After our July summer vacation, unfortunately we didn’t use our yacht that much. We had a big (and exhausting) moving project in August. September was filled with work. And after that, the weather started turning a bit against us. Cold to freezing temperatures, high winds and too much rain.

Still, most days I was trying to be (a bit funny and) optimistic.

“Today it’s really good sailing weather!” I said to Charlotte, frequently, no matter rain or shine.

It grew into one of our memes, making fun of the fact that we never found the time to actually go out and do it.

Season Finale

The last sail of the season was there, though, unavoidably ahead of us. The delivery trip from our home harbour to our winter storage place.

It was only a daysail away, about forty miles, but the days were getting shorter, quickly. Temperatures were dropping, as well.

Anyway. It was the last Saturday of October and everything looked reasonably good— a storm had passed by the day before, but in the evening the weather seemed fine enough for us to leave.

It was just J and me this time. The other children were elsewhere and Charlotte wanted to let us have some father-son time, so she and our rascal dog stayed at home. (Well, to be honest, she wasn’t very keen on the cold and rain either! 😆)

So, the two of us. All good!

J standing in front of our Hanse 388, ready to embark on our final trip for the season.
J, ready to step aboard for our season finale!

By Flashlight and Plotter

It got pitch dark quite quickly!

Just fifteen minutes after we left and I had to start using the flashlight to double check that we were passing (on the correct sides of) the tight navigational markers, and not hitting them.

It was exciting and great fun though. To the both of us.

“Oh cool, it has reflecting tapes!” J shouted when I hit the first marker with my led light (and not the boat 😊).

Sailing a Hanse 388 at night.
Sailing into the night. You can barely make out the shape of J, sitting there to the right of the companionway.
B&G Zeus chart plotter with radar.
With plotter, AIS and a radar (the red patches in the picture), it actually felt quite safe to trot along inside the darkness.
Viking Grace in the night.
Viking Grace, one last time this season!
That huge purple pole is a rotor sail, by the way! It’s a cool feature to get some extra renewable energy.

A Long Night

J went to sleep in his and O’s cabin at about 10 pm. I stayed outside and continued (motor) sailing towards our destination, a familiar anchorage not very far from our winter harbour.

It did get a bit cold (I think temperatures went down to about 3-4 degrees C), but I actually enjoyed the solitude, and being able to focus on the night navigation and getting us safely to where we were going.

(I tried to take some long exposure photographs also, to catch some of the night light. It was fun, although they didn’t turn out very perfect 😃)

Hanse 388 s/y Charlotte in the night.
20s original exposure plus some more in (the) Lightroom.
Hanse 388 s/y Charlotte in the night.
20s of exposure here as well. You can see the small helm movements of the autopilot quite clearly (or blurredly).

Anchoring with Jellyfish

At 2 am we were finally at our anchorage.

I used our searchlight to make sure we were the only ones around, positioned the boat to drop the anchor, and turned on our deck light (which I had never used before!).

The deck light was actually one of the very few non-standard things we added to the boat during the commissioning. Being there, in pitch black, I was extremely happy that we did!

I lowered the anchor. (I was actually quite tired.) Turned on the flashlight to check the anchor chain. (Feeling somewhat sleepy and drowsy.) And then, I noticed something a bit out of place.

The water was filled with small white patches.

And they were moving! What?!

Oh. I caught one patch with my light. Jellyfish! Lots of jellyfish! Wow.

We saw some smaller ones earlier in the Åland archipelago, but I didn’t know we had them here as well, closer to home.

Jellyfish next to Hanse 388 s/y Charlotte.
I tried my best to get a decent picture of the small life forms. It wasn’t very easy juggling the flashlight in one hand and the mobile phone in the other. (Being a bit tired.) Here’s the best one. The boat on the left. Mr (or Mrs or “don’t want to say”) Jelly on the right.

A few moments later, at about half past two in the morning, I was sound asleep in my cabin.

Here I want to send out a big thank you to both Hanse and Eberspächer: although it was close to freezing outside, our heater worked perfectly and it was beautifully warm and cozy on the inside!

The Final Few Miles

During the night, the whole of Finland had shifted to winter time, so we were quite happy to get an extra hour of sleep.

After a nice breakfast together, we set off again, just as the (cloud covered) sun started to make our surroundings a bit visible again.

We started out taking turns in steering, guiding the boat through the narrow navigation channels. Then it got a bit too cold for J, so he went inside to warm up for a while.

I do think we had a great time together.

It was a bit wet and a bit cold, but that certainly didn’t turn off very much of the excitement for us.

J at the helm of our Hanse 388 s/y Charlotte.
J at the helm. He was very good at it!

Pictures above from going under the legendary Lövö bridge. The clearance is 19 m, we’re about 17.6 m (excluding antenna) so there clearly is enough space between our mast and the bridge. It never looks like that, though, when getting closer.

Getting that Buoy

Our destination in sight, it was time to prepare ourselves for the final mooring. J had the important task of hooking on to the stern mooring buoy and he had never done that before, so we talked through it several times beforehand, like how it ought to work, if we were successful.

In the end, J’s arm was just a bit too short, and no matter how close I got to the buoy (we did it three times), he wasn’t quite able to reach down to it and put the hook through the ring.

Finally, we did it together. I helped him reach out, and then we got it.

He felt quite bad about it, though, that he had failed to catch it. It felt a bit bad to me, as well. I had given him too difficult a task. Or we should have figured out another way of doing it.

I do think a big part of life is learning how to deal with temporary setbacks, even when it doesn’t feel so good. So this moment was one of those. (For better and not worse, I hope!)

We agreed that next summer, we’d practice this together, a lot. And even more importantly: figure out a good way for him to do it (from our tall yacht), even with a shorter arm than mine.

s/y Charlotte, our Hanse 388 moored.

End of Season One

We gathered our stuff and jumped ashore.

The weather was bleak, pale, surrounding us with just a few shades of wintery gray.

It was quite uneventful, our short farewell to our golden Hanse yacht, and to our first season of sailing.

And then we walked together to the nearest shop to buy ice-creams.

What better way to celebrate this, our last day of summer.

J and me celebrating the last day of summer.