Ten Hours of Downwind

It was Sunday and time to turn back home. We were thirty-five miles from our home harbor and after having done ten-fifteen miles a day the previous days, this was to be our longest sail yet. All in gentle to non-existing downwind.

Practice Makes Perfect

The Hanse 388 isn’t the hugest of boats, but it’s not the smallest either. Its displacement as empty is about 8.5 tons, and with gear and people considerably more. Furthermore, it has a high freeboard (the distance from the water to the deck) so it catches wind really well.

Skip forward to Berghamn, Sunday morning and us wanting to leave.

During the night one other boat had moored right in front of us and the wind had shifted from blowing us off the dock to blowing us onto it. To get off, without crashing into the boat ahead of us, without damaging our bright golden color and without being blown aground just after the dock, we needed to spring ourselves out.

It was something Charlotte never had done before, so she felt a bit stressed about it (well, I did too, but tried not to show it). To make it easier and increase our chances of succeeding, we practiced it several times, there on the dock. Locking the mooring line around the cleat, releasing it, and pulling the running end back into the boat.

“Ok, let’s go for real now,” I said, started the engine and undid the other lines. “Keep it in place until I start reversing and say you can let go!”

“Ok,” she replied, nervously.


Everything went wonderfully! We looked like we had done the maneuver a zillion times before. A guy in the boat in front of peeked out, said “Good morning!” and waved farewell. Nice. A pat on the back to both of us.

This isn’t us leaving. It’s another boat that left much earlier in the morning. We went the same way, though!

Are We Moving?

“Are we really moving?” O asked me.

“Yes, yes,” I said. “Just look at the seaweed there. It’s slowly drifting away from us.”

We were moving, but just barely. Never less than about one knot, though. Occasionally the true wind speed showed zero, more often a bit more.

A small breeze. Our Hanse with her crossover sail hoisted.

We had a wonderful time, though, slowly gliding forward through the beautiful scenery. Charlotte took in the sun. The children played with each other, inside and outside. Ate when they were hungry. Drank when they were thirsty. Went to the toilet. Got confused about how to use it. “Mom! Come and help me!”

At 12 o’clock I had a beer. Cheers to downwind sailing!

Aiko, the dog, J the legs.

Ten Hours Later

We kept the sails up until about a mile away from home. Right after the cruise ship Baltic Princess had passed us, we turned upwind and lowered the sails.

Once moored, the older children quickly disappeared through the gates, running home. Charlotte, I and little L left behind to clean the boat. It took an hour or so. (Next time we’ll get the others to chip in as well. At least we’ll try.)

Our first few days and nights of sailing had come to an end. Four days and three nights out on a sailboat. The first nights ever for the children. I’m happy to say, it all went very well.

Home again. Baltic Princess in the background.

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