sailing innovation anyone?

It’s about time I wrote about sailing again. There is too much going on in our world that could drive the best of us into depression. So back to the good stuff.


One tiny, wincy, incy bit I am missing in sailing is innovation. What I mean is that other than some different sail and hull materials not much has happened in sailing or boatbuilding over the last 20 years really. Yes, some foilers, a bit of carbon here and there but in principal …nope.

Well some. Here we go.

Electric engines
When Elon Musk came up with his Tesla Roadster the first thing that came to my mind was: hang on, this would be ideal for a sailing boat. I am talking about the electric engine. It has only taken 12 years (2008 was the year the electric roadster was introduced) to put some (working) electric engines into boats. Why?

I totally get it that people initially get a bit scared when they think of the water/electricity combination. However, an electric engine will even operate underwater if properly insulated. Not to mention the low weight, advantages of maintenance, ease of operation, longevity, power ratio and above all no fossil fuel. It can be charged via solar cells or, what some people do, via generator as a back up (which obviously still uses diesel). But that’s more relevant for long-distance and blue water cruising.

For any weekend sailing boat (which is about 85% of the global market) an electric engine charged via shore power and topped up via solar will do just fine. This is a long topic so I’ll write more about electric engines in a separate blog post but this is one development that falls under the category innovation. By the way, there is still not one sailing boat builder out there that offers an electric engine as an option!

Couple of links for you with regards to electric engines:

Oceanvolt: a Finnish electric boat motor manufacturer
Torqueedo: electric outboards
Belmarine: electric inboard motors
Electric Marine: e-motor boats

The flipper folding winch handle is a masterpiece of engineering. I have had the pleasure of using one these on a recent sailing trip and once we found our boat I will buy these for all winches.

These winch handles stay in the winch at all times and fold to the approximate dimension of a winches diameter – solving two problems at once. First of all, you can easily wrap a jib sheet around the winch without having to remove the handle first, and secondly, you greatly reduce injury from falls or sudden shifts that result in a handle to the rib cage. More importantly in a racing environment, you save heaps of time for not looking for the winch handle and sticking it into the winch.

On top of that, you can fold the whole winch handle flat which gives you greater leverage when trimming the sails.

Clutches and jammers
Spinlock’s XTX is a new rope clutch that uses pressure from a fibre sleeve to hold the rope, which is much less abrasive and reduces the damage to lines drastically when compared to metal or ceramic clutch cams. More pressure means more friction and the XTX actually grips better the higher the load.

The sleeve also distributes the load across a longer section of rope to reduce wear.

All clutch adjustment is handled with one pull toggle and a button, located at the back of the jammer. When the button is down, the rope will move freely in one direction, but lock if the direction changes. Pulling the toggle slightly allows for short, controlled bursts of rope to be released. The clutch is easy to maintain without removing it from the deck. Taking off the rear cover allows the whole braid mechanism to be removed in one piece. You can then inspect it, clean it and make sure everything is in order before re-assembling. The whole process takes less than 30 seconds.

Well, let’s agree any antifouling paint isn’t the most environmentally friendly paint you can put on a boat. Most antifouling bottom paints contain cupreous oxide which is a neurotoxin. It constantly leaches into the water around your boat, creating a plume. … Other neurotoxins used in the past have been banned worldwide because of their destructive effects on marine life. So not too good at all. On top of that, depending on where you keep your boat you’ll have to renew the paint once a year. Which in turn means hauling your boat ($) and the whole process of reapplication ($$$).

Rik Breur is the inventor of Micanti Antifoul film. The film has millions of tiny fibres or hairs on the foil and are resilient and vibrate constantly by the water movement. This combination of prickliness and swaying of the fibres makes the surface unattractive for organisms to settle. The nylon fibres are similar to the spiky hairs that organisms have to combat fouling. With Micanti Antifouling, it is possible to prevent all sorts of macro-growth (think of mussels, barnacles, algae) from settling. Apparently it lasts up to 10 (!!!) years and is 100% environmentally friendly. It doesn’t contain any toxic ingredients. the film is a nylon fibre, polyester film and two-component water-based adhesive.

Some user feedback (sold under finsulate brand which is the same)

As always would love to hear your views 🙂

sailing downloads

I have always had quite a few templates, files and other nifty electronic files that I kept handy for sailing trips, boat maintenance and more.

I have now started uploading these documents to my site and added a section “downloads” in support of everyone who might need them. All downloads are free.

You’ll find useful Excel templates that can help you with your sailing boat budget, printables such as Mayday cards, and even free eBooks that will work on your iPad or kindle.

I have only just started and will be adding more files and templates so sign up to my newsletter if you like to receive updates.

wilfried erdmann

In 1987 I met Wilfried Erdmann. I was 15 at that time and he had come to my hometown to give a talk about his 1984 to 85 non-stop, solo circumnavigation from west to east with the prevailing winds with his boat Kathena Nui in 271 days. I don’t really remember why I went to this event I only remember that I went there by myself.

Winfried Erdmann is the first German sailor who sailed across the world alone. Because of the size of his boat, nobody in Germany believed him first. Erdmann was able to give proof of the visited ports of call, though.

Later he would go on to spend his honeymoon with his wife Astrid on a 1011-day long journey (69 to 72), which eventually became his second circumnavigation. Having sold Kathena, his first boat, they traveled with his second boat Kathena 2. From 1976 to 1979 another journey to the South Pacific with his wife and his 3-year-old son Kym. 1984 to 1985 the solo circumnavigation he presented in his talk and in 1989 he did two Atlantic crossings with winners of a contest of German magazine Stern.

In 2000 to 2001 another non-stop, solo circumnavigation from east to west (contrary to the prevailing winds) with Kathena Nui in 343 days. He was the fifth sailor worldwide doing such a journey.

Needless to say he is quite a hero in the sailing world and I have felt inspired by him and his journeys. Partly because of the event in my youth did I start sailing. Being the youngest at the event he asked me to come to join him on the stage. He asked me if I liked sailing and I said, sure but had never been on a real sailing boat.

Following that another sailor in the audience spoke up and offered to take me and a friend on his boat in the Med for a trip. A few months later I joined Willy (who had offered the trip) on his boat and we sailed the Med. Coincidentally we he had his boat in Alicante the exact same place where Wilfried Erdmann had started his first circumnavigation! Another coincidence I only found out today is that I share the birthday month with him. On the 15th of April Wilfried Erdmann turned 80. Happy Birthday – you are an inspiration!

Wilfried Erdmann books (in German)

Wilfried Erdmann Website (German)

great barrier reef bleaching

In my previous post I briefly mentioned the most recent bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.

A few people reached out and asked what that actually means. Happy to give you more details on this. Firstly, it’s not good news at all.

Corals are thermally sensitive, meaning that they can only tolerate small temperature ranges. However, climate change is causing abnormally high sea-surface temperatures, which is causing corals to bleach during summer months. The intensity of coral bleaching increases as temperatures become hotter.

Zooxanthellae are tiny, colourful marine algae, which live inside corals, providing them with much of their colour and, most importantly, their primary supply of energy. However, if the surrounding sea temperature becomes too warm, the algae die.

The loss of these zooxanthellae is what is referred to as ‘coral bleaching’.

Why are corals so important other than that they are nice to look at? Healthy coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and economically valuable ecosystems on earth, providing valuable and vital ecosystem services. Coral ecosystems are a source of food for millions; protect coastlines from storms and erosion; provide habitat, spawning and nursery grounds for economically important fish species; provide jobs and income to local economies from fishing, recreation, and tourism; are a source of new medicines, and are hotspots of marine biodiversity.

This year, the Great Barrier Reef — the world’s largest reef system, spanning more than 344,400 square kilometers — suffered its third major bleaching event in the last five years. Previous ones took place in 2016 and 2017, with the 2016 event considered the most severe.

However, this year’s bleaching is proving to be the most extensive. A group of researchers has just updated the latest 5 year projection for the Great Barrier Reef from poor to very poor.

There’s really no time to lose to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the Australian government is not pulling its weight in that regard. Which is quite astonishing in itself as 70% Australia’s GDP is coming from the services sector within which tourism is a large proportion.

Weird, don’t you think?

Let me know in the comments what you think.

chasing the dream?

What’s your dream? What do you enjoy doing? What life are you living?

If you are a parent, what do you want for your kids? Picture the day they walk out of your home as grown-ups – what do you want them to look back at, and more importantly, will you have managed to give them everything they need to live their adult lives?

Do you enjoy getting up everyday at the same time, hopefully have breakfast with your loved ones, then make your way to what ever you do for a living, 8-10 hours later you touch down at home (if), have dinner, spent some time doing something (kids, hobby, reading etc (hopefully)) then rinse repeat x 5 interrupted by weekends x 52 x your life expectancy – The End?

Oh, not to forget the one or two times you have a 10 days break per year to “recharge your batteries” and then back to rinse and repeat?

So, again: What’s your dream? What life are you living? Is it your dream life? Do you enjoy what you are doing?
Love to hear what you think.


I recently finished a book by Richard Eyre – The Happiness Paradigm. Don’t want to go into too much detail but there is a part about serendipity as an alternative to control (ie. control everything in your life to be happy that is).

Serendipity is often defined as fate or luck or something good happening to you by pure luck. It is a bit more than that.

Serendipity does not come from Latin or Greek, but rather was created by nineteenth-century author Horace Walpole after having read the ancient fable called the 3 princesses of Serendip (now Sri Lanka!)

In the fable the 3 princesses search for fortune but through their awareness and perception they discover love, truth and opportunities to help others and realise they got more than they intitally were looking for.

Walpole realised there was no word in the English language that expresses that happy ability to find things that are better than what we were looking for – so he made up the word serendipity.

So it’s not just luck but the fact that you are exploring that will lead you to something much better 🙂

tobi & mobi dee – the book

For the last two years I have been working on my next book. It looks like it will be ready to be published in April or May this year.

Sign up for my newsletter if you like to receive a notification once the book is about to be published.

Tobi & Mobi Dee – The Secret of the Arctic Ice – is a story about a young sailor Tobi and his best – whale – friend Mobi Dee. The two were born at the same time and have been traveling the Seven Seas ever since. While Tobi lives on his sailing boat SV Rainbowchaser, Mobi Dee swims along during their adventures.

Through a magic event in his childhood Tobi speaks “whalish” and is able to communicate with his best friend.

In this book Tobi and Mobi Dee get a request for help from their friend Franz, a one-tonne walrus, who lives in the Arctic Circle. Franz is worried about the amount of Ice that keeps on disappearing around his family home.

This is not just a story about two friends and their adventures but aims to educate young readers as they follow the story. Kids will learn about sailing, wind, weather and ocean related terms and are immersed in a story that uncovers climate change related issues and solutions.

The book is the result of bedtime stories I told my own kids that were deliberately spiked with some real life sailing and climate knowledge.

the big sail

Got up this morning at 3:45am. Shower and kiss the family (boys asleep – love you boys). Fastest Uber drive to Syndey domestic terminal 2. No traffic at 4:30am 👍

Was a bit anxious about my life vest which was in the check-in luggage. It has a CO2 cartridge and is considered as “dangerous goods” under aviation laws.

I had two options. Not to tell them and hope for the best or tell them and then go through all the nonsense procedures (call manager, get dangerous goods slip and so on)

Keep in mind these CO2 cartridges are the exact same cartridges all planes carry under the seats in the onboard life vests.

What can I say I am not good at lying so when lovely “Jenny” asked me “do you have any of these dangerous goods in your luggage (pointing at the poster) I gave in. Only 35min later I was able to go to the gate. First Jenny had trouble finding the right phone number, then I had to unpack the vest, show them, pack again, another call, manager arrives…anyway I spare you the rest. I made it. Next time I won’t say a word. Promise.

After touching down at Melbourne Avalon the airport presents itself with what must be the worlds smallest luggage claim. Very sweet.

Continued on the Skybus (24$ one way) to Melbourne CBD. Turns out the bloody bus takes longer from the airport to city center than the whole flight from Sydney to Melbourne 😳 Note to self. Fly to Tullamarine next time.

Arrived at Skipper’s house met everyone and then dropped off all our luggage at the boat. Fixed a few things and in general prepped the boat for our big sail to Sydney.

Evening passed quickly and we had an early night.

the big trip

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.

On Monday I’ll be flying to Melbourne and then sail from the Port of Melbourne back to Sydney.

Continue reading “the big trip”

sv rainbow chaser

As you know we are currently searching for the right boat for us. Our favourite is a Beneteau 57. As with all bigger purchases in life this is about compromising and considering all sorts of options such as affordability, space, seaworthiness and so on.

Continue reading “sv rainbow chaser”

vlogs – individuals sailing the world

I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude – Henry David Thoreau

I just put together a collection of sailing-related vloggers and split these into 3 posts – families, couples and individuals. You can find the other vlog posts here.

Continue reading “vlogs – individuals sailing the world”

vlogs – couples sailing the world

Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand. – Emily Kimbrough

I just put together a collection of sailing-related vloggers and split these into 3 posts – families, couples and individuals. You can find the other vlog posts here.

Continue reading “vlogs – couples sailing the world”

vlogs – families sailing the world

The memories we make with our family is everything.” Candace Cameron Bure

I put together a collection of sailing-related vloggers and split these into 3 posts – families, couples and individuals.

You can find the other vlog posts here.

Continue reading “vlogs – families sailing the world”

sailing knowledge vlogs

“Learn as though you would never be able to master it; hold it as though you would be in fear of losing it.” – Confucius

As part of my blue ocean family cruising research, I come across some valuable resources in the form of YouTube vlogs.

Continue reading “sailing knowledge vlogs”

sailing for the planet

The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will safe it – Robert Swan OBE

Boris Hermann is a German offshore racing sailor who has set his eyes on becoming the first German to compete in the Vendée Globe in 2020.

The Vendée Globe is a single-handed (solo) non-stop yacht race around the world without assistance. Basically this means if you participate in this race you are putting your life on the line. 

Continue reading