Radio interview with video footage

Last spring I was interviewed for the Swedish radio about my life as a recently widowed solosailor and artist. The video of the interview is now finally edited and put together with slides and video footage of this years voyage and painting. I have also added English subtitles.
The speakers Matilda Aborn and Kalle Lind were very good at asking spontaneous but relevant questions so it turned out to be almost the story of my life in 9 minutes.
If the video doesn't start try this link


A long article about me as an artist and solo sailor has just been published in the Swedish magazine Allas and the online magazine . It is in Swedish but can be translated if you ask Mr Google nicely. The text is by Ann Christine Montelius 
Photo Tomas Montelius

Salvaging the dinghy and engine

After the storm I let the upturned dinghy and engine stay in the water while I prepared the salvaging operation. I still couldn't get help so everything had to be thought through and planned beforehand. Again this was something I didn't think I could do alone and yet another hurdle to get over.


Sometimes I have to remind myself of the fact that this is really what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be.
At anchor in the comparatively protected bay of Porto Heli I had received a warning of a thunderstorm with strong winds so I prepared for the worst. I took the bimini down and let out more chain to 40 meters. The sky darkened and the wind got up, but not so bad. Suddenly a very strong gust sent the boat flying backwards at an alarming speed. The anchor had apparently lost its grip. I started the engine to try to keep Aquarella in place by driving forwards, increasing the revs to almost full speed to keep in the eye of the wind. Over and over again the boat kept bearing away and I had to turn a full circle. I couldn't leave the helm for a second and therefore had no way of getting the anchor up with it's 40 meters of chain. With clenched teeth and a dry mouth I went  on and on frantically turning the wheel to and fro for three hours. My dinghy with it's engine on flew upside down twice and finally settled with the bottom up and the engine underneath. In the meantime, over the noise of the wind howling in the rigging, I could hear on the VHF radio a panic stricken voice screaming Mayday,mayday,mayday! I never heard what happened, I had my hands full trying to stop Aquarella from colliding with the other boats at the anchorage.
In the end, in the middle of a turn, the steering stopped responding and I realised the anchor had taken hold again. The boat came to a standstill even though the wind was still strong at force 7.
Although this was an experience I'd rather have done without, it was yet another lesson learned of trying to cope alone.
The outboard engine on the dinghy was now flooded with salt water so it couldn't be used without a major service operation. The oars and the seat were gone too so I had no possibility of getting ashore. On top of all that my phone had run out of credits so my only means of communication was by email.
The lessons I learned were obviously to empty the dinghy before the wind gets too hard or to hoist it on deck. Another lesson is the importance of being able to communicate. I couldn't use the VHF radio to ask for help in this case because of the ongoing mayday rescue operation in progress. My greek phone can only be topped up with credits at the nearest seveneleven and not over the internet so I have to remember that in time.
I had always thought I'd be able to get the anchor up and move out of harms way if conditions got rough. I thought by driving the engine slowly forward and keeping on course with the autopilot, I could be able to go on deck and lift the anchor with the electric windlass. But reality is different than theory and the fact was I had to stay at the helm to steer all the time and a slow speed wasn't enough to keep the boat under control. I am now contemplating a different anchor and thicker chain.

On board again

Now I've been back on the boat for a few weeks. She's a second home for me so despite all the work and expense involved in having a boat I'm still glad I kept her. My brother-in-law and his wife were here for the first week and rented a small apartment nearby. Uffe was a great help doing the heavy work with the boat before she was launched. I am so grateful he undertook the worst job of all: renewing the toilet plumbing. He fought with it in the tiny space for hours on end to remove the old pipes and change the ball valves. In the meantime I banged, hacked and scraped the inside of the brass T-junction and pipes to remove years of lime.
On the first leg of the seasons voyage  Uffe accompanied me to make sure everything worked.
The boats built-in GPS was a bit unreliable and the navigation app on my ipad couldn't get a fix either which was worrying. I had to rely on good old fashioned paper charts instead. Otherwise everything worked. On arrival at Porto Heli I sprayed the GPS antenna with electro cleaner and fixed the Ipad by turning off location services, then turning them on again. Wish everything was that simple....
The next job was to try and install the Iwirie wifi booster I had bought. The idea is to pick up wifi signals from land so that I can have internet and my own hotspot on board. I mounted the antenna on to the bimini frame, drilled a hole in the fibreglass cockpit combing and crawled under the deck to put the wiring in place. The software was quite easy to install and after scanning I was thrilled to get a whole list of possible wifi sources. The nearest hotel looked promising and as they had an unsecured connection I chose that. It works! Last year I spent a lot of money and time on establishing and maintaining an internet connection so this is a great improvement.

Sailing solo

A typical day at sea, sailing and painting.

OK, I know, it took quite some time before I finally published this video. That's because it does take a lot of time to do the editing. I had a lot of footage, a few seconds here, a couple of minutes there, but it was difficult to get it to hang together in one video. So I hope you'll forgive me for putting it all together to give the illusion it was all in one day, it wasn't. Now it looks as though I changed clothes five times in five hours, I didn't. It's all smoke and mirrors.
Nevertheless I hope anyone, especially women, can see by this that : Yes you definitely can sail alone! It's not that difficult, it's no big deal. If you really want to do it then go for it!
I regret never having tried solo-sailing before I was in the situation I am in now. I would have been much more confident and competent had I done so. Actually in hind sight I would venture to say,  from a safety point of view, anyone who spends some time on board should be not only able to do it but also have a good routine in doing so.
I learned the hard way.

"Women and cruising" Blog post of the year 2013!

The editors of  "Women and Cruising" have just announced their 5 most read blog posts.
Number one is mine!
Women and Cruising is a very popular blog for women who sail. Articles written by women and for women from all over the world are chosen so that experiences, valuable information and news can be shared and learnt by.