Tag Archives: Sailing

Sailing – Epilogue

Firstly, we got our full deposit back.  Hooray!

Secondly, we got this in the post along with some leaflets with heroic looking lifeboat crews:

Which OCR and google translate tells me means this:

Dear Mr. Jones,
We are pleased that we were able to help. Even if it was involuntary – now
You could even get an idea of what we mean when we say
“whatever the weather – around the clock … here we come!”
To know the worst case, the GMRS in the area, is probably one for every sailor
peace of mind and be just like you can rely on our need help, too
we need your help.
We are financed exclusively by voluntary donations and contributions and waive
any kind of public attention. Please decide the GMRS as a promoter to
. support
We wish you a safe journey and always be water under the keel.
Yours sincerely,

Nicolaus Stadeler

I particularly like the bit about water under the keel.

Unfortunately the forms they sent with it only allow me to make monthly or yearly donations they don’t allow for one-offs.  I don’t fancy trying to cancel a rouge direct debit when I close down my German bank account next year so even though they were wonderful they’re getting nothing.


Holly and I took a sailing holiday with an 8 month old baby.  Almost everyone seems to regard this as a crazy thing to do so I’ve written about what we did and how well it worked.  The post ended up being a bit too long so I’ve split it up by day below.



Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7



22 – 28 July 2012

Weather history data from www.wunderground.com



We chartered a Dehler 31 called Wattwurm through Privat Charter Ostsee which was just about the right size for us. Lazy jacks, furling genoa, everything led to the cockpit and an auto pilot made it quite easy single-handed.  The domestics where a bit basic, the charter website claimed it had hot water which it didn’t (even with the engine running) and that it had a shower which technically it did but the absence of a drain in the heads or hot water made it pretty much useless.

Sailing – packing

The normal standard for boat packing is one soft bag per person. Not this time.
The photo below gives an idea of what we took but doesn’t include everything (no clothes for example).

Very useful things:

  • Bumbo.  He’s getting a bit big for this now but it’s really useful as a stable seat that we can feed him from in the salon, on deck or in cafes.
  • Inflatable bath.  He loves his evening bath and it helps keep the bedtime routine reasonably similar to home.
  • Savoury rice.  A camping classic, it’s useful to have easy-to-make non-perishable food.  We’ve brought some jars of baby food for the same reason even though we’re doing baby led weaning at home.
  • The slightly padded groundsheet thing from the play pen.  A last minute addition which has been incredibly useful mostly because of the little ties it has around the edge which have allowed it to become a sunshade in the day, a hatch cover at night and general padding for preventing suicide by boat.

Things we brought but didn’t need:

  • Stair gate. Too big.
  • Car seat. We thought this would be useful to strap Miles in to. Maybe it would have been if the Miles nest hadn’t worked (which it wouldn’t have in any kind of rough seas) but as it was we did use it at all.
  • Stroller.  What were we thinking! Much too big, we didn’t even take it out of the car.  Instead we used the Manduca.

Things we should have brought but didn’t:

  • Travel cot.  Might have been nice to be able to constrain Miles a bit more safely.  But we would probably have found that a big one wouldn’t fit anywhere and he would be too big/destructive for a small one.

Sailing – Day 7

Day 6

This is STEPPKE, the inshore lifeboat operating out of Laboe.  This is a stock image because at the point it turned up I had other things on my mind.


We had to hand the boat back by 1700 and needed time to pack etc so I’d made sure that we only had an hour’s sail this morning, it was a very straightforward sail round the corner because the weather was so nice we had a morning swim from the very nice and surprisingly warm beach at Wendtorf.

After his exertions Miles fell asleep on our way to the shower block and again as soon as he was back in his cabin giving us an easy departure (with a bit of wood wedged against his door to stop escape attempts).  Then it was an easy cruise toward Laboe and home.

Maybe we took it a little too easy, we were both leaning back in to the pushpits relaxing when with a very gentle bump we came to a stop.  Aground. Damn. Still, not to worry it’s a very forgiving place to run aground, sandy, gently sloping, non-tidal. This should be easy. There should be no need to break out the full running-aground box of tricks (sheeting-in hard to get more lean, running out an anchor to drag us off, etc) this should just be a question of firing up the engine and turning around.  Engine won’t start. Double damn. OK, what the hell is going on here? It started this morning.

Fortunately a passing rib spotted our predicament and called through to the lifeboat which turned up within 10 minutes, pulled us off and towed us in to the shipyard part of Laboe.  On the way in they radioed ahead to the port and someone was waiting to have a look at the engine when we arrived.  They weren’t immediately able to start it (thank god, it would have been extremely embarrassing if it had been something simple) so they called for some engineers.  At this point I started to worry that even though the lifeboat was run by volunteers we had probably already run up a reasonable bill with the engineers but fortunately they spotted that we were a charter boat and assured me that the bill would go direct to PCO.  Eventually they pulled out the fuel filter and a load of sludge fell out, the problem was crap in the fuel tank, which was still reading full and we hadn’t opened all week.  Completely not our fault, which was good, but a bit puzzling because there’s no way that should be connected to running aground. Probably just co-incidence but I doubt I’ll ever find out unless I have trouble getting my deposit back.

After that it was just pack up and go, the charter company didn’t want to look at the boat or sign it back from me, which was a surprise because the Germans just love paperwork normally.

As a postscript, the journey home took about 6 hours with 6 stops to calm a distraught baby. Eventually we had to give up and just drive or we would never have got home.  He cried at us for half an hour then gave up and sobbed then fell asleep. I think that’s worth mentioning because it shows that even if we had tried a less ambitious holiday  it would still have been hard work, babies are just like that.