Sailing Panda – A Solent Winter



Darren and Amanda Sellzer set off to sail around the world on their 39-foot Amel Sharki PANDA just as the world went into the pandemic lock-down. Instead of going from the Caribbean to the Panama Canal and then on to the South Pacific, they had to change plans. Here is the latest installment from their still developing voyage.


Light snow on one of the new solar panels.

For the hard-core, high-latitude sailors, saying that we ‘wintered over’ in Southern England is laughable. We never once had pipes freeze or had to shovel snow off our deck. But for Amanda and me, both growing up in sunny climes, having our first winter experience in a pretty cloudy, rainy, damp, and generally bleak locale was a taxing experience to our psyche. On top of the English weather, the country was in a very strict lockdown. Thus, our days began and ended all in the same 39-foot space.

However, an added benefit of such an anti-social lockdown experience is the time and motivation to complete boat projects! We were moored in the Hamble River, and had excellent connections to local chandleries and shipwrights. Plus, we must say the river is quite beautiful and offered miles of walking paths to clear our minds after a long day’s work.

Our largest project was to convert our dinghy launching situation. After a year of cruising, one small gripe was the work and danger required launching a 3.1m RIB from the foredeck and mounting a 15hp engine. Already Amanda had broken her tailbone after the wind caught hold of the dinghy and she fell backward on the foredeck. If we arrived at an anchorage just for a day or two, we would almost never launch the dinghy, and thus miss-out on any excellent shore time. So, we decided to ditch our huge and oversized solar arch for traditional dinghy davits. But what about the solar? In an effort to reduce windage and weight up high, we opted for walk-on deck mounted solar panels, coupled with a high-output 170-amp Balmar alternator. We can now say our energy demands are met, no large solar arch to get in the way of docking and launching/retrieving our dinghy can be done by ONE person, safely!


This drone shot of PANDA shows her new dinghy davits and deck-mount solar panels.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, we now have HOT WATER! Yep, we didn’t have that luxury up in our high latitude cruising. It was all ‘boil-a-kettle’ and a sponge kind of shower. But now we are living the ‘yachting’ life and are enjoying every hot shower possible.

Now that spring has sprung, our projects are complete (well they never really are, are they!), we can say the doldrums of an English winter are behind us. We look forward to putting PANDA 2.0 through her paces, testing out the new systems, and continuing our worldly voyage. For a couple of newbee sailors, we are still learning as we go. Every harbor, anchorage, and sail is a grand new adventure, and one we wish to continue to share with you all. If you want to enjoy some great scenery, check out our Sailing Greenland series on YouTube. Just search SV Panda when you get to Youtube; you won’t be disappointed.

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One comment

  1. Come to Port Stanley (Ontario). Cross the Atlantic, up the Hudson, along the Erie Canal to Lake Erie and over to Pt Stanley. I used to live in Lee on Solent and sailed the Solent.

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