Sailing Conductors - Hannes & Ben

Haaaave You Met the Germans?

Sunday March 15, 2015

Sailing Conductors - Hannes & Ben

Hannes & Ben – The Sailing Conductors

“Have you met the Germans?  Such great guys, interesting story…”.  “Oh, there’s a couple of young German guys here, have you met them yet?”.  “You guys have to meet the Germans”.  This somehow seemed to be the most common phrase we’ve heard around the marina our first few days.  Apparently these two German guys seemed to be all the rage here and after a few days of sitting around we did eventually get a chance to meet them.

On Monday Serendipity was hauled and blocked, and while we were busy chatting up this nice fellow Paul at the patio while the boat was in transit we later found they moved us to a spot in the DIY yard that was conveniently right behind the bathrooms and right next to these legendary Germans.  In time we made our way over to the new spot and we could see they were elbow deep in grease while working on an engine that was sitting on the ground next to their boat, so we only exchanged a brief hello before I started bugging Matt to find a ladder for me so I could get up and into the ‘Dip.  I had to make a run into town for essentials, and by run I mean walk since we have no mode of transportation at the moment and it was already falling into the late afternoon.  If we’ve gathered one piece of advice here so far it’s that you don’t want to be wandering the streets of Indiantown after dark.

The next morning as we were just getting used to our routine of being on the hard again, having to get off the boat and climb down a ladder every time you need to use the bathroom, we saw the guys getting off their boat and into a car.  Exchanging pleasantries again they mentioned they were using a rental for the day to go hunt for a vehicle to purchase.  When we responded that it was on our list of things to do as well they invited us to join them but we declined since Matt wanted more time to research cars in the area and also wanted to dive into some jobs on Serendipity for the day.  That was the last we saw of the Germans until Friday night.

Having spoken with our new friend Paul a few more times, one on a much needed ride to Stuart to get ourselves to a decent hardware and grocery store, he gave us a slight background on the guys and told us they were looking for an RV to drive around the US with for a road trip, when he suggested they look into getting a school bus instead because of the convenience of having it easily fixed anywhere you go.  They took his advice and were in Tampa finding one the right size and price for themselves and also getting it insured.  So Friday night when I was sitting at the patio area with my computer and a glass of wine, I jumped to take a look at the school bus as it pulled into the parking lot.

Finally getting a proper introduction to our new neighbors in the work yard I found out the guys’ names were Ben and Hannes, and when I mentioned that we should all hang out soon to get to know each other since we seem to be the only young people in the yard and we kept hearing they had an interesting story to tell, Ben invited us to come to the patio the next night for a few drinks and we could all exchange stories.  I thought mine and Matt’s double Atlantic crossing last year was going to put us in the ‘very interesting’ category for storytelling, but I was so wrong.  These guys did in fact take the cake when it came to interesting.

Sailing Conductors school bus

Hannes & Matt grilling

patio of Indiantown Marina

Here’s how it all began:  Ben and Hannes had originally met in Berlin at SAE Institute for sound engineering but had gone their separate ways after finishing and didn’t see each other for a few years.  Ben then moved to Australia for more schooling and when he finished in 2011 he thought to himself, “Why fly back to Germany?…why not do something different and sail back there”.  But not only was it just about the sail, it was also going to be about making music along the way.  Getting back in touch with Hannes, he agreed to the plan and flew out to meet Ben and the Sailing Conductors were born.

“For the last four years, friends and music producers Captain Ben and Smutje Hannes have been sailing their 30 foot nutshell boat Marianne from Sydney to Berlin.  Their goal is to traverse the boarders between music and musicians to redefine the concept of ‘world music’ – on 5 continents, 35 countries, and with over 100 musicians.”

So what they do, and is the coolest concept ever, is go from country to country recording artists playing original work.  Sometimes they’ll have one person start from scratch…but the best part is that they will also introduce that original piece to another artist in another country and have them add their own flare to it.  So an acoustic guitar piece from South Africa will be blended with vocals from Brazil, and an orchestra in Indonesia.  Ben, playing the cello, and Hannes, playing bass, will occasionally add to the pieces as well.  What comes from it all it totally original and completely amazing pieces music that are truly a form of art.

They’ve put out one album already, AAA, and I was able to get my hands on a copy today.  I’m already head over heals for the second song on the track, ‘All That I’m Leaving Here’.  You can take a listen to it on their site here, as well as all the other songs on the album (scroll to the bottom of the page).  This won’t be the only album they put out though and they’re still busy recording artists for a new one.  It turns out their ‘RV’ trip across the US in their new school bus is to hit some major cities and find new artists to record.

Well, after that story, our double Atlantic crossing was put to shame compared to all that they’ve accomplished and all they still plan to.  But since we now knew of their musical talents there was no way we could let them escape the rest of the night without playing some tunes for us.  First it was just me running to get my guitar off Serendipity along with about 50 pages of songs I had wanted to learn to play but never learned.  Then Ben ran back to Marianne to grab his nylon string guitar and we ended up switching since the nylon strings were much easier on my fingers and from there I was given a good hour or two lesson.

I’m really not sure how long it was because somehow we ended up staying out until 5:30 am.  Once the beer was gone I brought out the gin from St. Martin and once the guitar lesson was over I began leafing through songs to force the guys to play for my delight.  Grabbing some of their own song books we rocked out the patio and probably upset just a few boaters at the dock as we probably did scream at the top of our lungs to ‘What’s Up’ by the 4 Non Blondes.

It was hard to tear ourselves away from the patio as daylight was sneaking up on us and I suspect would could have very easily stayed to see the sun rise.  So it turns out everyone at the marina was right.  The Germans are great guys with a very interesting story.  I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more of them as our time in the yard progresses, and not just because our boats are sitting right next to each other.

Hannes at the patio

Captain Ben on the guitar

Jessica, Hannes & Ben

Hannes & Ben playing guitar


Scarf turned into a headwrap….I sucked at it.



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