I was happy when Andrea contacted me. She is an owner of the Fiskars made Finnish GRP-classc King´s Cruiser 33 like me and she was happy to find another one in the net. As always with older boats, her original intent of contacting me was of technical nature: Currently in winter storage, she needed a hint on one or two details on her boat to get the yacht ready for coming season. In the cause of the chat she told me that she just came back from a 2.918 miles sailing trip all around the Baltic Sea – what an adventure! I am happy that Andrea agreed to share some of her insights here in my magazine.

Ready to casting off: Andrea, her friend and the King´s Cruiser are all on Go.

NO FRILLS SAILING.com | Lars Reisberg “Andrea, first of all thanks for offering your experiences with the King´s Cruiser and some insights on your long voyage here. I´d like to know first why you decided to go for a King´s Cruiser sailboat in the first place?”

Andrea “The decision to buy a King´s Cruiser wasn´t a deliberate one, I must admit. I bought it rather by chance. After getting my SKS-certification (the German equivalent of the RYA Yachtmaster Coastal) I immediately wanted to cast off and sail away and needed a boat. To be honest, I didn´t had a clue on sailing boats. I didn´t knew what a great yacht this King´s Cruiser 33 is indeed – for me, other aspects had been directing my buying decision.”

NFS.com “Which ones?”

Andrea “First of all I wanted to acquire a yacht not shorter and not bigger than 10 metres. Of course, the price was another point as with a restricted budget only the purchase of a used boat was possible. I was looking at several boats but they didn´t met my requirements either because of their overall condition or because of their internal fittings. It was different with the King´s Cruiser, finally. Because this yacht was appealing to me instantly because of her lines and overall looks as well because she had been refurbished internally completely. The previous owner made a very trustful impression on me as well, which is an important thing when buying a secondhand yacht I realized much later that the King´s Cruiser 33 indeed is a legendary GRP-classic.”

The King´s Cruiser 33 under reefed sails

NFS.com “What do you like about your King´s Cruiser 33 the most. And what is less amusing about the boat in your eyes?”

Andrea “I would say that the best thing about the boat is that she is conveying a very safe feeling when sailing. It is a well-tempered boat with a good soul. For a sailing rookie like me this is important because directly after buying this yacht I set sails to the long trip all around the Baltic Sea. I love his solid build, the quality of the craftsmanship and of course the lines. It is a beautiful yacht for sure. What I do not like this much is the very distinct propwalk effect to port side. This makes it virtually impossible when going stern ahead to steer to starboard. Finally the boat does not have too much stowage in the saloon, there could be more of it.”

NFS.com “Tell me how and why did you come up with the idea to sail all around the Baltic Sea in the first place?”

Andrea “Well, at this time I was moving from the Rhineland in the middle of Western Germany to the Baltic coast. I was employed in the City of Kiel but I didn´t felt really comfortable with my new job. So I decided to take a sabbatical for one summer before I would go on to search for a new job. That was essentially the reason why I came up with the idea of sailing one big loop around the Baltic Sea. A good friend of mine accompanied me as well as my little dog Maja who grew up on the yacht.”

Still a well-proportioned cosy saloon – even for a late 70ies IOR-boat

NFS.com “In how many legs did you round the Baltic Sea and what have been the principal distances sailed? In which ports did you and your King´s Cruiser make landfalls?”

Andrea “We casted off lines near Kiel exactly on Easter´s Sunday 2017. It was very eraly in the season so we still had a layer of ice in the boat in the morning hours. But I wanted to leave that early in order to have enough time during the trip to be able to explore the areas we were going to visit. In principal we sailed counter-clockwise around the Baltic Sea, starting to sail to the ports of Rostock and Stralsund. From there we sailed over all along the Polish coast to Danzig. Next up was Klaipeda in Lithuania, further North to Latvia to reach the City of Riga. The Estonian shores all up further North-East to Tallin and finally we crossed the Baltics over to Helsinki.”

NFS.com “… so you did not sail all the way up North to Russia then?”

Andrea “Yes. Originally I had planned to do so, especially sailing to the Russian City of Saint Petersburg. But apparently a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin and raised security measures forbade a visit there. In addition, the overall weather conditions worsened so I reckoned that it would be too risky to go there because the approach to Saint Petersburg is within a long but very narrow fairway – no way to leave the fairway which made it in my eyes too risky. In the end our Russian Visa expired so that we had to skip Russia.”

She is a well-tempered boat, ideal for Baltic Cruising Adventures

NFS.com “So it´s Finland then?”

Andrea “Yes. We proceeded the whole coastline of this fine country – the home of the King´s Cruiser 33 – all through the most stunningly beautiful region of the Aland Islands down to Sweden and followed this coast all the way West to the Danish shores. Finally with heading South again back to Rostock and home to Kiel where the journey finally ended after some 2.918 miles of sailing.”

NFS.com “And what was daily sailing life like underway?”

Andrea “The length of the legs has been varying very greatly. Right at the beginning of our venture the distance from port to port was longer, more than 40 miles. That meant that we´d had to sail through night time now and then as for example between Stralsund and Rostock or from Danzig to Klaipeda. Also at the beginning we used to cast off from every port after just one night but that changed. Especially when the weather was improving and getting nicer, we used to stay in the bigger ports of the more beautiful Cities up until one whole week. This was also a treat for my puppy Maja who really enjoyed the long walks in the nature. But during the trip itself we expanded the duration of sailing free days in the ports even more. On the one hand because Summer was now in full bloom and we wanted to enjoy as much as we could the nice temperatures, on the other hand it was increasingly difficult to keep up the necessary physical level when sailing because it seemed that there was either very strong winds or calms.”

Aland Islands: The Baltic Sea paradise

NFS.com “How many such stopovers in how many ports did you make during the rounding trip of the Baltic Sea?”

Andrea “Countless. It´s safe to state that it had been more than one hundred because in the end we had been underway for 190 days in total.”

NFS.com “Which had been the most important or most memorable stops of this trip?”

Andrea “Beginning in Germany that´s Wismar, Rostock and Stralsund – very, very nice Cities of the old German Hanse and one has to see them when in the area. Polands Danzig is customary of course. I love the Finnish town of Pavilosta in Latvia which is a very pristine little town with sandy roads. Something special for people wanting to get away from the modern world. Finally of course Riga, the capitol of Latvia which is also advisable for a visit. I also liked Estonia very much because this is a country blessed with lots of nature, pristine villages and very, very friendly and helpful people. I want to point out that the two Islands of Kihnu and Muhu are worth a visit as it is the case with Tallin – for me without question the highlight of the Baltic Sea.”

The Scandinavian boat is made for this kind of venture

NFS.com “That´s the eastern part of the journey …”

Andrea “… back in the West we visited a lot of harbours in Finland due to provisioning. We tried to avoid harbours and preferred to anchor in the Finnish Archipelago. Of course, Helsinki is worth a stopover. Same with Sweden where I loved the small Island of Norröra where in the 1960ies the Astrid Lindgren-movie “Holidays on Saltkrokan” had been shooted. Of course, Visby on the Island of Gotland, the Island of Hanö and of course Stockhom. Lots of these destinations happened to be on our list by chance because of practical reasons. Really wilful was our decision to sail to Copenhagen. But this was a complete disappointment because the whole City appeared to be one huge loud and steamy construction site.”

NFS.com “Where had been the most terrible harbours along the sailing route?”

Andrea “The first real nightmare was Wladyslawowo in Poland. A nightmare. A filthy place covered in dirt. There was no harbour master – and when he was there he was of very bad manners. The bathrooms are locked and inaccessible during night time vom 8 o´clock in the evening until 8 next morning. The town is very dirty and there aren´t any chances to get provisions here. Next terrible place was Salacgriva in Latvia. That´s a ghostly harbour with one single jetty. But the whole area is locked by a tall barbwired-fence to land side. There is a door which can be opened from inside – once out you cannot re-enter. All around ruins of buildings and a smoking industrial factory.”

NFS.com “Sounds awful …”

Andrea “… and that´s not the end of the list. In Kuivastu which is in Estonia we had to stay one full week due to very strong winds. We had to moor directly at the ferry terminal which was a hell of a noise day and night. There were endless smoking queues of waiting cars and trucks, also producing a lot of noise and dirt. The next supermarket was fourteen kilometres away. But thank God Estonians are very friendly people and we hiked a ride to the supermarkets and got also some nice hints for local delicacies. But the most terrible harbour of the whole trip was not in the Eastern countries as supposed, but in Denmark. That´s Hesnaes. That´s way the dirtiest bathrooms I´ve ever visited on the whole 3.000 miles …”

If time could be stopped …

NFS.com “Let´s talk about sailing a bit more. You said you left right after acquiring the Coastal Yachtmaster´s Certificate without much experience. What was the hardest challenge for you in terms of sailing skills or seamanship?”

Andrea “The whole trip was a great challenge for me as a Rookie. Also, my companion was kind of a Rookie. But we left by saying that staying in harbour won´t teach us anything. From a standpoint of seamship I found it most challenging to navigate in the Finnish and Swedish Archipelago. I normally negotiate solely by naval charts but in this case I was happy to have a tablet with a Navionics-App. Also this weather thing. That was a chapter of its own. You check three different forecasts but not a single one is right. We´ve had either strong winds which made it impossible to sail or under very hard circumstances or we would encounter days of no winds at all. It was a miserable Summer.”

NFS.com “Did you encounter really dangerous situations as well?”

Andrea “Yes, two to be exact. First was when sailing on starboard bow when the shrouds came loose on a peak at the port side spreader. This was a most critical situation that easily could have destroyed the mast right away. I instantly tacked to port bow to get off some load from the shrouds, started the engine and took down the main sail. We reached a harbour and jury rigged the shrouds at the peak with some thick hose clamps. This was holding until we reached Tallinn some 200 miles later where a yard was producing a spare part and we safed the rigg.

NFS.com “Sounds amazing and scary. What was the second situation?”

Andrea “It was when we were to enter a channel somewhere in Sweden. We waited in front of the entrance to be allowed to enter when I noticed a bad burning smell – engine was running. Then thick smoke came out of the saloon, apparently from the engine compartment. I killed the engine right away and unfurled the jib to stay maneuverable. But the scary thing was that we couldn´t see a thing through the thick smoke and coudln´t see where exactly it originated. Another sailing yacht came alongside and towed us to the near harbour where we checked the engine compartment: Alternator and starting motor had been burned completely. Also the wiring of the fridge and the splitter for the charger had been charred. I think it is most important to stay calm in those situations and to don´t lose one´s nerves.”

Andrea is ready for her next adventure in her King´s Cruiser 33

NFS.com “Andrea, finally, what is your next project? You told me there´s an even bigger trip coming up for you and the King´s Cruiser?”

Andrea “Well, next up is definitely a trip into more southern latitudes. I want to sail along the English south coast and make one big leg through the Gulf of Biscay to La Coruna. Then its down south along the Spanish and Portuguese Coast to cross the Atlantic Ocean to Madeira and the Canary Islands. There I´d like to spend the Winter to return and sail into the Mediterranean all the way to Greece. This will be much of a great challenge because that´s open Ocean and of course strong tides. I know tides just by theory and I hope to be able to acquire a tidal expert to sail with me on the beginning of this trip. There are legs of this trip which last a couple of days. I don´t know how that will be to have water all around with no land in sight for a number or days? And what will the reaction of my beloved dog be? What will weather forecasts and passage planning be like? But I am sure it is worth it and I am so happy to finally sail in warmer regions. During the Baltic trip I was too often frozen and that´s going to change soon. By the way: Whoever wants to join me on my journey, be invited to drop an email!”


Thanks Andrea for sharing your insights on Baltic Sea sailing on your King´s Cruiser. Andrea´s log can be read (in German) under www.arilon-segeln.de


More King´s Cruiser 33 stories here:

Sailing half around the world in a Fiskars King´s Cruiser 33

A Kings Cruiser sailing in the Med

Upriver Elbe in my own King´s Cruiser 33