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Skippers blog

Looking foreword to supplying some more

I Middelhavet sardinen svømmer, we sing in Danmark. I would rather associate the sardines with the villages in the coastline of Porto, where it is all about grilled sardines. But WE now swim in the Mediterranean and we manage to get safely back aboard due to Springevens home designed rope ladder.

We are back on track, and sorry for postponing so long. The excuse is, I suppose, that the boat has had some technical challenges, which kind of took focus. It should not. Much more on this below, so use skimming if such challenges is noting for you. But the mail headline: Still alive and well.

The arrangement of mooring in Lynetten stopped by 1 May 2019, so this seemed a natural day do get moving after a long winter there Jonathan looked after the boat part of the time, while I was in Thailand.  Well done! I have come to like Lynetten a lot. The do-it-yourself spirit still prevails, and a pity the waiting list for bigger boats is so long – I don’t have any arrangements when coming back, which is of coarse an argument for postponing this moment.

To mark the departure we had a get together in the harbors new member café. Nice to see you all.

Frank had come down from Norway and Michael up from France. And first goal was the harbor of Rødvig, where the boat had to come up – primarily in order to repair the bow thruster which had been out of order for a year. Now, this was expected to take some weeks, not six as became the final outcome. A slow delivery of a new outside half was to blame. Or maybe rather my lack of ability to control this process with holidays, subcontractor, technical stuff, German language, shipping etc. However, we did not sit still waiting all the time: Springeven had a new heating system, a new top of the pops anchor, which required quite some fitting, a new dinghy, a new life raft, antifouling paint and much more. Especially I recall the big guy who managed to fit himself into the small anchor storage chamber to deal with rust. During this period Juan also came to participate and among other things teached me a thing or two about pumps. The boat has many, and they all work differently. Frank, Michael and Juan each have their fields of expertise, THANKS FOR HELPING.

We did things besides working. Socialising e.g. With the local crowd in the local harbour establishment and in particular with sailors from other boats at the shipyard. My regards to Jørgen and his crew on Tara – a Polish copy of a German racing boat from the 1936 Olympics. They were planning their summer adventures I the waters around Greenland, which as I understood was neither simple or cheap. And then they had the old Dylan lyrics together with a guitar and the ingredients for Irish coffee hidden on the boat.

Frank went home to Stavanger to take care of things and will be back in the autumn. Juan got so inspired by Tara and Greenland and switched boat. And Carsten did not find time to join us sailing in this round due to the aforementioned delays conflicting with job. So when actually heading south, only Michael and I were aboard. But we did well and took a long leg towards Amsterdam. The wind went our way and the most noticeable was when we were approached by traffic control in the harbour of Cuxhaven: We had not been listening to the correct VHF channel when sailing on Elben. And besides we should not be proud of our choice of lowering the sails close to the busy commercial traffic. Ordnung must sein, and we learned later that the Germans are not alone. When continuing down through the English channel the are quite a few restrictions to pay attention  to. Traffic separation zones and windmill parks e.g. And if you do not you are called on the radio or even approach.

Amsterdam is beautiful, beautiful. And full of life in the middle of the summer. In the packed Old Sailors Pub located in the centre of the Red Light District they know how to do business with tourists. They have chosen not to honour any credit cards, and then they refer customers to a nearby ATM having high fees (they must have part in that machine). Under Franks and mine visit in his boat in the fall 2017 we did take museums seriously: Van Gogh, Rembrandt, maritime and of coarse the history of hamp. So this time I rather floated around and did remember to introduce Mickael to one favourite place of mine, SaunaDeco. Though built in the 1980’ties it does have something special, since the interior had been imported from Paris and originates from the Art Deco period earlier in the century.

Leaving Rødvig, we realized when Springeven was lowered into the water, that the bow thruster did actually not work. But this was on a late Friday afternoon, and we were not keen on staying for another weekend. Thus, we had to deal with this in Amsterdam. Now, a talented guy, to whom I was referred by another guy selling me Imray paper charts and cruising almanacs for the Atlantic and Mediterranean coats (very useful) managed to do this job. Dismounted the inside motor of the thruster, repaired it and mounted it again. Everything within some few hours.

I also ended up buying with him a new charger/inverter since the one could not limit the max AMP used from shore as it should. And we ended up following the Rødvig pattern of leaving a harbor with a half-finished project: We had arranged, that he should install the charger. But due to delays on delivery, he showed up a one late Friday afternoon with the message, that a family dinner soon after required his participation, and that also the weekend was occupied. So, eager to get moving Michael and I installed ourselves. And it didn’t work! OK, I believe it is not the new device but rather the boats electrical installation that has a problem resulting in flipping the HPFI, when charging from shore. I did find some workaround with an electrician in a later harbor, but the issue is not solved and will take some qualified guy at some point in time.

In Amsterdam we also got control over a few other important technical challenge. Also the hydraulic system for the autopilot had been leaking somewhat and needed refilling now and then. Not a lot, but leaked oil in the flor of the engine room is irritating and more importantly, running out of oil and loosing steering power is not something you would like. An emergency rudder can be mounted, but this is located under deck, from where you are not really able to oversee the surroundings. (I ought to try it out some day to have confirmed how impossible would be.) Thus, I set out on my boat bike to find a substitute for a broken gasket on the size of half finger nail. Not an easy task, which took me to many supply shops. Finally in the outskirts of town, in a small lazy but very specialized shop (only gaskets) they had it. The guy charges 0.2 Euro a piece, so I could afford more than one, and it did the job. This is the perfect example on how the tiniest things can make a real difference. And the auto pilot, by the way, is one of the strongest sides of the boat. Pressure in the hydraulics is generated from the turning propeller, when the wind drives the boat through the water. It does cut a little on the speed, but it has the very important upside, that an electrical motor for turning the rudder does not drain the batteries, which have more than enough to care fore with two refrigerators etc. And then it does its job of steering the 25 to through big waves so nicely. I recall when crossing Skagerrak in Franks eight ton Bavaria with electric autopilot. We had a gale from the west generating quite some waves, and in certain situations we went with manual steering, since we felt this would better control the boat. On Springeven I believe it is hard to beat the autopilot.

After a week or more in Amsterdam we took another long leg towards Cherbourg in Northern France. In Troels Kløvedals book ‘Øerne under vinden’ he describes The English Chanal as the place, which has provided him the biggest challenges with its combinations of wind, tide and low water. We, however, had an easy downwind ride. Actually, after being gone for now two months, I have not yet been exposed to any salt water – and Mickael has only tried it a few times on the foredeck.

In Cherbourg we met with Mickaels mother and nephew, who had driven up from their hometown some 300 km. Then they were also served oysters and fancy white wine! And we could borrow a car to fill up the boat with supplies for the next stretch, which should take us all the way to Porto in Portugal.

We set out in the early morning timing it to benefit from the tide going our way. Most of the time we had light down winds. In periods however no wind, and we did not have enough patience to avoid motoring. In other periods somewhat stronger winds, which did not scare Mickael from spending much time in the kitchen preparing advanced dinners and serving them on porcelain accompanied with wine in real wine glasses and of course followed by French deserts and freshly brewed coffee. He did not really trust me to take care of these important matters.

In Porto my friend, Natalie, and her daughter, Genalie, joined us for two weeks. We behaved like tourists are supposed to riding with the old tram, visiting Churchill, one of the many port wine houses, searching for the next café or restaurant. The plan for the four us was to sail down to Lisbon. But out on the water we were exposed to swell, which our female side and problems coping with, and gave up that idea. Actually, back in the harbor we could still feel the movements, and as it was not an option – as Natalie suggested – to tie the boat more firmly to the pier, seasickness persisted. I ended up in the late evening taking an Uber to a nearby Airbnb with my crew, so they could have a decent sleep.

In Lisbon Simone flew down to visit even if there were no sailing plans for the week. Simone is the best educated captain among my friends having the so called Yacht Skipper 1 – and revealing that she even had contemplated going for one of the English RYA grades. And then she had prepared for the tour by buying two guide books and another one with poems by Portugal’s national poet Fernando Pessoa. So she could read aloud, but I guess it stopped when I looked as if I didn’t pay enough attention. We walked the city searching for the small odd places. One late night we went with the Danish sailing couple Erik and Christina to hear the special Portuguese Fardo. Amateurs showing off and crying out their harts can be good when coming with a Mojito.

And then we had new crew flying in from America in shape if Nick and Charlie. In their mid-twenties, not fully educated sailors, but keen on learning. Charlie actually turned 25 soon after so we had a good reason for having a night out. In the late hours we all wore colorful hats, and the birthday child was at this point not too shy to approach most of the girls we passed by. Nick bought a guitar and he plays it – so nice on a boat. And both of these young sailors like to keep fit doing exercised on the deck from time to time, as I have the chance to join without having the feeling of people laughing at me.

From Portugal we can write two more sections on the technical side. The biggest of the foresails can be stored around the forestay using a hydraulic furling gear. And the tube for this leaked resulting in a lot of refilling for it to work. Seven liters of leaked oil I sucked up, when I looked into the problem. We has assistance from a repair shop in the Lisbon harbor and tried to get the drawings of the boats construction from the Dutch Jongert shipyard. We did not succeed, and even if we had succeeded the task of fixing the under deck original tubes would have been too much for the small shop – and we were here to sail. So I went for an intermediate fix with new hoses running above deck. In the outset the repair shop regarded this as a simple job, but while actually carrying through with it we all realized it was not that simple. E.g. they had to drive almost a full day in get some new drills for the job, one of these bloke, but finally they succeeded.

The other issue was on the diesel – used for the engine as well as generator and the heater. When filling water I chose the wrong hole and some water came into the diesel. Not good, I take full responsibility and am embarrassed to mention (I did beforehand contemplate methods for avoiding this mixing up of filling holes but had not yet taken action). It lasted only a short while until I saw the disaster and pulled the hose up, but I did not know exactly how long and thus how much water had come in. Through the repair shop I called for help by a specialist. Lot of talking about the options. It all came down to changing the filter and carrying a load of spare filters just in case. And making sure the motor is run at certain intervals for a while. No throwing out or cleaning of 1000 liters of diesel, was the recommendation. It seemed to work – that is the engine did stop a few times in the beginning, but I believe the situation is under control now.

And then to Spain, to Cadis, the first significant port after the border. Only for a short while to fill up supplies of water and food. One night was 46 Euro here, which is somewhat expensive compared to the 29 Euro we paid in central Amsterdam. So we began considering trying out the anchor now we were approaching the more quiet waters of the Mediterranean. I saw on the net that the Earth was having a lot of shooting stars at this time. And that was very true. Watching them when sailing at night under a clear sky in calm water is an OK occupation.

Next stop Gibraltar. We arrived at night and were a little confused when the almanac described the important custom clearance to be placed north of the rock. Which rock? In the morning it became clear that of coarse it was the place itself which is one big rock. We climbed it, only to meet long lines of taxis on the top. So, the most interesting about Gibraltar in our wyes we, that we could fill up the tank with diesel at roughly half the Danish price. Cheapest in Mediterranean, and with 1500 liter we will manage until we have been around and pass by again on the way out.

Michael had planned for a day on the water with his Friends around Puerto Deportivo. Nice people, food, swimming … This harbor was a center for mass tourism with lots of tours offered on the water. And out there it was almost crowded in the middle of the holiday season. Fishing boats, paddle boards, sailing dinghies, jet skies, pedalos with roller balls, kayaks.

And when posting this we have reached the big town of Malaga. Here the yearly festival is on, and the young crew explored until early morning while I guarded the boat.

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