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Sailboat log

Freediving in Cyprus (log15)

We continue with our adventure and finish the installation of our new radar. Getting the cables through the mast is quite a tricky thing but we found a way at the end to pull trough three new cables 😉 For now we decided to use our Radar only via WiFi and not install the data cable. What do you think about this idea? Do you use your radar through WiFi?

Also we go on our second freediving session and explore the crystal clear waters of Cyprus. There is no better feeling than to be back in the water. But check out our video to see the whole story.

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Installing AIS 700 and a Quantum Radar on our Beneteau Oceanis 393 (log14)

It is time to prepare our sailboat for the Atlantic crossing! First actions on the list? Installing AIS and Radar. For the AIS we choose the AIS 700, perfect for sailboats of our size and easily installable. For the radar we choose the Quantum Radar from Raymarine, which was a bit bigger than expected and caused some delays in our plan due to an unfitting radar mount. Check out this video to see the problems we encountered during the installation and what you should avoid when doing the installation of radar and AIS.

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Losing the boom at sea (log13)

Not every crossing goes as planned! We finally hoist the sails and leave Israel behind us, but on our sail to Cyprus we encounter our first serious problem. At least we would call losing your boom out at sea a quite serious problem. If you want to see how we cope with losing the fixing pin of our boom during our 200nm crossing from Israel to Cyprus check out the video! We obviously also show the amazing sailing experience we had before the incidents and will show you how you are going to prevent losing your boom and the fixing pin of your boom at sea.

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When it’s all about boatworks (log12)

Ready to start Sailing Season 2020? We have spent the last two months in Herzliya marina close to Tel Aviv, Israel and can not wait to finally set sail again. But before we are able to start sailing season 2020 and set sail for Larnaca, Cyprus, we still have to fix a lot of things on our sailboat ForTuna. Watch our latest episode on youtube to see how we applied a new UV-protection to our main sail to make sure it lasts longer. How we fixed our leaking galley window to finally spent rain season without water in the galley. How we reorganised our storage to be ready for all the long passages which will come along this year.

Let’s get ForTuna ready for sailing season 2020!

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Sailboat log

When living in Herzliya Marina – Tel Aviv, Israel (log11)

Sailboats at Herzliya Marina, Tel Aviv, Israel

When we started this sailing journey in April 2019, we dreamed of remote anchorages, untouched beaches, and crystal clear waters. And for the first 8 months, everything turned out perfectly. We sailed from Italy to Turkey and only used marinas to refuel and hide from big storms. We loved life at anchor, being able to jump in the water first thing in the morning, sometimes being the only humans in a place for days. But in October we realized that the number of storms increased drastically and we found ourselves seeking refuge in marinas more often than before. Moreover, with the changing temperatures, life at anchor was slowly getting more tricky. Getting wet during a dinghy ride is fun in summer but can be annoying (and unhealthy) to experience with decreasing temperatures.

Slowly we realized, that life at anchor won’t be fun (or suitable) during the winter. No matter how much we desired to stay at anchor and go on sailing daily, we were going to have to find a marina at least for the winter months December and January. At that moment we were in Finike, Turkey and experienced colder temperatures than expected. Staying in a cold place, was definitely not an option, so we opened the map and looked at the possibilities we had. Two main options arose: Cyprus and Israel. Both still in reach by sailing and both warm enough in winter to live on a sailboat. After calling and emailing the marinas in Cyprus and Israel and after comparing prices and amenities, we decided to head to Herzliya marina in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Sailboats at Herzliya Marina, Tel Aviv, Israel

Arriving at Tel Aviv, Israel

Israel had been on our travel list for quite some time, but we have always been scared due to the political situation. Being so close we decided that it finally was time to explore the country and we are more then delighted to have done so. Entering Israel by sailboat was actually an exciting experience by itself. Until now we had only been in Europe and Turkey, where customs and border control are pretty “easy” to handle. Israel, on the other hand, is a totally different story. We had to prepare and sent a lot of documents before even leaving the harbor in Cyrpus and head to Herzliya. Luckily the employees of Herzliya marina have been super helpful with it and with everything we needed during our stay. Israeli bureaucracy can be pretty tricky.

Once we managed all the documents and announced our arrival at least a week before to the Israeli coast guard it was time to leave Larnaca, Cyprus. The sail to Tel Aviv, Israel, was very chilled and we even managed to catch a tuna. Once we got closer to the Israeli coats, we were greeted by an Israeli military boat about 25 miles before the Israeli coast. A speed boat fully loaded with big guns (sorry my gun knowledge is pretty small) stopped us and over radio asked us multiple questions. This happened all in a very calm matter and the navy officers have been very patient with our inability to spell our names due to knowledge lack of the phonetic alphabet. However we have to admit, the speed boat and the guy with the big gun, made a pretty scary impression, so we were more than relieved to get their blessing and be able to enter the country.

Sailboats at Herzliya Marina, Tel Aviv, Israel

The marina had already been informed about our arrival and so had border control and customs. Once docked to our pre-assigned berth, we were questioned singularly by the border control concerning different stamps in our passports and our reasons to visit the country, while customs literally searched our whole boat for weapons or drugs. Again the officials were very polite, but I remember being very grateful for the European Union at this moment, which allows us to travel without all these controls.

Living in Tel Aviv, Israel

Our first impression of Israel? Everyone is super helpful. No matter who we met, if the sailor next “door”, the bus driver or the Herzliya marina crew members, everyone offered their help and responded to our questions as wells as possible. The bus driver story is probably the one we won’t forget easily. It was the first time we took the bus in Israel. Which can seem ridiculously simple, but taking a bus where you are not able to read the timetable or the destination can be somehow tricky. especially if you’re not really sure where you want to go. We just wanted to head into the city. Little did we know that Tel Aviv had multiple “centers” depending on the quarter you want to explore. But luckily once on the bus, we found a very talkative bus driver, which literally guided us along the whole bus journey (we are talking about a 45min drive) dropping us off on the beach, the best starting point to explore the city.

Herzliya Marina, Tel Aviv, Israel

Our second impression of Tel Aviv? Security is not an option, but a way of life. Yes, security is everywhere in Tel Aviv and you will probably meet more big guns during your journey in Israel than in any other country, but interestingly it won’t feel harming or dangerous. Security in Israel is not seen as something negative or cold, it’s just part of their life. Standing next in line to a soldier getting his afternoon coffee carrying his big gun? Completely normal here in Tel Aviv. Being searched at the entrance to a mall? Part of your shopping routine in Tel Aviv. Sitting next to a soldier on the bus carrying his big gun on his way home? A daily encounter here in Tel Aviv. it might seem strange the first times you encounter these situations, but we have to be honest that after some days you will see the guns less and less until they almost feel part of the scenery.

In conclusion, we have experienced a very warm and welcoming society, paired with security and scrutiny, probably due to their history. However, if you allow yourself to understand the political situation and the religious implications you will find a “bubbling” atmosphere of people ready to create something new and leave history behind them.

Marina Life

As mentioned above, we were not particularly happy to move to the marina for winter, but after living two months at the Herzliya marina, we have to admit that marina life has its perks. First Herzliya marina is located between two beautiful beaches, used especially by surfers to ride waves. For us, those beaches became our backhouse garden. Perfect for a run in the morning or an afternoon break in the sun. Secondly, Herzliya marina offers a cozy lobby, with free coffee, which we turned to our office. Especially during the windy and rainy days, which we had a lot, unfortunately, it was much nicer finding refuge in the marina lobby instead of being rocked on the boat. And last but definitely not least – how nice is it to have water and electricity at your disposal all the time, without fear to finish the tanks or batteries? Long showers definitely became my favorite activity this winter.

Beach at Herzliya Marina, Tel Aviv, Israel
Beach at Herzliya Marina, Tel Aviv, Israel

In conclusion, we are very happy with our decision to spent two months at Herzliya marina. We have met many interesting people and always found a helping hand at the marina office, no matter if the question concerned Israeli bureaucracy or the best lunch spot in town. The marina is also perfectly located to explore the rest of Israel. After a short bus ride, you find yourself at the Herzliya train station. From there you can catch a train to Jerusalem (40min) or Haifa (50 min). Moreover, the airport can be reached by train in 20 minutes. This was very helpful to explore Eilat and the south of Israel which can be reached in a 40min flight. And last but not least there is a stunning sunset each night.

Sailboats at Herzliya Marina, Tel Aviv, Israel
Sailboats at Sunset at Herzliya Marina, Tel Aviv, Israel
Sailboats at Herzliya Marina, Tel Aviv, Israel

We hoped you like the blog post and found useful information for yourself. If you don’t want to miss out on our next blog post about sailing and sustainable living, subscribe to our e-mail updates or follow us on instagram or facebook to join us in this sailing experience.

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When Sailing to Greece (log10)

It was time for us to leave Italy and head to Greece. After one last pizza, which we still dream of, we left the most southern tip of Italy’s heel and headed to Korfu. The crossing was luckily very calm, and we managed to sail some hours in very light wind. We arrived with the last sunrays and Greece greeted us with incredible scenery and crystal clear water.

Sailing boat in greece

This week our crew had a particular goal for the week: fishing. 3 out of 5 crew members were armed with fishing rods and spent their whole time optimizing the lures. No need to tell you that the sailing route obviously was adapted to fishing places and fishing times.

sailboat and greek flag
man fishing on sailboat

The stakes were high, as two of the crew members had praised themselves at home about their fishing abilities, and messages came in hourly to ask about our success rate. Hence, ending the week without catching fish was just no option!

The first day ended with no fish on the lure, but on our second day in Greece, we caught a colorful Mahimahi! This took off the pressures from our crew and gifted us with a lovely barbeque at the beach. We felt like in a movie, making fire on the beach and drinking rum like real sailors. The only ones who ruined a little bit the evening were the masses of mosquitos, but we had to learn to cope with them in Greece.

guys on sailboat caught fish

The greek island proofed worthy of their fame. White beaches between vast cliffs, surrounded by green hills. It is truly a sailor’s paradise. Which kind of explains the thousands of sailboats you will meet along the way. But luckily, there are so many bays that everybody finds their anchor place.

Sailing boat in shipwreck bay greece

We obviously went to visit the famous shipwreck bay, but boy were we lucky to be there in the evening, during the day it feels like an ant-hill. Thousands of people trying to get the perfect shot. If you are ever there, don’t miss out on the small hidden cave on the bay southernly from shipwreck bay. You won’t be able to anchor in front, but we, for example, took turns at the helm so everybody could swim there and explore it.

Our final destination of the week was Athens, and one last challenge was standing between us and the city: The Canal of Corinth. Constructed in 1893 for economical shipping, it is now mainly used as a tourist attraction and for sailboats and motorboats who like to avoid the long way around the Peloponnese.

We arrived at the Western entrance of the Canal after a long night sail and announced ourselves to the canal officials. Together with us other 7 boats were waiting for the canal doors to open. Interestingly you are allowed to enter the Canal in the same order as you arrive at the entrance. Still, it seems so that captains do not like to respect that order. Once the canal doors opened, it felt like an actual race to enter the Canal. We were first astonished by this behavior but then discovered that once you arrive at the Eastern Exit of the Canal, you need to pay at the Canal toll. So if you are there first to enter the Canal, you are the first at the Exit and won’t have to wait until everybody has paid.

sailboat in Corinth Canal

We hoped you like the blog post and found useful information for yourself. If you don’t want to miss out on our next blog post about sailing and sustainable living, subscribe to our e-mail updates or follow us on instagram or facebook to join us in this sailing experience.

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When Sailing the South of Italy (log09)

After a month in Sicily, it was time to move on. There was still a lot to explore in Sicily, like the south and the west coast, but we will have enough time next year to do so. So if you have any recommendations about sailing in Sicily, let us know in the comments.

Be aware this blog post will contain a lot of dolphins. We never saw as many dolphins as in those two weeks. We don’t know if it was because of the location (the Gulf of Taranto) or because of the time (End of May). However, we could not care less why we will always remember those tranquil days escorted by dolphins.

three Dolphins swimming
girl on sailboat with dolphin

We had agreed to bring ForTuna to Athens, and the accorded date was only two weeks ahead. We had 14 days for 600 nautical miles.

Our route brought us from Taormina to Santa Maria di Leuca. On the way, we stopped in Roccella Ionica, Le Castella, a small town with an incredible Castel on the waterfront, Crotone, a lovely village with a great fish market and unfriendly carpenters, and Gallipoli, our new fav place to sail to (check here why).

Unfortunately, there was not much wind this week, so we had to motor a lot. We would not have done it if we had not pre-agreed a time and place to meet up with friends, as we hate to motor this much. We definitely learned that sailing is not made for pre-agreed times and places. In general, the coming weeks would often remind us that sailing does follow wind and waves and not human timetables.

girl on sailboat
sailboat

The most extended leg on this journey was from Crotone to Gallipoli. Before we left Crotone, we indulged in a great fish market where we ended up buying oysters for a ridiculously low price. Personally, I am no fan of oysters, but those were delicious a high saltiness, but no fishy aftertaste. Reinforced by oysters, we started by sunrise to make the 68 nm until Gallipoli, where we definitely lost our hearts.

Sailboat in the sunrise
Sailboat in sunrise
sailboat with sails

The leg was super calm and we had the luck to get visited by dolphins many times, which brought a much-needed distraction from the wide and calm blue sea.

We arrived in Gallipoli in the late afternoon, and it was time for Greta to handle her first anchoring alone; Michael was still in a business call as we arrived, so it was my job to determine the best anchoring spot, check it out and let the anchor drop. Fortunately, it was a wast sandbank that rose very slowly, so I managed to drop the anchor without Michael’s help.

Dolphins close to a sailboat
Dolphins close to a sailboat

We spent 3 days in Gallipoli, jumping naked into the turquoise water, eating seafood at the restaurant’s pontoon and getting lost in the small streets of the old town. We are so much in love with Gallipoli that we decided to write a separate post about it. Find all the reasons why we love Gallipoli in our blog post “best place to sail to in Italy“.

Awaken from our Gallipoli dream, we had one day left to move to Santa Maria di Leuca to pick up our new crew, which would help us bring the boat to Athens. But more about this in the next blog post.

We hoped you like the blog post and found useful information for yourself. If you don’t want to miss out on our next blog post about sailing and sustainable living, subscribe to our e-mail updates or follow us on instagram or facebook to join us in this sailing experience.

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When Sailing Tropea and the straight of Messina (log08)

After our 32hour passage from Sardinia to Sicily, the straight of Messina was our next big sailing challenge. But let‘s start from the beginning.

Entrance to the strait of messina on a sailboat

We had been in the Aeolian Islands for 2 weeks, visited most of the Island, and been to Stromboli twice. The second time around, we had changed our crew, our friends had gone home and Greta‘s mum joined ForTuna to visit the Islands, which have been so long on her Travel list.

Stromboli
Stromboli

Our original plan was to sail back to Sicily and from there, approach the straight of Messina. However, after more detailed planning, we discovered that the North coast of Sicily close to the Straight was pretty bare and without protected anchorages. On the other hand, the mainland of Italy offered anchorages closer to the straight, which would allow us to pass the straight first thing in the morning and avoid arriving there tired from sailing.

So off we went to mainland Italy heading for Tropea. Looking back, it was a great decision. Not only did we manage to approach the straight safely, but we also visited one of the most stunning places so far. Funnily before visiting Tropea, we knew the city only because of the variety of onions named after it. Now, we will remember it forever for its steep cliffs, small streets, farmer markets and sanctuaries placed on cliffs overseeing the Italian coast. As you can see, we are pretty in love with Tropea, if you want to find out why read our 3 reasons to sail to Tropea.

Tropea

After Tropea, we anchored as close as possible to the straight. We choose a small open bay in front of Paparone, Italy. Unfortunately, not safe from incoming swell, which diminished our sleep quality together with the excitement for the next day. However, we rose at 7 and at 8 we were already at the entrance of the straight. The straight is dangerous for sailors because of two strong currents meeting in it. For a more detailed description of the dangers connected to the strait of Messina, check out our Guide for Sailors for the Strait of Messina.

Entrance to the strait of messina on a sailboat
North Entrance to the Strait of Messina

As requested, we contacted the coast guard to inform them about our passage and asked for information about the canal. You can imagine the relief when the coast guard told us it was a perfect time of the day to pass. The winds were not strong and until 9 am we had a window to pass south. So with good spirit we entered the canal.

Entrance to the strait of messina on a sailboat
North Entrance to the Strait of Messina

Our good spirit was slightly dumped when we saw a fisher in front of us lose control over his small boat, which started to turn 180 degrees. Looking closer, we recognized a small whirlpool he had overseen. Luckily the fisher managed to get out of the vortex without any problems, but our concentration rose again, as we wanted to avoid having the same experience.

Vortex in the strait of messina
Countercurrents in the Strait of Messina
Whirlpool in the strait of messina on a sailboat
Whirlpools / Vortex in the Strait of Messina

When we reached the middle of the canal, the wind in our hair got stronger and we wondered what had happened. A look at the monitors showed that the wind we were experiencing was due to ForTunas speed. ForTuna was going at a speed of 10kts. A speed ForTuna had never reached before and never would again. It took us a while to understand that this speed was purely due to the strong currents in the canal. We were practically pushed out of it.

In the end, everything went perfectly well. We managed to avoid all the whirlpools and passed the canal more quickly than expected due to our new speed high.

We hoped you like the blog post and found useful information for yourself. If you don’t want to miss out on our next blog post about sailing and sustainable living, subscribe to our e-mail updates or follow us on instagram or facebook to join us in this sailing experience.

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When Sailing to Stromboli (log07)

We had just caught a tuna, the first tuna our whole crew, including us, had ever seen. We were all in awe for the shimmering scales and thought we had seen the best of our week. But boy, were we wrong.

Sailing in Stromboli

On this day we were wrong about many things. We were wrong about the time frames you were allowed to climb the Volcano, we were wrong about the shoes to wear to climb the Volcano, and we were wrong about how a volcano should look like.

We arrived at Stromboli in the evening and decided to climb the Volcano the next day in the morning. For all of you out there, who would like to climb a volcano to see it spark, remember you have to go there in the evening, not like us in the morning. Seems logical at second thought, you need darkness to see the sparks, but hey everybody can be wrong. So we spent the day on Stromboli and had a delicious meal in one of the most beautiful restaurants we have ever been to until it was time for our hike to the mouth of the Volcano.

Trattoria ai Gechi, Restaurant in Stromboli
Trattoria ai Gechi, Stromboli
Church of Stromboli, Italy
Church of Stromboli

The hike felt like a procession. There were so many people, walking in a line up the mountain, from a far it looked like an ant hill. Michael and I grew up in a mountain place, and we usually would not hike a path with this many people even if we would get paid for it. But never say never in life. This time we even paid to do it. Life can be pretty funny.

The path started in a bush area, where we explored wild caper bushes and many different flowers. With each meter we rose, it was incredible to look down at the sea, ForTuna and the Strombolicchio, a super small and cute island in front of Stromboli, which formed because of an eruption. The path then changed to wasteland and ended in black sand patches, which were horrible to climb.

Strombolicchio, View from stromboli

Getting closer, we could already hear the sound of the eruptions, and if the outbreak was big enough, see the smoke. Finally, we got so close we had to wear our helmets to be protected from falling stones. It was once we wore our helmets that the smell stared. Let me tell you it was one of the worst smells ever. 5 more minutes of walk to see where the smell was coming from.

When Sailing on Stromboli, Italy

It was kind of fascinating and disappointing at the same time. On the one hand, it was amazing to see the sparks and smoke and craters; on the other, some of us expected a big bubbling sea of lava. Well, don’t expect that when you go there. Yes, we saw lava and yes, it bubbled, but it was sooo far away from us that I am not sure if we imagined it or if it was true.

Nevertheless, we saw a breathtaking sunset from the top and experienced 3-4 small volcano eruptions. The Stromboli is one of the most active volcanos, which means he erupts each 15-20minutes. No other volcano in the world does that. Each explosion took again our breaths away, both because of the imminent danger, the astonishing sound and the horrible smell. The darker it got, the more you could see the red sea and the sparks emerging from it. 

Two months after we visited the Stromboli, a massive eruption occurred, which took the life of one man and scared and injured so many others. With this post, we would also like to remember those and remember that all active volcanos are dangerous, so please be aware of the danger and do not go and visit them on your own, take a guide, even if you are a hiking expert. 

We hoped you like the blog post and found useful information for yourself. If you don’t want to miss out on our next blog post about sailing and sustainable living, subscribe to our e-mail updates or follow us on instagram or facebook to join us in this sailing experience.

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When Sailing we fished our first tuna (log06)

Since we put the first fishing hook into the water, our dream was to catch a tuna. First and mostly, because we wanted to make sashimi. You can imagine our happiness when the second fish we caught was a beautiful shining tuna. 

tail of a tuna fish

We were on our way from Panarea to Stromboli. Most of the crew was napping on the boat, after a great lunch at anchor. As now was our habit, we put out our fishing line, but with not much hope as we had only caught 1 wish in 5 weeks. But it seems that sometimes luck strikes those who have lost hope. 1 nautical mile in front of Stromboli, the fishing rod started sirring.

You can imagine our surprise! Michael and I immediately jumped up, looking first at the fishing rod and then at each other. Was this happening? Two fish in one week? As we asserted we were not still dreaming, we woke our friends to help. We luckily were 6 people on board, so while Michael took care of the fishing rod, three crew members and I took down first the Genoa and then the mainsail. Once done, the fish was still on the hook, and it was now time to help Michael get it on board. 

sailors fishing

We knew it was a bigger fish then we caught before because he was quite reluctant to get aborad. Having broken already a few fishing lines, we were super careful not pulling it in too hard and decided to let the fish fight and get tired. For about 30 minutes, I steered the boat in the direction of the fish while Michael pulled in and let go of the fishing line according to the strength of the fish. Finally, we saw the shimmer of a fish in the sea.

tuna in the water on a fishing line
tuna in the water on a fishing line
tuna in the water on a fishing line

One of our crew members had already prepared the fishing net, but as the fish came closer, we realized that this fish would no fit in our net. But how should we get it on board? We first tried with the fishing rod, but each time the fish was slightly out of the water, we were scared the line would break and how sad would it be to loose the fish now. A different solution was needed. Following his instincts, Michael jumped onto the platform, grabbed the tuna, and pulled the fish on board.

sailor michael hofer catching a tuna fish
sailor michael hofer catching a tuna fish
sailor michael hofer catching a tuna fish

We were all in awe, once we had this magnificent creature on our boat. Neither of us had ever seen a whole tuna. We almost felt sorry to know that most people only knew it from a can. After contemplating its beauty, we hoped that it would fit in our fridge as the sea was to rocky to filet the tuna.

fresh tuna fished
sailor michael hofer catching a tuna fish
fresh tuna in fridge

Once arrived in calm waters at Stromboli, we watched a lot of Videos to be sure to filet the tuna in the right way to avoid any unnecessary waste. We ended the day with a tuna steak on our plate and a laugh about our sweet and little fishing net.

fresh tuna
sailor filett tuna fish
fresh tuna steaks

We hoped you like the blog post and found useful information for yourself. If you don’t want to miss out on our next blog post about sailing and sustainable living, subscribe to our e-mail updates or follow us on instagram or facebook to join us in this sailing experience.

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