Sport

Hitchhiking the Atlantic by boat

Published 1201 GMT (2001 HKT) November 26, 2018
Share
Hitchsailing suzanne mast tropicsHitchsailing suzanne mast tropics
1 of 16
Suzanne van der Veeken first crossed the Atlantic on a stranger's yacht in 2014. Since then, she hasn't stopped "hitch-sailing." Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur
Crossing the Atlantic usually takes between two and five weeks depending on the size and weight of the boat. Van der Veeken set off from Europe, here, she passes by Morocco. Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur
Van der Veeken's first stop was in the Canary Islands, which are 750 miles from Spain and takes about five days to reach. Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur
The journey from the Canary Islands to Cape Verde is about the same distance again, taking between five and seven days to sail. Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur
The final leg, from Cape Verde to the Caribbean, is the longest and takes about 18 days to sail. This is the most time Van der Veeken has had on a boat without seeing land. On arrival, she rewarded herself with a fresh coconut. Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur
To hitch a ride on a sailing boat, you can either hang out in the marina and see what's available, or there are plenty of online forums that help connect captains with crew. Ocean Nomads
It helps to have some prior sailing experience, says Van der Veeken, but you'll still be able to find a ride without it. Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur
Van der Veeken had very little experience sailing before her first trip. But now, having sailed 25,000 miles in the last four years, she's secured her skipper license, meaning she can charter her own boat and take passengers. Selene Suau/Ocean Nomads
When hitch-sailing, the crew all share chores such as cooking, cleaning and night watches. Here, Van der Veeken washes dishes from the side of the boat. Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur
However, an ocean crossing is not all plain sailing as weather can be unpredictable. "It's not an adventure to be taken lightly," she says. Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur
Van der Veeken has also learned to check the boat's safety herself before setting off. "If someone owns the boat or is the captain, it doesn't mean he knows how to prepare for an ocean passage," she says. Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur
"It's the ultimate freedom and happiness, the feeling to be just so close to nature," says Van der Veeken. Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur
Sailing has made Van der Veeken more aware of the environmental challenges faced by the ocean and marine life. Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur
Van der Veeken is intent on spreading awareness and helping to find solutions for environmental issues. Here, she takes microplastic samples while on a yacht. Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur
By sharing tips and her experiences, Van der Veeken hopes she can make an impact. She has written a book about how to hitchhike across the Atlantic and make a difference along the way.
Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur
Van der Veeken has also started to build an Ocean Nomads community to connect people who care about both adventure and sustainability. Suzanne van der Veeken/Oceanpreneur