Blog 2019

Gulf of Gdansk and Bay of Puck

On Sunday afternoon we got back to home-base in Southern Sweden after a 2 week cruise to Poland and the area of the Bay of Gdansk and the Bay of Puck.

Both passages have seen quite favourable conditions for the 150 miles. Good sea state and no drama or particular difficulties, so all in all not a lot to write about.

However, the cruising grounds in Poland are really worth writing about, and I will give an account of where we’ve been and what can be found – as well as the places that we want to return and visit again.

Return trip to Sweden

Geography

The Gulf of Gdansk is a large body of water, marked by the curve of mainland in the South, and along its Northwestern edge by a long peninsula called Hel.

This peninsula is a ridge of sand reaching some 20 nautical miles from the mainland in a Southeasterly direction closing off about third of the Gulf of Gdansk from the Baltic Sea. It is 1.5 miles wide at it’s widest, however mostly a lot narrower than that. It means that a 5 minute walk will take you from the Gulf of Gdansk to the Baltic Sea shore.

More or less a third of the way along this peninsula of Hel there is another sandbank going perpendicularly between it and the mainland – in a Southwesterly direction; from the town of Kuznica on Hel, to Rewa on the mainland. I think Merwia Rewa is the name of this sandbank. Much of Merwia Rewa is awash, but it’s possible to walk along several kilometers on dry sand too.

Anyhow, Merwia Rewa marks a division of the Gulf of Gdansk and encloses what is known as the Bay of Puck. There are channels at either end of Merwia Rewa allowing vessels to pass. The depth of water in the Bay of Puck is never much over 5 meters and with substantial areas of only a meter – so a shoal draft vessel is certainly advantageous.

Map of the peninsula of hel
Map of the Northwestern part of the Gulf of Gdansk. (courtesy wikipedia)

The five towns of Hel

The peninsula of Hel has five principal towns, roughly evenly spaced along its length starting with Chalupy, then Kuznica, Jastarnia, Jurata, and finally the town of Hel at the Southeaster end.

There is a single road that connects all the towns with Wladyslawowo which is a town at the point where Hel joins the mainland. There is also a frequent train service that goes all the way out to the end of Hel. Of course there are buses which operate all hours of the day. The bus route which services the Hel peninsula is number 666 – no joke.

Route 666 to Hel

We visited four towns on Hel (not Jurata), although Chalupy only on foot when walking from Wladiyslawowo on the mainland to then take the train onwards to Kuznica. I could go in to more details about each town, and they all have their own unique features, but it’s probably not all that interesting.

Suffice to say that they have lots of small B & B’s, and houses for rent, white sand beaches, little shops and many restaurants. There are dozens and dozens of windsurfing and kitesurfing schools. Campsites and caravan parks. Everything one could expect to find at the prime holiday area for people from all over Poland.

The harbours are small but even with a large boat we always found a spot without prior booking. Facilities are mostly alright, although some places charge for showers. The overnight mooring fees, as was the case for everywhere we stopped in Poland, ranged from 10 to 15 euro.

The mainland cities

We visited Gdansk first, but also made a brief stop at Gdynia. They are very different, and Gdynia is the new modern town, whereas Gdansk has a very long history. Other than for commercial shipping and large vessels Gdansk is not really such a great harbour.

Old cargo cranes

The main yacht basin in Gdansk is right in the heart of the old town. We found the whole area overrun with tourists from 10AM and onwards. The marina feels like it is in the middle of a giant pedestrian roundabout and there’s no respite to be found there during the day. Also there are complications with an opening bridge for accessing the main yacht basin.

Buildings in Gdansk

Since 2018 there is a new marina for yachts in Gdansk called Przystan Cesarska. They have good showers and are helpful and accommodating. It is in the old dockyards part of town, and only 10 minutes walk from central Gdansk. The old dockyards is now where a lot of the clubs and parties, as well as art and exhibitions can be found. There’s no opening bridge to worry about to access this marina which is another plus.

Part of the old dockyards

The 5 miles of river to navigate to reach the city and these two available marinas does not offer much other than the spectacle of industry and heavy shipping – which is worth the sight too. There is a yacht club on the Eastern shore of the river only a mile from the river mouth but space is very limited. It is located right next to a medieval fort and castle, and is also close to a festival site in the woodlands surrounding it.

North from Gdansk is Sopot, allthough we did not stop there, it is famous for its huge wood pier. It is apparently also the more up-market retreat for holiday-makers in the region. It should have some beautiful architecture and avenues, as well as a few big parks and the likes.

The third city of the trinity is Gdynia which we stopped at only briefly, and actually took the opportunity to go and walk in the forests and along the sand-stone cliffs to the South of the town.

Gdynia is a big port now, constructed largely during the inter-war period in the 20’s and 30’s I believe. Excellent ship chandlers, and some interesting museum ships can be found in Gdynia. I think it is also famous for it’s night-life, although we did not check that out.

Ship chandlers in Gdynia

The water-sports

I think the best quality of the whole region is simply for the water-sports. Windsurfing and kitesurfing most especially.

The only place I’ve seen with similar numbers of people kiting is the beaches in Holland, but whereas they have waves and chop and few features on land, the kitesurf spots around the Bay of Puck have all the ingredients for the ultimate kiting conditions. Flat water, nice launch and landing and things to look at while cruising. Not to mention a high frequency of good breeze… I suppose this wind is also a cause of the geological features of the region, the sand banks and cliffs.

To cross over from Hel to the mainland following the Merwia Rewa bank on a wind board could be good too. Even though so many people visit especially for the kiting it’s not exactly too crowded, and with a little effort you can find a spot more or less for your self.

It’s a fantastic beginners spot for kiting as huge parts of the bay are only about 1 meter deep. It means you can stand up while sorting out a crashed kite or trying to get up on the board or just practice body-dragging and steering the kite.

Sailing along the Merwia Rewa

For visiting next time

We visited Wladyslawowo and Rewa, and Gdansk and Gdynia on the mainland, but Puck and Sopot not. There are also a few more places on the Eastern shores of the Gulf of Gdansk, but I have yet to research them.

Also I am very curious to navigate further up the Wisla river. Perhaps not through the city of Gdansk which is largely a man made tributary to the river, but instead up at the main mouth of the river further East. Unknown is the state of current in the main river, if there are bridges or overhead wires, and what possibilities there are for stopping.

Finally, the long sand bank that crosses from Hel to the mainland is also on the list of places to go. There are numerous ship wrecks on it which should make for some interesting snorkeling. Of course next time we will have to do a lot more kiting and windsurfing around there too!


Image source for map: Wikipedia

Passage West: Latvia to Sweden

An update here about the last leg of the sailing trip to the Eastern Baltic this year. It will cover the weather, route, and conditions of the passage from Riga in Latvia to Karlskrona on the South coast of Sweden.

The sailing took place from 16th to 19th July 2019. Miles sailed about 350 and we were five people on board. Katarina, Alex, Mycolas, Sam and me. A good number of people for a passage like that.

We left in the evening of Tuesday 15th at 9:00PM for the initial 65 mile sail up to the Northern point of Latvia and the corner of the Gulf of Riga

The low pressure

A low pressure system brought in rain and a cold front on Tuesday afternoon. The wind had been blowing Northerly for many days, but with the arrival of the low the wind came from the South West, which allowed us to sail out of the marina in Riga and 9 miles down the Dougava river.

The forecast said that about 8 hours later, or in the early hours of the morning of the 17th an occluded front would pass over, and following that the wind would be from the Northern semi-circle again. We had to make the 65 miles to point Kolka pretty quickly in order to avoid any up-wind beat.

The conditions after passing out the mouth of the Dougava were perfect. Reaching, wind-on-the-beam, and blowing offshore with the resulting flat sea. We sailed all the night and made it to within a few miles of point Kolka, but then the wind started to die down. The sky was looking darker to the West… more rain coming in.

Fortunately for us the low pressure system moved slightly slower than expected. We were given almost two hours bigger window to make the last few miles and clear point Kolka before the wind veered. Just right for us to go on the 260 mile down-wind run to the South coast of Sweden.

Modern forecasting is fantastic and when the planning works out so well is is very satisfying!

Synoptic chart
Rain moving in
The wind shift

The high pressure

The low pressure did not stay around for long enough, but instead continued up over Russia leaving high to fill in over the Baltic.

We had sailed fast all that day after rounding point Kolka, and the following night. However at mid-night the wind died off completely, when we we’re some 20 miles off the coast of Öland.

The rest of the trip was slow sailing. Very slow. Luckily this boat will sail (or drift) along at 1.5 knots even in the very lightest of breeze, enough to maintain steerage way at least. En engine to finish up the remaining miles would have been a bonus, but on the other hand it is quite pleasant to be out on the water and with the calm conditions of the Baltic Sea there’s none of the agony of an old swell shaking the boat and sails around.

A morning drifting

End of the trip

There’s not a great deal to write about for the remainder of the trip. We got in to Karlskrona in the evening of Thursday. The following day most of the crew had to leave for their travel home and it started to feel very empty on board.

To summarise the trip from Sweden, over to Lithuania and then back across the Baltic and up the East coast of Gotland, then over to Estonia and the Gulf of Finland… down again through the Gulf of Riga and a few days in the capitol of Latvia, before returning to the South coast of Sweden. It was great! Good sailing mostly, fantastic people on board and a good time was had by everyone!

Many thanks to all the crew; for your help and good company, and I hope we have a chance to sail together again soon!

Estonia’s Little Isles

After waiting out the bad weather in Haapsalu port, it was time to sail again.

The persons on board numbered only three for this trip, as Dave and Essemi had to leave for a coach and ferry journey back to Sweden.

When planning a cruise and the places to visit and overnight there’s lots of factors to consider. Weather, the draft of the vessel, on-shore facilities, or where to organise crew on/off and find supplies. But the most difficult is often to find out where to go in the first place; what is interesting to see, where are the fun things to explore.

We visited the tourist office in Haapsalu, and while they don’t specialise in their maritime surroundings, one of the ladies working there does some sailing, and she offered us some good tips on places.

Haapsalu to Osmussaar

Due to only having a few days at our disposal the best plan seemed to be that we could fit two main stops. These would be the island of Osmussaar, then an overnight anchiring in Matsalu national park, and finally the island of Ruhnu before ending the week in Riga and preparing for the next leg.

Osmussaar island

Osmussaar lies at the Western end of the Gulf of Finland and for this seasons sailing it is the most Northern destination we will make.The island is shingle stone and about 4 miles long and 1.5 miles wide. It’s a good long walk around it, but possible to do in an afternoon. There’s a lot of stones, and so with the rough surface, it’s quite slow progress.

Osmussaar shoreline

The Caretakers

The island has a lighthouse in the North and there is a family who are caretakers and lighthouse keepers for the island. They keep a few highland cattle, and a lot of sheep.

One funny thing about the sheep of Osmussaar is that they make a whistling sound in warning to each other when we came to close. I’m not sure if that’s unusual or not, but I don’t remember hearing whistling sheep before.

The family are called the Holmberg’s and they have a dog, and also a ginger cat. The dog was very pleased to see us and stayed with us on our walk around the island for the next 4 hours.

Osmussaar lighthouse

The military history

As the island is in a strategic position as guard to the Gulf of Finland there has been a large Russian presence there. They constructed heavy artillery batteries in a few places, but in 1941 abandoned the whole island after detonating explosives to neutralise the equipment.

After the Second World War the Russians were again there, and constructed a naval base on the island, which was in use until 1993.

Especially the pre-WWII era left a lot of matériel and artifacts behind. While we were there the Estonian safety services were removing live shells from the artillery batteries – ammunition abandoned and almost 80 years old.

The old bunkers and gun turrets are open to us tourists and still in remarkably good condition. It’s quite eery walking around the old bunker rooms, and peering into the corners one can see stacks of huge artillery shells waiting for someone to dissarm and remove them. The advice that was given to us was: “Don’t touch anything round and you should be safe”.

Explosives removal set up

Shipwrecks and other remnants

There have been many shipwrecks on Osmussaar over the years, only one is really worth a visit to nowadays, and is situated half way up the East coast. It’s an old trawler that has broken in half and is high up on the beach.

A wrecked fishing trawler

There’s lots of other old remnants of buildings, and the islands Soviet naval base. But here are also much older artifacts from the times when a farming and fishing community lived there. The original people were all shipped off to the mainland with the arrival of the Russian naval base activity and their homes destroyed apparently.

Sailing South Again

As said the harbour in Osmussaar was as far North as we made it this year. We left at midday to sail to the Matsalu national park and then onwards to Ruhnu in the Gulf of Riga.

The departure was not that easy, with a strong onshore breeze and some waves coming in the bay. The auxillary motor is definitely not up for the challenge. I keep two long poles ready on deck for pushing off the dock, or even bracing on the seabed if it’s not too deep, to assist manoeuvres.

The Island of Ruhnu

We arrived at mid-night to Ruhnu, and, as we had been told by the harbour master they were wide enough, we tried to fit the boat into one of the finger pontoon births. That proved impossible if we wanted fenders down the side, the birth was just wide enough for the vessel alone. We moved to the outer basin and alongside a bigger dock instead.

An unpleasant surprise at Ruhnu was the mosquitos! The first time this trip that there have been any troubles with mosquitos, and it was bad. In a matter of minutes the boat was full of them, and my personal kill-count before managing to fall asleep was already in the four dozen.
The next day I tried to walk to the centre of the island where its only town of 60 permanent inhabitants is – I had to abandon my attempts. The flies and mosquitos were thick in the air. Enough to make you feel a sense of panic. The locals all use bicycles, and if you keep up a good pace then the bugs can’t keep up.

The island is quite interesting though, and I would’ve liked to have seen more of it. Also it’s location in the middle of the Gulf of Riga mean it’s somewhat of a hub for all the cruising boats in the area. A yacht arrived with the Irish flag, that’s the most exotic I saw.

We left at 1AM the following morning, Friday, for our sail to Riga, to make best use of the fair winds and reaching conditions on the 60 mile trip South.

Cruising grounds

Passage East: Sweden to Estonia

After Gotland the plan has been to sail East over the Baltic to Estonia, and to a town called Haapsalu, about 100 kilometres West of Tallinn.

We set off in the early morning of Wednesday from Gotland. Important was to make our destination before evening Thursday due to strong wind and rain moving in. The passage is 180 miles, first over the open sea and then navigating through the archipelago of Hiiumaa and Saaremaa.

West Estonia Archipelago

The forecast was light Northwesterlies and later backing West so not the fastest conditions, but with up to 36 hours set aside for the trip we would be hard put not to get in to harbour before the bad weather.

As actually played out we had really fast conditions the whole day and night of Wednesday, and the light conditions only arrived the following morning, but even then they were short lived, and we ended up with a text-book perfect passage and made harbour in good time.

Keeping watch. Sighted another sailing boat.

The strong wind did come in and a lot of rain too. The boat was safely moored up in harbour, but all of us got caught out in the evening when walking in to town to find a pub and have a few drinks. We got back to the boat at mid-night, and all of us soaking wet from the rain! Fortunately there is a fantastic sauna provided in the marina at Haapsalu, perfect for a cold stormy night!

The next day we visited Tallinn. The old walled city has what I would call the perfect castle architecture. Just the right stone and colours for a proper medieval castle! It was very nice to walk around and see the old historic city.

Part of Tallinn’s city walls

We also changed crew in Tallinn as Giacomo had to leave, and Biying joined the boat.
Next trip is planned to be a weeks cruising in West Estonia archipelago. I’ll post again and write about what interesting places we find.

Gotland’s East Coast

Gotland, the name of the island off the East coast of Sweden, the largest Island in the country. It has a narrow sound in the North where then the island of Fårö lies. Finally Gotska Sandön is offshore a ways to the North. These three make up the main islands of Gotland.

Gotland is a popular tourist destination, peaking in July and August. However during our week’s sailing up the East coast of Gotland we found it remarkably empty of other cruisers. There’s very few other sailing boats, literally only a handful. We can show up in the harbours and there’s a space there for us, no hassles with reservations or the likes.

The harbour fees are in the region of 200kr (€20) per day. That’s with access to showers and laundry. Key cards can be found in a little safe in the harbour, and one code seems to be used for all the harbours. Payment is largely on a trust basis.

A few of the harbours are not managed by the Gotlands Gästhamnar organisation (Ljugarn which we visited for example). If they have a different way of going about things I don’t know.

Thanks to the prevailing Westerly winds this week we have also had he possibility of anchoring in a few of the numerous pretty bays along his coast.

The sea water is quite clear, which makes the eye-ball navigation and anchoring much easier. Also, surprisingly because the coastline looks so rocky, many of the bays have beautiful white sand bottom. We can take advantage of our shoal draft vessel and sneak right in close to the beaches. Basically it’s to then wade ashore. It is a bit chilly in the water though, I have to admit.

Our track up the East Coast

The southeast: Vändburg

Our first port of call on Gotland was Vändburg in the South. The harbour we arrived to looked like possibly old navy/defence infrastructure. The one thing that isn’t so great is that the docks are lined with old truck tires which rubb off on your fenders and make them absolutely horrible. I wonder what sort of polluting run-off occurs from due to all the old rubber baking in the sun, wind and weather.

Fisherman’s hut South of Vändburg

The coastline South of Vändburg is a kind of shale rock (I’m no geologist so have no clue to be honest – sorry), and the sea has carved out pinacles and cliffs un t which give it a very different appearance from what I know of Sweden’s Baltic sea coasts.

Rock pools along the coast

Another feature of the coastline in the Southeast is lots of salt water ponds (yes, the water is not salty as such but I can’t think of another name for the pools). These are sometimes lovely and clear warm water, others are actually quite smelly and gray with a kind of fermenting seaweed and algae.

The mid-east: Ronehamn

We stayed for three nights at Vändburg and then sailed up Northward to Ronehamn. We left at 5AM. With full main, and twin headsails, on a deep reach the 18 miles were covered in no time.

Approaches to Ronehamn

Ronehamn is an old commercial harbour, but now very dissused except for visiting yachts, two fishing trawlers were there too, but didn’t look to be much in use.

In Ronehamn too we went walking along the coast, and then inland a few kilometres. There are lots of stone cairns from the late Bronze ages (2 to 1000 years b.c.) to be found in the area. Around Gotland there are over 1200 of these constructions, but the one at Uggarderojr is the largest. 7 meters high and 45 meters in diameter. It’s a big, big lot of stones, and must have been quite a project to build. Dotted all around the plains are many more and slightly smaller Rojrs.

The walk to the Rojrs

Gotland dry stone wall

As we had made an early start and arrived at 8AM to Ronehamn. We had ime for the 12km walk to the Rojrs, then lunch and then leave to continue North to Ljugarn, another 16 miles.

The mid-East: Ljugarn

Arriving at Ljugarn in the afternoon we decided to anchor off the old harbour in 6 meters of water. A very pretty anchorage which gives a 180 degree view of the open sea, but is protected from swell by the offlying islands of Storh, Grash and Skarph.

Ljugarn is a beach side “resort” town and has sandy white beaches to the North and South. Many pretty houses and small windy roads give it a lovely village atmosphere. There’s a lot of people there but does not feel crowded anyway. This was also the first place we found a pub in Gotland and so we had to have a few beers there.

The islands we sailed past on the way in used to be used for animal fodder which was harvested then transported to land by a barge towed by sailing boats. It is quite unusual, i didn’t thing sailing vessels could tow other vessels very effectively.

Barge towing by sail

The northeast: Slite

Slite is situated in a deep bay and three small island offer a little shelter, besides the harbour walls which are still required to stop the waves.

Slite is the largest town we have visited and I imagine a few thousand people live here. There’s an ironmongers, two fair-sized supermarkets, two pizza places, a library, hair saloon, a Thai food place, a petrol station and finally a mixed sort of everything-shop too.

Harbour at Slite

The harbour has a great little matitime museum which is open long hours, free to walk in for anyone. There’s a little fish bar, a few “fiskebodar”, and right next door a big cement factory. It’s not too noisy or bright, so can’t complain.

Actually the museum deserves special mention as it’s really very nice. The people working/caretakers are very friendly and it will even open on demand should you call them and ask. It has general history of sailing and ships, but also a lot about the old USSR and characters such as Ivan the Terrible before that.

I didn’t take any photographs of the museum because it’s hard to capture on camera, and the lighting is difficult to work with in the pictures.

The next leg

I’m posting this just before we leave for the 170 mile passage to Haapsalu, Estonia. On board we are 5 people and it’s a nice group from different places and backgrounds.

The weather is windy and raining, and more arriving on Thursday evening, so we should try and get there before then.

We will start off after the wind calms and backs to the West, and at first light at 04:30.

I’ll be back with another post from the sailing. When we get there.

Gotland photos

A few photos from the South-east coast of Gotland where we are now. I’ll write a blog and update this post again in a few days.

Rocky shoreline

Rocky shoreline looking SW

Old fisherman’s huts

Flowers and one of the many beaches

Many salt water pools are found along the coast

We visit by boat, but camper is nice too

Vändburg harbour, old infrastructure for the Swedish navy probably

That’s it for now, but as I said I’ll be back with more pictures and updates soon.

Passage West: Klaipeda to Gotland

Just arrived to Gotland after a 31 hour sail and 130 miles covered.

We’ve mostly had a very relaxing trip. Onboard is Guacomo who found the boat on Crewbay.com, Dave, friend rom Sweden, and I… and also a lot of food and snacks to keep us going for the next 10 days or so.

Route and weather

We left from Klaipeda Tuesday 1500h after doing the shopping and crew change.

The decision to leave in such a hurry, after only arriving Tuesday mid-day is due to thunderstorms and strong Northerly winds arriving Wednesday night, and no good possibility for leaving Klaipeda until Saturday if we missed this window.

The forecast said light and variable winds until Wednesday mid-afternoon. Then filling in from the South, before veering North Wednesday night and strengthening.

The actual conditions we had were actually close to this, but the Southerlies never happened, instead the Northerlies arrived directly.

Arriving with that change in wind we also had several thunderstorms pass to the North of us, and luckily only one small one with heavy rain came overhead. I don’t much like sailing with thunder and lightning around.

A thunderstorm that came over us

Food and supplies

The prices are significantly lower in Lithuania than Sweden for most foods so the idea was to stock up on them for that reason. Also, it’s nice to have a change and try some different food.

We purchased at the market the fruit in season such as berries and cherries. Vegitables such as early peas and beans, and new potatoes.

Local cheeses and other typical Lithuanian dairy such as Kefir we got too, as well as the very good fresh bread from the bakery!

Snacks are biscuits, honey and dried bread types. There’s a kind of local speciality of dried dark rye-bread biscuits which go well with savoury and sweet toppings.

What’s next?

We are now planning to stay on Gotland until the 2nd July when another crew change is planned. There is Alexandra from Switzerland joining then, apparently her first experience of sailing will be this so that’s exciting. Then we cross the Baltic sea for a third time, the 180 mile passage to Estonia.

Before that date we plan to explore some of Gotlands East coast, and also do some general work and improvements on the boat if there’s time.

Unfortunately the one crew who wanted to join here has had to cancel his sailing so for now it’s just the three of us on board.

Now, time for a sleep, actually I’m already looking forward to a nice breakfast tomorrow morning!

Sailing to Gotland, flat sea and light wind, making 3.5 knots of speed

Passage East: Karlshamn to Klaipeda

First of all thanks to all the crew for a fun and easy 200 mile sail over the Baltic! It’s been a really memorable fun time.

Also it was great to have so many people down at the dock to wave goodbye and see us off on the adventures! Sorry to miss the mid-summers celebrations on shore, but good also to be at sea and sailing.

Now, I would love to write a lot more, but it’s also been very busy here in Klaipeda, Lithuania for us. Busy because we had to leave now after just a nights rest. If we don’t then we will be stuck waiting for the weather until Sunday.

Klaipeda in the evening

So this morning we went to the market here in Klaipeda and have now filled the lockers with good food and vegetables. Local fruit and a few cheeses too. After that we paid the harbour dues, and filled up the water and left to sail to Gotland over in Sweden – 125 miles.

There is bad weather coming over on Wednesday evening so we have 24 hours to make the trip, or at least get close to land to get in the lee of Gotland when the wind comes in strong from the North.

We are three people on board for this leg, but then in Gotland two people are joining which found the boat on the internet, so that’s exciting to meet some new crew!

We plan to leave from Gotland on the 3rd or 4th to sail to Talinn, Estonia region.

We are there for 11 days and then on the 15th we’ll try to set off on the return trip to Sweden.

Alright, we are sailing along nicely now so soon the mobile signal will be gone so I better send this post now! Bye!

Packing for Sailing

As is quite normal, people have questions about what to pack, and what to plan for, so I thought to write a posting about just that. I hope this will work as an assurance for people joining that they are not forgetting anything, but also – as you will see – not packing too much!

Personal equipment

There’s not a great deal needed that we don’t already have on the boat. In this section I’ll bring up a few bits and pieces that often get discussed when people talk about going sailing.

Headlamp – this is the only really “sailing-specific” thing I can recommend that you bring, don’t feel like you have to, but it’s quite a nice thing to have. Remember that ideally it should have a red light mode; for use at night as then it does not blind other people, or yourself.

Sailing gloves – no. Not needed. We are not doing any kind of regatta tacking, match racing kite-switching, race gybing night and day. There are enough people on board to share the work, and nobody has to fear wearing their hands out.

Sun protection – this is a big important topic that you do want to think about. Again. We will again have things on board to protect you (Mexican hats for the whole crew – joking!) It’s a good idea to ware sunglasses, as well as long sleeved shirts. Just be sensible about it, first hats and shirts and then sunblock and creams.

Personal safety equipment – life jackets and harnesses are on board so you do not need to bring them unless you want to. Personal location beacons are a great thing if you have one, or better still: personal AIS transmitters. I think under the circumstances of this sailing we should not be overly concerned about wearing these. However, as said, if you have one then of course that’s not a bad thing to bring along.

Sleeping bag – there are mattresses, and pillows on board. We can have sheets and pillow cases too. What could be a good idea to bring is a sleeping bag, if you want to. I do not require this. If you don’t have one then let me know and I will pack an extra set of blankets or sleeping bag. Really, if you don’t have one, or don’t want to travel with it, then don’t worry.

Atlantic passage with wind (class 40)

Clothes

A large proportion of what has to go in your bag when you pack for a holiday is clothes. Getting ready for an offshore sailing trip – maybe even more so! There’s a few general things to consider for this 2019 trip on the Baltic Sea.

First of all I should say that not all sailing trips are like this one. We are talking about a cruising ground, and a time of year, when it’s not cold, and it is not stormy. If the weather happens to be particularly bad then at least we don’t have to leave harbour until it passes.

Secondly there’s the duration of the sailing to consider. None of us is on board for more than a month. Also the time at sea, or cruising in remote areas, is also very limited. We can expect to find fresh water on some docks for bucket-washing clothes, and if we really need it I think even washing machines can be found.

Thirdly is that sharing is the more reasonable plan than for everybody to bring absolutely everything they might possibly need! For example, we are not all out on deck when it’s raining and cold and at night. Most of us will be inside. If one of the crew outside needs an extra jacket to stay warm; we can find one to lend them. A hat. Gloves. Things like that, why not share them – because we probably wont need them that much anyhow.

Boots

I would like to talk about boots. Boots, the waterproof footwear. The image of the sailor on the ocean with salty spray flying, and the storm blowing all around. The sailor – her feet nice and warm, dry, comfortable! A pair of boots. What a dream.

Boots are not easy to share, they tend to fit on feet of quite specific sizes. Giving one boot to a friend, and keeping one for you doesn’t work very well. Boots are expensive, and to find them of good quality is very, very difficult. They are also quite problematic to fit in your bag , not to mention very heavy. The good news is: you don’t need boots!

Mostly it’s pretty dry on deck. The surfaces can feel cold, or may feel a bit slippery underfoot. Something to put on your feet that is super easy to dry out is the best thing. Crocs for example. Surprisingly, even though they are full of holes, they keep your feet a lot warmer, wear socks in them if it’s not raining – or just bare feet if it is a bit wet, because you’ll never have to stay on deck for hours upon hours.

If you find that you do get really cold feet: remember the sharing thing. Somebody can lend you something to help.

Don’t forget the sun is hot!

Foul weather gear

Everybody has seen the pictures of sailors with their jackets, and trousers, with flaps, pads, and adjustments and fancy panels and patches and pockets – each year a new fashion comes on display.

That’s all great. But don’t go buying a full set of gear just for a bit of sailing. Remember you’ll have to fit it in your bag, it’s expensive, and yes; it’s plastic, so if you don’t really need it – don’t buy it! A hiking jacket can be a good-enough sailing jacket. The same goes for simple waterproof trousers, they work on a boat too!

On board there are multiple jackets and trousers, so if you need to borrow any gear then that’s not a problem. I suggest bring a light windproof (not even necessarily waterproof) jacket that you’re comfortable in. A hat to keep the wind out of your ears… and of course the under layers to make sure you are warm enough. Remember; if it is really wet outside, or cold, then we will sort something out to keep you warm and dry.

Basics

To wrap up this blog post I go right back to the basics on clothes. I want to talk about socks, underware, t-shirts, trousers, jumpers and shirts. All basic things we need, on board a boat as well. Take what you would for a hiking trip… what you can comfortably carry. You know: functional, basic, useful stuff.

But then, because we are not hiking – we’re actually living luxuriously on board a sailing yacht – pack a thing or two extra. Maybe something nice to wear for a party, a pressed dinner jacket, and a fancy dress suit. And don’t forget swimming gear because the water is warm and lovely!

That’s all for now everyone! I’d love to hear your questions, ideas or recommendations, so just get in contact!

One month before the start

There’s a few bits of news that I can mention, mostly about the people joining as crew, so I though I’d write another update

First leg from Sweden to Lithuania I think we will be full on board, that means as many as 6 people. Maybe not, it’s difficult for people to say exactly when they will be here and which sailing they have time for.

Joining in Karlshamn for the first leg is a student aged 28, he’s from Italy I think, but connections to London where his family lives. Very little sailing experience, but also he’s arriving early to help get the boat ready so that’s good news for me! He’s doing the trip as far as Stockholm.

In Stockholm another student is joining. She’s 22 years old I think. Living in New Zealand of all places, but originally French, or German or.. I’m not sure! Not much sailing experience at all either. Anyhow, currently she is the youngest on board. This means that if we have no wind for sailing, then it is she who has to whistle a tune to bring the fair winds back!

There are 4 more people from the internet that might be up for some of the legs. It’s still in the organisational phase! Also, I think it would be OK to mention people by name in this text – but I haven’t asked so I’ll just have to give a general description of them instead!

Sailing preparations

Besides spending time talking with people and organising crew I have been working on other things to.

One thing that I have to make sure of is that the sail-maker in Lithuania has time to modify the head-sails while we are there. There’s only a small time window for that work to be done, but I much prefer to have the work done by him than over in Sweden.

Waiting to be worked on and to go sailing!

I’m also ordering things on the internet for the boat. I have just got a new log and echo sounder that need to be installed. I have to write to the harbour master to let him know what is happening, and that the boat will be late in the water this year… hopefully he understands and doesn’t charge me for an extra 3 weeks on the hard.

Then there is the lifting the boat in the water aspect as well! I have to organise the crane to come down and put the boat in the water! That’s always an exciting day of hard work… the crane helps with the mast at the same time… so all the preparations have to be made efficiently, and without mistakes.

I’m in France currently, but will start working on the boat as of the 8th June, which is the day after I get home!

And, to finish off this post here’s a weather proverb for you:

When clouds appear
Like rocks and towers,
The Earth’s refreshed
With frequent showers.