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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking for some feedback on what I consider to be - my first open water solo trip.

The route is Gothenburg to Skagen (Denmark) Not much to more seasoned sailors I know, but every man has his mountain.


I've been sailing for 5 years in and around West Sweden on day trips with family or myself.
The first few weeks after buying my boat, a MAXi 84, I solo sailed from Malmö to Varberg and on to Gothenburg (130 Nm). I have my RYA on shore skipper cert and I have solo sailed several days longer than the intended trip to Skagen but all along the shore and easily within sight of land, though if you look at the West Sweden shoreline it's not without its own stresses.

My intended departure is in 2 days, Aug 28th and return on the 30th. It's predicted to be 12 - 17 kts wind close-hauled both directions as it changes direction on the 29th.

It's been a goal of mine in my developing sailing career but for some reason I am experiencing nervous anticipation.

I'm interested to read any thoughts or advice on overcoming my healthy nervousness.
 

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Being a bit nervous is normal... there are possibilities of "new" ... so be prepared... and you'll be fine. Be conservative and PAY ATTENTION. Reef early...
 

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Have a plan and then a backup plan, and then a failsafe\worst case plan and I'm sure you'll do just fine. It sounds like you've prepped already, and you have miles under your keel for a trip like this. Whether on my boat, or at my work as an emergency responder, I've always thought that if I wasn't nervous anymore then it would be time to stop because clearly I was missing something or didn't care to consider all the hazards.
 

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I would do as much prep before hand to lighten your workload while on the water.

Have your route into port already planned out. Know your tides in advance. Have your routes pre programmed into your GPS with XTE alarms set, set your AP for expected conditions before hand. Have your CPA alarm set on your AIS (if fitted). Have your VHF channels pre programmed (is their a VTS channel you can monitor?). Have meals and drinks planned out and easily accessible.

Reef early.
 

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Sounds like the pre-game jitters. You've obviously prepared, but you can't over prepare. It's the little things that will turn into big things.

My first offshore passage I discovered that my preferred forecasting website defaulted to metric for wave heights. Expecting 4 feet, I got 4 meters. I learned A LOT on that trip, including why you reef early. I didn't, but as a result, I met a great sailmaker.
 

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I'm interested to read any thoughts or advice on overcoming my healthy nervousness.

You would be nuts if you were not nervous!

I certainly get nervous. Every time.
I leave tomorrow for a 36 hour passage Guernsey to Oostend, Belgium and already I am paving the floors.
Out of the marina at 6am to a standby pontoon and leave at 2pm for the tide.

Its always a bit nervy but I just do what I have to do and the bercs drop away once I am at sea.

:grin
 

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Keep an eye out (get it? eye out) for the krakens.

Fair winds and have a great trip.
 
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Nervous is different the anxious. Nervous is good and motivates. Anxious is bad and paralyzes. Your depreciating remark is misplaced. Coastal is much harder. Be confident. The very fact you’re nervous speaks Well of you.
Go through the belt and suspenders thought process. If this breaks what do I do? If this happens what do I do? The day before leaving do nothing but rest up, eat, hydrate and get sleep. Chill and get centered. I like to spend that day alone. Others like time with their significant other. Mine gets me wired talking about why I’m not taking crew. Doesn’t understand that sometimes singling the boat is a joy. But it’s all good.
Keep the stick dry and keel wet and you’ll be fine.
 

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Sounds like a fun trip! Tides and currents shouldn't be too big a factor on that route, but I would definitely pay attention to traffic. I would get as accurate an AIS picture before you leave cell coverage as possible (assuming you don't have a receiver onboard), and update it as soon as you get in range on the Danish side.

Also, YR is currently reporting squall/thunderstorm for 06-12 on August 28. Have a look at some weathermaps to decide if that's a problem for you or if that will be long gone by the time you get there. Have snacks and foulies ready.

Stay alert, and let us know how it goes!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
OK.
Thanks for the words, feels better for sure. The weather is holding up, if anything it may be a little light on the departure.
Looks like I'll spend the night tonight on the boat and head out in the morning. I'll let you know how it goes, though, when not expecting any drama it may make for a dull tale.
 

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I heard an interesting TED talk given by a cave diver. Before each dive, after all the prep work is done, she sits down and visualizes all the things that can go wrong. For each thing, she visualizes what her response would be, and all the options.

This seems to me very much like what you are doing. Prep well, plan for contingencies and have a safe trip. Let us know how it goes!! :2 boat:
 

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I heard an interesting TED talk given by a cave diver. Before each dive, after all the prep work is done, she sits down and visualizes all the things that can go wrong. For each thing, she visualizes what her response would be, and all the options.

This seems to me very much like what you are doing. Prep well, plan for contingencies and have a safe trip. Let us know how it goes!! :2 boat:
Here is my image when I shove off:
 

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I know the waters quite well.
Weather will not be an issue, but on the light side.
The big deal on that passage is traffic. A lot of traffic.
Be sure to stay alert when crossing the Traffic seperations.
Outside of them, it's just going to be a lovely ride 😊
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
OK. Home safe and sound with almost no drama so I do have a tale or two to share.

The tips I received here were sound and obviously from more experienced sailors. I thought I had done my due diligence but what I actually did was just think I knew what I was doing and continued on. Not big issues, but then it's never one big mistake, it's a sequence of seemingly insignificant small ones that catch you out.

Heading out was fine, the traffic was not nearly as bad as it looked on AIS, although my tolerance may be more relaxed as I am usually sailing in a busy area. One boat did catch me off-guard in the first couple hours and reminded me to be more diligent. The wind ended up being quite light and left me bobbing around a little and this being my first bigger sail in a while I got seasick, I released some breakfast of the side and felt immediately better for the duration.

I had my route planned, (kinda) I would cut straight across and come into the harbor from the south as the wind was S, SE and the top hook of Skagen I had heard can create a current that some joked about it dumping you out and on towards Norway. I actually came in a bit high, just north of the harbor, also, because of the light winds and my later than the crack of dawn departure I was arriving in the dark, invertedly overcoming another goal - night sailing. So arriving in the dark I was 1 to 2 miles out from the harbor entrance being held in place for 20 minutes before I realized I was not making headway, this was a challenging situation to say the least. This typically would not have been a problem, but my 40-year-old Penta MD7A that has a tendency to overheat it was stressing it to a point of real concern. I called the port inquiring about a tow, but they couldn't help and suggested Sea Rescue. I was not too proud, it was a reasonable course as I was close to being adrift in a busy waterway but I pushed on and slowly, very slowly backed away from the current south before creeping along on an angle that saw me into the harbor. This last mile or so took 2 hours to cross. I slipped in to the small boat section with my temp alarm buzzing before tying up next to a talkative tuna fisherman, I put my lips to beer and head to pillow at 1am.

The morning came leaving me a little disappointed, I have heard many say how nice it is to arrive in the dark and wake to a beautiful new place... I was in an industrial setting, a working harbor, nice in its own right but not exactly picture paradise. My talkative neighbor was very nice but after a quick walk on shore, I decided to head south to Frederikshavn. It was a nice sail, brisk and rainy. In an almost repeat of the day before, my last turn into the harbor was dead upwind and I was beating down the last couple miles again. I assumed the main harbor was the visitors' harbor, but it wasn't and I could see the many masts just on the other side of the wall. A few moments later I was tied up and looking for a pizza and wine as did not take heed of another tip to bring snacks.

My plan was to get some groceries after my pizza for the return trip to Gothenburg, but to my unfortunate luck or more so poor planning, the shops were closed when I had finished the best pizza since a very long time. Not to worry, I bought another to go and headed back to the boat.

The next morning was nice, my coffee (the only thing I had onboard) was amazing and I got on my way. The sail home was as planned, a nice breeze of the beam all the way back, riding some waves and eating beautiful pizza without any seasickness, all was well. I slipped back into my spot 10 hours later and finished what had been a significant hurdle in my sailing experience. No doubt I could have/should have done things better, differently but it was what it was, I will next time.

Thanks the tips that didn't follow, they were wise pieces of advice and I'll do better next time.
 

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Did the rudder whisper to you during the night?
 

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Great trip Gary!


You're so right about current... If you are stuck in some try going offshore or closer onshore to find a slack but.

Great story. :grin
 
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