Travelling through the Sahara, booking a Mediterranean cruise or producing a movie as such is not quite unusual. But the way my Dutch friend Alex Mutsaars completes those activities is somehow extraordinary. And by the way, he has just written his first book. Above all, like Renate and me he is also in the 50s, but still full of ideas and ready for action.
I met Alex when I was looking for a ride with a cargo ship. Since four years he is organizing such trips. In July 2018 I finally went on board of the “Sjouwer”, a large container vessel. Some of our followers will certainly remember my blog article: https://www.topagemodel.de/2018/07/21/der-weg-ist-das-ziel/
Upon my return, we stayed in touch, as Alex told me about his various new projects. For example the development of a new TV format titled “Vaart” – Skipper is looking for new generations/ company (a bit similar to “Farmer looking for a wife”). However, in this series the focus is not on technology, but on the people. The particular captain, his ship, the route and exciting stories (8 episodes on different ships / about ship types).
In this genre you should not forget the typical small canal boats called “Spitz” or “Peniche”). These small freighters are a heritage and built exactly according to French and Belgian lock measures. The fascinating history of these skippers and their families (most of their children live in a boarding school during the week), which also sail and load day and night, opens up a new world for “landlubbers”. https://vimeo.com/311648487
The film project has now been completed with the participation of a professional team and will soon appear on Dutch television – and maybe soon in Germany. Even if you do not speak Dutch, you will be able to understand the content quite well … and see how nice a ride on these waterways can be. https://www.binnenvaartcruises.nl/
Anyway, Alex has done a lot of different things in his life, but bikes and boats seem to have priority. Biking a pedal boat from Athens to Amsterdam for sure is a special story. His first book titled “Watertrappen” was published recently (in English called “Biking the Ocean“). If you like, just click here to view two life reports (in nl): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXwWpn3nEgM
Another former masterpiece by Alex was “The longest taxi ride in history”. To participate in the famous Paris-Dakar rallye, who has not dreamed or at least thought about it before? …. booming trucks, jeeps and roaring engines that cross the African sand plains. Being en route ideally together with some good buddies, eating and sleeping in the car respectivly a yellow former taxi.
From Antwerp via Morocco, Mauritania and the Sahara dessert to Banjul / Gambia (7,000 km within three weeks), in fact a challenge, especially with old used cars, trucks and engines. Arriving was almost an art, but they did it and the vehicles were finally auctioned off in favor of a charity organization. No wonder that Alex and Ronald Verkade did not need to think about a participation any longer …
His domaine, however, remains the water… “then it’s time to pray: think of me, your sea is so big and my boat so small”. .. “Ships cruise through the night; they communicate with each other as they drive by, just a signal, a sound in the darkness. Even on the ocean of life, we meet and talk to each other; but usually only one look and one word, then darkness and silence prevail again.”
If you want to read more about his (sailing) adventures and motivation, please find below another report in Dutch and English (foreword by Henk de Velde): http://www.henkdevelde.com/go/index.php/history/
Well, a Micronesian proverb says: Once the image of a goal is in the head, it is no more lost. “Impossible – is not a fact or explanation, but just an opinion”. Travelling is not a hobby, travelling is a way of life. Most important while doing so is to move on paths that move the heart and senses. He travels to explore limits, then to arrive breathless and look and look around”.
No matter whether Alex sails by yacht through the Panama Canal, around the Cap of Good Hope or between the icebergs of Svalbard, to be en route for up to 160 days non-stop (alone or in company), besides stamina and thoughtful preparation, above all – in my opinion – it shows and requires a great mental strength.
The way somebody thinks and selects such sustainable trips becomes obvious in each chapter and makes me curious about his book. Alex Mutsaars, a self-made man looking for superlatives.
The title “Watertrappen” stands for water stepping, more precisely for water biking 4,700 kilometers from Athens to Amsterdam (252 pages at the price of EURO 22.50)
So far the book can only be ordered in Dutch language (soon also in German and English) under the ISBN number: 978-94-0225-076-3 / 9789402250763.
For all those interested a general summary: Watertrappen is a story written with humor and tension about an incredibly adventurous journey and special project. In 107 days, Alex Mutsaars and Matthijs Houben cycled across the water from Athens to Amsterdam. On the Mediterranean Sea, they are almost overflowed by huge containers and cruise ships, they have to sit out storms behind a parachute anchor and they are chained for 24 hours on an Italian prison island.
Watertrappen also tells the story behind the scenes. All technical, financial and social aspects are highlighted. It is also the emotional story of physically and mentally falling and getting up again, of travelling and coming home. And … leaving again. Watertrappen may be a must for anyone who is about to embark on his own world trip, expedition, a crazy adventure or dream of life. Mutsaars shares his experiences so that everyone can turn his dream into a journey.
Finally, watertrappen is a cry for help to save the oceans. A call not to expose/ abandon them like a cloged up plastic soup.
—————- Watertrappen is een met humor geschreven verhaal over een ongelooflijk avontuurlijke reis en speciaal project. In 107 dagen fietsten Alex Mutsaars en Matthijs Houben over het water vanuit Athene naar Amsterdam. Op de Middellandse zee worden ze verschillende malen bijna overvaren door enorme containers en cruiseschepen, moeten ze stormen uitzitten achter een parachuteanker en worden ze 24 uur aan de ketting gelegd op een Italiaans gevangenen eiland. Na ruim 4700 kilometer waterfietsen finishen Alex en Matthijs in hartje Amsterdam.
Watertrappen vertelt ook het verhaal achter de schermen. Alle technische, financiële en sociale kanten worden belicht. Het is daarmee ook het emotionele verhaal van fysiek en mentaal vallen en weer opstaan, van reizen en thuiskomen. En … opnieuw vertrekken. Watertrappen is daarnaast een must voor iedereen die op het punt staat om zich in zijn eigen wereldreis, expeditie, dwaas avontuur of levensdroom te storten. Mutsaars deelt zijn ervaringen zodat iedereen van zijn droom een reis kan maken.
Watertrappen is tot slot ook een noodkreet: een oproep om onze oceanen niet dicht te laten slibben door de plastic soep. ———————————-