Erdmann: A young girl who was our guest asked the question. She lay down on the trampoline to sunbathe – above her the blue sky and the snow-white sail, below her turquoise water. But she wasn’t really happy with the situation because it was in the shade. When she asked if I could somehow turn the sail so that it was in the sun, I replied: “Sure, but then we’re going in the wrong direction.” It’s sometimes funny how people imagine sailing .
“For many guests, it is a question of politeness that the host drinks you.”
Erdmann: There was full board on our tours because we wanted our guests to relax on board. My wife Cati cooked the food and I was responsible for the drinks, including the alcoholic ones. In the evening we always ate together and often had a drink. For many guests, it is a matter of politeness that the host drinks you along. But if you do this every night, you run the risk of becoming an alcoholic in the long run. At first I didn’t even consider the risk, but it was definitely there. Therefore also the check of my liver values. Fortunately, they were fine.
SPIEGEL: How did you react when guests drank too much?
“The boat is a means of transport and accommodation in one.”
Erdmann: Yes, we couldn’t afford breakdowns due to major repairs, after all, we needed 4,300 euros a month to pay off the ship. Therefore it had to be kept in good condition and serviced at all times. Unfortunately, it was already at an age when a lot of repairs have to be made. Mostly with the toilets and tanks. They are very susceptible to urine stone.
SPIEGEL: Oh dear, what are the consequences?
Erdmann: Urine stone builds up over time and clogs the tank and hoses. I can change the hoses, but I had to clean the tank once or twice a year. From the torso I tried to poke the line up with a wire and crumble the urine stone plate. If the plate broke apart, I had to duck quickly to the side so as not to get 40 liters of feces that shot out of the pipe. Most of the time I did it. Sometimes not.
SPIEGEL: Have you regretted running a floating hotel in moments like this?
Erdmann: No, I was prepared for that. I had already learned that when I crossed the Atlantic for the first time: The boat is a means of transport and accommodation in one – in our case it is also a source of income. If you want it to stay intact and keep making money, you have to do nasty chores too. The moment I have to fix something or wait, I don’t even think about it much. I just do it.
SPIEGEL: Have you really freaked out with guests?
Erdmann: No, we always managed to stay friendly and calm. It was partly a stupid feeling to sell yourself like that. On the other hand, we let the guests into our living room and spent ten days with them in a confined space. They were also paying guests – and we were their service providers. There’s no point in getting angry or yelling at people.
“After a few months I missed the simple life.”
Erdmann: My wife was pregnant and it was clear to us that we couldn’t raise a child besides chartering. The job is too time-consuming and exhausting for that. I was also offered a permanent editorial position in Hamburg. Admittedly, I found the prospect of a regular evening job quite tempting. First we anchored in the port of Hamburg and continued to live on the catamaran. But wintering on the boat with the baby was a hassle, which is why we moved into an old house that we are now gradually expanding.
SPIEGEL: After five years on a sailing ship – do you miss life on the boat?
SPIEGEL: How about a circumnavigation of the world?
Erdmann: This is definitely still on my wish list. With a permanent job, a child and a second on the way, that’s difficult at the moment. My wife also has multiple sclerosis and we need to get her medication regularly. The further away we were from Germany, the more difficult it became. But we hope that one day the four of us can still conquer the Pacific.