Back in business

This summer, I plan on sailing Kvark to Sweden. Starting from the westernmost tip of Estonia and finishing the first leg in Gotland, Sweden.

Kvark will do about 7-8 km/h in 10 m/s side wind. Total course length when drawn with a ruler is 210 km. When considering tacking, one multiplies this number with square root of two (from the diagonal length of a square), getting 296 km. Sailing time will therefore at worst be 43 hours(!). One would hope that winds are favorable and a single tack will suffice. Then we’re talking a mere ~32 hours sailing. For reference, we sailed to Finland in ~15 hours.

This leg from Hiiumaa to Gotland can take up to 42 hours when sailing with Kvark! That is.. intimidating.

This duration raises some issues:

  • Getting rest;
  • Being visible to tankers;
  • Eating warm food;

The first point combines well with the second. You cant keep watch when you are sleeping. And you cant sleep with nobody holding the tiller.

Self steering? Kvark is very difficul to trim, she wants to turn windward. She would benefit from moving the center of effort forward. I’m thinking of adding a bowsprit to bring the foresail effort forward. I’m also thinking of an electric autopilot, though these cost. Or simply take along a friend.

As for visibility. I will be adding lights to the boat. A 135 deg white light to the stern and a combined greed-red light to the bow. I could simply do away with a mast-top 360 deg white light, however I would have to run a cable from the top of the mast and this would all add weight above the waterline. She definitely does not need more weight in the mast, as she is wobbly enough already. I was thinking of changing masts for a lighter one. Different topic!

A radar reflector would also do good. However I have read that the “tube” variants are not very effective. There is a pretty decent review of the different types here. They should, however, be more effective than nothing at all. Again, my issue is that I want to add no weight to the mast. An active radar reflector would be cool, however this will cost.

I think I will try to find someone to join me on the trip. Then we can change keeping watch, steer the boat and keep an eye out for tankers.

Warm food will be the simplest task to solve. This means simply buying a gas stove and putting it on a gimbal. For this, there is space inside.

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9 Responses to Back in business

  1. Yves Eugenson le Scour says:

    God dag ! Saarema – Gotland 212 km is a bit longer than a Channel crossing between Brittany or Frankrike to Cornwall or to England. From Saint-Brieuc (Brittany) to the center of Lyme Bay, may be 250 km, the larger crossing. From Saint-Brieuc to Weymouth circa 210 km too. From my place, Guisseny (west Brittany) to the Cap Lizard (Cornwall) 170 km only. I think the maritime traffic in the Channel is more important than in the Baltic sea, but… one boat is enough. So, your project is more ambitious than a Channel crossing. Not bad !

    • Uku says:

      Hello Yves,

      Thank you for the comment. Putting it that way (channel crossing), this plan sounds much more grand! My feeling is that the way back will be a lot more difficult than the way there. When you sail there, there is the anticipation. Getting back home, a different kind of anticipation.

  2. Gregory G. Campbell says:

    What is the length of your mast? What material is it? I could not find info in your blog

    • joosep says:

      Hi Gregory,

      We currently use a spare aluminium mast from an old DN-class ice boat, which should be around 4.9m, plus ~10cm for the mast foot. Uku might have a more accurate measurement. The original plans by John Welsford list 5550mm for the overall mast length.


      • Gregory G. Campbell says:

        Where are you thinking of sourcing a mast and what weight are you looking for?

        • Uku says:

          Hello Gregory,

          I was thinking of building the mast myself from carbon fiber. It will take a bit of thinking as you need to align fibers, strengthen strategic sections, make a leech track and whatnot. It sounds a bit too much for this season, however remains an interesting plan. I’m unsure of the weight, as I do not know how much the current mast weighs.

      • Gregory G. Campbell says:

        ”sailing wave rover ‘ videos on YouTube for diy Wind activated Self steering gear very cool video instructions and inexpensive

      • joosep says:

        Self-correction: the mast is 5.6 m, with the sail going up to 5.2 m. The boom is at around 87 cm from the mast shoe.

  3. Lachlan Wilson says:

    I found when cruising around SE Asia in a very small yacht, the best method of alerting cargo ships of my presence was flashing a pencil laser over the bridge a few times as often he cannot see you on the radar especially if it is a boisterous night. Once he had my position he would come up on the VHF acknowledging my existence.

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