Getting myself a sailboat as my affordable home


Homeless hiker shoes...

As being homeless hitchhiker over a decade, I never wanted this to be permanent. The small flat in “bohemian” region of Tartu, Estonia which I purchased using my cash when arriving back to Estonia 2002 was a catastrophe for me and I was glad that I was able to sell it two years later. 

After that spending useless time in Brighton, England, somehow I was stupid enough to listen my old friend there to rent a flat and not buying myself a motorhome as my home then.

However, as I didn’t had driver license and my driving skills where questionable my old friend there didn’t recommended this and refused to help. 

I would have asked somebody just to drive her to some camping site and stayed there until I would have been feeling comfortable to driver further. 

When leaving UK, I was forced to start my homeless hitchhiker life, but felt more happier than being stuck in such kind of country where is no respect to foreign’s (especially from Eastern Europe), their business experience and skills. 

Being in Barcelona I met Kathy from Chicago middle class family who lived with her teenage daughter in sailing boat. Her boat was luxurious with microwave oven and everything, which she bought around $25k. Little bit more than my flat in Tartu cost me. She never sailed, she was just a her home. 

When I found out, that sailing is much easier than driving a van and you do not have to worry about gasoline costs, my new plan having a dream home comes my passion. I never wanted luxurious sailboat, just a little one that has sales, place to cook and sleep. 

However, nothing such kind of boats where for sale in Mediterranean area or where too expensive for my budget. I even went to watch some 22 feet boat in Amsterdam canals, which didn’t had mast, sales and one young couple had made her to their living space decorated in hippie style. They wanted 2600 EUR for her. And she has been in the water probably ten years. 

So, my dream stay d as a dream until I met Mathias from Sweden. He convinced me that I can buy such kind of small sailing boat in Sweden for less than 1000 EUR and usually you do not have to worry about bodywork as in Sweden they always take their boats out from water for winter and fix the boat for next summer season. 

Sounded fantastic and even I had very negative experiences some years ago trying to hitchhike from Malmo to Stockholm, I could take the risk and if sailing out from Sweden to some normal EU country within two weeks, this would have been a viable plan. Mathias promised to take such kind of trip with me and teach some sailing. 

And in spring 2020 I was ready for such kind of life changing adventure. I had finished one app for the customer and had over 1000 EUR in my account. Magnifik Midget was kind of boat I was looking for and there was two of them for sale in Sweden. One girl sold her very quickly but another was still in sale and previous owner told, that when you are in Sweden before 9th of May (the launching date to put her in water) and like her, she could be yours. Therefore I had “bullet proof” plan to get her. 

But in April 2020 disaster strikes as Macron was so pissed-off anti him protesters, so he declared “lockdown(s)” and nobody wasn’t able to move (or even get out from their home) without especial permission. So, instead getting myself my dream home I was forced to live in the forest near Toulouse nearly five months and had to spend all the money to stay alive. All places that provided “free food for homeless people” where also closed during that period. 

So, when Macron ease some restrictions and allowed people to travel only 100 km from home, I packed my back-bag and started to hitchhike back to my home country – Estonia. Basically I though that my home is there, where I put my tent and OK, travelling only 100 km per day is much better, than not travelling at all. 

However, sometimes I got even over 500 km per day like usually, as seems that some people are not very keen to follow those rules. 

I crossed French-Germany border in Strasbourg just walking over the bridge, so I did Germany-Poland border. 

Financing my home

So, I arrived back to Tartu, Estonia last days of August, 2020 registered myself as resident, jobseeker and in Social Services to get my monthly allowance. Was lucky to rent a small flat that Social Services could pay for it but even the allowance had raised since my last visit, so had prices and therefore it was again impossible to survive with that money full month. 

But to my luck I was able to find a job starting to deliver “propaganda” (e.g. newspapers, journals and commercial catalogues) early mornings and enjoyed that job to wake up middle of the night, go to make my morning tour in snowstorms and freezing temperatures, dragging my mail carriage over snow hills. 

But because of stupid laws in Estonia, I was able to keep my salary only four months since starting the work. Afterwards I was requested to start to pay my part of rent leaving me again only 150 EUR in month to survive. 

I expected to stay in Estonia only one winter, but as there was a coup to get most corrupted party to power, they introduced lockdowns as well and the uncertain situation continued in Europe. Therefore I had to stay another winter and was looking a job, that will pay enough for my rent and leaves me little bit cash as well. 

And I was lucky to find such kind of job in local supermarket night shift. However (and to my luck), that employment ended in few months, I got my final pay and asked back to my old job delivering newspapers in early mornings. But as there was one month for me without any income, Social Services had to pay my rent leaving me over 700 EUR cash reserves. After EU politicians had more worries about the war in Ukraine, Covid and restrictions where forgotten and therefore I was able to leave with a plan, that finally I could get my sail boat from Sweden and this time will sailing back to Europe instead hitchhiking. 

The final payment from my newspaper delivery job added extra 460 EUR to my boat budget and I was happy to have again over 1000 EUR available for that purpose. 

There was one Ohlsson 22 for sale in central Sweden and I had discussed with owner several times and would have taken that boat. However, few days before I had booked my ferry ticket for 29th of May, he announced that he finally had sold his boat. It was in sale since March 2012. 

Buying my boat

Therefore I was in Stockholm, cash to buy a boat and desperate to find something that fits to my budget. I tried one Seacat near Stockholm, but as the owner didn’t replied to me three days, it was always raining there and very uncomfortable for me to wait longer sleeping in nearby forest in my small tent. Because it’s small, and even this one handles rain very well, it becomes so humid inside that I wasn’t able even light my pipe using lighters. Had to open the tent to use my lighter outside in rain. Of course, that humidity went inside my sleeping bag. 

Therefore I was in hurry to leave Stockholm and to my surprise one boat comes to sale again, which I noticed some months ago with the mention, that should have been moved from boatyard yesterday.

Obviously, I contacted the seller and ask my typical “boat buyer checklist:

1. Does she have sales (e.g. can she sail);

2. Does the body leaks (e.g. will I drown);

3. Does she have motor (so, I can take her from marina to sea);

For my first two questions the answer was confirmed “YES” as her sales where in very good condition and she had went double epoxy work on boatyard. The owner had tested the motor around year ago, but he was unsure about it’s current situation. 

Therefore, I immediately booked FlixBus for next day to Helsinborg and spent another rainy night in my tent before leaving Stockholm. 

As I arrived late evening, we scheduled the business for next day in Landskrona where the boat was. OK, I checked her and everything seems to be OK. Lot of ropes, rigging and sales was OK condition, small anchor and no visible marks in her body. In addition, there was electric system cabled and Nexus electronics installed, which I never expected from a boat below 1000 EUR. I was surprised that the boat has been in land over 3 years and nobody haven’t bothered to put her to water. But the current owner (young guy) had purchased her being on land and hoped quick profits just to paint and fix her body by putting second layer of epoxy to her. He had no experience on sailing or sailboats. He expected quick cash on delivery deal and even assumed, that I will move the boat ASAP, while I insisted the contract. So we put two major issues to contract: He will organise the launch of the boat to water and when motor doesn’t start, he will do everything to fix the situation. 

I had an idea to put the third clause to the contract regarding masting and rigging, but as he was already to pissed off on those two clauses (I should I be able to organise the movement of the boat to launch her not speaking local language and not knowing anyone here?) and what I could do, when I’m in the water not able to move anywhere. 

So, that’s the contract we made and afterwards we went to local library, so he can give me his bank details for money transfer. Somehow expected cash? In Sweden, where you can’t buy anything (including a cup of coffee) with cash as they ask always to pay using card. 

So, I had purchased my sailboat expecting small issues to be fixed before I will leave Sweden and start my journey back to Europe. 

One British guy on same boatyard come to visit me with ladder, that had rotten wooden steps. He somehow was convinced that I should use this ladder with high possibility to broke my leg, rather than dragging myself to my boat. I was comfortable with my way as being hiker in Alps, I had constantly drag myself up to deep hills having my over 40 kilo back-bag in my back. 

However, as he was trying to be nice, I accepted his offer. And he also wanted to donate some old screwdrivers as I would probably need tools. As most of boat owners are trying to keep their boats in land as little as possible just to fix some issues with bottom, Sweden is different. Here they mostly keep their boats in yards to have few sailing trips during summer season. That was the one of the reasons I decided to get Swedish boat as then I’m sure that the body bottom is well done and my boat does not sink. 

My priority was to get a battery that I could charge my iPhone 8. My old battery bank was suitable for my previous devices, but this one will consume all the energy stored at one charge. 

Therefore, by visiting local hardware store I got 45 Ah battery with charger (yes, I need to stay somewhere over a month to get my solar delivered) and 20l water tank. Lot of cleaning stuff as this boat has been in yard something 3 years without a cover, therefore I spent full weekend cleaning her. 

When I tried to paint her name “Mimmi” back, then I got things messed up. I purchased a can of black spray paint, cut pieces of paper and secured them with tape. Then I just spray the paint three times as recommended. When I took the tape and papers off, I had a surprise. My had had gone between the tape and papers and had made some black bubbles there. So again to hardware store to buy aceton to clean the paint. 

Getting her to water

Mimmi goes to water.

It was previous owner responsibility to get my boat to the water, so I tried to book some local company doing it for 150 EUR. Expensive, but as he had lowered the selling price, it was still in my budget. So, I waited on next week Tuesday, Thursday and finally on Friday afternoon a guy with his special lorry came, took my boat from stands and put her to water. Took 10 minutes. I carried my masts later and to my surprise, those where not heavy. 

But the guy asked cash? In the country, where you can’t even pay a cup of coffee in cash. Therefore again I had to pay EUR’s to previous owner account that he can take care of it. Anyway, he was the ordering customer not me and wan’t even present, when his boat went to water. We had also agreed that this company will put the mast on for extra 50 EUR, but that lorry driver wasn’t aware about it and probably wasn’t even capable to do this. 

As this British guy had a docking space in this harbour and he was kindly promising it for me to use for few days, I had to start the motor to get there. 

Finally, when I somehow got the settings right it started but shut down in some minutes. Therefore I was in the middle of the bassin when the motor stopped and wind again bring me back to dock.

Then I remembered, that my father once had such kind of old car where you had to close the air valve after your motor had strated. But, I wasn’t able to try my motor again. When I pulled hard the starter retraction spring went loose. And it was impossible to het it back alone. You just reel the spring together whivh takes few hours using your both hands. Then, when trying to screw it back, you have to loose one hand and immediatly spring jumps loose. 

Problems Started

Mimmi waiting to get to sea.

OK, the previous owner was kind enough to visit me here (even he had to skip the school) and together we managed to put the spring back. 

But during this process, we managed to get the gasoline tube loose, which had only small piece of shabby rubber ring left that was clued with some epoxy. 

And then another problem occurred. 

The previous owner had arranged that my mast will be put on. However, there wasn’t anything to connect the mast with platform. Mast leg was missing. Thanks to one experienced sailor, who started with same kind of small sailing boat and he was first to point it out. Of course, I went angry to previous owner but he just claimed, that he got this boat without a mast leg and everything containing rigging was my responsibility. So, I had to take my responsibility and create some kind of mast platform to it sits on. 

My first idea just to buy two L shaped steal platforms from local hardware supermarket to bolt the mast between them was considered a bad idea. And there wasn’t any suitable ready made such kind of product to fit my needs for sale anyway. Therefore, I designed another kind of solution using stainless steal platform, another level of 1.5 mm thick aluminium and then the leg for mast, where that aluminium is rounded to mast shape. Inside the mast will be four 8 mm bolts that are around a millimetre from mast inner curvature preventing my mast to slip more than few millimetres.

So, I had to find local metal workshop to do such kind of thing for me and having materials for this. Johan from Plit and Plat was very nice guy and even cut me navigation lights aluminium stand. 

But he didn’t had 1,5 mm aluminium and no tools to work with stainless steel. So, he recommended to visit Printzlows Plat. When I finally find the place, the guy working there told that they do not have time this week to make me such kind of platform but maybe next week. But at least was happy to sell me a plate of 1.5 mm aluminium for small amount of cash. 

Meanwhile previous owner of the boat was also trying to sort out the problem and had find same Printzlows Plat to get stainless steal platform for our measurements for 100 kroner. 

As they told me next week, I went there on Friday morning to show what I have in mind. Instead of friendly guys there I met one arrogant idiot. He yelled at me, that they do not have time for next four months (to do simple 20 minute job), he is the boss here and finally yelled me in German “Go out your German Pig”, even I’m Estonian and speak English with him. So, at least I wrote one star Google Map Review regarding such kind of attitude towards customers willing to pay. 

But somehow the boat ex-owner managed to get the stainless steal platform from them (he probably didn’t deal with that “boss” and I had to buy over 100 EUR worth of tools to start to make my mast platform myself. 

Some other friendly guys in nearby Elite Plat drilled holes to my stainless steal platform for just 10 EUR as my tools wasn’t enough good to do those. 

So, within few days it was ready and friendly guys here helped me to raise the mast. 

Sails up and ready to leave Sweden I though. 

But it took me some efforts and days to setup sails correctly for myself, learn lot of regarding sail configurations and what each rope should do. Experience, that I expected to do in this marina within few days I asked James place to do it. 

But so far several weeks had passed and my budget to stay in Sweden was gone long time ago. Sweden is only EU Country, that doesn’t distribute EU food aid, there no charities for homeless people and even supermarkets lock their containers for throw away food. 

I learned it hard way when trying few years ago to hitchhike from Malmo to Stockholm. This trip took me a week, I was starving and finally when reaching Stockholm and somebody gave me an address for Social Center, they asked 4 EUR to get a shower and something to eat. 

Problems with Motor and getting out from Marina.

So, I was ready to go sailing but still had the problem to get out from Marina and this channel passing Landskrona harbours and City as the motor was still leaking gasoline and a lot. Getting rubber clued to metal with a clue that handles gasoline wasn’t working at all. Every expensive tightener (or silicon) I tried was melting in gasoline and those tries where very time consuming processes as I had to wait around 24h to see, have something hardened enough to test the leaks again. Finally I got a “Super Epoxy” delivered and at least it does not melt in gasoline. But I changed it to plastic ring and that seems to be clued, when you clue everything level by level and create a correct mix. So my day passes as each day I clue something, next morning will check out is it still soft or cracks, then put the gasoline in to find out, where it now leaks.

I would have been very happy, if somebody just had dragged me out of this Marina and over the Landskrona City to the area where beaches are, so I could train my sailing skills there. 

But as Swedes are, nobody here likes to help somebody. My friend here, who is always eager to help is from Ghana and negro. 

Second problem was that I didn’t had a life vest and no resources to buy one. When I asked my ex-wife little bit support for it, she just answered: “I do not support your crazy projects, you go to the sea with your skills and immediately drawn”? So, she wanted me to drawn. 

Went to local fire station as somebody told me, that they used to distribute life vests but not anymore. City Council is doing that nowadays and they borrow those for local residents only for maximum five days. Yep, probably firemen distributed them too freely to those needed, rather than following bureoucratic rules. Finally that friendly guy donated me professional rescue equipment with emergency light and everything, so I could rescue also others rather than myself. 

So, I have spent my time here in Marina by learning how to raise sails, fixed things (rusty screws and bolts, some lines, etc) and most important – getting friendly relationships with her.

I have been stuck in this Landskrona Marina that I have got my nickname – “Guy who always leaves Marina tomorrow”. 

She (Mimmi) is so happy to be in water again (was in land over three years); have kept me safe during some stormy nights and I expect many adventures with her. If I would have not bought her, she would have been probably scrapped. Hopefully either this old Johnsson outboard get fixed (I had a plan to buy a new Chinese made Japanies copy for 300 EUR anyway, when I have the delivery address somewhere in Germany or Nederlands), somebody will drag me out or I must use sails to get out. 

She needs to be taken out of water again to install only working depth sounder. I had three of them coming with the boat and only one works. But not that one, that is installed. 

And of course I need an address to get my solar panel from China. And this will be more than a month waiting period, which I’m unable to do in Sweden. 

Mast needs to be straighten, forestay cut shorter and for stormy weather, she needs a better anchor. Otherwise she is now sea ready. 

Sails up, ready to go.

In Summary

  • I come to Sweden to buy myself a small sailing boat, instead I had to build one;
  • In addition to learn how to sail, you need to learn everything (every bolt, line, etc) in your boat;
  • Don’t buy a boat that is in boatyard and previous owner haven’t ever sailed with her;