Dec 30, 2013

Best of the 2013

Yet another year is coming to an end, so it is time to look back to the season 2013. In this blog post we list the best large guest marinas, smaller village harbours, wild anchorages etc. that we visited during the last season. It was surprisingly difficult to decide which are the best since things can be looked at from so many perspectives. Thus, we decided to choose two winners to each category.

1. Best large guest harbour

Visby – Yes, the harbour is definitely overcrowded in July. Yes there are a lot of large motor boats in the marina, most of them hosting loud parties until late evening. Yes, the facilities are a bit ascetic given the popularity of the marina. However, it is still Visby, one of the most legendary sailing destinations in the Baltic Sea. The harbour is located in the heart of this best preserved medieval city in the Scandinavia, so it is a good base for the walks around the old town. One can also rent a car from the harbour office, if wanting to see the island more.

Mariehamn (E) – A visit to this Åland's capital city is almost a must for each season. It's location is especially good, if going to or coming from Sweden. This year (like most of the other seasons) we stayed in the eastern harbour, which has good facilities: plenty of berths, good showers/saunas and shopping areas nearby. Thus, it is a good place to stop for provisions. The city of Mariehamn is cosy little town, which has a nice buzz to it during the high season.

2. Best small village harbour

Lickershamn, Gotland – Located just some 15 nautical miles north of Visby, this small fishing village is particularly idyllic. While most of the bigger yachts hurry to Visby, the atmosphere in Lickershamn is tranquil and more original. Harbour's main attraction is Gotland's largest rauk Jungfrun, which stands lonely on the cliff and rises 25 metres above the sea level. There is about 600 metres walk from harbour to the rauk. The fishermen tradition is still living in the village, so we bought excellent smoked salmon from the fiskeboden/harbour office. We actually ended up spending two nights in this idyllic harbour, since the calm and peaceful atmosphere in Lickershamn felt especially refreshing after a busy week in Visby.

Sandvik, Kökar – This is our favourite of the three harbours on Kökar island in Åland Archipelago. We visited the island in late June, before the high-season, so the harbour was about half-full. It was still preparing for the main season. The facilities are pretty good for a small harbour, there is a nice sauna with a chance to go for a swim and perhaps the smallest ever grocery store in the small hut, where the harbour office is located. There is about two kilometres walk to the church, from which a great view opens to the barren Archipelago.

3. Best wild anchorage

Gotska Sandön – This uninhabited and most isolated island in the Baltic Sea is located some 25 nautical miles north of Gotland. In Baltic standards, it offers perhaps the worst anchorage in terms of shelter. Actually there is not much shelter, so boats anchor in the lee side of the island.

The scenery on the island is not very Baltic – it almost felt like coming to a tropical island when rowing the dinghy to the deserted sand beach. The warm and sunny weather did not do bad either! Kilometers long sand beaches round the whole island and there is a lush pine forrest in the middle.

Sandön, Finland – The visit to Sandön, located in the southern Archipelago Sea, in September was particularly memorable. Especially as the mid-Septmember weather was so great. With sandy beaches around the island, it resembled of our visit to Gotska Sandön. However, the anchorage was much calmer thanks to the sheltering archipelago. Similar to its sibling in the middle of the Baltic, Sandön cannot be landed with a sail boat, so one needs to have a dinghy. Furthermore, it is always possible to swim ashore.

4. Best sauna

Helsingholmen – The sauna on Helsingholmen is one of the best in the archipelago, so we always book it if possible, when visiting this island. It is wood-heated of course, has a possibility for a refreshing swim in the sea and offers great views towards the setting sun.

Bullandö Marina, Stockholm archipelago – For a Finn it is actually a bit hard to admit that the finest 'marina sauna' that we came across during the season was actually located in Sweden. Saunas (or Bastus as they call them) are not as wide spread in Sweden as they are in Finland. If one happens to find a sauna from a Swedish guest harbour, it is usually a small and dark hut with no windows and temperature around 40 degrees. However, this was not a case in Bullandö Marina, which had a new sauna building with large picture windows offering a nice view over to the marina. Modern shower facilites were renovated with taste as well. Unfortunately, we did not take any photos from the sauna in Bullandö.

5. Best sail

This category was perhaps the hardest, as we got a favourable wind for all of the longer crossings this year. That is actually a bit of a surprise due to the fact, that winds were mostly blowing from the south when we were going to the south and from north when coming there.

From Nynäshamn to Visby – this 80 nautical miles leg was the longest one during the last season. We departed from Nynäshamn in the evening and we got headwind for the first couple of hours, but the wind veered to west before midnight and strengthened. Thus, we got a pretty fast beam reach through the night to Visby, where we arrived at 10 o'clock in the following morning after a 15 hours sail. The weather was clear and the dog shift was treated with a nice sunrise.

From Gotska to Stockholm Archipelago – The wind was calm during the day so we spent the day touring the island, and raised the anchor in the late afternoon. Soon the wind picked up, and we got a nice reach with gennaker to Stockholm Archipelago. We looked for a suitable anchorage in the outer Stockholm Archipelago that could be accessed safely during the night. We found one from the pilot book and dropped the anchor at the sheltered bay on Finnskär at 2.30 am after a 9,5 hours and 50 nm leg. One did not have to wait for sleep for too long.

So much for the year 2013. We would like to wish you all a happy New Year 2014!

/Antti & Minna

Dec 11, 2013

New video: Light wind sailing with gennaker

When freeing space on my phone memory, I found some sailing footage, filmed on the 2nd of June, while sailing from Jurmo to Korppoo. The weather in the beginning of the June was exceptionally good this year and temperature climbed above 25 degrees during many days. However, this was not the case in Jurmo – one of the southernmost islands in the archipelago – where the temperature was only around 14 degrees. After sailing an hour or so towards north from Jurmo, the wind eased and temperature climbed above 20 degrees. It was time to take out the gennaker from the locker, and store the long trousers and woolly hats down below. The feeling in the early summer is always a bit special, when the whole season is still ahead...

Link to the Youtube clip

Dec 5, 2013

New forum for HR 29 sailors

Over the last two and a half years when writing this blog, we have been contacted by quite a few HR 29 owners or potential buyers from all over the Europe and also from US. In one of these e-mail exchanges almost precisely one year ago, I was suggested to make a discussion forum, where HR 29 sailors could gather to share their sailing experiences and knowledge on technical issues, maintenance and refit and other various topics. I instantly thought that this was an excellent idea. However, I did not have any idea how to build such a forum and therefore, it took a full year to complete this project. The most difficult part was to find the time and energy to start working with the forum, since the actual process was easier than I thought and took only a few days, thanks to those many instructional Youtube videos, which made the job a lot easier. The forum was built with a free open source PhpBB software.

My dream is that over time this would become an active forum where owners can find answers to their questions and technical issues but also share photos, videos, sailing stories and keep mini blogs etc. I would like to encourage everyone who is interested in these boats to register on the forum. It should only take you a couple of minutes. Photo of your boat can be uploaded under the category "Welcome to the HR 29 forum". See the instructions from the welcome message.

Many Enderlein's HR designs are pretty similar structurally, so if there is HR 312, 352, 38 etc. sailors out there, feel free to join in if you like! Also if you are interested in buying an HR 29, you might find the forum helpful.

Here is a link to the forum: HR 29 owner's forum. The forum can also be accessed via links on the upper and side bar of this blog.

Nov 27, 2013

Cockpit tent – are we getting old?

We have had the cockpit tent for one summer now, so I decided to make a blog post about our experiences after the first season. After it was delivered in June, we have been using the cockpit tent – often referred as 'Pappateltta' (Old man's tent) in Finland or 'Supstuga' (Drink cabin) in Sweden – basically every day, when on the boat. Thus, I am not quite sure, if its nickname especially in Finnish is very telling or felicitous; I definitely think that it is something of which also younger sailors can greatly benefit from!

We really should have ordered this tent three years ago before the rainy seasons of 2011 & 2012, since the last summer was one of the best in terms of weather – I am not complaining though! All in all, I think that the greatest benefit from the fully enclosed cockpit tent is achieved in rainy weather, when the oilskins, sailing jackets, life vests etc. can be left to dry under the tent and one does not have to take them down below. This is especially handy in a small boat, which is always short of room and doesn't have double heads/toilets or wet locker for hanging foul-weather gear.

On the other hand, the cockpit tent is also useful in good weather. We often raise it for the night to keep the moisture away, so we can leave stuff like cockpit seat cushions, dishes, life vests etc. outside for the night. This also helps to keep the interiors more organized.

In general, I think that the fully enclosed tent, which keeps also the wind away, gives an extra cabin to a small boat. Thus, I would consider it as the most valuable 'comfort equipment' that we have onboard. Furthermore, I think that the tent can be a wise investment in the way that it may even reduce the need to change to a bigger boat due to the shortage of room.

During the summer months, we ate basically all the evening dinners and breakfasts in the cockpit, which gave the nice feeling of eating outside and being close to the nature even if the weather was chilly or windy. Furthermore, this also helped to keep those new light-coloured saloon settees clean. However, during the late September/October when the temperature dropped below 10 degrees, we spent less time in the cockpit, since heating the tent is not very efficient. After all, there are pretty large holes for the winches, tiller and stern rail in the tent. I guess that in the spring or early summer – when the Sun is up longer – the tent works better, since it acts like a greenhouse.

Some things to consider, when buying or making a cockpit tent:
  • Where do you store the tent, so that it is not on the way or damaged when not in use? 
  • Is the tent easy and fast to install from the storage?
  • Make/order the tent with large windows, so you get more light inside and better views outside
  • Make all the three sides/sleeves rollable or detachable, so that the tent can be used as a bimini in good weather. 
  • It may be a good idea to have the canvas fastened to the arch with zippers, especially if it needs to be removed frequently.
Here is more information and photos on our cockpit tent, made by Juha Lahtonen Oy from Turku.

The cockpit tent in Bimini mode

Nov 19, 2013

Summer of Sunsets and Sunrises

During perhaps the most depressing month of the year, going through old summer photos offers a good escape. Compared to the greyness and darkness of November, especially colourful mid-summer sunset and sunrise photos present a vast contrast. Therefore, I decided to make a blog post on the subject of sunset/sunrise photography.

Last summer offered many beautiful sunsets and sunrises due to the mostly sunny and clear weather. One can certainly appreciate this after a rainy summer of 2012, when the horizon tend to be blocked by heavy clouds during most of the evenings. Among my favourite sailing moments are the offshore sunsets and sunrises, when one can see – if the horizon is clear – the ball rising from or setting to the sea. Especially, after a sleepless night at sea, a beautiful sunrise always boosts the spirit.

Sunrise from the sea

The setting sun is perhaps the most photographed, or in other words one the most worn-out subjects that one can come up with. Consequently, the problem is that it is hard to be very unique when taking a sunset photo. A boat sailing into the sunset is hardly an original subject, but with a different camera angle one can turn this to an interesting photo. Sometimes if the clouds are particularly colourful or interestingly shaped, just capturing the view of the sea horizon can be what is needed to get a good image. Also using large zoom can reveal interesting details and boost the colours. However, getting a sharp image may be difficult at the sea due to the rolling boat. Normally, when shooting the setting sun I use the tripod, but obviously one cannot use that in a boat.

Sailing into the sunset
Sailing into the sunset. I like the colours of the sunset, but the composition is less original

Sunset in Visby
A sail boat approaching Visby at sunset. Photo taken with a large zoom and a tripod.
Normally when photographing for example the setting sun from the boat, I try to include the boat somehow or some detail from the equipment for example to convey to the image the freedom of sailing and being close to the sea. However, finding different and new shooting positions after many years becomes more and more challenging.

Sunrise_sailing in the Baltic Sea
Photographing on the deck usually gives more action to the photo. However, taking the system camera on the fore deck is not always the wisest thing to do. 
Sunset near Öja/Landsort
The Sun setting behind the Öja/Landsort island
The waterproof action camera, that we have been using this year, brings many new possibilities for shooting. However, when photographing in the lesser light of the setting or rising sun, obviously the camera of a size of a match box cannot match the quality of a large system camera, but it clearly has many other benefits.

All the photos are taken last summer. I also edited a short video of Sunsets and Sunrises of the Northern Baltic Sea in 2013.

Sunset in Lickershamn
Sunset in Lickershamn, Gotland
Small boat in Lickershamn
A small boat in Lickershamn
Sunset in Bothnian Sea
Sunset in Kustavi
Kaskis island at Airisto
Sunset in Kaskis island

Nov 15, 2013

The renewed mattresses

I blogged last spring about our plans of renewing the mattresses for this year. However, I just realized that we have not yet posted any images of the outcome. So here they are, a couple of photos of Dolphin Dance's new light coloured mattresses, which to be exact, are not that new anymore, since they were delivered in the spring, just in time for the first sail of the season

Our old light blue mattresses started to be a bit worn out, and especially the colour of the saloon settees was partly washed-out. The old cushions were original and thus had served for over twenty years. The moist conditions in a boat can be challenging for fabrics, and there were some mold spots in the backside of the old mattresses. Thus, also due to my allergies, we decided to renew all the mattresses for this season.

With the new cushions, we wanted to take the opportunity to modernize and brighten the looks of the interiors. Therefore we opted for a similar natural white colour, that we had used earlier in the curtains, which were renewed in 2012. We bought the mattresses from Kangas- ja patjatalo, a local family-owned company specializing in mattresses.

When planning to order the new cushions, we got a lot of advice that it might be difficult to keep the light coloured ones clean. However so far, we have not had problems with that. Maybe we have just been extra careful during the first year. Furthermore, especially when sailing or dining, we tend to use additional blankets to cover the settees. 

Mattresses were treated with furniture protector

The fabric is similar to Alcantara. The new mattresses are buttonless. 

The striped white/black blanket is normally used on the settees.  

The mattresses in the forepeak...

...are normally covered with v-shaped pillowtop mattress, also made by Kangas- ja Patjatalo. 

We chose the colour that matches the curtains. 

Nov 9, 2013

Building the winter cover frame

This week, building the winter cover frame and installing the plastic tarpaulin were on the agenda. For a moment, my father and I were actually planning to build a completely new frame from aluminum tubes, but decided to use our old wooden frame instead, because it was still in pretty good condition. Also, two years ago we had marked the positions of different parts, so we did not have to start from zero, when assembling the frame.

DD's winter cover frame is definitely not an architectural masterpiece – compared to some of the 'boat houses' in the yard – but it has served its job pretty well during the two winters (2010/2011 & 2011/2012) and also through the Dagmar storm in 2011. On the other hand, our berth at the boat yard is pretty sheltered, so more windy location might need sturdier winter cover frame. For this year, we made some improvements by adding support planks from the ground to the deck frame, which makes it easier to tie the plastic tarpaulin and keeps the tarpaulin away from the topsides. This improves ventilation and also keeps the topsides cleaner.

There is enough height under the tarpaulin, so that one can still work on the deck.

Oct 30, 2013

Summary of the season 2013

The season 2013 ended on Friday 25th of October, when DD was laid up on the hard. This was one of the latest lift outs and this year we actually did make a couple of sails still in October. Usually our last sails have been in the end of September. This season got a bit late start, as she was launched only on the 23th of May. So despite the late start, the season lasted for almost five months, which is one of the longest seasons so far. The goal is to extend this to six months next year, as we are planning to launch earlier next year.

During the season, DD logged 1196 nautical miles in 55 sailing days. This year we moved to a new homeport, closer to the main sailing areas in the Archipelago sea. Therefore, we made, compared to the previous years, quite a few day sails especially in the early summer. However, our average sailing distance 22 nm per day was lower than during the previous years, so we had a pretty relaxed schedule this year. I spent total of 263 hours at the sea and Minna about 240 hours.

In the early June we made a couple of shorter night trips and also one longer trip to Jurmo in the southern Archipelago Sea, which was one of the goals for the summer.

The main destinations for this year were Gotland and Fårö. We started our four week's summer trip in the end of June. On the way back from Visby, we also visited Gotska Sandön and Stockholm. You can find more information about sailing to Gotland and back in the summary I wrote earlier

This year's autumn was especially warm and summer-like almost till the end of September. Therefore, in August and September, we did many shorter night trips and also one longer sail to Kustavi and Uusikaupunki in northern part of the Archipelago Sea.

Oct 26, 2013

Hauling out season ahead!

It is again that time of the year when it is time to face the facts: yet another sailing season is drawing to a close, and the fun part of preparing the boat for the winter begins. However, I consider this as a part of the hobby, and doing the basic maintenance tasks by yourself also helps one to learn his/her boat better inside out. On the other hand, those with some extra money in their pockets can of course outsource this less glamorous side of sailing hobby to professional boat yards.

Earlier this week we made the last sail of the season, when heading to the boat yard, where Dolphin Dance is going to be laid up for winter. Although rather chilly, the autumn day was sunny and we even got a chance to sail for an hour or so. After arriving to the harbour, we removed the sails for winter. DD was lifted out on Friday with the mast still stepped. Covering the boat without the mast would be easier, so we might be calling a hiab truck next week to unstep the mast.

Is your boat still in the water or already lifted out? Are you planning to leave the mast up for the winter?

The deck was still frosty after a cold night, as we started.  

Sails up for the last time this year. 

TUI cruise ship being built close to the boat yard.