04 May Star of the ocean: Mareike Guhr
A 50 foot catamaran was coming into the lagoon in Cocos Keeling on a stormy day in August 2015. There were only about 6 other boats in the lagoon, nearly all couples who were circumnavigating. Then Mareike dropped the anchor of ‘La Medianoche’ in front of the boat I was on. Her boat had a crew of young people, all of whom were hopping off somewhere during the next few weeks while new people would board. All but one: captain Mareike!
Mareike has circumnavigated the globe taking on guests and hitch-sailing crew. She blew me away with her story as a female captain sailing the seas. Mareike inspired me with her determination, knowledge and positive attitude. Together we went on several adventures during my Indian Ocean crossing in 2015. We hiked Cirque de Mafate on La Réunion, climbed Table Mountain in Cape Town and had an awesome time at a Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset concert.
The coolest part of this extraordinary sailor is that she sees no obstacles, only opportunity. Mareike believes in collaboration, doing the right thing and following dreams. She keeps both feet on the ground whilst her focus is on the stars. Mareike is one of those people who made me believe anything is possible – you just have to want it badly enough.
when I developed the idea to sail the pacific, I did not ask myself ``whether`` I could, but ``how`` I would do it.
Tell us Mareike, what inspires you?
So many things, but mostly: people! I have had the opportunity to meet so many, so very different great people with incredible ideas and visions. Some of them living under unbelievable circumstances and still being happy! Seemingly happier than most people in our Western society. I see a great danger in the difference between rich and poor and I hate to learn that the gap is growing as I see the injustice. I feel so helpless in the discussion with (mostly) Western people who believe the only director of life is economic growth…
People who improvise and find solutions for themselves in situations where others would simply give up are inspiring to me. That’s where I learned that nothing is impossible, if you only want it. It’s just a matter of comfort. I love to encourage people to leave their comfort zone. It’s always worth it!
And surely the ocean inspires me. The beautiful colors of all sorts: blue, grey, green, turquoise – so beautiful. It’s stupid to think we know anything about the life down there! It’s like a huge pool of energy. When I am at sea, I feel free, but also very much integrated into nature’s process. All other things become so incidental. Especially at night, when the waves, the stars and the gusts are all that matters, I feel incredibly rich.
What did you achieve you thought was impossible?
I have never made plans or set myself goals, which I could not achieve. I have always believed that things would just happen as they should. Not as a kind of fate, but as options. So when I developed the idea to sail the pacific, I did not ask myself “whether” I could, but “how” I would do it. I had ideas how to sail around the world without money and without a boat, but I never thought it would be on a 50-foot catamaran! It just came to me, and I had to be open for it. And it’s not a miracle, it’s learning and believing, and some courage. Also crossing an ocean for the first time while being responsible for six crew members was extremely nerve wrecking, but the second ocean crossing was already fun!
I definitely want to encourage, especially women, to believe in themselves. It’s not helpful to be shy or anxious, it’s just hindering.
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
What advice would you give your 16 year old self?
Go your own way. Believe in yourself, in your strength, your capabilities and don’t give a damn what others think about you. Listen more closely to what you are good at and what you like and develop these skills. But at the same time don’t be afraid of running in different directions, learning from it and then concentrate on the real thing in the end. Or change again, whatever suits you. Don’t follow the mainstream and don’t ever believe that money can make you happy. We don’t need all the stuff we think is imperative. When I lived in Hamburg I thought I could not be without my books, they were essential for me. As I was packing them into boxes before leaving Germany, I already started missing them. But not even a week later I had forgotten about my books and never missed any of my stuff again.