Welcome aboard on SY Blue Pearl

In September 2018 we will start our circumnavigation with our beautiful historic Vessel, well equipped and well prepared for great adventures.

We, meaning Tania and Wolfgang and our friends and guests.

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Over a period of approx. ten years we will take a look at the health of our oceans, visit paradise as well as polluted areas, to document what we experience.

Therefore we started the campaign “sailing4livingSeas” in close cooperation with the marine debris Projekt of Sea-Shepherd und Deutsche Meeresstiftung.

Everyone who works for the health of the oceans or want to support our campaign, is welcome to sail with us!

We would love to give a lot of people the chance to get that unbelievable feeling of freedom and devotion being a small part of the greatest wonder our planet has to offer! Afterwards everyone changes their view on our planet, I promise!

In this Blog we will report how we build up our vessel, the first expierence on the English Channel and our soon starting tour!

IMG_0060You can get information, where we are, where we want to go next, about our living aboard, who’s sailing with us and what we see.

And maybe sometime in the future YOU may wish to sail with us!

Tania und Wolfgang

 

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The journey begins

IMG_2688.pngIMG_2687.pngEarly morning September 1st; 2 female crew members arrived at our home in Krefeld, we left home as planned around 10am Nieuwpoort bound. First stop in Ostend where we picked up the 3rd girl and carried on to our home marina in Belgium where the fourth crew member was waiting for us. Crew complete: Wolfgang plus 3 gals and 1 further guy. Because of various reasons I cannot accompany my hubby on the first leg of moving our Blue Pearl to the Caribbean. This first leg is Nieuwpoort Belgium to Lisbon Portugal.

After moving in and meeting each other for the first time, the 5 crew members quickly began to relax and get to know one another. Sleeping places were decided on, provisions and personal stuff cluttered up the boat, but Wolfgang reported the chaos soon calmed down and the fun began.

Blue Pearl left Nieuwpoort early on Sunday morning September 2nd.

We often wondered if we would get this far……

They have now been underway for 6 days and have reached Guernsey with no major problems. Our “pain in the butt” bow thruster caused a few problems causing Wolfgang to spend the best part of one day in the Isle of Wight trying to figure out what the cause could now be. It had been running on 12v instead of 24v causing only minimal strength. Our electrician has visited us in July and re-wired and re-programmed the whole system after the previous problems we had had. Wolfgang resigned after several hours of “hide an seek” not finding the problem and called our electrician in North Germany, who advised him think simple and start at the beginning of the line. Problem soon found; the batterie “on/off” button had corroded causing a short in the loading system. Who would have though of that ?? Who puts an “on/off” button on the damn thing anyway ?? Hubby ( being the McGyver he is ) disconnected the whole switch : and voila : it worked again.

 

IMG_2702.pngToday , September 8th our Blue Pearl and crew left Guernsey, France bound. Originally planning to reach Brest by early tomorrow morning, it now looks as if it will be Roscoff they reach first. No wind, no wave and a calm sea seems to be forecasted. Engine power and a lot of patience is was they will be needing.

I´m home. What can I say ? it sucks !!!! I miss my husband badly.

Tania

Solar panels installed – ready to go!

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The final large projects on board are done! We have installed 6 solar panels with 100 W each which generate a full 30 A at 12 V. These pump 6 x 220 Ah into the batteries, so that on sunny days we are completely self-sufficient and in bad weather with low to no sun we’d have to recharge the batteries after approx. 14 days!

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Easier said than done – in order to attach the construction we had to drill 50 holes in stainless steel. We needed 12 hours, 6 drill heads and a lot of sweat. But in the evening all the panels were fixed. On the following day my genius electrician (Höppli Yachtelectronic, Kiel) connected them up to the system and they started up just fine.

Further we installed a front camera from Raymarin which could be integrated in the board computer enabling us to have a realy good view of what’s going on outside whilst inside the boat, amazing!

Boy´s Toys !!!

Who came sight the camera???

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And………:

It´s magic!!!

 

 

 

But we still had to find the problem within the electrical system which is the cause of all the disturbances.  I found it when I took a closer look at the wiring of the motor.  There was actually the wiring harness attached to the engine cooler !!!!  The result can be seen here:

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What a horror: the short circuit caused the auxiliary alternator’s control unit to fail, causing the alternator to stop charging, resulting in damage to the charging manifold and batteries.  Small cause – big effect!

We now have an error free electrical system just by reconnecting a few cables and slight changes within the settings.

So take care of your cables!

 

 

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An easier project was finalzing the upholstery in the salon.  With 1.70 m x 1.90 m the largest bed in the whole ship!  Now we have a total of 7 berths.

 

 

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And we have a new outborder with 15 hp for the Dinghi. Only flying is better!!!

 

 

 

So everything is well prepared for the great journey although I know that you can never be prepared for all the things that are yet to come.  But that’s just part of the fun: keeping the boat running, repairing large and small things and keeping them running!  I think that’s the german engineer in me….

In the meantime the crew is fixed. For me it is unbelievable that it’s only 5 weeks until we start. Slowly the excitement grows. A dream that has taken 5 years to take shape is comming true –

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                                                    we are going on a world tour!

 

 

Back in the Water, fine weather and time to plan the next journey

After a lot of repairs and a lot of new stuff over the winter, we managed it:

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Pearly is back in the Water!

 

We’ve been busy doing a few repairs:

Last season the controller of the generator failed, the starter- and anchor/winch-batteries got damaged and also the bow thruster batterie went – so all of the above had to be repaired, changed or replaced. We  installed a new controller, we changed the shaft-sealing, being replaced for the first time in 30 years. We´ve got a new bathing plattform and a solar-panel-construction with integrated davids for the dinghy.

 

 

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Where is the ocean?

On the  07th of May we got finaly hooked up, eased into water by a crane and returned to our  berth.

But there were still a lot of things to do before we could sail for the first time this year:

 

I still had to do the engine inspection and change the oil and diesel filters. Further I checked the water pump and impeller, the cooler and finally the water filter.

After all this I noticed that the tacho is going nuts – sometimes it runs, sometimes it doesn’t ??? What on earth is wrong now? Engine and all other systems running, and time and sunshine running away with us, we decided to ignore the problem for now and go out sailing instead. The problem will still be there tomorrow – we’ll deal  with that next week.

 

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Another device that didn´t work was the victron-electricity-panel. I had to replace it after moisture had penetrated through an unsealed gap- straight in the electricity corner. A new one  installed and after connecting all the cables it found every other device appart from the victron charger/inverter which is a device from the same manufacturer and basically should be a “plug and play” thing…. WTH..  Plug and cry!!! I checked the voltage, the batteries were charging and all the equipment was running. As I said before- I’m getting good at ignoring problems-

Let’s go sailing!

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On may 10th we prepared the ship for sailing after checking the mast and rigging and installing the lazy-jacks. Someone had to climb to the top – no major problem with our mast-steps, still till today do I get a strange feeling in my stomach, even though I do enjoy it.

Everything seemed to be fine so we could set the sails, connected all ropes and left the harbour, ready for great sailing but … we had no wind!

 

But in the afternoon we found the wind and sailed with 8 knots enjoying a blue sky.

Princess-sailing! A good sign for a great season.

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A weekend later we were joined by a girl-friend of Tania and sailed to Ostende and back to Nieuwpoort, also with a speed of 8 knots – thanks to the current!

But we have still our problem with the electricity; the main problem being – the batteries are only charged by an on-shore connection. Maybe I made a mistake installing the new controller of our generator. “I will check it next weekend” I thought. It is not important for now because we have 6 x 220 Ah batterie packs  which are strong enough for five days worth of electricity. That is enough as long as we sail in the channel area where you can only overnight in marinas. I will do my best but the whole electricity on board is a clomplex system. If I’m unable to repair it, my electrician plans to drop by in July to install the solar panels, so then we can check the whole system.

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I am positive we can still plan to start our great journey to A Coruna as planned in September of this year.

Until then we will carry on touring around the English channel from June until August.

If you would like to meet us, visit the vessel or sail with us, contact us!

Wolfgang

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pearly awakes from hibernation

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After a long and cold winter we decided to use the long bank holiday Easter weekend to start prepartion of the coming season enabling our Blue Pearl to rejoin  the ocean. It was cold, wet and dirty weekend !

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As expected the fuse of the electric power had conked out, I don´t know when, so the batteries were nearly empty and the heating-system didnt work because the electric power was far too low. But in the evening at the 10th try it started to run!!! And after getting  fresh water in our tanks we had a warm and cosy ship inside for the first night.

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The interior of the yacht was absolute chaos. Sailsbags, extra parts, dismantled furniture everywhere. Men are much better at ignoring chaos than women are.  So my wife, the best one ever, looked a little concerned about it, but I was perfect in ignoring the mess.

 

I awoke completely  wet in the middle of the night as we had a minimum of 30 degrees in our cabin, maybe more, because I forgot to reduce the temperature for the night…. My wife smiled in her sleep, I think she´s got carribean feelings…..

The dream:

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The reality:

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We are not the last!

 

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Surprisingly it didn’t rain the next morning, so we made our plans. The worst thing about preparing a ship to return to the water is grinding off the old anti-fouling and removing the loose paint residues.

 

I would have liked to give this work to my wife! The look at her face showed me that it would be better for me to help her. The result was, that we both  looked like smurfs that evening, but the work was done.

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I like the new colour of my hair, maybe I keep it for longer!?!

 

 

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So on sunday and monday we persevered until the Antifouling was done. The paint consumption was once again higher than indicated on the can….

 

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But I could finish the painting of the white stripes.  I predict one more days work and the new coat of anitfouling will be done.

The bathing-plattform and our solar-panel-davits are also under construction and should be finished by the end of april.

 

The plan to get back into the water by the beginning of may is realistic and the planned test drive along the Belgien coast for the 10th of may is in close site.

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let’s take a ride

Yepeeeeh!

So if you would like to join us that weekend and test your offshore skills, send me a short message and step aboard!

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We have a lot more sailing weekends planed until we leave Belgium in september to the south, so keep an eye on our Website; we will inform you about free spaces aboard.

Wolfgang

Our great Project: Building up a Vessel for a circumnavigation

 

IMG_22823 weeks in 2013 were spent sailing throughout the BVI’s  with friends and my wife, who had never sailed before then, which we all enjoyed so very much;

IMG_1963 I decided to take a shy look for our own Yacht. What kind of sailing-boat should it be? What position should this yacht take in our lives? What does life have in store for us ?

And of course I´m a little bit crazy with a sense of too large Projects!   I started to dream about my life in ten years….. I´m self-employed and would like to give my buisness to the next generation. The children are leaving the house, we will soon be free to do what ever we want.

So think big! Until the age of 35 I’de always been been aboard ships and  the ocean has always been my great passion.   If I buy a vessel, I would like to live aboard for longer periods of time. And if I live aboard for longer periods,  why not in the warm and nice areas of the world ? and why not sail to these areas? And if I buy a sailing-vessel, maybe it should have a little office for working aboard, and enough space for the grandkids, a captain´s aftcabin, a powerful engine, a huge salon and a cosy sofa! And it must be affortable. As an Engineer I can do a lot myself, and it would be nice -after finishing the restauration of our 100 year old house, and also my triathlon-hobby reached its goal of an ironman- to have a new projec t!!! Again – THINK BIG

So let´s buy a ship, put it in the garden and refit it for the next few years! My wife, the best one ever, rolled her eyes and started to ask herself, how crazy she must have been to mary this crazy guy…

My thoughts – such a ship can’t possibly exist. So I can carry on dreaming big, without risking the fact that my dream may ever come true.

PlichtAfter 4 weeks  (!) I found her near Cologne at a yacht builder. There, she had sat quietly for over 5 years, and was remarkably, having been originally built in 1984, neither been finished nor had she ever sailed !! I don’t know much about her history prior ’84, I guess she could tell a story or two – maybe he even whitnessed a tradgerdy.

P1070283She was exactly what I had been looking for. Solid steel, build by a famous german werft in Hamburg, not ready, so we could build the inside like we wanted to, and work on her for the next few years, I thought.

The only Problem was, that she measured  16,50 m long and weighed 30 tons. It will be an impossible misson to remove this ship to our home! So everything had to be done at the Boatyard.

We had the opportunity to buy the vessel at a very small price, including a 100 hp Yanmar-engine which had only run for 26 hours, a new rig which wasn’t complete plus a puzzle of an unfinished wooden interior.

P1070279Saying this, we had absolutely no idea how much work was awaiting us, and even less of an idea what the whole thing would cost. … if we had known what was in store at this stage, we probably wouldn’t have bought this ship.
But I (Wolfgang) am known to be a little bit crazy with an non-realistic-optimistic attitude and always jump in the water at the deep end not knowing what is in store for me!!

 

 

IMG_20141003_223542Never the less we started the project! Beginning anything new, ideas had to be made visual – I began to draw my dream sailing vessel.

 

 

 

First of all: the deck house and the cabin roof. Both being made of heavy steel, they were basically ugly, awful and not useable – so get rid of them both!
Instead we built a wooden structure making the ship look a little bit more like a real sailing yacht. We had to keep in mind that the new structure had to be based on the foundations of the old structure, and for static reasons we were not completely free in the design.

But this work was unfortunately beyond my capability and I had it done by the yacht-builder, based on my plans. Also the 1000 pieced puzzle of the wooden interior; the yacht constructor had originally started the refit under the previous owner and was the only one who understood how these pieces fit together.

We had none of the following:- entire water installation, heating-system, electricity and electronic equipment, the installation in the galley and bathrooms, upholstery works and the whole painting works. I could write a complete story about each of these individual projects, but I don’t want to torture you! ( Maybe I will in the future).

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Outside we had to take in mind how we would fix the rigg on the ship and how we could re build the outside cockpit; this was thrown overboard with the old steel-construction as well! Also we had to fit on the winches, travelers, genua tracks and the whole rope setup.

As soon as I realized how much we had to do, I thought we only had two options:
1- I could do everything myself, we wouldn’t be sailing for at least ten years, and all of my friends who I basically would have had to force to help me, would never speak a single word to me again.
2- decide on a mix of professional work and the things we can do ourselves.

The only problem was, the craftsmen wanted a lot of money!!!
So we saved every euro we could find, sold things we didn’t need any more (like my triathlon-bike :(((. ) and lastly got a bank loan.

Unbelievably we got the money together and could start!

We chose option 2.

So we let the craftsmen start on the deck construction, internal wood works, the electricity, the water installation and the rigging. We are very lucky to have found a team of very skilled mechanics with the right attitude for this project. We went for the best electrical system which is a new designed BUS-System, with a lot less cables to hide and is so intelligent, that we can switch anything from anywhere, even from the I-pad

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Finally after a refit period of two years were able to transport the vessel to the river Rhine and lower her in the water!

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A miracle; she swam and let no water in!

 

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The next day we started the engine for her first leg without any problem, taking the vessel to a boatyard in Duisburg where we could work on the rigging, the outside-painting and finish a lot of our unfinished projects.

 

In May 2016 we christened our Blue Pearl and started our trip down the Rhine to the coast, all masts laying down and well bound.

Finally we reached the Dutch coast in Hellevoetsluis where we raised the masts for the first time.

Blue Pearl meets the Ocean!!!

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But we still couldn’t sail until the rope-setup had been done. This we finished in Nieuwpoort and for the first time in her life

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July 2016:

Blue Pearl sailed on the ocean.

Since then, something permanently conks out, breaks down or just won’t start -but these are all small things which I can usually repair myself. It seems to be normal that something doesn’t work and in the meanwhile, I wonder just how the rest keeps running?

Saying that, the whole system works extremely well and we haven’t had any major problems until now, even sailing in 7 Bft wind. And we tested over 1.000 nm!!!

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There is still a lot more work to be done and we need a few extra things to be well prepared for the BIG ocean. I truly believe the project will never be finished- but that’s exactly what I love about it!!

Wolfgang

 

Ever been in the wrong place at the wrong time ?

Our sailing trip to the UK last summer had everything an adventure has to offer: from loosing engine power, being searched for hidden refugees, becoming part of a rescue situation, to me becoming an absolute nervous wreck.IMG_9417

It all started well.. we left Nieuwpoort BE ( Blue Pearl´s home) as planned : first port of call: Dunkirque FR. Next day on to Boulonge sur Mer FR. A quaint marina on the French coast situated right in the middle of the small town.

Here the adventurous part starts.. We were accompanied by our best friends ( lets call them Mr and Mrs S to protect their identity). Mr S is a good and experienced sailor. Mrs S is a learner like me: she fears nothing, doesn’t get the slightest sea sick, can cook well, and whilst underway. We had got to about 5 miles to the port entrance, under motor as the wind was against us, and the engine crancked to under 50% of its capacity. We ended up going about 1 mile and hour, taking us the best part of 5 hours to get into our slip. We weren’t too worried; if major repairs had to take place, we were only 50 land km´s from our home marina ( could be taxied quick and relatively cheap) and the boat could stay in Boulogne sur Mer ´till done. As it happens, the boys found the problem relatively fast; a clogged up diesel filter. They cleaned it, put it back in, and VOILA.. 100% power again.

mdeWhilst we were at the French port, we were searched for hidden refugees. We have a large boat; plenty of space for run-aways; even the underside was inspected to see if we had deepened the vessel to transport people under water…. They found no-one, and we were given the “all clear”.

A storm was underway- should reach south England in about 3 days. Boulogne sur Mer to Eastboarne was about 70 miles; should be about 10-12 hrs,sailing at 5-6 knots. Early the next morning we set off.

How wonderful: engine power back up, wind in our direction, sunshine, light waves; HEAVEN. Or so we thought. Approximately 10 miles out of Boulogne sur Mer ( we had the engine running plus the sails up) the damn thing conked again ! But hey – we are a sailing yacht – no worries, we have 3 sails ( main, mizzen and jib). The sun remained shining, Mrs S made us breakfast – all is good.

IMG_0213Crossing the traffic zone we were on collision course with a Nigerian tanker. Wolfgang radioed him, he corrected +2 dg and we sailed past his heck on our starboard sides- a perfect manoeuvre.

A little later we got a call. Me being English have been named the radio lady, as communication is always in English. I received the call – Firstly I thought it was customs asking to come aboard. within minutes a helicopter flew over us, hovered and then disappeared. but it was it was the british resue and  paramedics. They called again and asked to come on board. They were in the middle of a rescue practise, and we seemed to be appropriate to land on.

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Oh shit… how exciting. The heli turned back and hovered over us: “Mark” was let down, had a chat, and was recovered by his colleagues within 10 minutes. Funny thing… IT WAS SO DAMN LOUD. Mr S was taking a nap in the bow guest cabin, and slept through the whole thing !!! WTH….. it really was LOUD.

 

Excitement over – carry on with the trip. Now on the English coast the weather turned. Wind and tide against us, higher waves, and still no engine power. Not knowing how the engine would react, Wolfgang decided not to put it on: we needed it to enter Eastbourne which is a lock entrance.  It got later and later, darker and darker, colder and colder, and we were almost sailing backwards. The guys where marvellous; they decided on taking shifts, only waking one another if we had to gibe ( cant be done solo with us I’m afraid) or at the latest after 2 hours. The whole situation was miserable. we hadn’t planned on this; no provisioning, nothing prepared to eat, no flasks of coffee made, no nibbles or such. Mrs S made two flasks of coffee, rustled up a few sandwiches and went off to bed. She slept for a few hours.

IMG_0361It must have been between 2 and 4 am. Mr S was on watch, Mrs S poked her head up for a quick briefing as to where we were and there she found me, having a quiet panic attack in the outer cockpit. I was an absolute nervous wreck. I was cold, shivering, white as a sheet and quietly crying big tears. I told her I couldn’t do this: this wasn’t what I wanted out of life; I hate it; if we ever make it to land alive I´m getting out !! Ill take a train to Heathrow and get on the next available flight home. But I was so scared of telling Wolfgang. He had put so much confidence in me, he loved me for loving his passion and taking on the challenge. I was letting him down ! How could we stay together after I hate the way of life he wanted for our future? Oh god…. Mrs S cuddled me, warmed me up, wiped away my tears and listened to my complaints. She is a brick !!! and I love her dearly. But I still had to tell Wolfgang. And I did. a few hours later he was on watch – I plucked up my courage and opened up.. He was marvellous. He hugged me and said he still loved me. But told me ( like a Dad tells his small child) NOW GET SOME SLEEP !!! And I did.

mdeI finally fell asleep on the couch in the main salon, fully clothed, being rocked “to and fro” by the highest waves ever. Goodness, was I exhausted.

Maybe 2-3 hours later ( or was is only 30 minutes?) I opened my eyes to see the sun. The sun was rising, the sea was calm, the wind had dropped, and we had actually made some miles. Mrs S had made fresh coffee and whisked up some eggs. How does she manage this ?? God only knows.

Wolfgang, Mr and Mrs S sat in the outer cockpit, chatting and taking photos of the rising sun. I poked my head out, and SMILED.

I was alive !! We had made it !! Eastbourne appeared on the plotter about 5 miles away.  Wolfgang started the engine which coughed and spluttered a little, but stayed fired up. at about 7 am we entered the lock to Eastbourne under engine.

cofThe lock master at Eastbourne made us very welcome, gave us a large slip with loads of space. Once parked, lined up, we ate, drank, and all took a few hours nap. As lunchtime came around we were all up and happy. the sun shone, the air was warm and the warm breeze stroked our skin. had I reached a turning point ?? had sleep made me come back to life ? What ever it was, it worked. I didn’t leave. I stayed on board for the full 14 day trip. And guess what ?? We did a 2nd over-nighter.. well planned this time round, provisioned, planned shifts and watches, dressed adequately and generally had the correct attitude. 7 Days later I realized I hadn’t even left the boat to go ashore.

Life is good !!

tania xxx

ADDITION: please don’t in any way think that i gave up, or will ever give up. I reached a turning point and it opened my eyes and widened my horizon. I can truly say now, that I really do enjoy sailing. To everyone ( especially us girls) who is hesitant or afraid – just try it.. I hope you don’t make the same experience I did, but if so, you come out a better person. Its worth it.

ADDITION from Wolfgang: ” es war eine normale Überfahrt” – It was just a usual crossing 🙂 (ha ha ha)