Mareike Guhr is a circumnavigator and currently sailing in the Caribbean. We talked to the sailing expert about her experiences and her personal insider tips.
You work where others take their holidays. What made you turn your hobby, sailing, into a profession?
Mareike Guhr: „I’d rather call it a vocation, because I can hardly earn my living with sailing. But I love to inspire people to sail, to teach them about life on the water and to coach them, but I also love exploring distant islands and foreign cultures. Being able to share all that is simply wonderful. It’s also what I did before, as a sailing journalist. Then, 12 years ago, I packed my bags and gave up life on land entirely. I always take other sailors and also novices along on my sailing tours.“
Right now you’re sailing around the Caribbean. What does your everyday life look like here?
Mareike Guhr: „It always differs – depending on what's on. When I have guests on board, the days start later with swimming, breakfast, setting sail, heading for new moorings, snorkelling and exploring the islands. Not to mention the sunsets, which are always stunning here in the tropics. We cook together on board and talk about our adventures while we eat. Of course, I'm the contact person for everyone 24/7 and have to answer a million questions every day. That's fun, but it can also be exhausting – especially as I'm responsible for everyone on board at all times.
When I’m alone, my days are filled with organisation and boat maintenance. Just doing laundry, shopping, topping up the fuel tanks, etc. is a completely different and time-consuming challenge from an anchorage than when I’m at home. I very rarely stop in marinas, as they’re usually fully booked and noisy, hot, stuffy – and very expensive.“
How do you switch off when you’re sailing?
Mareike Guhr: „I sometimes try to slip away to my cabin a bit earlier in the evening. I chat with family and friends or read – and the sleep of the exhausted also helps... When I'm on my own, I visit skipper friends or sometimes watch a film in the evening or phone home in the morning.“
You’re usually not alone on your trips, but have charter guests with you. That's usually a motley crew on board. What qualities are important when taking a charter trip?
Mareike Guhr: „If you're open to meeting new people, you'll feel at home on what we call a "single-booker cruise". Sometimes you share a cabin with someone you've never met before. But you usually meet like-minded people who love sailing and the sea, who like to travel and are open-minded and receptive, which forms the connection. Wonderful friendships have developed this way, some of which last a lifetime. Not only with me, but also with each other.“
„My catamaran is very comfortable, but of course I have to do without a few things. One must get used to saving water and electricity and understand that it’s not always possible to stock up on supplies. The most important qualities are flexibility, tolerance, enthusiasm and curiosity.“
In recent years you‘ve explored the most beautiful parts of the world. Can you share your personal insider tips for a charter trip with us here?
Mareike Guhr: „At the moment I’m an absolute Bahamas fan. These islands are simply fantastic! They’re close together, easy to sail around and have spectacular beaches, crystal clear water and lots of variety. A typical charter trip involves short distances between moorings, with a focus on the islands and warm, clear water.
However, the British Virgin Islands and Croatia are also very typical locations. Wherever the islands are close to each other.
Anyone who can stand a bit more adventure is welcome to sail with me in the South Pacific, hopefully again soon.“
What tips would you give to someone planning their very first charter trip?
Mareike Guhr: „Any sailor will be familiar with the restrictions on board, but they should also be tolerant of others. If you've never sailed before, it's hard to imagine how nice it is to jump in the water in the morning before your first coffee, to swim around the ship. And then you just take a quick shower and don’t have to worry about styling your hair. I often have utter novices on board. That's the most fun, because they go home so wonderfully surprised and excited, full of new impressions.... But general speaking, a packing list from the organiser and an open ear during the briefing are always helpful.“
More information about Mareike
Mareike Guhr is an experienced skipper as well as a sailing sports journalist. The Hamburg native learned sailing on family-owned ships and sailed all the world's oceans for a good 35 years. She often worked as a skipper for charter agencies, led many crews on cruises and regattas and often sailed with all-female teams.