It felt very sudden when hopped out the train in Neustadt in Holstein, Germany and longboarded to the marina to really buy my first sail boat. I had worked up to this point, saving money, reading about sailing and trying to get on to the water – which only happened a few evenings to sails on Zürich lake and a ten-day trip with a friend on the German North See. I had still been a complete novice in the matter of sailing – not to mention all one should know when owning a boat. When I had inspected the Fantasia some weeks earlier, with nearly no knowledge just the eye of an engineer, the interior made me decide to choose her. The day buying my first little boat the 22.10.2018 been fast – it felt like just saying hello to the previous owners and then my new little home got picked up and off it went straight to the water – too quick grasp this magical moment. Everything been fascinating new to me, like how it works to get the boat in and out the water. Some of my decision might have astonished others – as I been the only one getting my vessel in to the water, while all others took there’s out for the winter. Then as my boat been floating well came my first responsibility – how do I motor this thing. I felt this is beyond me, I been great full for the previous owners to help motoring and tying her up to the pontoon. Although I been happy the engine been working right at the first start. I did not trust it and felt certain that there are some issues, also I thought that 9hp might not be strong enough for the 8m and asked to make clause in to the contract. But that did not help after all, which I would be learning into the month to follow. While this day happened to me it felt very surreal only my insecurity in maneuvering my little boat touched a base to reality. The first night trying to sleep in my new home, while my mind and soul slowly caught up, with what I been getting myself in to – it’s been as all that day – my insecurity came up even more. I could hear the water everywhere these sounds – gluck gluck platsh platsh … and some rattling … why where did this come from? I got up many times too look outside and inside how to get these sounds to silence. But mostly I stayed uncertain if water would stay outside the vessel, I been lifting many boards and had a look in all the corners. My tiredness helped and I did sleep some what that first night with my little boat.
The following days I been doing a few smaller sails in and out Neustadt with one of the pre owners and one day with my mum, not daring to just sail by myself – thinking that landing with one person is too difficult. Even though it’s not been my first time on a sailing boat but as I now been having the responsibility – needing to think and pre think what to do when – this made my mind work and learn quickly. As my previous sailing “experience” comprised more of the on as a passenger not knowing what the other person is actually doing but ok – helping where possible – hold this or telling if there is something in our way. But within a few trips in and out of Neustadt I got the basics – well I have to say I only sailed with the jib, thinking that two sails are to complicated and how to reef the main sail been a riddle for me. But with my jip I managed to get in and out and where I wanted to go, I learned quickly and even though I always had crew on board I tried to handle all by myself.
There been plenty of smaller fixes needed to be made, still not knowing what is relevant and my list of to do’s started to grow (and never stopped growing). My first bigger project had been to get the wind steering system working. As one of my major learnings of the ten day sailing trip with my friend had been that its great to have a wind steering system. After getting my windpilot from Peter in Hamburg (which I been happy to meet in person) I had to build a construction around the rudder to fit it on to. Having no space to work and always in the hurry. The more I progressed on it, the less happy I got with my construction and I still think it’s not the quality I want. but having put the right paint at the end of the process made it look worth not redoing it for some time.
One friend – my first co-sailor – sailed with me from Neustadt in the Baltic Sea to Cuxhaven at the mouth of the river Elbe to the North Sea. My friend had been a novice in sailing too but the only problem been he did so well that I entrusted him a bit too much sometimes, which scared him in the long run. Every sailing day been very adventurous for us, we had to learn in BIG steps. I would say now it’s been mostly easy and super safe but, in those moments, we experienced everything for the very first time and been truly excited. Imagine to be a skipper for the first time – leaving one port and for the first time sailing and arriving to a new harbor you have never seen before, just as you had planned. Or having to change plans doubling your required distance of sailing – as we unknowingly had to do a bigger loop not being able to stop at our originally planned port – due to military practice. As always one bad thing doesn’t come alone as the trip got longer the planed the weather turned, the wind picked up and while sailing on, for the first time in to the night and first time close to the shipping line while the short choppy Baltic wave tried to climb in to the cockpit, we got scared. While trying to avoid the other lights and ships we missed the chance sail well in to Kiel without having wind and waves beam on. Which scared us as we were not just to heal and I did not jet know what she could handle. Therefor we needed to change plans – then running dead before the wind in to another marina but with all the city light it’s been impossible for us to see the entrance to it. We blindly trusted and hoped on Navionics and GPS we were on the right track. Only some 20m before the entrance, while realizing we were heading for a wall, where the waves slammed up high, we actually saw the entrance and managed to zoom in to sheltered water whit out being smashed on to the rocks. We managed to tie up in the empty harbor. Happy to have tied up safely. The next morning we been asked to leave the marina as its been middle December and in the great sailing city of Kiel most marinas are closed during the winter. The wind been still strong but with daylight we managed under sail and engine to beat out against the waves and sail in to Kiel. A few days later we went to the Kiel Canal another experience. How a lock keeper and local regulation can be unnecessary complicated and ignorant to a small sailboat like us. Later entering the canal through the lock we have been motoring for two days and getting very close to “big” ships scared us sometimes a bit. Then with time pressure we wanted to leave the canal at night and sailing on to Cuxhaven. Our engine died just as we were granted entrance to the lock. As the weather on the other side been very ruff we decided to sneak into another small harbor just a little up from the lock. A mistake in hindsight, as it got to shallow during low tide, therefor we moored in the middle of the entrance and while it started to snow we and to bed. Me having the alarm to go off a few times that night to go and check if everything is well. The next morning thick fog. But as my co-sailor and I had to go back (home) the day after – we needed to make it to Cuxhaven – due to that we could not leave the vessel in the small closed harbor where we were. We entered our voyage to Cuxhaven up the river Elbe along a major shipping line going in to Hamburg. I had asked my friend to stand a the bow and let me know if he sees something. At one point he said there are Dolphins, I thought he going mad and then there appeared a BIG black wall out of the fog. What a shock a BIG SHIP! I turned the rudder and went sideways. Slowly I realized it must be on anchor. We decided to turn the engine of and sail with the little wind we have zickzack in eye sight of the shore until we got closer to Cuxhaven. Just before Cuxhaven the fog cleared. We managed to motor in to the front of where we had to wait nearly half an hour for the lifting bridge to open. While trying to stay out the way of the bigger offshore vessels and turning in circles not trusting the engine which had already died on us while entering the lock the day before. But we made it and arrived safe to Cuxhaven. My friend did enjoy it and liked it to be on the boat but it seamed to risky for him to continue with me or sailing in general.
Due to all the problem accumulating and people advising me not to sail the North Sea in the winter, this pushed me to the decide to fix up my little boat at one place and not just on the go. I thought it would be quick, just few weeks but I took me six months to leave Cuxhaven.