It´s a nice tradition on NO FRILLS to have a look back at the past 12 months when a year draws to an end – recall the nicest, most exciting, most inspiring articles on this magazine and have a year passing by before my eyes. It´s probably more exciting for me than for you, dearest readers – maybe this short article will lead you to read one or two articles mentioned here which you have missed. In any case: I say thank you, dearest reader, for your continuous support! Your frequent clicks, visits to my website, the ever growing audience of NO FRILLS, inspires me, keeps me up and energizes me to always strive for the next story. Thank you so much!

2020: A year of some great, interesting new sailboats

2020 was a special year. I would say, a very special year for us all. With Corona hitting the world in March everything changed: Our personal lives, the way we travel, the way we work. The effects are mostly bad, the constraints and economical downsides unbearable. I have never – and will not start to – made any political comments on this. I keep it on this magazine the way I keep it whilst sailing: “No politics on board!” What I can state though is that I hope we will be able to return to a kind of normal soon, get rid of the restrictions. I hope so very, very much.

Yards in Corona-times

Well, not everything was bad. After most countries re-opened their marinas it was possible again to practice “social distancing” with a boat, a term which became all-too en-vogue in the past year. Although most yards went into shock after the first lockdown and sales dropped significantly, in the end it turned out a good year, at least for the yards and brands I know and spoke personally to. I´ve made an article about this in early Corona-time, my predictions and assumptions turned out to be quite accurate indeed.

Corona hit: But we found some creative ways

We have also managed to keep up a good sales record this year in my job so that I personally did not have too much loss, although small boat-sales went up, the big units went down which is absolutely logical if one thinks about it. Nevertheless, we have been creative to provide our clients with solutions to see their boats even in travel-restricted times. The glass of water is always half filled, something that kept us going and still makes us believe that the boating industry can and will manage to come out of this crisis stronger. We will see.

Sailing in Corona-times

For me personally this year wasn´t that sailing-intensive as 2019 has been. That is what I thought initially when writing this article. But, after re-visiting my files, I realized that I am totally wrong: I sailed so many miles like in no other year before. It´s just that Corona, fully unfolding since April/March, was somehow “erasing” the memories of the wonderful 400 miles journey on an Oceanis 46.1 from Split/Croatia to Preveza/Greece. This was “before Corona” – but still 2020 though. What a wonderful, what an exciting trip! It had all offshore sailing should have.

Trip of the year: Delivery of an Oceanis 46.1

The second big sailing trip started in the midst of the C19-craze. This one, after all, turned out to be a glorious, exciting, most instructive and emotionally most stimulative sailing voyage since my 540 miles “Sweden Sailing” two years ago. I am speaking of the “FREE WILLY Homecoming” – 1.200 miles awesome sailing adventure from Porto up North via Spain through the Bay of Biscay to Brest, followed by a most exciting crossing of the English Channel up until the end of my journey in Ijmuiden/Netherlands. What a great experience – you may read all related articles here.

So, so, so, so exciting: Biscay and English Channel in a Bavaria

Some smaller sailing joy, like my first time on a small sailboat on the German Lakes Chiemsee and Bodensee, or some miles on bigger yachts have brought much fun and I hope some interesting articles too. Of course, after summer the whole situation became more and more complicated so that going out on a boat completely ceased for me after the Biscay/Channel-journey. Nevertheless, some nice articles on new boats, like legendary exILLBRUCK, a personal tour by Magnus Rassy on the great Hallberg-Rassy 57, my visit to the Dehler 30 OD or – my personally most exciting “finding” of 2020, the Turkish made MAT-racer/cruisers have been published anyway.

My own new adventure: Buying a boat

You may have read my last articles on boat refit and my frustration of neither being able nor qualified to finish the refurbishment of my King´s Cruiser 33 yacht OLIVIA, so I decided to sell the boat. She found a new, aspiring owner and I regularly see her on dry stand – I hope the new Captain manages to bring her to the water in 2021. As a life without sailing is impossible for me, I went on a very strange, exciting, hilarious journey of acquiring a new boat: At first with my then-partner, looking for the “real” deal, the big boat, the one, last yacht to circumvent the world with, a project brought to an abrupt halt. As the saying goes: “Go small, go now!” I recollected my intentions, re-thought my plans, my dreams and my (financial) capabilities and finally made a decision

The search for MY new boat …

I decided to acquire a Seascape 27, now known as Beneteau First 27, which now has been built and is finished, ready for delivery. I even came up with a great name – well, my kids did – and I am so excited to finally receive GEKKO within the first two weeks of the new year. It will be a glorious, wonderful start into 2021 and I can promise so, so, so many articles on this boat, her equipment, my first sailing impressions and adventures. I would have had her now if it wasn´t for Corona stopping me from driving down to Slovenia to get her. GEKKO arriving in Germany will be the first highlight of 2021, I am sure.

A short outlook on 2021

I stopped making predictions. The whole situation is so volatile, so dynamic that it is hard to make any. But I can talk of my aspirations and plans for NO FRILLS – as mentioned above, I am planning to excessively sail my new boat. That includes training sessions on sails trim, Gennaker sailing and such, but also upgrading the boat with solar panels and micro-cruising equipment. I am going to spend most of the time of the coming year aboard that boat – thanks to Corona, remote working and the virtual workplace is a common thing now. I will make the most out of it.

GEKKO will be the predominant topic in 2021

I hope that in 2021, after this year none was possible, a new “Rose of Charity” regatta will take place and I will be happily joining again as skipper if asked by the organizers. If any, then the cancelled boat shows in 2020 hurt so much: Not being able to meet sailors, see new boats, meet colleagues in the boating business created a huge hole. I also hope, we will see a great Cannes Boat Show in 2021 after the Boot Duesseldorf is now put to April 2021, which is an awful date for the whole business. I also plan to widen my new section “Sailing with Kids” a lot as I will … well, be sailing with my own kids a lot. Expect loads of product tests and sailing skills-articles.

Thank you – all my readers in all over the world!

Now, dearest reader – it´s been a pleasure to watch the numbers of NO FRILLS going up all the time. We´ve cracked the 1 Million back in August and counting. A special shoutout to my readers in the United States which are now making up some 25 per cent of all my visitors: An honour for me and something that flatters me much as I, as a European guy, wonder what makes this blog so interesting for you guys over there in the States. Anyway, thank you all so much – have a great New Year´s Eve, celebrate, love each other, keep up the good faith and see you all in 2021!

Happy new Year, my friends, AHOI!