Friends from S/V Anka
One day in June I get a message, thanks to our blog, from Krisha, a Bulgarian woman who writes that she, her husband Adrian from Rumania and their 10-years-old son Alex are buying a sailboat named S/V Anka-1 in Curacao and sailing it to Australia, where they live since four years. “We are in San Blas and you are sailing from Curacao to Panama, so if you have any time to spare, it will be great to meet you! You will not lose much, as the deviation from your route is just a few miles and the place is worth it; surely you will like the San Blas Islands and we would love to get to know you!” , I write back.
They don’t have any time to lose. They have to hurry up and sail from Curacao directly to Panama, then from Panama across the biggest ocean in world to French Polynesia and on to Australia in just four months, almost at the beginning of typhoon season.
Yet, five days after they left Curacao Anka-1 shows up in our anchorage in San Blas and we become instant friends, thanks to Alex who is a kind of kid that starts talking to you as if he knows you since ages, thanks to Krisha who is the sweetest person, always smiling and giving gifts, and thanks to Adrian, who is the funniest guy and can make you laugh even if you are in a bad mood; even if Ivo is in a bad mood (which is worst).
Adrian is from Rumania but he used to live in Bulgaria and he speaks Bulgarian fluently with a very cute accent, using all sorts of funny words, sayings, curse words and baby words. It’s amusing just listening to him. And the stories he has to tell are priceless. His life, starting from early childhood in Rumania, is an action-adventure epic saga (based on a true story) in which the academy award for best supporting artist would go to his father, or Sean Connery who would be the best actor for the role. But Adrian asked me not to reveal too many details, as he is planning to tell his own story himself one day, so I will just share with you a passage from their blog as told by his wonderful wife and first mate- Krisha at Anka Travels:
Adrian is from a city deep in the Romanian country, around 400 km away from the coast of the Black Sea. His family didn’t have the chance to visit the seaside very often during the communist regime at that time. One of his first memories of the Black Sea, was when his father Marius Albu took him to the beach and asked him – “What do you see”, “I see water” Adrian replied, “No” – he said – That is your passport to freedom.” During the regime, Marius was able to build his first 6m sailing boat, which was illegal in Romania at the time, where people weren’t allowed to have passports, buy maps, or go abroad freely. In 1989, when Adrian was 14 years old, Marius took his son and secretly fled from the regime aboard the Phoenix, through the Black Sea, Turkey and then Greece. That was Adrian’s first sailing experience. Since then, sailing for him wasn’t a recreational choice, it was a way of life.
After 8 years spent in Greece, Adrian and his father left with Phoenix once again to sail to the Caribbean, where they parted ways. While Adrian spent a few years in Trinidad & Tobago, purchased his own sailing boat-Maove and sailed through the Pacific to Australia, his father continued his circumnavigation to become the first Romanian, who sailed around the world under the Romanian flag.
In the winter of 2002, Adrian had a car accident where his ankle was broken into pieces and he wasn’t able to walk for a year. Unfortunately, he had to sell his boat in Australia and return to Romania to recover. Shortly after his full recovery in 2004, he was invited to participate in the Odysail regatta, as a skipper on the Phoenix. The same regatta, that changed both of our lives.
During this time, I as working as an Art Director in an advertising agency in Sofia and I thought my life and career were set in the right direction. My father, Yancho Barakov- also a wild dreamer and believer, similar to Marius built his first 10m sailing boat during the Communist regime in Bulgaria. For 10 years the construction took place in the parking lot in front of our apartment building in the small city called Yambol, 100km away from the seaside. In the year 2000, with the boat construction experience he had, and even more courage, he began work on his second 12m yacht – Barracuda. The boat was ready in four years and in 2004 he was invited to participate in the same regatta – the Odysail. Despite being around boats all my life, I hadn’t had much experience in sailing, so for me that was all new, exciting and a bit scary at times and to be honest it still is.
This is when I, as part of the crew on my father`s 12m yacht Barracuda, met Adrian. It was a romantic love story that could have only happened at sea. A year later, we were married and our son Alex was born. Since then almost every summer we sailed from Bulgaria to Greece as we never get tired of the beauty of the Mediterranean.
In 2011, we moved to Australia where we have been living and working for the past four years.
In November 2014, Adrian once again joined his father aboard the Phoenix and they sailed for 45 days through the roaring South Pacific, from New Zealand to Chile to conquer the Everest of the sailors – Cape Horn. For four months they sailed through beautiful fiords and glaciers, anchoring near icebergs. They had reached Porto Williams, the most south port in the world, the final stop before the cape, but unfortunately the weather was closing and Adrian had to leave the crew, as he was running out of time before the hurricane season starts in the Caribbean. In his mind, the vision of Anka and his own voyage was already taking shape.
*Read more about their adventures and follow them @ AnkaTravels.com
Powerful stuff, isn’t it…. And the details including tragedies at sea, escape from Turkish prison for refugees, and a number of other fortunate and misfortunate events told and reenacted in the cockpit of Fata Morgana over some beers, Adrian’s famous beef tail soup, and Mira’s homemade bread- unforgettable…
We take them to our favorite anchorage at Cayo Hollandes for a couple of days, and to the small island to get some molas from our Kuna friends. Adrian even finds time and tools to help the local Kunas fixing one of their old ulu’s. We spend a few days together in San Blas, and the evenings we share beers, stories and food.
Maya and Alex become inseparable, watching films, playing games, or being bored together when they “have nothing to do”. And just like that, spontaneously, we decide to cross the Panama Canal with S/V Anka, to extend the time with them. Our plans to stay in San Blas until September just changed! We are leaving the next day together with our new best boat-friends Anka!
Maya and Alex
About the author: Mira Nencheva, her husband Ivo and 11-years-old daughter Maya are sailing around the world and living off-the-grid full-time aboard their 38 feet Leopard catamaran Fata Morgana since July 2013. Their journey is documented in a travel-adventure blog www.thelifenomadik.com and in theirFacebook page:Facebook/TheLifeNomadik