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!
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!
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!
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.
Just like the previous New Year, I decided to write a little summary of this past year, along with some scientific statistics at the end. It feels incredible to have made it this far, and to be travelling still, when it’s been a year and a half since we left! Both of us and our boat still in one piece, the money not quite run out, and various plans for next year already springing up. And the places we’ve seen! In May we crossed the Bay of Biscay, sailed along the Atlantic coast of Spain’s Galicia and then Portugal. There we decided to turn towards the Straits of Gibraltar. We made it to the Mediterranean in July, and in August we were hopping along the coast of Sicily. In September we crossed over to Greece, and there we found our next winter base.
Our journey began in June this year. That means we have now sailed slowly, and not particularly surely, towards southerly latitudes for more than six months. Having reached such a milestone, many sailors like to draw a summary of the highlights, measure how well their expectations were met, publish statistics about their journey and so on. It’s a good idea, so why not give it a try.
At the beginning of the year 2020 we delved into boat projects aboard our sailboat Aina. At that point nobody knew that the world was about to turn upside down. Greece went into total lockdown in March, but we just kept on working. Read more about our time during the spring lockdown in Messolonghi!
During the long, dark winter evenings we planned our great journey south. We would cast off on the 1st of June, make a quick stop at Gdansk, and by July we would be through the Kiel Canal and well on our way down the English Channel – in time to cross the Bay of Biscay before the summer was over.