Bits and pieces of 2016

Approaching the new year, it is time to reflect and see if we are heading in the right direction. This year has probably been one of the more exhausting one’s in our lives, but in the same time so rich in experiences. So what really happened this year? We will give a summary of the different steps on our journey, and in the end you can find a map that shows our track across the oceans so far.

 

In the first half of this year, it was all about preparations. We moved two times, spend hundreds of hours going through all of our stuff and thinking about the life on the boat and what we would need. I was working to fund our adventure and Jens worked hard on renovating the boat and managed to do a skiing expedition he dreamed about for years. There were several big jobs that he managed to do during the winter and spring – changing from diesel engine to electric propulsion, designing and building a bowsprit and moving the toilet to the forepeak to mention a few. In the spring we also discussed with our workplaces if it would be possible to get a leave from work and discussed a lot with friends and family about what it was we wanted to do and how we could make the dream come true.

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Renovating Mouni on land, in the water and on the inside with the help of friends. The new and shiny engine room got a lot more spacious with the electric motor.

In the early summer we moved aboard Mouni, while also increasing the pace of the renovation. June, July and almost the whole August past before we felt about ready to throw off the bowlines. During this summer, while we had high ambitions on what to be able to complete with the renovation, we also promised ourselves that we would never say no to someone who wanted to come visit us. So in the middle of the big renovation mess, we did meet a lot of our friends and family and had a wonderful goodbye party that will stay as a precious memory for us. It is hard to say goodbye, but nice to know it´s rather “see you later”. Even if we left a couple weeks later than we had planned for, the summer was rather hectic and we were quite drained of energy when we left.

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Farewell party with friends and family before leaving our home port

 

The first phase going around Sweden was also spent visiting a lot of friends and family along the way. Sweden is such a beautiful place to sail and we really enjoyed exploring the coastline from the sea. It soon became clear that even this first phase was a big test on our vision about “sailing for harmony”. Leaving the stressful life behind, we still brought it along in our minds and had trouble deciding what was most important – progress in distance, fixing the boat or enjoying life. We still haven´t learned how to always sail in harmony, but we do know not to measure progress in miles. Because this is not what this journey is for.

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Sailing the Swedish archipelago visiting friends and family along the way

Nevertheless, it was a milestone to sail to our first foreign land – Denmark. The reason for this detour was specific, we wanted to meet the supplier of our electric motor to do some tests and discuss the future. Besides helping us to trim the motor, we also got a sailing lessons and had some wonderful days in Copenhagen with our friends. We were really impressed with the ambitious sailors in Denmark who sailed all the way in and out of the harbours

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30 degrees and engine testing in Copenhagen, Denmark

By the time we got to Norway, we could really feel that we were on our way. This was also where we had our first experiences of hard weather. While we did sail in harder weather than we ever did before and really could put Mouni to the test, we also got land-bound several times. From that point the gale warnings would constantly follow us for the rest of the year. In Norway we also had our first crew aboard – a lovely couple of weeks with Jens mom that took us across the North Sea.

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New crew and big heights in Norway

 

The sailing through the UK – Shetland, Fair Isle, Scotland and Northern Ireland has really shown us what a great hospitality there is here and that it is actually not so hard to make friends (at least if you get stuck :-)) We have sailed in cold and rainy weather week after week, learning how to deal with the tides (we´re not quite there yet) and learned the hard way how easily things break. The last month we have settled in Belfast and spending most of the time making Mouni safe and pretty.

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Sailing from Shetland to Northern Ireland before settling at Belfast Harbour Marina for renovation work and enjoying the company of neighbours

One of the wisdoms from our guest book onboard says – “It’s not about the miles, it’s about the smiles”. So what did we really think about 2016?

What was the best with 2016?

Petra: Finding a new pace in life, getting to know lots of new places and friendly people. I have really enjoyed getting to know the sea and having that nature experience every day. I didn’t expect to feel safe on Mouni in the wide range of weather we have sailed in, but she handles the waves well.

Jens: 2016 was the year when we got to taste the first bites of the sweet fruit after spending so much time figuring out how to change the direction in life. It has taken several years to get here and as always when starting to learn something new it takes a lot of time. I can still remember all the thousands of different boats researched before before deciding on this one. All the reading required to learn about plastic work, rigging repairs, bow sprit designs, engine propulsion, marine wiring, thru hull fittings and so on. All the sleepless mornings figuring out how to do all the required changes and all the late evenings trying to finish one more piece of the puzzle before going home. This was the year when it all paid off and the feeling to finally set sail was definitely something special.

What was the hardest during 2016?

Petra: All the decisions. Where should we sail? How? What is more important – getting ahead, renovating for comfort and safety or having fun? Just having each other makes it really important to get along and agree. I´ve never been really ill during these months but have spent a lot of time with some type of physical problem that have drained a lot of my energy.

Jens: Long distance cruising can be done in so many different ways. Not too long ago cruisers still circumnavigated our globe without any engine or electrical gadgets at all. Some still do even today. But the development, especially on the technical side, has been tremendous last few decades so as a fellow cruiser put it – Today you can have your yacht automatically sailing around the world without even leaving your kitchen table. The hardest thing was definitely defining where on this scale to position us and Mouni. So far the philosophy has been to start off simple and let our own experience guide us in what kind of equipment to acquire. Hopefully this will end in a boat much more fit for our purpose and financial strength than listening to skilled sales agents.

What do you look forward to in 2017?

Petra: Sailing in warm weather and always being able to jump in for a swim! Anchoring in a bay with my love and enjoying some Mediterranean food. I am also looking forward to taking off from here and enjoying all the improvements we have done on Mouni. Hope I will improve my sailing skills even more!

Jens: We have discovered that sailing can be both exhausting and relaxing. The weather of course plays a big role in how the sailing is perceived but I also think that with the right knowledge, experience and mental attitude you can find most circumstances relaxing. In 2017 I am looking forward to increase my comfort zone and taking the first trembling steps to master the ever changing seas. Sometime in the future I hope that even fast moving tides, swirls, moving sand banks and technical malfunction still can be comfortable handled in sharp but yet relaxed manner.

Finally, here´s the map of the track we have made so far, we will update it as we go along!

We wish you a really happy new year, cruising through life in harmony!

– Petra & Jens

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(Oh) we get by with a little help from our friends

We knew that this last month of renovation while living aboard would not be easy, but with the end goal in mind we were sure it would be worth it. Since my vacation started, we have worked on the boat every day. But not all the time – we have been fortunate enough to have lots of visits from dear friends and family! We decided early on that we would not say no to anyone who wanted to come visit us, even though it would slow us down with the renovation. Some have you have even come by to help!

We are so happy for all of you who have come by visiting us – bringing some snack, lunch or even breakfast just to see us and the boat before we leave. I think we have met more of ours friends this last month than the whole last year!

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Earlier this spring we also decided that we wanted to have a farewell party before we set sails, so that we could gather as many friends and family as possible and celebrate the start of our adventure. The invitation was sent out: bring your family, something to put on the grill and we will make a big cake and let you know about our plans and dreams. We were happy to see so many showed up, over 40 people!

 

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We invited everyone to share their best advice with us and cheer us on in the guest book – friends of sailing for harmony. So what did our community want to tell us? First some advice:

  • Jens grow your beard! Petra let Jens grow his beard! -David
  • Make sure that your partner is not hungry and follow your moral compass -Kenneth & Sara
  • Seagulls are fun when you look for land but not when you´re on land –Emelie and Andreas

Remember that..

“If you miss home, remember that you brought your home with you” -Nina

“There is no adventure without smaller mishaps” -Cissi

“Even if there is stormy weather, the relationship doesn´t have to be” –Dan

Thank you guys! Now we have a book of wisdom from all the people we will miss.

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We are still busy renovating, and have postponed the start of our journey a couple of days waiting for our contact to help us configure the battery charger settings. We´ll let you know when we are on our way!

-Petra

Maiden voyage

Finally we arrived in our home port – Gäddeholm, Västerås.

We decided that we wanted to leave last weekend. Since the rigging was in place there wasn´t anything holding us back from leaving Lövudden anymore. The only problem was we still haven´t got our electric motor and we never before entered a harbour only by sail. Since this would be our maiden voyage (first trip with our new rigging) and first trip of the season we were feeling rather rusty.

We woke up to a windy day. The forecast said 6 m/s but we had a feeling it might be more than that. After breakfast we took one mooring line each and led Mouni to the end of the dock. I jumped on and took the rudder and Jens pushed the boat to give it some speed and then jumped on to set the sail. Since it was windy we decided to try out our new storm jib (foresail). We got enough speed and enjoyed sailing lake Mälaren in the sun. Although we only had the jib, we were cruising up to 5,5 knots which is pretty good speed for a boat like ours.

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Now it was time to make a plan on how to enter the harbour. The wind was blowing straight into the harbour and our mooring spot. Plan A then was that we would take down the sail when entering the harbour, and use the speed we already gained to steer into our spot on the other side. If it was too windy we would go for plan B – making a U-turn in the harbour while taking down the sail and moor by the pier instead. If anything went wrong on the way with either plan A or B, plan C was to drop an anchor in the harbour to make sure that we didn´t crash into any other boat or something else.

Entering the harbour, we decided to go for plan B since it was rather windy. Jens took down the jib. Getting a bit anxious the both of us, Jens told me to level out the U-turn a bit since we had so much speed. Finally I aimed straight for the pier, closing in… and then the boat stopped only a couple of meters from the pier – too far to jump off the boat! Jens ran to the  stern to drop down the anchor and then decided to jump into the water with a mooring line and swim to the pier. Only now it was at least 20 meters to the pier, since we had heavy wind coming straight at us. Jens swam in clothes and shoes towards the pier only to realize that the line was too short. We were drifting! He shouted at me to joint two lines together and continued to swim until he reached the pier and jumped up. By then, two nice gentlemen from another yacht by the pier came and asked if we needed any help. The three of them started to pull the boat closer with all their strength. Finally, moored!

When the wind decreased in the evening, we dragged ourselves out to pick up the anchor (poor Jens back did som heavy lifting). Now we have lived in the Gäddeholm harbour for five days and we love it. Beautiful view, no big road nearby, and easy to jump for a swim. Come stop by if you´re in Västerås!

– Petra

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Sail away – rig work

When starting a project there is often a mental picture in ones head about the procedure and how it will end up, i.e. the goal, the finish line. The dream. For me that goal is a serious downshift; throwing the watch and clogged schedules out the window and instead sailing away to distant shores and exploring remote islands. Often one finds out there is a big discrepancy between the dream and the reality, or at least I do 😉

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One of these discrepancies is rigging the boat. In my head it all sounded very easy – it’s just to add a second forestay, build a bow sprit, buy a new boom, make a new boom bracket and move it further up the mast, change the all cables in the mast and replace the navigation lights with new energy saving LED ones and then sail away. In reality minutes, hours and days were consumed by what many engineers would call compatibility problems. In other words; the different parts just simple does not fit together. Especially not when the original mast and rig were built in the seventies and spare parts are not easy to find. After stepping the mast, taking it down again, restepping it again and after that taking the backstay down another four times the good news is that finally everything is in place.

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The bad news is that the backstay needs to be taken down a fifth time to change a toggle up in the top (when the part hopefully arrives later this week) and the new boom bracket really should be moved down closer to the deck about 250 mm or so. But during the process I really got to know the rigging of the boat and that is a nice feeling.

A few words of caution for everyone taking on a project to change the rigging: If someone ensures you that a particular part for sure fits your particular boat never trust them until you have verified this on your own, twice!

Do not let a few problems stop your dreams
– Jens

Why are we spending so much time renovating the boat?

“So, what are your plans for the holidays this year?”
“We are renovating the boat and hanging out in the harbor.”
“All summer!? Aren´t you going anywhere?!

This summer, we are going all in on renovating the boat. Jens has already focused on getting the boat in shape for the adventure, working more or less full time for half a year. For us, this is not strange. We knew already from the start that we would have to leave from Sweden later than what is common for sailors aiming to cross the Atlantic.

Why? You have to get your boat in shape to sail over the big oceans in a safe way – but besides that it is also important to adjust the inside of the boat to fit your needs of a comfortable living and make it your own style. We have not done like most of our friends at this age – buying a house – but similar to most people we are investing time and money into our new home. If we would have bought a new house instead, no one would have questioned that we were planning to spend our entire vacation, weekends and free time renovating it for functional/safety reasons, and on top of that, updating the interior of the house. Painting the walls in new colors, replacing both toilet and kitchen etc., not because some malfunction but because we would like it to feel fresh and match our style. In that sense, we are like everyone else! 🙂

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Building a tent to be able to renovate the boat through winter, new pillows/mattress and custom made bowsprit with space to store the anchor were some of the spring projects this year

So let me explain some of the reasons why this is taking up all of our time.

  • Boat pricing. When buying a boat, you can either buy an expensive one that doesn´t need much work and is fully equipped. The downside for creative and picky people like us is that there is no existing boat that fit our needs, preferences and budget all at once. But, buying a cheap boat means that you have a lot of work to do, choices to make and equipment to buy in order to get it in shape.
  • Doing the work ourselves. Getting help renovating a boat is not cheap. Deciding on what to do, how to do it and how it fits together with everything else takes so much time that it´s not so easy relying on someone else. In boats in general, and older boats in particular, everything you do is custom made. There is also a great value in doing all the work on your own because there is no better way to get to know your boat. If something breaks down, and it will, we will have a good understanding of how to fix it.
  • Our long-term home. Of course, we want to make it our comfortable and cozy home. We don’t know how long the journey will last, but either way we´re not planning to live anywhere else than on Mouni.
  • Safety and performance. Since it is not only “our house”, but is supposed to take us across the Atlantic and beyond, we have to make sure that she is safe and will take us to the places we want at reasonable speed.
  • Dreams /environment. To fulfill our dreams, we also want to make this life transition sustainable. Switching to electric engine takes a lot of work, and the wide range of technologies we (Jens) have been looking into in order to make it both environmental friendly and efficient takes a lot of time and effort to get in place.

Surely boat renovation is not a topic for everyone, but for the ones who are interested, you will be able to follow the history, progress and completion of the many projects that will make Mouni great again.

– Petra

The Journey Begins

Today a huge milestone was passed when we moved aboard our sailboat Mouni. One could say that this marks the start of our journey. But, when thinking more carefully on what makes a starting point it is actually hard to say when this adventure began. Actually, we have not sailed a single nautical mile yet (at least not on this journey) and therefore one could say that the journey does not start until we actually throw the bowlines and set sail, several weeks from now. On the other hand, one could also say that the journey started about a year ago when it was decided that we were going on this adventure. Or, maybe even earlier than that – when the first idea popped up in the head and was carefully nourished as a little seed. Depending on the way one looks upon the situation we might been on the adventure for about two years already or we might still have a number of weeks left before it begins. Either way today marks a profound change when we no longer have an apartment to live in and the first small steps adapting to the everyday life on our boat has begun!

– Jens

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1) Mouni on her way down in the water 2) Woke up to birdsong this morning, the very first morning she became our home