Genaro at Ya

As many adventurers, I dream of a great sailing voyage. The longer and further, the better. With everywhere an adventure.

Learning all tricks on board till the very detail

But how is this dream when it comes true? How is life, adventure, on board a small house of 10 meters long that floats in the sea? This is my first two-week experience on board the ship “Ya”.

New adventure

When you arrive at a new place or in this case a new ship, you are not sure what to expect, of course you have some ideas, some expectations, but you really don’t know what it will be like, you don’t know the people who are there, you don’t know their dynamics, you don’t know the space, you don’t know where to find what you’re looking for. But not knowing is the adventure. When I got to “Ya” I was a little nervous, I’m going to have to live with this person that I don’t know, every day,  every 24 hours, for who knows how many months. But I was also very excited to start this new adventure, with a lot of energy and desire to sail again, I was so excited that I didn’t really think about all the other worries I might have.

The first few days were very difficult, the language barrier was higher than I thought, the technical words to refer to parts of the boat and navigation actions in English, I did not know them all, I knew them in Spanish but not in English it was a new dictionary to learn. Understanding the “Ya” configurations of sails, ropes, halyards, sheets, etc. and everything necessary to sail was another challenge. At the same time I had to adapt to the organization of the boat, where to find everything, how to perform each basic task, cooking, washing the dishes, going to the bathroom. A ship is someone’s house, only with more drawers and unexpected compartments than a normal house, it has its order and rhythm personalized by those who live in it. When you first arrive you have to understand this rhythm to be able to integrate.

I can take my time for things

The first day we went sailing in the Bocas del Toro area I felt the magic of the wind moving us, all the fatigue and overaccumulation of information I had from those days of adaptation to the boat left, at that moment I knew I was on the right track and that it was worth all the effort I was making to be there.

Integrated and… the open sea

After a week of being in Bocas del Toro, already more integrated and with better communication between me and Peter and also between me and “Ya”, we went out to the open sea to sail towards San Blas. I was a little afraid of this new dynamic of sailing in the open sea but also very excited. At a certain point the rhythm of the watch shifts became tiring, since there were so few days of navigation that I was not able to get my body used to sleeping during the day, and at night I had my watch so I didn’t sleep either. 

On the night watch I enjoyed the calm and beauty of the night ocean, there was a full moon, I could see everything, the sea and the clouds almost as in the day. You couldn’t see the land, only the horizon of the sea, I could watch the moon set and the sunrise.

These first two weeks on the boat were a combination of a lot of effort, some frustration, also loneliness, but many beautiful things. Leaving our Circle of Comfort and making an effort helps us find and appreciate more the beauty.

 Every day communication and integration in the “Ya” improves, always learning something new. Now looking forward to starting sailing in the Pacific. Aware that to travel on a boat and especially on a fossil free one, what you have to have is patience.

Patience, something we lack in our accelerated way of seeing the world. We go for it!


You see that I can have patience here 😉

The San Blas islands, sustainable and drowning

When we entered San Blas and anchored under the island Porvenir we couldnot get a better welcome from the Cuna living here: a fresh Pago Rojo, freshly scraped and cleaned!
The San Blas archipelago lies along the north coast of Panama. Only the Guna tribe lives here and that makes it very special.


Historically the San Blas islands  belonged to Colombia, but generally the Guna lived their own life. In the early 20th century Colombia agreed that the San Blas islands would belong to Panama, and Panamese police established on the islands. The Panamese policy was to surpress the culture and language of the Guna. The Guna tribes started a rebellion and that led to deaths on both sides. Then, the  League of Nations (predecessor of the United Nations) agreed to prevent a war, or at least a massacre. The Panamese government sent the army to invade the San Blas Islands, but when facing the threat of an American warship before the San Blas, they decided to start to negociate with the Cuna first. It led to a treaty, resulting in a great autonomy for the Guna tribes.

This is the classic Guna dress. (source Wiki)

Life on San Blas

The Guna have their own language, culture and economy.  Already for centuries they live from fish and from the mulas (clothes, patchwork) they sell. They don’t have properties like the Western do; the land is for everybody. Only the coconut trees and their coconuts are distributed and belong to someone or a family. So never take a coconut from the ground, because you get an argument!

The Guna have their own administration and justice. There is a central ‘Congreso’, but most of the power is on the lower levels, per island or even family. One rule is that a Guna has to marry someone from the Guna tribe, or will get excommunicated. There is no strong monogamy, like in the Jewish-Christian tradition. All this together, leads to more inbreeding, that results in albino children. In their belief the albinos are God sent, to protect the moon from disappearing during an eclipse.

If a judge or the Congreso gives a penalty, it is often a job that helps the community. It can be to bring an amount of sand from a sandbank to the island, to keep the island’s level high enough. (more about this later).

It is a matriarchal society. The groom comes into the house of his family-in-law and lives there. He takes the name of his wife’s family.

For centuries the Guna have a special style of patchwork and embroiding and it is famous all over the world.

With their diet and lifestyle, the death rate of the Guna on hart deseases and cancer is very low.

The Guna fisherman’s boats sometimes have a sail. Here the paddle is there to make speed, but it also helps to prevent drift and is used on lee side to steer.

Sustainable living, but a drowning future

The Guna people live sober. Many catch their fish in their cano, with a paddle and a sail. Only for tourism (time is money) there are some  boats with fossil propulsion. There is no calculation of the Cuna’s carbon footprint, but it is definitely very low.

On this chart the Ya’s position is on the very very left, presente by a red little boat. If you look to the right, you see yellow areas and one assumes that it is all land. Most of the times it is not, because it is just below sea level. On the next foto you see what there is.
This is all the actual land that you see to your right. The rest of the land is just under water.
There are many palm trees planted on this island. The sea level has risen some centimeters and that is enough to kill the first row, of which you see the last remains.

In 2016 it was expected that the San Blas islands will have been disappeared before the year 2100. But in the current pace of climate change that will be much quicker, more like in some decades.

Let us keep the Cuna’s live here on San Blas. With their great sustainable lifestyle, they don’t contribute to the excessive use of oil and gas. What about saying to yourself today to stop using and buying so much? Yes, every minute you get incentives through channels and social (?) media, but finally the decision is in yourself that as of today you only use what you need

Ready to go East

Genaro and me decided to leave. We are ready to go East, so we will go. Along the Panama coast. We haven’t decided where to go to, wether it will be the San Blas archipelago, some 250 milies, or to Colon, the Panama Canal, some 150 miles. Since it is still the rain season now, we should get some Western wind. But… there is no rain at all!. Climate change? Who knows. However, there is hardly any wind, and if some, it comes from the East.

On the very West is Bocas del Toro, the archipelago we leave. Follow our course line to the very east and that is San Blas., a 250 mile trip. Colon is on 2/3. (picture: courtesy Predictwind).

Some 20-30 miles from the coast, there runs a strong Easterly current. It is about 1.5 to 2.5 miles per hour. So we can get somewhere.

The current (green area) brlngs us for sure to Colon, but we hope to get wind to make San Blas. (picture: courtesy Predictwind)

With 40 kWh energy on board, we never ever can do the trip on the electric engine. But no worries, we have plenty to bring us out of the current to Colon, or to a San Blas island.

We will just go East

If our progress is still 30-40 miles a day, we can make the San Blas Islands.  If it stays slow, we go to Colon. We will see what happens.

We simply filled the water tanks and bought food for a week.

Our fruit for this week is -in the order we will probably eat it- a big papaya, bananas, a pineapple,  small unripe oranges, and some limonchi to put in our drinks. We also bought passion fruit, not visible, already eaten ;-).

So actually the whole fossilfree sailing is not that complicated. Simply choose for a good weather and current prediction program, and take your time. Let go the speed factor, the norm to make many miles a day on an engine. Just enjoy the sea and the weather, the silence, the nature, the fruit and food we got on board.

The time you read it, we are already somewhere. Where? Perhaps you can see that on

Hola Amigos of Fossil Free Around the World!

I am Genaro and I am going to crew ‘Ya’.

I am originally from Mexico City. Already from my early age it was my dream to design things. I studied for industrial designer and then started working in this field. But, I do not want to live all my life doing the same, so I quit my job, left the city and I started traveling.

Since then i have been traveling for the last 5 years. I like adventures and I like to know more of our world. 

I started with just a good backpack. Most of the time I worked and then I traveled on, alone or with friends I met, sometimes I traveled on a bicycle. When COVID started, I bought a Volkswagen van to continue traveling.

What did I do and where? To give you a glimpse:

·       I was caretaker of a traditional farmers house in Japan.

·       Worked in permaculture farming in Lao, China. Here you see a rice field.

·       Volunteered for a while in the Shaolin Monastery near Fujan, China

·       Renovated a yacht into a hostel in Malaysia

·       One month just wandering through the jungle of Borneo, Indonesia

·       Picking cherries in New Zealand

·       And picking cherries in Canada

Liason officer and translator between tourists and the Yagua in the Amazon jungle, Colombia.

I spent a short time in Brazil, till COVID started, so I went to Mexico. Then I refitted an old Volkswagen van and decorated it to a simple home.

I could make a beautiful slow trip in my van along the Yucatan peninsula and later along the Californian coast.

First work I could do to thicken my purse was farming on a  plantation of … marihuana! In California it is just as legal as corn or wheat!

Then  I became bartender in Baccalar, Mexican Caribbean. There, I stepped on a small sailing boat and I discovered the magic of sailing, of moving with the wind.

My world changed from that moment. I soon became deckhand for a charter company. Later I was day skipper on the smallest boat, without even a good compass. But I did not care, I could sail!

I need to learn a lot. Last year I am orienting on everything that has to do with sailing. My last job was renovating a yacht, just because I would have a chance to become crew again and I can learn about sailing. 

But then “Ya” came along. Now I arrived at “Ya” with great enthusiasm for having another adventure, to know another way of living and being able to float on the immense Pacific ocean hunting  for the wind. 

It is even more than this, as Ya is fossil free.  I am aware that our search for comfort, at some point we forget this goal and get into excesses and overcunsumotion, taking us to our own destruction.

The Ya is a reminder that we can live in reasonable comfort without destroying ourselves.

 I hope I can continue to tell more of our adventures here on “Ya”

Buenos vientos!


Upcycle, yes you can

We make about 2 billion tonnes of waste every year. That is too much for Mother Earth.

“We” are mainly the consumers, the Western society. Including China, being our workshop.

A small part of  the waste, we take care for ourselves, to recycling, incinerators or landfill. The big chunk ends up in the poor countries, like Bangla Desh, parts of India. It comes there with big ships and even the ships themselves are disassembled overthere. Check here to a ship beaching to its graveyard or here for the background.

What they do is some reuse and recycling. They burn the rest. But not in high temperature incinerators. It is just a fire, so that creates toxic emissions, like dioxines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The pollution comes in the air, water and soil and it creates cancer, lung deseases and other slow ways of dying.

The mantra

What can we do against it. First the mantra:

  • Rethink if you need it,
  • Refuse if you doubt still.
  • Reduce if you need less,
  • Reuse if you can see life in it,

Recycling is the option when you don’t see life in it. But please realize that in general recycling is environmentally and economically a losers game. Because it takes a lot of work, energy and costs and it has environmental impact. Think of glass bottles, or steel. It is often downcycling; you can only make less quality products out of it.

If it is not even worth recycling, then the process of care starts. This waste treatment will be unhealthy or very unhealthy. Will have a big environmental impact or a very big one. See above.

Recycling is better than only the landfill, but it gives a serious footprint of work, gas, oil, money and environmental impact.

Reuse what you have

You have stuff and want to get rid of it? Reusing can be a beautiful thing.

Perhaps you can repair it. Call or email the vendor and simply ask where to repair it. Nowadays you can see a product repair as your right, or the inherent right of any product. So go for it. You can feel cheated if the vendor did not organize this care. Such care is called ‘product stewardship’ and it started already in the eighties of the last century as a normal element of any quality company..

You can sell it, even when it is broken, through second hand websites. If you take some time for pictures and you have some patience, most of the things will sell itself.

Its second life is often its last life. Mostly the reuse is a form of downcycling. An old TV casing ends up as a planter, old oil ends up in a combustion engine.

This old canoe ended up as a planter, and this old drain pipe will contain some sorts of salad soon. A beautiful last resort.

Creativity for some upcycling!

The challenge is to reuse an old product and give it a better life. A more valuable life. More value – yes, it feels like you are god. You have to be creative, think out-of-the-box. It has nothing to do with money, in contrary.
Here under a simple example from Bocas del Toro. The 10 dollar for a good dust can has already been given away, so what to do? From a simple plastic oil canister, you can make two of these dust cans.  This is real upcycling!

An old throw away can is upcycled to a broom dust can.

And ladies, here is a movie with a bunch of examples to upcycle your old dresses to fresh one-of-a-kind designs you can show off with.

The Economy of Enough

Since the late 20th century the marketing of products shifted. First the demand was the leading question. But later, the question in the Marketing Departments was: can we create demand? Yes, they can.

Think of the cars for the middle class in the 1970, like the Volkswagen Golf. Now, the volume of this Golf, still car for the middle class,  is 1,5 times bigger.  Meanwhile, the average family has dropped with one person, so numerically we could do with even a smaller car. A Smart ForFour would actually be more appropriate to the actual demand. In that car the room in the back is small, but what does it matter? Since your children of 18 and over will take their own transport, there will only be small children in on the back seat.

The only thing that you need  the bigger car for, is to transport all the other redundant stuff you bought and has filled your attic to its ceiling and that needs to go to a second hand shop. Or a recycling center, or what the heck, to the waste site. As long as you get rid of it.

The current Volkswagen Golf is much bigger than its predecessor of 1970. But there are less people and stuff to be transported. Why bigger then? Because you are continuously told and shown that you need it and like it better.

How come?

All that stuff, it is your problem, but it is not your fault. Now, the marketing is that refined, that it influences your life without you even knowing it. The basics: In 2000 you looked for something on the internet and you got advertisements about it on your screen. But marketeers, engineers, statisticians, psychologists and ergonomists learned more. Now, if you are on platforms like Facebook, programmes analyse your data and the results go to advertisers. These results are that good that you just ‘discover’ that you can need these products.

Checking the checkbox to authorize Whatsapp to look into your address book, it will download the addresses of you and your friends and family members. Same with your pictures, film, anything. This way they chart out all your needs in a great network. The clicks you make are registered to influence you by ergonomic engineering.  Designers make screens containing subtle information that makes you buy more stuff, or a bigger car.

In stead of the old fashioned customer, you have changed into a target. These designers, engineers, the Zuckerbergs of this world, are simply too smart. You can’t beat these professionals. When you get aware of them, they have beaten you already.

How do we notice this?

You don’t notice it when you are in it.  But we sailors do notice it when for a long time at sea. There is no internet. You suddenly don’t get these incentives anymore. You are just happy. It makes you suddenly change. They don’t have the need -or urge- to drink their afternoon beer anymore, or to drink any alcohol at all. They get stronger, healthier, loose overweight, et cetera.

When you sail and see land from this distance -or you see no land at all- you are content just as it is.  There is a complete lack of incentives to need stuff and buy stuff.

How to stop it?

But once they step from board and get to their old life at home, back in the ‘machinery’, they return quickly in the process of consumerism. They sometimes tell sadly that they should not live such consuming life again and they want to go back but can’t find a way out because they say they have too many ties, like a mortgage, a car, et cetera.
That car is big, the mortgage is for a house with 4 bedrooms for just 2 persons.

You can stop the process by questioning:

  • Why buy stuff anyway?
  • Do you need it? Do you need it directly when you see it, or can it wait a while?
  • Where do you leave it after use?
  • Get it second hand? Or repair the old one?

To avoid the marketing, you:

  • Use duckduckgo instead of google as your search machine.
  • Cut with Metaverse products, like Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp. You will notice that they made it hard to cut these lines; the opposite of downloading and starting it.
  • Use Signal instead of Whatsapp. This is also nicer to your friends and family, who never wanted to give up their privacy since you clicked the checkbox to give Metaverse access to their addresses.
  • Use instead of  Zoom or Teams.
  • Use Open Office instead of Microsoft or Apple products.
  • Go shopping with a shopping list, so buy what you really need.

Now, even the marketeers lose the ties, you will feel more freedom of choice  and you buy stuff – thingies, a car, a house, a boat,  that really suits you.

Side effect: you spend less money.

Hi I am Kathryn

Hello readers! I am Kathryn. A new crew member on the Ya.

I arrived yesterday from the UK by air with the flights adding up to a carbon footprint of 2 tonnes of CO2. (Thanks to  for the use of the CO2 flight calculator.)

Trying to quantify that… it is the equivalent to the saving you make in a whole year by moving from a diesel car to an electric one. Source

I am here to participate in a project that is an advocate for sustainable sailing, work with Peter and Fossil Free Around the World project to promote a viable alternative to CO2 intensive air travel. It is through prototypes and exploration that we will discover them. 

How did I end up here in Panama?

Well I am 50 this year and only really started my sailing journey when I saw the truly inspiring documentary Maidentrip (2013) in which the 14 year-old Laura Dekker sets out on a voyage in pursuit of her dream to become the youngest person ever to sail around the world alone. Whilst watching it on a New Years Day, full of the sort of promise making gusto that a new year brings, I registered on an RYA Day Skipper Course there after the film ended. It was 3 years before I actually got to sail a boat. 

2020 and just as the pandemic rules eased I managed to do two weeks training and earnt my Day Skipper Practical in Greece and a year later sailed with a crew for a week again in Greece. I loved it. The freedom to sail around the islands and see remote coves and places was fantastic. 

Now in 2023 I was looking for a new adventure and a friend suggested looking on social media. The majority of opportunities were not really my thing – hostess on a super yacht… not only did it all seem quite how can I put it… young hot females serving the food and males dealing with repairs it all seemed such a young gap year crew thing. 

Then I saw the Ya! I emailed and Peter followed up with a number of calls on Jitsi (similar to Zoom but it respects your privacy and it also is able to work on low data services. Just if you are interested in the details of such things.) After vetting a number of candidates Peter messaged me with the news that I was welcome to join the boat for this next stage in Panama and the East Pacific.

A chaotic few weeks followed for me involving finding cat sitters, calling on friends for help and a fundraising frenzy on eBay.  Not only that but a number of conversations with myself about my sanity and decision making capabilities. This culminated in my exit via Terminal 2 at Heathrow on the August Super Moon.  

It has been such a life affirming experience so far. Overcoming so many circumstances to make this happen. I am inspired by the many environmental projects going on around the islands here. It is a privilege to be part of the project.

I want to share some photos from a 24 hour period…  At one point I was emptying space in a garage I rent in Hackney to fit more things in as I got my life in order… 30 random gold letters reclaimed from the street some time ago and then some images as I woke two sleeps later for the beautiful marina here. 

I got left over letters, and put them next to my garage. The local artist in Hackney started reusing the letters in artwork words. Later children came and took the first letter of there name. 90% reused, everybody happy.

 Wherever you are in your life right now remember not to take it for granted, it is precious and circumstances are just that. Something to be overcome. 

As Winston Churchill said, ”Never, never, never… never give up”.

Hustle and bustle in London-Heathrow and Denver Airport with papers, security, tickets and all, and finally entering Bocas Airport with a local musician singing about making your dreams come true.

What to do with broken umbrellas

It’s the rainy season in Panama. Umbrellas are everywhere. When it rains, you see the ones that work. When it doesn’t, you see the ones that don’t work anymore.

this umbrella is no more.. Garbage?

They come in all kinds of lovely colors and paterns. And, the fabric is usually still good even when the umbrella no longer works. So, let’s see want we can do with them!

First, we take it apart. It’s easy to do. Just a basic pocket knife will do. You take the metal parts that bind the cloth to the frame apart and work your way around. That’s enough. After that, you can take it off it’s frame and there it is. The original idea was to turn it into a simpel bag. We found an instruction video

how to reuse your old umbrella

But to start with, without any work, you have a mini-poncho for your backpack. In the pooring rain, this came in really handy.

you make your backpack poncho in a wink of the eye

After a little research, we found several more ways to turn broken umbrellas into fun and useful items. Not just for the cloth, but also for the frame and even for the handle! How about an umbrella skeleton photo mobile, a hanging umbrella lamp, an umbrella frame plant stand, an umbrella cloche (especially for see-through umbrellas), skirts (not for see-through umbrella’s) and even a doggy rain coat!

A greet from Ya in the Panamese rain


Our seas bear a new sustainable cargo vessel, the Tukker. It is an Ecoclipper. This sailing vessel is seriously bigger than the first sailing cargo ship of this century, the Tres Hombres. Instead of wood, the skin and construction are made from steel. She is rigged with three masts, with a lot of sails. Check the picture, she’s looking gorgeous with her light wind sails up, isn’t she?

The Tukker with cargo on her way on the North Sea

The ports of call

The shipping company of the Ecoclipper has built up a network of agencies and loaders. The Tukker sails a route to and from a number of ports, to get and deliver the cargo. Wine, chocolate, herbs, whatever. She holds a 70 – 80 tons cargo.

The ports the Tukker will ship cargo to and from.

Also some passengers – be part of it!

Just like on the old-fashioned cargo ships, where you could get a bunk bed, there is also some place on the Tukker to sail along. Every sailed on a sailing ship? No sudden heavy motions, like on a cargo ship running on an engine. The Tukker takes wind and waves in a natural way. And, no pollution, so you save the air, the oceans.

Just check the schedule on the site and see if there is place.

There is place for trainees – be part of it!

The future

Jorne Langelaan, the pioneer of the sailing cargo shipping, sees a future with a complete sustainable shipping network around the world.

Jorne Langelaan is the founder of Ecoclipper. He was just a boy when he started as a deckhand and quickly he worked himself up in the merchant shipping till the highest rank as Master All Ships. He is co-founder of Fair Transport, builder and designer of the Tres Hombres, the first cargo sailing ship of the 21st century, which he also navigated as a captain over the oceans.  If one man on Mother Earth has a vision on the future on sailing cargo, it is Jorne.

“Now we experience the first stage of a new way of cargo shipping. We see a growing number of small sailing ships for cargo. It will grow. Now, with the Tukker, we sail the seas, like the North Sea. But step by step there will be longer lines, with more and also larger ships. A global cargo sailing network.”

Jorne Langelaan already designed the Ecoclipper 500, a 50 meter sailing cargo ship for ocean shipping.

This is the design of the Ecoclipper 500, completely sustainable, good for long distance sailing and able to take cargo an dozens of passengers.

Sucking up metals from the deep-sea bed

The deep-sea bed is rich in raw materials for making batteries and accumulators, for example. The manganese nodules, consisting of nickel, cobalt and copper, are there for the taking. In a place where people cannot come themselves.

Environmental damage

The Dutch company Allseas carried out successful tests last year at a depth of four kilometers in the Pacific Ocean. Their underwater robot sucked up 4300 tons of manganese nodules. According to Allseas, the impact on marine life is ‘minimal’, because there is almost no marine life.

A robot sucking up manganese nodules from the deep sea bed.

According to marine biologists, the latter is an often heard misunderstanding. “People used to think that there was no marine life in the deep sea. Now we know that there is a lot of life. Biodiversity is very high, but you can’t see everything with the naked eye,” says researcher Sabine Gollner of the Royal Netherlands Institute. for Research of the Sea. “If you see what lives on manganese nodules: corals, sponges, anemones. If you suck up manganese nodules, you also take them with you. They need the nodules to live on.”

Nicole de Voogd, Professor of Marine Ecology. “They are really vacuum cleaners that you let go down to the bottom and that cause clouds of dust in a place where there is never really any disturbance. You disrupt the ecosystem.”


Since Hugo de Groot’s declaration in the 17th century that the sea is ‘free’, everyone can do what he wants. That has changed since this year and there is a treaty on the deep sea, signed by 170 countries. That is the first step towards some moderation and that is a great progress. We hardly know the deep sea and the deep sea floor. Scientists advocate first investigating the extent of the damage and asked for a moratorium. That hasn’t worked yet.

So it helps if you simply reduce your energy use.