With no more snow and ice in our country (hooray!), it was time to jump on the first bus to the winter storage place in Dalsbruk and get our dear boat home!
I arrived at the yard in the early evening, and there it was! Beautiful like the summer, sweet like the sun! It was so very wonderful to see our dear boat on the water again!
I had planned to sleep aboard and leave early in the morning, so there was plenty of time to arrange the final ifs and buts (put on the sails) and make her good to go.
Or so I thought.
Where’s My Main?
An hour or so later, I stumbled upon the first snag.
I had hoisted and furled the jib (which, by the way, had been beautifully cleaned by a cleaning company!), and then I started to look for the mainsail.
It wasn’t anywhere to be found! Weird. I texted my friend at the yard. “Everything is ok here, but I can’t find the main?”
He called. “Oh, I’m really sorry,” he started.
Apparently, due to a scheduling misunderstanding (and because we had agreed to make a hole in the stack pack for a third reef during the winter), the stack pack changes were still not ready. And so, the mainsail wasn’t on the boat either, but still in the storage, waiting for the finished stack pack.
“No worries!” I said. Scheduling mishaps happen, and I wasn’t in any hurry.
I continued to put some other stuff together, and a bit later, I thought I could just swing by the fuel station to get some fuel and then move the boat to a better mooring for the night.
Who turned off The Lights?
It felt very special to collect the mooring lines and then slowly motor away from the dock.
With a broad smile, I motored a hundred meters or so to the fuel dock, got her moored alongside, and turned off the engine.
I stepped off, gave my debit card to the automatic fuel station (“Yes,” the computer said), grabbed the fuel pistol for diesel, and started filling up the boat.
Usually, when we’re at the fuel pump, I have one of the children standing inside at the DC panel to shout out the tank readings. This so that I can stop a bit after “one-hundred percent!” (and prevent the fuel from running over). When I’m alone, I have to do this myself, so I left the pistol in the filling hole and jumped inside.
It was completely dark inside.
I was sure I had left the lights on. And even more sure that the DC panel should be on, so either I had walked straight into some kind of a horror movie, or I had a big electricity problem.
During the yard’s preparation work (as I discovered after some quick fault-finding), they had connected all other cables. However, the thickest red battery cable was still in winter-storage mode, lying happily right next to the battery bank, instead of being connected to it.
No big deal, luckily, but it was certainly a bit surprising. Even more so because all the instruments actually worked while I was motoring!
I don’t know exactly which paths the small electrons take when they travel from A to B. Apparently, the engine’s alternator will power the DC system even without the battery bank being connected. And when I then turned the engine off, everything else when dark as well.
Easy fix, though.
Who turned off The Wind?
The following day, when I was waiting for the stack pack and the mainsail, I noticed that the wind sensor wasn’t working. There was no trace of it whatsoever on the data network, so it seemed quite dead.
We did some preliminary debugging, and as the connections within the boat seemed fine, apparently, the problem was either with the NMEA cable in the mast or the actual sensor.
A few hours later, we hoisted another (very helpful!) yard worker up to the mast-top, and he found the silly problem: they had left it unconnected by mistake!
Oh well. But we were all happy that it wasn’t a more serious problem.
All About That Chlorine
Finally, in the evening, the stack pack (with a new well-designed reef hole!) arrived.
“Joy!” I thought to myself. Then I looked at the newly-washed fabric and dropped down a notch or two. “Oh, joy…”.
For some reason, the cool (even iconic!) Hanse logo had been partly washed away, and instead of looking fresh and new, the whole thing now looked like it had arrived from the late 1970s.
Then, a bit later, when I attached the cover to the boom and tried to insert the long plastic tubes on the sides, I noticed that it had shrunk as well, and I couldn’t get the tubes to fit inside the pockets!
“It’s ruined!” I texted to my yard friend.
He called me.
“Well, you know,” he said, “it’s not necessarily ruined,” he continued. “Usually, if that happens, they do stretch back when they are wet, so just wait until the next rain, and then try to push them all the way inside the pockets.”
“Ok, I’ll try that,” I replied.
After the phone call, I went inside the boat, looked up the contact information for the company that makes the original stack packs for Hanse, and placed an order for a new one.
I got a quick order confirmation and a short explanation as well.
“The yarns shrink because of a chemical reaction with chlorine,” they wrote. “If the chlorine mixture was too strong, over 1.5% about, it is non-reversible.”
So that was that! In about three weeks, we’d get the new covers (complete with the Hanse logo and more than two reef holes).
It was getting late, and the boat was now ready to go. And after some sleep, I would be too.
Before sailing away, though, a big thank you to the yard! Thank you for keeping her safe over the winter, and for providing excellent customer service (from early mornings to late nights) to overcome the few final things we had to sort out!
The sail home to Turku was great!
With a light load and a clean bottom (and a repaired rubber boot), she was once again flying!
Looking at the actual performance numbers, they were showing the same flying feeling as well. In fact, we (I and the boat) achieved all-time record speeds over a wide range of true wind conditions!
(You can load the actual updated excel file using this link.)
More important than the speed, though, was the actual feeling of being out there on the water again. It’s the kind of magic I apparently never grow tired of, and I loved every second of it.
As a becoming epilogue, I had one more incident, just a short distance from our home harbor.
Before returning home, I thought I would anchor at one of our favorite spots, right outside Turku, to check out the cruise ships driving by in the sunset.
When I tried to lift the anchor, however, it seemed really stuck to something. The windlass started slipping, and when I tightened the clutch, it was was just barely able to pull the anchor upwards.
I felt a bit perplexed and wasn’t really sure what had happened.
Then, it surfaced, and I let out a big disheartened sigh.
A water pipe! I had hooked on to a water pipe with the anchor!
On the positive side (with regard to my mariner skills!), it was a water pipe quite unknown to all of the marine charts. (And as I later found out, also quite unknown to most of the local mariners.) On the negative side, though, it was holding on to us tight as a rock.
I was inflating the dinghy to try to fix it myself when some much appreciated outside help (the local coast guard) arrived.
After a few thankful words from me to them, and few encouraging words from them back to me, we went to work.
I attached a line to the starboard bow cleat and guided it down through the bow roller. One of the coast guard people jumped into the water with a dry suit, took the line through the tipping ring off the anchor, and headed it back to me (“Oh, it’s actually quite cold, the water!”).
Then, when I lowered the anchor with the windlass, the tipping line tightened, and a few moments later— with a scrunssch! and a phaduff! — it made the anchor tip the water pipe away, sending it down to the seabed, to continue its lurking in the dark and waiting for its next unsuspecting victim.
Phew! And thank you again (a bunch!) for your help!
The rest of the trip, the last fifteen minutes or so, went without anything terribly fascinating happening. It was very charming, though, to motor in towards the city and see the familiar and beautiful Turku archipelago drifting by.
Just before sunset, I reversed into our slip, and so Charlotte was once again home with the rest of the family.
And the rest of the family, we were now ready and set to boldly go where we had never gone before— to our third season of sailing! ❤️