Light stories about this and that, which keep me awake at night.
In general with no connection to cruising under sail.

An off-line version of Scorpiosail Web site is rare. However, here below is a copy of the Offline-blog. If you are connected to the internet and want inter-activity, choose the ON-LINE BLOG instead.

Blog entries April 8 - October 11, 2011

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Wrong Thing in Right Place
October 11th, 2011

♪ For your eyes only ♪♪♪

Sometimes you suddenly become aware that you have subconciously been humming on a song that, as it turns out, proves to relate to something currently going on. The song from the old James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only, had been playing in my head all night, but I didn’t realise the connection until day break.

The evening before, I had been hospitalized because of a severe eye injury. I had been checking the lead-acid batteries aboard Scorpio when one of the batteries decided to spew sulphuric acid into my left eye.


When the acid hit my eye I knew I immediately had to irrigate with copious amounts of water. The boat was stored ashore in a boat yard and fortunately I had a hose connected to a tap close by. After ten minutes of irrigation I stopped to asses the situation. The eye was blood-red, but I could still see, although vision was not as clear as normal, which I didn’t think was surprising. I decided to wait for a while; maybe it wouldn’t be necessary to get to the hospital at all.

An hour later I couldn’t see much with my left I anymore. It was as if the world had gone complely foggy.

They took good care of me at Bangkok Hospital. First they irrigated the eye for an hour using a slow running hose connected to a drip bag of Saline solution. Every hour of the night I was given Visilube eye drops and every 4 hours both Tobra dex antibiotic cream and Genteal eye gel. In the morning the eye still looked horrible, but the vision was back - although not yet to full extent.

In a recent report I noted that we curiously appear to run into accidents more often ashore than afloat. However, I consider myself fortunate, that the accident happened close to an excellent hospital. The odds for this to take place, considering our life style, out on the ocean, say on a trip from the Maldives to Thailand, like the one we did earlier this year, are much higher than here on terra firma. On a long trip in the tropics, particularly the one mentioned, when we had to use the engine a lot, I need to inspect the acid level of the batteries every now and then. If the eye had been burned by acid in the Indian Ocean, a weeks journey from any hospital, the outcome would probably not have been a happy one.


The wrong thing now clearly happened in the right place. However, we have faced two mishaps in a short time and in Finnish we have a proverb, ei kahta ilman kolmatta, meaning ”no two without the third”. Not to be confused with ”all good things come in three”.

I’m looking over my shoulder and crossing my fingers.

A note about our batteries:


Our Trojan-batteries have the “pop-up” type filler caps. I have always liked them because they are easier to open than the screw-on ones, and they dont get lost as they are hinged to the battery body. However, I now know they are dangerous as they act as a catapult to any acid attached to them.

Strange Rescue at Sea
September 27th, 2011

Recently there was a strange story in The Phuket News.


According to the article, the Royal Thai Navy has rescued a sailing vessel with a crew of two foreigners, an Italian and a South African, on the way from Langkawi to Phuket. The crew had called for help from turbulent seas in the middle of the night. They reported that their vessel was struggling in heavy waves.


The navy searched for the boat for two hours, and about six hours later the sailing vessel was towed safely to a port in Satul Province.

This article raises several questions, but I will address only a few. There is no mentioning of break-downs of the yacht or it's equipment and no report of sickness aboard either. As far as I am aware, there was no horrible storm blowing at the time. The area in question (outside Satun province) is not an open ocean, on the contrary, the yacht was on a coastal passage, where there are several large islands along the way. Depending on the direction of the wind, it should have been possible to find relative shelter either behind the mainland or one of the islands. The waters are generally shallow all over and anchoring is possible almost anywhere. The weather doesn't look that awful on the photo either, but there is clearly a wind blowing, so why the tow?

Obviously it was pitch dark when the call was made, so maybe the problem had to do with navigation ...

Disaster Is Just Around the Corner
September 26th, 2011

This lifestyle of ours makes us perhaps more exposed to dangers than people living in houses that stay in a permanent place - earthquake areas excluded (although we certainly have experienced them also). Surprisingly though, we appear to have encountered more difficulties ashore than afloat.

Last time when we returned to Phuket after having spent a summer back home in Finland, in September 2010, and opened the doors to our storage room at Boat Lagoon marina, we "only" found rats - thankfully mummified in our glue traps (see blog post Year of The Rat? - October 30, 2010).

This year we were not so lucky. Our storage room had been flooded.

Some of the wet boxes have here been
emptied and thrown out.
All the boxes on the concrete were wet.
All books in the lowest boxes were covered
by mold and completely destroyed.
Our navigation-computer was destroyed even
though it had been packed in a plastic bag.

As we've told before (two posts back), in May we again moved out all our stuff from Scorpio, because of the repairs going on while we were away, and stored them in this locker (not the same one as a year earlier). On the ground floor we had 78 boxes, 90% of them made from cardboard, piled in about 2 dozen piles.

Many items were unused spare units, still
in the manufacturers' boxes.
Electric hand tools.

All of the lowest lying boxes on the concrete floor were damaged by water. Most of the stuff in those boxes had been destroyed or badly damaged even though we had packed most of the sensitive items in plastic bags. In some cases, the bags actually made it worse, when water got in anyway - and stayed there. We are talking about books, clothes, computers, mp3-players, binoculars, electric tools, an expensive sailmaker's sewing machine etc.

dry mp3

The pages of an Owner's Manual are torn
out and laid on the hotel bed to dry

All sensitive items, and many other
things were sealed in plastic bags.
(But it didn't help)

But there was damages also in the higher lying boxes because once the lower cardboard boxes had been soaked, they never dried again raising the humidity in the whole storage room and consequently in all of the 78 boxes, developing a lot of mold everywhere. And if this wasn't enough, we found hundreds (maybe thousands) of giant cockroaches who had found a paradise in the wet voids of all the cardboard.


The navigation-computer's screen was
cracked and RAM-memory destroyed.

Hundreds of sewing accessories
were ruined.

The (indirect) reason for the flooding is obviously all the rain this time of the year. However, even though water rises outside, around these storage rooms, it would not normally rise high enough to reach floor level inside. The flooding is actually directly caused by the actions of the marina's maintenance force, who tries to speed up draining, directing the water to the sewers by pushing the water masses by a tractor causing small "tsunamis" along the lanes between the locker rooms.

tractor watermark

The tractor is used for pushing water
masses towards the sewers.

The red line shows area that has been washed by water pushed by the tractor. The area were the
muddy water has dried is clearly visible.

It is difficult to prepare for all dangers!

New Teak Decks
June 3rd, 2011

One of the reasons for our return to Thailand was the opportunity to replace our teak deck. Although the deck is only 15 years old and still about 10 mm thick, the plugs covering the screws are getting thin and falling off. Less than a year ago we tried to remedy this problem by drilling out screws and replacing them with new plugs (and glue) without putting in the screws again. We fixed about 200 screw holes where the plugs were gone. The plugs on the photo below (right) were cut and the whole deck lightly sanded. Problem is, that there are probably at least 2,000 screws and replacing them would be a continuous project during the coming years. Also I was a bit nervous that any of the old screw holes could start leaking.

Above: First we replaced 200 screws with glued plugs only. Left: Later we decided to replace the whole deck after all. (Click on photo for a blow-up)

As you can see from the photo above, the old deck is still quite thick, about 10 mm. If there only hadn't been any screws ...

I will publish an article about this project in due course.

78 Boxes
May 31st, 2011

How much junk are you transporting around the world living on a yacht?

For the second time in a year we had to store all our belongings in a warehouse, so we have an idea. In our case, the number of boxes is 78 and then there is some additional stuff like cushions, matresses, dive tanks, bicycles, a kayak etc, etc.

Roughly, I would guess that we are talking about more than one ton of weight. And that is not counting our ten sails!

Why are we doing this again? Well, we are having a new teak deck laid, and the masts renovated.

More about those projects later.

Sailor's Toes
May 1st, 2011

This disgusting image indicates that space aboard a yacht is limited. Toes numbers 2, 9 and 10 have behaved particularly badly and are now completely deformed; the distal phalanxes (the bones at the tips of the toes) have been fractured and the joints damaged too often. The lower tendons of number 4 have been severed. Some fresh bruises can be seen at numbers 3 and 9. Every time a toe takes a new hit it hurts more than the last time!

In the unlikely event that you would like to see a larger photo, please click on it. How about toe-prints instead of finger-prints for identification?

End of 21st Season of Global Cruising
April 29, 2011

We are presently anchored at Koh Rang Yai, an island off the east coast of Phuket. Tomorrow we will move to Boat Lagoon Marina, just a couple of miles from here. Our 21st season of global cruising is now coming to an end.

This is only the second time during all these years that we are returning to a familiar place for our 3 months haul-out. The only time it has happened before was in 2004 when we returned to Deltaville in Virginia.

At the beginning of this season our plan was to end it in Turkey in the Mediterranean, where we started our international cruising in 1991, but the escalation of Somali piracy crashed that plan.

However, we are quite happy to be back in Phuket and, best of all, we know by previous experience most of the players in the shipyard and about things to do and not to do in Phuket in general. It is easy to return to a familiar place, see a previous blog.

We will now undertake the two major boat projects that we didn't do last year: lay a new teak deck and pull out both masts for service.

Time for a vacation back home in Finland.

Impotent Piracy-fighting
April 22, 2011

The actions of the international community with respect to the terror caused by Somali pirates are getting increasingly embarrasing. This post should actually be titled The Pirates are Winning, but I have already used that one (January 15).

A few weeks ago the Finnish warship Pohjanmaa captured 18 Somali pirates who had been trying to hi-jack a Singapore-registered cargo ship. The Somalis had been using a captured trawler, which was sunk.

Source: Puolustusvoimat

Yesterday the pirates were released without trial, safely on the coast of Somalia. They can now start over and participate in new attacks against innocent seafarers.

The pirates had spent two weeks in captivity aboard the warship, being well fed and given medical checks but EU Navfor, responsible for operation Atalanta, mentioned humanitarian considerations as reason for the release.

The term catch and release is familiar from game fishing, but obviously the idea can be practiced also in other ways.

Apparently no country was willing to start procedures for having the pirates tried in a court of law. Singapore seams to have been willing to take care of the Somalis, but it is believed that the EU countries refused to hand the pirates over as they could have been sentenced to capital punishment.

About a year ago the Russians, who probably couldn't care less about such pussy-footing, just left the pirates, who previously had hi-jacked a Russian tanker, drifting in a small boat, without food, water or supplies, 300 nautical miles offshore. The pirates failed to reach the shore and evidently all died.

The incident raised some indignation in the press, but, interestingly, Somalia's ambassador to Moscow, Mohammed Handule, denied that the Russians had acted improperly in the affair. "The Russian military showed they can act effectively so that not one crew member of the captured tanker was hurt. This is the most important thing," he said according to the web site Rawstory.

The Russian approach is interesting, because they would clearly have had legal right to try the pirates back home, as they indeed had hi-jacked a Russian ship and kidnapped the crew. Maybe the Kremlin just decided to save the taxpayers' money;)

A few hundread years ago the pirates would probably just have been hung up from the yard arm and the bodies then fed to the sharks. Even horse thieves were promptly hanged in the nearest tree in the Wild West, not too long ago.

So what is to prefer, letting the crooks go loose, try them in a court where they risk being given the death sentence or take the law in your own hands? Or maybe they could start using Guantanamo again, just for this cause!

It doesn't have to be any of those options, however. As the problem appears to be unwillingness by all countries to accept the cost of the procedures, we only need our decisionmakers to establish a fund for the financing of an international court of law to handle the matter. Alternatively the funds could be used for paying compensation to nations who accept to arrange trials, case by case.

So it will cost money, but of course. However, I've read somewhere that the present piracy situation in Somalia is costing the commercal shipping alone 9 billion USD a year.

According to Martin Scheinin, United Nation's Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, there are no provisions of international law preventing the pirates to be taken to Finland (and I assume any other of the EU or Nato countries either).

Releasing the Somali pirates is a signal that piracy is an activity that one can get away with, says Scheinin according to Finnish YLE News. The prescense of the warships has a preventive effect only as long as the actions of the naval forces are credible. Therefore it is vital that all participating countries are willing to bring in pirates to be sentenced.

I feel sorry for Mika Raunu, the master of the Pohjanmaa. After he and his crew did a great job capturing the bandits, they first had to baby-sit them and then make sure the hoodloms got ashore safe and with dry feet.

I'm sure there is a lot of celebration going on right now around the camp fires all over Somalia.

After I first published the above opinion it has been pointed out to me that Piracy, Somali-piracy in particular, should fall under both definitions "crime against humanity" and "organized crime" and as such would be subject to both Universal Jurisdiction and the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Consequently there should be no legal obstacles to bring them to any properly established criminal court of law.

Actually, a few hundred years ago, piracy was the first crime to be of international concern, and this level of importance was later extended to war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity.

True Finns vs. Finland-Swedes
No News Would Have been Better News
One Country, Two Languages - A Lesson in History

April 20, 2011

Finland is a small country, and seldom appears in the international news. Which is good, as no news is usually good news.

During our two decades of global cruising in 80 countries I can, off-hand, remember only two times when Finland did cross the news barrier on radio or TV. One was about the incident when a madman shot a dozen or so people at a school and the other was about the bombing (another madman) of a shopping mall.

A couple of days ago, was the third time. Even here in Thailand it became news when the nationalist True Finns Party got almost 20% of the votes in elections for Parliament in Finland. This populist party is EU-critical, opposes immigration and wants Finland to be a one language country.

The main reason for the international interest in the True Finns land slide success is that it may have an influence whether Finland agrees to bail-out bankrupt Portugal. Unlike other countries in the euro-zone, Finland's parliament has the right to vote on EU requests to bail-out other countries. Potentially the strong showing of the True Finns could delay the rescue plan for Portugal. (Read more about this issue in Wall Street Journal)

Personally, I’m more concerned because of the True Finn Party’s attitude to Finland’s minority population, the Swedish speaking Finns.

Nationals of other countries have often been surprised when they find out that my mother’s tongue is Swedish although our family is from Finland. Surprisingly even Swedes sometimes wonder. My first comment is always that I’m actually bi-lingual, speaking Finnish as fluently as Swedish. This is one of the benefits of belonging to a (smallish) minority – the majority language comes for free.

Finland has often been regarded as a model nation for thoughtfulness towards national minorities. Because of historical reasons we have two official national languages, Finnish and Swedish, despite the fact that the Swedish speaking minority is represented by an average of only about 5% of the population. The Swedish-speaking Finns are usually located in the coastal areas and not spread evenly around the country, therefore their proportion can be much higher in remote areas. According to some sources, the municipalities with the highest proportion of Swedish speakers in the world are Hammarland (96% as of 2004) and Korsnäs, both located in Finland.

Today, some of the True Finns Party’s newly elected Members of Parliament are openly suggesting that there should be an end to speaking Swedish in the nation.

For those of you who didn't know, or remember; the Finland-Swedes are not even immigrants, at least not anymore, and they are not all related ethnically either. Almost all of them have their roots in the soil of the country since, if not stone age (when there probably wasn’t any people there at all, not even Finnish speaking Finns) then at least since medieval times. The land area of modern Finland was, until 1809, integrated parts (not one homogenous part) of the Kingdom of Sweden. Starting around the 12th century these areas had been gradually incorporated into what would later be known as Sweden. The geographical definition of Finland, as it is understood today, wasn’t usually accepted until this former part of Sweden became a Grand Duchy (an autonomous part of the empire) of Russia, between 1809 and 1917.


For centuries Sweden fought several wars against Russia. Most of the battlefields were in the eastern part of Sweden, on soil today known as Finland. The last one of these wars was fought in 1808-09.

Sweden lost the war and ceded the eastern part of the Kingdom to the Czar.

This detail of a painting by Albert Edelfelt is an illustration for the book Fänrik Ståhls sägner (Tales of Ensign Ståhl), a collection of poems about the war, by national novelist Johan Ludvig Runeberg. Both Edelfelt and Runeberg were Finland-Swedes.

For many decades under Russian rule Finland was left alone, and was allowed to mind their own business, but towards the end of the 1800s there was rising pressure from Russia to integrate the country with the empire as well as making Russian the only official language (actually reminding me a bit of the True Finns attitude towards the Swedish speaking minority of Finland today). Under the common threat from St Petersburg the Finlanders found themselves united regardless of languages; We cannot be Swedes anymore, we don’t want to be Russians, let us therefore all be Finns!

Numerous Swedish speaking families fennicized their Swedish names - often it was just a straight translation. Many names had a naturalistic meaning, so Berg (Rock) became Kivi, Skog (Forest) became Metsä, Hällsten (Boulder) became Paasikivi, Törn (Thorn) became Törni, Malm (Ore) became Malmi, and so on. Many Swedish speaking families abandoned their culture in the common interest of all nationals and adopted a “true Finnish” identity. The language issue was therefore not about ethnicity, but an ideological and philosophical question as to what language policy would best preserve Finland as a nation.

Naturally many of the converters spoke Finnish with a noticeable Swedish accent, which can be heard in documentaries on film and radio regarding some of the nation's first Presidents and other politicians. The first President Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg was born Carl Johan (only his first names were fennicized) and seventh President Joho Kusti Paasikivi was baptised Johan Gustav Hellstén.

Many of Finland’s great names in the 19th and 20th century spoke Swedish as their first language, such as Johan L. Runeberg, our national poet, Elias Lönnroth, reformer of the Finnish language and author our national epos Kalevala, Johan V. Snellman, Finland’s national philosopher, Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, Marshal of Finland and commander-in-chief during the Winter War and finally President (and probably Finland’s greatest hero of all times), world famous composer Jean Sibelius and novelist Tove Jansson, author of the Moomin books, just to name a few. Younger generations may better know the name Linus Torvalds, father of the Linux operating system, also a Finland-Swede.

The Moomin characters were created by
Finland-Swede Tove Jansson.

The lines are not well defined, however. Interestingly, a Swedish name and Swedish being somebody’s mother tongue in the 1800s is not necessarily proof that the family of the person in question had their roots in Sweden in the past. Their ancestors might as well be pure Finns. Many Finnish-speaking persons changed their Finnish names to Swedish ones to climb society's ladder, as official positions were only open to those speaking Swedish, and a Finnish name might have been an impediment to success (Finnish didn't become an official language until 1863). As an example, the family name of Swedish speaking Zacharias Topelius, one of Finland’s great national romantic novelists of the 19th century, had earlier been the Finnish name Toppola, although the change had taken place before Zacharias’s birth.

But the Finland-Swede's stock may as well be from third countries. When merchants and industrialists like Stockmann (department store), Fazer (chocolate and confectionary) and Sinebrychoff (breweries) from Middle Europe or Russia settled in the Grand Duchy of Finland they usually adopted the Swedish language, which was the language of the elite. This is why the Swedish group is not ethnical, but cultural.

The fact remains, the Swedish language is not just our mother’s tongue; it is also our inheritance, our cultural identity. Today there is no external threat against Finland of the kind there was a hundred or so years ago. On the contrary - because at present the threat comes from the inside.

The language issue today should be the same as it was under Russian nationalist pressure, an ideological and philosophical question as to what language policy would best preserve Finland as the nation that we knew.

But the answer this time is different. Without Swedish, Finland would be a different country. The Swedish language is part of the identity of all Finns.

The words of Finland's national anthem are by J.L. Runeberg (mentioned earlier) and music by Fredric Pacius, the father of Finnish music, but born in Hamburg. The anthem was first performed in 1848 and was not translated into Finnish until a few decades later. It is still the national anthem and can be performed in either language. Interestingly, the national anthem of Estonia follows the same music. The painting is by Eero Järnefelt (born Erik Nikolai Järnefelt).

About the terminology: "Swedish speaking Finn" is a clumsy expression. We call ourselves (in Swedish) Finlandssvensk, for which there appears to be no officially accepted translation. I prefer to use Finland-Swede, the closest I can think of (Swedish-Finn would actually be more appropriate, because I regard myself as a Finn, not a Swede). We call all nationals of Finland Finländare (Finlanders) and leave the word Finne (Finn) to refer only to the Finnish Speaking (ethnic) Finn. But this applies only at home. When dealing with Swedes (nationals of Sweden) we don't mind being included in the word Finne (as in the, usually less respectful, expression "en finne igen", meaning "a Finn again", said in a certain tone). Elsewhere all around the world I'm proud to be called a Finn. Complicated? Maybe so, but the logic is similar to the use of the American word Yankee, which, when used in the United States, refers only to people from certain southern states, but when used outside America applies to all nationals of the US.

April 18, 2011

During a week at anchor I have had time to refresh my Photoshop-skills. I decided to make a collage as an illustration of the subject of this year: piracy has interfered with our plans.


Do you think this guy looks more threathening than concerned?

Unexpected weather?
April 12, 2011

Two weeks ago, Phuket and several other regions of Thailand were hit by severe storms, causing several fatalities and great loss of property. On shore landslides killed dozens of locals and tourists and on the coast boats broke their moorings and were washed up on the beaches or smashed against rocks.

Click on it for larger image

When we arrived in Phuket on the second of April, after our two-week passage from the Maldives, we were told it was the first non rainy day in more than a week. There had been periods of 50 knots of wind and there had been almost 200 mm of rain in at least one 24-hour period. Good timing on our side for once, it appears.

The reason I'm writing this post is that I find it difficult to understand why these storms are allowed to cause so much grief and destruction. After all, they don't just fall out of the sky unexpectedly. Actually, when I was preparing for our trip in the Maldives more than a week before the storm and 1,500 nm away, I saw that this low pressure system was about to hit Thailand - that is if you believe what the GRIB files are predicting 7-8 days ahead.

On March 18, two days before our departure from Male I downloaded GRIBs showing cyclonic-pattern winds at Phuket on the 168 hour (7 days) forecast. The forecasts on the two following days confirmed that there was something unusual going on. The image below shows what the GRIB file of March 20 forecasted for the Phuket area on March 27.

Click on it for larger image

This forecast didn't concern us aboard Scorpio at all, we would still be far away south of the Bay of Bengal. However, we naturally kept a close look at the progress of this predicted weather system all the way.

But how could so many in Thailand be taken by surprise?

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