10 things we have learnt so far!

1. Trust in Grace!

Bavaria build sea worthy yachts and Volvo makes reliable engines! We know, We have put them to the test! Even after bumping through every lock in Holland….and across the Segats of the Friesian Islands and through the washing machine they call the German Bight! Grace never missed a beat and looked after us! And we all we sustained was about €500 of Anders ‘the shipwright’ time in the process to repair the damage!

Not too much damage from a close encounter with a lock!

2. Slow it down!

Lots of engine revs does not solve everything! Especially when leaving alongside the dock. We have lost a fender in every country so far! Grace does not have bow thrusters and is quite ‘sticky’ when alongside and all lots of revs does is rip the fenders off! So we have learnt a lot about spring lines and springing off!

Slowing it right down!

3. Hi-Fit and Sailing Wellies

When you are stood at the helm for an hour or so, the wind cuts right through you! It really does not matter if there’s barely a breath, Hi-Fits are the only thing that keeps you warm and dry.

Sailing wellies are a no brainer, just step straight into them and your on deck and on the way to the facilities first thing in the morning!


4. Charts

We love our charts…..and especially NV Chart Books. They are like road atlases and are really easy to handle. And also have a brilliant large plastic wallet to keep it dry on deck……lmray learn from this!

The brilliant NV Chart wallet!

5. Talk to the Harbour Master

With the exception of the dragon at Cuxhafen, all the harbour masters have been fantastically helpful; we had ones that hid us from the ‘red diesel police’ in Belgium, glamorous ones in Holland, ones with megaphones and plenty of advice, and ones that looked after our post with our new Baltic Sea Nav Card in Kiel.

Harbour Masters……always ready to offer plenty of advice!

6. Night sailing is horrible!

I still break out in a cold sweat when I think of our night sail down the Elbe and into Cuxhafen.

The light is beginning to go and we still have 20 nm to go!

7. Gloves

You just can’t have enough pairs of gloves – at the wheel your hand just get cold and wet. We found that all the gloves we had were unsuitable and we always had cold hands! Buy better ones for Christmas!

And every pair is cold and wet!

8. Sailing downwind

Fitting the gybe preventer, even on a broad reach is a comfort! It is well worth the effort of scrabbling round the foredeck with 25m of uncooperative wet rope!

Grace can carry much more sail on a run than we can fly at the moment. I was desperate to buy a parasail after being swept past by yachts with spinnakers but we realised that our genoa is almost as big as most spinnakers and that we just need a whisker pole. A much cheaper option and Anders will fit one in the spring before he re-rigs the boat. It will enable us to goosewing the sails and effectively more than double the sail area we can carry downwind! It should also improve our speed on a very a broad reach too – a great solution all round!

Overtaken again!

9. Box moorings

They are really quite good and have got some benefits over finger pontoons. And we always seemed to provide plenty of entertainment for people on shore to watch as we squished our way in or out of them! It took some practice and our fenders were put to hard use and Gracie’s gel coat suffered a bit too in the process!

However if you are prepared, then they are quite simple with the just the odd opportunity for disaster such as…..

⁃ Our stern lines were too short and our bows ended up 2 metre from the pontoon! Stuck!

⁃ Getting the bows blown off course and ending up side on to the posts and stuck again!

⁃ Rather embarrassingly picking a berth that is too narrow for Grace’s beam and getting stuck yet again!

Plus many more small humiliations, after all berthing is just a controlled crash!

We did learn that…….

⁃ You need your longest lines at the stern with loops in the ends.

⁃ No fenders at the beam, they just get stuck against the posts.

⁃ A nice thick rope running along the sides is all the rendering you need.

⁃ Take it slow but with enough momentum to keep the bows under control.

⁃ The person at the bow must be ready to jump for it and it is always easier with three!

Sometimes, you just have to jump for it!

10. A Pressure cooker!

What a fantastic invention, quick hot food in minutes! Chuck in virtually anything unidentifiable that you can buy in the nearest Danish supermarket, pop it on the gas ring and 10 minutes later out comes wonderfully hot and delicious food that is just what you need after you have completed the mooring ordeal!

Hot food…..wonderful!

1 thought on “10 things we have learnt so far!”

  1. You have navigated a very steep learning curve, congratulations. We are already looking forward to the next episode. Jan and I have also learn’t a lot from your blogs,- history and geography . LoveJan & John.


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