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 a 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?

We enjoy reading and responding to comments from our readers – so please do not hesitate to leave one!

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!

Sailing the Big Seas – Choosing the Right Boat

Sailing the Big Seas – Choosing the Right Boat

The first step towards the Great Journey has been taken. Last time I wrote about how we decided to put our plan into action. The first phase has been completed – we have sold our house and most of our worldly belongings. There are a million steps to go before we get to stand on the deck of our sailboat, waving goodbye to the cheering crowds on the dock. Firstly, we’ll need a boat. Secondly, we’ll have to be nice to our friends so there might actually be someone there to see us off! This time I will concentrate on the boat search, which might prove to be the easier task of the two.

Finding the Right Boat is a process involving both sense and sensibility. The decision must be based on a lot of research and at least some experience – but the boat also has to feel right for us! What works wonderfully for someone else might not work for us, and vice versa. The boat will be our home for (hopefully) many years to come, so it definitely has to feel like home!

The budget, always the budget…

As well as having a great effect on the level of luxury we might expect from our lifestyle as we cast the lines, our budget also defines the size and standard of our boat and all the equipment that comes with it. 

We will be travelling on nothing short of a shoestring budget, so the ultimate shoestring decision would be to keep our little boat and forget about upgrading. ”The best boat is the one you have” is a phrase you often come across in the replies to someone asking the sailing forums for advice about the best boat for crossing oceans. But I don’t really think anyone would offer that advice to a middle aged couple sailing a 25 foot boat. That would be pretty extreme, to say the least! I’m not saying our little lady couldn’t do it – after all, she was built for offshore. Most boats will endure much more than their crews ever could.

Still, we came to the conclusion that we would need a bigger boat. But how much bigger? And what other, just as important factors to consider?

Does size really matter?

Running and maintenance costs escalate rapidly with the size of the boat. If you double a boat’s lenght you don’t end up with a boat that’s twice as big – it will in fact be six times the weight and volume. The sails will be six times bigger, and so will the engine. The systems will be more powerful and complicated, and it will be much more expensive to maintain or replace them. For someone on a budget, bigger is not better, as there is not a place on Earth where the maintenance costs will not follow us. So the question is not about how big a boat we can afford – it’s how small a boat we can (relatively) comfortably live on.

Old or new?

From the very start of our boat search we agreed on the most important features of our future boat. First and foremost she has to be safe, seaworthy and strongly built. We want a boat designed for offshore and long distance cruising so we completely ruled out light, flat bottomed daysailor types, as well as any kind of boats with long, thin keel stems and delicate rudders. Many such boats have successfully crossed oceans, so it definitely can be done, but we would like our boat to stand the test of time – a long time!

Strong, seaworthy boats are still in production today, but not exactly within our financial reach, so the question about the boat’s age pretty much solves itself. Our future boat will have her teenage years well behind her – we’re talking 1970’s or 80’s vintage.

So we will be missing out on the vast interiors of modern boats, with light flooding in through large windows. But there’s a drawback to them that we wouldn’t like anyway – a wide, flat hull is not as sea kindly as a more traditional, deeper hull, and the big open spaces can be unsafe when the boat gets tossed around in rough weather. Not to mention what else could be flooding in through those large windows…

Older boats have tighter interiors compared to modern boats of the same length. But they often have more storage space and tankage for water and fuel because of the deeper hull shape. That suits us very well!

Fast or slow?

Modern boats are lighter and therefore faster in light winds. The prevailing winds along popular cruising routes are fairly light, so we wouldn’t want to make too much of a compromise in light air performance. 

We hope to be spending most of our time in pleasant areas, sailing in benign conditions. But at some point we also want to explore places that are not so pleasant. I’m sure there’s a middle ground that can be found – a boat that sails reasonably well but can still stand up to a blow. After all, a boat that’s too heavy, slow and sails poorly is too dependent on engine power, and we just love to sail!

And finally – how to find such a boat?

Our location is not exactly ideal in terms of finding a large selection of seaworthy boats with all the necessary equipment. It would be a lot easier if we lived in, say, Marseille, Florida or the Chesapeake Bay. In those places you can find more boats for sale in one single marina than in our entire country. Ocean going sailboats are not a very hot selling item in the northern Baltic Sea for a very natural reason: it’s not an ocean. Even if suitable boats could be found, they’re seldom equipped for much more than daysailing in the archipelago. Only a handful of boats leave Finland for a longer voyage each year. 

Travelling abroad to look for a boat is, of course, not a bad idea. But to stay in budget we would have to have a very succesful first attempt – it’s no use spending money on multiple pilgrimages and possibly ending up being tricked by some broker, unsuspecting as we country folks often are. So, wouldn’t it be great if the Right Boat could be found in Scandinavia, or at least somewhere in the northern Europe?

Will we find our boat? And what compromises will we have to make? Soon I might be able to tell you more!

If you’re a boat owner cruising somewhere in turquoise waters, what requirements did you have for the boat? Did you have to make compromises?

We really like reading comments and responding to them – so do not hesitate to comment!

If you’re interested in more details about our requirements for the boat, I’ve made a list of all the must-haves, like-to-haves and if-we-lived-in-a-perfect-world-where-everything-was-possibleand-money-was-not-an-issue-haves that we’ve managed to come up with. They are roughly in the order in which they should appear on our boat.

The boat, our requirements, hopes and wishes

First of all, the boat has to be… 

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Sailing the Big Seas – From Dreams to Plans to Reality

Sailing the Big Seas – From Dreams to Plans to Reality

”We sold everything, bought a sailboat and went sailing around the world!”

If you read blogs or watch Youtube channels about people cruising around in sailboats, you may have come across these words a few times. They seem to be the cruisers’ favourite urban legend. But you seldom hear the story behind the words.

It sounds simple and easy. Maybe it is for some. They may be young, nomadic types who don’t own that much in the first place. Or, if they do own things like a house, they are probably clever people who have chosen a city or a neighbourhood where it’s easy to sell – and the house will have appreciated in value during ownership. Or maybe these people don’t really have to sell everything – they can buy a boat, they can afford a few years of sailing in some tropical waters, and keep their home so they have a life to go back to once they’ve crossed enough things off their bucket list.

Then there are hand-to-mouth folks like us. At least I like to think there are other people like us – who doesn’t? – with no investments, assets, fame or fortune. We really have to sell everything to be able to afford a bigger boat and to sail further than the Åland archipelago. We live above 60° North – it’s going to take more than one summer holiday to even get out of these latitudes. And we’ll need to sail years worth of summer holidays in some warmer waters for our icy cores to melt.

Being able to work and earn money along the way is the perfect solution for some people, such as digital wizards, best selling novelists or photogenic potential Youtube stars. We have not distinguished ourselves in those categories – yet, anyway – so we basically just have our savings to resort to.

“To be truly challenging, a voyage, like a life, must rest on a firm foundation of financial unrest.”

Sterling Hayden

But the more I’ve read and researched about sailing, the more stories I’ve come across about people cruising on a small budget. It’s cheaper to live on a boat than in a house. There’s very little space so you won’t spend money on unnecessary things. Marinas are expensive but anchoring is free. We are also quite handy when it comes to scrubbing, painting, fixing and renovating, so at least we’ll be able to do most of our own boat work and won’t have to pay professionals to do it. It’s all very logical when you think about it. I know we’ll have to learn to be more frugal about many things. But we’ve never cared too much about appearances and owning things so we won’t have to change our personalities in order to change our lifestyle.

So far we have completed the first phase – we have sold the house we thought we would grow old in. Well, it seems that you grow old no matter where you live. The house and the life in the country were once big dreams that came true. But I’ve found that new dreams can be born, even when you’re living the life you dreamed of. Sometimes the new dreams can be so powerful you just have to follow them. And to be able to do that, you may have to let go of the old ones. Sailing the big seas is demanding – it’s a dream that can’t be postponed to the unforeseeable future, or until we retire. We might no longer be strong and brave enough if we wait too long.In a way, our journey has already begun. We have traded the comfortable country life for simple existence in a town studio. I feel like I’m living in an AirBnB and doing touristy things in a new town – but every morning I find myself in the same old office I’ve worked in for years, with the same old colleagues who don’t seem to know that the whole world has turned upside down.

Giving up the old home was one of the biggest steps towards the Dream. Choosing, buying and outfitting the Boat is another big step – next time I will write about that!

Have you made a big change in your life? Tell us about it!

Read how our dream first began!

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The Winds – They Are a’Changin!

The Winds – They Are a’Changin!

When we bought our little boat two summers ago, it was for a very specific purpose. As I’ve said before, it was not merely to enjoy the Baltic archipelago during weekends and summer holidays – all that just came as a bonus. We wanted to learn to sail on a small boat first, before making any hasty and espensive mistakes. More than anything we wanted to find out whether we would really like sailing and not just the idea of sailing and memories of long ago.

And our little boat did just what she was meant to do. She taught us to sail, to feel confident enough in every sort of weather that we encountered during these two summers. She was indeed a big boat in a small package, and would proudly stand up to a blow in a way we could never have expected. She showed us all the excitement and thrill of sailing in great winds, and we just love, love, love sailing!

With her modest accommodations and few luxuries she made us learn many things about ourselves – that we weren’t getting on each other’s nerves in that little space, and that we didn’t particularly miss all the comforts of home – apart from the sauna from time to time, which must be some sort of a genetic thing that can’t really be helped. Our boat also showed us that we work great together as a crew, despite both of us being skippers. All of these things might have been hard or impossible to find out during a week or two of bareboat charter, especially in a warm place with turquoise water.

As we were heading back home from our great summer trip at the end of July, we were feeling a little melancholy. We already knew this would be the last summer holiday on our little boat, and despite all the love we had for her, we would put her up for sale as soon as we’d reach our home marina. We could already feel the first rumblings of a Big Change that was about to happen. Nothing could be seen yet, but there was something lurking just beoynd the horizon.

Now, many months later, with Christmas just around the corner, the Big Change has already begun. We have made some big decisions, and taken the first big steps towards the next chapter of our lives. What that chapter is about, time will tell. We have all winter to make plans and prepare – and I will keep writing about it all along. I won’t unravel the mystery just yet, but sailing will be a big part of it, that much at least is certain!

You have reached the end of our summer 2017 holiday trip – Read the previous post – Start from the beginning!

All Good Things

All Good Things

All good things must come to an end… right?

That’s how it feels now, it can’t really be helped. It’s the time of the year again when there’s not enough daylight to tell the difference between day and night. The time when rain keeps falling down in liquid and solid forms and everything in between. The boats are up on the hard, wrapped in tarps, and people are wrapped in wool and Gore-Tex. Only a few months ago everything was different… Except we were mostly wrapped in wool and Gore-Tex then, too. Looking back it’s hard to remember such minor details. In the pictures it all looks sunny and nice.

At the end of July our summer holiday was drawing to a close. Well, just my holiday, really. I would be getting off the boat in just a few days, and a friend of ours would be joining my husband for the final leg back home. And that was fine by me. I had sailed the same way before, I knew it all too well. I’ve never liked the last days of a trip, and I’ve never liked to follow my own tracks back to where I started. The best time to leave the party is when you’re still having fun!

I was having fun here in the Archipelago Sea. Every day seemed warmer and more beautiful than the one before. The seas were calm, and white fluffy clouds were reflected in the water. We found a quiet little island, where we could walk in the meadows and pastures and past old fishermen’s cottages, with no one else around. In the evening a couple of other boats would tie up to the old pier next to us, and we would enjoy a few words of conversation.

We also endulged briefly in some marina life for one last time, as we were having trouble with our electrical power, and decided to make a short stop in the harbour of Nauvo to try and find a new battery. While shopping in town, dark thunder clouds gathered over the marina, and the short stop turned into an overnight stay. Oh well, I’m always up for a sauna, and you can count on finding one in every harbour in Finland – if not several. And we found a church, which by now was not a surprise either. We also found the new battery, so our mission turned out to be a very successful one, in many different fronts.

Continue our trip to the next post – Read the previous post – Start from the beginning!