personal or emotional issues. Everyone who has set up for a nomadic life in faraway countries has faced the same issues.

Finally, my old life was slowly slipping behind Lorelei's stern as the buildings of Oulu slowly faded away into the horizon. New adventures, new lives awaited me in the direction pointed out by the bow. There was no turning back, this was the beginning of my nomadic lifestyle. This was the point where minutes, hours and days lost their significance, where everything about life was following the rhythm of sun rising and setting. This was the moment of my emancipation as a human being, the moment of embracing one's hopes, fears, expectations, and life itself. And I felt really happy about it, full of hope like a newly hatched songbird.

Nothing really beats the feeling when you experience the solitarity and powerful emptiness of the seas with a friend, in complete quietness. It's a new kind of wilderness, a wilderness filled with waves, islands, sunshine, wind, and seals! Only in the southern parts of the Baltic Sea our illusion of solitarity started breaking up: we found the busy shipping lines of Europe. The heavy seas and huge waves are not the only life-threatening danger on the seas, also big container ships and tankers can pose that hazard if you do not know how to align yourself with respect to those big ships. It's a humbling sensation to compare yourselves to the huge ship next to you, to realize that you are only a tiny speck in the ocean of life. However, the amount of freedom you get by being a captain of your own vessel is immense: imagine how country borders limit movement, or financial issues, or the seas between the continents, and now all those things have lost their significance: all of the world is now accessible for the individual who dares and who's skilled and determined enough.

I think that for a tramp like me, there's nothing just as powerful as the combination of a sailboat and a folding bike. I can reach many positions in Europe just by first sailing and then pedaling the 100 km it takes to the village I wanted to go to... For me, hitchhiking is not the way to express my independence, since that means I am just depending on someone else burning fossil fuels unsustainably. I am still interdependent, but on human power, not fossil power. The boat needs deckhands for enjoyable and long-term sailing, so I need to try to convince other people they should join my adventure, even for a small period of time. It's not as easy as I originally thought, maybe because quite a few people are actually afraid of the seas. Which in itself probably is a kind of wise sentiment, since we are talking about powerful forces of nature.

I still think there's something left worth of exploring in this world. Some people must live outside the fucked up monetary system, somewhere. My mission is to go and find them, live with them, reconnect with humanity long-lost.

(daily excerpts of Lorelei's log and route at


Vargen_Piratsson's picture

shifting from steam to sail

Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call
Wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall
You've seen it all, you've seen it all

Watched the men who rode you switch from sails to steam
And in your belly you hold the treasures few have ever seen
Most of 'em dream, most of 'em dream

Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late
The cannons don't thunder, there's nothin' to plunder
I'm an over-forty victim of fate
Arriving too late, arriving too late

this is the song i remembered after reading your post here.i lived in Flydende By(the floating city) in Copenhagen where bunch of hippies and anarchos building a raft to sail around in Europe.The whole projecct is self sustainable;wind mills,bicycle powered generators,dumpsterdiving on the port of departure,etc etc.for detailed info check this out:
stop by there and take a look at it yourself.

as a bicycleworshipper and a maritime academy-dropout i'd be delighted to meet you on the seas someday and polish up my navigation skills and travel with you shortly maybe.

lilylove's picture

awesome topi, living the

awesome topi, living the dream. keep it up, and whether you have cut oil out entirely or not is not the point... just to work on it and be aware and be striving for change and growth.

fair winds, rubber side down, and so much love and luck to you on your journeys!

Charlie's picture

I love it! Way to go Topi,

I love it! Way to go Topi, congratulations! Bikes are the way to go on land, for sure... crossing water is way more difficult to keep sustainable though. Wind power is the best! Compared to a ferry (even if you use the motor sometimes) it's like, like... well, it's like bikes compared to cars. Or maybe scooters compared to cars.

Folding bikes were always mostly a joke to us in the bike shop, but more and more I've been recognizing their validity across the entire biking world. Yay bikes! Any bikes at all =)

Tramp on brother!

Jass's picture

You're the first 'tramp' I've

You're the first 'tramp' I've ever heard of having a dish washer and a sauna...;)
And what, you're never using your motor and thereby never using fuel?

topi's picture

Jass, I don't have a dish

Jass, I don't have a dish washer or sauna anymore. I gave up on everything and packed my stuff and left. But I do have to admit that my previous life has been quite full of modern un-necessities. And I am still a heavy consumer of bleeding edge computing equipment, that's still one thing that needs to change. Working on it.

I had a project on changing the diesel motor to an electrical one, using fuel cells and a hydrogen tank. Well, that project is still under consideration or something like that. Dunno. Anyway, I need to burn diesel whenever it's not possible to sail, e.g. in close-quarters harbours or canals. Also has happened when the wind has completely died and we wanted to get to a harbour for the night. In total, for a 1500 nm (2700 km) trip, I used around 50 liters of diesel fuel in total. On an atlantic crossing, that would be considerably less, since the winds are steady and blowing from the east, hence no need for motoring.