30. April 2024 Our Interview with Anousch

Hello! Good morning! Can you tell us something about yourself?
My name is Anousch Vallaeys. I am 29 years old. I come from Antwerp, Belgium. I am a first officer since 3 years now.

How did you start sailing? And how did you get here?
I started sailing a long time ago. Since I was 9, I did dinghy sailing. Small optimist sailing. And when I was 15, I started on a Tall Ship Races. My first tall ship sailing experience was in Belgium at the schooner Rupel. Every summer, since then, I have been doing tall ship races sailing. And that's how I rolled into the tall ship scene.

Wetterkunde mit Anousch

12.10.2023: Wetterkunde mit Anousch © Peggy

Mustering mit Anousch und Adrian

20.2.2024: Mustering mit Anousch und Adrian © Peggy

And when did you decide to make the hobby to your job?
I enjoyed the Tallship races so much that I thought this could be a job. So I started in the Maritime Academy, the university Antwerp Maritime Academy. It is 20 minutes from my home, so it was a very logical decision somehow.

But you finished school?
Yes. I finished my high school as normal. And then I went to the maritime college for 5 years. So I graduated as master in the nautical science.

How did you come here (on the Gulden Leeuw)?
Because of Tallship races, I saw the Gulden Leeuw already before. And somehow in 2013. I was here as mentor. And a couple of years later, I came back as volunteer. And then during Corona, I was working on the Pelican of London. But I couldn't go to England, so then I asked here the office, hey, do you need help? Even if it's maintenance and administration. And they said yes, so I went to Harlingen because the ship was there. And then I stayed there together with Kay and Selena actually. The three of us were there for the beginning during Corona. And the summer season of that. So that's how I ended up here. So I started also as trainee.

What do you want to do one day? What's your goal here? Do you ever want to be captain? Do you want to continue this forever on this ship?
Well, my goal since I was 18 was becoming first officer on a tall ship. So actually, I reached my platform. In the last half a year, I've been thinking if I want to become captain ever, I still have a lot to learn. So I'm working on that. And we'll see what the future brings. I always said I will stop sailing when I have a family. Because I don't want to leave my kids behind. So that will be my stopping point whenever that is in the next years. We'll see where I end up. I don't have a big future plan. I just enjoy what I'm doing right now.

That sounds like a good plan. So you will stay here for the next year?
I will definitely do high seas next year. ;-) And then we'll see what happens. I love sailing on the Gulden Leeuw. I love the family. I love the atmosphere. I love the boat. So I'm good where I am for now. At this moment I'm pretty happy where I am.

And do you have a life motto? Like a guidance for your life? Something you always say to yourself?
In the last years I had many. But it never stayed stuck. But maybe the: “water, sunscreen, be happy!”. I think that goes everywhere with me. But no, I don't really have a motto. I just go with the flow. I think just being happy about what you're doing is so important.

And if you could talk to yourself when you were 18 or 17, what would you say to yourself?
That's a difficult question. But… “Be happy with who you are” and “you will get there”. Something like that. Be happy with who you are and with what you're doing. And don't think too much about what other people are thinking about you. But focus on what do you want to do in life. Yeah.

So now in this journey, do you have a highlight or a low light?
Low light? All breaking of the mooring lines. The tiredness that I felt there and the stress that we had was awful. It was always safe because we also made the right decisions. But it was not a lot of sleep and it would have been nice to be a little bit more enjoyable there. Because Horta is a very nice place. I love it there, so… Just the weather was not in our favour this year.

And as highlight…I always like the first month of high seas because then we can teach you everything. It's all new and it's all exciting and you get to know the students. And then the last month, the handovers are amazing as well. I think that is one of my highlights. Sailing related, definitely the handovers. Because for us as crew, it is exhausting. Really, you need to focus also. But it is so much fun to see how you all grew into what you are now. That's my highlight.

Last question, do you have something you still want to tell us?
I want to tell all of you that I'm proud of you all. That I have a lot of respect for all the students who go away from home for seven months. That is something that I as a student could not do. So I think that is brave and really cool. Take all the life lessons you learned here. I think we tried to teach you everything we know and you grew into wonderful human beings!

Thank you Anousch!
Lara und Marlou




How we saw Anousch

She spent about 5 Months on board (Bremerhaven – Martinique; Cuba - Helgoland). She was our first 1st Officer when we left Bremerhaven, when we had our first sailing experiences on board, when we did our Handovers and when all mooring lines ripped in Horta. She was a big part of our journey. For us, and we think we can speak for most students, she was someone who motivated, and pushed all of us through, when things got hard. She kept the good mood on bord (she always played Coldplay!!) when everyone was seasick and she was the help which was always there when we needed it. Sometimes she was annoyingly strict about things, but her passion about sailing influenced us and we are so so grateful for everything she has taught us. So this is a blog in honour of Anousch, to thank her and to tell everyone about what a great officer we have been sailing with.

We love you Anousch!!!!