This interview has been in the works for a long time! I am so happy to finally be able to share a bit of this wonderful woman’s story with you all! I have admired Nike for a long time and have been an avid follower of her blog, White Spot Pirates, where when you land, you are greeted by her words:
“Welcome to my blog! My name is Nike and it’s my goal to be a source of inspiration to all of the people who dream big and dare to go one step further: to turn their dreams into reality.”
If you have never explored Nike’s blog or wonderful video installations, Untie The Lines, please do yourself a favor and head on over to her site! Her adventures aboard KARL, her Reinke Super 10 sailboat are addicting and she is about as real as it gets! Nike is a very approachable and humble person, with just the right amount of badass thrown in! I have never met her in person, but through following her blog and watching her videos, as well as our email exchanges, I can tell she is amazing! She certainly inspires me to no end! She has created a wonderful life for herself over the past 4 years, working, living and sailing aboard Karl. Much of her sailing is cruising from beautiful place to beautiful place singlehanded, although she does invite lucky crew to come and experience life aboard as well. When she speaks of her love of sailing, she says “… it is the freest way to travel and it is a great way to live as well. You cut down to the basics and you learn so many different things along the way”. When you watch her videos and read about her experiences, you will see that she is doing just that, living free and simply in a life she designed herself!
Nike is from Germany, and started sailing as a teenager. She hilariously describes “yelling sailing commands to myself” while tacking through Glucksberg harbor in her Optimist as a youngster. As she grew up, she was able to crew with her father as his “proud first mate” as well as to complete some sailing licenses so that she could do some coastal cruising. By the time she bought Karl, she had about 2,000nm under her belt, but never any true singlehanding. When I asked her what made her set out on this solo adventure, she said: “For some reason, I have never questioned the fact of departing on this journey by myself. Ever since the moment that this dream was born inside of me, I have seen a boat and me out on the ocean. I cannot really say why, it was just the image that was coming up in front of my inner eye when I dreamt about it”. I love this so much and can, of course, totally relate!
Nike inspires me in many ways, and her dedication to learning and growing as she creates and lives this adventurous life is at the top of that list. She has done most of the work of fixing Karl up as well as maintaining him over the years all on her own. She has great advice about staying true to herself in the midst of all of this : “I had to learn to accept to do everything at my own speed and only to do what and when I felt comfortable with it. It’s good to get advice from other sailors, but it is also important to listen well to yourself…..But don’t get stuck in your own comfort zone, either. Sometimes you need to be a little bold to do the first step and to overcome the initial anxiety. Just make sure, you know what you are getting yourself in to and that even if you might be a bit uncomfortable (which solo sailing surely is), you will be able to deal with it”.
When speaking of her singlehanded journeys vs crewed journeys, Nike says that “…the solo sailing journeys have been stronger experiences for sure. The highs are higher, but the lows are also lower. What I find very interesting about solo sailing, is that you are freeing yourself completely from any external expectations. It is just you, your boat and the ocean out there, no one to judge you, only yourself. It is a scenario, which is not very likely to happen when you are around other people. And in my opinion, such moments allow you to really see who you are, what is important for you, what you are capable of but also what you are not able to do or don’t want to do, if no one is watching you. It helps you to see and accept yourself for who you are”. I have read that quote over and over again, because it resonates so deeply for me. I have tried to express that very thing in my own way so many times, and I am not sure I have ever said it as well as she does here.
One of her most magical moments at sea was on one of her singlehanded passages. She was going 200nm from the San Blas Islands to Cartagena, Columbia. It was her first solo sail through the night. I could relate to her description of being “super excited, but also quite a bit scared” before her departure. I remember the same mixed bag of nerves and excitement on my first solo overnight trip! Here is a description in her lovely words:
“..the wind was blowing 20-22 with gusts up to 25, but KARL was sailing pretty smoothly due to the reefing. I was looking at the setting sun and all of a sudden there was a pod of dolphins and they started jumping out of the water, playing around as if they were waving to me and telling me “don’t worry girl, you’ll be alright, you got this one!”. And I could feel my stomach smoothen out and my muscles relax a bit and that’s where I had one of those moments of being in sync with the sea and myself. It was really overwhelming and a little tear popped out of the corner of my eye….. And then I went back to my 20 minutes sleeping rhythm”. Spoken like a true single hander! In my experience it’s always a blend of magic and logistics!
I suppose the magic and love of the sea must outweigh the other, otherwise none of us would be crazy enough to keep doing it! Nike says that “throughout my whole life I have always felt a big connection towards the element water, the ocean in particular. The way that your mind comes to a rest when you stare at the sea has always fascinated me and the idea to go and sail the world has been a big dream of mine since my youth. Not necessarily to circumnavigate, but to own a boat, untie the lines and go places”
It seems that her vision has become a wonderful reality. My hat is off to her for following her dream and making it happen! She expressed to me that she is very grateful to her loyal followers on her blog and her Patreon page (where she features her documentaries) who support her in continuing her dream of living aboard Karl and sharing all of their adventures.
Thank you Nike for being the brave and adventurous soul that you are, for encouraging us all to untie the lines in our lives (whether literal of figurative) and set off! You are a true inspiration!
And PS…. please forgive how long this post has taken me. I am going to come and find you on one of your adventures and make it up to you with treats for you and your faithful KARL!!!!!!
all photos courtesy of Nike