The trip of a life-time
The sailing trip that Yvonne and Bob Vosse-Huisman from the congregation Sneeck-Sperkhem in the Netherlands embarked on in August 2019 was scheduled to take a year. They had prepared themselves for all kinds of eventualities, but not for the coronavirus pandemic.
When the sturdy little yacht Wauqiez Amphitrite 43 set sail in August 2019, Bob Vosse-Huisman’s lifelong dream had come true. The dream of owning his own boat and embarking on a long voyage was born during a camping trip in Croatia as a child. “I can still remember thinking: ‘One day I would like to anchor my own boat here.’”
When Bob and Yvonne met, he told her about his dream. At the time, however, she could not see herself living his dream. She said: “I thought: ‘Go ahead and go sailing, I’ll stay home.’” But his enthusiasm and the determination with which he renovated the boat he had bought before they met, convinced her. “At some point, the idea of going away together for a long time and spending a lot of time together, seeing the world, and being close to nature really began to appeal to me,” Yvonne admits.
The preparations took about three years. “We lived very frugally for over two years to save as much money as possible. We also sold many of the things we no longer needed, including our cars,” says the couple.
Thanks to his experience in the Royal Navy, Bob knew what he was letting himself in for and was well-prepared, but he also used the time to build on his knowledge. There was also quite a bit of paperwork to be taken care of beforehand. “In order to go abroad and sail around the world, we had to deregister in our municipality in the Netherlands, whereby we became ‘global citizens’,” Yvonne and Bob report.
Finally, they were set to go and set course for Spain, sailing along the French coast at first. Whenever they called at a port, they went to look for the nearest New Apostolic congregation. This is how they got to know the congregation in Cascais in Portugal and Machico in Madeira. “It was easy to find out where and when services are held via the website of the New Apostolic Church International,” the two sailors recall with enthusiasm. “The congregations always welcomed us and we immediately felt at home and safe. It was always a special experience. Despite other languages and customs, we experienced closeness, unity, and the very foundation of the New Apostolic Church.”
Experiencing God’s help
After seven months, the situation on the continent changed. They decided to spend the weekend in port on the island of Fuerteventura and follow the news and get a feel for the situation. “The following Monday, two police cars drove through the streets of Correlejo, the small town in which we had moored, announcing the lockdown imposed by the Spanish government. People were only allowed to leave the house to go shopping.”
The sailboat was berthed about 70 metres outside of the harbour. At first, Bob and Yvonne were allowed to take a small inflatable dinghy to shore to do their shopping. But after a few days the restrictions were tightened. “On 25 March, the Guardia Civil stopped us from entering the harbour. In broken English, they informed us that we were not allowed to go ashore. When I asked the police how we were supposed to get food, they looked at us helplessly,” Yvonne reports.
Endless telephone discussions with the port authorities ensued over the next few days. “We were sent from one authority to another, and the language barrier made communication very difficult,” Yvonne recalls. No one was able to help them. “I found it more and more difficult to trust in the Lord,” Yvonne admits. “Deep down I knew that God would not abandon us to our fate, but at times like this the devil knows how to get into your head.” Unexpectedly, they were finally given permission to go ashore. Yvonne and Bob were overwhelmed. “We thanked God for His help. We also told ourselves that we wanted to learn to trust the Lord more.”
At the beginning of June 2020, the young couple was able to resume their voyage. They visited the other Canary Islands, and then sailed from La Palma to the Azores. There they stayed for a month, moored in the harbour of Terceira Island. In August they set sail for Ireland and then back across the English Channel to the Netherlands.
The experience of a life-time
“We are so happy that we were able to do this sailing trip. It was fantastic, even with the few setbacks,” they sum up their adventure. “It was wonderful to be able to spend so much time together and enjoy nature so intensely. It was a period of personal development, of growing together in our relationship, and growing in faith. It was so enriching in ways that we could not have imagined before. Nor could we have imagined to meet so many wonderful people. Many of these encounters have led to new friendships.”
Congregational life, International