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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vanier students have put together a new video about road safety. Image, screenshot
Too many driving infractions, say School District 71, Comox ValleyRCMP

G.P. Vanier students also put together a video about safe driving and school buses

Jordan Jay Ward is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for two counts of manslaughter. Photo supplied
Wanted man from Calgary may be in the Comox Valley

Jordan Jay Ward is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for two counts of manslaughter

The City of Courtenay has received an application for a cannabis retail store at the Crown Isle shopping centre. File photo
Cannabis retail proposal draws mixed reviews from Courtenay residents

Coast Range Cannabis has applied to the City of Courtenay to operate… Continue reading

The 5th Street Bridge will be repaired next year. File photo
Former Courtenay councillor suggests waiting a year to repair bridge

In the opinion of a former member of Courtenay council, a year’s… Continue reading

Rotary District 5020 president Rod McKenzie (in chair) agreed to test out the CVCDA ramp and experience it from the perspective of an individual who relies on a wheelchair to get around. McKenzie is being prepped by Comox Valley Wheelchair Sports Society president Stephane Roy. Submitted by CVCDA
Accessibility the focus of Comox Valley Child Development Association Telethon

The Comox Valley Child Development Association Telethon will look markedly different this… Continue reading

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BC VOTES 2020: Mid-Island candidate plans occupation of shelter to protest homelessness

Graham Hughes says homeless situation a ‘crisis’ in Port Alberni

Parksville’s Jared Huggan won $75,000 playing BC/49. (BCLC/Photo submitted)
Vancouver Island man $75K richer after purchasing winning lottery ticket at Nanaimo Walmart

Parksville’s Huggan plans to purchase electric bike for partner

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Courtenay council
Subdivision proposal causes stir in Courtenay neighbourhood

Courtenay council approved second reading of a rezoning application to subdivide a… Continue reading

The Cowichan Steelheads’ Jesus Martinez (left) and the Cowichan 49ers’ Daryl Rodgers chase down the ball during Saturday night’s all-Cowichan clash at the Sherman Road turf. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan masters derby takes unexpected turn with broken leg

Soccer community comes together in midst of battle

Larry Whetstone is concerned about the condition of Jeffries Road, where he has lived for 30 years. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Poor condition of rural road in Cowichan has resident fed up

Transportation Ministry says repair plan under development

Most Read