Jan 29, 2013

What's on DD's bookshelf? Part I

I decided to write a blog post on the sailing related books, that we like to always have onboard. When writing this post, I came across more and more interesting books in our library, which I think, deserve to be listed. Therefore, this blog post is split in two parts. So here is the first part, which presents perhaps the more technical and instructional books that we have on our bookshelf.

1. Skipper's Emergency Handbook by Tony Meisel

According to the back cover, "the Skipper's Emergency Handbook contains all the information you'll ever need to cope with any emergency at sea." 

This characterization is rather ambitious, but the book pretty much covers any serious event, that one can think of. However, it is another story if one has time to grab the book and start reading in the real emergency. So in this respect, it is good to read the book already ashore, as the author suggests in the foreword... 

The book is delivered with a waterproof cover and paper, so you can even take the guide out in the cockpit in rough conditions if necessary. The book is written in a very straightforward manner and illustrations and flow charts guide the reader quickly to the best solution available. The emergencies are arranged in practical alphabetical order to help finding. Therefore, the book starts rather promisingly from A  Abandoning ship...

2. Adlar Coles' Heavy Weather Sailing edited by Peter Bruce

Adlard Coles' Heavy Weather Sailing is perhaps the all-time classic of storm survival guides.  The first part of the book  the expert advice  gives the reader essential information for example on yacht design and construction, storm sails, sea anchors, seasickness remedies, waves and meteorology of heavy weather, to name a few. Each of the topics are dealt very thoroughly, which makes the book an excellent source of information when preparing yourself and your boat for the heavy weather.

The second part of the book consists of amazing storm experiences from some of the most famous storms in the past. They are pretty scary reading, but at the same time, very interesting and offer also a great learning experience. Each story is followed by Peter Bruce's comments. Perhaps the utmost feeling after having read the book is, that you want to avoid those survival conditions by any means. 

3. A Passion For the Sea by Jimmy Cornell

Jimmy Cornell is best known for as the founder of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), and as an author of highly popular World Cruising Routes books. Compared to his more factual previous books, A Passion For the Sea is a bit different, because it is also partly an autobiography. The book is organized so that the chapters alternate between cruising narratives from his three circumnavigations, and more technical and practical chapters on various things affecting the life of a blue-water sailor. The topics range from weather, routing and navigation to wind selfsteering gear and financial matters to name a few. 

Mastering the practical side of the cruising lifestyle is of course very important, but having a dream to sail beyond the horizon is equally important. In the A Passion For the Sea, every other chapter feeds those dreams with Cornell's rich personal experiences, anecdotes and great photos from some of the most exotic cruising grounds in the world - from Antarctica to Caribbean and from Pacific to the Mediterranean. 

4. The Boat Maintenance Bible

We have actually the Finnish edition 'Suuri Venekirja' of the English original. Being self sufficient when it comes to fixing things at the boat is naturally very important for a sailor. This book serves as a great reference book as it covers most of the topics, which one can face when maintaining an old boat. However, as there are a lot information included in the 300 pages, some of the topics are perhaps not dealt thoroughly enough. In those cases, looking for additional information may be necessary. 

Another book on the subject is Nigel Calder's Boatowner's Mechanical and Electrical Manual. Based on the reviews, it may be a more comprehensive especially when it comes to electrical issues.

5. Arholma-Landsort and Gotland -pilot book

I have sailed in Stockholm Archipelago since 2009. However, the previous season 2012 was the first one with the great Arholma-Landsort and Gotland -pilot, which presents harbours and anchorages in the Stockholm Archipelago and Gotland. For us, this pilot book opened a whole new world, since there are plenty of great natural anchorages in the archipelago. Furthermore, in July the guest harbours tend to be full of boats already in the afternoon, and thus it is good to have more choices. The Swedish edition presents 230 natural harbours and 71 guest harbours.

However, the problem is that others seem to have this same book onboard as well, and you will find probably lots of boats in the most popular anchorages (like in Paradiset).

The pilot has also an extensive background information for example on the interesting history of the archipelago. Naturally, detailed navigational information and description of facilities is presented for each harbour and anchorage. The book is well illustrated with coloured charts and photos and handy aerial images. 

Jan 24, 2013

Plans for the season 2013

During the darkest and coldest time of the year, it is nice make some hot beverage, grab a chart book (or an iPad), and start planning for the coming season. Since our work schedule for the next summer is still bit open, we don't want to have too fixed schedule for this year. And as the weather plays such an important role in this business, we are open to adjust our plans.

Sailing around Gotland
Last year, we took a course towards north from our homeport, so this year it is time to head towards south for a change. According to the preliminary plan, we will start in the end of June and take a course towards Gotland, which is the second largest island in the Baltic Sea (after Danish Sjælland).

I have previously visited Gotland in 2010, but due to the tight schedule then, I only stopped in two harbours: Visby and Fårösund. Since then I have wanted to come back and sail around this great island. And by that I do not mean the way the contestants in the famous Gotland Runt sailing competition do it (i.e. non-stop), but merely stopping at various harbours and fishing villages on the island.

The medieval city of Visby is the 'capital' of Gotland, and almost a must destination for a visitor. Minna has not been there before, so she is looking forward to seeing this great little city, which I have been telling about probably too many times. In addition to Visby, we would like to especially visit Lickershamn, some 15 nm north of Visby, and Lauterhorn on the island of Fårö (NE from Gotland).

The route which we are planning to sail to Gotland is still pretty much open. And it probably remains open until the last couple of days before the start. The options are basically to go there directly from Finland, via Stockholm Archipelago or via Saaremaa (Estonia). The direct route has the longest offshore leg as the distance between the Finnish Utö and Visby is about 160 nautical miles. The distance from Landsort,  an island in the southern part of the Stockholm Archipelago, to Visby is about 70 nautical miles. The distance between Saaremaa and Lauterhorn is about 110 nm. We are planning to take the direct route either on outward or return journey — depending on the weather conditions — to have some more time to spend on Gotland.

Visby and Fårö were also discussed in my earlier two part article/blog post:
"Top 10 sailing destinations in the Baltic".

During the journey to/from Gotland, it would be interesting to visit Gotska Sandön, which is an uninhabited island in the middle of the Baltic Sea, about 20 nautical miles north from Fårö. It is surrounded by sandy beaches, which give the island its name (which translates as the "Gotlandic Sand Island"). There is no harbour so visiting boats anchor in the lee of the island. Therefore, the weather conditions should be benign for visiting Gotska Sandön.

Do you have suggestions on good harbours on Gotland or have you visited Gotska Sandön? It would be interesting to hear about your experiences.

The busy inner harbour of Visby

 Dolphin Dance in Visby (in 2010). The berths at the breakwater are less congested and this area is more quiet compared to the inner harbour at the heart of the city.

Langhammar's rauks on Fårö

Sailing past Gotska Sandön

Jan 18, 2013

New YouTube-videos

We have now uploaded two new videos on our YouTube-channel. The first one is a short movie about last year's sailing trip to the High Coast and Stockholm Archipelago. I actually edited the video during the holidays, but when exporting the movie, very frustrating audio sync problem came up. There seems to be a bug in iMovie, so I could not get the audio right by any means. Therefore, I downloaded trial version of the Final Cut Pro X, which is able to read the iMovie-file. Final Cut Pro is more advanced editing software, so I think that the result was better after all.

Going through and editing video clips from the summer is an excellent therapy in this darkest time of the year. Hope you like the video!

The second video is not about sailing, but about testing our new GoPro -camera in Hemsedal, Norway. So those who are interested in skiing or using GoPro -camera in general, check it out!

Sailing in the High Coast of Sweden (link to the YouTube-video)
Music: First Infection by Pekka Laine

Skiing in Hemsedal 2013 with GoPro (link to the YouTube-video)
Music: Just Breath (Trance Dubstep) by Chandubada CC By NC

Jan 14, 2013

New Year's resolution for 2013: Improving safety onboard

I am not too keen on making New Year's resolutions. But I guess that the decision, that I made already last autumn, to 'name' safety onboard as the main theme of the season 2013, could be labelled as one.

One could say that improving safety should be the goal for every season  constant improvement should be built-in to ones routines. However, I think that even experienced (and I do not consider myself as one) sailors will always find something that can be improved and therefore, I believe, that paying some extra attention to safety issues this year will do no harm. Thus, I encourage You to do the same!

Safety is not an ON/OFF-situation. It is based on a chain of actions, and it is the weakest link which determines your safety level. What we will do is to start by critically examining our skills, processes and equipment in trying to locate the weak links in the chain.

In 2011, before casting-off for a long summer cruise, a lot of new safety gear was bought for Dolphin Dance. These included for example a liferaft, a rescue sling, a handheld VHF, a grab bag, an extra fire extinguisher and some extra distress flares and rockets. However, the last weeks before the journey were extremely busy, so there was not enough time to go through every new item with a sufficient care and attention. It may give a false sense of security, if you have all this gear onboard, but they are stored somewhere in the back of the locker. Everyone onboard should know their location and be able to use the most important items by heart!

In the spring we will go through every safety item that we have and at the same time, we will check their condition/expediency dates and re-think their placement. Also it is very important for everyone (including guests) onboard to know how to use the safety equipment and know where everything is located.

Let's take the liferaft as an example. Does everyone onboard know how to launch the liferaft? Secondly, should the liferaft be mounted on the deck or on the locker? Reaching the liferaft from its deck mount is often pretty straight-forward, but there have been many cases where liferafts have been ripped from their deck mountings in a storm. So in this sense, storing the liferaft in a cockpit locker would be a safer solution. However, lockers of cruising boats are often filled with all kinds of stuff, so one needs to consider if the liferaft can be easily reached and found in case of an emergency when the boat is on a roller coaster ride? That includes a situation when the skipper is incapacitated.

Rehearsal is a vital part of improving and maintaining safety onboard. Local boating clubs and SAR-associations often arrange education and possibility to practice emergency situations in a controlled environment. For example the Finnish SAR-association arranges distress flare and rocket testing days this spring.

Naturally, safety onboard is not only about the equipment, but about the general seamanship and experience of the skipper and the crew. Much has already been written about the seamanship by many experienced sailors. What we are planning to do is to critically examine our procedures. I think that in terms of safety, there would be much to learn from the airline industry. The limitations of human cognitive capabilities are there well recognized and therefore basically all the procedures are based on various checklists. Especially in an abnormal situation, one tends to become too occupied with the problem in hand, which may lead to more serious situation, than the problem was initially.

One thing that I would like to improve particularly is an overall preparation. And I do not just mean preparing for a longer crossing or for a coming rough weather. But merely trying to make thorough preparation an every day routine. For example, this grounding could have been avoided and this situation would have been handled better with a good preparation. Last summer, I heard a good advice from a fellow sailor in Hölick:
"One should always prepare for the storm."
I think that it is a good advice which we try to keep in mind in the future.

It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on how to improve every day safety onboard?

Jan 6, 2013

Greetings from Norway!

Today it is the last day of our skiing holiday in Hemsedal, Norway. Perhaps, it is no wonder to you, that we are fans of this amazing country and want to keep coming back year after year. I have been in Norway maybe eight or nine times now and each time I am left with a feeling, that I want to come back soon and see more.

Hemsedal offered a different face of Norway for us. The skiing center is located in the middle part of the country, less than 100 km south from the famous mountain region of Jotunheimen. The scenery around the ski center is also high and mountainous - the nickname 'Scandinavian Alps' is in our opinion well deserved!

For me, like for many others as well, the mountainous scenery gives same kind of appreciation and feeling than the open sea does  I guess it has to do with understanding your own smallness compared to the greatness of the nature.

Here are some photos from the slopes...
/Antti & Minna 

Jan 3, 2013

Igor sailing from Nordkapp to Stockholm

Happy new year everyone! As the first blog post of this year I would like to share a great YouTube-video Project Scandinavia 2012 by Slovenian adventure sailor Igor Stropnik, who sailed with a 3,9 m inflatable catamaran from Northern Norway to Stockholm. Igor sailed first from Nordkapp to Narvik and then continued paddling his catamaran along the River Torne to the Bay of Bothnia and the Baltic Sea.

I very much enjoyed watching this video with many beautiful scenes from Northern Norway and Sweden. Furthermore, his camera work is great and shows the possibilities of the GoPro -helmet camera for shooting sailing.

Link to the YouTube-video