Moving Onboard to Start Sailing Around The World
I’m lying in my bed while enjoying the gentle movements from side to side. I was dreaming about sailing around the world. As usual.
The temperature is boiling and I realized that I forgot to open the cabin hatch. Or did I close it because of the 268 billion mosquitos the night before?
I don’t remember and I don’t care.
I’m in desperate need of some fresh air to cool down. I smack up the hatch and feel the gentle breeze flowing in. I can slowly feel my brain starting to work as I’m getting out of my half-sleep. Coffee.
That’s the first thing that comes to mind. I slowly drag myself out of bed, through the salon, and over to the galley.
The smell of fresh coffee in the morning must be the best thing ever. I quickly snap on the propane switch and chuck the kettle with water onto the stove.
So, let’s check what the weather is going to do. Are we still safe here? What about that awesome Cala up north that I was thinking of sailing to?
The one with the bongo drums every night? I pop over to the chart table and quickly check the weather. Looks perfect. No winds today and 10kt north-westerlies tomorrow.
That will make for a sweet beam reach all the way up to the next spot.
The clock is getting close to 10 and I feel slightly bad for sleeping through the beautiful morning. The temperature is already 27 degrees outside.
The kettle hasn’t made its whistling noise yet, so there should be time to take the wake-up procedure one step further.
As I climb out in the cockpit, the sun slaps my face like a bag of boiling water. Yep, it’s swim time!
A quick trip up to the bow, a short climb up on the pulpit, and off we go. The water feels like a cold blanket at first. A second later, the body temperature has reached human levels again.
All the tiredness is gone. As I swim back towards the swimming platform on the stern, I can’t help but think to myself what an awesome way this is to start the day.
Back up in the cockpit, I can hear the kettle is whistling like a maniac and I rush down to chuck the boiling water into the French press. It’s really too warm to be drinking hot coffee, but I don’t care.
The sun is sparkling in the turquoise crystal-clear water. I can see some fish swimming around the boat.
There are already people piling up on the beach and I notice some other boats were getting ready to start sailing.
A slight breeze is blowing from the northwest and brings the smell of egg and bacon along. I guess it’s time for breakfast.
PREPARING TO MOVE INTO A SAILBOAT FULL TIME
It’s crazy to think about it. Just a little more than a year ago I left Norway and moved onboard Ellidah. In one way it feels like a lifetime, in another way it feels like yesterday.
After I made the decision to buy a sailboat to go sailing around the world it seems like time has gotten a different shape.
It was quite a well-thought-out decision, probably the best one I ever made. The feeling of being in the right place at the right time doing the right thing is satisfying.
It took me a long time to gather the courage to exit the safety of the normal life on land. To properly step out of my comfort zone and change my life radically.
Read more about the story behind all this
There were about a million things going through my mind when I was sitting in my house looking at the computer.
I was trying to figure out how the hell others have dealt with the transition from land crab to the salty sailor. I had so many questions.
DOING RESEARCH ON DIFFERENT SAILBOATS
What sailboat would I need and how big? What would such a thing cost? How is it to live in a tiny home without luxuries like unlimited water, dishwasher, and all other things we usually take for granted?
I had to figure out these things. I also wanted to know not only the practical part of this lifestyle but also how to prepare mentally. What to expect.
After so many years of dreaming of the cruising lifestyle, I was no longer sure if I was in love with the idea of living on a boat, or if I would actually love it.
And how about storms? We have all heard stories about boats in distress due to shitty weather.
So much research to be made. I had already spent an unreasonable amount of time watching YouTube videos and reading blogs about people chasing their dreams.
Sailing around the world to beautiful places, swimming in perfect water, living in beautiful boats, and with happy smiles on their faces.
But was it all real or just their way of selling their perfect life like so many do these days?
There was only one way to find out and that was to jump into it.
First of all, I needed to find a boat.
FINDING A GOOD SAILBOAT SUITABLE FOR BLUEWATER SAILING
You will find many different opinions on which boats are suitable for bluewater cruising and what are not. Some people claim that you need something like a Hallberg Rassy, Amel, or Oyster to safely cross an ocean.
Others have been sailing around the world in production boats like Bavaria’s, Benneteau’s, and Jeanneau’s without feeling unsafe. The more I searched online, the more confused I became.
If you have googled this, you know what I mean.
Choosing a boat is not easy when you don’t have any experience. Being on a budget made it even harder.
I knew I wasn’t going to be able to buy my dreamboat and I have later learned that there is no such thing as the perfect boat.
A good place to start is to write down a few criteria that are important for you, and what you want to do with it. Then you figure out how much you would need to spend on upgrades, equipment, and repairs.
This can sometimes be a lot more than you would think, so spending the entire budget on the boat itself is not a good idea.
AFTER A LOT OF RESEARCH, I NARROWED IT DOWN TO SOME THINGS THAT WAS IMPORTANT TO ME:
- Good technical condition on boat and equipment
- Proven seaworthy
- Sails in good shape
- Preferably a newer engine
- Spacious and cozy interior with practical layout
- Good storage
- Well equipped for living onboard and extended cruising
- Spacious cockpit
- Between 38 and 42 feet
- Ideally something from the mid 80’s or newer
- Maximum 50.000 Euro
Then you go and check sailing boats for sale on sites like Yachtworld or Sailboatlistings. Whatever boat you end up with, people have most likely done more in less.
My list leads me to Ellidah, a beautiful Jeanneau Sun Legende 41 from 1988 in pretty good condition. People have sailed these boats around the world several times.
She was a good fit, at a good price, and at the right time.
And, she was already in sunny Spain!
Read more about me and Ellidah
After living on a sailboat for over a year while sailing around the Mediterranean, I have learned a lot. My criteria list is definitely different now than when I started out.
Would I have chosen differently if I knew back then what I know now?
Living on board and cruising a sailboat means that you get to know pretty well what you like and what you don’t. With that said, Ellidah has turned out to be pretty good.
She has her problems, but she is safe, comfortable, and fun to sail. She has taken well care of me and my crew, and I have no intention of getting another boat anytime soon.
LIVING ON A BOAT IN THE SUN MEANS DOING BOAT WORK IN THE SUN
If you read The Beginning, you probably remember that I didn’t know how to sail at this point. I had only been around the local fjord a couple of times as crew a 33-foot Dufour.
I hadn’t even touched the steering wheel of a sailboat before, let alone sailed one alone!
When I bought Ellidah, she was laying in a town called Aguadulce in the Andalucía region of Spain. The previous owners had sailed her from Norway down to the Mediterranean to cruise around the area for a few years.
After I got all my stuff onboard, I started to make a “To do” list. I had a shit ton of work to do. Not only did I have to get my stuff sorted since I was moving.
I also needed to get my head around all the systems. Navigation gear, deck gear, galley gear, it was freaking gear everywhere.
This was at the start of October 2019 and it was still plenty of seasons left to get a taste of the cruising life before winter sat in so I had no time to waste.
GETTING MY FIRST CREW ONBOARD ELLIDAH AND CRACKING ON WITH THE TASKS
A couple of friends from home came down to help me get through my list of jobs. In return, I promised them a week of sunshine sailing afterward.
With impressive motivation, we got the boat lifted out, scraped down the bottom, and applied new antifouling.
It was hard work in the boiling heat, and we were dirtier than stray dogs from Mumbai.
We worked day and night (mostly drinking beer at the pub at night) to get her done, as we couldn’t wait to get back on the water and finally do some good sailing. My two friends had never sailed before.
I was standing on the dock watching Ellidah swing in the straps under the crane. Seeing a boat like this just feels wrong. Boats are meant to be on the water. Not hung under a crane in straps.
As they lowered Ellidah into the water, the 3 of us jumped on board. All nervous, but super excited to be on the water again knowing the adventure we had ahead of us.
We parked the boat back in the marina and took the rest of the day off to relax after all the hard work.
READY TO SET OFF FOR THE FIRST TIME
The following day we cracked on with filling up water and fuel tanks, getting food and drinks on board, and did the last check on all the safety equipment.
We didn’t make too ambitious plans since this was going to be our first trip. The route was set from Aguadulce to Garrucha, then up to Cartagena.
Cartagena was where I was going to stay during the winter months, so I was pretty excited about getting there.
We then planned to continue up to Torrevieja and Alicante, before starting to make our way back to Cartagena again. Sailing along the coastline was perfect for our first sailing trip.
We were close enough to shore if anything would happen and It wouldn’t have taken the coast guard long to help us in case we got into trouble. On that note, I want to add this regarding safety:
Even if I was new to sailing, I had spent a lot of time in motorboats since I was a kid. I had worked professionally on Norwegian offshore vessels for more than 7 years and was well trained and experienced in safety at sea. Ellidah has a good engine so I was more than confident taking on the responsibility of skippering her with crew along the coast. I knew that if we didn’t manage to sail, we could always just use the engine. And we had more than enough fuel.
FINALLY LEAVING THE DOCK AND SETTING SAIL
Checkout from the marina was done and the boat was all stocked up and shipshape to go. The crew, Jørn and Aleksander, was standing on the deck with each their boatman’s hook as instructed by the excited skipper.
Just in case I fucked up maneuvering us out of the tight berth. The engine was purring like a tiger, eager to take us out on the water and the bow and stern lines were dropped. That was it, we were off!
The maneuvering went like a breeze, no bumping into other boats. Or pontoons for that matter. The crew looked as relieved as the skipper felt.
I called the marina office on VHF channel 9 to report our departure and our planned destination.
Fenders came up, and we talked through the procedure of putting up the sails. Open the lazy bag. Turn the bow against the wind. Hoist the main.
Set course. Unfurl the jib. Trim sails. Easy! I had spent hundreds of hours reading about sailing. I knew it in theory, I just had to put it to practice.
GETTING TO WORK
Lazy bag open, bow into the wind, and main on its way up.
Jørn: “Stop, it’s stuck!”
Shit, the mainsail battens are tangled in the lazy jacks.
Okay, down with the main again.
I turned on the autopilot and jumped up on deck to help Jørn shake the lazy jacks loose while Aleksander was managing the main halyard in the cockpit.
Okay, let’s try again, back to the helm.
The bow is not up against the wind anymore, don’t know what I did. Disengage autopilot, going to manual steering. Aleksander start’s hoisting the main again to about halfway above the second reef.
Aleksander: “It’s stuck again, is there a way to make these lines wider?”
Damn, of course. Add it to the list. Slack off the lazy jacks before hoisting the mainsail.
Me: “Yeah, seems like a good idea!”
I should have known this.
Aleksander: “Okay, how the hell do I do that?”
Me: “Eeeh, hold on a sec!”
Autopilot on, back up on deck. The lazy jacks are tied to a cleat on each side of the mast. Fair enough, simple fix.
Me: “Release it a bit and start pulling when I say so.
The Main is free and the bow is still up against the wind. Good job captain, you managed to press a button and hold the boat on course.
Me: “Okay, hoist the main!”
Back in the cockpit the 3 of us now have a smile that goes about 360 degrees around our heads as the mainsail is winched tight all the way to the top.
Me: “Good job!”
Jørn: “Well, that took like forever..”
Aleksander: “Shut it, we did well for our first time.”
I’m slowly pointing us over to our destination while still smiling like a kid eating candy for the first time. The route is set on the chart plotter and the mood is good.
Me: “Okay, let’s unfurl the jib.”
The jib comes out without any problems and we stop the engine.
After spending god knows how long reading in my “How to trim sails” book while trimming the sails, we steamed along nicely at 6kt while enjoying the sound of the waves against the hull and the sun in our faces.
No engine noise and the bow pointed in the right direction.
Some good tunes suddenly start playing from the speakers and Jørn pops his head up from the galley.
“I think this qualifies for celebration with a beer and some chips?”
It most certainly did!
Over the next two weeks, we would get 2 more friends to spontaneously join onboard. Sit out some nasty weather. Try out anchoring for the first time. Have dolphins play around the bow. Get into trouble with winds blowing us against the shore without being able to put the engine into gear.
And then some.
Read the full story from the first sailing trip I did as a skipper on Ellidah.
SAILING AROUND WITH FRIENDS AND STRANGERS AS CREW
Meeting new people is one of the things I value the most in this lifestyle. Likeminded people with their own stories who for their own reason want to go sailing.
One of my crew members actually started out the same way as I did, backpacking in Central America.
We were even down there at the same time. We took our divers license at the same diving center. It is a small world, and eventually, we both ended up sailing on Ellidah. That’s quite a coincidence!
We are going to continue to take the crew on board for the journey as good experiences are best shared with others. Besides, it’s good to share the tasks on board and everything is more fun with more people.
As of this date, Ellidah and I have had the pleasure of having 22 amazing people on board as the crew over the last year.
We have made memories for life and some have plans on joining again.
There are so many stories to be told.
Get in contact if you are interested in jumping on board as crew
WRITING A SAILING BLOG
Initially, I didn’t plan on doing a blog. Or a YouTube channel. Maybe Instagram and Facebook, but nothing more.
But after a year of sailing, I really get it. When you live a life full of adventures, you want to share the experience with others.
Tell your story and maybe inspire people with the same dream to actually get their asses out of the couch and do something about it.
After all, this is how I started when the idea of sailing around the world pupped in my head.
That’s why I changed my mind and decided to make a blog. And a YouTube channel. It isn’t going to be just a blog, but rather a project.
It already involves so many people and so many places that it deserves a common space for everyone to take part in it one way or the other.
This last year consists of experiences worth a lifetime.
This is where I will share the stories. Both the good ones and the bad ones. I’m going to share the knowledge I have learned about sailing and all the technical stuff related.
Thoughts and reflections around the lifestyle of a solo liveaboard are often overlooked by the exciting stories and beautiful pictures, so I will write about them too.
It’s a good life, but it isn’t always bloom and glory, I’ve had my share of challenges. But for the most part, it is awesome. I absolutely love it.
The Corona pandemic did put on a bit of a break to the last part of the season, making things difficult. But it didn’t stop us. It has just put us on hold temporarily.
Ellidah is safely moored in Sicily while I’m working and visiting family in Norway for the winter. I hope to start the season early next year, but in the meantime, I’m going to tell you all about the trip so far.
Click here to read the latest status and location on Ellidah
I hope you enjoyed this post.
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