Sunday 31 August 2014 Marine Wind Forecaster for Sailors

In these times when we often feel we are suffering from information overload, and it is no different for the sailing community, along comes a programme that is really useful. is one of these computer programmes which is extremely useful to all sailors including  cruising sailors. 

PredictWind, a New Zealand development, has been around for a few years now, but it has been continually updated, tweaked and improved with new features regularly added. This today makes it an extremely sophisticated and very accurate programme which whilst it has many many features, it is very user friendly and could become an essential part of a cruising sailors armoury in predicting winds and calculating departure dates, best routes to take etc.

Here are some videos giving you an overview of what the system is capable of:

You can go into their site at and explore. Check out the extensive 'Who's using PredictWind' and you will see many glowing and positive reviews from a large number of world class sailors of all nationalities.

It is available for downloading onto your computer, iPad, iPhone and Android devices.

There is a three tier price structure starting with Basic at $9 / 3months, Standard at $79 / 3 months and Professional at $199 / 3 months. You would need to go to the Standard option for 'Departure Planning' and 'Route Planning'.

There is also a Free option which includes a seven day forecast as part of the package.

PredictWind is included in the top ten most valuable computer programmes for sailors.

You can read more about wind and weather forecasting and conditions in my book 'Sailing adventures in Paradise' downloadable from my website

Sunday 17 August 2014

Sailboat Cruisers s/v 'Bear' Family Update

Our good friends Mark and Yvette along with their daughters Jenefer and Maya are making good time along the English coast in 'Bear' on their voyage home to Florida. Here I reproduce the latest newsletter of their escapades this summer so far:

Hello again. It has been a time since I last posted so there is a lot of catching up to do. Cruising life is by no means just lying around in a hammock!

I left off leaving the storage yard of Weilandt in Fehrman, Germany. We were extremely relieved to be back in the water safely as the shear mass of Bear taxed both the trailer she sat on all winter and the crane that lifted her. She managed the quarter mile roll with one flat tire,
producing a rather precarious starboard lean. Backstay removed to make way for the lifting bridle, the massively overburdened crane lifted her over the seawall and into the water she went. It still boggles my mind to think that thirty tons of steel can float so nicely, even through the air on a twenty- seven and one half ton rated crane. All involved were, needless to say, greatly relieved!
Bear going splash 
Our first stop was the British Kiel Yacht Club, a send from a fellow cruiser from the Cruising Association and not on the general cruising book's radar. It was a well-appointed club with a mess hall, full bar, proper bathtub, as well as full of British soldiers transiting to and from Afghanistan. The club also had a fleet of Halberg Rassey sailing yachts that they used for "R and R". 

The place was a bustle with preparations for the upcoming Kiel Week, the largest sailing regatta, both classic and modern in the area. The club was not foreign to the hubbub of yacht regalia as evident on their walls. There were many photos of peaceful events and from the war, their most famous/infamous visitor, Hitler and his entourage, partaking in the fleet. 

One of the classic yachts remaining at the club was Flamingo, a beautiful 60-ish foot sloop that we were berthed next to. Her sister ship was scuttled at the end of WW II but she was spared and lay pristine next to us, awaiting the Kiel Week festivities.
Classic Yacht Flamingo
We stayed a full week to finish commissioning Bear for the season, putting sails on and delving into repair lists that are perpetual on any boat, let alone one built in 1981 and its third time around the world. Maya and Jenefer helped as well as occupying themselves.

Provisioning was done in our usual fashion; backpack and a dolly with loads of bags strapped on. Bus fare in hand, I performed my societal test on the local culture which consisted of laboriously negotiating my payload to the entrance of the bus. It never fails to bring out the best as I always receive a helping hand both on and off. Conclusion: Courtesy is trans-cultural. 
Jenefer guarding ships stores
Side trips included the City of Kiel to check out the locks that we were heading towards and to Laboe, at the mouth of the Kiel Firth. In Laboe, we toured the U boat 995 which served in WW II and featured in Wolfgang Petersen's seminal film, Das Boot. Mark was tickled because he is quite the WW II history buff. We parted ways and I enjoyed the beach with the girls plus ice cream as he ferreted about the Marine Ehrenmal, which is the War Memorial Museum. It was very worth the time, in his opinion. 
Mark between the torpedo tubes of U995

Maya and Jenefer on a "social" swing set on Laboe beach. The 
kids swing to the center so they can better socialize. 

Classics getting ready for Kiel Week
On July 20th, we motored into the Kiel Canal, our exit point from the Baltic. The Kiel Canal was open in 1895 and extends for 54 miles from Kiel, where the entrance lock is on the east end, to Brunsbuttel, where you exit into the North Sea to the west. Ships up to 235 meters long pass through this "Northsea Canal" regularly to avoid having to transit the hundreds of miles over the top of Denmark. Yachties like us, enjoy the shortcut as well, albeit it a bit intimidating being packed into the locks with these huge walls of metal! 

Maya scoping out the 'Big Boys'
The locks are so massive that there are tiny little floating pontoons that we have to tie up to instead of hooking to the walls themselves. The connection rings where so rusty, they camouflaged into the wet wood, making it challenging for us to locate them until directly underfoot. Ouch! Contrarily, it did make for an easier locking procedure as once attached, there were no lines to move or tend to as we locked through. 
Bear tied up to floating pontoon in Kiel Locks
It is impossible to complete the entire canal in one day so we stopped in the Obereidersee at a town call Budelsdorf. Instead of going to the suggested marina in the town center, we laid up on the long dock of the local yacht club, the BYC. It turned out to be a lovely, inexpensive three-day stopover. The club had loaner bikes so as to stretch our legs, always a plus, and a great BBQ set-up, which we enjoyed. The wind had kicked up and the Soccer World Cup was on in which Germany was performing quite well, two other contributing factors. 
High wind day....hazardous to small children
On the 23rd of June, we cast off and apart from encountering an unusual people mover; a carriage suspended under a bridge, we made our way uneventfully to Brunsbuttel where we locked out to meet the North Sea. 
Locking out at Brunsbuttal into the North Sea
Bear with her family of 'bears' has made it across the Channel and worked her way down the English coast to Dartmouth in Devon. They plan on making it to Falmouth late August for the Falmouth tall ships regatta.

Happy cruising Bears Yvette and Mark
We wish them all the best in their 'adventure of a lifetime' and look forward to the next instalment of their voyage.

You can read much more about the cruising lifestyle in my book 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' downloadable from my website

Sunday 3 August 2014 Changing of the Guard

Sailing industry luminary and personality Nancy Knudson, editor of the online sailing news website these last eight years or so, is moving on to greener pastures. We here at Sailboat2adventure have had an amicable relationship with her from time to time and she has always been most helpful and friendly, and in my experience always over delivered. 

Nancy and I have a connection in that we have both published books about our cruising life exploits and I would have to recommend her book 'Shooting Stars and Flying  Fish' as an essential and thoroughly enjoyable read for all sailors. It is available as an ebook on Kindle or in paperback edition.
Nancy's book 'Shooting Stars and Flying Fish'
Whatever horizons Nancy is sailing toward and over, we wish her and husband Ted all the best for their future.

Life goes on of course and up steps Sail-World's new editor in the form of another very experienced sailor, David Schmidt, who is their current USA editor, hails from Connecticut and currently resides in Seattle. 

By way of introduction we reproduce here in his own words, of his early introduction to sailing and his first post about his new job with Sail-World:
Mike Schmidt
'The mind has a funny way of distorting time. Take, for example, my first big offshore cruise. It was the summer of 1987, I was 11 years old, and my Dad and his buddies had sailed our newly acquired C&C 37 from our home in Connecticut up to Maine's lovely Penobscot Bay, where my Mother, my younger brother and I joined my Dad for a few weeks of cruising. Since my Mom (wisely) doesn't sail offshore, the task of delivering 'Windancer' down south fell to my Dad, two of his buddies and myself.

The years may have slipped astern more rapidly than I'd like to admit, but I can still remember watching my Mom and brother walking up the dock, and the flash feeling of pure child-like excitement and wonder instantly stir-in the pit of my stomach-with pure terror. Sure, I'd sailed outside of the sight of land before, but never at night, with a boatload of relative strangers, or far from my Mother's always-understanding embrace.

In short, I was entering the world of adults, of sailing offshore and of the unknown. And I was least so I thought. 
I must have already settled into my bunk for the night when the winds picked up, progressing quickly from the mid-teens to the upper twenties. Soon, 'Windancer's' IOR-optimized hull shape was bashing and slamming through some nasty square waves and green water started occasionally running down the decks. But just as I got used to the motion, it was time to visit the leeward rail...quickly

Lightning flashed, thunder clapped, and a small, scared little boy dealt with his first real bout of seasickness. I can still remember my Dad's hand on the back of my harness, holding me safe, and the fact that Mike and Richard were both kind enough not to point out that accuracy was also not a strong suit in my first-time dance with seasickness (fortunately, I improved my aim over the years!). Once I had 'recovered' in the cockpit, my Dad handed me a plastic yellow boat mug that was stained with long-forgotten caffeine, piping hot with fresh-brewed coffee. I had my first sip of 'black magic', and the world of offshore cruising immediately seemed a bit less terrifying.

We made landfall the next day in Nantucket via the outside of Cape Cod (and a foggy passage through the Pollock Rip Channel), and I can still remember being plenty excited to find a stationary horizon and a pay phone (remember those?) to call my Mom. But when I got her on the line-oddly enough-I found myself reliving the glories of sailing offshore with the big boys and not the living-color terror of watching lightning illuminate the sail numbers in staccato bursts.

More importantly, Mike, Richard and my Dad chipped in and bought me my first watch cap and my first pair of sailing gloves-proof that I had joined a hard-won club of cruising sailors. [And yes, I still have the now-war-torn gloves and battered watch cap in my closet, proud souvenirs of an important coming-of-age.]

Flash forward several decades and many cruising miles, and I still love sailing at night, a hot drink in hand, watching the stars flicker in the heavens. Experience has taught me how to deal with wind, salt and waves, and I have fortunately learned how to quell my propensity towards mal de mer, but I still get a serious flash of excitement each time the dock lines are slipped and the sight of land fades astern.

These days, the waters of the Pacific Northwest are my home cruising grounds, but I'm careful to make it back to Connecticut a few times a year to go sailing/cruising with my parents. Some family traditions are simply too important to let slip!

As I step into my new role as Sail-World's Cruising editor, I look forward to creating many new great cruising memories, to meeting new friends and to hopefully sharing new adventures with old friends. Mostly, however, I'm acutely aware of the fantastic work that my predecessor (and Sail-World Cruising's founding editor), Nancy Knudsen, put into this position for many years, and of the massive seaboots she's leaving behind for me to fill.

The task is huge, and-much like my first offshore cruise-I'm excited about the experiences that lay over the next horizon.'

We also wish David all the best in his new position and look forward with relish to continue receiving the weekly stream of cruising news we have come to expect. 

Article and images courtesy 

You can read much more about the cruising lifestyle in my book 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' downloadable from my website