Große Krampe

Saturday, before the kids started with the dinghy racing, I escaped and I took a solo sailing trip to Große Krampe. Really not enough wind, so I motored most of the way, having walked to the garage to pick up more fuel. I’ve now used up all the 2 stroke oil that I have on the boat, so I’ll need to dip into my “lifetime supply” that I got as a bargain in the garden centre. I think it’s 5 litres. Or it could be 10. You get the idea. Lots, given I need 100ml per 10l petrol.

After going all the way up to Müggelheim (no places to ashore, just private landings, people’s back gardens and a couple of sailing clubs), it was time for anchoring, lunch and naked swimming! 🙂 Everything that sailing should, at some point, be about. Magic.

After some time, and swinging round the anchor a bit, I notice a “no anchoring” sign hidden behind a tree! Really impossible to see from the direction I came in from. A wee bit further on is fine though, so, thinks I, just move and chill some more. Then I discover I’ve got a huge problem. The pull cord to start the motor is stuck, and I can’t get the top off the motor to try to fix it. Fuckity fuckity fuck. My outboard is mounted inboard, in a well, and the well has a footplate that is half way up the shaft so it can’t even be removed easily. Access at the rear is only a small gap. It puts the motor in front of the rudder – supposedly A Good Thing – but nonetheless, with no hand on the tiller, or the tiller locked off, the boat goes round in a broad anticlockwise circle. Not too not useful when you are, oh, just for example, trying to get the sails down (I’ve lost 2 bungee loops), or the fenders in/out (lost one). I can move very very fast, but still … hairy. The motor is on straight, just a prop wash thing, I guess…

Anyway, after unscrewing the “heads” mirror and using that to see and work out the outboard casing catch, I can at least look at the problem. Removing the round bit in which the starter cord lives, I found that a small steel rod was loose. I eventually worked out, (after 10 mins fiddling, and after testing it was not to do with the forward and reverse gears) that when attached, it is a lock that means you can’t pull the cord unless the engine is in exactly in neutral. So, reattach the rod, and all is good once more.

In the end, it was not at all a negative experience. There was next to zero wind, but no danger (I have a paddle) and I was happy to have had the opportunity to learn more about outboards (I know *engines* but, until now, nothing about outboard starter gear or props) and proud of myself for logically working out out (though gods know my logic abilities get enough of a daily workout in my job).

So, that meant I could move from there before the rain. But that got me just before I got back to the sailing club! I’ll go back there again, though, and anchor NOT right next to the sign. There’s a tiny beach. 🙂


Sunday Grumpy Sunday

What’s the point of a transport app, the official transport app of the BVG, mind, if it doesn’t tell you about disruptions? Or the tram driver suddenly announcing “we aren’t going to Köpenick” just before the last stop to get off and take a bus that only goes every 20 minutes, but not even telling you that, or where the damned tram IS going? Got off 3 stops later and walked back to Schöneweide, in the rain. At least I got to pee behind a bush. I’m only on the tram because the trains are fucked (l for the last month, and God knows how long).

I needed to go to the boat to pick up my jacket, boots and harness to take to England on Thursday for the Round The Island race, which I’m doing with some ex clubmates on their 28 fter. And to dispose of the probably mouldy peaches I forgot to bring back with me last week….

Finally got to the sailing club after close to 2 hours in transit. Could almost have made the coast in that! Of course the jobs I want to do are outdoor jobs that need it to be dry, and to stay dry whilst things dry. I did take advantage of a half hour window to slap some clear lacquer on the hole in the solar panel membrane. Actually it was nail varnish top coat, tough as all hell, totally clear and in a handy small bottle with brush. Various forms of outdoor clear tape have not been 100% successful.

I have also had to take a lot of water out of one cockpit locker – the drain pipe seems to be partly blocked :-(. Can’t get the damned pipe off the fitting to try to clear it, and can’t resign myself to rigging the tarp over the cockpit to help stop the rain getting that far. I wonder how much use a plunger would be… Or skooshing water under pressure through it? I hate leaking lockers, and they always do, somehow. I need to butch up and install a bilge pump with two pipes – one in each locker because though they link round the stern, the low point is at the for’ard end. Then at least I could get the water out fast. I’m still thinking like a sea sailor here, we don’t get waves over the deck or stern in the river, not even with the most inconsiderately fast, big-wash-making powerboats! Though my wee boat copes fine with the waves we do get, bobbing nicely round it rather than slamming, so one good point for performing above expectations!

But it won’t stop raining! I can’t get any of my top priority jobs done. (Properly seal the hole in the solar panel covering, attach wood plate to stern cockpit coaming, so I can hinge and secure the engine cover box – and cut a hole to give access to the starter pull cord, something that will let me sit on the box more securely, and start the engine quicker, if necessary). Small indoor jobs need power tools and something to hold the wood. I keep forgetting the things I don’t have any more. 😦 I used to have a folding workbench and tons of clamps…

I’m torn on how much work to do on this boat. She’s not really a sea boat. I could beef a few things up so she might be OK in moderate weather and moderate waves – if we ever get to the sea. I’m not sure what will leak or fail in anything heavier, or how foolish it would be to find out.

The decks need painting. The roller furling needs either mended, or replaced with roller reefing, or a stay and a large hanked jib with at least one reef. The rub rail needs sorted or removed entirely. I need to build a new anchor locker cover as the old one is delaminating. All the “outside” bilges need painted, the fuel tank platform needs to be secured, the camping cooker needs to be fixed down. Even then, I’m not 100% sure on the deck / house GRP – it’s 46 years old, there are a few possible osmosis bubbles, and I know the hull was epoxied because it needed it. I need a Rocna anchor and some chain. I need to build some fiddles inside. The portapotti toilet needs probably replaced as the last time I picked it up to empty it, it leaked (yuck!). It certainly needs fixed down. I need to finish the 12V/USB socket panel, fix down the inverter, secure the mains battery charger and find a tidy secure solution for the shore power line. I need to finish the small stowable table.

I’ve deprioritised almost all of that in favour of actually sailing. After 2 years with the old boat, 100% work, 0% sailing, I figured I deserved it. And it’s been good, I’ve been pretty ok at sailing on my own, quite enjoy it, which was a surprise. But now, after last week’s incident, I can’t sail until I get the ICC conversion of my license through from the RYA !! Thankfully the logon for the online CEVNI (inland waterways rules) test that I need to sit in order to get the ICC came through today, so I can do that later, and hopefully have documentation that the Water Police here recognise before the weekend after next.

The sailing area is not big enough for me here, I need more adventure, I need somewhere to go. But it will do to practice, whilst I decide what really happens next.

At least the peaches were ok, no smell, no ooze – and 2 or 3 even still edible. It’s the small things…

All the posts I didn’t write

I could write about my encounter with the Wasserschutzpolizei, a wherein I gain lasting fame as the only sailing boat to collide with another in the Seddinsee 25 years (at least that the police came out to). A tale of bureaucracy, neglected licence additions, and the crazy fact that I am (until I get this piece in place) allowed to motor but not sail, despite that the only missing part is a theory test on the signs and sounds used in inland waterways – which one also needs to know when motoring.

I could amuse you with the sailing club trip to see the fireworks, and our impromptu jam session afterwards, where I played a nice acoustic, sang, and vowed to practice playing more, as that’s at least one reason to do so.

I could tell you of the mid-trial-period meeting with the management, where I’m strongly encouraged to talk to my colleagues more – but not loudly, and to let them finish sentences. The management have evidently never met my family!

I could baffle you with my adventures with the 3rd party grid control we use, or even write up my solutions on some far geekier forum for the education and entertainment of future generations.

I could let you know that I’ve spoken to some legal people about a financial affair that’s lost its glamour, and got an estimate to find out if I’ve got a case, or if I’m just gonna have to use my own low cunning and persuasive skills to bring it to successful closure.

I could let you know that I ditched the raw eating at day 20, because the insane hunger was back, and if there were going to be any mental health benefits, the opinion amongst fellow-experimenters was that they’d have shown up by now, and sticking to some mildly tedious task is something my working life, gym life and musical life have already given me plenty of practice at.

I could tell you about the mild floor flooding in the band room, the gig in Hamburg where we survived the Berlin Friday traffic jam, performed well to a modest audience, gained some nice praise, had some excellent photos taken by a new acquaintance and enjoyed an excellent proper meal at 1:30am.

I could tell you about my new Business German evening class – found, booked and started within 3 days of the idea being mentioned in conversation with my boss.

I could tell you (again) how nothing feels like anything, then add “except a few tears the other day, and the constant mild stress-ball round my solar plexus”. No excitement. No disasters. Just things going right, things going wrong, and me getting on with it all, wanting there to be a dream to work towards, but not knowing what that might be.

They say it’s your birthday

Saturday was my birthday. Picnic breakfast in the park, chasing the patches of sun to find where to lay the blanket, too much fruit and not enough veg. A non-eventful afternoon. Leaving my bag on the tram, with everything in it – passport, cards, keys, phone, all the money I was going to put behind the bar to give my friends free drinks… Luckily I was with Eva, whose quick thinking plan to follow the tram in a taxi, plus her having the money to pay the driver gave us a chance. On the other hand, if I hadn’t been talking to Eva, maybe i would not have left my bag behind in the first place!

We found a taxi quickly, and he was game, speeding us after our goal – but there are 2 sets of tram lines, and 2 train stations – we were heading for the wrong one! I began to think it was all gone, in a city you’d have to be lucky – the longer it was on the tram, the more likely it was to get picked up and looted…

But, if true belief is in our actions rather than our thoughts, then despite those thoughts, I evidently did not *believe* that.

I told the taxi driver to go to the terminus station, which, with the aid of satnav, he did, stopping at the end of a one way street, leaving me to run the remaining distance – the tram was parked waiting. I drew up to the window, to get the driver’s attention – and there in front of her sat my bag!

After asking me for my name, being surprised I spoke German (tourist season, tourist district, British passport), and then asking me for an incredibly detailed description of the contents, I got my bag back (and a stern motherly admonition to be more careful in future). The day (or rather, night) was saved!

Karaoke fun, rock, pop and jazz – shared with my friends (plus a second birthday group of “kids” of about 20 years old), a bit of attempted re-education of unreconstructed old men in the finer points of how to behave with women, many beers and schnapps (and water for me) … and then it was well past dawn, and time to head home.


Today was day 2 of my 30-day raw food trial. I’ve been eating more or less mostly raw all week, and I’ve been on fresh fruit and nuts for breakfast since April, and salads for lunch  since about 3000BC. I bought a ton of stuff today, have eaten about half, but am still suffering from what a friend of mine would call “detox symptoms” and most of us would just call hunger. Growly, empty stomach. This is despite including 2 lots of nuts, coconut milk, avocado and olives – all high-calorie items, and even a fair whack of protein… Gym workout was squats, went OK. It’s far too early in this experiment to expect much change. I did not feel like this in my post-Xmas week, but then I was also eating a vegan meal replacement called Huel (raw except some of the added vitamins may have been heated in processing). It’s very effective at keeping me from feeling hungry, and might feature again this time (though not often, I’d rather eat fresh whole foods).

I had a charming evening at the sailing club, watch old home movies from the 70s, filmed at the club. The palpable sense of community seen in these old super-8s was heartwarming, as was seeing people of all ages, and families with children, all together, enjoying the boats and the water, rather than mostly older folks, like so many sailing clubs seem to be now.

The boats themselves were mainly fabulous – late 60s designs, wooden, often self built or renovated, long booms, old-school sails made of natural fibres (to judge by how narrow the lengths of cloth used in their construction were). Just my sort of thing. Not many engines! Most people here still get in and  out of the their berths without power, even though they have it. Jürgen, sitting next to me, looked and sounded wistfully melancholy when he said that “back then, many boats were built here”. If I recall correctly, he used to be a boatbuilder himself…I would love to build a wooden boat – maybe I could carry on the tradition. But those are dangerous thoughts, which I won’t continue here.

Also interesting was how manpower instead of machinery was used, from driving new piles (which also required waiting till the river freezes solid!), to launching and hauling, to shovelling snow. It takes many people, working together to get things done – but it looks like fun! With beer and huge pots of soup. The charm of days gone by… The club house building itself also saw its fortunes rise and fall, from smart in the late 30s (as seen in old photos also included in the video), to very scruffy in the late 70s (“we had simply no money then”). “Look at that”, my fellow members said about the pile driving with a self erected frame and 2 men working ropes. “Nowadays we’d just get a firm in to do it” but they sounded a little sad, as if we have lost something. Some feeling of community, that is so clear in these old films.

Jean turned up very late, past midnight, and so my day ended well, on a different day to that on which it had begun, with good, close company and sound sleep.

Comin’ home

2015-04-12 Flight

First day here as my new hometown. Sex ‘n’ Drugs (caffeine!) ‘n’ Rock and Roll. Sunshine. Mexican food. So much happiness. I can’t think what I’ve done to deserve this, but I know now when I’ve got a good thing, and I’m never letting it go. Just like I promised myself.

I’ve come through, quite literally, fire to get here. Found out just what really good friends I have.

My worldly goods, much culled, are all in a warehouse in the UK, waiting for me to arrange transport. Waiting for my apartment here to be ready. What’s not on the boat, that is. (The boat being an entirely separate problem that will have to be solved later). Nothing’s finished and nothing’s quite ready. This seems like life to me. Right now I’m deliriously happy, almost too tired to focus my eyes, having eine Kaffeepause before heading to an initial jam with a band (originals!).

Later, I’ll spend the night with my beloved, the first of very, very many. Tomorrow, Deutscheschule. But I’m home. For the first time in a long time.

Running from the dealer


WordPress ate my homework. I’ll pretend it was a better, wittier, and above all, *longer* post than it was, but it’s gone. Local Draft, published… turned up blank.

What can I say? Life’s been busy, life’s been amazingly, fantastically, ridiculously good. I’ve got so much to do that I’m dizzy with it – except at work, which continues to merely require my physical presence. I have no idea why I agreed to work a month beyond my notice. Oh well. 17 work days left on my sentence.

Now, if I can just get rid of most of my crap, move the rest to Berlin, and settle my finances so I don’t need to think about them for a year … I can just get on with it. Study German, do music, sniff out tech stuff, but mostly just enjoy being in the city I love. Being in love. And that not being *right* and not any sort of problem. 🙂

I might just have got the hang of being happy…