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Sail Tips and Tricks

How to afford a sailboat and become liveaboards

You have been dreaming about setting sail to remote destinations? To leave it all behind you and start living on a sailboat between dolphins and turtles? You would prefer waking up to the sounds of waves splashing against your sailboat instead of the sounds of cars and busses? No worries we got you covered on how to afford a sailboat and become liveaboards!

Many of you have been asking us, how we managed to start our life on a sailboat. How did we afford our sailboat? How did we leave behind land life and become liveaboards 🙂

We know we know, from outside it might look like we won the lottery, or have very rich parents, or just robbed a bank! But no nothing like that. Instead, we dreamed of it, worked for it, and did it!

sailing couple

In the beginning, the questions felt very overwhelming. When we decided to become liveaboards and start living on a sailboat we did not follow any predefined process. We just went step by step and we still do. But we took the time, looked back on our story and today we proudly present: 4 steps we took and everybody should take to become liveaboards!

Step 1 – Sailing license and experience

This might seem obvious, but sometimes we forget it’s the starting point of it all. A sailing license, but in specific sailing experience is very important of you want to be living on a sailboat.

You do not need to be an expert or have sailed an incredible amount of nautical miles, but you need to feel comfortable onboard. You should know how to behave on a sailboat, where to put your hands and feet. Feel comfortable sleeping, eating and moving around on board. You should feel prepared to handle all the different situations you will encounter when living on a sailboat.

This is why we think sailing experience is so much more important than a sailing license. While the sailing license gives you the basis to handle a boat and is necessary to get good insurance, sailing experience does give you the confidence to sail the boat, to dock it properly, to be able to react when situations get more tricky. And believe us you will encounter a lot of different situations while living on a sailboat.

Now we were no experts when we moved on for.tuna and still have a lot to learn, but we both had multiple weeks of sailing on our backs. Especially Michael who did the RYA sailing license also participated in Regattas to get a deeper understanding of sailboats and how to react in a difficult situation. Your life is depending on it, so take the time to get enough confidence on board to learn while you go.

How to get sailing experience?

Many of you have been asking us how to get sailing experience so here our best ideas so far:

  • Work as a crew on charter boats
  • take part in sailing regattas
  • book a day sail experience
  • book a sailing week
  • go sailing with friends who already have sailing licenses
  • charter a sailboat 

Personally, we especially treasure our charter experience. It was the first time Michael was the skipper of a boat and we both could get a real feeling of how it would be like to be living on a sailboat. And well it’s still the best way to spend your holidays in our opinion.

Step 2 – Get your finances straight to afford a sailboat

Yes, money does play a role to make this life shift. But remember money should never stop you! There are a lot of different ways to start living on a sailboat also on a small budget, you just have to get creative – our story is proof of it 🙂 

In order to buy a sailboat you have to take into account three different budgets

  1. Sailboat acquisition budget (65.000€)
    This will be your biggest budget and does depend on what kind of sailboat you are looking for (size, age…) and how much you are willing to refit.
  2. Sailboat extras budget (5.000€)
    This budget can vary a lot depending on what kind of sailboat you bought. However, you will always need 5-6.000€ for all the bureaucratic stuff and to adjust the sailboat slightly for liveaboard standards.
  3. Living aboard budget (1500 €/m)
    How much you spent while you live on the boat does vary obviously from your lifestyle, but also from the location and weather (will you be able to anchor or do you need to enter a marina) and from your sailing abilities (how much gets broken and needs to be fixed). However, this budget also needs to cover fixed costs like insurance, maintenance and food

In the brackets you can find our budgets, but please do not get discouraged, we are convinced you can reduce all of the above budgets. We have been preparing our sailboat for the Atlantic crossing therefore our budget might be higher than yours.

5 different ways to afford a sailboat

Still worried about money? Here 5 different ways of how to afford to buy a sailboat

  • work for it and save it up over time
  • ask for a loan
  • buy a cheap old boat and refit it
  • find a co-owner!

Find a co-owner – this is what we did and what allowed us to buy a sailboat double our budget! The idea behind is pretty easy. A lot of sailboats are not used most of the year. In general, many boats are only being used some weeks during summer. So the idea is that your co-owner does get a defined amount of weeks in the year while you can be sailing on it during the rest of the year. It’s a great win-win situation for both, you get a boat double your budget and he does save up on marina costs and maintenance as you are taking care of it 90% of the time.

Step 3 – Buy a sailboat

Congrats you are almost there. You managed to get your finances straight and now are ready to hit the market. There are a lot of websites where you can search for sailboats, but don’t forget to also let your friends and social media friends now that you are looking for a boat. You never know what you might find, we for example found our sailboat on Instagram.

Once you defined which kind of sailboat you would like to buy and have found suitable options these are the following steps which await you

  1. Personal inspection of the boat
  2. Take it our for a sailing trail if possible
  3. Negotiate the price
  4. Sign a pre-purchase agreement
  5. lift our the boat and make a professional survey
  6. Reneogatioate the price if anything was detected during the survey
  7. buy your sailboat and new home

We will write a second blog post which will go more into detail about sailboat buying, what you should look for when visiting the sailboat and what you can use to negotiate the price. Sign up for our newsletter so you won’t miss out on it 🙂

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Step 4 – Move aboard and start your new life on a sailboat

Wow, you did it! You got your finances straight, found your sailboat and are ready to go! Now the exciting times begin. You will go through so many emotions, it will be overwhelming. Do not be too hard on you at the beginning, we all needed to learn a looot when we started this life, nothing will or can prepare you for it fully. Embrace every single step, take the time to enjoy it and do not rush. You are a liveaboard now! We do not have plans, but ideas, and we are never stressed because we have nowhere to be 🙂

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Sail Tips and Tricks

5 Presents every Sailor will love

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Soon the bells will start. And the thing that will make them ring. Is the carol that you sing right within your heart.

Oh, sorry for getting lost in this classic Christmas song. But yes I am one of those people who are looking forward to lights on every tree and the same four famous Christmas songs on the radio. I know most of you are rolling your eyes right now, but wherever you like it or not, Christmas is around the corner and with it the emotional stress of finding the right gift for your loved ones.

But no worries, we got you covered! Every sailor has their personal list, but speaking to Sailors around the Mediterranean, we met along the way we can agree that the items on this list are the most sought after.

No matter if its a sailor girl, a newbie sailor, or an old sailing wolf here, you will find something for everyone (and every budget).

Disclaimer: we do get a small commission if you buy products linked in this blog. But no worries the price for you will not change. So if you would like to support us make your buy through our links to allow us to stay afloat.

Here are the best gifts for sailors, men and women.

1 Sailing lessons/experiences

Well what better way to make a sailor happy then to actually make them sail! If newbie or expert sailors there are a lot of experiences or courses out there that will fit your description. You might have a local sailing school you can reach out to for sailing lessons or might prefer online versions to start with. Book a sailing week for the next season or shoot a message to your favourite live-aboards they might take one sailors from time to time. 😉

2 Saftey equipment

Safety has the highest priority on a sailboat and involves so many different aspects. After living on board for almost 3 years we still learn something new regarding safety whenever we leave for a passage. On our last passage, we discovered the sailor checklist, which brings you through all the steps and safety checklists you should take care of for a longer passage or when you come back to your sailboat after a longer time (like to not forget that seacock for your motor!). The checklist does not only include information for sailboat owners but also includes many tips and tricks for emergencies. Main reason why the guide is completely waterproof is that you can always carry it with you. We for example have even two guides, one in our grab bag if we would ever need to get off-board and one accessible while sailing.

No matter if you actually go for a safety device or decide to go for the sailor checklist (20euro), it will definitely make the next sailing season safer.

3 Charts, charts, charts

No sailor can navigate the waters without appropriated charts. Well, Colombus did, but he did not really end up where he wanted so…

Nowadays, charts are mostly digital, as they are a lot handier on a boat (don’t get wet, need less space, zooming is somehow smoother 🙂 ). The most well-known maps are Navionics charts, so you could get them a gift voucher for Navioncis or even a tablet with preloaded Navioncis cards. However, some sailors do love some beautiful paper charts as their batteries never run low:).

4 Sailboat equipment

This one is for all the lucky sailors who can call a sailboat their own. Every year sailboat maintenance is a big part of a sailor’s life. There are things that need to get fixed or new equipment that needs to be installed. The range of possible presents it’s huge (and depends immensely on your budget), so here are our top three sustainable sailboat maintenance/equipment ideas (one for every budget):

4.1 Water filters ($)

For us still one of the best investments on board of ForTuna! not only will you avoid buying thousands of bottles of plastic and definitely contribute to keeping the oceans clean, but you also don’t need to carry those horrible bottles around, don’t need space to store them and don’t need space to store the garbage once they are empty. what else to say? we just love our Riva filters. we have been using them now for almost 2 years, tested them in the Mediterranean and in the Caribbean, and would never ever go back.

4.2 Antifouling paint ($$)

The annoying task of redoing your antifouling is one that comes around more often than we would like. You might need some inside information for this one as it depends on the boat type and the hull material (aluminum, fiberglass, wood), which antifouling paint you need. This year we are going to test a reef-friendly silicon version from Seajet. subscribe to our youtube channel, if you would like to see the review about it once we applied it.

Ps: if you don’t know the Antifouling paint you should buy, you could instead make them a voucher for the sanding down of the old paint. Yeez, I would love that present as it will save us hours of work and days of back pain.

4.3 Batteries ($$$)

No need to hide it! We sailors love a good remote anchorage immersed in nature, but let’s face it modern tech is part of our lives now and we very probably “need” that phone to take pictures or simply need the energy to power our sailing instruments. Electricity is a huge part of our lives and this is no different on boats. We just upgrades this year to lithium batteries (the whole process can be seen here) and our lives change completely.

5 Stay Salty collection

Looking for a salty present, which makes your sailor happy and supports your favourite sailing channel 😉 check out our new StaySalty collection of:

5.1 Eco-sustainbale t-shirts and hoodies

All our apparel is made of bio-cotton or recycled materials and is only produced at the moment you order it, in the production facility closest to you (we have partnered with over 25 production sides over the world to reduce pollution caused by shipping). This means we do not waste fabric, ink or electricity to produce goods not sold yet and reduce our carbon footprint by over 90%!

5.2 Sailing inspired wall art!

We are especially proud of our Stay Salty 2022 calendar, which features 12 of our favourite sailing destinations! Get inspired every month by one of our favourite sailing spots so far and create your own sailing destination bucket list. The same logic of reducing Co2 emissions and saving ink and electricity explained for the T-shirts does apply to our wall art.

Extra tip – Reef Safe Sunscreen

We Sailors love our sea and seeing it damaged by pollution has a significant impact on our sailing experience. Therefore protecting the sea is our first mission. Unfortunately, not everyone yet knows that traditional sunscreens play a big part in the pollution of our sea, as they directly disperse in the sea when we jump in for a refreshing swim. So help your sailor to protect its beloved oceans by gifting them an ocean safe sunscreen.

We wish you a merry Christmas and hope you have a wonderful time together with your family. And remember no present is more precious then our time :). let us know in the comments what you think about the post. and don’t forget to subscribe for e-mail updates or follow us on instagram or facebook to join us in this experience.

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Categories
Sail Tips and Tricks Sailing Destination

Strait of Messina: a guide for sailors – all you need to know to navigate the strait safely

The Strait of Messina, feared by sailors, inhabited by mythological animals and named in greek and roman legends, has made quite a name for himself. Especially considering its size, a skinny strip of water just 3 kilometers (1.6 nautical miles) wide, at its narrowest point, and 32 kilometers (17 nautical miles) long.

Entrance to the strait of messina on a sailboat

His popularity derives from the strong currents and whirlpools which populate the waters in the Strait. The same which have fueled myths and legends since the time of the Greeks. Most known are the myths of Scylla and Charybdis, two female sea monsters that plagued Odysseus and his crew on their journey. 

Located between mainland Italy and the island Sicily, the Strait only reaches about 90 meters of depth. Yet for such a narrow, shallow water body, it has long posed problems for sailors. Therefore, we have collected all the necessary information for a safe and still adventurous passage through the renowned Strait of Messina, by sailing yacht or motorboat. You will find information about

For all the quick readers we have included a summary at the end of the blogpost called “5 Steps for save passage

Currents

The Strait of Messina connects the Tyrrhenian Sea in the North with the Ionian Sea in the South. The primary current runs from South to North, but a smaller current runs in the opposite direction. The currents alternate about every six hours, and the Strait’s complicated wave patters can even be seen from space.

Strait of messina Nasa earth observatory
Credit: Nasa Earth Observatory

The submarine profile of the Strait can be compared to a mountain, whose summit is the “saddle” (along the Ganzirri-Punta Pezzo junction), whose opposite slopes have different gradients. From the Sicilian Tyrrhenian side, the seabed degrades slowly until it reaches 2,000 m at the island of Stromboli. On the other hand, in the southern part (Ionian Sea), the slope is very steep and a few kilometers from the “saddle” it is possible to record the depth of 500 m, whereas 2,000 m of depth are already reached at the center of the junction Capo Taormina – Capo d’Armi.

Besides the difference in sea depth, the Peculiarity of the currents is given due to the chemical-physical difference between the two seas (salinity, temperature and density) and the alternation of tides: When the Tyrrhenian sea is at high tide, the Ionian sea is at low tide and vice versa. You can visualize the Strait as a double funnel, with opposed tides of up to 27cm on each entrance. Due to the opposing tides, we can find two phenomena:

  • upwelling: with the prevalence of the ionic current (north-south direction), deep ionic waters are pushed by the tidal movements and go up the southern slope emerging in the central-northern part
  • when the Tyrrhenian current prevails, the waters of this basin pass south, but due to the lower density they are arranged exclusively on the surface; below thirty meters the balance is in favor of the ionic water

The previously described phenomena do impact the navigation of the Strait of Messina profoundly as they alter the movement of the waters by interfering with the currents.

  • Horizontal interferences: those are visible as waves, mainly present in Ganzirri, Torre Faro and Punta Pezzo. If paired with strong winds, which commonly occur in the straight, they can increase and create troubles for sailboats or motor yachts
  • Vertical interferences: those are more dangerous and have fueled the myths of sea monsters for thousands of years. The two most frequent ones are; Whirlpools, born due to colder waters ascending into warmer water, and Countercurrents, which form close to shore and are in the opposite direction of the current tide.

Most of the interferences are big enough to be seen by eye, so when passing the Strait, a sailsman must keep its eyes open for alterations in the water. In conclusion, the currents do, in fact, present considerable difficulties, as they can be so strong to tear seaweed from the bottom and sometimes throw up fish. However, nowadays, due to weather forecasts and knowledge about tides, safe passage is assured.

Vortex in the strait of messina

Sea Traffic

The Strait of Messina is used by large vessels as a short cut from the Tyrrhenian Sea to the Ionian without having to circumnavigate Sicily. Besides large ships, there is a high frequency of ferries that connect Sicily to Calabria and cross the Strait from E to W and vice versa, making the Strait a highly populated sea street. (Fun Fact: due to the inability of the Italian government to build a bridge over the straight, even the train which runs from Rome to Palermo is transferred on a ferry to pass the Strait of Messina)

To minimize the risk of collisions at sea, boat traffic is regulated, as I will describe below with the help of the following Navionics map.

Navionics map of the strait of messina

We must imagine that the Strait is divided into two “lanes” by a virtual “centerline” represented with a purple stripe in the previous map. The units that are moving towards S are required to keep to W of this line, and consequently to navigate closer to Sicily. On the other hand, those that are moving towards N must keep E on that line and navigate closer to Calabria. The only way to go from one “lane” to another is to turn, counterclockwise, around the “roundabout” represented by the violet circle in the previous map.

Recreational boats should sail as close as possible to the coast to their right, paying close attention to the ferries that cross the Strait between Messina and Villa San Giovanni: bear in mind that ferries have priority in any case. For prudential purposes, at least in the stretch between Capo Peloro and Messina, it is advisable for sailing boats to sail with the jib lowered, avoiding, in any case, zigzag upwind courses with frequent and sudden changes of course.

Finally, you are required to check in with the coast guard, even if your a small vessel. Call VTS, inform them about your entrance and they will also be able to confirm if it is an appropriated time to pass the straight or if you should be waiting for a change in tides.

Weather

The Strait of Messina, due to his geographical location, does create unstable weather conditions. In general, the winds tend to channel along the Strait and come from N in summer, and from S in spring and autumn. However, keep in mind the fact that throughout the area of the Strait the winds are strongly conditioned, in intensity and direction, by the orographic conformation of the Sicilian and Calabrian coasts.

We heard of several strange situations in which moments of almost total absence of wind alternated with others characterized by strong gusts of unpredictable direction that made the adjustment of the sails very difficult. The probability of such situations tends to increase in the event of unstable weather.

Lastly, fog and mist, frequent populate the Strait of Messina, especially in the months of May and June. Those do constitute a situation of danger, as they decrease the visibility in a channel populated by many ships.

Entrance to the strait of messina on a sailboat

Ports and Anchorages

The Strait of Messina has 3 ports (Messina, Reggio Calabria and Villa San Giovanni) as well as two other ports located in the municipality of Messina (Tremestrieri and San Francesco), generally used by private company ferries. Given the general conditions that can occur, it is useful to know the points where you can safely anchor while you wait for better conditions or the change of tides. These are for Sicily: Torre Faro, Ganzirri, Grotta, Paradiso, S. Francesco di Paola; instead on the Calabrian coast instead: Scilla, Marina di Porticello, Pentimele, Giunchi, Porto Salvo.

Entrance to the strait of messina on a sailboat

In conclusion, we have summarised the most important facts for all sailors who are thinking of navigating through the straight of Messina,

5 Steps for a safe sail through the straight of Messina

  • Check the currents: The Strait of Messina is affected by currents directed towards N and towards S, which alternate with moments of calmness. These currents can (especially during the new moon and the full moon) take on significant intensities (up to about 5 knots), especially in the stretch of sea that goes from Capo Peloro (Sicily) to Punta Pezzo (Calabria). It is advisable to plan the passage taking into account these currents. In fact, confronting the passage with wind, sea and current in opposed direction can be unnecessarily dangerous. For this purpose, it is beneficial to consult sites that provide the current intensity tables, such as the site http://www.correntidellostretto.it
  • Navigate respecting the map. If your a small vessel, try to navigate closer to shore, as the currents do generally decrease in intensity. However, be aware of the risk of countercurrents, which does increase closer to shore.
  • Contact the coast guard when you enter. Firstly you have to inform them about your passage, and secondly, they will give you information regarding appropriated time frames to sail the canal.
  • Be aware while passing. Firstly there are many other boats in the Strait – secondly, you do not want to end up in a whirlpool or countercurrent. Even if they might not be dangerous, they are also not fun. Most of them you can see with your eyes, so keep a lookout.
  • Choose the motor over the sail. Yes, we know as sailors do hate to switch on the engine, especially if there is wind blowing. But if this is the first time passing the straight and your maybe not the most experienced sailor out there, we would recommend you to choose the motor this time. The hazards connected to the Strait have fueled myths for thousands of years, do not underestimate it.