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Reef areas on Hanse 388 s/y Charlotte

With our heads held high and our second season nigh*), here are some things we are thinking about getting to our dear sailboat before next summer.

*) Needed something to rhyme with “high” and this is one word I fell in love with when reading Moby Dick a long, long time ago. (Next to a lake, far, far away in Sweden!)


Our (or actually my) deeply thought out philosophy regarding upgrading our one-year old Hanse is: if it’s not absolutely necessary, don’t do it! Rather: stick to the delivered boat as is, and learn to use it as well as possible.

This is a train of thought originating in the VIC-20, Commodore 64 and Sinclair Spectrum era (these are computers from the 80’s). Back then, there wasn’t a never-ending supply of new apps and gadgets to make the magic happen. We mostly had to get by with what we had: just a blinking cursor and some programming literature (real paper books!) providing information about what to do with this blinking cursor.

Try this:
10 PRINT “HELLO, WORLD” <enter> RUN <enter>

Mass Production Galore

They actually made over ten million of these C-64 computers! Guinness lists it as the highest-selling single computer model of all time, so they did something right, for sure.

They got the quality right, they got a lot of the technology right, and— very importantly!— they were able to mass produce them at a fairly low cost and sell them quite affordably to kids like me. (Well, I was about ten, so it was my mother who bought it. Thank you, mom! ❤️)

A lot of the sailboat manufacturers have been going down this road as well. Standardizing the offerings and developing mass production processes, to ultimately be able to deliver us good quality boats at affordable prices. Hanse is surely one of the companies doing this.

So, this is why I want to change as little as possible, and it’s rooted in the belief that keeping things standardized brings with it a whole lot of good.

It is easier to create manufacturing processes and facilities to produce affordable boats. It is cheaper to troubleshoot and repair, and to stock spare parts all over the world.

The less random it is, the easier it is for people to gain knowledge, over time, about how everything works. The less upgraded and reimplemented everything is, the more predictable is the resale value of boat.

So, this is the stack I’m pulling my own straws to, by trying to stick with the original and resist the urge to upgrade.

The Absolutely Necessary Upgrades

Finally, after the long introduction, here is the what and why we see as the absolutely necessary things to get before next summer’s adventure.

A Storm Jib

Our boat came with Elvstrøm’s FCL performance sails, and they are great! The FCL jib, however, isn’t designed to be reefed (rolled partly in), so when heavy weather heads our way, we need to change into something much smaller.

I’m no sail expert but luckily I saw that Greifwald’s own Hanse specialists, Wendel & Rados, have their own sailmaking business!

I sent a mail to them and at the moment we’re excitedly waiting for their sailmakers to make a storm jib for out boat. It’s supposed to be 8.8 m2 (30% of the standard jib) using thick 405 g/m2 sailcloth. It goes around the furled jib and is sheeted to the standard self-tacking sheet point. Price: about 750 € plus shipping plus VAT.

And the colour of the sail is orange! How cool is that. (I’m not telling Charlotte. It will be a surprise.)

A Third Reef in the Main

Continuing on the reefing theme, our FCL mainsail has just two reefs. When going upwind or reaching, the first reef comes in at about 15 knots and the second at about 20 knots (true wind speed). When the wind gets significantly higher, there is clearly a need to get the mainsail even smaller.

Our local sailmaker, North Sails, is putting in the third reef for about 500 €. The contact person from our winter yard suggested our local sailmaker, North Sails, could do it. Also, he has a good idea about how to actually rig it/use it, but we’ll get back to this in a few months.

Roughly measured, reef 1 reduces the sail by 10 m2 (so about 75% of the full size) and reef 2 reduces the sail by a further 10 m2 (about 20 m2 in total and about 54% of the full sail).

Teak Step & Bow Ladder

The Hanse 388 is a tall boat and mooring bow to, it’s sometimes quite the challenge to jump down to the quay.

The teak step was easy. I talked to the Boatoon shop and they immediately sent me a link to the correct teak piece for our double bow roller.

The bow ladder is still a work in progress, so please send suggestions if you have some!

I did contact the (I’ve heard!) superb Niro Petersen company, but their standard Hanse bow ladders only fit boats with Delta anchors and we have an Ultra..

The Swedish company Båtsystem said their model ST135 might work, but they needed some measurements to verify. Looking at a picture of our bow and a picture of their ladder, I doubt it.. but will take the measures and see!

Not a very step-down friendly bow, by default.
Something like this, maybe? Intuitively, it doesn’t seem very likely to fit. If it works, it’s about 375 € plus shipping.

Some Fender Rope

Last summer I developed a hate-hate relationship with box berths. When a wide boat (with me at the helm) meets two wooden poles with just a barely wider gap between them, things get tricky!

My very first box berthing attempt (in reverse) ended up with a small ding in the side (fixed now). On one other try, Charlotte ended up with her hand between the boat and one of the poles (also fixed now).

What we really should have, kind of, are the Hanse standard rub rails. However, in my humble opinion they are terribly ugly, so we’ll buy some fender rope instead! (And hope that it’ll work out.)

LIROS bumper line. Price per pair about 170€ + shipping. It would be nicer in black!

More Safety Thingies

Our plan is to venture slightly more offshore than last summer, so we’ll get one PLB (carried by me) and automatically activating AIS-SARTs for the rest of the crew.

Ocean Signal PLB1, about 300 €.
Ocean Signal MOB1, price about 300 €.


1,400 € for the sails, about 400 € for the bow step & ladder, 170 € for the fender rope and 1,800 € for the safety stuff. That’s a bit shy of 4,000 € for the few “absolutely necessary” things.

When accounting for the expected life span of these “investments”, though, it looks slightly less expensive:

ItemExpected life (years)Cost/year
Storm sail1090 €
Mainsail (3rd reef upgrade)5100 €
Bow step & ladder2020 €
PLB1 + 5*MOB110180 €

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