2014 July 6th

After only 65NM we rounded Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope) with no problems at all. Cape Agulhas was very different. The weather and Cape Town are nice and this route now ends and some minor maintenance work will be done. Photos will be on the website soon.

2014 July 3rd

After 826NM arrived safely in False Bay of Cape Town. Probably that was the best leg of the whole journey: deep water sailing at its best! The very strong Agulhas current forces you to very carefully watch the weather because upcoming westerly winds go against the current and create very choppy sea and up to 10 meter high short waves. Then you needs to figure out where the current exactly flows, too near to the coast you gets stuck in the counter currents and too far out the sea gets terrible. Once in the current it’s like flying: up to 12 knots with two storm sails up only. Since the current follows the ground structures you needs to closely keep an eye on them. In front of Port Elizabeth we got it wrong (difficult ground structures) and had to pay with six hours of bumping around in heavy seas.

We were very, very lucky because we hit an unseasonal weather window of six sunny and warm days. Due to a NNW wind blowing on the west coast we need to wait a few days until we can go around Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope).

Durban was completely disappointing: a city without any character apart from a few run-down Art Déco houses.

2014 June 26th

After 98NM arrived safely in Durban. Low winds and calm seas all the way.

2014 June 24th

After 995NM arrived safely in Richards Bay (South Africa). A long leg with very different winds: the first four days included sailing with good, strong winds. After that strong headwinds and high seas from the same direction made it impossible to sail directly and we had to fight our way to the West. So for the better angel we went to Richards Bay to do the entry to South Africa.

The sudden wind changes and the high waves with small lengths make this part of the Indian Ocean very difficult to sail. Strange enough the weather forecasts for this region are not very precise, mostly the winds are much stronger than predicted.

2014 June 14th

After 562NM arrived safely in Madagascar. Very difficult sailing with high seas and winds going up and down between 5kts and 40kts. Difficult to find a proper sail setting. We have never before experienced such surprising wind changes without any weather front nearby. Arriving to Madagascar is nice since it is not at all the dry unpleasant land that you would expect.

2014 June 7th

After 201NM with good winds arrived safely in La Réunion. The island is surprisingly boring and without beaches and there is not much to do. No wonder they have little tourism.

Mauritius on the other hand was very nice with it’s mixture of French and British culture. Thanks to the Créole the French language is still very strong, despite 200 year of British reign.

2014 June 2nd

After 1277NM on one tack (sb) with strong easterly winds and seas up to five meters arrived well in Mauritius. Quite an exciting experience to be back on sea with real sailing after all the island hopping.

Port Louis locks very nice and very French. The temperatures went down to 24 degrees – what a relief after months of >30.

2014 May 23rd

After 356NM with westerly winds in the first part and easterly winds in the second part arrived safely to Chagos. These islands are uninhabited and are really paradisiac: large white sand beaches in front of palm islands – fresh coconut juice included. So far out in the Indian Ocean there is no pollution and the waters and the beaches are wonderfully clean.

Addo was nice and, like most of the Maldives, quite well developed.

2014 May 17th

After 398NM of island hopping in-between the most beautiful islands of the world arrived safely to Addo to check-out for Chagos. While the islands are beautiful, there are not many left, that don’t have a resort. Sadly enough here too (seemingly like everywhere by now) near the islands there is a lot of rubbish in the water.

2014 April 28th

After sailing 526NM in light to good winds arrived safely in Male. The capital is quite surprising with its high buildings and dense downtown. To visit the islands ahead of us should be great.

Sri Lanka was very surprising: one would expect the cities to be the same as in India, but once on shore one immediately realizes the difference: everything is very clean. The people are nice and the landscapes beautiful. Colombo is modern city without much old culture but Galle, although small, is very nice.

2014 April 20th

After sailing 958NM in very light winds arrived safely in Galle and looking forward to visit the town, the tea farms and Colombo.

The islands of Andaman are beautiful with their strong light-green vegetation. Less possibilities than in Burma, but much nicer.

2014 April 8th

After sailing 411NM on one single tack arrived safely in Port Blair, which is bigger and more interesting than expected. We will now have a look around the small islands with the great beaches.

Rangoon/Yangon was very interesting. It almost seems to be built in the jungle and one can see that the city has lots of activities and is making progress. Many things (thousand pagodas) to see. Burmese people are quite friendly and the food is good too.

2014 April 3th

Latest 2014.04.03: After 499NM of hopping through the great Islands of the Mergui Archipelago and sailing up the river Irrawaddy arrived in Rangoon (Yangon). The river is terribly dirty but the city is terribly exciting.

The Islands are beautiful but the thousands of fisher boats and the locals, who already belong to “generation plastic”, are heavily polluting the sea and the beaches.

2014 March 27th

After 221NM of good sailing in light winds arrived in Kawthoung (Myanmar / Burma). The looks are impressive and quite different to Thailand. Every little fisher village has several golden pagodas. From here on to visit the famous islands we need to take a ranger on board.

Phuket is nice, although the east coast is busy, hot and dirty, but the west coast is beautiful and the sailing to the different islands is great.

Good to have the bowsprit back!

2014 March 17th

After 337NM of island hopping in probably the greatest sailing area of the world, arrived safely in Phuket. The views, the beaches, the water quality and color and the landscapes of these islands are really perfect. Snow white and very fine sand (good for walking) combined with clear water of different colors and most island with fairly high mountains – just perfect. Only that in these months of the year there is not much wind, although it is called the sailing season – but the currents are very strong, especially between the islands.

The area around the so-called James Bond Island is even better than the Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, same aspect, but enough depths to sail in between. The JB Island itself is terribly commercialized and boring.

The yachting infrastructure in Phuket is impressive and thereby quite different to the rest of East Asia.

2014 March 6th

After 71NM of sailing with little no we reached Langkawi. It’s a beautiful group of islands, great for sailing. The towns have no interest.

Georgetown was surprisingly lovely and had a great mix of different cultures (Malay, Chinese, Indian and European). It has lots of old houses of different ages and styles that are more or less preserved. Eating out was nice too.

2014 March 5th

After 244NM of sailing with almost no wind but still strong currents mostly in our favor (depending on tide) we reached Georgetown. The city is quite interesting and before used to be for trade what Singapore is today. For about 80NM we had to sail though a thick dust that is caused by illegal burning of forests in Sumatra and also polluted the air of Kuala Lumpur. Visibility was down to ½ NM – difficult with all the traffic and the many small (unlit!) fishing boats.

Malaka and Kuala Lumpur were rather disappointing. Malaka being a very old town that is now ruined by a Disneyland style tourism organization. Kuala Lumpur has visibly a lot of new money, but lacks the style to run a good show. Interesting enough over 50% of its inhabitants are Chinese and almost 8% are Indians.

2014 February 28th

After 190NM of smooth sailing with good southeasterly winds and strong currents in our favor we reached Port Dickson (Malaysia). From here we plan to visit the old Town of Malaka and the new mega city Kuala Lumpur.

2014 February 23rd

After 133NM of smooth sailing with good northeasterly winds we reached Singapore! This ends the South East Asia trip – two bow sprits lost and hundreds and hundreds of stories and experiences gained.

2014 February 20th

After 211NM of starting with great sailing with good northeasterly winds, later dying down, we reached Pulau Tioman. A very beautiful island, again with perfect beaches, wonderfully clear waters and good diving objects. This island is a bit more interesting having an impressive road going over a mountain through the jungle to a remote surfer paradise, where you can say hallo to a blind sea turtle in a too small basin. Who knew that sea turtles, after getting to the sea, float for about fifteen year in the currents and from here reach Australia and then after being feed up with that nanny state, swim back to here to lay their eggs – impressive! The ones we swam with in the Galapagos Islands didn’t seem to be very motivated to float to Australia!

It is really remarkable how relaxed the Malaysians are concerning visiting yachts. After having to fight all the South East Asian bureaucracies we appreciate the correct and efficient way the paperwork is handled. At the same time the Malaysian people are usually very friendly and helpful with foreigners.

But then again the Malaysian places we visited have a century old history of visiting ships and their own ships taking care of the connection between China/Japan and the Arabic ships. While China and Japan today are the worst places for visiting yachts, Fukuoka and Shanghai, that have the same old history, were friendly and efficient, Tokyo and Tianjing were terrible.

2014 February 16th

After 408NM of sailing mostly against the wind and a rough sea arrived well in Pula Perhentian (Malaysia).

This is a little dream-like group of islands with great sand beaches and beautiful landscapes.

2014 February 9th

After 345NM of light wind sailing and lots of tacking arrived safely in Ko Samui. Looks great and is a wonderful stop-over for swimming and snorkeling.

Bangkok is a very interesting and vibrant city (with lots of air pollution), but with the demonstrators strategically blocking the traffic this is not the time for tourists to visit.

The night before we wanted to leave Bangkok a crazy Thai captain hit MERRYMAID, which was anchored, with his barge, towing four other barges, and broke the bowsprit of. Thanks to the crew on night watch MERRYMAID could be maneuvered back to avoid worse damage. So of course a few days were lost with the formalities and the provisional repairs. PANTAENIUS as the insurance representative acted swiftly and was very helpful.

2014 January 22nd

After 298NM of good sailing with no, low and mostly high winds arrived safely in Bangkok. The plan is to do some works and visit Angkor Wat and Ta Prom (safer and easier from Bangkok then from Phnom Penh).

Sihanoukville was a nice town, with lots of beautiful beaches and surprisingly crowded with tourists. Phnom Penh is interesting but quite ugly. Sadly enough there is nothing really old (all destroyed by the Khmer Rouge) and all the new rebuilding of temples, that is taking place, is rather Disneyland-like.

2014 January 16th

After 441NM of very good and fast sailing arrived safely in Kampong Saom (Cambodia) to visit Phnom Penh from here. Sailing down the Saigon River was great again.

Saigon, being relatively young (200yrs), is a beautiful city with lots of French architecture und generous avenues. Going further up the river with a speed boat to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels is a must. Quite interesting to see how economically further developed Saigon is in comparison to Hanoi. Strange enough in Europe the north is traditionally economically stronger advanced and in Asia it is the south.

2014 January 11th

After 251NM of mostly sailing with the foresails and after having an over-night stop in front of the new Aman hotel, arrived safely in Saigon. Sailing up Saigon River for almost 30NM was awesome and beautiful. It’s always exciting to sail in a river with a sailing boat.

Nha Trang was very interesting from a yachtsman point of view. Good weather and good winds, seemingly during nine months per year. The town is small and nice, but too many Russian tourists around. Vietnam will soon be the sailing center of South East Asia, since the coastline is beautiful (reddish rocks with strong green vegetation reminding of Mallorca) and with lots of little islands with sand beaches. Nothing comparable to be found in China, Korea or Japan. But so far it is extremely difficult to sail around in Vietnam due to the bureaucracy not having adapted to the concept of yachting. So you need a very good agent (Sailing Center Vietnam - ruurd@sailing.vn) and some patients

2014 January 7th

After 280NM of mostly sailing with spinnaker and some motoring arrived safely in Nha Trang.

Da Nang was an impressive bay, Hue historically interesting although most of it is a young (200 yrs) copy of Chinese style. Hoi An was simply and surprisingly great. One has to see the old town, the markets and the river with all the floating lampions at night!

2014 January 2nd

After 154NM of smooth sailing arrived in Da Nang. The bay is huge and the old city of the emperors – Hue – will be great to see.

Sanya was really surprising, miles of sand beaches (good fine sand) and palms. The water quality, even in the marinas, is impeccable. Only that there is quite some air pollution, probably due to the enormous amount of construction work that is going on everywhere. Sanya Marina is prefect.

2013 December 29th

After 238NM of good sailing with up to 30kts of wind arrived safely in Sanya, Hainan. Sailing through the islands of Ha Long on a sunny day was spectacular. The visit to Hanoi was quite interesting, a city on the move from socialist poverty to Chinese style capitalism, including pollution. Not very beautiful.

Sanya is surprising, just like Miami: miles and miles of sand beaches with condominium skyscrapers behind. Weather is lovely.

2013 December 25th

After 185NM arrived at the Ha Long Bay and got into the inner area with two pilots on board. Entering at night is already very impressive.

2013 December 24th

After 348NM of nice but choppy sail with lots of reaching passed the Qiongzhou Strait. Getting the permits is a bit difficult, but after that it’s like Gibraltar. AVOID at night because the strait is full of unlit metal fishing buoys.

2013 December 21st

After only 34NM of sailing in good wind arrived in Macau (the speed is fabulous with a freshly cleaned hull and a new mainsail). The approach was extremely tricky: at low tide the entry channel is to shallow and at high tide Merrymaid with its 28 meter mast (the pennant mast already been removed) cannot pass under the three bridges. So it took a very cautious approach in exactly the right tide with a crewmember hanging on top of the mast. The city is interesting with its Portuguese architecture and huge casinos. Nice city, more relaxed and more open than HK. Macau has three times the revenues of Las Vegas and the Venitian is the biggest Casino in the world and also the 7th biggest building in the world, by square footage.

Some technical information for those who want to get into Macau’s inner Harbour (there is no safe anchorage outside): MM draws 3.80m, we past the obstacles with a tide of 2m (low: 1.0 / high 3.0m) and at the beginning of the incoming channel we had about 20cm under the keel (the channel is getting deeper going in). The mast of MM is 28m and under the 3rd bridge (the lowest one) we had about 1m left between the bridge and the topmast. While we were going in, the tide was going down and the current was helpfully against us.

2012 August 7th

New Pictures 2012 are online!

2012 July 15th

After a total of 680NM arrived safely in Hong Kong in beautiful but hot weather. We had to make a stop in Kaohsiung (Taiwan) to seek shelter from a passing storm. The sailing was nice but the weather is getting too hot and the risk of having to wait for passing storms, and thereby loosing lots of time, is getting bigger every day.

So we have decided to stop here in Hong Kong and add the remaining places to next year’s program. This East Asia journey was without any doubts a one-of-a-lifetime experience for everybody. Extremely interesting and lots to see and to learn but also very demanding and difficult. The China East Sea has been the toughest sea we have ever sailed in and looking at Google maps one sees the open Pacific Ocean pushing in to relatively shallow waters (28-40 meters) thereby creating a very difficult sea. Add the Chinese, the Korean and the Japanese bureaucracy and you will reconsider your definition of “difficult”.

The photos will be on the website within two weeks.

2012 July 8th

In one single tack of 158NM under full sails and in wonderful weather arrived in Keelung (Taiwan) to see Taibei.

Ishigaki Shima is really a great place. Beautiful vegetation that reminds of Samoa and surrounding reefs make these islands the water sports / divers paradise in the South East.
People are very friendly and unlike many Japanese, very relaxed.

2012 July 5th

Well arrived in beautiful Ishigaki Shima, which is called the Hawaii of Japan. After having to wait in Fukuoka for three Typhoons to pass our way (the first one being called a Super-Typhoon with wind speeds up to 150kts) we finally made our way down South. Sailing wonderfully 1066NM from relatively fresh Fukuoka into very warm weather was very pleasant and the winds great, although mostly from all over the place. We now run late by one month by now but it surely is worth every day.

2012 June 14th

Sailing from cold to warm and sunny 615NM through the Sea of Japan with very good winds and arrived well in Fukuoka. Although we had planned to go to Nagasaki a big Typhoon forced us to seek shelter. Never mind, we got the A-lesson in Hiroshima.

Vladivostok was quite interesting, although not very old there are lots of buildings built by European traders (a little like the Bund of Shanghai) and a beautiful coast line. Once the now all over constructions will be finished, it will be a very nice city. At this time of the year there is always lots of fog (seemingly in September the weather is nicer, but then boats are trapped and can’t go south anymore due to the Typhoon season). Special thanks to Mikhail, Konstantin and Igor who helped us fighting the bureaucracy and our thirst!

2012 June 8th

After sailing 38NM we passed Cape Shirakami which is notorious for its heavy winds and strong currents (bottleneck). It took longer than we had thought but posed no real problems for a strong boat.

Further sailing 405NM in mixed weather (lots of fog and some rain) with good winds we finally arrived in Vladivostok (the top latitude of our journey), although the paperwork has been even worse than in China. Without the help of our local Russian friends (of S/Y RUBIN) we would never have been able to get visas in the first place. We had to leave our Chinese crew member behind in Japan (probably having a terrible good time…) since they seem not to like the Chinese around here.

Temperatures are rather fresh but OK (remember that until the 1st of March the harbour is closed due to icing conditions). Interesting enough we didn’t meet any fishing boats here either. So maybe the fishing fleets are further south this time of the year.

Hakodate was surprisingly nice, relaxed and westerly, although the “most beautiful view in the world” was hidden in fog (see here).

2012 June 1st

Sailing 619NM up the east coast in mostly nice weather and thereby passed the Fukushima nuclear station. We carried two Geiger counters and some 500 litres of extra water. The only strange thing was that usually being surrounded by thousands of fishing boats, here on the east coast of Japan there were none. And very rarely we saw other ships, probably because we held a 80NM distance to Fukushima. Although the radiation was not high at all (max readings of 0.05 µSv/h – safe level is 0.5 µSv/h) it seemed like a ghost sea compared to China.

Tokyo was rather boring from a tourist view, perhaps like all big and busy cities. To live there might be attractive due to the endless possibilities, provided that one can cope with the minimalistic ways contained in the architecture, in the lack of liveliness in the streets and in the character of most people.

Yokohama at first looking dull turned out to be the best place for a night out.

Kamakura used to be the centre of one of the most important Shoguns and has all the sights you wish to see, if you’re not over-shrined, over-templed and over-gardened by now (we are!). If all of this (including all the European cathedrals) will not win us to the best place to stay in the future (Nirwana), we wouldn’t know what more to do (be good?).

2012 May 24th

Sailing 137NM in heavy traffic into the Tokyo Bay arrived in Yokohama in the morning. Quite excited having gotten some beautiful pictures of the “shy” Mount Fuji in good weather in the morning and now looking forward to see exciting Tokyo (buying some Geiger counters to sail past Fukushima to the north).

Have a look at the five pictures we placed in the gallery under “Fuji” and you will see some nice shots including a sun halo we were lucky enough to encounter.

2012 May 20th

Sailing 312NM quietly in nice weather arrived well in Numazu/Fuji and had a first wonderful sight of impressive Mount Fuji, although the sky is over casted.

Kobe and especially Kyoto and Himeji are a must-sees for every Japan trip: so many different sights (temples, shrines, castles, gardens) in one place that really keep you busy, not forgetting the wonderful restaurants (not fusion!). And of course include a visit to the Sake factory/museum.

2012 May 12th

From Hiroshima to Kobe sailing 201NM in all, we spent a few days with lovely sailing between the islands and thereby visited

- Miyajima (beautiful temples and shrines and the famous water gate)
- Ohmishima (not very exciting, only a boring shrine and some dusty armours)
- Shodoshima (great landscapes, impressive island of Soya sauce, olives and rice)

Did you know Soya sauce was fermented and kept in wooden barrels for a year, just like wine?

The sailing was wonderful although the wind direction could change by 180 degrees within a few minutes.

The Japanese Inland Sea is something really special and worthwhile visiting. Only the fact, that every stop needs a written permission by the authorities makes it a bit complicated. Furthermore almost nobody speaks other than Japanese.

2012 May 6th

After a wonderful sail of 182NM in warm, sunny weather through the channel of Kita-Kyushu and then through the inland sea, arrived well in Hiroshima. The beauty of the inland sea with its thousands of islands and Hiroshima with its many islands in front of the city is surprising and fantastic. All the islands are of different shapes and sizes and have mountains with a strong green vegetation and light orange coloured rocks. Everywhere are beautifully embedded (natural) sand beaches. There is no visible tourism so far.

Fukuoka is nice, clean and unexcited with many artificial beaches. The liveliness on the streets you see in China and Korea is a bit missing in the Japanese cities.

2012 May 1st

Japan at last! After a good sail of 117NM with strong winds we crossed the Korea Strait in which Kubilai Khan, when twice trying to invade Japan with an armada, lost hundred thousands of men to what the Japanese since then call the magic winds.

Busan was surprisingly beautiful and reminds in everything of the French Riviera: huge and beautiful beaches, many hills with lots of pines and clean air and water due to the lack of industry.

2012 April 28th

After a nice sail of 201NM arrived in Busan. Spring has now really arrived and the weather is pleasant although bad weather fronts come and go very fast.

Jeju-do is a surprisingly beautiful Island with a huge volcano in the middle (1950 meter) and is a perfect set-up for tourists. Many museums of all kinds, great beaches and wonderful landscapes (strong Caribbean-like vegetation). The harbour is full of fishing boats so there is not much space for yachts, only in the outer part that has heavy swell.

2012 April 24th

Finally found the “Love Island” Jejudo that looks beautiful – many Japanese and Chinese couples decide to get married here. We used the short window between two strong weather fronts to sail the 313NM in half-ways good weather.

Seoul is a very nice city with hundred thousands of trees, vast recreational areas around the (partly artificial) rivers and very nice and lively people having thousands of little shops for everything (what a difference to Mainland China). Air pollution by now seems acceptable, but it's a modern city (not much interesting modern architecture) with little tradition besides the impressive palaces. We could have sailed up the main river (still polluted) to the centre of Seoul, but being behind schedule we stayed in the newly built marina that has everything you would expect.

2012 April 14th

Arrived in Jeongok/Seoul (South Korea) after sailing 322NM with almost no wind.

Qingdao is a nice city with clean water, a pleasant shore promenade and good sailing infrastructure but the air pollution is as bad as in most big cities on the mainland. Part of the reason is that 10 years ago there were only 2.5mio people living here with no high-rises. Now there are 8mio people and hundreds of high-rises. Very beautiful and odd are the thousands of German houses that were built around the turn of the century. People are so fond of that architecture that they copy the main elements in the new buildings (Fachwerk, only painted and steep roofs with Dachfenster).

Here again: helpless and expensive agent (KING GLORY SHIPPING SERVICE) and incredible bureaucrats (it takes 5 days to get a permit to enter and 5 days to leave and even the small sailing boats need to renew their permission every single day to exit the marina for their daily training. Gasoline is not available for ships flying a foreign flag etc. etc.).

2012 April 5th

After a wonderful sail of 417NM with good winds, making up to 12 knots in mostly sunny weather with temperatures finally rising, arrived to Qingdao and were allowed to sail right into the beautiful main bay without complications nor troubles. Water turned from dirty brown in the Baihai Bay from Tianjin to clear blue. Looking forward to see the town and the beaches of Qingdao, formerly a German concession and still producing China’s most famous beer “Tsingtao” and known in China as “the Switzerland of China”.

Tianjin was a nightmare, but a good lesson. Shanghai being professional, efficient and friendly represents the modern China. Tianjin Harbour with its inefficient, incompetent and corrupt officials, the other. It’s not against foreigners but local people are harassed by officials every single day (treating them badly, blackmailing them for money and blocking any special effort). Most unrests don’t come from students in the capital asking for more democracy, but from normal people all over the country that are feed-up by the harassment of incompetent local officials that cause a heavy burden on hard working and undertaking people.

Since Tianjin Harbour is terribly polluted, has no facilities for yachts whatsoever, the marina plan is a foul fake, and the officials are Kafka’s nightmare we recommend to avoid that detour if you don’t need a lesson in modern Chinese history. To visit the very interesting Beijing one is better off to take the high-speed train from Shanghai (4hrs and lots to see underway) or the normal train from Qingdao (3hrs).

2012 March 18th

Finally in Tianjin after waiting 4 days for permission in front of the harbour in a poor anchorage. Sailing 901NM through the Yellow Sea was better (calmer sea as expected) than the China East Sea but still challenging and cold. After a few days the weather got better and made it possible to sail to Tianjin directly (and thereby finishing the tough sailing north). Tianjin is in no way prepared to receive smaller vessels and is bureaucrazy! So hopefully the exploration of Beijing will reward for the effort.

2012 March 2nd

Shanghai at last! Sailing up the Yangzi River (Cháng Jiàng) and then turning into the Huangpu River to Central is BREATH-TAKING and worth the efforts (remembering that in 1904 the Manchu Dynasty of the Qing ‘1644-1911’ had only seven years left, Shanghai was occupied by the Japanese in the Russo-Japanese war and the European Concessions were at their climax)! We were lucky because the day before we arrived the harbour with its 50NM long entrance channels had to be closed due to heavy fog.

Sailing 1238NM from Hong Kong we had to avoid the Taiwan Strait because of US and Taiwanese Navy doing military exercises (with live ammunition fire exercises – not good to get in their way). In retrospect the Strait would have been even more difficult being a bottle neck for wind and currents.

On the way we had to seek shelter in a Taiwanese port to avoid the first storm. The two next ones (wind speeds up to 40kts) we could not see coming early enough. This is to say that the China East Sea is really demanding (at least until Shanghai from where on it is protected by Japan from the east): eastward there are some 6000NM of open Pacific Sea ending in Mexico (equals 30% of the world’s circumference). N, W and South there are complicated land structures that change wind directions and speeds constantly. To make it even more interesting there are important ground structures that influence currents and seas in an unpredictable way. So weather reports change completely within six hours (which at our speed is not enough to avoid anything) and at every corner you run into different weather conditions having to constantly change the tack your sailing on (only the cross seas are constant). Such conditions we have so far only met in the Tasman Sea and there the prior warning time was at least twelve hours (which seemed short notice then…).

To add to the challenge from Taiwan to Shanghai one is always surrounded by hundreds (!) of fishing boats within a range of 5NM. The way right rules of Chinese fishing boats are simple: get out of my way and don’t call me over CB since I don’t know the meaning of the word “way right” not even in Mandarin or Wu and if you are under sails then this is clearly your problem (probably meaning: why did you set them in the first place?). The good thing is that they all have AIS and are therefore clearly visible on the screen.

To sail north through the CES at this time of the year (some say maybe you are better off in the Typhoon season – thank you for the advice, sounds even more interesting…) you need a strong boat and a strong crew. These – at least - we now have.

So now we are looking forward to explore China, Korea and Japan, hopping that the Yellow Sea, as protected as it seems, will treat us far more gentle.

2012 Feb 17th

Waited for two weeks in Hong Kong for an acceptable weather window (sailing through the Strait of Taiwan as a bottle neck against the north monsoon winds is difficult). Such will open in the next days and allow to sail directly to Shanghai since the Mainland would not accept yachts entering from Taiwan. The lost time is OK since the temperatures are unseasonable low, so slowing down the pace going north and thereby being about a month behind schedule will be just fine when getting to Japan in April.

2012 Jan 27th

After Cape Bojeador encountered seas of up to 8 meters (choppy cross-sea) and winds up to 50 knots (from the north!) and had to sacrifice the destination of Batan Islands to go directly to Hongkong (the whole route under sails). Looking forward to visit an interesting city sooner than expected and having to do some minor repairs due to the heavy sea experienced.

2012 Jan 24th

Calm sail to Cape Bojeador and then hitting very heavy seas and strong winds. Probably will not make it to Batan Islands.

2012 Jan 23rd

Glad to have gotten out of Manila with aching lungs & eyes (air pollution) sailed with calm winds mostly on the nose (from north) 279NM to Vigan. Interesting colonial city with many old houses. Apart from the cathedrals not very Spanish (build by Chinese that have now disappeared) and everything very run-down and touristic. Temperature was quite hot until here and is now cooling down slowly.

2012 Jan 19th

After spending a few nice and calm days swimming in Kota Kinabalu, arrived safely in Manila after sailing 628NM with moderate winds through calm waters. Weather is nice and hot. There is a lots to see in Manila but pollution (air & water) is enormous.

2012 Jan 11th

After an easy sail through lots of oil fields arrived in surprisingly beautiful Kota Kinabalu.

2012 Jan 8th

Arrived safely in Muara (Brunei) after sailing 777NM almost on one (port) tack with light to moderate winds (10 – 25 knots) through the South China Sea on full main sail, staysail and jib. Pretty rainy in the beginning and now in sunny skies.

2010 Nov 1st

After having sailed 616NM along the east coast of Sumatera including a near-collision with a big fisher boat (thereby loosing our starboard topping-lift) we now finally arrived in Singapore where this second leg ends (one day late on a nine months plan with the boat being in good condition). The remaining pics will be on the site by mid November. It has been a demanding, but great and rewarding journey, long and very diverse. We hope that you enjoyed sharing our adventures and views and hope to welcome you back on our next leg (Chinese and Japanese Seas). See the new Photographies!

2010 Oct 27th

Again quietly sailing 517NM with little wind and arrived well in Cirebon to see an old interesting city with the famous four palaces.

2010 Oct 21st

After quietly sailing 313NM with little wind along the north of the islands in an almost inland sea arrived well in Benoa (Bali). Looking forward to seeing the temples, the monkeys, the rice fields and the volcano.

2010 Oct 18th

Sailed 180NM in a quiet one-day sail and arrived in the incredibly beautiful islands of Rindja and Komodo. Strong colours, nice vegetation, shiny beaches and – of course – the wild Komodo Varan Dragons (up to 4m long at a speed of 30KM/h) that are fed with entire goats.

2010 Oct 16th

Sailed 728NM virtually without no wind in very calm seas with strong currents and in wonderful warm weather. Already looking forward to the Varan.

2010 Oct 6th

After a wonderful downwind sail of 762NM in hot and beautiful weather arrived in Kei Cecil. The distance to Singapore is getting shorter and we are feeling the end of this demanding but unique leg approaching.

2010 Sep 26th

Arrived well in Port Moresby after 464NM of great sailing (almost flying with day’s runs of over 245NM). Now the danger of attacks is increasing and all necessary precautions have been taken.

2010 Sep 22nd

After a very nice sail of 319NM through the inner reef arrived well in Cairns.

2010 Sep 18th

After 330NM of great downwind sailing in the inner Barrier Reef in beautiful weather with good winds and spinnaker arrived well in Whitsunday Island. After seeing the world famous beach and sailing around the different islands we will head for Cairns and then Port Moresby (Papa New Guinea).

2010 Sep 15th

After 935NM against strong winds & strong tides arrived well at Lady Musgrave Island, a beautiful and almost perfect island in a coral reef and the beginning of the Great Barrier Reef. Sailing was good (14kts with trysail at one point) and having left the Tasman Sea and now being in the Coral Sea is very good too (nice temperatures & good snorkeling).

2010 Sep 3rd

Puhh, arrived well shaken after sailing 1712NM through the Tasman Sea (further than over the Atlantic). That sea has a very, very bad reputation and it's more than deserved: MERRYMAID experienced two heavy weather systems with only short announcements, swells up to eight meters, winds up to 50kts that built up within minutes and thereby sailing under full main, 2nd reef or trysail (at one point sailing at 12kts with the storm trysail). Broken gaff halyard, torn jib top and lost of main engine were only some of the problems the crew had to fight with.

2010 Aug 16th

After sailing 1226NM in rough and stormy weather arrived well in Auckland. Besides the bad weather it's pretty cold. We will explore the islands by land, do lots of maintenance work and then move on to Sydney.

2010 Aug 6th

Sailing 872NM against the trade winds arrived safely in Tonga (next time Samoa - Tonga - Fiji - New Zealand). Islands are as beautiful as in Fiji and the weather is still very pleasant.

2010 July 24th

After 344NM sailing along the outer islands arrived safely in Suva (Fiji). The different anchorages we stayed were magnificent and the people are very nice. From here we sail on to Tonga to spend some days around the small islands.

2010 July 15th

After 615NM with moderate winds arrived safely in Savusavu (Fiji). Samoa (Western) was Garden Eden in vegetation with very nice people. Having lost a day on the way to Fiji (time change of plus 24 hours passing the 180° longitude westbound) was a strange experience, especially for the French chef, who is desperate about the disappearance of his beloved Quatorze Julliet. Plan is to sail around the beautiful islands and drink lots of kava with the chiefs.

2010 July 5th

After a nice short sail of 93NM in good weather with winds between 4 and 30kts well arrived in Apia (Samoa). Pago Pago was depressing. Although it could be a terrific natural harbour surrounded by high mountains it's become a completely run-down industrial place with no facilities for provisioning or anything else then a McDonalds and a Pizza Hut (Hotspot worked wonderfully, GSM not at all).

2010 July 3rd

Arrived in Pago Pago (American Samoa) after 514NM with two days of almost no wind and two days of very strong winds. Impressive harbour surrounded by high mountains.

2010 Jun 27th

Arrived in Suvarov (Cook Islands) with fine sailing in good strong winds (up to 30kts) at high speeds and with lots of fetching - making 934NM in five days. Swell was high (2-3 meters but long enough and therefore not unpleasant - keeps the idler(s) among us fit). Weather is still fabulous (warm in the day and fresh at night) and the lagoon is beautiful but the entrance was tricky with winds up to 25kts.

2010 Jun 16th

Arrived in wonderful Bora Bora with 190NM of calm sailing after having spent a few maintenance days in Papeete and a few lazy days in beautiful Moorea. Planning to spend a week here and then move on to Suvarov (Cook Islands).

2010 Jun 05th

After 581NM sailing in light winds with spinnaker arrived in Papeete (Tahiti). The last 6447NM since Panama were difficult concerning supplies and repairs, but with the kind help of the locals (e.g. picking vegetables in the gardens of the Pitcairners), a good ship and a good crew everything went very well. We are planning on staying a week to explore Tahiti and then visiting the other Society Islands (Bora Bora etc.) and then continuing via the Cook Islands to Samoa.

2010 May 26th

After 608NM against headwinds or with no winds arrived in Amanu, one of the Tuamotu Islands. Passed through a narrow reef entrance and now anchored in the lagoon stern to shore with lines tied to palms. Water, weather, sand beaches and vegetation like in paradise. Planning on passing a few lazy days and having a beach party with our friends Jan and Eli from S/Y Jenny.

2010 May 17th

Finally after sailing 359NM arrived safely in the beautiful lagoon of Mangareva (Gambier Islands) after being held back for three days in Pitcairn for a low pressure system to pass and variable winds underway (12 to 30kts in one hour). Unfortunately lost an anchor in Pitcairn (first after 35000NM - not so bad), probably stuck in the wreck of the (HMS, before change of ownership) Bounty. Pitcairn was interesting, very friendly people (desperate for visitors to communicate with) on a very small island with no bay and no beach (mutiny doesn't pay!).

2010 May 13th

Arrived safely in the Pitcairn Island after a magnificent downwind sail (including spinnaker) of 1382NM and passing Ducie Island and Henderson Island (UNESCO World Heritage). Planning on a short visit and then proceeding to a safe anchorage in the Gambier Islands. Finally in the South Sea (called the Dangerous Archipelagos - lot's of history and currents)! While distances between the main navigation points still look huge there are a lot of beautiful little islands in-between for typical island-hoping and relaxing (and varnishing) in paradisiacal spots (Murorea will certainly be wonderfully radiant remembering the French nuclear tests).

2010 April 25th

Arrived safely in the Easter Island after having sailed 2025NM. Two tacks out of the archipelago, two slow days through the doldrums an then at the kind invitation of the SE trade winds flying through the South Pacific and therefore being one day early despite dying winds the last day. Looking forward to explore the island and then entering the South Sea (at 120°W).

2010 April 12th

After having spent twelve incredible days in the Galapagos Islands, swimming with sharks, whales, sea lions, marine iguanas, dolphins, giant sea turtles and thousands of other fishes, visiting land iguanas, red and blue feet boobies, giant land turtles, fregate birds, pelicans and thousand of other birds (most of the animals being endemic to the Galapagos) and seen wonderful different landscapes, we are now leaving for the Easter Island and hoping on a good one tack (port) sail in the SE trade winds to arrive around 26 April.

2010 March 30th

Safely arrrived in Puerto Baquerizo (Galapagos) after a fine sail of 944NM in wonderful weather. Thereby passing the equator (at 089° 12.07W) for the third time and this time giving Max and Marcin their compulsory baptism. Spending the next eight days visiting the island before leaving for Easter Island.

2010 March 17th

Safely arrived Panama after having sailed 219NM and been lazy in terrific Kuna Yala (San Blas), passed the impressive canal and spent one night in beautiful Lake Gatun. Preparing MERRYMAID for Galapagos and hopefully departing on 23 March.

2010 March 4th

Safely arrived in terrific San Blas Islands after having sailed 1095NM from George Town (Cayman Islands) - boring, to Port Antonio (Jamaika) - beautiful little spot, Kingston - interesting, Cristóbal (Panama) - very busy and Portobelo - very nice. San Blas Islands are terrific and beautiful and the Indians friendly.

2010 Feb 10th

Safely arrived in Georgetown (Cayman Islands) after one week in Cuba (Havana is great but run down) and having sailed 873NM via Isla de Juventud and Keyo Largo (wonderful sand beaches with palms).

2009 Apr 12th

After 878NM and having anchored in Tumaco (Checking in to Columbia) and Gorgonas (wonderful island and night diving) arrived in Panama City and thereby finishing the first Route totalling around 15'000NM with 95 days sailing including a perfect Atlantic Crossing and a impressive tour around South America.

2009 Apr 02nd

Well arrived in Salinas (Ecuador) after having sailed 703NM through a very pacific ocean in nice & warm weather.

2009 Mar 25th

Well arrived in Callao - Lima (Peru) after having sailed 1571NM along the Chilean and Peruvian coast and having anchored in Arica. Wonderful coastline and wildlife including sailing through a rare "Red Tide".

2009 Mar 11th

Arrived safely in Valapraios after having sailed 707NM through the open Pacific with moderate winds up to 30kts mainly from SW and long waves up to 8Meter.

2009 Mar 03rd

Well arriverd in Puerto Montt after having sailed 652NM through the Golfo de Penas and the Golfo the ultima Esperanza and having anchored in front of the glaciers Pio XI and Jorge Montt.

2009 Feb 23rd

Well arrived in Puerto Eden after having sailed 334NM in impressive fjords and visited fabulous glaciers.

2009 Feb 16th

Well arrived in Puerto Natales after having sailed 491NM through beautiful channels and anchored in sweet bays with glaciers! Weather was rough and navigation difficult but exciting.

2009 Feb 04th

Safely arrived back in Puerto William after havings sailed 259NM to Cap Horn. Anchored in Puerto Toro, Puerto Jacobo, Caleta Leon and visited Cabo Hornos. Passage from West to East was in rough weather. Passage from East to West on a nice and calm day.

2009 Jan 30th

Leaving the Falklands on a safe setting the weather proved to be nice and calm and so 442NM to Puerto Williams (Chile) were sailed mostly under full sails, the engine required for short periods of time only (low winds). Impressive how the barometer went up and down from 981 to 991 within less than twenty-four hours. The famous Beagle canal is impressive.

2009 Jan 22nd

Well arrived in Stanley ( Falkland Islands / Islas Malvinas) after having sailed 1638NM through the roaring forties (with winds between ten and fifty knots, mostly northerly & easterly!) & well into the Furious Fifties (good winds around thirty knots with high swell & very cold), while having anchored in Mar del Plata (not Punta del Este, but with Sea Lions & good shipyards) & Puerto Madryn in Golfo Nuevo (Orcas, sea lions, elephant seals & Magellanic penguins). Stanley is cold (air & water below 16°) but surprisingly interesting.

2008 Dec 29th

Well arrived in Buenos Aires after having sailed 1238NM and visited Baía da Ribeira (Paradisiac bay with impressive mountains & vegetation), Ilha Anchieta (Capivaras and Turtle Station), Porto Belo (Lunch on the beach in beautiful weather) and Punta del Este in Uruguay (Little Rio without crime & nice residential area & Sea Lions)

2008 Dec 15th

Safely arrived in Rio de Janeiro after having sailed 1096NM and anchored in and explored Rio Paraguaçu, Itaparica, Ilhéus, Arquipelago dos Abrolhos and Vitória.

2008 Nov 19th

After sailing 760NM in all, 690NM again on the same port tack under full sails and the last 70NM on starboard tack under engine, MERRYMAID has arrived in Salvador. Weather was favourable (sunsets indescribable, but fast) and spirits are high. Salvador is a great old city in a huge bay full of places to explore. At the same time, being the first stop having a good infrastructure, some changes on the rig and some maintenance on the electronics are planned.

2008 Nov 1st

Happily arrived in Ilha de Fernando de Noronha (Brazil) after having sailed 1426NM in perfect weather conditions (passing from northerly to southerly trade winds between 12kts and 30kts) of which 1100NM under sails (full main, stay, jib & top and replacing jibs with spinnaker with wind speeds under 20kts without using the autopilot once) achieving speeds of 12kts maximum. The doldrums between 7°N & 1°N made it necessary to use the engine for forty hours (total range 175h & 125h). Crew and passengers excited having crossed the equator under such good conditions.