Wind almost perfect, lots of sunshine, good company and excellent food. There is hardly anything else you can ask for when sailing a Varianta 18 in the Lübecker Bucht (Luebeck Bight) for a very long weekend.
How is that for starting a sailing weekend: air temperature 28° C, wind 2 bft, blue sky, and the forecast not seeing any major change coming. The only unknown for us (two chaps) was the boat, a Varianta 18, which we both had not sailed before.
Before going into more details here are some basic boat facts:
Class: Varianta 18 (VA18)
Length: 5,75 m
Beam: 2,40 m
Draught: 1,15 m (available also with 0,85 m)
Displacement: 780 kg
Ballast: 300 kg
Brief introduction to the boat’s specifics by the owner, stowing away food and drinks, and on our way we were. Not only the Varianta 18 was new to us, also her e-motor was something we had not used before. It was one of the Torqeedo models, and what should I say? Quiet, strong, easy to handle, absolutely perfect.
Starting in Neustadt, Schleswig-Holstein, we made our way to Groemitz. Slowly, that was. There was hardly any wind and the Baltic looked more like a mirror than a tiny ocean. The sails we took down just before crawling into Groemitz.
Dangers and pleasures of an e-motor
Using the e-motor is quite “dangerous”: Others don’t hear you. While we were searching for a free berth, another sailing boat was about to run us over. They thought everyone would be noisy with their traditional motors and had not heard us at all.
One of the big advantages of a small sailing boat: You can just about stay anywhere overnight. Groemitz was absolutely packed, and when we turned up in the harbour masters office he was seriously asking whether we had dropped the anchor somewhere in his harbour. No, not! With the draught of only 1,15 m we managed to sneak in behind some fishing boats. Another ‘perfect’.
Sailing a Varianta 18 – great fun!
On the next day we easily made our way to Boltenhagen, and wonderful sailing it was indeed. Boltenhagen has a nicely made up marina, probably the poshest restrooms along the coast of the Baltic Sea. However, we were slightly annoyed by the overnight mooring fee being 2,5 times the one in Groemitz. Oh well. Still, the smokehouse and the freshly prepared fish is brilliant and always worth a visit, so no more complaints here.
Another day of fantastic sailing followed while we had Niendorf set as our destination for the night. Winds increased from almost nothing to a good four, and that could still be handled easily by the VA18. It might have been better to reef, but we were ok right until the end. Niendorf is another great place to stay, also here excellent fish is served and the locally brewed beer coming along with it is simply delicious.
One more sentence in favour of the e-motor: A couple of sailors watched and followed our search for a berth. Their comments afterwards were all going in the same direction, saying something like “relaxed, quiet, no shouting, want one as well”. Interesting.
Last day of our short break coming up, and the wind decided to completely die down after having hardly been there to start with. Very, very slow sailing it was, in the end we managed to reach Neustadt under sail and silently, under e-motor, slid into the home berth.
So what can be said after a weekend of sailing a Varianta 18?
If sailing were always to be like those four days, I’d certainly be spending something like 365 days per year on a boat. The Varianta 18 has turned into one of my favourites for small boat cruising in open waters, and so has the Torqeedo e-motor. It was a real joy sailing her, and I am sure I will be back on one of those VA18s before long.
Difference to other small boats
In other articles I have mentioned my joys and pleasures with dinghy cruising. Be it on wooden boats like a Hansajolle or a Jollenkreuzer, or my Gruben FAM Capriole which I had sailed for a couple of years.
The Varianta 18 was a bit different, though. It was not really the dimensions, although she was wider than the other boats (newer design). No – she had a proper keel attached, and that made such a difference in sailing. Draught was only 1,15m, so sailing in the Danish South Sea and getting into all sorts of harbours and anchorages should in general not be a problem.
It was more like sailing a tiny yacht instead of a dinghy cruiser. However, I loved this feeling of sailing a small boat on the Baltic Sea. After lots of dinghy cruising, a boat like this could be my ideal solution: tiny, yet capable of sailing the Seas.