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.  

Oct 20, 2013

Autumn break in Naples and Capri, Italy part II

During our autumn break in Italy, we had only two days to spend on the Capri island, so we did not have any ambitious sailing plans. Anyway, we kind of hoped to find sailing charter services from the island – just for a day sail around the island. Unfortunately, we could not find one, and thus, we had to settle for a noisy motor boat tour around the island. The scenery was breathtaking nevertheless, but we were kind of missing the quiet ride of a sailing boat.

The boat tour visited various caves around the island. This the 'Green grotto' on the southern coast. 

During the tour of the island, we also visited the famous Blue Grotto (Grotto Azzurra) that in the end turned out to be an easy way to get money from tourists. In itself, the cave was amazing but the huge tourist crowds and the two-minute-visit costing more than ten €uros per person were a bit disappointing for us.

The entrance to the Blue Grotto is so small, that the cave can be only accessed with a rowing boat. 

We stayed at a hotel in more quiet Marina Piccola area away from the busy Capri village. This turned out to be a good choice, since we had a nice view to the open sea and to the few sailing boats anchored in the bay.

Beautiful anchorage at Marina Piccola di Capri. 

Capri is of course one of the most famous tourist resorts in the Mediterranean. This has some negative side effects as well. For example, there are queues to everywhere, the prices are higher compared to Naples and the food is less original. Also the Marina Grande, the port where passenger ferries arrive, was buzzing with salesmen trying to offer boat rides or additional services.

We took a scary bus ride along the narrow serpentine roads from Marina Grande to Anacapri village. 

View from Anacapri to Marina Grande

October seems to be a a pretty ideal time for visiting this area; during our stay the weather was something, that would be called a heatwave in the Baltics: temperature was around 25 degrees and evenings still pleasantly warm. We definitely prefer this to the normal hot summer weather of the Mediterranean. Secondly, we saw only five or six sailboats during our stay, and thus, the anchorages are quieter than during the peak summer season.
/Minna & Antti

Faraglionis or sea stacks on the southern coast of Capri rise over 100 meters over the sea level.  

Oct 17, 2013

Autumn break in Naples and Capri, Italy part I

In the end of September, when it started to seem that the winter is arriving also this year to Northern Europe, we decided to book flights to Rome for a mid-October Autumn break in Italy. From Rome we took a train to Naples where we spent the first night. The city is quite untidy with a lot of rubbish on streets and graffitis everywhere, but on the other hand, the architecture is very beautiful and the city feels authentic.

On the first night, after finding our hotel, we were hungry after a long day of travelling, so we decided to head for the Centro Storico, the historical centre of the town. Already in early Sunday evening, there were a lot of locals gathering for a Sunday dinner. We just picked up a restaurant that looked cosy and ended up eating perhaps the best pizzas that we have ever had. By the way, that was at half of the price that what one would have to pay in Finland.

On the following morning, we strolled around the city and especially headed for the Lungomare-area located by the sea. We visited a couple of marinas and liked especially the one next to the Castell del’Ovo castle.

We had many reasons to visit Italy: first of all, especially Minna is a fan of 'La cucina italiana' and was especially keen to visit the Naples area, the home of pizza. Secondly, this part of the Mediterranean also has a connection to this blog, since Dolphin Dance (under different name and ownership) spent her first years sailing in the Italian waters. We have also dreamed of sailing there with an own boat, and thus thirdly, wanted to check out marinas and cruising grounds of the area in general.

In the afternoon, we caught a ferry to Capri island, located in the Gulf of Naples. But more about Capri in the next blog post coming up soon!
/Minna & Antti

A lonely boat sailing in the Gulf of Naples. The summer season starts to be soon over 
in the Meds as well, although one couldn't tell that from the weather. 

Oct 8, 2013

October sail to Kaskis island

A week ago, I wrote that we were probably done with our night trips for this season. Fortunately, this turned out to be untrue, since on Monday afternoon, we (me and my father) decided to take the advantage of the nice autumn weather, and head out for one more night trip. We got a nice wind during the afternoon, but the wind faded away towards the evening so we decided to head for nearby Kaskis island. Located at Southern Airisto, Kaskis is a wild anchorage, which I had briefly visited just two weeks earlier. At this time of the year, most of the guest harbours are already closed and also our boating club's saunas are already prepared for the winter. Therefore, we decided that we could very well stay in the wild anchorage as well. I guess that it is a very Finnish way of thinking: if you cannot use the sauna, why go there in the first place...

Nevertheless, Kaskis turned out to be a good choice: it is located nearby and I like very much the surroundings on this anchorage. The wind was calm during the night, so we got a good night sleep on a totally quiet and flat anchorage. Also the temperature stayed above 10 degrees through the night, so the morning was less chilly experience, than a week earlier.

No rush at the sea at this time of the year.

Kaskis island at Airisto

Oct 3, 2013

Experiences on manual anchor windlass (and using the bow anchor)

Often, when the season is over, it is the wild anchorages that we tend to remember most warmly afterwards. In general, the Northern Baltic Sea area offers plenty of possibilities for anyone looking to find their own desert island for anchoring. For exploring wild anchorages, a reliable anchoring equipment is essential. Also, the dinghy – even if not necessary in the Baltics – certainly helps a lot, if you do not want to restrict your expeditions to islands, which have enough depth for getting a bow tied up close enough to the shore.

I have previously blogged on our anchor selection thoughts and about our experiences on inflatable dinghy. Last year we were actually thinking of changing our over-sized bow anchor (20 kg CQR) to a smaller Delta, but eventually decided to keep our old and trusty CQR. Together with the manual anchor windlass and 40 meters of chain, it adds quite a lot weight on the bow, which is not necessarily a very good thing in terms of sailing performance. However, in my view the benefits from an easy-to-use anchoring gear outweigh the marginal losses in the boat speed – especially if talking about pure cruising boats. Furthermore, I also value the good night sleep.

Dolphin Dance is equipped with Lofrans Royal manual anchor windlass, which probably dates back to the sunny days, that she spent sailing in the Mediterranean. In the Baltics on the other hand, it is much more common to use the stern anchor, and therefore many boats – especially in Sweden – are also equipped with stern anchor windlasses. However, we tend to use  – unlike most of the other Scandinavians – our bow anchor more often. Especially, because it is easier, faster and also safer in case the wind changes. Furthermore, anchoring in the middle of the bay also gives more privacy in a popular wild anchorage, where boats are usually moored side by side along the shoreline. Actually, a wild anchorage in Stockholm Archipelago in July is not much different from a Stockholm Wasahamn harbour in July. Maybe a quest for own space in a wild anchorage is part of our Finnish mindset.

Paradiset, one of the most popular natural harbours in Stockholm Archipelago

A while ago, we were having a lunch break in a local wild anchorage, when a sail boat entered the bay. The wind was gusting over 10 m/s at the sea, and I saw them setting their stern anchor ready and installing bow ladders for landing on the rocks on the shore. However, they could not find a place which would be sheltered enough or in favourable direction to the wind, so they decided to look for a better anchorage elsewhere. Obviously, if it the wind is on the side of the boat, this puts a great load on the stern anchor, and there is always a risk that the anchor starts to drag. In the mean time, we where anchoring a few hundred meters away in almost windless part of the bay and anchor chain dropping vertically to the bottom. Indeed, one has more options to choose from when using the bow anchor – even when arriving late to that crowded anchorage in the height of the summer season. The downsize of this strategy is of course that one has to use the dinghy to get to the shore, which is always a bit of a hassle.

Experiences on manual anchor windlass

The manual anchor windlass has a few benefits over an electrical windlass. Namely a lower purchase price, simple construction and installation, reliability and independence of electrical power. However, if we would be in need of a windlass now, I would  strongly consider opting for an electrical one and trying to save the money elsewhere. The need for an electrical windlass depends on how big your anchoring gear is and how much chain you usually have to handle. Also electrical windlass helps a lot if you are sailing singlehanded.

The biggest problem with the single speed manual windlass, such as the Lofrans Royal, is that anchor retrieval is too slow. After all, you have to do same amount of work, but retrieving the anchor is lighter, because the pace is also slower. Especially if the anchorage is tight or there are boats nearby (and it is windy), you risk tangling your anchor with your neighbours' while retrieving it. Therefore, I tend to pull the anchor up mostly by hand. However, it is good to have that extra power in reserve, if the anchor sticks firmly in the mud. Furthermore, if there is a lot of chain out, it is good to 'take breaks' and use the windlass for a while and then continue by hand.

First, retrieving the 'loose' chain by hand...  

Step two, the anchor is freed by using the windlass, i.e. moving the handle back and fort.  

Personally, I hate handling and having muddy anchor and chain onboard. This is one of the reasons that I do not like using the stern anchor very much. Thus, I like the way how the anchor windlass feeds the chain into the self stowing chain locker and the anchor itself is stored on the bow roller, so the mud is not too much of an issue.

How do you like to anchor, in Scandinavian style with the stern anchor or to use the bow anchor? What kind of experiences do you have on manual/electrical windlasses?

Oct 1, 2013

Last night trip of the season 2013?

We cast off on Sunday afternoon probably for the last night trip of this season. It is hard to believe, that only a few weeks ago we were wearing shorts and t-shirts while sailing. Now the day temperatures have dropped below 10 degrees, so it was time to find that woolen underwear, hats and gloves from the bottom of the locker. The wind on Sunday afternoon was mostly light, but we were not in hurry so we sailed almost the whole 16 nm distance to our boating club's island base.

 Light wind sailing with gennaker

During the early hours on Monday morning, the easterly wind picked up, and since the harbour is open to east, the boat started rolling uncomfortably and making loud noises which made sleeping impossible. Adjusting the mooring lines did help to reduce that annoying squeaky noise, but we definitely have had better nights in the boat. I very much like the location and scenery of the club's island base, but on the other hand, it is also less protected from the wind and waves of the Airisto. Also the swell from the large passenger ships, passing quite close by, round the island sometimes .

The sun came out in the evening. 

Sauna tops off the chilly sailing day...

The outside temperature during the night was only few degrees, so we had the heater on the whole time. The difficulty with our Webasto ST2000 heater is to find a good balance with the heat output. There is a separate output for the heads/fore peak, but the thermostat sensor is placed in the main cabin, so it is usually either too cold or too warm.

Chilly morning at Airisto (sea temperature 11 degrees, air  +5 degrees)