Mar 27, 2012

Preventing and treating seasickness

Seasickness is something that we both are prone to. This issue was worrying Minna especially because she had no previous sailing experience and it was uncertain how she would adapt to the life at sea. Fortunately, last season's sailings went quite well in this respect. Minna suffered a mild nausea during the first couple of days at sea, but neither of us got seasick during the rest of the journey.

I have previously got seasick a couple of times when sailing in the Baltic Sea. Thus, I was also a little bit worried about this, since I knew that at North Sea and Skagerrak we would probably experience worse conditions in terms of sea state. Luckily, we did not experience any gales at offshore and although the waves at Skagerrak were higher than we have used to in the Baltic Sea, they were also longer. The steep waves result in uncomfortable movement of the boat, especially when going upwind.

Causes of seasickness 

Seasickness is caused by the conflicting sensory inputs to the brain; i.e. your eyes are telling that the world is staying still, while the ears tell a different story. One of the most interesting evolutionary explanation for this is that the brain interpret the conflicting signals as hallucination and start a vomiting reaction to get rid of the cause of poisoning.

The key thing for preventing seasickness is to avoid those conflicting signals. Usually seasickness attacks when going down below. Staying on deck and keeping your eyes on the horizon is often the best prevention method. Furthermore, steering the boat forces one to concentrate on every wave so the movement of the boat is not unexpected.

However on longer journeys, one eventually has to go indoors to cook food, to go to the toilet or to get some sleep. This is often when the problem start. When cooking food for instance, it is important to frequently watch out from the window. Cold sweat is often the first symptom so it is important to recognize that and immediately turn eyes out of the window. Keeping head down is the worst position so that should be avoided. I have for example got seasick when searching something that has fallen on the bottom of the fridge. Preparation is the key: food can be made already on the harbour and stored to a place that is easily accessible.

Keeping eyes closed when staying or moving inside of the boat can also be helpful — at least Minna found this method useful. If the seasickness has already struck, laying down face upwards, eyes closed in the center of the boat (saloon bunks are the best) is often the best remedy. Body can then get used to the movement of the boat without getting those conflicting signals from the eyes.

Heaving-to is a good method to make the boat's movement more comfortable and to give the crew some time to rest. It can also be used to ease the motion of the vessel for cooking onboard for example.


Prevention is the aim also with medication — most of the drugs will be most effective when taken 5 to 10 hours before going out to the sea. Treating seasickness is more difficult after the symptoms have already started. This is also true with the acupressure bands applied at the wrist. I have tried them a couple of times without remarkable success. However, no single drug or treatment is effective for everybody, so it is important to try to find one that works for you.

Onboard, we have always Marzine (cyclizine) and Scopoderm (scopolamin) in store. Both of these have turned out to be effective when battling seasickness. Marzine is a non-prescription drug in Finland and it has low incidence of side effects. However, it is not sold in UK anymore due to the hallucinatory properties. We have not found any remarkable side effects with Marzine. Scopoderm skin patch is a widely used and effective prescription drug for treating seasickness. The major disadvantage of this drug are its side effects. I have not used Scopoderm, but Minna reported a very annoying dryness in mouth. At higher doses it may produce even hallucinations. Therefore, we prefer Marzine in normal conditions.

The natural product most used for treating sickness is ginger. In a couple of studies they have found it to be superior to placebo. The good thing with ginger is that it has few if any side effects. However, we have not tried it but would be interested to hear comments on ginger or other seasickness remedies? By the way, feel free to comment in English, Finnish or Swedish! Some other languages might get more difficult for us...

Read more on Noel Dilly's article "Seasickness remedies" on Adlard Coles' Heavy Weather Sailing (6th edition)

Mar 25, 2012

Amazing videos from the Volvo Ocean Race

Extreme sailing footage from the Southern Ocean onboard Telefónica and Puma Ocean Racing. The teams are on the Leg 5 from Auckland to Itajai, Brazil. In these extreme conditions the boats have switched to survival mode as they are sailing in the roaring forties towards Cape Horn. Wind strengths are on average up to 40 knots and gusting 60 knots. The first video shows Telefónica being slammed by two monster waves. These videos make our summer cruising look rather comfortable. But sailing should be fun?

The second video presents wet, cold and fast sailing onboard Puma:

Mar 23, 2012

Sailing video from Southern Norway

We have now uploaded a new sailing video to YouTube. The material was filmed during the summer 2011 in Southern Norway. The music in the video is composed by Pekka Laine. Check out also our previously uploaded videos.

Link to the YouTube

Mar 20, 2012

Improving the interior of the boat: organization is everything!

We are planning to improve the interiors of S/Y Dolphin Dance before the sailing season starts. During our sailing journey last summer, we learned that the key for a comfortable life onboard is to organize everything one has. All things need to have a purpose and a designed place especially when sailing with a rather small boat. 

We shall order some holders for daily necessities. In other words, we are trying to find out ways how to make life onboard easier and more organized. We are also comparing some storage boxes. For example, how do you store shoes onboard? There should be a very functional system and we have not yet come up with one.

One of the projects we are planning are new curtains. We would like to have white or beige ones instead of the blue ones we have, to freshen up the look, especially because the blue curtains have lost their color in the sunshine. Here one inspiration photo for the curtains from a new Hallberg-Rassy that we checked out at the boat fair.

Additionally, we are planning to order a new pillowtop for the v-shaped berth in the forepeak and a form-fitting sheet. Does anyone have ideas or experiences to share? Where from could we order a form-fitting pillowtop to keep on top of the actual mattress in the forepeak? Maybe I could sew the sheet myself, as I am also planning to freshen up my sewing skills to be able to create the new curtains...

Mar 16, 2012

Waterproof tablet or waterproof case for iPad?

The last two years have seen a huge growth of tablet computer markets. For boating people this has meant inexpensive, versatile and easy-to-use devices with interesting applications especially for navigational purposes. One does not have to be a fortune teller to predict that tablets with various applications will be a major future trend for boaters.

The main shortcoming with the consumer tablet computers is the lack of design for maritime use. However, for the coming season there are some interesting new products entering the markets: During the spring, Panasonic is launching rugged waterproof Android tablet Toughpad A1. It continues in the footsteps of Toughbook laptops, which are popular among boaters. Toughpad A1 has a matte, 10.1 inch, 1024x768 pixels screen that is especially developed for outdoor use. That is an improvement compared to the glossy screen of the iPad. Toughpad is rated to survive 120 cm drops, salt water and dust. The ten hours battery life is similar to iPad's. At the moment Toughpad is marketed mainly as a business tablet, but it seems like a perfect device for a boater. The estimated retail price for the tablet is about 1300 USD, which is about a double compared to the new iPad (Wi-Fi + 4G). However, it is still less than most of the 10" chart plotters cost.

Panasonic Toughpad, see the video in Youtube

One less expensive solution would be a waterproof case for iPad. In a moving boat the device is prone to knocks and hits so the case should also protect against those. Scanstrut is launching a waterproof iPad case during March. Touchscreen can be used normally through the pack and there is access to the iPad's buttons. The case is also buoyant, which is good news should the iPad go overboard. Suggested retail price for the product is 139 €. There are also other waterproof cases available, but many of the less expensive alternatives do not provide sufficient protection against knocks. We will definitely need a case for iPad, so more experiences coming later when we have acquired one.

Waterproof iPad case by Scanstrut

In everyday life the tablets have found the niché between smartphones and laptops. When considering navigation, I believe tablets are going to take their place between traditional paper charts and chart plotters. In this sense tablets will not replace these two but works merely as complementary device.
/Antti & Minna

cover photo by Scanstrut

Mar 11, 2012

Spring is getting closer day by day

Turku Boat Show (Meri kutsuu 2012) was held this weekend. It is a traditional sign that spring is approaching! We held two presentations at the fair, both on Saturday and Sunday, and we were pleased to discover that there was interest towards our sailing experiences. Thank you all for coming!

The weather on Sunday was beautiful, so in the afternoon we decided to go cross-country skiing in Ruissalo, which is an island close to the city of Turku. It was also interesting to discover how the springtime is getting closer and the nature is changing in the archipelago. For example, the middle part of Airisto fjard is already free of ice. There are signs of early spring - which would be good since we are eagerly waiting to start working at the boat. However, the temperatures would still need to be a bit warmer. Thus it is better to start with some indoors work: for example tiller and floorboards need new coats of lacquer.
/Antti & Minna

Mar 6, 2012

Articles in Turun Sanomat and presentation at a boat fair

This week seems to be very busy for us! Today, you can find two articles written by us in Turun Sanomat newspaper's theme edition for boating, called Vesille in Finnish. There is an article written by Minna about our sailing journey to Norway and an article written by Antti about using iPad and other mobile devices when sailing.

Next weekend, on the other hand, we will give two presentations about our sailing journey to Norway at the local boat fair Meri Kutsuu at Turku Congress Center (Turun Messukeskus). You all are very welcome to come to listen to our stories!

We have also opened a Facebook Page for our blog. If you want, you can follow our updates now there. It is also possible to check out information about this presentation at the boat fair through Facebook and join the event:
/Minna & Antti

Mar 3, 2012

An older Hallberg-Rassy: keel and hull construction

We have received some questions from readers that are considering buying an older Hallberg-Rassy. Since the construction issues might be interesting to other readers as well, I decided to write a blog post on the keel and hull construction on older HRs. However, I consider my two years experience with one HR boat (29) fairly limited, so more extensive user experiences can be found from various discussions forums for example.

With about twenty years old HR, one of the most important distinctive factor is, whether the boat is designed by Olle Enderlein/Christoph Rassy or Germán Frers. The latter started designing boats for HR in the late 80s and this marked a beginning of a new era for Hallberg-Rassy. Keels shortened, waterlines became longer and internal keels were replaced by external lead keels. New designs were introduced at the rate of one or two boats per year. Thus, in the early 90s there were still many Enderlein/Rassy -designs in the production in side with the newer designs. In addition to the visible differences in the design, there are some differences in the construction as well.

Encapsulated keel construction
Enderlein/Rassy -designs have an encapsulated keel which means that the ballast is integral with the hull and inside the fiberglass laminate. This structure is not used that much nowadays since the design trends have changed towards flat-bottoms and bulb-keels. Furthermore, the encapsulated keel is not practical, since it may need repairing after quite minor groundings. However, encapsulated keel structure has also some benefits:
- There are no keel bolts so one does not have to worry about their condition. Therefore the keel requires less maintenance when intact.
- The structure allows a very deep bilge and a space for tankage in the bilge.
- When properly made, the structure is very strong and uniform package and the grounding is unlikely to cause stress damage elsewhere on the boat.
- One does not have to worry about the potentially leaking keel/hull joint

The weakest point of this structure is that one does not know about the condition of the ballast. Iron, concrete or steel rust when in contact with the water, whereas lead is highly resistant to corrosion. Of older HRs, only HR 382 and HR 49 have a lead ballast according to the HR's website, while other models with encapsulated keels have iron as ballast material. Some other yards have used concrete or steel in keels as well. The gelcoat surface on the keel can be damaged in a grounding, which may lead to ingress of water into the ballast. Therefore, the damages should be dried out and repaired properly - and rather sooner than later.

Another potential way for water to seep into the keel is through the bilge. Especially, when the bilge is very deep, there is often some water remaining in the back corner of the bilge. Coating the bilge with an epoxy might be a good idea.

After our contact with an underwater rock in Norway last season, I was looking for information on problems with water in encapsulated keels. However, I could not find any information on problems related to Hallberg-Rassys.

Damage in the keel after hitting a rock at speed of about three knots. The damaged area was opened, left to dry over the winter lay up and is repaired in the coming spring. 

Hull construction 
The older HRs have a solid laminated GRP hull, whereas the newer Frers-designs have a sandwich/cored structure above the waterline. Actually, the yard wants to talk merely about an insulation between solid laminate layers. However, practically speaking it is a cored structure with its potential problems. Especially in an older boat, I would prefer a solid laminate hull - just in case.

Many older HRs (not the 29) have integral fuel and water tanks in the bilge. Although, this is a good place for tankage in terms of weight distribution, blistering is a potential problem since tanks may be damaged in a harder grounding.

Older HRs were built according to the Lloyd's Register of Shipping London specifications and under personal supervision of Lloyd's surveyor. Each boat was also supplied with Lloyd's Certificate of Hull Construction. Nowadays, the HR boats are CE certified by Germanischer Lloyd.

The Enderlein-designs have a large, almost full-depth skeg for rudder, which is a very rugged construction. The downside is that rudder is unbalanced and heavier to handle. The newer Frers-designs have either semi-balanced rudders with partial skeg or a balanced spade rudder. Actually six of the latest Frers-designs have a spade rudder, so this is probably the future trend for Hallberg-Rassy as well. Rudder fittings are of bronze in older HRs.

In general, I prefer sailing with a boat to repairing it. Therefore, I like simple structures that can stand the test of time. Even at the price of slightly heavier and slower boat. I am not a fan of cored hulls, so in this case I prefer older HRs with solid laminate hulls. The encapsulated keel in Enderlein-designs is not ideal, and I would prefer the external lead keel. The rudder construction in Enderlein-designs is less vulnerable to damage than the spade rudders in newer models.

Feel free to comment and add information, if you think that something essential is missing.