Looking out at the sea from my terrace atop our Muslim tower on the Andalusian coast of Spain, I can see a sailboat making its way west, to the Atlantic Ocean. Perhaps they too are about to sail around the world, just as Peter Kammler and I were forty years ago with our yacht Mauna Kea coming from Mallorca, setting sail for the west. Would I want to be on board again sailing once more towards adventure?
At that time, when, shortly after we met, Peter asked me if I wanted to travel around the world in a sailboat, everything inside me irradiated joy and enthusiasm. So I was ready when at last I was presented with that personal challenge I had been waiting for ever since my childhood! I had to accept it, despite all my fears facing the unknown. I wanted to know, to see for myself what lay beyond the sunset. Rerum cognoscere causa.
I wanted to be brave, to know what I was capable of, and to discover new horizons, and perhaps, at the same time, find out who I was. Four years and 32,000 nautical miles later, I felt I had passed the test. I was back, home again on Tierra Firma and was prepared to take on new tasks, this time ashore. Yet Peter preferred to go on sailing, with an improved Mauna Kea II, again around half the globe towards New Zealand. It is there where he is today, I married again, and with my second husband, Uwe Zimmermann, we spend part of each year at our tower home on the Mediterranean coast of Andalusia, and the rest of the year in our home in Berlin and the Brandenbourg lake district nearby.
That journey of mine, nearly forty years ago, allowed me at the age of 27 to escape from a course already set out for me as a recently certified teacher, a future that at the time, filled me with more dread than all the unknown dangers, hardships and wild coastlines to be encountered sailing. It freed me from the narrowness of West-Berlin, a city at that time imprisoned by „The Wall“, during the cold war.
But I also understood this journey as a unique opportunity to be the first German woman to circumnavigate the globe and write about it, so during the entire journey, I dedicated myself to keeping a very precise account of each day. During the nights on the navigation desk I composed long letters for home, most of them not reaching their destination for months afterwards, letters which my dear parents faithfully kept. After my return I could therefore refer to a collection of first-hand impressions, which became the basis of this book.
Nowadays with satellites and Internet, we usually can send the day to day events on board that we wish to share with our friends and sponsors by using a Power Book, so the information arrives immediately. That means that one sails in the wake of their reports, following them. The original manuscript of my book was written with a pen from my school times. Afterwards I typed it out on a portable typewriter. I still enjoy turning the pages of this manuscript, feeling the salt embedded in the paper, which brings to mind those endless and solitary night watches spent as we crossed the vast expanses of ocean waters.
I am grateful to my editors, the Delius Bros., who published my travel log in book form. In the years that followed I translated from the English ten books about sea faring adventures for their publishing house. My trip and my book opened the door to journalism for me, and today I am a free lance journalist and translator. I also continue to sail somewhat, and still suffer from sea sickness the first few days.
The world has changed since I set off in 1970: Germany is now reunited, and our life in Berlin has taken on new aspects. Apartheid in South Africa was abolished, hopefully in time to give my little dark friend, „David of Durban“ of whom I spoke in my book, the chance to decide his own destiny. The Muroroa Atoll in the Pacific is still threatened with sinking, after almost 200 atom bomb explosions carried out by the French there. Angola remains caught in their so-called “freedom wars”, as does Portuguese Timor. Recently, another rebellion against Asian immigrants took place in the Fiji Islands. I admire Sir Ratu Kamisese, who is still the head of state there. The demonstrations were soon over. He probably told the demonstrators, just as he had forty years ago, „Get back to work, my boys, we’re too poor for a revolution.“
As I sit here, the sailboat on the horizon is making its way towards the setting sun, and it reminds me of the freedom that one can find out there. And it also makes me remember the inner freedom that I brought back for good to my own shores.
Almunecar, Granada, 2009
About my life
Born in 1943 in Frankfurt/Oder, Germany. High School in Delmenhorst, in northern Germany. Studies in German Philology and Physical Education Sciences in the University of Berlin and the University of Kiel. Beginner courses in sailing in Kiel and a certificate for basic training. Transfer to the Teaching School in Berlin: studies in education. In 1967 I married Peter Kammler. In 1969 I received my university degree. From this moment on began the preparations for the trip, and then the adventure began. After three and a half years of sailing around the world, and almost 32,000 nautical miles on the sailboat „Mauna Kea“, in April of 1974 we came full circle: the earth really was round. In 1975 I wrote my book, „Come with me to sail around the world“, a book which has more copies printed than the number of nautical miles I sailed. Peter and I were divorced shortly afterwards. He continued to sail, I stayed on land, and I remarried, Uwe-Jens Zimmermann, a marketing executive from Berlin. In 1976 I began my new life as a journalist for newspapers in Berlin and for the magazine „Yacht“. I also translate literary works from the English that tell of exciting sailing adventures similar to my own. I continue to travel: throughout North and South America, North Africa and much of Europe; now, though, I mostly take a plane or a car. From 1985 on I have been traveling between our two homes: Berlin and Granada – back and forth, free as the breeze, and with no night watches.