As he hitchhiked across the Atlantic

Hitchhiking Across the Atlantic film showing at Sid

Thorsten Böehnke hitchhiked his way along the Atlantic, eventually buying his own sailboat and inviting Laura Winter to be his deckhand

In 2010 a friend invited Thorsten Böehnke to sail the seven seas. But when they reached the Canary Islands, Böehnke’s buddy abandoned the plan.

So Böehnke hitchhiked his way along the Atlantic, eventually buying his own sailboat and inviting Laura Winter to be his deckhand.

As part of their Blue Circle Series, the Sid Williams Theatre is presenting two films Jan. 16 and 17 depicting the couple’s adventures. Böehnke and Winter will answer questions from the audience after each screening.

Hitchhiking Across the Atlantic and The Wild Windwards combine incredible footage of exotic locations and wildlife. The films also document the impact of humans on the environment and the people who dedicate their lives to protect endangered places and creatures.

As a freelance naval architect and filmmaker, Böehnke was prepared to spend some serious time exploring by sailboat. So when his friend lost interest, he wasn’t ready to head back to Germany.

“I’d just got going on my adventure and liked it,” he says. “I decided to carry on by hitchhiking my way on other sailboats. It was tricky in the beginning, as no one’s keen to take a complete stranger onboard. But after I got to know a few people it was easier as they’d provide a recommendation.”

Shortly before his expedition began, friends asked Böehnke if a B.C. student studying for a European master’s degree could stay at his place for a while. Winter and Böehnke got along well and kept in touch. During Winter’s summer break, Böehnke, who hitched his way from the Canary Islands to Cape Verde and on to the Caribbean, invited her to join him for part of the trip.

But hitchhiking can make it difficult to go where you want. So eventually Böehnke bought a sailboat and he asked Winter to be crew. The 40-foot Corinthian has been their home since November 2011.”We spent some time in the Caribbean getting used to the new boat before heading to the Pacific,” says Böehnke. “Being in charge is much different than being in the passenger seat so we both had a lot to learn.”

As well as working on her thesis, Winter, a marine biologist, was polishing her sailing skills and adapting to life on a boat.

“Forty feet is a small space for two people,” she notes. “There’s nowhere to go to be by yourself or to have a break if you have a disagreement. And you can’t take a lot of your stuff with you. You have to go through everything and ask yourself, ‘do I really need this or that?'”

“We have solar panels and a wind generator that stores electricity on batteries,” says Böehnke. “But there are times when we have no electricity. So you have to think about how you’ll charge your computer, phone and camera batteries. Living on a boat is much different than living in a house. You quickly learn that water doesn’t just come out of the tap and electricity doesn’t automatically come out of the socket.”

“It was tough in the beginning as we were living together in a small space as a new couple and working and sailing together,” Böehnke continues. “But we survived.”

Now the couple visits conservation projects, nature reserves and endangered species to raise awareness of the beauty of nature and the challenges facing the environment. In an effort to share what they see and learn, they document their travels in films.

“Our goal is to show the point of view of people involved in wildlife protection programs,’ explains Böehnke. “It’s like a road movie but we’re on water observing pilot whales, turtles and other creatures of the sea. And we show human-wildlife problems and what some people are doing to solve them. And, of course, there’s the sailing adventure aspect, too. “

Hitchhiking Across the Atlantic is the story of Böehnke’s early trips before he had his own boat. A short version of the film won first prize in the Travel Documentary category in the Montevideo Film Festival in Kiel, Germany.

The Wild Windward continues the tale from when the couple moved onto the Corinthian and began working together full time.

Both films start at 7:30 p.m. each evening. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.sidwilliamstheatre.com or phone or visit the theatre in person.

Paula Wild is a published author and regular contributor to the Comox Valley Record’s arts and entertainment section. www.paulawild.ca.

Just Posted

Affordable rental housing complex opens in Courtenay

The Braidwood facility will house 34 people at risk of homelessness

Applications open for record bursary, scholarship funding at North Island College

Current and future North Island College students can now apply for scholarships… Continue reading

Second Stage Players present laughter and love in We Are Family

Get your tickets early to see the Evergreen Club’s Second Stage Players’… Continue reading

Open house opens access for those suffering from vision loss

Pat Chicquen understands how isolating losing vision can be, which is why… Continue reading

Valley SPCA overwhelmed with 45 cats taken from local property

Many of the cats have never been around humans, or have never been touched or handled.

B.C. researcher says device mimics parent’s touch to help babies cope with pain

Calmer device is a rectangular platform that replaces a mattress inside an incubator

Comox Valley Hospice Society finds new Ocean Front home

Comox Valley Hospice Society (CVHS) recently announced plans to construct a new… Continue reading

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Wildlife activists slam B.C. business, clubs for ‘wolf-whacking’ contests

Chilcotin Guns, Creston Valley Rod and Gun Club and West Kootenay Outdoorsmen Club under fire

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

Most Read