After our first summer on our sail boat (Soledad), we were all very excited about sailing together again. The kids enjoyed being at sea and I loved it too, but I was missing meeting more persons. I love spending time with my kids and husband, but I am a kind of “social butterfly” and I need to meet people.

From 2014 to 2016, we spent as much time sailing as we could (during summer holidays, that is). We also managed to sail with friends (on a separate boat) during two of those summers.

For those years, the objectives were to build on our growing experience in order to improve:

  • Safety while sailing
  • Safety at anchor
  • Our autonomy with regards to fresh water

Let’s check the user stories done, year by year.

Sailing backlog (2014)

The first time that Pierre and I sailed together (without kids) for a week, I was still feeling unconfident and I almost threw Pierre over board with an uncontrolled gybe ; at that moment, I realised that if we wanted to do long distance sailing, I would need to put more focus on how to sail and on knowing how things work on board, as Pierre always insisted. The boat is ashore during the winter and when we put it back on the water, we rig it up on our own. At first Pierre was doing it alone, but then I joined. Preparing the boat usually takes a couple of days (from inserting the battens into the main sail, installing the main and jib, to plugging back the solar panels, loading up the food and finally washing the deck, etc.) This takes 4 precious days out of the vacations, but it is so useful to get to know how things work.

During summer ’14, another family rented a sail boat and we sail together in Corsica, we did really have great fun together!

So, here are our user stories done for the second year:

ID User Story Condition of satisfaction Status
10 As a crew member, I do not want to have to remove the main sail sheet to open the bimini, so that I get protection from the sun. Have way to keep the aft part of the bimini opened (including while sailing) Done, spring 2014
Since the full bimini (from aft to the sprayhood) was not usable (because of the main sail sheet), we cut it in 2 parts, and now only the aft part is used to protect the helm and support the solar panel.

We still need to extend the sprayhood to cover the rest of the cockpit (in progress).

Here is what the small bimini with solar panels looks like.

11 As a crew member, I want to sail a boat with a life raft made for the planned passages, so that I feel safer. Have a good quality, ISO approved, ocean life raft for 8 persons. Done, spring 2014
Since we could not donate or sell our previous SeaSafe life raft (6 years old only, ISO coastal), it has been fired up to see in what was inside the container… and it has been a shock to see how bad it was. The rubber was stinking and not holding the pressure for more than 12 hours.

We got a crewsaver lIfe raft in container – so far so good.

12 As a crew member, I want to be able to rely on the blocks and ropes, so that I feel confident and safe while sailing. Make sure all ropes on board are in good conditions, change the blocks that are starting to crack. Done, summer 2014
 The halyards that came with the boat were in bad conditions after 6 years (spinnaker halyard broke). Most blocks (bad plastic/composite cheeks) were damaged by UV and cracking. We replaced that with dyneema ropes and aluminum blocks with ball bearings (Lewmar HTX – basic but strong).
13 As a crew member, I want to sail a nice looking boat, so that watching Soledad fom the beach puts a smile on my face. Make the hull shine. Done, spring 2014
 Soledad’s hull is covered of a dark green gel-coat. Unfortunately, since 2013, it never looked nice. The transom had been repaired and painted (it would have been impossible to find a matching gel coat). So we decided to wrap the hull, in a dark grey color in 2014 and its still looking good!

Sailing backlog (2015)

In 2015, we planned my first 24 hour-long passage (we sailed from Marseilles to Corsica). How was I going to feel in the middle of the sea? Would I manage to do a night shift?

Actually everything went pretty well, we had a wonderful wind for the crossing, dolphins swimming at the bow for 20 mins and I felt very well in the middle of the sea. It makes you feel so small when you see all the emptiness of the sea around. Actually, we are very small compare to the sea. We spent 2 weeks sailing the 5 of us together. It was good, we managed to survive all together in the boat, but I missed a bit of contact with the rest of the world.

ID User Story Condition of satisfaction Status
14 As a (now) more experienced sailor, I know that the spinnaker and code 0 are not supposed to be hoisted up to the top of the mast (fractional rigged), so the upper/thinner part of the mast is not subject to high loads. Make sure all sails at the front are not higher than the forestay. Done, spring 2015
The spinnaker has been reduced, and a 2:1 reduction system has been put in place on the spinnaker/code 0 halyard, with a fixed point right above forestay level (there is a padeye up in the mast for that). The mast is no longer bending, hooray. Another proof the commissioning in 2008 had been done in a funny way.
15 As a (now) more experienced sailor, I know that the code 0 pulls hard on the bowsprit, so I want a way to help it handle the load Add something to compensate the 2:1 halyard pulling on the bowsprit: a bobstay. Done, spring 2015
By adding the two 12mm stainless steel eye bolts on the bow, we could have one for the bob stay, and one for the chain hook.
16  As we anchor most of the nights, I want a robust and practical way of holding the chain without pulling on the bow-roller or the windlass, so that anchoring is safer and easier. Find a way to hold the chain with a hook and mooring rope, without using the on-deck cleats. Done, spring 2015
 We replaced two 12 mm bolts on the forestay (down in the anchor locker) and replaced them with two 12mm eye nuts in order to get 2 pad eyes on the bow. One of them is used for the chain hook.
17  As we anchor most of the nights, I want a windlass that drops the chain properly in the locker (no jamming) and that pulls on the chain at the right angle (level with the bow roller), so that pulling the anchor is safer. The windlass needs to be at deck level, right above the locker. Done, summer 2015
 This has been some extensive work! Lots of marine plywood layers and a white PVC layer for a nice finish, Sikaflex between each and every layer, cutting parts the deck flanges and the locker lid, eight 8 mm stainless steal bolts, etc. Electrical work involved high a power circuit (90 Amps!) and a bit of electronics (we added a wireless remote)… all that in a wet locker, lol. We now have a Lewmar V3 (gibsy only, no drump) that works a treat, even when the locker’s lid is closed (hooray!).

Our new windlass on our Hanse 430e, à la Uhambo-style.

Sailing backlog (2016)

In 2016, we did our first 24 hour-long navigation with the kids. My brother and father-in-law came with us for the usual Marseilles to Corsica crossing. All went perfectly: again, we had nice winds and the kids enjoyed spending that much time on the boat without seeing the land.

We also met up with our friends in some of our anchoring. While it is nice to sail with friends, you have to keep in mind that at some point you will wait for them or they will wait for you. You have to find the right balance so that every one is happy.


ID User Story Condition of satisfaction Status
18 As a (now) more experienced cruisers, we don’t want to stop every week in a marina to get fresh water, so that we get freedom in planning the trips. Find a way to get fresh water. Done, spring 2016
We were a bit afraid of the complexity (i.e. lack of reliability) of the watermakers on the market. But then we discovered Rainman’s portable watermaker, and it really made a difference: no permanent installation, no electronics, completely autonomous (a gasoline engine runs the high pressure pump). The systems delivers 120 liters/hours, with little more than half a liter of gasoline. This is way more efficient than running the main engine or a generator to feed an electrical pump. We use one liter of gasoline every four days and the fresh water on board is better than what you get in most marinas – that is an acceptable use of fossil fuel in our mind.
19 As a kid, I want to have a comfortable life-jacket, so I can wear it most of the time and feel comfortable (and safe) while sailing. Get life-jackets adapted for kids from 6 to 10. Done, spring 2016
Until 2016, kids were hooked to the life line within the cockpit while sailing. To offer them a bit more freedom of movement, we now allow them to move around – if weather permits – as long as they are wearing their inflatable life-jackets.
20 While doing night shifts, I’d like to have a device that tracks me, so that if I fell overboard the other can find me. Get 2 AIS MOB (Man Over Board) devices with AIS and GPS Done, spring 2016
At night, no one stays outside on his own, and every one wear a life-jacket with a tether and a McMurdo Smarfind S10, an AIS beacon with an integrated GPS. When activated, a light flashes and a precise position is sent over AIS (radio) to all surrounding boats.

This backlog is somehow simplified, hiding usual maintenance work, some funny stuff but mostly non-glamorous works (black water related).

We are currently working on our long trip backlog. Do you see anything missing for our coming looong trip?

2 thoughts on “Sailing backlog (part 2: 2014-2016)

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