AO-Xing Days 9 & 10: Continuous Cruising

So this is day 10 of what seems to become a 15 day journey across the Atlantic Ocean. We are two third through and there is still the long stretch of 700 nautical miles to go. It is almost as much as from Tenerife to Cape Verde. And guess what, I‘m not the only one who wishes that this could go on like that for a bit longer!

Well, let’s check this again after another three days. The sea rolls the boat quite a bit at times. So we even couldn’t think about the classical mid Atlantic swim. Glad we had our swimming and plunging a few days earlier when the winds were low.

One of the great things on board is that everybody enjoys a sweet water shower and hair wash every second day. The silky dry skin feeling would last for a couple of hours, before the salty air would take over again until the next shower.

There are two equally sized water tanks aboard Yuana. The upper tank is full and closed as a drinking water reserve during a long passage. This is a safety measure, should the water in the lower tank go bad, for example due to a malfunction of the water maker.

The lower tank is refilled with the water maker every second or third day. A water maker processes sea water into super clean demineralized water. We even use a mineralization and hardener station to enrich this water for drinking and easy rinsing of soap.

That water from the tank goes again through a coal filter. It removes any smells from water we would have taken in from marinas. So we have always perfectly clean and nice tasting drinking water available. The six of us consume up to 100 liters of fresh water per day for drinking and cooking, dishes, washing and body hygiene.

The water maker is the largest energy consumer aboard. To get 55 liters of fresh water per hour requires a high pressure water pump working at 56 bar. The electric motor for that pump consumes 38 Amps at 12V. That electric power is generated with the Diesel engine.

Conclusion is that we run quite a complicated process to turn oil into water. The one aboard who understands the whole system appreciates the showers even more;-).

Nautical miles during the crossing:
Day 10: 140 nm
Day 9: 147 nm

Atlantiküberquerung Tage 7 & 8: Bergfest!

Es ist der 1. Dezember. Gestern war ergo der letzte Tag eines Monats und das heisst für uns, dass wir den Rest unserer monatlichen Satellitentelefon-Minuten aufbrauchen. So haben wir fast zwei Stunden mit Familie, Freunden und Schulfreunden in der Schweiz und in Schweden telefoniert.

Stellt euch vor, in der Schweiz war es abends schon dunkel und auch kalt, in Schweden sowieso. Von Schnee und Weihnachtsmärkten haben sie erzählt!

Weil wir seit dem Juli fast täglich die Sonnencreme in Händen haben (ausser in England natürlich), liegt uns das dezemberliche Nordeuropawetter ziemlich fern. Allerdings muss ich gestehen, dass ich bereits im Oktober in einem Aldi auf Lanzarote Eliesenlebkuchen gekauft hatte. Für den Christstollen hingegen schien es mir damals doch noch etwas zu früh zu sein.

Ja, wir sind gerade ziemlich mittendrin und mittendurch den Atlantik. Kleine Feiern sind willkommene Abwechslung im Seealltag. Zum Glück gibt es viel zu feiern. Mit dem 7. Reisetag seit den Kapverden ist logischerweise die erste Woche voll. Für die Kinder hat sich diese Zeit angeblich wie zwei oder drei Tage angefühlt. Für die Erwachsenen waren es immerhin fünf gefühlte Reisetage. Das ist doch ein gutes Zeichen! Wir verdanken dies der spassigen Crew, den leichten Wetterbedingungen und nicht zuletzt unserer komfortablen Lady Yuana!

Der achte Tag bringt nun das Bergfest! In beide Richtungen sind wir runde 1900 Kilometer vom Land entfernt. Das ist doch mal etwas Ungewöhnliches. Der geographisch nächstmögliche Landfall wäre in Französisch Guyana, dort wo die Franzosen ihren Weltraumbahnhof haben, EU-Gebiet also, no Problems.

Französisch Guyana oder auch die frühere holländische Kolonie Surinam sind für uns Ausweichziele, sollten wir aus irgendwelchen Gründen dringlich An Land gehen müssen. Im Moment gibt es allerdings keinen Grund, nicht direkt nach Barbados zu fahren. Alle sind fit, die Wetteraussichten sind nahezu perfekt, und alle Systeme an Bord funktionieren einwandfrei. Wir können also munter in die zweite Hälfte unserer ersten Atlantiküberquerung ziehen.

Normalerweise sind wir während den Passagen ein dry boat, wie die Engländer zu sagen pflegten, welche wir letzte Nacht abgehängt haben. Das heisst, dass wir unterwegs keinen Alkohol konsumieren.
Dies ist eine reine Vorsichtsmassnahme. Sollte sich ein Unglücksfall ereignen, so ist man im Kopf stets auf der Höhe, um sofort den notwendigen Extra-Effort leisten zu können. Mit etwas schwedischem Charme hat sich diese Regel nun kurzzeitig aussetzen lassen, und so gibt es zum Bergfest ein Glas Champagner. Kulinarisch gehen wir mit einem Avocadobrötchen, einer Schale Reis-Linsen-Mais-Gurken-Karotten-Salat durch den Tag, und Abends stehen frische Ravioli auf dem Menü;-).

Dass wir nun die halbe Distanz hinter uns haben heisst nicht, dass die zweite Hälfte der Reise nochmals acht Tage dauern wird. Erstens haben wir nun viel bessere Winde als am Anfang, und zweitens müssen wir wahrscheinlich keine windbedingten Umwege mehr in Kauf nehmen. Karibik, wir kommen!

Etmal Tag 8: 145 Seemeilen
Etmal Tag 7: 125 Seemeilen

Day 3 & 4: Partying and trouble shooting

Days 3 and 4 usually are more relaxed, compared to the first two days of the passage. The biorhythms get used to life at sea, which includes the continuous motion from the waves and the need for a day and night watch. With three adults on board, night watches get considerably shorter than for a couple only, what a luxury!

So we had more time for party: we celebrated the crossing of the 20st meridian which happened to be in the middle of the night. The boy set the alarm clock. At 4 a.m. sharp one pair of proudly looking kids eyes appeared at the cockpit. I welcomed him to the party and suggested to get properly dressed. The search for his clothes however made him so tired that he fell asleep again on the next bunk. So we’d better party during the day. To eat, kids choose popcorn and sour worms. Captain offered drinks and the ladies on board even made colorful paper decorations for it.

Later the same day Jeanette is the one who realizes that we are just about to pass the half way point to Mindelo. That calls for another great party, namely a Half Way Party (this is a thoroughly legendary term for some of my dear readers!). As we discuss to celebrate this one, we whiteness the fishing rod going all the way back. “Fish! Big Fish!” Our fishing line is really strong, the last meter even in steel so that fish can’t bite it off. The line is unfortunately not strong enough and snaps. You know what? Mr BigFish now carries a beautiful lip piercing. It is a bluish-silvery jelly octopus, contributed by Swiss blue water cruisers Carmen & Maurice. RIP, dear Jelly Octopus. You were the best lure we had. Dear Carmen, I believe to know that you really liked this particular octopus. When we will be back in Switzerland, we shall party for luckily pierced Mr BigFish. Apologies for the loss!

Noteworthy is also that we are back in Summer, on a day mid November. Day temperatures are like on a convenient beach day with water finally being up to 25 degrees C. It is hard not jumping into the deep blue. Problem is that the way back onto the boat could be troublesome (if not dangerous) with the boat rocking up and down in the seas. Anyway, no one on board misses typical November weather in our home places Switzerland and Sweden.

After we had a bird messing up to whole starboard deck last night we had his colleague sitting inside the boat on the galley this night. It must have come through the open hatch above the galley. Sure the galley gave a nice toilet for him. Markus was actually out on the watch when he heard some very uncommon noise inside. There was the bird, but the noise was like a cat which would continuously start to hiss. Chhhh. Chhhh. Chhhh. First I brought the bird out. It was weighing just nothing. Incredible how they can survive at sea. As expected the noise didn’t stop when the bird was away. Chhhh, Chhhh, Chhhh, … The engine room was ok, the water maker in the cockpit locker and the fridge as well. Finally we found that pressurized water hose underneath the galley board died after four month of use only, a manufacturing mistake. But why did hissing start and stop all the time? The puncture in the hose was relatively small, so small that the water pump was able to fill the pressure vessel for a few seconds each time. Good that we carry all kinds of spare parts, also water hoses. Issue fixed.

Another defect was that the position tracking for our boat failed shortly after we left. We could start tracking of the error only with a big delay. The cause of the error was that we had to re-configure the interface between our satellite communication system and the weather software. When doing that, the weather software has re-directed our tracking signal to the weather company. This remained undetected by myself since the setup for tracking is not in the same menu as the weather interface. Apologies to the ones who were frightened for some time. Please rest assured that everybody is fine and we have a great time together.

Let’s talk about sailing:
A sail change at three o’clock in the morning is quite a mind challenging task. Actually we took the Code Zero light wind sail down and changed to a poled out genoa. There were not less than eight different lines in the area. You don’t want to mess up with these ones, and one action which is not clearly thought to the end can easily trigger an unwanted event. Markus likes such tasks. The ladies however didn’t like seeing me on the foredeck at night with the waves rolling the boat.

To make it even nicer, we have reached a first sailing culmination for our entire trip so far. There were force 6 winds from astern and waves peaking up closely to 3 meters. For a couple of hours the boat was going really fast. We were often above 8 knots of speed, well competing which much faster boats. Another boat remarked their respect about our sailing performance over the VHF radio. We put it down to our nice Swedish Hallberg-Rassy design and the Swedish sail trimmer. Once Yuana was even doing 11.2 knots when surfing down a wave. The boat felt so stable and kind of unaffected by the waves. It was a big pleasure, and the weather gods may be kind enough to give us more of that!

Data log
Day 4: 150nm
Day 3: 148nm
Day 2: 126nm
Day 1: 134nm

Von Teneriffa in die Kapverden – Tag 2

Unsere Tage fangen Mittags um 11:30 Uhr Lokalzeit an. Das war unsere Abfahrtszeit in Santa Cruz de Tenerife ausgelaufen sind. Segler erfassen immer das sogenannte Etmal, nämlich die in 24 Stunden zurück gelegte Distanz.

Das Etmal des ersten Reisetages betrug 134 Seemeilen. Am zweiten Reisetag (von Sonntag auf Montag) legen wir bei schwachwindigen Verhältnissen mit etwas Motorsegeln immerhin noch 126 Seemeilen zurück.

Der Sonntagnachmittag bringt das zweite gute Segelerlebnis innert 24 Stunden: Nachdem am Vortag bereits das Ausbaumen der Genua die Geschwindigkeit auf ein akzeptables Niveau gehoben hat, ist nun auch der erste Einsatz des Leichtwindsegels ‚Code Zero’ ein toller Erfolg: bei 10 Knoten Wind macht die schwer beladene Yuana immer noch gut 6 Knoten Fahrt. Abends werden die Winde leichter. Markus wird jeweils nervös, wenn die Logge eine Geschwindigkeit mit einer 4 vor dem Komma zeigt. Wenn die Geschwindigkeit unter 4 Knoten fällt, starten wir den Diesel. Am Sonntagabend ist es soweit, und so machen wir nachts mit dem Dieselwind Meilen, Wasser und Strom.

Wie auch schon am Sonntag gibt es am Montagmorgen einen diessig-gelben Himmel zum Sonnenaufgang. Das Licht erinnert mich an Indien oder China. Es ist der Sirocco, der den gelben Wüstensand herüber zu uns trägt. Sämtliche Wanten, Relingsdrähte und Leinen und selbst die dünne Angelschnur sind auf der Luvseite braun. Da bekommt der Begriff ‚Wüstenschiff‘ plötzlich eine neue Bedeutung.

Am Montagmorgen ist die See ist flach und der Wind wird besser. Hoffentlich können wir unsere Durchschnittsgeschwindigkeit noch etwas anheben. Dann kämen wir innerhalb der sechs Tage an, und hätten mehr von den Kapverden.

She made my day!

It seemed to become a nice day yesterday. Our trip from the Spanish village Portosin to an anchorage bay around Cabo de Cruz offered some wildlife experience which was new to us. Motoring down beautiful Galician coast lines we spotted an area with hundreds of seagulls quietly resting on the sea surface, kind of unusual. We changed course right into the seagull’s place to find the cause for that gathering. It didn’t take long to find the reason: Thousands over thousands of crabs were floating there, just below water surface and the birds apparently enjoyed a big eating party.

Somewhat later and after steering around stunning rock formations into Ria Arousa, our traveling direction had changed so that the little bit of half wind just seemed to be enough to sail for the last hour of the day. Out came the furling mainsail. A furling main sail is a main that rolls into the mast for stowing it away. Due to the easy conditions I was a bit too relaxed with controlling the tension of the outhaul line. In short words, the upper part of the sail got jammed inside the mast. From below we couldn’t see what exactly was wrong. The sail just wouldn’t roll neither in nor out, at least not much. A jammed main can easily become a serious problem, for example in a storm or on a gusty day with the shore on the ‘wrong’ side.

As low winds were forecasted for the next 48 hours, we proceeded to our anchorage bay under engine again. Bumping into a heard of eating dolphins was a pleasure but it didn’t solve the problem with our main. Having the anchor dropped, we decided to cook our dinner and wait for ‘manjana’ to fix the sail. The night was calm, with the main sail up.

Now comes the new day, and what made this day. Fixing the jammed sail is another job which requires one person to be hoisted up the mast. Manuela volunteered, in fact that was the better solution because hoisting myself up would require a body builder. So up she went, armed with our two biggest screw drivers and a Swiss Army knife for the case of further emergencies, for example if one finger would got jammed as well. That wasn’t going to be an easy job, that was for sure. Manuela is anyway better with undoing crazy tough knots and the like, and an extra portion of patience would certainly also be helpful. I’m better with pressing the buttons which would turn the motor to drive the main a bit in and then two mills out again. In fact, I got dozens of in-and-out commands and executed each one without any comment. Down came some funny noises, like on a women tennis court, quite an appealing sail problem.

Sitting in the cockpit next to my buttons I was already thinking who to call in case we couldn’t solve the issue by ourselves. Perhaps Carmela, Office Manager in the Club Nautic Portosin could recommend someone around Cabo Cruz who was good in fixing jammed sails. Just yesterday when checking out, she offered that we could call her, should we run into troubles. That was the friendliest of the friendly marina staff I have ever seen.

At my next glimpse up the mast I realized the the main now looked considerably better. Apparently, Manuela managed the worst part of it, and soon the command came to fully roll in and then haul out the sail for checking the full functionality. It worked, and my heart was – once more – jumping with joy.

My estimation was that it could take beyond three hours and a couple of new words for the kids to get this item solved. Instead, Manuela made it within one hour only and in silence (apart from the tennis, you know…). Moreover it should be mentioned here that she had fear of heights for the last decades, and working 18 meters above sea level, held and secured by two steel wires is definitely something which is well included in such fears. That even elevates her achievement of the day.

So Manuela received warm congratulations from the entire crew and enjoyed the second half of the day without any further house keeping or cooking or any other duties ;-). I gladly noted that my relaxed sail setting didn’t end up in one or two days of trouble, perhaps with many bucks gone.

Here I have to state that I would never trade in our fully electric driven furling main sail, also not after this nasty experience which, yes, left a couple of red drops on our main, nothing bad. Too many are the advantages. A yet unsolved issue however is that the bimini (cockpit shadow cloth) prevents direct sight to the main. That means that the one operating the main cannot really see what he is doing. This remains an open point for the time being.

We love the Netherlands…

… also because the Netherlanders are so unconventional!

It has been just about two years when our lives started to be enriched by the Netherlanders and their culture. The positive precipitation actually starts when entering the country on the highway. Coming from the Autobahn, speeds are lowered to 130 km/h which makes the going more relaxed, cruising style. Roads are maintained very well, and when you pull over for gas and a coffee, the bill is pragmatically rounded up or down to the next 5 cents.

When we bought the yacht in 2015, everybody involved in the buying process was uncomplicated, competent, and helpful. The previous owners of Yuana were there for us with all kinds of valuable advice. Particularly for us as first time yacht owner, this helped greatly with understanding and continuing the good maintenance concept for our new boat.

Finding our ways to the various workshops for any kind of yacht parts or repair was an experience for itself. Gerold form the stainless steel shop came up with the idea how to stabilize the new anchor. Roland the wood-man proposed an simpler way for some teak deck maintenance. The sailmakers tailored nice the lee clothes for our berth. It didn’t take more than 5 minutes for Marco to come forward with a genius plan where on the boat to install all watermaker components. And Ronald and his team installed the new navigation electronics and maintained everything, anti-fouled and polished the hull, and did all the winterizing for us. Everybody was there with instant and useful advice. Business was generally easy and fun at same time.

NL is a thoroughly big boating nation. It was once said that many Netherlanders would own more boats than cars in their lives. Yachting is common for many families and there is rarely any Marina which doesn’t offer at least one large playground for the kids! What I however did not understand initially was why I couldn’t find a yachting wholesaler in the greater Makkum area, such as one of the dominating chains in Germany. It simply doesn’t exist there. Why not?

One day and on the search for some little instrument lighting bulb, I steered into the local chandler, a marine equipment and clothing store. The building was only 6 meters wide, at most. Many old village houses are narrower anyway, but at least three times longer. There was Anko behind the counter, the owner and master over an incredible number of 5000 articles. Every corner of the store is packed with all kinds of stuff. Anko knows exactly what is present within the limits of the shop walls. But sometimes, he needs a minute or two to dig for a particular part. Prices are on the green side, and: “Why the hack would someone require a wholesaler?” Finally, this became my most favorite shop in Makkum, just after the coffee place next door.

You don’t have to go to coffee place until youu find out that the Netherlanders are charming and full of unconventional ideas. Most important, they are also willing to go the unconventional way. Most obviously, one can spot a variety of architectural highlights along the roads. My most favorite sample for unconventional Netherlanders however is the unambiguously clear indication for the chance of relive – the oversized pictographs on the wall of the toilet building at Makkum beach.

This is the view of a newcomer to yachting with specific topics to be solved. There are many other things in the Netherlands which we like a lot, such as pittoresk old town harbors, the colorful tulip fields, and the low prices in the Jumbo supermarkets and small bills at the end of a rich dinner ;-).

Wir sind bald soweit…!

Wir sind mit einem vollgepackten Auto in die Ferien gefahren, und mit einem leeren Auto zurückgekommen. Das ist ein durchaus gutes Zeichen, denn in der Zwischenzeit haben wir einen Teil unseres Haushalt vom Auto auf das Schiff umgeladen.

Der gassparende Dampfkocher hat nun genauso seinen Platz an Bord gefunden wie die Gitarre (sie fliegt bei weiterem Nicht-Gebrauch als erstes über Bord ;-)). Die Reiselektüre ist in den Regalen eingereiht, und diverse Schränke und Ablagen wurden ausgeräumt und praktischer bepackt. Jedes Kind hat seien Spielschrank, und auch für die Schulsachen gibt es einen festen Platz.

Yuana hat in den Frühlingsferien auch einige wesentlichen Verbesserungen erfahren, zum Beispiel auch was den Stromverbrauch betrifft: Die neue LED Beleuchtung innen und aussen spart gegenüber vorher mehr als 90% Energie. Dank der zusätzlichen Isolierung des Kühlschranks springt der Kompressor weniger häufig an. Geschirr spülen geht nun mit einer Fusspumpe für Meerwasser. Letzteres spart gleich doppelt Strom: es muss weniger Meerwasser entsalzt werden, und die Fusspumpe geht eben ‘per pedes’.

Jan-the-Rigger war an Bord. Er hat die Wantenspannung geprüft und perfekt eingestellt. Genauso wie bei einem Velorad die Speichen richtig angezogen werden müssen damit das Rad stabil ist und rund läuft, so müssen bei einem Segelschiff die Wanten richtig gespannt sein, damit der Mast fest und sicher steht.

Weitere Neuerungen sind der neu eingebaute Wassermacher für die Herstellung des kostbaren Trinkwassers. Ein neues Alarmsystem informiert uns ggf über einen Wassereinbruch, bevor es nasse Füsse gibt. Ein Seilschneider an der Antriebswelle soll verhindern, dass ein Tau oder Netz in der Schiffsschraube den Motor abwürgt. Wie immer passiert sowas natürlich im dümmsten Moment, zB bei einem Hafenmanöver bei viel Wind. Am Bug wurde von einem Edelstahlbauer eine neue Halterung für den neuen Anker angeschweisst. Die Ankerrolle ist nun grösser und weiter vorne. Dadurch schlägt der Anker beim Einholen nicht gegen den Schiffsrumpf. Diese und weiter Arbeiten sind Bestandteil unserer Vorbereitung für die grosse Reise. Nun ist fast alles fertig.

Die seglerische Vorbereitung auf dem Wasser kam diesmal leider zu kurz. Das Frühlingswetter in Holland mit allerlei nass-kalten Zutaten war zu bescheiden, um mehrere Tage auszufahren. Das hätte einfach keinen Spass gemacht. Ursprünglich geplant war, in der zweiten Ferienwoche durchs IJsselmeer nach Amsterdam zu fahren, und aussen herum durch die Nordsee zurück zu segeln. So waren wir lediglich kurz auf dem IJsselmeer. So haben wir immerhin einen kleinen seglerischen Saisonauftakt abhalten können. Dank dem miesen Wetter sind die Arbeiten am Schiff nun weiter als geplant. Bald gehts los, und darauf freuen uns riesig!