Bittersweet times

Bittersweet times

A couple of days into May it was time to launch our boat, Aina. The time came sooner than we had really hoped for, as we were neck deep in boat projects. But the big crane had only been booked for one day, and the costs could be shared by several boats, so we had to be ready. We had the boat survey done, keel cooler units installed on the bottom, two layers of new antifouling applied and all the zincs replaced. Right on time!

Our boat looked huge as it flew over the boat yard and landed in the Baltic Sea. No water was oozing in, so the crane men eased the slings and we were officially afloat. But the projects didn’t end there – they have been ongoing ever since, and there’s still a lot to do. Some of the projects were actually planned, but it seems that new ones just keep appearing. We’re afraid to touch anything, as it feels like everything we touch just crumbles in our hands.

Neglect is a powerful enemy. Many parts and systems on a boat have a certain lifetime, and you have to keep fixing and changing them in order to keep the boat in ship shape. Sadly, it appears a lot of the things that broke on our boat were just left as they were, and if anyone really used the boat at all, maybe they did it with gradually diminishing comfort.

But the boat is going to be our permanent home. We can’t afford to live with rusted gas burners and shot through propane hoses. Shiny new galley stove is being installed while we still have some form of income. We might have to live with a blocked toilet, at least for a while, until we have time to fix it in some exotic anchorage. Because, hear this! – we have two toilets! I will never, ever again consider two toilets on a sailboat a vanity!

I really hope we don’t have to live without pressurized water. We’ll have to block some of the system because of broken water pipes, but not in the galley, if we’re lucky. Our boat has inch parts but we’re in a metric country, so no parts to be found here, and too late to order them from the other side of the Atlantic. It seems the boat is due a very thorough plumbing job, a little later. That’s fine – anything to keep us from getting idle – but now we really need to get going!

The summer is paying an early visit to Finland. We’ve had record high temperatures after a fairly cold spring. Not that we’ve had many chances to enjoy it. I have spent many days with the upper half of my body inside a cool box, adding insulation and preparing for the evaporator installation. Because our boat has large, American style cooler boxes, we chose an energy efficient keel cooling system for our fridge and freezer. I will write more about it as soon as we have some user experience.

In the evenings we’ve grabbed the opportunity to enjoy the summertime and our new life by the water. It’s not bad at all to watch the sunset while having a barbeque by the breakwater, and it’s so refreshing to sleep with the cool sea breeze and the gentle sounds of the water.

But one of us sailed with the first summer breeze…

One of our crew, our soulmate and companion, did not have time to wait for our sailing journey to begin. He already embarked on his own adventure. He lived a full life, the whole long life of a dog. In human years it just happened so fast! Glimpses of joy are still few and far between for us, but I know we will get better. Why? Because we were so lucky to have such an amazing, wise and humorous creature as part of our family and our lives. When the time came, it was his human’s duty and honour to send him safely on his way.

He would have loved our sailing journey, though. Not the sailing itself so much – it was tolerable, but what was the point? The exciting smells in the air, now that was a whole other story! The different islands with people and other dogs on them, your own deck for watchkeeping – and the best of all: that cosy little cabin where you could curl up at night, the whole pack happily together. Pure bliss!

Boat Projects Start Again – with Another Big Bang!

Boat Projects Start Again – with Another Big Bang!

I have read Stephen Hawking’s Brief History of Time. I know the universe started with a Big Bang, and as soon as it’ll be done expanding it’ll shrink again, and another Big Bang will follow. The same theory seems to apply to boat projects. Last year it wreaked havoc on our little boat, and we had to sweat for days and weeks on end to get everything back together. But in the end we had a much better boat than we started with. I’m really hoping that this spring we can pull it off again – on our new boat! During the Easter holidays we finally had time, and tolerable weather – it’s a rare thing for the two to happen at the same time during the Finnish spring – to delve into the boat matters and to take a better look at our projects.

At least the first part went exactly according to the theory: we produced a massive Big Bang inside the boat. The plan was to empty all the lockers, drawers, cabinets, shelves, bilges, lazarettes, and all other storage spaces there might be, and start cleaning up the boat. We didn’t get nearly as much done as I had hoped. We kept running into mysteries the whole time – a lot of tools and items neither of us could identify, or hoses and wires that didn’t seem to be going anywhere obvious. And we spotted a lot of places that had not weathered the winter so well. There are leaky portholes and hatches, buckled veneer, ice in the bilge, and mold inside a few lockers. Suddenly I felt really depressed – this was not supposed to be a project boat, at least not a huge project boat, and we are supposed to be ready to launch in exactly one month! And ready to leave this country in two months!

What a mess we made of our boat!

After we had filled five big waste bags with miscellaneous things and there was room to move around the boat again, I started to feel a little bit better. The sun lit up the space and made the mahogany glow in a really pretty shade of golden brown. It’s a spacious boat, after all! And it has standing headroom! When we got home that evening I dug up our list of hopes and wishes for our boat and went through it again. I used these symbols to mark every point we had made like this:
✅ Alright!
🔲 Not quite sure yet 
❌ On our list of boat projects

This is what the first part of the list looks like:

Our boat is…
✅ safe
✅ seaworthy
✅ well sailing
✅ solid hull, no core
✅ long fin keel
✅ skeg hung rudder
✅ keel stepped mast
✅ cutter rig 

Wow! Looks really good so far – every box ticked! And the list goes on:

Our boat has…
✅ enough space for two people for permanent, comfortable living
✅ a good sleeping cabin with a proper sized double bed
✅ 1-2 good sea berths and lee cloths for other bunks
✅ good galley with 
     ❌ fridge 
     ❌ freezer
✅ toilet with a shower
✅ spacious saloon with a good size dining table
✅ good ventilation
✅ good heater
✅ lots of hand holds and a well designed seagoing interior
✅ good, separate navigation table
✅ room for 2-4 guest
✅ an aft sleeping cabin 
✅ two separate sleeping cabins
✅ decent tankage for fuel and water
🔲 lots of storage on deck for lines, fenders, gas bottles, dinghy etc.
🔲 lots of storage for food!
🔲 lots of storage for large items

Still pretty good! Just two things absent that we find essential. Well, more specifically the first one is essential, the second a luxury. They will be installed before departure. The last three points will be determined once we start loading up the boat with food and cruising gear, but I’m already guessing the words “lots of” will have to be crossed out.

Moving on to the equipment list we start seeing more crosses… besides, we haven’t tested any of the equipment in action. I’m generally an optimist, but the realist in me says I may have to prepare for some disappointments – although the boat has been very lightly used for several years, time and particularly the long, cold, humid winters also eat away at equipment. Then again, it could be working just fine. All of the equipment on our boat was top of the line when new. 

It is equipped with…
❌ general safety equipment
❌ life raft
🔲 good ground tackle
✅ storm equipment such as storm sails, drogues etc
✅ windvane
✅ good autopilot
✅ radar
❌ plotter
✅ vhf radio
✅ ssb radio and (or) sat phone
❌ solar panels for self-sufficiency
✅ other ways to produce electricity (wind turbine)
❌ water maker
✅ good sails, also a cruising chute or similar
🔲 a good sprayhood
❌ bimini
❌ hard bottom hypalon dinghy

We are in the process of replacing the life raft. We found a reasonable deal at a boat show in February, and the new raft should be arriving any day now. While at the boat show we suddenly felt like throwing money around and also ordered a new dinghy to replace the flat lump that occupies our boat’s foredeck and doesn’t look like a very long term solution. We hope to stay out of marinas, so a good dinghy is really a must. On our way south we will make a pit stop at Gdansk, Poland, to have a stern arch for solar panels custom made for us. Watermaker will be a thing of the more distant future, as well as perhaps a new sprayhood and bimini.

Oh, the Big Anchor Question! It has been solved – here’s our new Rocna.

One big choice concerning navigation electronics still remains. Plotter or no plotter? There are a couple of different camps here with good arguments for and against. I think the whole topic of navigation – with all the associated equipment – deserves its own post, if not several. Stay tuned!

This is how the sea in front of our boat looked like during Easter – no sailing yet! But in the distance the water is free from ice and you can see boats there!

If you have tips, tricks and suggestions about equipping a cruising boat, or just want to say Hello, you can do it here!

The Crew – Clever, Skilled, Qualified

The Crew – Clever, Skilled, Qualified

Planning a great sailing voyage is hard work. And it’s almost all new to us. Budgeting and planning, refitting and kitting our boat, safety aspects, charts, cruising guides, navigation electronics and programs, weather, tides, insurance, permits and qualifications, vaccinations, prescriptions, cruising routes, interesting places to see along the way… Not to mention the mental preparation! It’s really hard to imagine what it will be like to give up a permanent home on solid ground and move your whole life onto a floating home on the water. What will it be like to swap your safe, familiar everyday life for an uncertain future, your regular income for living off savings or odd jobs – and your monotone, wearisome life for complete freedom!

Are you having a midlife crisis or are you just plain nuts?

Our friends and acquaintances seem really interested in our plans after the trip. We have no idea! How could we, when we don’t even know when this mystical after the trip will happen? Two years from now, three years, ten years – or never? We’ll see. That’s the best answer we are able to give. But I understand the need to know – I do indeed. I’m a very security oriented person myself, I need to know beforehand, I need to make plans, and I don’t like sudden, unexpected changes. In a normal life you get to be wild and free for a week, maybe a month at a time, then it’s back on your easy, familiar routine. No wonder why many people feel like we’ve lost it and turned into reckless lunatics! If it’s any consolation, we’re not jumping fearlessly into the unknown – on the contrary, we have many, many fears! Besides, we both have made big, life changing decisions before, so it’s not entirely new to us.

So what are your plans really, I mean really?

Where are we headed? Where then? Are we going to sail around the world or what? Well, we don’t really know that either. We want to see and experience all kinds of things – new places, landscapes, history, nature, warm water and sunshine. While some long distance cruisers might argue that you need to have a plan and you need to stick to it, we are in the opposite camp. This will not be about building miles or collecting countries or oceans. But we don’t want to end up as boat bums on some anchorage either and abandon the dream of sailing the world. Maybe the right way for us is to have one small goal at a time, and then make new plans according to what interests and inspires us.

The first leg of our journey will take us to the Mediterranean. Of course we will stop in many places on our way there, but we want to cross the Bay of Biscay before the autumn storms kick in. As winter comes, we will try to find a nice place to stay for a while, until the heavy winds and rains have passed. Maybe we’ll get a chance to do some land travel as well, and see beautiful old towns, works of art and culture, steep mountains and rolling hills of olive trees. Maybe I have a secret wish of finding my way back to the creativity and enthusiasm I once knew, and give my imagination, my eyes and hands the freedom to do what they want – who knows what might come out of it. Some people find time for creativity in the little nooks and crannies of a busy working life, but sadly I do not.

I wish I could sail into the sunset like that, without a care in the world!

Planning the journey is mostly very tangible and technical, though – and lots of paperwork! Equipping the boat is no easy task, it doesn’t just happen by walking into a marine store, collecting a lot of stuff and getting rid of a lot of money. You have to find out so many things about the stuff, like how to install it, how much power it needs or produces – and what kind of power at that? Is it of decent quality and suited for our purpose, is it compatible with the other systems onboard, and how all of this can be accomplished? Oh, and do I need a permit or qualifications to install or use it?

When you’re alone at sea, it’s basically up to you to take care of yourself. So our most important preparations are to do with safety. We have to have a plan of what to do in different situations, learn the skills and learn to use all the equipment before the going gets rough. Help will not find its way to us in minutes, like it does on land, so we both have to know how to operate the boat and sail it safely to a harbour if something should happen to either one of us. We all know that anything can happen at any time, but when you’re living on land the thought seldom crosses your mind – even if car traffic is far more dangerous than boating, and how many accidents happen at home! But things become really concrete somehow, when you have to choose yourself a life raft, an emergency beacon, harness and tether or a storm anchor.

I have written before about the sailing and navigation courses I’ve taken. I’m just a person who likes to take courses, I guess. Before we bought our first sailboat I took a rescue course for boaters. It was the best thing ever, I cannot recommend enough. My husband is, like I have told you before, a former crew member of a SAR vessel so it’s not new to him, but for me the very life-like course was enough to convince me I never, ever want to fall overboard! Stay on the boat, whatever it takes!

Then I did a course on first aid. And then, radio – both the VHF and SSB kind that we have onboard. They have a lot to do with safety as well, not just for the distress call, but to get weather data – a very important tool for planning a safe passage.

Maybe you should take some sort of course for married couples as well?

We’ll have plenty of chances to hone our practical skills before it’s time to launch the boat. We plan to install new refrigeration units, solar panels and some new batteries, make some changes and additions to the electrical system, electronics, and perhaps in the field of plumbing and holding tanks as well – of the latter we have a lot of experience from last year, as we built a new waste management system for our little boat. Sanding, varnishing, cushions and curtains will have to wait until the idle days in some picturesque anchorage.

We’re actually really proud of you!

It’s about time to get out charts, dividers and tide tables. We’ve never navigated in tidal waters, and although we have done the courses, it’s been more than a decade. You don’t need a lot of navigating skills on nice day sails in the archipelago, so we are a little rusty! The day of departure feels like a long way away, but really, it isn’t! It’s just hard to see the spring coming with the kind of Siberian cold we’ve been having, and with the thick ice stretching for miles from the shore where our boat currently stands. But we’ll have our fair share of rush and hurry, before setting sail!

The quotes are loosely translated comments we’ve heard from people around us, uncensored and anonymous! 

If you’d like to add your own, click here!

Compass Heading 180° Presents: s/y Aina

Compass Heading 180° Presents: s/y Aina

This is it! The moment you have all been waiting for! I’m sure all our readers have been anticipating this announcement as eagerly as the next sailing season! Here she is, the sailboat that will take us on our adventure. Next summer we will start our journey South – that’s 180°.

May I Introduce to You: Sailing Yacht Aina

A few weeks ago I wrote about the thoughts, hopes and requirements we have for our future boat. Over the course of perhaps two years – the same time we have owned and sailed our little boat in the Baltic sea – we have been constructing this long list of things we consider important. The list has evolved a lot during this time, and still keeps evolving. Our experience with our first boat has taught us a lot, but we expect to learn much more about life on a boat and out at sea once we start our great adventure!

We are not going to polish every little detail or try to install every imaginable equipment before departure. People have gotten stuck in their slip trying too hard to make everything perfect. We just want to make sure our boat is safe and fit to travel, and that we have reliable means of navigating to where ever it is that we’re going. There will be time to figure out the less important stuff along the way.

We actually closed the deal on our boat Aina already before Christmas. Ever since that I’ve been hoping to show our readers some beautiful or at least presentable photos of her, but my camera is a stubborn thing and just refuses to travel down there to take them pictures! So, you will have to settle for a couple of snapshots taken with frozen fingers, and for the lovely sales images obviously from a while back.

Surprise, Surprise – S & S!

Our new boat (just like our old boat) is a Sparkman & Stephens design. She’s a Stevens Custom 40, a far less known little sister to the famous Stevens 47, built by the same Queen Long Marine boatyard in Taiwan. Both models were built for serious ocean cruising, but many were also used as charter boats in the Caribbean by Bill Stevens – hence the name. Here’s a link to the boat brochure. Later Queen Long continued building the 47’s under the also famous name Hylas 47. Hylas boats are still in production today, and can be found at the higher end of the luxury spectrum.

As her model suggests, our boat is 40 feet long. She was built in 1983 and has at least one Atlantic crossing under her belt (or keel?). She’s sturdy and well built, and despite her slightly worn looks you can see the great workmanship in the mahogany interior and overall quality. This boat is clearly designed for long term cruising in mind, down to the smallest detail. The hull shape is very deep and rounded, the boat has a longish fin keel that is fully integrated to the hull, and a full skeg hung rudder. It’s cutter rigged, which means there are two headsails, a bigger genoa and a smaller jib on the inner forestay. This boat should be a very smooth and reliable performer in heavy weather, as S & S boats tend to be, but also fairly fast. She points well and runs nicely downwind. Not that we have any first hand knowledge of this – the boat was on the hard when we bought her and will be for many weeks to come! The previous owner has generously provided great information and we have also talked to a couple of sailboat experts. I also know of at least one happy family sailing the world on their Stevens 40 – check out this Youtube video, the boat has the same layout as ours.

Our boat has a fixed, deeper fin keel instead of the centerboard keel shown in this picture.

Welcome Aboard!

Aina is a center cockpit boat. Apart from the Hallberg- Rassys, you don’t come across many center cockpits in Finland – but our boat sailed here from the USA. There are at least two immediate advantages that I can think of: the visibility is great in all directions, and it allows for a really spacious aft cabin with standing headroom.

As you come down the companionway stairs, you first end up in the living room, which I think is officially called the saloon (why it is so beats me – I always thought saloon is where you stride in with spurs on your boots and order a whiskey) with a large folding table and comfortable sofas on both sides. From here you have two ways to get to the aft cabin – either through the galley (kitchen) on the port side, or though the shower and toilet on the starboard side. The aft toilet is very practical as it can be used from two sides (I’m not even trying to call the toilet a “head“…) and as it’s close to the companionway you can easily hang up your wet foulies to dry. On the starboard side there’s also a nice navigation station with all the electronics and electric panels. At the pointy end of the boat there’s another sleeping cabin, which will be our guest room, and a second, smaller toilet. So it’s basically a two bedroom, two bathroom house, with the best location, location, location, that you could imagine.

Here’s one of my Pinterest boards showing the sales photos. It’s not quite as clean and shiny today, but I’m hoping that a good scrub and some new polish here and there will do the trick.

Stuff and Techy Stuff

Under the companionway stairs is the engine. It’s called Yanmar, has 50 horse power and has been there since the early 2000s. It has low hours and is fortunately one of those good old times engines that doesn’t have too much computer technology in it. There are removable panels all around so the engine can be easily accessed and thus maintained. The navigation electronics we have onboard are mostly over 10 years old, but still working. There’s a good autopilot, a radar, a GPS, an Epirb, and VHF and SSB radios. There’s a Hydrovane on the transom that can steer our boat without using any power at all. There’s a Dickinson diesel heater in the saloon that should get us through the Mediterranean winter. We have two full sets of sails, and a storm sail and a light wind gennaker, all checked at our sail loft and found to be in good working condition. Phew, that’s one big worry off the list – new sails are deadly expensive!

But there’s still a lot to fix and buy, even if we stick to the elementary stuff. Solar panels will be essential, and fortunately they are reasonably priced and quite efficient these days. We will need to have a stern arch made to support the panels. The life raft that came with the boat can’t be serviced where we are and is at the end of its life span anyway, so it needs to be replaced. Then there’s the Big Anchor Question! If you have ever followed a sailing forum conversation about anchors, then you know it’s a very hot subject and there are about as many (heated) opinions as there are people discussing anchors. We have a good old CQR, which – or so I have gathered – might not be the best choice for varying conditions and sea bottoms of the wide world, even if it works splendidly in the Baltic Sea. If you have an (heated or not) opinion about anchors, feel free to share!

So what about the compromises?

Our boat ticks a lot of boxes from our wish list. A lot more than I ever expected, given our budget, including one secret wish that was so secret, I didn’t even dare to write it down – but surely there must be something that bothers us? Well, the boat does have an in-mast furling mainsail – another very hot subject on the sailing forums, by the way! Basically those folks who don’t have one would never ever have one, but those folks who do have one, are generally happy with the system. Who knows! There will obviously be a learning curve, and we’ll have to take good care of it, but the same applies to every mechanical system. It doesn’t feel like too big a compromise at this point. Another slight negative is lack of storage space on deck. There are no huge lazarettes under the cockpit seats that we’ve seen on some boats, as that space has been utilised indoors. But maybe we can find a solution to that.

Basically, what we have here is a near perfect boat for us. Apart from some of the lacking equipment I can’t really think of anything that’s missing. That’s pretty wonderful, isn’t it?

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Books, Blogs and Videotape – Inspiration and Knowledge for a Sailing Voyage

Books, Blogs and Videotape – Inspiration and Knowledge for a Sailing Voyage

Winter days are short above 60° north. Really, really, depressingly short! But there’s one positive consequence: the evenings are very long! And if you like reading as much as I do, a long evening spent with a good book will make everything brighter! As we are planning to cast the lines and begin our big sailing adventure next summer, I have lately focused almost exclusively on sailing books. To be honest, I have also focused on browsing the web, but I can defend myself – it’s all been sailing related!

Staring at the tube

Fun and relaxation in the tropics
When we first started dreaming about a big sailing voyage, we stumbled upon some sailing videos on Youtube. The first we started watching, I believe, were the today’s “classics” s/v Delos and Sailing La Vagabonde. The Delos crew has held it’s charm longer, although I wish they would invent some new expressions to replace awesome, epic and amazing. All the same, watching tropical landscapes and incredible underwater worlds is a great way to unwind after a long week at work.

Sweaty projects – and then fun and relaxation in the tropics
Having dug deeper into this demanding research, one day my husband told me about some very skilled young lady, who apparently could weld and grind metal and repair a diesel engine, as well as singlehand her boat. She was, of course, Nike from Untie the Lines. Her boat projects were gruelling just to watch, but finally she got the boat ready and went sailing around the western Caribbean. Another Youtube channel that started around boat projects is Sailing Uma. The young couple have succeeded in some more exotic efforts such as installing an electric drive on their sailboat – and then sailing around the Caribbean.

Too many fish in the sea
A couple of years ago Youtube got very saturated with all sorts of sailing channels, some of them trying to stand out from the crowd by rather questionable means. As a result, we are much pickier about what we like to watch these days.

Scandinavian colours
One of the fairly recent youtubers, Ran Sailing with a nice, young Swedish couple have a very well produced program. Another really cute Swedish couple can be found on Ocean Around.

Genuine he-men
As a counterbalance to all the bikini babes I was delighted to find a few men, too – these lonesome riders of the seas. One of the funniest is a Swiss guy Alex on his Winded Voyage, and an Englishman called Barry the Old Seadog. And, we mustn’t forget Dylan Winter of Keep Turning Left – magnificent films about sailing counterclockwise around his home kingdom.

Heavy metal sailing
The Norwegian Erik has produced some of the best videos on Youtube, in my opinion. He sails the unmerciful North Sea in wintertime, and the name of his channel, No Bullshit Just Sailing, is not exaggerated. Then there was a crew of three men and a dog sailing in the Caribbean. They made a series of really great films called Sea Change and then disappeared without a trace.

Woman power
The most touching story of all is by Elizabeth Tyler. Widowed, she took the helm of her own sailboat in the Mediterranean – Sailing on, Single Handed – and paints wonderful watercolours inspired by the beautiful sea.

Blogs and logs

Before we started sailing I had never really followed any blogs. But now I felt like a sponge absorbing any information I could find about sailing, and I couldn’t believe how much cool stuff there was to be found!

A lot of the blogs I first started reading were in Finnish, but some are in English or bilingual. There is the Meretniemi family on their circumnavigation writing a blog called Sail for Good, a Finnish couple sailing along the European coasts on their boat s/y Suwena, another couple who have sailed extensively in Scandinavian waters on s/y Dolphin Dance, and a more recent find, s/y Liberta whos crew is planning a big voyage in the future.

My international favourites include Sailing Totem, a family who have nearly completed their circumnavigation, and The Cynical Sailor and His Salty Sidekick, particularly the hilarious tales of learning to sail a small boat – it was easy to identify with the stories as we had just started sailing on our first sailboat.

These and many others inspired me to start a blog of our own. I didn’t think I would find a huge audience with my little stories about sailing a small boat in a small sea (and I was right!) but I wanted to document our journey from the beginning – from land lubbers to, well, hopefully people who might be able to call themselves sailors in some distant future. We had the idea of a big voyage we would embark on, one day, but it seemed light years away. It’s much closer now, and getting here has been much more fun than I expected. We have plenty of favourite spots in the Baltic Sea now, which we’ll be leaving behind for others to find – in Estonia (2016), Åland Island and the Archipelago Sea (2017).

I hear voices

I had been commuting a long way to work for a dozen years or so, before I had a lightbulb moment and realised I can actually listen to anything I like while driving! I don’t know why it took so long to figure – but it was the last time I ever listened to the empty chit chat of a morning radio.

First I tried some audio books, but it was difficult to keep track of all the different characters in the story and still manage to pay some attention to the traffic around me. But podcast interviews were just the right shape and size! And what’s more, I found podcasts about sailing!

My first find was The Sailing Podcast by an Australian guy – he hasn’t produced anything in ages but the old episodes can still be found.

The best and a very active one is On the Wind – 59° North by Andy Schell who seems to be some sort of a jack-of-all-things sailing. Amongst his interviewees are big names such as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Lin and Larry Pardey, John and Amanda Neal, Paul and Sheryl Shard, and arctic and antarctic adventurers Skip Novak, Matt Rutherford, John Harries, and Bob Shepton – along with a number of Youtubers I mentioned earlier.

Some interesting stories occasionally appear on the Boat Radio channel.

So much to learn

My favourite source of information – and it has a lot! – is a website called Attainable Adventure Cruising. It’s not free, but it costs a lot less than Netflix. There’s a wealth of articles about long distance and offshore sailing and cruising, boats, gear and whatnot.

The Boat Galley – as the boat’s kitchen is called – has a lot of tips and tricks about living on a boat, way beyond cooking and provisioning.

A lot of knowledge can be found on different forums where sailors hang out. One of the busiest is the Cruisers Forum. There are others, like Sailnet and Cruising Anarchy. My latest discovery, after I finally swallowed the bitter pill and joined Facebook, were the many different groups for sailing people, best of all one dedicated to sailing women with the liveliest and friendliest conversation I’ve seen in a long time.

Bookworm’s choices

Every long distance sailor’s bible is undoubtedly World Cruising Routes by Jimmy Cornell. It lists all the routes in the whole world, with information about weather systems and best seasons for each route.

Blogs, magazines and podcasts are a great way of finding good reading tips. That’s how I found Lin and Larry Pardey, who have written the most legendary guides for a shoestring sailor – The Cost Conscious Cruiser and many, many more.

Rick Page and Jasna Tuta’s Get Real, Get Gone is a more recent variation of the same theme. It’s a concept outlined by many other downshifting manuals – instead of craving for bigger and fancier things we should keep things simple, and that way we can keep living the good life for longer. Well, we are obviously going to be another pair of lab rats to test this theory with our modest budget as we start cruising. I hope to write a report on this in a couple of year’s time!

As far as sailing adventure stories go, Bernard Moitessier’s The Long Way was a haunting story about what it’s like to be all alone in the ocean, with incredible experiences and visions. Moitessier took part in the famous Golden Globe Race, but instead of finishing he continued on for another half a lap around the world.

For more inspiration, I might take up some more of this serious adventure reading, such as Ernst Shackleton’s Antarctic adventure on Endurance, or Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon-Tiki – I remember reading about those adventures as a child and they made a lasting impression on me. I’m sure they would still be as exciting!

What’s your favourite sailing book?

What sort of interesting and useful sailing related things have you found online?

I love to read comments and respond – so please don’t hesitate to comment!