Sailing Licenses in Germany

I want to sail. There are lakes nearby where people are sailing and I want to sail the ocean as well. And I want to be able to charter a yacht. So what is the fastest&cheapest way to get the necessary licenses? Probably moving to another country…

To sail the lake nearby I need the SBF Binnen Segeln (sailing inland license). To get that you have to make a fully fledged course with 10+ hours of practical sailing on a real boat. If you already got the SKS Segeln (advanced offshore sailing license you need to charter boats) you get the inland licence almost for free, all you have to do is to pass the theoretical exam and pay a small fee. One may ask why we need an advanced license to charter boats offshore / why the SBF See Segeln does not suffice? Well, the offshore sailing license is not a fully fledged course but just a theoretical exam for sailing and a practical exam for motoring. So yeah, you get the license to sail on the ocean without ever touching an actual sailboat (you have to look at pictures though) but you need a fully fledged course on sailing to sail on the small lakes around town. Dafuq?

 

Wedding Presents #1

I try to avoid weddings wherever I could. After a couple of years it was time to re-evaluate my stance on them. Yep, still not my kind of party even though I really like the folks who got married.

They wanted money for a present, attaching it to a postcard is not that personal so I needed something different to attach the dough to. Since the groom is a petrol-head liking trashy things (driving things like MZ Motorcycles and a Buick) it seemed appropriate to dig through the trash container and spend an hour welding together trash.

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forgot to take a picture of the finished product, this is only tacked together

Unfortunately the heart broke during transport when I strapped it to my bike with a ratched strap (one half fell off). I cobbled it together on the spot with a ratchet strap. Luckily nobody was upset getting a broken heart made almost entirely out of brake parts as a present. You probably could take that the wrong way…

The most upsetting thing to me was that one of my welds broke. In the end not too surprising since brake discs are mostly made of grey cast iron and you can’t MIG/MAG weld that. That means you can but it’s by far not as strong as it might look like. I forgot to take a picture but you could clearly see the grainy structure of the cast iron still sticking to the weld. So the weld actually didn’t break but pulled all the tiny grains it was attached to out of the brake disc…

Digging through the drafts folder #1

Searching for some unpublished posts I found these pictures.

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Old leaf springs, old shock absorbers ,hole in the front spring mount

The old leaf spring is so worn out that it bends upwards an somebody removed the wedges on the axle which adjust the castor (tilt angle of the axis which leads the steering assembly to go automatically back to “straight forward” if you loosen your grip on the wheel.

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Bigger shocks, three layer spring (the hole was fixed soon after as well)

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The new assembly gives a couple of centimeters more ground clearance, yay

What kind of boat would I like?

First things first, I’m nowhere near to start a journey. But it seems my life in the next period of time might be laid out in a way which will empower me to start in the not too distant future. Anyways, let’s just start to think what I would like: It should:

  • house two persons comfortably and squeeze in four
  • cross the Atlantic ocean
  • have a watermaker
  • have solar panels for normal power consumption
  • (maybe detachable) generator for powertools
  • central heating for operation colder regions
  • dive compressor for filling tanks
  • Satphone
  • Radio (as in communicating with other ships, not receiving radio broadcasts)
  • self steering (autopilot and/or windvane)
  • safety gear not mentioned here

At first glance there are three problems:

  • Money (all this stuff is extremely expensive)
  • A really crammed engine bay
  • Safety concerns for diving since you need at least three persons to dive safely (one buddy team of divers and one person topside to move the boat if the divers can’t return on their own (strong current, accident, whatever).

The first rule of doing things on a budget is to strip everything which is not really really needed:

  • house two persons comfortably and squeeze in four
  • cross the Atlantic ocean (it should have a hull being capable to do that but doesn’t need all the equipment upfront
  • have a watermaker luxury, be patient until one comes up for cheap
  • have solar panels for normal power consumption
  • (detachable) generator for powertools strongly depends on the place where I work on the boat whether it’s really necessary
  • central heating for operation colder regions only if I have to life on the boat permanently
  • dive compressor for filling tanks luxury…
  • Satphone only for crossing oceans
  • Radio (as in communicating with other ships, not receiving radio broadcasts)
  • self steering (autopilot and/or windvane)
  • safety gear not mentioned here

Hmm, I guess I just saved myself around 20 grand…

But there are a couple of things I should look for

  • spacious engine bay which holds a sturdy and slightly overpowered engine (so I can use it to directly power the watermaker and generator)
  • I should start to hang out at boatyards and maybe help people to install new stuff to score cheap used/slightly broken stuff
  • opportunity to learn how to outfit and sail a largish vessel

Well, this is awkward…

(posted several weeks after writing, life is good again: new shared flat, back on a three day/week working schedule, …)

Over easter I spent some “me time” actually playing a computer game. Haven’t done that for quite a while, Wasteland 2 was the pick. Post Apocalyptic RPG (Role Playing Game), four Charakters which you can create by yourself. So I did the obvious and called them Hannibal, B.A, Templeton and Murdock. Some adjustments had to be made (no Planes / Helicopter to fly, no cars to drive) and the latter two became female body types, it’s 2015 after all. A couple of hours into the game I passed a fellow Team, the members named Peppard, Tureaud, Benedict and Schultz. Well, this was awkward…

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Zwenkauer Lake, not connected to the post but nice anyways..

It’s interesting that I always resort to A-Team quotes wenn life is shitty. The realtionship mentioned in the last post actually ended in a rough patch. Luckily we identified the underlying conflict under our struggels and didn’t end fighting about unimportant stuff. But yeah, seems we both are not willing to change drastically enough so that stuff would work out. That one really helps with transition. Besides that I have to move out of my shared flat on short notice and started a new work project which doesn’t actually lighten up my mood at all for reasons which probably fall under a non-disclosure agreement. So life has been kinda shitty on these sides but I also have set things in motion which might turn out truely awesome. But these will need some more patience before I officially announce anything.

Back to the A-Team. When I was young I was an addict. I used to cry when I missed an episode (these were the days were there was no Internet available for streaming and my parents didn’t have a VCR). Life back then was pretty dismal. My parents were fighting every day, I was fat, nobody liked me (or at least that was what I thought) and I got bullied a lot. So these guys (as well as McGyver) became some sort of role model. Not because of being unable to hit people while shredding through a gazillion bullets without reloading. Because they don’t get bullied? Yep, thats one part. Much more important is probably that they were abandoned by society (as I sort of was by my parents) and that they look out for each other / became a family. They work together and care for each other.

B.A. doesn’t want to fly but if the shit hits the fan he lets the others drug him so they can escape/rescue somebody/whatever. He can’t change instantly, they can’t change him but they work out weird ways to make it work. Same for Murdock, certified lunatic for sure but they endure his character because they love him. And if they have to count on him he pulls himself together. Face’s Ego makes his company unbearable but deep down he is a really nice and decent guy. Hannibal on himself would probably be a drunkard, not knowing what to do with all his brains. Don’t get me wrong: I strongly believe in change and think everybody should work on themselves every day. But some stuff takes time, in rare cases even more time than a lifespan.

Hannibal is another strong reason for identifying: He always has a plan. Or several. They seldomly (ever?) come out as expected but he excels in improvising. Even if he ends up in a dead end, he pulls himself back together and doens’t stop plotting before he knows how get everything back to normal. I really like that, still today. Back in the day I just wanted to have a plan to get out of my misery and (hello McGyver) be able to fix the relationship of my parents. That one didn’t work out but I still like to have a good gameplan and to watch it coming together. Besides that I enjoy fixing stuff, even though I completely gave up on fixing humans I’m quite good in fixing anything technical.

Too much to blog about / Two year anniversary

Give me a minute, I'm good. 
Give me an hour, I'm great. 
Give me six months, I'm unbeatable. 
-- Col. John Smith

Well, it has been some time. Dunno why I lost the motivation to blog. Guess stuff was either too personal for the interwebs or too boring. So what happend in between?

Around march last year I started hanging out more in Leipzig. Met really decent folks, spent time with them, got to know the city better. Shortly afterwards I started a new work project at some large cooperation close to Hannover. Luckily it didn’t last too long because it was not exactly what I was longing for. Somewhere around that time I decided to actually move to Leipzig and fell deeply in love, not only with the city. The rest of the year was split up between wrapping stuff up in Hannover and starting new stuff in Leipzig.

At the beginning of this year things got out of hand. I co-founded a venture with a group of people wanting to share an old industrial building for workshops and other projects, started a new work project at a local company and a relationship went through a rough patch. And I got sick. And sprained an ankle. And two fingers. And I have to search for a new home in Leipzig since almost everybody is moving out of my current home (for reasons…) which I was told me one day after I lugged in my last stuff. Two stressful month all in all. But now it’s improving almost every day.

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The new Job got the nicest view out of the window so far. I was to slow taking the picture, it was a double rainbow, there is a faint reminder on the left

Yeah, so thats it, one year in fast forward. It was a good year after all but it surely had its ups and downs.

I guess I’ll start settling in over the summer, try to cut back to a three day a week work schedule and enjoy the finer things in life. Either just chilling in the sun or sweating while refurbishing a freaking huge industrial building. Or finally make the missing licenses for boats. Or start a house project. Hmm, seems I have one gift at least: I seldomly get bored, theres always stuff to do or adventures to experience. Life is good. But the older I get the more I try to max out the good things. That doesn’t always work out as expected. But I’m learning to accept that and to just enjoy trying.

Sailing

I guess I’ll start cruising some day. As in sailing, not gay lifestyle. At least I’m not planning on the latter. Anyways, I started watching tons of videos on youtube about the topic and even started reading books (yay!). Seems like quite a project, the last time I have been sailing was about 20 years ago on summer holidays. I always liked boats and the water but seldomly got the chance to enjoy these. A couple of years back my girlfriend and I chartered a ten meter motor yacht and really enjoyed it. The only problem is an ecological, ships which are large enough to life abroad have the fuel economy of a tank or worse. The 160hp volvo penta of the thing burned something like one liter per km (roughly two miles per gallon). So both my consciousness as well as my wallet rule out that option. So sailing it is.

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Mecklenburger Seenplatte in 2012. Since we were aboard all the time I don’t have a decent shot of the boat…

The other problem with boats are that they are expensive. Let’s say we do it like with we do with cars and buy something old and reliable/upper class which needs some fixing, maybe a 16m “Amel Super Maramu” like the sv delos (little tacky but still awesome youtube channel btw.). Some call them “the mercedes of it’s class” so it seems like a decent choice for 25+ years old thing. For my 25 year old merc coupe I paid 1800€ and put in another 1000€ in parts and easily 40h of work. Definitely not the best buy of my life. The Super Maramu from the same era is advertised for prices somewhere between 170.000€ and 250.000€ and the ads look like there are quite some expensive repairs waiting for the new owner. So it’s no wonder that most people who are doing this seem to be retired high income folks who sold their house&fancy stuff to shell out a serious amount of money for getting a boat fitted out and sailing it around the world. These people are also telling you that it costs about 1/10 of the original price of the vessel per year to keep it running if you don’t do anything by yourself. Let’s say 25.000€ per year which is probably not enough. So to be on the safe side you should plan on something in the vicinity of a million to go cruising for a couple of years if you just buy something, and put it in a shipyard every time it needs tender & care. Well, as most people I don’t have this kind of money.

Amel Super Maramu, Source: http://sailboatdata.com/viewrecord.asp?class_id=5880

Enter the shoestring budget sailor. Most sail the world until the budget run out and then work shitty jobs to earn money fast and to return to cruising. Some even manage to earn money on their way, like for example fabulous caption fatty goodlander who writes books about his lifestyle and how to achieve it. I bought “Buy, Outfit, and Sail” from him and can really recommend it. The funny thing from a hacker/tinkerer point of view is that there’s not too much new information in it. In short: If you want to buy a boat cheap look for something that’s severly (but repairable) damaged with an owner who has to sale on short notice. Then you fix it yourself investing plenty of time, sweat and tears tapping as many brains of professionals for advice as possible. Extreme example from the author: bought salvaging rights for a sunken vessel for 3000USD and ended up spending 10.000USD (+ labour) to end up with a vessel worth of 100.000USD. Only buy quality stuff, if possible slightly used and thus greatly reduced in price. Dive every interesting dumpster you pass by. If you can’t afford it build it yourself. Focus on what you really need. Do not make any compromises in safety.

So yeah, my basic lifestyle with electronics and cars applies to boats as well. Nice! But still this seems like a longterm and expensive project. I guess it will be in two phases, get a small cheap boat to sail on lakes, rivers and near shore to see how it feels like and learn prober sailing and then get a decent sized vessel (around 10m) and spend some time repairing, outfitting and taking small trips before crossing the atlantic over to the carribian. So it seems five years from now would be a realistic time to start, even the season seems about right, spending my 40th birthday in the middle of the ocean and being in the Caribbean around Christmas. Seems like a plan indeed.

So if you’re hooked up by now I’d recommend watching sv delos if you like it a little fancy or “hold fast” if you prefer punkrock. I enjoyed both big time, maybe because I’m kind of a punk driving mercs :-)