Life coaching for Caribbean sailors

Sissi in the blazing sun off Kralendijk

The picture shows Sissi hanging on the mooring off Kralendijk in the midday sun. In the cockpit it can be endured very well, because we have put up a sun protection tarpaulin, which has so far proven very good on our trip. But that's not the topic of this blog.

This blog is about heat, the murderous temperatures that already exist in the Caribbean in January and February. For about two months now we have been living in the temperature zone between 28 ° C and 31 ° C. Every day. There are no changes. There are only warm days and hot days. It can be annoying. It annoyed us so much on the Atlantic that we ordered a couple of PC fans from Jörg and Burti. The two of us then brought the fans to Barbados. Since then we sleep better. The problem on the Atlantic is that although we would have had enough wind to ventilate Sissi properly, we could not open the windows so that the Atlantic did not come to visit our bunk.

Quiet PC fan

All the necessary technical data are on the fan, you only have to enlarge the photo. The fan draws 0.08 amperes and therefore needs 0.96 watts. Every ship's battery should be able to withstand this. It has a diameter of about 20 centimeters, so it is quite large for a PC fan. He is practically inaudible for that. One is mounted over my bunk, one over Jens bunk. If the fan is switched on, it ensures a slight air movement in the bedroom and that you are no longer braised in your own juice. Great! Thanks again to Jörg for getting and bringing it.

Sissi in the sunset glow

Even when the sun has set, the temperatures do not decrease. That is why the fans are so important. We had only planned a third fan for the guest bunk in the bow, but it is not used for that now. It now ensures an increased air throughput at the refrigerator compressor and we already notice that the energy consumption of our refrigerator has decreased - after two days on the buoy on Bonaire the batteries have not run out. I can't exactly quantify that yet, but I will definitely take measurements.

Kralendijk at night

If you think you want to equip your sailboat with PC fans, they have a few great features: Quiet, low power consumption and can be connected directly to 12V. But make sure that the fans are as large as possible and run slowly. Otherwise you won't be happy with it. A fan costs around € 45. I do not want to know how expensive they would be if they were in the sail shop.


The Bavarian would say. F * ck the Scotsman. Verd… ScheiXXe. What's going on here?

Yes, we are on the road again. No, the start was with obstacles. But it's going great now. At first everything works like clockwork. Charly comes to the jetty and helps us to get rid of the many lines with which Sissi has been moored in the marina for weeks. We start the engine, it purrs like a kitten. That's how it should be.

We leave Rubicon (Photo: Charly Pöschl)

We leave Marina Rubicon, Charly takes a photo of our departure. After less than half an hour we are out of the Lanzarote land cover. We open the old Genoa, we have not yet pulled up the new one. The old Genoa does just as well for the 130 miles.

West course is on

The genoa pulls well, we stop the engine and slowly calm comes into the ship. Only the Watermaker hums a few dozen liters into the tank. That is supposed to be like that. Now we put the wind vane into operation and switch off the electric autopilot.

Crucifix! The wind vane controls an egg course like we have never seen before. But why? We have modified the wind vane a little bit according to Peter Förthmann's instructions and the course should now be much more stable. But it is not. Jens thinks we swapped the two steering lines when converting. So control electrically again and replace the control lines again.

One last look back ...

Now the wind pilot steers us even more erratically. Instead of turning counter rudder, he turns the rudder in the wrong direction when we change course. This is crap. We try to pull the lines, they were correct before. So drive again electrically and back the whole thing.

The wind pilot does not steer better. I go back and see what's going on. Yes, there is something going on. Really going. I tightened almost all screws in Rubicon, but I forgot a screw on the underside of the wind pilot. We run the risk of losing our pendulum rudder. Crap, damn it. So drive again electrically, somehow get the pendulum rudder out of the water and screw it down.

Now the wind pilot steers again, but he still doesn't steer better. Jens notices that we cannot turn the wind vane into the wind at any angle. I notice that another screw is loose at the top of the wind vane. How many screws does the damn thing have ...? So go electric again, tighten this screw and it's good. Or?

Now the wind pilot is back in the water. Now Sissi is driving straight ahead. What can shake off will shake off. What can go will go. Sometimes I hate sailing. Now I write this blog post quickly, then I lie down on the couch for an hour or two. Crucifix!

Sail bureaucracy paperwork

All's well that ends well. We bought a new genoa and it is on the ship with us. In this respect, everything could have ended worse. After all, we saved a lot of VAT. However, I wonder if we can ever take this genoa back to the EU. Maybe I shouldn't be writing about it?

It all started with the fact that we reefed our genoa too late during the crossing to the Canary Islands and therefore our lower leg was torn off. It actually started with the purchase of Sissi, because the genoa was no longer really fresh. The sailmaker in Stavoren has already told us that it will not last long. Therefore, it was already planned to have a new genoa made on the way. Blue-eyed and inexperienced as I am, I wanted to do that in the Canary Islands. There are many sailboats, where there are sailboats there are sailmakers and sailmakers make sails. I thought. And there is no VAT on the Canary Islands, so the sail must be cheaper there. I thought.

Genoa at the sailmaker

So we carried our genoa to Puerto Calero for the sail maker. He was supposed to sew on the lower leg and make a new genoa. He could offer the former. After that, the genoa was at least reusable. He couldn't and didn't want the latter.

“Here in the Canary Islands all people order their sails either in Germany or in England. The sails are finished there faster and cost less. ” So much for my plan. So I got on the phone and found a sail maker in Germany who wanted to quickly sew a genoa and send it to Lanzarote. Since we had planned a week in Frankfurt anyway, the wait wasn't so bad. With was explained exactly what we have to measure so that the new sail fits. The sail maker in Puerto Calero helped us with the measurements. So far so good.


Then I quickly went to the computer, transferred the down payment to Germany and clarified by phone how the delivery should be. I looked for the delivery address from the Internet (Marina Rubicon) and sent it. We have received so many deliveries in the meantime that it is becoming a habit to put the shipping name and my name in front of the delivery address. So far so good.

Monday November 25th
During our stay in Frankfurt, the sail maker called me and informed me that the genoa was ready for dispatch. He wants to know if I would rather have delivered it to Frankfurt so that I can take it with me. I would have done that even if our return flight had not been the next day. The sail is therefore entrusted to UPS. After all, we have not had any bad experiences with this parcel service.

Tuesday November 26th
Before our return flight, UPS sends an email saying that our Genoa should be delivered on Thursday. Wow, I thought. Only three days from Germany to Lanzarote. Other parcel services can cut a few slices.

Wednesday November 27th
UPS sends an email that our sail has arrived in Gran Canaria. Then there are further emails every three hours, all in Spanish by the way, which reported an exception for the delivery. With the help of Leo, we can find out that the genoa is stuck in customs and it's not up to UPS to stop it being transported. No matter. The genoa is very close.

Thursday November 28th
The day of the announced delivery. In my mailbox there are already several emails from UPS that continue to report customs clearance. Dear people in Germany, you don't even know how good we are with the European Customs Union. The genoa stays in customs, I can hardly keep up with deleting all UPS mails. They installed a real spam machine there.

Friday November 29th
An email is coming from UPS announcing the delivery of the package by Monday, December 2nd. Nice. That’s enough for us. So far so good.

Monday December 2nd
In the early afternoon I received an email from UPS that the package should have been delivered, but Marina refused to accept it. We find out that the issue was that 210 € customs duties were due and that the marina refused "the package" but "the paperwork". UPS sends an email that the package is now on the way back. UPS asks if the goods can be destroyed. Jens and I go crazy. The marina explained to us that the address “yacht in transit” is missing from the address. How do we get this addition to the address? Nobody reports to UPS anymore.

Tuesday 3rd December
We are trying to contact UPS in Gran Canaria. Hopeless. English is not spoken at UPS in Spain. We don't speak Spanish. We cannot call UPS in Germany from here because the 0180 number cannot be called from abroad. We try to get the address change through the sail maker. I call Marcos, my former boss, who knows Spanish as a mother tongue. He agrees to call UPS in Spain. He can also call UPS in Germany.
Jutta from the Chapo calls her son. He also speaks Spanish fluently. He manages to reach Alberto, the parcel driver. He still has the package in his car. Jens persuades the boss from the marina to accept the package. Fortunately, Alberto has not yet unloaded the heavy box out of the car. Alberto wants to come back the following day.

delivery trucks

Wednesday December 4th
We are eagerly awaiting Alberto. I camp with a snack near the marina office in the shade. Jens waits at the boat if Alberto drives the package directly to the dock. Meanwhile, he can continue to paint the deck. In the early afternoon the time has come. The delivery truck arrives.

Thumbs up!

Alberto delivers the sail to the marina office and collects the € 210 customs fees. 30 seconds later I get an invoice from the marina for € 270. They add a bunch of fees for accepting the package. No matter. I do not give a shit.

Alberto brings the sail to the jetty and is given a friendly tip by Jens. Perhaps he will also transport a sail for another sailor. In any case, he doesn't make an unhappy impression on me when he leaves the marina.

Package with the sail in it

Now it is there, our new genoa. We would like to pull them up, but that is currently not possible with the wind gusts. We unpacked the package, stowed the genoa in the forward berth and had a beer on it.

On the one hand, the fun cost a lot of customs and marina fees, on the other hand, we saved a lot of VAT by delivering to Lanzarote. That is the good thing about it. If we had had the sail delivered to Frankfurt, that would not have been the case.


I don't know if we can bring the new Genoa back to Germany. Maybe we still have to pay tax on them. As a precaution, I keep the bill with the fees. It goes west, where German customs and tax law does not apply.

Thanks to everyone who helped us or wanted to help get the cloth out of customs. Thanks to Alberto, David, Jutta, Marcos, Stefan and Mrs. N. from the sailmaker. All is well.

Powerful comfort improvement

On the crossing to the Canary Islands, we noticed that we always have to drink our beverage cans very quickly. We either sit in the cockpit, there are beverage can holders. Or we can empty the cans down in the salon, there are none. The solution to the problem was as simple as it was cheap:

Bicycle cup holder

We made a short stop at the Decathlon and bought two bicycle cup holders. Cost point: € 2.99 per piece. They are now tied to our mast support with cable ties and now the cans on the ocean have no chance to fly through the salon. Now we no longer have to empty them in one go.

Bouldering on Sissi

Then there was the rig. For weeks we have had one item on the to-do list, namely the control of the rig. Since we have no mast steps on the Sissi, we have to do it differently. In Leixoes we saw an unusual mast ladder on a French boat, which we immediately liked. We did some research on the internet and one providers found.

This ladder was then made to our measurements and delivered to Lagos. It fit.

Mast ladder

You take down the mainsail and pull up the mast ladder where you would normally pull up the mainsail. We had to measure the mast slides beforehand, they are custom-made, so to speak, in the right size and design on the ladder.

Then you can easily climb the mast. I had to pull Jens up to the top of the mast last year after driving the mast into a tree in Holland. Yes, in Holland trees are sometimes very close to the waterways. That was a lot of pagan work and Jens didn't feel particularly good about it either. It is very different now with the ladder. I just have to secure Jens against falling, he can now climb up alone.

Check the rig

We are now happy about the easy way to climb the mast. That really takes us further.

We also fill the reserve canisters with diesel, the refrigerator with food and and and. It goes on!

Back in Lagos - work assignment on Sissi

We have landed in Lagos again. In the evening at 7:10 p.m. we arrived and moored in front of the bascule bridge at the marina office. This has two advantages - on the one hand we do not have to pay the night at the waiting pontoon and on the other hand the way to the marina office is very short, there are five heavy packages waiting for us.

Bascule bridge in front of the marina - only opens during the opening hours of the marina office

Because after the nice stay in the anchor bay, it is now a matter of further optimizing, stocking and cleaning Sissi for our long journey. First of all we felt like we had to wash two tons of sand out of the boat and the dinghy, we seem to have half Headache Beach taken on board.

As I have already written, we had a current gap of approx. 60 Ah a day. With almost 600 Ah in the supply batteries, they were drained within five days (you should only use half the capacity of the battery). We ordered a complete new solar power plant from a large mail order company for sailing accessories, which was waiting for us in the marina office. The office man was quite amazed at the large packages, he was even more amazed when we announced more packages. We planned two days to set up the new electricity supplier and started work immediately.

Sissi's super solar power plant

After installation and wiring, it was a great feeling to press the switch and see how the charging current suddenly quadrupled. Strong !!! It was totally worth it. After about six hours of hard work, we were ready and ready for the shower.

Today, the day after assembly, we switched off the shore power charger and switched on all the devices we need when sailing. The radio also plays and there is almost no wind, the wind power station does not provide any electricity at all. Nevertheless, after several hours with partly cloudy skies and partly beautiful sunshine, our batteries are still filled to 100%. Feel good. Tonight is billing, then let's see what the electricity production was like.

Solar power plant at work

In my opinion, the panels do not really deface our boat, we have rather improved the "long-ride look". You cannot see the other solar cells on the cockpit roof when you are not on board.

Walk-in solar cells on the cockpit roof

A little jaunt with the land dinghy, the on-board bicycle, to the photo shop later we took the print of a great photo Frankfurt Romans in the hand. Our father took the beautiful picture a few years ago. Now the picture is hanging in our salon and looks good.

Frankfurt Romans

The man in the marina office had a slightly tormented look on his face when I was back to pick up the next package. He probably had to drag them to the parcel warehouse himself. There are two packages from our Frankfurt Bonames Favorite butcher Haasethat will help us across the Atlantic. At this point, once again, many thanks to Jens Haase and the whole team in the butcher shop. Without you, our menu would be less tasty.

40 kg of delicious sausages and coffee from Frankfurt am Main - home to eat!

At the beach party, one of the other sailors said to me that if we ordered canned food from home we would not have set off yet. Maybe that's because you can't really start from Frankfurt, Frankfurt simply stays in the heart.

Speaking of Frankfurt in the heart: We are still waiting for a last package from Frankfurt am Main that our parents have sent to us. But we feel a little like back then in Waleswhen we were waiting for the watermaker. DHL did not send the parcel to Athens, but it was misdirected again and apparently has not yet come out of Germany. When I announced another package to the man in the marina office, I saw that pained expression again.

Another misdirection by DHL

Our previous experiences with the different parcel services are very different. UPS has always delivered on time, sometimes even before the announced date. DPD was reliable and on time. DHL has produced misdirections in half of the deliveries and has never delivered on time. It is punctual for me when the package arrives on the announced day.

It still takes a few days until the wind is right for the crossing to the Canary Islands, so we still have a real chance to get this delivery. We are optimistic!

Supply, consumption and disposal

The battery monitor shows us mercilessly. We use too much electricity. Since we are at anchor, we have a current gap of approx. 60 Ah every day. The sun doesn't shine as much as we thought it would. The wind doesn't blow as hard as we imagined. And that's why we use more electricity every day than we generate with our two power plants.

Just five miles away from us, two solar panels are waiting for us in Marina Lagos, which we still want to install. We will probably be able to fill the current gap completely. Internally, we can sort of hook it up, of course, the assembly still needs to be done.

Now the diesel engine is running for an hour, with the electricity generated in this way we can fill the electricity gap until Tuesday.

The router shows us just as mercilessly that we consume quite a bit of data. In Germany, the king is king who has a mobile data volume of five gigabytes and more per month. We only laugh about that now, because we use the five gigabytes on a normal port day or at anchor.

Fortunately, mobile data in Portugal are not only available in the form of Internet globules, but are rather delivered with the 38-ton truck. NOS has a mobile flat rate for the Internet for € 1 a day. So 15 days for 15 € or 30 days for 30 €. The cards can be loaded at NOS in the shop or at any post office. That is practical. The first 15 days are used up, during this time 90 GB of data went through our router. Now we know that we need at least 6 GB a day for a decent life. The Internet costs 17 cents per gigabyte in the best 4G quality and still works a few miles off the coast.

Jens comes back from a supply trip

Of course, like all anchor boats, we supply ourselves with an inflatable boat. There is no city bus in the suburbs. We already did the big shopping in Lagos when we were in the marina. Then what we still have to do, we have to get there by rubber dinghy. It's pretty fun, because if you don't have to paddle it, dinghi driving is fun.

And then there is the disposal. So that we don't have to stack the smelly garbage bags somewhere on board, we had one a few weeks ago Oscar ton concerned. 90 liters of rubbish fit in and the lid can be closed. So that the garbage doesn't stink in the boat and the bin is also lashed with a lashing strap. This will be even more useful on the Atlantic than here in the bay, because unfortunately we forgot to anchor recycling stations on the way.

Oscar ton

We have searched in vain for such a ton in Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, Guernsey, France and Spain. There were always only the practical bins, the lids of which can be opened with your foot and which unfortunately cannot be closed odor-tight. In Porto we finally found them in the hardware store. Useful.

Our stay in the anchor bay is slowly coming to an end. Tomorrow we pull the base iron up again and evaporate towards Lagos. All the work with the solar panels is waiting for us there. Someone finally has to get up on the mast because the rig is screaming for a check before we make our way to the Canary Islands. With a little luck, a weather window will open towards the end of the week - the forecasts don't look too bad. So we enjoy the anchor kitsch one last evening before we start to work again.

Anchor kitsch


We found it fun to present videos of our trip every now and then. So far we have created the videos with a somewhat older digital video camera (maximum resolution is HD), the mobile phone cameras and our photo cameras. All of these cameras have the problem that they are not waterproof, so they can only be used outdoors when the weather is nice.

That's why what came had to come. We bought an action camera that is waterproof, among other things. We can also take underwater pictures with it. If we dare into the still too cool water.

Jens goes to the camera test

In order to test how much action there is in the action camera, Jens had to get very close to the action. The camera has a very, very short focal length.

Jens films the action

The first tests were successful. We will publish a video again in a few weeks. In it we will also show pictures that we have taken with the new camera. Although. We can get one thing out of the way. It was an exciting feeling. We have a new camera and are sinking it into the water. It should be able to withstand this ... here we tried whether the camera was diving.


AIS again - interesting pictures

I have already written a lot about AIS, the absolute marvel weapon in seafaring. Many sport boats are not equipped with it, but most of the long-distance drivers here on the Portuguese coast. Commercial shipping has to be equipped and so we can easily see the commercial ships, such as the fishermen, and their course.

SAR helicopter on the AIS

The picture above is a screenshot of the navigation computer. On the right side you can see the rescue helicopter. We noticed that at the entrance to Vigo during the night, but nobody thought of taking a screenshot. So far I was not aware that aircraft are also equipped with AIS. Why not, is practical. And we cannot drive a collision course with the helicopter, our mast is not that high.

Just before midnight in Porto ...

It was shortly before midnight and we didn't have far to Porto, when a cloud of fishing boats literally exploded on our AIS. Suddenly they all drove out at the same time, the course lines go star-shaped to the fish courts. Awesome.