Lightning at Zwenkauer Lake

Another night at my favourite lake. An unforeseen Thunderstorm strucks and by coincidence I have got a SLR and a tripod handy.

blitz1 blitz2

The first pic is a lucky shot toying around with bulb mode. My idea was to put the camera on long exposure and that bulb mode would stop exposing when enough light has hit the sensor. Didn’t work out, I’m unsure why. So I set the camera for 15-30 seconds of exposure on program mode, 100iso, manual focus and continuous shooting (“intervalometer” feature of the awesome “magic lantern” firmware). The result: around 60 black pictures and the second pic of this post.

The times are a’changing….

Odo: 305208
Location: Zwenkauer Lake, Germany

“Lately” I read some books about sailing. Mostly while camping at my favourite lake near Leipzig.

Some volumes of cap’n fatty goodlander, “The self sufficient sailor” by lin&bill parde0y and “Sailing alone around the world” by joshua slocum (free audio book!) . It’s been like time travel. Josh sailed in the 18hundreds so it’s quite clear stuff was quite different back then.


Slocums “Spray” (still sloop rigged, later he shortened the main boom and added a second mast (mizzen?!)

Fatty is still sailing so he tells old yarns but gives advice based on today. The Lin&Bill wrote their book in the seventies and revised in in 1997. Plenty of advise is still up to date, but in some places it’s kinda weird. Cited from memory:

They ran a ship without an engine because engines are freaking expensive, break all the time and pollute the environment. Pollutions&pricing is still an issue for sure, but I guess the reliability kind of changed. I’m not familiar with boat engines but most car engines which have reputation for being virtually indestructible are from the seventies & eighties, like for example the merc m102, m111, om602, … Older engines suck because production processes were not advanced enough to get the precision and quality of material was not good enough to produce a durable engine. And because of their bad fuel economy. Newer engines are optimised on fuel economy at all costs, especially reliability is not so important any more because people have the tendency to not buy new stuff while the old stuff runs fine..

Lin&Bill ran a ship without an electrical system. Only some battery operated appliances like quartz clocks (to use with the sextant for navigation), some flash-lights and a radio/stereo. This one blew me away at first, but well, I might have done the same back then. No Computers, no digital cameras, no VCR, no halfway portable TV, no GPS, no AIS, no cellphone/mobile broadband, hell there wasn’t even internet. On top of that crappy/expensive batteries, solar cells, … Yeah, I would have done the same, there was no real benefit of an electrical system.

“The anchor light will burn for 30 hours on one-quarter pint of fuel without refilling— that’s efficiency! Compare that to the diesel fuel and noise required to generate enough electricity to run an anchor light for the same period.”

Yep, that was before LEDs for sure. Let’s consider a 8 Watt high power (three nautical mile visibility) model. 240 Watt@12V are 20Ah. Let’s say our (tiny) engine has a (tiny) 60A generator, that’s 20 min of running. The idling engine probably consumes half a litre of diesel per hour, so the electrical light uses about a one-third pint of fuel. There are also small anchor lights (2km claimed visibility) which just consume 0,1A / hour, totalling 3Ah in 30h / 5min running time of the engine / 50ish ml of diesel or a-tenth of a pint. Same ballpark for the big gun, distinctively outperformed by the small light. How come? Well, kerosene lamps squeeze out 0,25lm/Watt of light, LEDs 80-120lm/Watt (or thereabouts). 125ml (1/4 pint) kerosene has 34MJ/l, or 4,25MJ/quarter pint. That’s 1,19 kWh (0,28kWh/MJ) in 30h or 40 Watt in one hour. So 10 Lumen for the kerosene lamp, around 10 Lumen for the small LED and a whopping 800 Lumen for the 8W LED. Yeah, LEDs did change the game completely…

Anyways, a decent solar panel array should produce the needed energy in an hour (big light) or a couple of minutes (small light).

But there was still lots of good advise which wasn’t outdated: If your electronics fail you can’t crank your engine. Today that’s actually not that much of a problem any more because you utilise two separate battery banks, one for “camping” and the other dedicated to cranking the engine. So if one goes flat you still have the other. But if your starter breaks you are fucked. I didn’t realise that yet because with cars you can always push / roll start them (manual transmission) or tow start them (yet another disadvantage of automatic transmission). Back in the days of civil service I did that for a whole weekend while taxiing mothers with their children. Living in the mountains it’s quite easy to park downhill. Just turn on the ignition, shift to second gear, push down the clutch, release the breaks, accelerate and then pop the clutch. Voilà, a running engine (disclaimer: might fuck up your catalytic converter and without the engine running power steering and most importantly the brake servo isn’t working). Some folks thought that was a rather weird practise but hey, it beats walkin’…

Diving down and turning the prop by hand doesn’t sound like a good idea at all so I got to remember this. They wrote that there are some kind of hydraulic starters and spring loaded starters on certain heavy duty equipment, I think I should look into that. Especially adding a hydraulic pump to the engine would open a wide array of possibilities.

“Very few people quit cruising because of storms, bad weather, or calms. It’s the little hassles like getting phone calls through, cashing checks, or finding your mail and a hot shower that annoy you most. But then, if cruising were easy, everyone would be doing it”.

Well, welcome to the future. Satphones, 3G/4G, Email, ATMs and widely accepted credit/debit cards, online banking, … are benefits of living today. And watermakers + boiler make even the hot shower possible…

“Then Larry cuts a strip of strong, stiff plastic about inch by 1 ½ inches wide and 4 inches long and uses fiber-glass reinforced tape to attach it to the end of the flashlight ( Figure 28.2 ). Presto— a flashlight you hold with a mouth grip.”

Yeah, old timers 🙂 These were the days before you could buy cheap headlamps almost everywhere.

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.


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.


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.


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


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…


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.


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.

Combining favourite pastimes


Being outdoors in mid November watching TV-Series. Why haven’t I thought of this before?


Two things I like about the Zwenkauer Lake: It’s not crowded at all and since it’s gaining a centimetre of water level per day it looks different every time you visit it.  Last chance to see though, touristy development starts next year 🙁