24 Hours Distance in a PDRacer

getting the sleeping bag out

Last days of the summer holiday's came up and an urgent need to cruise more - so we decided to explore new shores. We loaded our pdracer on the car, filled the car with sleeping bag and few other gadget and left to Biel at the Bielersee to launch our boat. Unfortunately, we there were just private properties and no chance to step to the waters edge. We had to continue our ride till we reached Ligerz - there we found a ramp from a local yacht club and free parking for the next day's.

We started at two o clock on the 31st of August and crossed the little strip of water to the St. Petersinsel - a peninsula in the Bielersee. In front of the Island we dropped the anchor and went swimming. The water was warmer than the air and the weather was more like weather of an Indian summer day than of a summer holyday. Later we sailed downwind along the peninsula to the mouth of the canal (Zihlkanal, 8.8 km). We asked local people on a motorboat if it is possible to pass the bridges without dismasting and they agreed - but they said it would be all against the stream. The map showed 429m over mean sea level for both lakes- so I wondered how this can produce a current, but it did.

We could sail the first 300 meters - then the trees blocked the wind and the next three hours - 8.8 km we had to row. This time I had an aluminium box with us for storing the fragile gear (no accidentally sitting on goggles etc.) for separating the large deck into fore- and rear (aft) deck and especially for providing a proper rowing seat. With the repaired oar (see story of Bodensee) we rowed fairly efficient without getting too tired. We refused to take a rope from a passing motor yacht - which we regret two hours later still rowing the canal. We passed along farms, bush land and immediately a big refinery in the middle of nowhere appeared and later a stone pit with big barges to transport the cargo I don't know where.

By that time it was eight o'clock in the evening - we were hungry and had no detailed chart. Almost at the end of the canal there was a campground with a little marina.

lighthouse seen at night

We entered like pirates in total darkness and without light. We hung out our two fenders took the dry bag and left the other gear unattended. Then we had a wonderful dinner at the campgrounds restaurant. Later we prepared our bed and tried to sleep. I prefer anchoring or mooring. With an open boat you lay there like tramps on a bench - very vulnerable 20cm from the concrete edge of the pier possible for everyone to stroll by. So the night was short and we woke up at 5 o'clock in the morning prepared our sail and went as silently as we arrived - maybe this is what they call a low impact sport :-).

closer view of lighthouse

We had to pull for another 20 minutes and then we reached the beacons of the other end of the channel.

There we changed direction east to Maladière to get a decent breakfast. There we arrived at seven o'clock still with enough wind and one hour later after a good coffee we went back with bags full of supplies for the day. We were proceeding rather slow in front of Neuchâtel giving me time to admire the new pile dwellings on the shore. At about midday I had enough and tried to convince Manuela my wife to stop the trip right there. Surprisingly, she denied, reminding that these were the last days of the summer. So we drifted for another minutes, not daring to cross the sea to the other side.

lighthouse during day

Then someone switched the wind turbine on - wind running down the hills of the "Schweizer Jura" mountains with force 2-3 and we got a fantastic (ride) diagonal across the sea to Estavayer-le-Lac. There we had planned to finish the day - but we reached the beautiful town at three o'clock and again Manuela pushed us to keep on sailing.

We really surfed the next hours, our little boat stopped just for a few minutes to swim and we reached Yverdon at 7.30 in the evening. On the way we could admire the latest trimarans and catamarans for the famous Bol dOr race, which normally the Alinghy team wins with their high tech spiders.

We stayed about 12 hours on the boat and still weren't bored (good sign for further activities). We made a perfect sail through the narrow marina and slipped with few rudder strokes on the ramp - first time I thought that our landing looked sort of professional. Manuela rushed to the railway station and I had plenty of time to unpack the boat.

pdracer back on shore

At 0.30 next morning we were back home with another simple but wonderful trip in our memory.

I just calculated roughly and saw that I hadn't broken the distance record - which I hadn't intended. But I think we got the 24 hours record by accident - just because someone forgot to switch the blow-dryer off. On a chart of http://www.swissinfo-geo.org/ we measured rough that - as the bee flies this must be around 23 miles - maybe someone can measure it more precisely. No GPS yet.

The funny thing is, we invited our neighbours two day's later for dinner - they have a nice Beneteau yacht in a marina near Yverdon and they told us that they have never visited Neuchâtel with their boat - too far away from their marina - maybe you need offshore equipment and radar to cross such dangerous waters.

map of the route taken