Lessons learned of the boat and from the sailing
(To be extended when new experiences are made. Last update 25 September 2008)
Like many others we think well about our own boat.
De The first 3000 nM of our voyage it has behaved and performed well. Maybe it has not been put through very tough tests. It was built in 2006, and we sailed it for two summer seasons before starting our long term cruising. In that way we were able to get rid of some minor problems.
The Sun Odyssey 45 is a modern boat. That means it has a generous beam, and the bottom is pretty flat. We can feel that when we go against the seas, but on other courses it behaves well. It is easy to keep it on course. It should be sailed pretty upright, and we are quick whwnb it comes to reducing the sails.
The boat has a spade rudder. This is not recomended for oceangoing cruising, but most modern boats have it, especially production boats. We have a wind stearing with a independent rudder, a Hydrovane, and it can serve as an emergency rudder.
We download weatehrforcasts on e-mail from Mailasail (Amercan grib files wich may be retrieved from other sources as well). This gives us up to 144 hours forcast. This service has prooved very usefull and good. When we have a faster (and less expensive) connection to the internet (in harbour), we use Ugrib. That gives us a little more information, and the presentation is maybe a little nicer. In the Mediterranian we have found that the winds often are stronger than the forcast, and often a mulitple of 2 is suitable. But the direction and the timing has generally been good.
In addition we listen to the VHF, and read the weatherforcasts in the marinas. Even if we dont speak the language (Spanish, Italian, French) we are usually able to understand the meaning of the weather report.
We have a furling main and a furling genoa. In addition we have a genaker. As a back up and for hard weather we have a genoa 4, which means it is small. So far we have not used it, and exept in emergency, it will not be used unless we know that we will be going closehauled in strong winds for a long time, which of cours we try to avoid. We are most happy with the furling sails. This is our first boat (out of four) that has a furling main. Conventional mainsails are better for sailing performance, no doubt about that. But the easy handeling and the safety the furling main brings cannot be overvalued. To be able to reduce sail from the cockpit (and furling sails is the only solution for this - other solutions bring you on deck from time to time.) is invaluable, specially for a middle aged crew of two. And we reduce sail very often, especially at night. We prefer comfort to speed.
When running we often choose to use only the genoa. In light winds this does not give high speeds, but it is pleasent. Of course we also hoist the genaker, which has a stocking. This means a lot of lines. (Sometimes I think the spinnaker was easier...) But ok, if you are carefull to sort the lines well out before you hoist it, it performes well. And it is a lovely sight in the Norwegian colurs. The genaker is a so called R4 from Quantum sails. It is about 100 square meters, which is almost double the size of the genoa. The stocking is a good thing. But it has to be treated the right way. We have learned the hard way. We experienced that the lines entangeled in a way that made it impossible to pull it down over the genaker. We had to revert to the technique we used to get the spinnaker down. That worked well, but there is an important differece from the spinnaker. When you let go the windward sheet of the spinnaker, this sheet stays on the pole. When you let the tackline go of the genaker, the lazy sheet is still attaced to the sail, and the possibility to get it under the boat is immanent. So it is important to carry out the manouvers without starting the motor.
We have tried to goose wing the genaker and the genoa. But so far this has been no success. Maybe if we try it in stronger winds, but it seams the airflow over the genoa is disturbing the airflow over the genaker. But then we do not have any bowsprit for the genaker...
Those days are long gone when letters where left in postboxes of different kinds in places where there would be a chance that other sailors would pass and have destinations that would make it suitable to bring the letters.... Morse is also history. And it seems long since the time when you sent post restante. There is no post waiting for us in foreign harbours these days (unless some important spare parts of course.) These days we are dependant on (and maybe addicted to) instant and frequent communication (and the bills maches this...) The cellular is easy for calling family and now and then making bussiness calls. It is expesive, but it works in all ports and along most coasts. Further from the coast we use a sattelite phone. Iridium 9505A. It works well. We have a prepaid plan of 500 min, valid one year. The costs are about $1,50 per minuit. We stronly restrict the use of it. We use it to download grib files for weather forcasts. Perfect! We also send and receive e-mail on this connection when out at sea. We use Expressmail from Mailasail (www.mailasail.com) to compress e-mail. We do recomend this!
Mailasail also provides the blog and position tracking that we use on our website. Very easy. We update the blog and the position by sending an e-mail. This means it is done also at sea. This is included in the Expressmail service.
Many of our friends have told us that they are happy that we provide our website. We are of course happy to hear that. We do not write for the broad audience, but of course it is fun the more people that takes interest in what we publish! That gives us the nspiration to keep it up to date. Pictures and everyting else but the blog have to wait for renewal till we are in port and have a good internet connection. Now that we launch this English translation, it is because we meet people from outside Scandinavia. Those who knows us well sends us e-mails. We really appreciate that!
In fact we use only the chart plotter for navigation. Raymarine C80. We have Navionics gold for the hole journey. In the Mediterranian we do not have paper maps. Sometimes we read about chart plotters that have failed, and that makes us a little nervous. But we do have an extra GPS , and we have pilot guides for most of the journey. We laso have an electronic world map that we use with Tiki navigator. That is not much for navigation, but if the chart plotter really does fail, we will have to call the coast station on vhf to give us some waypoints so that we can reach a port... (Let's really hope this will not be necessary!)
In the ocean one may feel proud to know that one knows celesticial navigation. But very many things must turn out to the wrong if this should be necessary.
In the night we use the radar, together with AIS and the chart plotter. That is really good. But of course you cannot trus that you see everyting on a little 2kW radar, and not all ships send AIS, so keeping wach is definitely important. And when a good friend gave us a night binocular (with light inforcement) which he had bought from Russian military after the fall of the Soviet Union, we were extremly thankfull.
We never trust that ships, fishingboats an trawlers (even when not trawling) gives way to a small sailing boat, so we sail under a very defensive regime. We are especially careful about fishing boats, even if they are not fishing. We met one in the middle of the Mediterranian (the only boat we saw the hole night). The boats were on perfect collision course. (How is that possible...) We are sure that they did not keep any watch. We were sailing, wit the proper navigation lights, and we had to use the motor to avoid a catostrophy.
Marinas and anchoring
There is a crazy variation in prices among the marinas in the Mediterranian. From what is acceptable to what is absolutely rediculous. You pay for the size of the berth, not the size of the boat. There are laid moorings in all the marinas we have visited. We are not used to this system in Scandinavia, but it works well. Few marinas have laundretts. Accordingly, if we miss any equipment in our boat it is a washing mashine - we will not install one, but it would have been useful. Electrisity and water on the pontoons have been good whereever we berthed. Most marinas we have been to also have a dieselpump.
In most marinas the service people are friendly, and many speak English. The marinas we found both friendly and to a affordable price, are Marina Bay in Gibraltar, Almerimar in Costa del sol, Marina Salinas in Torrevieja, Marina del Sole in Cagliari (a little expensive) and Yasmine Hammamet in Tunisia. In the Balearics all marinas are expensive. One bad weather night we paid 145 euros!
You may anchor many places. (But few do it, except in the Balearics, where it is quite common.) The main problem is to find where to lay the dingy when you go ashore. If you are at anchor close to towns and cities, it had been very useful if the pilot guide books brought some advice on this. We bought a Rocna 25 kg anchor before we left home. It is the most modern type of anchor. It has the best test results in yachting magazines. It sets in weed - not many anchors do that. Besides from that I am not concinced how much better it is than the old Bruce anchor, which we also liked (and sometimes trusted...). Originally we had a 50 m chain (10 mm), we extended that to 70 m before we left. That was wise. Often, especially in the Balearics when there were a lot of boats already at anchor, we had to anchor a littel bit further out on the bay, and concequently deeper. And we never use anything less than 4 times the depth....
The GPS system is now so accurat that we always uses it to cheque if we are dragging. It is normally much better toset an electronic mark than finding sight marks on land. If the wind turns 180 degrees, and we use 40 m of chain, we can observe that we have moved 240 feet on the chart plotter, which probably means that the anchor has not dragged.
There has been more then a few hours of motoring. The way we cruise, we prefer calms to near gales, if we have the choise. But of course, we have the time, and we accept slow sailing, more in the Mediterranian than on our way down from Oslo. During the whole summer in the Mediterranian we have used about 300 l. Most of it on our way west. When we motor, we go between 5 and 6 knots, normally 1800 rpm on our Yanmar 54 hp. This means that we use less than 3 l/h. We have had no problems with the motor. But we have experienced rope in the propeller twice.
The first time just after crossing the Bay of Biscay, approaching Bayona. Fortunately we were able to motor in 3 knots into Bayona. There I easy could dive under the boat to remove it. The second time probably was approaching Yasmine Hammamet in Tunisia. It was a smaller rope, and we did not notice it at the time. But on our way back we found that our normal 1800 rpm would not give us more than 4 knots. There were no vibrations, so we thought it might be that the propeller had grown a farm of some lind during the 4 weeks in Yasmine. When we arrived in Torrevieja, I went under the boat to clean the propeller. And I found a rope. There were some fouling too, but not much. Five or six divings was enough to clean it. We then regained our normal motoring speed.
Provisioning and food
To be written
To be written