Archiv der Kategorie: Current Mission

IncaSailTrail – Privileges of Making a Plan

The IncaSailTrail to the roots of Central and South American History
The IncaSailTrail to the roots of Central and South American History

The people around me are getting impatient. Projects are due to be finished, boats have to get ready to depart. As fall arrives the season will begin. My Fort Myers Beach maintenance summer heads for its end and still the list of undone tasks appears to grow while many projects took and take longer than thought.

It is the privilege of making a plan to put all this aside and to focus on the upcoming episode of Paulinchen Worldwide. We have named it the the IncaSailTrail and it is about this: A journey to the very roots of the central and southern american culture. – Back in time and high in the Andes to ancient Inca towns and to Mayan places on Yucatan.

The trip will start mid to end october from Fort Myers Beach and head out to Cuba, along the Yucatan Chanel and we expect to reach the Panama Canal in Winter to make a passage into the Pacific.

Being there, how can one miss the Galapagos islands, just about ten days off shore from the canal mouth. The place that inspired Darwins theory of evolution, changing the view on life for a whole planet. It will mark the most western extend of this expedition for now that more aims for southern directions and back to the continent. Along the Ecuadorian coast we will reach Peru and Chile.

Extended stops along this path are planned for tanking excursions into the mainland. A training to hike the IncaTrail in April or May.

From there the path will head on to eventually reach one of the most rural and remote parts of this planet. Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost tip of the American continent.

Planing such a trip involves preparation. We need to be self supporting for weeks. More challenging than the practical work on the boat is the theoretical preparation. Besides permissions to hike the Incatrail and to visit certain parks like the Galapagos Islands we also need to do our own research and find historians for the Mayan, Inca cultures and for general central and south american history. People that can help us sorting out the real important places and stories. (In case someone knows someone, we really appreciate you hint!)

In October we are about to leave Florida to Pacific Ocean
In October we are about to leave Florida for the Pacific Ocean

Than some missing equipment, like a new diesel heater had to be found and installed before Paulinchen heads into the cold. A thing that seems to be quite rare on the used parts marked in southern Florida … And finally, after living almost four years mostly off a 55W solar panel a wind generator must be found and placed somewhere on the boat.

So days are getting shorter and the project schedule gets tighter, but hey, isn‘t it good to just have a plan?

Suddenly off balance

„WHEN THE SEVENTH WAVE HIT I WAS UNDER PREPARED…“ is the beginning from a song that  came to my mind a few nights ago while Paulinchen slowly came upright again.

A few gusts in the 20 knot range had been forcasted but clearly I was underprepared. Half way enroute to Key West  60 Miles off shore in a pitch black night.

A broken SSB-Antenna remains on boar a Gulf of Mexico passage off the Florida Coast.
The Antenna remains. – Now about three feet shorter it is back up but does not work as good as before.

Just a minute before I thought about taking at least the second reef out as it calmed down a lot around sunset. Maybe later even switching for the larger genoa. But a wise sailor onece told me to never unreef before the rain stopped for a minimum of 30 minutes and there was  some drizzle falling out of an overcast sky.

The squall rushed in secretly from the dark. No lightling, no thunder. Literally quiet like air. Maybe it held around 30 Knots, more would not surprise me. No time to think no time to grab a weather gear. Paulinchen’s windvane did it’s best job. Feathering the gust, turning windward and just slowly back she gave me the time to open the main sheet and release the jib from a winch half under water.

The wind picked up for another gust that catched the solar panel and flipped it around its mount, ripping off all the screws. – Just one safety pin, that hung loose next to its hole had prevented all of this. Fortunately it fell right in the cockpit. The next crack behind me was not to avoid. The SSB-Antenna broke like a match-stick. But even if maybe unavoidable it has had seen way more wind before, so I must have overseen a crack in it.

Proken solar Panel mount on Paulinchen crossing from Appalachicola to Key West.
Also the Solar Panel will be put back in place by just having a few new holes drilled in the mount. New Boat rule: The pin stays in – even in calmest conditions


The Year 2013, so much fore sure, did start not too good and went pretty bad until now. Time to cut reality out of vision and whish: Neither is Paulinchen nor am I currently in the shape to head to remote places single hand or for weeks off-shore.

There is a long list of postponed maintanance and work put on hold due to „getting forward“ and budget. Often other more importand work had to be done. Maybe a hurrican season would help me to stay put somewhere safe and get things back in shape instead of make me rush again.  By spreading the expenses over some time the pressure might be a little less. But clearly it’s time to rethink, scratch plans, and … maybe just not make a new one for now.

Only one is to find an outboard quickly to get back behind a corner on my own hook to cure the wounds and be able to dinghi ashore to get some some tightness off the lately well overstreched credit card. – And than head on in a better condition.

Trade winds you can’t buy a thing for

Thumbs down. – Looks like I will stay put for another few days. I deverted from heading to Tampa at only one third of the way and cut east to Panama City yesterday. Too strong SE winds, too little progress. They call this wind „trade wind“ but I don’t see much to buy for it. However if I could, yes, I would trade it for anything but southeast and have to admit: I underestimated its strengs and endurance. Thinking of being a big boy who crossed an ocean in my imagination that little up wind sailing did not look that bad. – But bad is the mildest word I used in the last days to describe it.

In general the weather pattern seems exaclty the same as last week and the week before: „WINDS TO GALE FORCE AND RAPIDLY BUILDING SEAS ARE EXPECTED IN THE WAKE OF THE FRONT… THE FRONT WILL WEAKEN AND STALL OVER THE SOUTH EAST GULF SATURDAY.“ (NOAA Forecast from today) Experience tells, it will then lift back north as a warm front on Sunday and back south and back north and so on and so on … Weiterlesen

A schedule for a summer

Even a sailor has a few appointments. And while my calendar fills up quickly this spring, it‘s time to get some antifouling on the bottom of my boat and put her back into the water. Major objective now is to depart within the next two weeks from the US.

I wonder if any of the Loopers I met last year will be around somewhere in southern Bahamas for a reunion on the way. But my guess is that most of them are already making their way back into the Abacos and further north for a cooler summer in Georgian Bay.

Heading though the Caribbean will be an adventure of its own. The route however is unfortunately again aigainst winds and currents.
Heading though the Caribbean will be an adventure of its own. The route however is unfortunately again aigainst winds and currents.

If so, I will be following the quickest route: Straight down to Cuba and southeast along the Coast for about 1600 Miles to the Dominican Republic. Three to four weeks is my estimate for this. But if there is one to meet a gathering will put me closer to what is called the classic „Thorny Path“ (red dotted line), adding another week or two.

Good things first: This way is the way to go for the greatest variety of cultural and sailing attractions. And said that we talk about the „thorns“: Prevailing easterly Winds will slow down the sail an all the routes I plan on. The mor Northeastern my route will be the more the wind will be. And as always there is an appointment to hang on to: Kinga will join me for a vacation in May.

After that I have to make my next appointment in Grenada for some Lobster and a beer on Misty. South enough to be out of the hurrican belt (red solid line). The boat will be hauled out again for a some maintenance and in fall I will quickly head west, following the general route to Panama and jump into the Pacific Ocean.

That by the way is a little new thing I have planned over the winter in Switzerland. I will head along the South American Coast to Patagonia on the pacific. This way I have less current to fight. but going aorund than will bring me back to the atlantic. So I changed the whole plan for turning east from here and head to Australia from the other side. (Updated map)  But that‘s the next adventure.

Oh, and meanwhile: In case anyone has a good working heater for a boat I guess I could need one after leaving the caribbean …

Caribbean pilot chart for april (c) NOAA
Caribbean pilot chart for april (PDF)

For those interested in meteorological details: NOAA provides a set of pilot charts for common winds and currents on the Atlantic Ocean. These charts can be downloaded as PDF-files and give at least a good estimate on what weather and currents are to be expected along a trip: March, April, May, Jun, July, August, September, October, November, December

Current Mission until December 2012: Cruising the US Midwest by boat

Sailing the US Heartland sounds a little uncommon and in fact bridges and Powerlines make it impossible to use the wind to head down for the first part of it. And I am still wondering how many german boats might have ever taken this route after crossing the ocean at all. I know of three (one of them a powerboat that started it‘s trip where I did). So I know I am not the first but at least the attention the flag at Paulinchen‘s stern draws, provides a little insight to the fact that boats from overseas are not too common here.

Heading into downtown chicago by boat on Chicago River
Chicago River takes Paulinchen right through downtown Chicago into the Riversystem

The mast is stepped and Paulinchen has been converted to a powerboat in Chicago to begin traveling the rivers. The Trip startet right downtown Chicago with Lock Number „one“. At least I will refer to „Chicago Lock“ as „Number one“ counting how many I will have to pass until I reach the Gulf Coast. Weiterlesen