Island Days

There is an island in Indonesia that the charts call Sabuda but which the locals all call Pulau Pisang – Banana Island. It is only a few degrees south of the equator and is like the story book tropical island. Palm trees grow behind the white beaches and the entire island is fringed with beautiful but dangerous coral reefs. Between the coral there is one small patch of sand on the north side that is shallow enough to anchor in if the weather is settled and the wind is in the correct direction. If you decide not to anchor it is another day or two of sailing before you reach the next anchorage.

After a night at sea we rounded the headland and found a fisherman’s camp set up behind the beach and their boats pulled up on the sand. We very gingerly nosed in between the reef’s arms with Heidi at the bow “coral spotting” and dropped anchor in exactly the right spot. We jumped into the water to see if the anchor was properly set but, despite the clear water, twenty meters was just too deep to see anything. At least we had a refreshing swim.

During the afternoon fishing boats passed us and we waved to each other and called greetings across the bay. We watched the sun set and the stars appear and baked homemade bread and cheese to go with it. Life on Island time is not very stressful.

The next morning we sat in the cockpit and watched the tide come in and slowly cover the reef. It took about two hours and two cups of coffee but someone has to check that the sun and moon are doing their jobs. Once we were sure that the tides were working as expected we did an hours work to pay the bills and then set off to the beach.

We had brought a frisbee with us and started playing with the children on the beach. We were soon joined by a lady named Fiorika and the young men who all wanted to try this new game. Once we had passed round a packet of crisps, we were firm friends with half the village and went off to explore along the beach with Fiorika and the children. On our return we were invited to the camp to meet the patriarch and the rest of the family and drink coffee. There was music playing so the coffee turned into karaoke with a little dancing as we learned that this was an extended family group that came across from Fakfak for a month at a time to harvest coconuts and fish. 

Someone suggested a trip to a neighboring beach to collect coconuts and within minutes about five young men, Fiorika, her sister Nona and we were in a long boat carving along the coast, around coral outcrops and under overhanging trees. I guess you can take the direct route but that would not be anywhere near as impressive when you have two “tourists” along for the ride. At the beach we were astounded as Dandi (the third son of the family and Fiorika’s husband) shinned up a massive palm tree faster than any monkey and began to throw coconuts down. The coconuts were opened but had no juice in them so we continued to the next beach for a repeat performance and some swimming. Dandi is not only a monkey, he is also a fish and can sit on the bottom of the bay for minutes at a time. He is 23 years old so thoroughly enjoyed showing off his abilities to such an appreciative audience.

Back at the bay we agreed that we would all meet for a beach fire at nine in the evening. We asked if anyone would like to see Artemis and half the village took us up on the offer. We showed them our home, the water maker, our charts with the satellite images switched on and other toys but what really impressed these fishermen was the monitor windvane. They were fascinated at the idea of a device that steered the boat even if you were asleep. They left after about an hour and that gave us time for another swim and to prepare home made pizza to take with us. 

Back on the beach there were thousands of stars and only one anchor light in the bay. A small fire was burning and next to it was a huge bonfire carefully laid. As the guests of honor “Aunty and Uncle” were invited to light the fire which we did following clear instructions about exactly where to poke our fire stick.

Heidi and Fiorika opened the dancing and soon most people were dancing and enjoying this night when different cultures met. Sadly the people told us that boats often stop but the white people mostly stay on board and they never have the interaction that they had with us. Why sail the world and not talk to the people that you see around you?

Luckily Neill was the oldest person present – even older than “Grandfather” – so at eleven he could explain that he needed sleep. Everyone escorted us to our dinghy, carried it into the sea and wished us selamat Malam – good night. It was good that we left as Heidi reported that the fire was still burning bright at three o’clock.

The next morning we awoke to a breeze from the south so, after cleaning the hull as an excuse for another swim, lifted anchor and shouted a loud goodbye. As we turned downwind our friends were waving from the forest edge, one holding the yellow frisbee we had left behind.

First impressions of Indonesia

We have been in the country nearly three weeks now. We have sailed five hundred miles, visited three towns and three villages, anchored in seven bays and met hundreds of people many of whom wanted a photo with us.

The country is beautiful. I am writing this anchored off the island of Papua. The forest comes all the way to the ocean and the villages, with their mosques and churches, are buried in the forest behind the white beaches. The sea is mostly see through and every island is fringed with beautiful, healthy coral. Unfortunately plastic rubbish is endemic but you have to look past that.

Pulau Gorong. See through water and beautiful corals

The weather is a dream. It is hot all day and warm all evening but, particularly in the evening, a breeze blows that cools everything down wonderfully. If we anchor in a busy bay then we may need clothes as the fisherman pass and at night a single sheet is enough. Occasionally it rains but, until now, they have only been passing squalls that wash the salt off Artemis. The rainy season has not arrived yet.

Buying fruit and trying Durian fruit

The food is tasty and affordable. Because one Euro is worth over 15 000 IDR we tend to be millionaires and spending thousands of rupees in a market can be a bit unnerving but, when we work it back to Euros, we have a problem spending more than five Euros. Fruit and vegetables are available everywhere so we are enjoying a healthy diet. In Tual we ate lunch at a street stall and it was tasty, filling and very affordable. In the village of Pasir Putih we walked once through town and bought everything we needed from the stalls next to the road. In Fakfak we were looking for lunch when some kind ladies who were tidying up after a festival gave us their lunch packets and then bought us Durian fruit as a desert.

And the people are amazingly friendly. Everybody smiles and says hello. Almost everybody wants a photo with the strange foreigners. Most people have no idea what we are talking about but try and help us anyway. We say Selamat Pagi and sometimes we get a shy good morning as an answer and we are all amazed what polyglots we are. We met a family on the beach and said hello. The next minute we were sat down eating their fried bananas with chili sauce and fried coconuts. We introduced ourselves as English speaking in a village and were taken to meet Imelda, the retired English teacher and all her grandchildren. In Fakfak Heidi got carried away by the music and a minute later she was dancing with a partner. We only said hello to Dewi and her colleagues and were invited for lunch. The next day she and her family visited us onboard Artemis.

Imelda and grandchildren. The ladies from the health ministry. Dewi, Ariel & Ben onboard. Heidi dancing the twist.

Cycling to Tual

We have now been in Indonesia nearly two weeks so it was definitely time to get on the bikes and go exploring. We are anchored off a beautiful coral fringed beach on the island of Kai Kecil and the main town of Tual is only about twenty kilometers away through the forest and over the hill.

We took the bikes to shore with absolutely no wind. The water was like glass and we could see every detail of all the beautiful coral as we passed over them. What a way to start a bike ride.

All the maps agree that there is no track from our beach through the forest but luckily they are all wrong and a road took us in to the first village from where we meandered past farms and through villages towards Tual.

We greeted everyone we met with Selamat Pagi and received a Pagi in reply. Occasionally we received a Hello Mister or Hello Misses and even one Goedemorgen from Jan who was dutch. Pedestrians or scooter passengers made photos or video clips as we passed to show their friends that they had seen real europeans in the street.

We took a shortcut through the backstreets and ended up lost as the road had disappeared but a young mother gathered up her baby and went ahead to show us the way. She explained the route we should follow in Indonesian so we smiled and thanked her with a Terima Kasih and continued to follow the GPS.

We rode to the bridge that connects the towns of Langgur to Tual where we were extras for the passing schoolgirls selfies. We looked at the rubbish filled water of the bay and decided that we were better on our coral beach. A coffee was followed by amazing street food. Heidi ordered by pointing at stuff and after we had finished the seller came to take pictures with her international clientele.

We visited the biggest supermarket on the island and filled our rucsacs with supplies then, on the way home, bought vegetables from a roadside stall and tied them to the outside in an Aldi bag. Later we found a banana seller so tied those on as well. After 45 kilometers we were glad to be home but had enjoyed a fantastic trip through the backwoods of the island.

Our route is at Alltrails.

Some of our photos are in our Indonesia album.

Saumlaki – the door to Indonesia

In the early hours of a Tuesday morning we sailed gently into the port of Saumlaki and thus into Indonesia. By sailing two thirds of the way west around the world we had finally reached a far flung outpost of the Far East.

We anchored in the bay and, despite communication difficulties, found our agent on the bow of an old ferry which we used as a dinghy dock. The procedure for entering Indonesia with a boat is a little complicated so this is the shortened version.

Wait for health officials to arrive and ferry them to the boat with the dinghy. Let them do an inspection of the sleeping quarters, food preparation area, food stocks and medical kit. Answer questions, fill out forms and provide copies of random documents after which you return them to land.

Take a ride on a motorcycle pillion to the immigration office stopping on the way to print some documents. At immigration they need copies of everything including documents I only had electronically. Answer questions and fill out forms while the agent goes off to make more copies.

Return to the ferry and wait for immigration to arrive and then take them to the boat. Another inspection, a few selfies for the immigration guys and then receive a visa barcode in the passports.

Take the immigration officers to land and the motorcycle to the customs office. More questions, printing of papers and filling of forms before returning to the ferry to wait for customs to finish the paperwork and arrive. Vitally important for every official is that we not only sign forms but also affix the vessel’s official stamp to every document. Luckily we had one made in Australia.

One of the customs agents wanted to be the dinghy driver which was amusing as he had no idea what he was doing. After a cursory inspection of the boat and a few more photos, we received our customs clearance. The trip to return the officers to land should have taken five minutes but the new ferry was arriving so they had moved our old ferry and pulled up the ramp. Half an hour later they had maneuvered both vessels into position and lowered the ramp again.

We quit while we were ahead and took the dinghy to land for dinner and local beer as we enjoyed our first sunset in the new country.

The next morning Heidi was ill so I set off on my own in search of the telephone company to buy SIM cards. The cards required a physical identification of the person and a photo of the passport next to the person so Heidi would have to attend herself.

Another motorcycle ride to the health officials to sign more papers and receive a green health book for the boat. This was my fifth bike ride and I still had no idea which side of the road they officially drive on here. At junctions we appeared to decide spontaneously who would go first and which side to pass.

Our last official stop was to let the harbour master create more paperwork and clear us out of the port. He was the eighth official we had dealt with and the first miserable person. He either hates his job or he detests sailors.

Back at the telephone shop my SIM was ready and I was back online. The ladies had decided that I could take a photograph of Heidi and her passport – not exactly legal but good enough. By the evening of day two we were legally cleared in, both online and, unsurprisingly, tired out.

Escape from Darwin

Until now leaving a country has been an easy experience. You visit some official and tell him you want to leave, he stamps your passport and gives you a clearance paper and then you leave.

In Darwin you have to give the Australian Border Force notice of leaving so that they can fit you in to their busy schedule. They are protecting the borders 24 hours a day, 365 days a year but you can only leave on workdays but not on Monday and only in the morning when it is not too hot. And not before 08:30 to give them time to get warmed up. They insist on coming to the boat but will only do so at one place in the whole of Darwin.

After two years, we finally lowered the remains of our Australian flag

Only a bit late, two border force agents turned up at the appointed dock wearing matching black boots, trousers and shirts – sort of 1940s storm trooper look. One was friendly and polite but either hard of hearing or didn’t listen while the other had a 50% failure rate correctly identifying our two passports. But together we quickly achieved the necessary paperwork, received a plastic pen and floating key ring (both made in China) and were free to leave Australia.

The tide was going out so we left the dock, hoisted a sail and drifted out in to the Beagle Gulf making five knots towards Indonesia. Three hours later the current was slowing but we tacked in to the wind heading west and then, before we hit the sand banks, tacked again to use tide and wind to sail north. The water was flat, the breeze was fresh and we were making five knots. Unfortunately Melville Island was directly in our way so we had to turn again. Now we had the wind and tide against us and spent the rest of the afternoon and night travelling 71 miles to achieve a distance of 23.

The yellow line was our route over two days.

The wind was obviously set on coming from the west so at dawn we turned east to sneak through the narrow Howard Channel. This “shortcut” has to be taken at exactly the right time so that you are not fighting the tide and is definitely not somewhere you want to be in an east wind. The right time was 18:00 which gave us seven hours to make 21 miles. Heidi looked at our average speed of 0.8 knots and laughed out loud on hearing this.

We had south wind. We had north wind. We had currents against us and then with us. We skirted a fish farm and finally we were heading in to an east wind and considered abandoning the attempt but the weather forecast said it would disappear as we got there so we continued. We passed the start marker ten minutes early and felt the current start to suck us. Just after dark everything was wonderful with a wind from the north so Neill lay down in the cockpit and Heidi continued through the night.

After about two hours the sails began to flop as a 15 knot east wind (yes, the east wind you really don’t want) hit us right on the bow. 15 knots of wind against four knots of tide in a shallow channel produced huge waves which threw Artemis around so we took over hand steering through the black night. With Neill on the tiller Heidi had to navigate, run the galley and negotiate with a fishing boat “who was passing who where” on the marine radio. She also had to be the relief helmsman, trying to maintain a course of fifty degrees through fluid chaos. The wind remained strong against us until one in the morning when Heidi collapsed for two hours sleep before taking over to let Neill sleep. By three o’clock we were becalmed in the Van Diemen Gulf and frustratedly looking for wind to take us to the next tidal gate to continue north. Four hours later and still there was not a breath of wind so, with heavy hearts, we put the engine back on to reach the open sea where we finally found a breeze to carry us north with about one knot.

We sailed everything we could but still had the engine running for 24 hours during our 54 hour odyssey. Never before, not even in the Panama Canal or south of Tasmania, have we used so much engine. But as I write this we are sailing north across the Timor Sea and life is good again. Australia was just trying to stop us leaving.

Polycarbonate windows for Artemis

Warning: this is a long, slightly technical blog that is maybe only interesting if you are considering changing your boats windows.

Rustler 36 were built with glass windows in an aluminium frame. The aluminium frame was screwed in to the coach roof with steel screws which threaded in to steel cups on the inside. It appears that the holes for the windows in the coach roof were cut by hand and are a little too large in places and a little too small in others. The overlap of aluminium over roof was insufficient and made worse by holes being drilled right on the outside. The holes for the screws were drilled in the frame and roof by hand. The frames were sealed to the roof with a very thin layer of sealant allowing insufficient expansion. The system is less than perfect and on Artemis we had the following problems:

  • water leaked between the glass and the aluminium frame.
  • water leaked between the frame and the roof
  • water leaked through the screw holes
  • corrosion between the screws and the frame “ate” the frame so that water could leak round the holes. It also destroyed sections of frame.

Various people have removed the windows and frames and sent them to be refurbished and then reinstalled them but we felt that this would just get us back to a (temporarily) non-leaking but still fundamentally unsound system. We asked for and received lots of good advice from lots of people and decided to replace everything with a single piece of polycarbonate per window. We were lucky to have two shipwrights and an engineering plastics expert on hand when we started which was very comforting when you start to pull your boat apart.

We had been told that, after thirty years, the windows would just fall out. This was not true. We had to unscrew each screw and drive it out with a hammer. We then had to coax sealant out from between the roof and frame with a set of small picks until a part of the window would move very slightly. We then used metal and wood wedges to slowly force the windows out. It took ages.

With the windows out we then cleaned every piece of sealant, corrosion and dirt off the coach roof.

We had supplied the engineering plastics company with the original window drawings and asked them to make the polycarbonate larger than in the drawings so that we would have a 25 mm overlap. We also decided to go with tinted material. It keeps the boat a little cooler and provides more privacy.

We held the polycarbonate over the hole and drew around it inside and out. Next we masked up around the outside leaving about 5mm around the window. Next we lightly sanded the GRP and then cleaned it again with meths. On the inside of the window we cut the protective film following our line and pulled off the film around the edge. We then lightly sanded and meths cleaned the exposed polycarbonate.

We used double sided tape just outside our line to provide an instant bond. It is vital that this tape is approved for use with polycarbonate. The chemicals in some tapes will craze the polycarbonate and then there will be no bond. Next we applied Fix200 around the edge to provide the final adhesion and seal. We first “painted” a thin layer of Fix200 to the polycarbonate to ensure that no white hull would be seen and then filled the area with more than enough.

Finally we removed the protective tape from the double sided sticky tape and pressed the window to the roof in exactly the correct place. The tape held it immediately in place and we left it under a tarpaulin for three days to cure without direct sunlight.

Both shipwrights assured us that the Fix200 would hold under any conditions. The plastics engineer told us that, if we did everything properly, then it would definitely hold. The maths says that there is about six times more area of Fix200 bond trying to hold the window on than the area that a wave can push against to try and peel it off. The Internet is full of screws or no screws arguments but we decided to avoid screws as they are guaranteed to leak.

The edges need cleaning up but they are waterproof

With two windows done and cured, we set sail for Tasmania and thoroughly tested the system. Across the Bass Strait we were as much below as above water and the windows worked perfectly. Now we have all eight technically finished. “Technically” because they are sealed and waterproof but we still need a solution to make the inside look nice.

All the old windows

In to the Red Continent

We have sailed the entire East Coast of Australia. We have rounded Tasmania’s southern tip and Cape York in the far North. With our bikes we have explored the area near the coast and spent a week on a farm in Victoria. But we had not yet seen the “inland” of Australia so it was time to change that.

We hired a car to head south from Darwin to Katherine but at the hire office we met people who had just got back from Mataranka and told us “we had to go there”, so – being sailors and very flexible – we changed the plan.

The first day we dropped our outboard engine off for a service which would have been difficult with the bikes. We then took the Highway Number 1 and headed south for over two hundred kilometers. In Pine Creek we stopped at the lazy Lizard, bought a coffee, met a blue tongued lizard and met a Victorian who now lives here after stopping on her way round Australia. She told us that she loves the small town as up in the Northern Territories you have the freedom to do what you want and be who you want.

A little further south we took a forty kilometer detour to visit the Edith Falls and have a swim. You are driving through brown, dry bush and then you descend in to a valley, turn a corner and there is a waterfall and a beautiful pool to jump in to. Incredibly there are (mostly) no crocodiles, no sharks, no stingers, no sea snakes. The place is so un-Australian and so inviting.

After over 300 kilometers, millions more trees and thousands more termite mounds, we reached Katherine and booked in to our cabin for the night. We then set off to explore the town which an elderly white lady had warned us was “rough”. Rough is white code for “full of aborigines” which it was. Unfortunately many of the aborigines we saw in town appeared to have social or alcohol related problems which is maybe why they are not welcome back in their villages. We had read a lot about problems with alcohol, the resulting violence and measures to try and reduce both but we had not heard about Katherine’s “Point of sale intervention policy”. Walking past a drive in alcohol shop we noticed a big, bearded, tattooed police officer checking ID and telling some potential customers to leave with no alcohol. At the next alcohol shop we found a less frightening looking policeman doing the same so we asked what was happening. Apparently there is a police officer at every “bottle shop” and every person who wants to buy alcohol has to show their ID and answer any questions the policeman may have. If he decides you can’t buy alcohol then that is final. You are refused if you are on an offenders register, intoxicated or unable to explain why you need so much. He told us that in only three years domestic violence is down by 70%!

The next day we continued south for another hundred kilometers to Mataranka. On the way we passed a lone cyclist so slowed down to ask if he needed water or something and where he came from. He was, of course, German. Only a German would cycle the 5000 km from Perth to Darwin and then turn south for another 3000 km to Uluru at the end of the dry season. His name is Martin and he is actually a bit of a hero.

At a road repair site we spoke with the lollipop lady. She was from Ireland and is in Australia on a “work and travel” visa. She spends all day stood out in the hot dry landscape and we wondered why any one would do this. Later we learned that the job pays fifty dollars an hour so a few weeks of torture finances a lot of holiday.

Bitter Springs

In Mataranka we we found the Bitter Springs which were our destination since leaving five hundred kilometers ago. They are stunning with warm, transparent water flowing slowly out of a spring and through the bush. You drift downstream, walk back to the start and repeat as often as you want. Absolute heaven.

In Mataranka we also visited the thermal springs for some more lazing around in fresh water, photographed a few 56 meter long road trains and saw some Brolga birds. I asked an aborigine what type of birds they were next to him before noticing that he was blind. Luckily his companion came to our rescue. Sometimes I am a bit stupid.

Heading back north we passed a few road trains and realized that you need a lot of empty road to pass 56 meters of truck moving at over 100 kmh. We also passed a railroad train and stopped to video the 108 wagons being pulled past us by two huge locomotives.

We spent the second night in a cabin in Batchelor. The owners wife was away so he sent us “next door” to get a pizza for dinner. The restaurant looked like your stereotype outback restaurant but it was owned by a half German man and his German wife and both waitresses were from Germany. Today was German Day.

On Day Three we “did” the Litchfield National Park. We began by visiting the magnetic termite mounds. These are incredible. Instead of being a big round mound they are built like gravestones and all aligned north south to reduce the warmth received from the sun. I still can not get over that some termite long ago said “Hey! Lets try thin, geographically aligned mounds.” and convinced all the other termites to go along with his plan. He must have been an amazing leader.

Next on the menu was a small walk and swimming at the Florence Waterfall. We just couldn’t get enough swimming so then it was on to the Wangi falls, another walk and another swim. After that we saw a bush fire burning through the undergrowth. It was being monitored by a helicopter and we guess it was set as part of the managed burning program. It was fast and hot and not something you want to have heading your way.

Finally, after leaving the park, we found a tavern for a well deserved lunch and then headed back to Darwin.

Did we honestly do all that in less than sixty hours?

A selection of our photos since arriving at Thursday Island are here.

Darwin – At last

It was a long long way from Tasmania to Darwin but we have finally made it. A week ago – after sailing the distance from Bavaria to India – we finally anchored off Darwin. The plan was to move in to a marina round the corner so we took the dinghy up the river. It was low tide and we grounded which is pretty hard to do in a dinghy with ten centimeters of keel. The tides in Darwin are crazy, low tide is nothing and high tide is six or seven meters. We could not find the entrance to the marina so we asked a fisherman who sent us back and told us where to look. We found the lock gate about four meters above us at the top of a stone wall. The next morning it was high tide and we sailed effortlessly in. Strange.

The city, seen from the bush

We wrote to all our Australian friends saying “What should we do in Darwin?” and immediately David from the yacht Dancer wrote “I landed at the airport 15 minutes ago.” He was working but visited us in the marina and we could catch up on what had been happening since we last saw each other in Tasmania. That was a great surprise.

In the evening we were at the chip shop and met Ulrike and Wilhelm who have just driven here from Heidelberg – Amazing! We sailed one way round the world and they drove the other way and we met in a Darwin chip shop.

We put the bikes together and cycled to the Charles Darwin National Park. You are only a few kilometers from the city but in the middle of the “bush” and they have great MTB tracks all around the park. After lots of trailing we cycled out of the bush and across the road to the industrial estate to buy parts to repair the boat. What a land of contrasts.

And today we changed the last two leaking windows for our new polycarbonate versions. We now finally have eight waterproof windows. Life is good.

Parasailor Review

Questions from S/Y Aegle

Answers from SY Artemis of Lleyn

– Suitability for a couple (we are of reasonable fitness and experienced offshore cruisers and racers sailors (less so on the ocean / blue water side)

We also sail as a couple. Single handed sailors and couples need to have “standard operating procedures” and plan each set of actions before they start. You need to think every sequence through before you do it and ensure that you have all the required equipment available where it should be. This is as applicable for setting or striking the Parasailor as any other “process”. You will be in the middle of an ocean so clipped in at all times. This limits speed and moveability so be sure you only do everything once.

We are nearer 60 than 50 and not athletes. We learned most of sailing on the journey from Scotland. Despite this, we can comfortably manage the Parasailor in sensible winds.

– Suitability of trade winds sailing vs day / coastal sailing

We have never used the Parasailor in trade winds. They are at least 15 knots and regular as clockwork. At that wind speed we use the white sails.

For passage, the Parasailor is perfect. When you are moving downwind in light winds, it is the piece of equipment that keeps the miles ticking away. Without it we would have spent thousands of Euros on diesel or spent days becalmed.

Often on coastal sails, it is only two hours in one direction before you need to pass round something or change tack. The Parasailor would work but all cruisers get lazy. You have unlimited time so you think “why bother”. The genoa gets you there eventually so you set that and relax. We could use the Parasailor much more often.

– The true wind range and angles in which you use it

30° off true downwind to 90° (across the wind). 

At 30° we take the parasailor down at 7 knots. On our 36 foot Rustler, you can sail it in more but you need to be very concentrated to ensure you do not broach.

Obviously at 90° you need a maximum of a few knots before the sail pulls the boat over. We had no measurable wind and used the Parasailor all the way from Barbuda to Antigua (25 miles) across the wind. It kept us moving and changed what could have been a boring motor into a great sail.

– Ease of rigging (easy enough to not be a chore?!); 

As described above, we have the lines already rigged. We have combination sheets and guys that Stuart made up for us. They can be set to the correct length before being attached. (These can also be used when poling out.)

The Parasailor needs to be manhandled from the cabin to the foredeck which is team building. Once there, you clip it into the three lines (making sure nothing is twisted – the red and green colour coding of everything helps) and hoist the halyard before the second person returns to the cockpit. Then person one lifts the sock and person one tensions the sheet. Normally the person on the foredeck then shouts “we are Parasailors!”

Deciding to parasail, planning, getting set up, getting the white sails away and setting the parasailor takes us half an hour when we are clipped in on ocean swell. But we tend to be slow and methodical and we always prepare everything with the previous sails still working and only strike them when we are ready.

– ease of handling (will it create any undue stress?!) 

A Parasailor is easy to handle but you are more alert when “Parasailing”. You constantly scan the horizon and surrounding waters for the next squall or pocket of high wind. You are more a sailor and less a cruiser (repairing something below or enjoying a long card game in the saloon).

– and in particular getting down (how is that snuffer when bouncing around on the foredeck when stronger winders have surprised you?!)!

We can go from Parasailing to “gone”  in a few minutes. Been there. Done that! 
Person one: harness on, clip in, reach the foredeck,
Person two: release sheet,
Person one; pull snuffer down and stow sail. You can drop it straight through the front hatch if you don’t have a dinghy on the foredeck. Otherwise, we stow it quickly between dinghy and mast and get a line over it until the squall passes.

Stuart sold us a soft roller that clips around the snuffer line so that instead of pulling down you pull up. The harder you pull, the more you stick to the deck. We don’t use it. If person two lets the sheet fully go then the snuffer slides easily down 

– Thoughts on taking the standard recommended spec / size vs value in taking a 3/4 size (for example) to make more manageable / increase the wind range in which we use it?!

We never thought about that. We accepted Stuart’s recommendation. It would be easier with a ¾ but you would no longer have the full “Parasail effect” of cruising at four knots with “no” wind.

– how often you really use the sail – will it be a shiny toy that after preliminary usage does not really see the light of day?!

It took us eighteen days to cross the Atlantic (2162 miles) and we used the Parasailor for 16% of those miles. It has to be noted that we spent 54% of the journey with two foresails poled out as the trades were directly behind us.

It took fifty four days from Ecuador to the Marquesas and we used the Parasailor for 954 of 3909 miles (24%)

– ease of storage, sturdiness of the sail etc

Our Parasailor is stuffed in the quarter berth with two foldable mountain bikes. It has to be manhandled out and back in. It can be compressed nicely with the draw straps on the bag but Stuart recommended against storing it too tightly compressed. 

The sail has one tiny hole that we need to patch – probably from catching it while pushing it through into the forward cabin. The snuffer has suffered from rubbing on surrounding rigging but is still fine.

– any other thoughts that you as owners have that we are not thinking of!

In this screenshot, you can see the speed dropping over six hours. Then we deployed the Parasailor and doubled our speed while also stopping the horrible flogging of sails and rocking of the boat in the swell. Should have done it earlier.

Definitely take the training that Stuart offers. We learned so much. It was a very hard day but a fantastic day. In the Caribbean we met two sailors who had bought a Parasailor but were “much too experienced” to take the free training but admitted that they “never got the Parasail to work.” Of course, they blamed the sail.

Nowadays we don’t pull the halyard as high as we used to. This lets the Parasailor fly with more “belly”. It seems to fly better that way. We are sure that Stuart originally showed us this as can be seen in the following photo but maybe we forgot.

Two really good friends are on their way around the world with their Catamaran “Sybo” and they are also happy Parasailors. The larger boat makes the foredeck work much easier. But we wouldn’t buy a catamaran because of that.

We promised to NEVER use the Parasailor after dark because we could not see approaching squalls. In use we NEVER took it down just because it was dusk. It is too great for that. It just keeps you moving.