Jun 30, 2013

Exploring Kökar, Åland

The winds have been calm so we decided to stay in Kökar and explore the island further before we continue our journey towards Sweden. After spending a lovely evening at Sandvik Guest Harbour on Saturday we made a short, 9 nm, leg to the southern part of the island, to Karlby Guest Harbour.

The narrow waterway to Kökar Karlby is zigzagging across the beautiful archipelago.

The waterway is well marked with the leading beacons painted on the rock.

The day was sunny and we were relaxing and making plans for our journey towards Gotland. In the evening, we rented bikes for a couple of hours and decided to visit Helsö Guest Harbour on the northeastern side of the island.

In the evening, we took sauna and then cooked food, bruschetta and pizza for the first time in the boat during this season. I was actually planning that next time that I make pizza, I would write a blog post about how I do it onboard. Since we love pizza, I have prepared to be able to make it myself onboard S/Y Dolphin Dance. Actually I think, that the pizza is better onboard than at home - thanks to the gaz oven that is excellent for pizza.

Tomorrow, we are planning to wake up early and head for Svenska Högarna. We will see how the wind turns out - probably there will not be that much wind but let's hope we will get some more. We have five days time to arrive in Gotland, since Antti's brother and his family is coming to Gotland on Friday and we are trying to to be in Visby then too to be able to spend some summer days with them on that island!

P.S. If you want, you can like our page on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to see where we are going. The internet connection is not probably that good all the time so those channels are probably updated more frequently than the blog!

Approaching Åland archipelago: via Korppoo to Kökar

Hälsningar från Kökar! 

As always, the final days before the start were hectic when we were trying to get everything ready in time. In addition to provisioning, Dolphin Dance was inspected on Monday, the leaky solar ventilator was resealed and the water tank disinfected.

We started on Friday afternoon with a 25 nm leg to Korppoo Verkan, which we visited already in beginning of June. This time there were many more boats in the harbour, but we managed to find a good berth, although we arrived quite late in the evening.

On Saturday, we continued to Kökar. The wind was light and against us, so we had to motor the whole 27 nm leg.

Now we are checking out different weather forecasts, which are not too good in terms of wind, since it is mostly light and/or against us. Thus, we have pretty much abandoned the idea of taking the direct route to Gotland. The options are to continue to west towards the Stockholm Archipelago or head for southeast to Saaremaa in Estonia, which is more favourable direction in terms of winds. Let's see how it goes.


Final preparations

Bye bye homeport!

New 50 m anchor line

Approaching Åland! 

Kökar Sandvik 

Jun 21, 2013

7 days to go

This week we have continued preparing Dolphin Dance for the main sailing journey of this season. That is a trip to Gotland, which is bound to start on Friday next week.

There are still plenty of preparations to do including all the provisioning, which is left for the next week. In addition to fixing things at the boat, we made a couple of evening sails earlier this week in beautiful weather. We also got our new sprayhood and cockpit tent from the maker. The sprayhood was installed already last Saturday, but fitting the cockpit tent was left for Wednesday. More photos coming next week.

Among other things, both of the fire extinguishers were checked. Also our main sail halyard was a a bit worn out so it was replaced with 8 mm dynema rope.

Solar powered ventilator is good in gathering mold/dust (and spreading it through the boat). 
Thus, it is good to clean it from time to time. 

Antti is working on Friday and Saturday, so we are not going sailing during the Midsummer weekend, which is the biggest holiday of the summer in Finland. We wish you all a great Midsummer and fair winds for those who are spending it on the water!
/Antti & Minna

Jun 17, 2013

Weekend in Naantali

This weekend, we decided to take a very relaxed schedule and sail where the wind takes us. As some bad weather was forecasted for Sunday, we did not want to go too far either. The southwesterly wind was fresh when we started on Saturday afternoon, so we decided to head for north from our homeport this time.

We got the new dark blue sprayhood, and installed it on Saturday. 

We actually ended up sailing to my old hometown Naantali (Nådendal) – located some 15 nautical miles from our homeport – for the evening, and this turned out to be an excellent choice! Having lived there for about thirteen years, Naantali was not really a new acquaintance, but for me it was an interesting experience to stay in the guest harbour and spend a weekend there as a tourist. The old town, located around the harbour bay, offers great walks along the narrow streets and on the shore there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. We both agreed that Naantali is definitely among the most cosy little towns that we have visited in the Baltics so far. For a sailor, the only drawback is that, entrance to the city is closed by bridges in the nearby archipelago. If your mast is lower than 16,5 meters, there is no problem however.

 Sailing under the Särkänsalmi bridge 

Sunday was rainy but the weather cleared for the evening.

Jun 13, 2013

Moments from the beginning of the season 2013

Sailing season 2013 has begun in a very positive way. The weather was amazingly great when we were sailing last week: sunshine and +25 degrees is not too common in these latitudes at this time of the year! I still wanted to share with you some moments that I captured with my my Instagram! Hope you like them also and can feel the summer.

@ Airisto 

Roope tarra - the sticker for the membership of Keep the Archipelago Tidy Association 

@ Jurmo


Jun 11, 2013

Testing the inflatable dinghy

We did not go sailing during the weekend, but decided to spend it on the dry land instead. Well, that is almost, since on Saturday we unrolled, cleaned and inflated the dinghy for the first time this year, and I also made a short test run.

In general, I would consider the dinghy as one of the must-have equipments for a cruising boat. Together with an easily deployable bow anchor, the dinghy makes wild anchorages more accessible, and we prefer staying on anchor rather than using the stern anchor and trying to get the bow fastened to the land, which is also more risky especially in an unknown anchorages.

However, rowing the dinghy multiple times during the day between the boat and the land is a bit akward so we have been planning to buy an electric outboard for the dinghy. We have had our red Plastimo inflatable since 2010, but we had not actually ever tested it with an outboard engine before. Thus, on Saturday, I decided to give it a go, and try it with 6 hp Suzuki lent from Minna's father. The outboard was actually a bit too powerful for the 2,2 meters long dinghy (4 hp is the maximum), so I was a bit careful in using the throttle.

For the tender, we chose the Plastimo Raid P220 SH mainly because of the competitive price, light weight and compact dimensions when rolled, as the initial idea was to store it in the cockpit locker. However, it turned out to be a bit too large for the locker so it is either towed or stored on the coachroof in front of the sprayhood for longer passages.

I must say, that I was a bit disappointed about how the dinghy handled under power. I have previously had a bit longer Bombard B1 (an old 80s model) inflatable, which had a hard wooden floor and, if I recall correctly, even a small V-keel. Thus the boat had a relatively good steering control, and I used to make rather long trips with my trusty Bombard.

On the other hand, our current Plastimo Raid has a slatted bottom, which makes the boat in general more flexible, and the totally flat bottom affects negatively the directional stability. At low speeds the dinghy did not seem to have a steering at all - it was like steering on ice. It was also a bit difficult to get the dinghy to plane, and when it did, it felt unstable, so I did not even dare to try it with the full throttle. Furthermore, there was not that much wind and the sea was almost flat. So maybe an electric outboard or small 2 hp outboard is ok for moving this dinghy with 1-2 adults over relatively short distances, but this is not clearly an inflatable for long explorations, fast cruising or for rough anchorages.

Thus, for the next dinghy, I would be looking at a dinghy, which is a bit longer and preferably comes with an inflatable 'airdeck' floor and keel for better directional stability. In general, for a small sailing boat, the choice of dinghy is always a compromise between the performance and compact size and weight, as it needs to be stored and lifted onboard frequently.

Do you have an inflatable dinghy onboard? What kind of experiences do you have about the use of inflatable dinghies while cruising?

A tender gives a freedom to explore islands, which otherwise would be 
inaccessible with a sailboat (Sandön, Archipelago of Turku)