Seventeen days at sea.
No phone. Internet. Just the constant rhythm of the ocean rocking your boat side to side, and an endless blue horizon stretching out in all directions.
For many people, that scenario would be quite daunting. For Christina Andskar, sailing across the Atlantic Ocean was the experience of a lifetime.
"I've had this dream for some time now," Said Christina, recounting her sabbatical journey. "When we set sail, it was an amazing feeling."
By day, Christina is the Head of Sales and Customer Service at eBay's Tradera business unit. When she's away from the office, Christina and her husband are avid sailors, keeping their boat docked in nearby Stockholm.
Shrewdly, they didn't sail their own boat, though. "We wanted to enjoy our dream, and knew that it would be difficult to do in our own boat. You would have to sail it down from Sweden, then sail it over, then sail it back again. Instead, we chose to be paying crew on a larger vessel."
Christina and her husband kicked their trip off by spending a week in Cape Verde, where they walked the beaches and prepared for their sailing trip.
"After our week in Cape Verde, my husband and I went to the pier where the boat was anchored. We met the other 8 guests, all German except us two Swedes," said Christina. "I don't speak German so that was kind of a challenge."
The crew of the ship consisted of five people. "They told us first all about safety and to be very careful especially during the night shifts. 'If you fall over board in the middle of the night, you are dead,' said the Captain. All the Germans were older and the Captain gave them limits on where they could be on the boat at night."
"We went 17 days and nights without seeing land," Christina said. "That was a very new experience. You realize you're there and you're not going anywhere, and you learn to relax. It was often very emotional."
Christina was struck by sunsets that seemed to surround the travelers. She mentioned the thrill of swimming in the middle of the Atlantic, with 5 kilometers between the surface and the ocean floor. At one point, a pod of dolphins swam alongside their boat, joining the travelers for a brief stretch on their 17-day journey.
"It was extremely exciting," she said. "The crew told us to be quiet as we got close to them with cameras. There was one baby dolphin, following its mother. The dolphins stayed with us for quite a while, and then they took off."
Not every moment was picture perfect, though. Christina was seasick initially. "I was certain I wouldn't be sick because I've sailed for many years," she said. "But I ended up being one of three of us who did get sick. It was around day two when it struck and I went down to the cabin. I slept for 15 hours, and after that I was fine. While I was seasick though, I was thinking, 'Wow, only more 15 days to go!'"
After getting her sea legs, Christina was able to relax, and appreciate the tranquility provided by open ocean.
"The trip was an amazing experience," Christina said. "We were totally disconnected. We are all so hooked up and online these days. After we had left the harbor on our trip, there was no Internet, no way to communicate with the outside world. It was a new situation for us, and very valuable. You start to think, you start to talk and you start to interact with one another. You also realize how spoiled you are - being able to look up the answer to your questions on your phone at an instant. On the Atlantic we had to stay curious. I am very grateful for my sabbatical."
After five years of service with eBay Inc., employees are eligible for 4 weeks of time off with pay. This sabbatical is intended to provide a break from the pace and intensity of work and allow employees the opportunity to recharge and pursue areas of interest.