Turning back

Written on Ranö, near Stockholm
Log: around 880nm

After chilling out in the Stockholm Archipelago for some weeks I’ll start heading home. The 300odd nautical miles to the German coast seem like quite some distance. I’m sort of afraid. Will I manage to go there? What if I don’t find a harbour/anchor spot in the evening. What if my engine fails? What if I fuck up mooring in a harbour? What if my anchor drags? I kind of feel like I’m just acting as if I’m a sailor. The same stuff happens to me at work and with different hobbies. It’s called the imposter syndrome. Many folks have these issues. For me the solution is to make my accomplishments visible to myself. I’ve been sailing around 1500nm this season, more than half of it single-handed. I’m just sailing back the way I’m coming from. Also I’m technically a newbie on this I’m not doing too shabby. It’s good that I question my skills. That’s what keeps me sharp. But sometimes it drives me crazy as well.


If you’re good at stuff plenty seems granted. An example: Lately a really nice guy had problems with his engine. It wouldn’t start up, supposedly the starter solenoid. So he waited to Monday to drive to the next town to shop for new solenoids. While changing them I had a look at the problem and the hardware he bought. A 30A Solenoid for the starter of a 4cyl perkins diesel? Unlikely. Some retracing of wires later we found out that he exchanged the solenoid which disconnects the two battery circuits (so you do not drain the starter battery while at anchor) and the one for the charge control indicator (I had to look up the magic behind it on the interwebs). Both do not interfere with the starter in any way. After identifying the actual starter solenoid and some measuring / hot wiring we diagnosed some rotten connectors and a broken cable and replaced it. From my point of view this was no biggy. Besides that the old perkins has “positive ground” so all the logic is backasswards. I should remind myself that being able to that kind of stuff is quite an achievement. No rocket science for sure but still a skill which takes time to pick up.


Owe and Helina, the swedes with the broken cable

I can’t quite wrap my head around it but on this trip I don’t feel to much like blogging. One reason might be that I didn’t have any 12V computery with a keyboard with me and I try to avoid harbours because of cost and hassle of berthing. Maybe I’ll do some writing in winter. Probably not. After all there is not much to write about. Scandinavia is freaking beautiful. Swedes, though often too shy for my taste, are a really nice and helpful bunch. I left as a landlubber and will return as a sailor.


Swedish Mooring. Drop a stern anchor, slowly approach the rock, jump over and either tie bow lines to trees or hammer nails in rock crevices.

IMG_3229 IMG_3112 IMG_3120


… and so it begins

Captains Log, Stardate 69864.7. We left the river Elbe through the Brünsbüttel Lock, entering the Kiel Canal. Currently berthed at Brunsbüttel Harbor. We left the influence of these weird reoccurring stream phenomena and set course to this seasons research ground: the baltic sea.

Happy Geeks Pride Day Everyone! And mind your Towels while watching Star Wars Episode IV. Quite cramed day it is. Ok, enough of that.

Today started as any well planned passage starts. I prepared everything I could and announced the ship is ready for sea. Sure, there are a gazillion of items on the ToDo list but I crossed of plenty of important stuff. So I woke up at the prepared time and my crew showed up at the time we agreed upon. Then we turned the ignition key and all we heard was the whining of a starter clutch which isn’t engaging the flywheel. No spinning flywheel means no cylinders moving meaning no combustion which renders a combustion engine useless. Tried ten or more times, just wasn’t starting. Hmm, isn’t there some item on the ToDo list for investigating the starter solenoid because it was acting up occasionally? Yep. Didn’t cross that one off. So there we were, ready to leave on the falling tide with no time to spare. And Kiel Canal legally forces you to use your engine and mostly has no wind so going under sails alone wasn’t really an option.

So we busted out the trusted special tool for non-cooperating mechanical stuff and started classic percussive maintenance. Worked like a treat and off we went.


My favourite “friendly enforcer”. Metal core filled with sand for recoil reduction, hard plastic hitting surface and a long, grippy rubber handle. If you hold it on the front of the handle you can make very gentle tap-a-di-tap-tap and if you grap the handle fully you can beat the crap out of things without leaving indentation marks.

Smooth sailing from there, forgot to take pics.

I was kind of afraid of single handing the lock. Luckily S. agreed to tag along, so I had great and also very skilful company. We agreed that I would take the first try on my own and he would only engage if things went sideways. And as always, when you bring skilled folks along to help you out, the conditions are ideal, you are totally relaxed and everything goes super smooth. It is as if the situation smells that your specialist has done the thing a hundred times and so it plays nicely, hoping to fuck you up badly next time when you come alone.


Some local sailor.

One last picture which pretty much sums up sailing the elbe. There is a lee shore and a pile of stones leading into the water marked by a cardinal warning sign. My instructors told us to keep well clear (100m or more) of these signs and keep a even wider berth to lee shores. These rules don’t apply here. Some say if you can sail on this river you can sail anywhere. I don’t know, I sailed around 100nm on the river, half of which alone. I did survive but it wasn’t relaxing. I had to be constantly on my toes planning my route between moving and stationary obstacles while coping with weird tidal phenomena and constant wind shifts. I’m looking forward to go there again sometime to explore the beauty of it. But for now I’ll seek out less crowded waters to take my time to actually learn how to sail. Drinking water from a firehose is kinda fun but it wears you out after some time.

Pornstyler revived

It has been sitting for six month. The fuel pump was almost dead and I ripped out the wideband lambda to analyse the car of a friend. A storm put water through the tilted sunroof and I forgot to turn off the interior light after soaking up the water thus emptying the battery. Today I jacked it up, threw in a new fuel pump and the recharged battery. Turned on and off the ignition a couple of times to create fuel pressure in the empty lines (changing the pump got kinda messy). And what happened? The thing just started up and purred along. I LOVE these old mercs. I just had to add some fuel, air up the tires and it performed flawlessly on an extended test drive including a stretch of autobahn.


jacked up and secured with a three legged stand


Parking lot after six month. Quite grimy and some grass growing. And still leftovers from new years fireworks…



Fortune Cookie Approves!


So yeah, there is stuff worth blogging about coming up. Some approve some call me crazy. Same old, same old. I made a habit of only writing about stuff I will definitely do (or which I already did) so stay tuned another month or so until I finish the preparation phase and finally set things in motion. Only one thing is pretty sure: 6 months with almost no work contracts. The rest is subject to change…

One year anniversary!

I started blogging over a year ago and forgot the anniversary. I did post the first posts on 17.03.2013 and wrote them a couple of days before. What was I doing at the same time this year? I hiked the Bodenstein and Harz Mountains and visited Leipzig for almost two weeks to meet old friends and make new ones. So I actually did quite an anniversary celebration without even realizing. Not too bad at all.

more bass knowledge

German wikipedia provided something interesting. The resonance effect is working best from 0,75*fb to 2*fb (resonance frequency of the enclosure). Subwoofer normally operate from approx. 20Hz to 80Hz.

The previous owner tuned the enlosure to 27Hz, to work nicely from 20Hz to 54Hz. It would have been interesting to adjust the crossover (80Hz, 4th order in my case) to 54Hz and to run it as a deep bass addon with my living room stereo. But since I’m running it with small satellite speakers on my desk 27Hz – 72Hz seems like a good choice…

Adventures on ebay / more bass

My Desktop Stereo isn’t quite performing as I want it to. The JBL Control One are awesome but have no bass. Bi Amping with a leftover subwoofer from my station wagon didn’t really do the trick, a 25cm speaker is ok for a confined space like a car but sucks in bigger rooms as for example my office. Ebay provided some auctions with interesting items and I got lucky: A Hifonics OLM 1615 38cm Monster with a vamped up enclosure of a much cheaper omnitronics speaker.

0,33L beer bottle for size comparison..

0,33L beer bottle for size comparison..

DIY at it’s best, so it went cheap. 76€ for something that’s worth a couple of hundreds is more than alright. Then something weird happened:

Seller: I would like to cancel the deal because I dropped the speaker and there’s some rattling noise inside / something broke even though there’s no visual damage. I’m willing to pay some compensation for your troubles.

Me: Well, I can totally understand if you’re not satisfied with the price but it’s not my problem if you don’t keep track of your auctions. These speakers are designed to take quite a beating so it seems highly unlikely you broke it by dropping it. Are you really sure it’s broken?

Seller: Yeah, it’s broken. I’d send you 50€ if you cancel the transaction.

Me: Maybe I can repair the speaker. How about we take the 50€ off the price, so I pay you 26€. If I can’t fix it I still got the enclosure and you got rid of the broken speaker…

Seller: No thanks, I’d rather bring it to my dealership to get it fixed and then sell it on ebay again.

Me (to myself): Gotcha!

Me (to seller): Sorry to say but you raised my suspicions. By german law we have got a contract so you dropped my speaker and not yours. You owe me compensation for the difference between the 70€ and the normal street value of the item. In addition I’ll contact ebay’s customer support and they’ll probably ban you.

Seller: Alright, I’ll get the speaker fixed and then send it to you but it will take some time.

Seller (next day): It’s fixed, a large paperclip somehow got stuck inside. It’s on it’s way.

So yeah, there are quite some dickheads on ebay. The speaker arrived in the meantime, it’s got some minor scratches and the crossover is fried. The capacitor blew and the circuit board got cracks. Luckily I’m using active crossovers anyway, so I realized that while removing it. So I already fixed one problem. The sound is still not where I want it but the vents of the enclosure are loose and possibly to close to the back of the enclosure. I guess I’ll do the math on it as well, just in case the previous owner fucked it up.


Adventure XBOX 360 #2

After almost a month of waiting the support managed to fix my account. Since then I use the XBOX mostly for streaming TV from Watchever.de. It’s working not exactly stable and the program choices are somewhat limited. I have to pay xbox live gold fees + watchever fees which total at approx. 12€ / month. So the only justification for using the xbox is that watchever only runs on Windows (and on Linux using pipelight, a software running silverlight in a virtual machine). All in all I’m not too happy with this setup. I guess I have to move on to the next provider…

Not much too blog about

Odo: 289778
Location: Sweden, between Vänern Lake and Oslo

Driving and working was the program for the last couple of days. I crossed through Norway and did only a short stopover at a place of a friend from the workshop who moved to Norway last year. A most welcome possibility to wash my clothes and sheets and take a looong, warm shower. I switched the tires of the van from front to back because the front ones were run down on the sides due to some misalignment of the axle and probably my driving style as well. Now I have the tires with more profile on the front axle. My father always told me to put them on the rear axle on a rear wheel drive to not get stuck. A friend in Australia with offroad experience told me just the opposite: Getting bogged is not appreciated but doesn’t hurt. The inability to brake or steer can hurt…

The distance I covered doesn’t seem that much for the time taken but since the speed limit is 60 to 80 kp/h and I’m the only driver it was quite some driving. After some audiobooks about social life I switched to some fantasy (The Dark Elf Trilogy), which will probably see me home and beyond.

After being almost alone in the cold for a whole month I’m thoroughly fed up with it. I guess I needed the experience to get some stuff sorted out and to better learn how to take care of myself (how to keep a good mood, don’t eat too much crap, …) Now I’d like to hang with folks again. Wild phantasies of my sofa, the video beamer and a nice trip to Los Santos cross my mind more often as well. I’m still unsure if I will only stay in Hannover for a short stopover or if the current trip will end there. At least I already reserved a spot in the workshop, the van (and I) should be good to go again by the end of October.

Today my gas (LPG) bottle ran out, using the heater for more than two weeks straight might be the reason. I still have the 5kg spare which should see me home. Filling a german bottle in sweden is reported to be tricky and expensive… I guess I will buy a special bottle which is legal to be filled with LPG at gas stations.

(posted one day after writing)

The east of Norway


The nature over here is much more scenic than in the south of scandinavia, they got mountains as well as “real” ocean with waves and everything, not so boring as the baltic sea. Since Norway is not a member of the EU they make their own laws for importing stuff so the amounts of for example alcohol to import tax-free is ridiculous. They consider beer to have max 4.7 percent of alcohol. Pilsener has 4.9 to 5.1 so it goes in the vine category which means you are allowed to bring 3 (in words: three) liters per person. “Luckily” there is not much beer left after almost two months of travelling so I wasn’t tempted to become a smuggler…

I’m still not fully recovered from having a cold but I feel more or less alright. Slow days, plenty of reading and short walks. I met a nice german traveller, visited Vadso, Vardo and Hamningberg. Yesterday I saw kickass northern lights and will hopefully soon edit these (and the ones from oulu) and upload them At the moment I’m on my way back to head up north the Tana river to finally arrive at the only more or less fixed destination of this journey: The North cape.

Getting online was tricky as well arriving in the least populated area in the country on a saturday evening. SIM Cards are not sold everywhere like in the rest of scandinavia, you have to go to a special shop. After some asking around I found the shop in the city/island of Vardo, 2000 inhabitants. The number of choices of different prepaid options over here was exactly one and you have to say your name but show no passport. Norwegians have to register the SIM card with their personal identification number from their passport. The SIM I got is for phoning and not internet so traffic is expensive. Around 50c/MB. But there’s a cap on daily costs at 10 crownes (1,3€). There is a traffic limit of 100MB/day as well. So in the end I have got 3GB/month for almost 40€ delivered in a weird way. At least it works reasonably well, I’m north of Vadso in a quite remote area and still have reception…