Hansajolle – Back To The Roots

I have sailed on quite a few different types of dinghies. Now a planned tour with a Hansajolle on the river Elbe had me wondering whether this really was a good idea. The Elbe can be quite nasty, especially when tide runs against wind. The Hansajolle, however, had been planned and constructed with those challenging conditions in mind.

yes, that's me at the tiller
yes, that’s me at the tiller

With “back to the roots” I don’t really want to imply that sailing on very old or ancient type of boats is my cup of tea. The reference is more in the direction of keeping it simple, reliable and easy to handle. This is something that always comes to my mind when sailing with small boats. With the exception of Classe Mini racers, of course.

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Beaches, Boats And Horses On Fehmarn

Keeping the kids busy and trying to avoid “death by boredom” (their wording) during school holidays can occasionally turn into a challenge. One week of this year’s Easter school holidays turned out to be as much fun for the parents as it was for the kids.

deserted beach on FehmarnOk, my kids are not really that bad when at home. They can go without parents for hours, only needing help when it comes to food and drink. This is usually fine for a couple of days, but two weeks can get very long in the end. So we spent one week of that Easter break near the Baltic Sea, an hour’s drive from home. It was on Fehmarn, one of my favourite islands round here.

It was the second week in April. Spring had not really arrived yet, sunshine and rain played hide and seek on an hourly basis. In addition to all that, a nasty cold wind was blowing – not really a combination to have the kids roam around outdoors. There was, however, not a single day with the kids asking for more action. The reason: horses!

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Chance Encounter: Two People, One Goal

A very long time ago (January last year, actually, but it feels a lot longer) I spent quite a few hours browsing the web. My goal was to find some information on the costs of a Mini Transat campaign. I managed to pull some data together and came up with a pretty neat cost estimate. That, however, is a different story. While doing my research I stumbled upon a couple of Classe Mini sailors’ websites, one of them being Lina Rixgens. What a goal she has set herself, and what a story it has been so far!

Lina Rixgens enjoying the first day of sailing with Classe Mini 732The very first information I found was a flyer for Lina’s Mini Transat campaign. Her project idea sounded pretty cool. I was indeed a very happy person after she had rather quickly replied to an email and answered a couple of questions. Soon after I published a first article about Lina and her plans for a Mini Transat campaign. But – who is she, what’s her background?

In brief – Lina Rixgens and her amazing goal, the Mini Transat 2017

  • young medical student, German, living in Belgium;
  • has been sailing for more than half of her life, including Optimist, Europe. Has crossed the Atlantic with “High Seas High School”. Also, has raced around the Baltic Sea with ‘Haspa Hamburg’, a Judel/Vrolijk designed long distance cruiser-racer;
  • regatta-proven, including World Championships in class Europe;
  • highly organized, with a clear view on her goals and aiming to reach them asap (that is my personal view, though it may sound like taken from a consultant’s CV).

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Come On, Rainbow Pirates, Keep On Going!

The “Rainbow Pirates“ had quite a crazy day way back at the beginning of March. The result: a 2.050,- € donation! Another great step for the team of “Meer bewegen”. They can now continue their challenging task of getting disabled folks out onto the water and sailing.

"Meer bewegen" team picture swimming pool
“Meer bewegen” team picture swimming pool

“Pirate Party” sounds like a lot of fun, and it was indeed for dozens of kids and their parents. The team of “Meer bewegen” (the Rainbow Pirates) also had a couple of goals for this party day. In details:
– the happiness of and fun for all those kids having turned up (location: swimming pool)
– reach a specific donation target (location: www)
– have quite a bit of fun themselves (location: both of the above).
Success rate of those goals: 100%.

What an amazing and crazy day it had been for them! Loads of children turned up and wanted to get onto “White Pearl”, the RS Venture with sailability kit. No chance of counting the number of times the White Pearl crossed the pool (hopelessly overloaded with eager sailors-to-be). Very happy and excited faces all around encouraged everyone involved to keep going not only all day long, but rather with the entire idea and concept of “inclusive sailing”.

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The Race Is On… Lina’s Got A Boat

Woohee, she’s got a boat! Lina Rixgens is now ready to tackle the intensive and challenging Classe Mini regatta scene. She will sail on 732, a Pogo 2, and is well on her way to close in on her main target: the Mini Transat 2017.

Lina Rixgens all smiles on 732 first sailingFor more than a year she had talked to sponsors. At the same time Lina had looked at boats, trying to figure out how she could get out onto the water with and on a Mini all by herself. As mentioned in previous articles, she does not only want to sail around for leisure and pleasure. Her main objective is to complete the Mini Transat 2017 as the first German female sailor.

Things look a lot brighter now for this young sailor. Lina has already been on her first sailing weekend in Lorient and has enjoyed a marvellous couple of days on 732 mini doc, a Pogo 2. Where did this boat come from, and what are her immediate plans?

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Catamaran ‘Seekuh’ Collecting Garbage In Water

How to get rid of all that garbage floating around in our waters? One of the ideas having caught my attention is the prototype of a catamaran called Seekuh (sea cow). It is currently being built and ready for its mission in summer 2016.

catamaran Seekuh (Sea Cow) (c One Earth - One Ocean)Plastic garbage in shallow waters, seas and oceans is omnipresent. Tons of plastic bags, fishing nets, bottles, cosmetic product waste and the like pollute our water. Three quarters of all the garbage in oceans consists of plastics. And those need a couple of centuries to decompose.

All that waste in water is a major danger to wildlife and, ultimately, humans. If you are rather new to this topic, check out these Basic Q&A regarding waste in oceans.

A catamaran called Seekuh (Sea Cow)

Worldwide, awareness to actually do something about all that waste in oceans has increased dramatically in recent years. Lots of projects and initiatives have been started. A pretty cool one I found to be a catamaran called Sea Cow (Seekuh). What is this supposed to be, or mean?

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Lacking Vitamin Sea

stick on beach in WasserslebenMy “Vitamin Sea” level is down to zero. Not good. Something is not going the way it is supposed to, at least when listening to the prioritisation list of my heart. Just winter blues? Or a really bad case of not enough vitamin sea?

As usual in the first quarter, the kids are down frequently with all sorts of virus and God knows what infections. The sun is blocked by clouds, most of the times at least. And it is either raining, freezing cold or, on a good day, just not nice enough to spend a lot of time outside. Continue reading “Lacking Vitamin Sea”

Zero Emission Sailing Around The World

What a trip! Sailing around the world is one thing, nothing unusual for a couple of young chaps. The more than amazing element is that their sailing boat has not used a single drop of fuel. They were running on zero emission. Including cruising the 40 nautical miles along the Panama Canal. How did they do it?

The four guys from the Eco Sailing Project first had an idea, which turned into a plan, which turned into pretty cool reality. Wanting to tour the world they decided to go for the very sporty option: sailing around the world. And not just that. The boat should be self-sufficient in power and energy supply, surviving on re-usable energy only. Brilliant.

zero emission sailing yacht (c ecosailingproject)
zero emission sailing yacht (c ecosailingproject)

Once they had bought a 1978 built yacht, the old motor had to go, same as the exhaust system and the diesel tanks. Old stuff out and gone, lots of new equipment came on board. LED lights, solar power, wind turbine, e-motor. One of the items I found simply great is the propeller turning to hydro generator while sailing – how cool is that? An overview of their energy supply you can find in the little picture here. I love it.

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Classe Mini Sailors, What Is Your Biggest Frustration?

Sailing projects not completed, a sailing career abandoned, agony high instead of spirits rocketing. A question that keeps coming back to me: What frustrates you most with sailing in the Classe Mini?

gimme speed... Classe Mini 6.50 (D2V2)I have followed the Classe Mini rather closely in the last 18 months or so, and despite successful stories of winners and finishers, of smiles and laughter everywhere, there are quite a few sailors feeling extremely down. ‘Feeling down’ meaning they are in the middle of a major crisis. Lack of funding, injuries, race calendar, weather, boat size, boat handling, the list could go on.

Those are only a couple of the reasons I have found when looking at Classe Mini sailors’ websites or social media entries. What a disaster! And that after so much bravery they had shown in the past.

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Five Things Not To Forget When Photographing In Winter

canoe walkway partly frozen
canoe walkway partly frozen

Take your camera along when going outside, a few dozen shots should always be possible, play around with settings, click again – we all know what to expect and what to do. Unless, of course, you decide (like I did) to take some wonderful winter photographs. Minus six outside, wind blowing with force 4, and it all felt a bit like the Arctic.

My little photo shooting session took place in Kiel, one of the canals having been my choice of location. There was not really any snow around, temperatures were below zero and the wind would have been lovely for a sailing tour – but not so on that specific morning. I don’t know what the wind chill factor for that morning had been, and I must say that I am used to (dry) cold outside. This, however, felt pretty bad. Continue reading “Five Things Not To Forget When Photographing In Winter”

Budget Mini Transat 2015 – Plus Some Other Insights

A very fast Mini Transat 2015 is history. Glory and tragedy, as usual so close together. This is not only a summary regarding my questions to those sailors on their Mini Transat budget. It is an article about an extraordinary experience.

before the start of the Mini Transat 2015 (c) Lina Rixgens
before the start of the Mini Transat 2015 (c) Lina Rixgens

I have watched and followed the joy, relief, smiles, parties, tears, pains, laughs and friendship of this Classe Mini family. And it has been pure bliss. The sailor in me had been a bit envious during the final preparation stages. Even though this is just one regatta out of many it is a fascinating event indeed: race and sail across the Atlantic in a 6,5m yacht (well, “yacht”, behaving like a dinghy…).

Anyway, one of the things I love doing is checking with some folks (i.e. experts) whether a mere theoretical research of mine makes sense or not. Back in January 2015 I put some numbers in a spreadsheet and came out with a EUR budget-figure which would get you to the starting line of a Mini Transat. All theory, of course. And there were mainly two ways to figure out whether the results of this research were kind of useful or not:

  1. Run a Mini Transat campaign myself and see which budget I would need
  2. Check with participants and let them tell their story.

Without going into too much detail, option 2 was the only one at this point in time which would bring me closer to an answer. Continue reading “Budget Mini Transat 2015 – Plus Some Other Insights”

Three Optimists Extend Rainbow Pirates Fleet

Third time lucky? It is rather a case of lucky to the power of three – on the very first try. The team of “Meer bewegen” were on cloud nine when they received the news that they had been granted a donation of three new Optimists. They are an extension to their fleet of barrier-free sailing boats.

three new Optimists (c Meer bewegen)
three new Optimists (c Meer bewegen)

The IMMAC Sailing Academy regularly sponsors training and development of young sailors. One way they are doing this is by giving away Optimists to sailing clubs and schools.

Meer bewegen” had sent in their application for a sponsorship. They knew how unlikely it might be that they get assigned a boat by the independent committee. I would have loved to see the team when they heard the news that they will in future have not one, not two, but rather three brand new Optimists. With those they can enable their youngest to go sailing on the Wittensee. Continue reading “Three Optimists Extend Rainbow Pirates Fleet”

Will Unlucky Romain Try Again?

No matter how hard you try or how much you want something to happen, occasionally it simply won’t work out. Romain Mouchel has made this experience twice already. His intentions to complete the Mini Transat have been shattered in 2013 and 2015. Here is his story so far.

Romain Mouchel enjoying the sunshineRomain has been sailing as long as he can remember. The range of boats he gained sailing experience on is vast, from Lasers to F-18 and 49ers and yachts. At the age of 16 he set himself a challenging target. He wanted to fulfil a childhood dream, race in the Classe Mini and complete the Mini Transat. While in his last year in university, Romain decided to not do things by halves and chartered the Mini 346 for an entire season. And what a boost to his offshore racing as well as single-handed sailing experience it was! Continue reading “Will Unlucky Romain Try Again?”

Baltic Sea Calling

Some call it pond, for others it is already an ocean. Quite a lot of folks hardly know where exactly it is, and some sailors never even dream of leaving its sailing grounds. The Baltic Sea can be described in many ways, some of them are “gorgeous, diversified, underestimated”. As for me: I love it.

last couple of kilometresThe Baltic Sea is the largest brackish inland sea on the planet, covering 412.500 square kilometres. The deepest you could dive (theoretically) is 459 metres, the average depth, however, is only 55 metres. Along its coastline of 8.000 km something between 50-85 million people are living. That was it already with facts and figures, let’s move on to the interesting stuff. Continue reading “Baltic Sea Calling”

The Magic Of A Sunset

sunset on SyltSunsets are magical (at least for me, that is). No matter where I manage to see them they are always fantastic to watch. Although it could be said that it is the same stuff every night I find each sunset to be a unique experience.

In the mountains, on the beach, in a city park with the skyline in the background, on a yacht while anchoring, in front of a tent camping in the middle of nowhere – sunsets are everywhere. My photographic skills do not really allow me (yet) to capture each one the same or even similar to what my eyes are actually seeing, but I am getting there (I hope). Continue reading “The Magic Of A Sunset”