One year ago, I was heading for Valencia to start our trip to South Africa....In one month time the next chapter will be opened, departure date from Zurich is December 13, 2017. I'm looking forward to continuing this awesome trip with the planned destination Turkey. One year ago the log was at 16'532 nautical miles.... now it shows 27'811 nm - 11'279 miles in between, these are the hard facts. The soft facts are looking totally different, lots of sunsets, lots of nights, lots of stars, lots of easy sailing, lots of troubles, some dangerous situations, lots of friends, lots of music, apprentice in electric, mechanics, fishing and many other things. Let's count down the days! Lifgun before leaving Valencia in November 2016 displayed in the pic below.
Stop over in Kolding. Since they build right now a new Luffe 45 I'll heading up to Kolding for to check out few things in the delivery room. And for sure to chat with the Luffe crew about improvements they made or I would propose. Last but not least to have a couple of danish beers......
Lifgun survived the storms in Richards Bay - the locals told me, that they had between 70 and 80 knots of wind on the jetty's - which is not fun anymore. Lifgun was healing over almost 40 degrees. Luckily we sorted the mast positions with my neighbor beforehand. So, Lifgun's mast was swinging in between the two mast's of neighbor John's ketch. Only few scratches from the steps and the walkway on the port side of her. Sure we will fix that during the haul out. More will follow up... next stop Kolding.
Lifgun gets new clothes. After struggling sometimes with the Genaker when single handed, I was thinking about a new downwind sail. After research for quite a while and checking out Spinakers, Parasailor and so on - finally I decided to go with the new blue water runner from Elvstrom. Seems to be a reasonable downwind sail and is usable until 130 degrees wind angle. Because it is equipped with a furler, it will work perfectly for shorthanded sailing. The size will be 130 m2 which is a little bit smaller then the Genaker (150 m2) I used in the past. The sail is right now in production and will be shipped within the next two weeks ! More infos here : http://www.elvstromsails.com/da/tech-layline-dk/produktnyheder/item/new-product-blue-water-runner
When we arrived in Richards Bay I discovered that the sail drive oil is contaminated with sea water - the oil was looking like mayonnaise. However it seems that the sail drive sealing/gasket has to be renewed. This will cause a haul out, which is good anyway. Then, the freshwater pump (for the internal cooling circuit) needs also to be replaced. After talking with Volvo in Gothenburg they send me a replacement part. Anyhow the whole engine has now a little bit over 1000 running hours and deserves a special treatment....(that's how I explain such expenses in front of myself...)
Navigation / Electronics
I finally decided to install an additional chart plotter at the navigation desk. The reason for that is first to have a unit in the cabin which is sheltered from the elements (kind of back up thoughts) and second, to hear the alarms even when I'm sleeping or hanging out downstairs. At the same time I will install a digital yacht nmea gateway which will allowing me to overtake data from the Raymarine network directly to the logbook or using different apps on the iPads. I'm wondering if this is working.
Even on land, Lifgun somehow keeps me busy.... more will follow up soon.
September 23, 2017 - 0735 UTC - Zurich (Switzerland)
After a first attempt to leave Cape Town which had to be cancelled because of a not working network switch, the restart took place on Monday around 11.00 UTC. The Raymarine problem was fixed, btw it was the same I had already in Spain, a switch was slightly oxidized was producing a complete fail out of all components.
However after rounding the Cape of good hope and crossing the False Bay the wind was building. Forecast was 25 knots (which remembers me on a post with the title “fuc**** forecasts”) – we ended up with a max. true wind speed of 55 knots which is force 9 , almost 10. My goodness !! 3’th reef in the main way to much sails up. No way, it’s one of the coolest tasks of a sailing boat to take down the main in a force 9 gale, stepping to the mast and try to bring this sail down, in the middle of huge waves and breaking seas. However- finally it was down – driving with seven knots boat speed without sails is always a cool experience…the bow waves spraying forward, a strange view and makes you think about the forces of the nature….
That was the “hello” from the Indian Ocean. At least the technique was working flawless. After 4 hours of fighting the worst was over and the first night continued with endless sail changes. What a start.
From now on the fight with the currents started. The Agulhas current (or Mozambique current) is an east west current which flows with up to 5 knots along the South African shoreline.
The local rule says “ keep as close to the shore that you can smell what the guys having on her braais” – which means stay on the 20 meter deep contour line. This is amazing close to the shore. You see the breaking waves and it’s the worst for a single handed sailor. How to sleep? Anyhow, I managed it to kiss a sand bank and from then on I decided to stay between the 50 and 100 meter deep line. Which costs 1 to 1.5 knot boat speed.
In the meantime the wind is light, which is almost more difficult then strong winds. Right now we approaching Port Elizabeth and the plan is to top up the tanks and then proceed in direction Richards Bay.
Hello from 34.05.482 S / 25.24.408 E9.35 UTC August 3, 2017
It seems that the pulpit should return tomorrow. And hopefully the Hydrogenerator carbon support should be finished today - then Lifgun is ready to leave ! A departure planning calculation done with the predict wind software showed that probably the best slot to leave Cape Town will be Sunday evening. However the weather conditions around the Cape of good hope are very tricky, and the pattern is changing in a very fast rhythm. It will maybe take 6 days under optimal circumstances to reach the Durban area - if the forecast is accurate then at least we should not getting into big storms. So right now we preparing the port clearance which should us allow to leave Sunday night. I'll keep you posted.
Back in Cape Town, since more then one week - and the work is still going on. After changed the cylinder head of the generator, we demounted the old bracket of the hydro generator, then I discovered that because of a damaged O-ring a hatch was leaking. In the mean time the refurbished sails went back and were mounted. Then we figured out that the radar was not working anymore because the power cable was turned into the mast during hoisting the main sail. After the test sailing from Saturday (it was a race from the winter series of RCYC) the bow pulpit was bent. My goodness..... In between we changed the bow navigation light. But over all its amazing what the Capetonians are able to do! Ahh.... and I forgot to mention that we also exchanged the rusty hinges of several cabinets and a not working LED downlight...
Maybe this sounds a little bit wired - but it isn't so bad as it sounds. Overall Lifgun is in very good shape and she is becoming better and better.
Furia was the small sister of Lifgun, a Luffe 37 which was much more cheeky then Lifgun. Everybody knows how small sisters are... They sail further, they sail at least with same speed if not faster.... Furia sunk on June 10 east of Newfoundland in the wild Atlantic. Thanks God the two crew has been saved. At the time she passed away, Furia was leading the twostar race in her category and was the second boat over all. Which is a great achievement for a 37 feet boat. As always we should try to remember the good things - in Furias case this is not difficult. Seems that Lifgun now have to wander alone over the oceans. Fare well Furia.
Heading back towards Cape Town is as predicted awesome hard. Literally it's 1000 nautical miles (1900 km) upwind beating trough the South Atlantic. The first (and always most difficult) 3 days the headwind was between 22 and 32 knots (true wind speed) which means 28 to 38 knots apparent wind, with big swell beating against everything. The boat is hitting the waves every few seconds, huge sprays, huge heel - living on board is almost impossible. To be honest this is the worst possible start into a sailing trip, my stomach is really strong but under such circumstances I also develop some wired feelings in this area - resulting in a lack of eating and drinking (I'd experience a similar situation already when I left Cartagena in Spain and crossed Gibraltar). To make a long story short - it's shit. Right now we crossed the virtual border between Namibia and South Africa - still in the upwind mode. Since Yesterday evening the wind calmed down which allowed me to have a decent dinner and a shower and gave me the opportunity to watch a James Bond as dessert.
In the night from Wednesday to Thursday I lost the hydro generator support...which is a pity but at least I rescued the hydro generator. The support broke away - the price of upwind bashing. Shortly after that I intended to produce water and started the water maker - no pressure (77 psi instead of 90 psi) ...fuck the technique. However I started at 2 am to change the prefilter - no change - finally I start calculating how I can deal with the remaining amount of water until Cape Town, the conclusion was : no showers and save water all over. Next day I was start thinking where the problem could be, finally I ended up with the diagnosis that air must be in the system. Bleeding a water maker ?? Other possible reason might be a partly blocked inlet. After watching the boat for several hours I decided that probably due of the big waves the water maker inlet is when Lifgun is jumping over the waves out of the water and the whole system is sucking air.....yesterday evening under normal conditions the water maker was working again without any complains. What a relieve !
Right now we should have 27 knots of headwind (according to all weather models) - in real we sail with 12 knots comfortable upwind. The models predict 35 knots until Sunday noon - what the fuck should I believe now. It's somehow strange how this forecast's are.
So ... ETA in Cape Town should be Tuesday 4 am.....
Nice Weekend to all from aboard Lifgun. March 18, 2017 / 06.22 UTC / 29.25.849 S 15.44.686 E
Good morning everybody
Drifting in low winds north....in the east a huge fog bank covers the horizon. Out of this fog bank slowly the sun is rising. Listening "The Pogues" on high volume, watching the 20 birds which surrounding Lifgun over and over. Having a first cup of coffee and enjoining the eternity, eating the peaceful atmosphere, greeting the seals.... awesomeness !! Sure, already fixed the broken kicker rope and recognized that the genset is again not working - probably again this fu***** valve gap - no hurry, will take care of this in Walvis ....
Some words about Lüderitz, this is an amazing village, dedicated to the diamonds and sitting in the middle of a dessert. German style architecture and a lot of German influence allover. First evening we went for dinner to Barrels (one outof two restaurants in Lüderitz) and ended up eating Eisbein with Sauerkraut with Namibian Beers (which means German style beer). It was for me (as Swiss) a borderline experience to hae such a meal...but I've survived. And it was one of the best Eisbein I ever had (to be honest : I didn't had many Eisbein so far...). Next day I was trying to solve my braai problem (braai is bbq in Africa), the problem was since I bought this Magma braai (which is a dedicated marine braai) the valve is somehow not weather proof and somehow to complicated (let say build in american way to avoid any insurance claim - i.e it should be not possible for a 3 months old baby to open the gas valve and so on...) - anyway I bought a standard gas cooking connector in the supermarket which I completely demounted until only the valve was left over, then a hose and then I needed a connection to the braai which was gas proof. At Udo's car repair shop i discussed this with a guy who was considering that this is something I will not find in the whole word, but he can solder me something. Finally he soldering on a nut with 20mm diameter a gas nippel and the problem was solved. Guys - this is awesome craftsmanship - and it was for free (don't worry I was donating some money for beers and so) ! However my next problem was that my Torqeedo out boarder (its a electrical one) battery was only chargeable with 240 power, there was a small computer store around the corner and this guy was selling me the most amazing charging adapter I ever saw - now im able to charge my engines battery with 12 Volts out of the lighter socket and my dyson vacuum cleaner with 12 Volts also out of the lighter socket. Since yesterday I'm completely independent from 240 V power - these are great news at least for me !
So the conclusion about Lüderitz is "When German style meets African culture " - a little bit quirky - but fun !
Still drifting with two knots direction north.....wishing everybody a nice day !
24.15.647 S / 14.08.663 E - 06.19 UTC - March 02, 2017
Good morning Folks !
After two nights sailing the sea legs are back an we are in routine again. The funny thing about this trip is, that I'm sailing more or less close to the cost line, but the feeling is the same as it was in the middle of the ocean. Huge swell, no traffic (and no means no...), some birds and us. However I've slept a lot to recover from the Cape Town stay and we driving with around 7 knots direction north. 250 nm to go for Lüderitz. Wind force 5 and blues sky. I'm completely happy that everything is working aboard Lifgun. The Radar is awesome - weight only 5 kg...which means we saving again 4 kg in the rigg. But the most amazing thing is the new autopilot. The heading sensor is a (I think) 8 axis giro which interprets the swell movement much more precise then the one before. I estimate that the rudder movement has been reduced by 40 % - and this means less power consumption and less use of the hydraulic steering arm. I'm really pleased. To be out here also gives me the opportunity to reflect over our Cape Town stay. The funniest thing happened on the last evening. I was invited to the Cape Town Comedy Theater, they are dedicated to standup comedy - something we rather not know in continental Europe. I was standing there and was zipping on my beer, the comedian was in a big fight with a spectator in the first row which was a middle aged Brit. Extremely funny....suddenly he was shouting in my direction and asked me why I'm standing on my table and not (like everybody else) were using my chair (it was one of this high bar tables)....however he asked me from were I am and I answered from Switzerland. He was looking at me and replied : Cool somebody from Swaziland (whole croud were laughing). He called me to the stage and we were producing some 10 minutes together standup comedy. It was extremely funny. However after that there was a public vote for the spectator of the evening (measured by the noise of the croud) ....guess what : I won :)) - 2 tickets for the Cape Town Comedy Theater ! On the way to the car everybody was saying - Good night Swaziland or good night Switzerland to me....outstanding. Things sometimes just working out completely different then we think in the beginning. So... if you have a chance to visit this theater -> please go ! It's something which is (especially for us Swiss) a very curative experience. And its far beyond what we know as "Cabaret".
In this tradition I wish everybody a funny weekend :-))
February 25, 2017 07.15 UTC - from 31.03.134 S / 15.59.333 E
Good morning Guys
After sailing I don’t know how many miles down here it needed just some 35 nautical miles to be in one of the most amazing spots I’ve ever been. Up the west cost un suddenly you find your self in the middle of whales, not one whale …no….let’s say around 20. Feels like to be in Kruger National Park but on sea…beside the whales there were seals and dolphins. If you ever have a chance to sail up there …do it ! After leaving Royal Cape Yacht Club I was enjoying to watch natures home made video until it gets dark. During this time we tested the new systems (especially the auto pilot) which is sailing in a amazing way compare to the „old“ one. I was also happy to produce my own water again, Cape Town is suffering under level 3b water restrictions, which means that for example in the Yacht Club only twice a week for an hour was water available…..and somehow I was never keen to drink this water. 2 hours after dawn we were sticking in the strongest fog I ever saw…I even went to the bow to check if the position lights are working because I was not able to recognize anything from the cockpit…whole night with shifting winds but the south eastern should start in a couple of hours….
Enjoy your day ! From 32.46.607 S / 17.46.427 E / 06.10 UTC / February 24, 2017
Sorry Folks for the long silence ! But it was a busy time here in Cape Town. I thought that I should deliver some stats from the trip down to Cape Town :
Total nautical miles sailed : 8’192
Total time spent sailing : 50 days
Diesel consumption in total : 220 liters
Average speed : 6.9 knots
Broken gear :
Hydro Generator support
Auto pilot linear drive
Lost gear :
Lots of lures
1 Winch handle
Medical problems :
8 days before I arrived in Cape Town a slight pain started in the right shoulder. After being here it became worse and worse… since I’m here i was visiting the Chiropractor 5 times and still suffer under extrem pains. After doing a X-ray today I wait for final diagnosis - but for sure a nerv is blocked. The reason for all this was a wrong sleeping position during the trip (Chiro guy is somehow a sailor too). See attached pic to learn how a correct sleeping position looks. Further plans will be published soon !
Enjoy your weekend ! Cape Town February 3’th 2017 - 17.24 UTC
Good morning Folks
Wow - this was a great night. Roaring down SE with 20 knots of wind. True wind angle 150 degrees, full main, full Code zero, auto pilot on response level 9 - to make a long story short - under full steam. What we are doing right now is to surround a high which is placed in the north of us. In the southern hemisphere the highs turning anti clockwise. We started Yesterday noon with north westerly winds, now we are in westerly and this afternoon and tomorrow the wind should shift to south western and then to south and finally to south east. Speeds between 8 and 9.5 knots and full pressure on everything. I'm absolutely excited about the code zero, it's amazing how this sail is working even with 20 knots of wind and waves. Lifgun was roaring and I was sleeping. And we are faster then the routing was predicting (my polars in the routing are from a SWAN 46), in fact I'm always sail a race against my virtual partner on the computer (greetings to IDEC Sport :-) - tonight I won. The only disadvantage is that we due this detour have to eat more miles. But at least it's fun. My VMG is not very good, but this will also change as soon as the wind is turning. Better to make more miles then to stick in a calm. At 07.00 UTC the new weather data is ready to download - then we will see how the next and almost last chapter of this story is looking.
Enjoy your Sunday ! 37.21.470 S / 11.07.597 E - Sunday January 22'th / 06.21 UTC
Once again Lifgun and I sticking in a calm some 500 miles in front of Cape Town. Nothing to change on this situation. We will slow down and try to escape over a southerly route which brings us maybe a little bit of wind.
This means some detours and some extra miles but the finish is near and I'm looking forward to berth in Cape Town. Boat and crew are okay - still some food around and still some wine here.
As on a golf round sometimes you wish the game is over after 16 holes - same situation here - so close and although so far away !
Sailing with code zero and full main lets try to gain some miles.
Nice weekend to All from 36.03.446 S / 8.44.668 E / January 21'th - 07.47 UTC
Since long I was wondering what exactly the skills of these guys who's driving single handed around the world have to be. Anyway - om my 44'th day alone in the Atlantic I think I can give a meantime conclusion :
a.) You have to know the behavior of your boat extremely well, in fact you have to feel it.
b.) You must be in the position to identify the crucial parts on your boat and therefore have the right spares aboard - this means that you have to have an extended experienced in sailing with your boat in every condition even in condition which you (probably) never meet during your trip.
c.) You have to be a former dinghy sailor - I believe in the fact that this is the most important point. Only as a dinghy sailor you've learned what exactly are the forces and what a boat is capable to afford - and only in a dinghy the equation : action equals reaction and vice versa is learnable.
d.) You have to have a stable psychic condition and trust in your self and you have to be able to focus on your self and the state of your body.
e.) You must be able to focus on a goal and never loose this goal out of the eyes.
f.) You need the soul of an engineer - to deal with all technical stuff and energy matters on board.
g.) You have to believe in the fact that after some bad days also some good days following up !
h.) You have to love your boat and you have to trust your boat.
IF A - H ARE FULFILLED THAN IT'S GREAT FUN ! THEN YOU SHOULD GO OUT AND SAIL.
Nice evening to All from 36.12.961 S / 0.40.745 E / January 18'th 2017 / 16.41 UTC
This have been tough 24 hours. The wind was strengthen since yesterday evening from SE. However - in the middle of the night @ 03.00 UTC the 3'th reef was in, an hour later the genua was not longer up. In the morning the wind eased reef out, genua out. Then at 10.00 UTC the cold front passed us - 40 knots of wind, heavy rain and fucking cold temperatures. So 3'th reef in again, genua away. This everything with heavy swell. Shortly after that the wind turned (as usual) within seconds from SE to SW - but still 35 knots. A gyibe was necessary. Since then we are on the port bow. Cross seas with about two to three meters established - which is not really fun, especially for to auto pilot. Now it's 16.00 UTC and the wind should slowly turn to south and the force should decrease to 20 -25 knots.
The point is that between 18 and 30 knots of wind you always have to adapt the full sail clothes. Below 18 you can go with full sails and over 30 knots you are almost on minimal sails. the difference are just the waves - what I'm trying here is to sail under a much as possible pressure - but I have to respect the capability of the auto pilot and the safety of the ship. And sometime (specially at night) we slow down a little bit just to minimize the amount of maneuvers. So...that's how it is out here - and I'm glad that I'm still 2 degrees away from the 40'th latitude. because these moving low pressure systems not really making things a lot easier. And that's what I'm fighting here.
The diesel generator stopped working and after the hydro generators support hinges broke away I really had a serious energy problem. Because to charge the batteries by the main engine just needs to much fuel. But in the meantime I was able to repair the support, for the moment baby hydro is working again. If this situation is stable until tomorrow night, the whole situation is under control. If not ....we will see.
Right now we have to travel a little bit more then 1'000 nm - maybe a little bit less. Let's keep going !
Greetings from 37.29.454 S / 2.21.796 W - January 17'th 16.37 UTC
It's grey down here. Unbelievable grey. Sometimes light grey, sometimes dark grey. And foggy. And rainy. And cold. And humid. But we are running under steam again. With 90 degrees true wind angle and big heel. And with 8 to 8.5 knots of speed. The best place right now is down in the berth under the covers. Last night we passed the Island of Tristan Da Cunha within 3 miles. I saw nothing, no light, no island - nothing. Only grey spray out of the fog. At least the good news are that we now heading east. And the distance to Cape Town is now probably below 1500 nautical miles. The routing predicts a estimated time of arrival at Monday January 23'th in the evening. Let's wait and see if this is true. Temperature during the night is around 13 degrees and raises during the day up to 19 degrees. Under deck its somehow wet and cold but better then on deck. Right now we sail with NE'erly winds and they should turn in the next days to NW - no storms ahead but some periods with 30 knots of wind. But we will survive. The hydro gen was saying good bye last night. Broken support. No way to repair. God thanks I almost didn't use fuel until today so I shouldn't have problems to keep the batteries up. The generator also makes problems but I didn't started to investigate why. A boat is an ongoing building site. So, let's keep moving on !
Hello to everybody from the grey ! 37.48.933 S / 11.10.070 W / January 15 - 09.56 UTC
Just discovered first Albatross at 35 degrees south. Big birds. In the meantime I was fighting with some defects. First of all one of the two steering cables broke. That means that until CT only one wheel is working. Not a big deal but somehow not ideal - no backup anymore. Then hydrogen socket broke. I had a replacement on board but is so tiny to connect the wires wit that plug and it have to made with solder. I have a soldering iron on board, but to solder in the middle of the ocean is not really easy...the quality was rather poor. Therefore I finally decided to make a direct connection to the batteries which is so far working wonderful. It seems that we need another ten days to reach CT. And the weather predicts a route which goes down to around 38 degrees south. Knocking on the roaring forties :-) and it also seems that wind is increasing from day to day. But not that bad angles. Still sailing (since days) with full Main and Code zero. The mood is good and I've seen blue sky's for all my life. No rain since the doldrums !
Wish you all a great weekend from 34.27.864 S / 14.27.428 W January 13'th 2017 / 11.29 UTC
That's what the leader of the Vendée Globe 2016/2017 was saying....I agree 100 % with him. The high pressure system is producing all the time a lot of small new highs which makes it almost impossible to find a way trough. Very slow winds and huge wind shifts makes the situation not predictable. But in general the situation is easy - I have to sail south-east and no other choice than to to that. Right now the routing says that we need another 12 day for to reach Cape town. That means ETA is around January 23 - which is not so bad, the original idea was to use 30 days for to reach Cape Town. Now it seems that it will take 33 days. The mood on board is good and in the meantime I accepted the wind situation and the fact that there is now way to change it. According to the wind forecast the situation should become better within the next two days and then the daily progress should also return on a normal level - which means between 170 and 190 miles per 24 hours.
So, let's keep fighting ! Greetings from 31.46.450 S / 017.56.380 W - January 11'th 2017 / 08.32 UTC
Today it's 20 days since we left Mindelo. Sneaking trough the south Atlantic Ocean. With 10 knots of wind, full mainsail and code zero hoisted. This equals around 7 knots of boat speed..but if I look on the chart I feel somehow like sticking since days in the same area. I think before we not reached the Islands of Tristan Da Cunha nothing really will change on this situation. It's really a tough fight with miles and the high pressure systems down here. It seems that the move more or less parallel to us. And the routing indicates more and more southern routes for to catch the westerly winds. Outside it's full covered sky and a huge swell. I think around 7 Meters waves but with a distance (top to top) from about 400 meters. So you not really feel it, but it goes up and down all the times. No animals, no birds, no fish on the rod, no dolphins, no whales. Amazing and kind of test for your own psychic condition. The boat is fine, amazing fine... and she goes as fast as possible. No accusation in her direction.
Let's try to focus on Cape Town and try to figure out what happened out there to divert myself a little bit.
Enjoy your week ! Sent from 30.00.662 S / 21.27.246 W - January 9'th 2017 - 11.30 UTC