So, what do you do with your sailing blog when the whole world— I and our family included, obviously— is in the middle of a pandemic outbreak of a virus?

Well, continue writing the darned blog, of course!

Not because I want to (in any way) diminish the crisis and its consequences that are happening right now.

More so, because the current palette of colors— as may be seen in the news and in the social media— seems to contain mostly alarming shades of red. In addition to those, I think it’s good to paint something with soothing blue as well. (And maybe even add a sprinkle of gold, but only if I dare!)

So, back to sailing.

This weekend, being as careful as I could, and paying attention to all the social distancing rules prescribed by our government, I sailed our dear s/y Charlotte from her winter storage to her home harbor in Turku.

She’s Ready!

“She’s in the water now,” our lovely contact person told me, over the phone, “and the mast is up! You just have to rig the sails,” he continued, joyfully.

There had been a few last-minute tasks for the yard to finish, but everything had come together nicely, and now she was all ready to be picked up.

“And as we discussed before,” he said, “we’re not going to have an in-person hand-over. You are welcome to the yard in the evening, after all our employees have left!”

(This was their new coronavirus policy. Very understandably, they were doing their best to mitigate risks as well as possible, while still keeping their business open.)

There she is! Cloudy skies, golden boat. Friday evening a few minutes after I arrived.
Tied up to the dock. Without the sails and the sprayhood, her lines look seducingly clean. Well, there’s a sail bag and a packed dinghy to mess up the picture, but still! 🙂
A few things left to sort out. The jib sail there on the left. The lazybag and the sprayhood on the right. A strange IKEA bag on the table!

Good Morning, Season Two!

6 am. Rise and shine!

It was a wonderful morning! The picture doesn’t lie at all this time.

I had managed to get the jib up the day before, before dark, but after a quick breakfast, I continued with the rest of the work. Lazy bag up (a surprisingly smartly made system!). Mainsail up (had to check a couple of YouTube videos to figure out the battens and the MDS slider lock). And finally, sprayhood on.

Ready to start the engine and cast off the lines!

It was a wonderful feeling, to let go of the dock, to grab the wheel and press the engine lever a bit forward. To hear the silent purr of the engine and the coolant water sputtering out from the exhaust pipe. And to feel the boat gently starting to move, making way, forward through the water.

It was still quite early in the morning, and I was smiling broadly!

The first docking of the season went nicely as well! (Phew!) I made a quick stop to fill the fuel tank and then I finally headed away from the winter storage place, out on the water, towards home.

Northern Winds

With cool winds from the north, the weather was not at all as warm as they had earlier predicted. It was just a couple degrees above freezing. Also, I had to sail up against the cool winds, so with the chill factor included, it felt like well below zero.

The day was absolutely beautiful, though! With my back turned against the wind and the sun shining on my face, I could almost imagine it was summer!

I started out motoring, but ended up sailing for quite a lot of the day. And with good winds as well!

From the wrong direction, obviously, but quite a decent amount of it. (In the end, not quite enough to reef the main, but not very far from it either!)

s/y Charlotte, Hanse 388 in the Archipelago Sea.
It was calm in the beginning. Good thing, since when I first hoisted the main, I noticed I had missed one of the MDS sliders and also attached the second reef on the wrong side.

After about seven hours of partly freezing a lot, but mostly enjoying the heck out of being out there, I decided to find an anchorage to spend the night. And to get some shelter from the biting northers.

Ahoy there, readers!

Even Colder!

The temperature had dropped below freezing during the night and it was a pretty cold morning. Inside the boat, though, it was wonderfully cozy and warm!

The heater had no problem keeping about twenty degrees inside. In the night, I even had to turn it a couple of degrees down because it got too hot.

After a quick breakfast, I lifted the anchor and started motoring into the now even colder winds!

This time it was impossible (with my three layers of clothing) to stand outside and face the wind for any length of time, so I had the autopilot on for most of the time.

To keep watch, I stuck my head out of the companionway every few seconds. To navigate, I bit the bullet and went out to click the new course on the plotter, each time it was needed.

B&G is driving!

Inside, I was surprised to notice that I could actually see the whole horizon ahead just by using the two side windows. I wouldn’t have thought that possible, but it really was!

A starboard window with a view.

Then, about a mile from home, something really cool happened.

It started to HAIL!

I can’t remember ever sailing in snowfall (well indeed, why would you?!), so this short period of hailing was so funny! What a wonderful welcome home!

At Home

After a few hail showers and a surprisingly successful docking (ok, it was a bit challenging with a lot of sidewind, but I made it nicely the third time around!), I was back home.

While I was away, they had locked down traffic from and to the most populated region of Finland (not where I live), and all things coronavirus related where getting more tense.

Was it altogether irresponsible and unsolidaric of me to do my trip, to go to another town and bring our sailboat home? I don’t know. It wasn’t necessary, of course, I could just as well have left it there.

It felt really nice to see her there in the harbor, though. Our golden boat with the blue and white Finnish flag at the stern.

I’ve never been much of patriot, and I’m not much of one know either. Still, it felt strangely comforting to see the flag there, my country’s flag, flapping around gently in the breeze.

Maybe I should put out the flag every morning, I thought to myself. I like to look at it, so maybe other people walking by might like it as well?

And so I decided to do. Cheers and good health to all!

s/y Charlotte’s home harbor, Eteläranta, Turku. Go check her out if you are in the neighborhood and the health authorities continue to encourage going out to get some fresh air once in a while.

Epilogue

I woke up today, the day after, and looked out the window. It had snowed a lot during the night.

When I went to put up the flag (or ensign as the marine version is called), this was what the boat looked like! 🖖