Christoph bought the SY Staatenlos in Croatia in June 2020. This post will tell you everything you need to know about our boat, equipment and gadgets. You can read more about the crew here, about our past experiences here and our current future plans here
The “SY Staatenlos” (“Stateless”) is a catamaran built by Lagoon, a shipyard in Bordeaux. Lagoon is a famous catamaran manufacturer and our model (380) is one of its most popular with almost 800 orders placed to date. The 380 is no longer produced but is still a popular choice on the used market. We deliberately chose an older Lagoon (built in 2006), because we think the older models are a bit sturdier and have better dimensions. It doesn’t really matter how old a ship’s hull is – as long as it doesn’t have any serious damage. We asked an experienced surveyor to confirm the condition of our Lagoon 380 before we bought it. So far, our sailing boat has only needed some minor gel-coating work and a new coat of anti-fouling paint.
Our Lagoon is 38 ft long (11.6 m) and around 6.6 m wide – and her draft is only 1.15 m deep. This means we can sail along various rivers and drop anchor in very shallow waters, such as coves. And with a mast height of 16.5 m, our catamaran fits under most bridges, such as all those dotted along the Intracoastal Waterway in the United States. This might be Lagoon’s smallest make, but there’s more than enough room in 4 + 2 cabins and plenty of storage space – and I couldn’t be happier about the ceiling height of over 2 m in the saloon. The fibre-glass vessel is light and manoeuvrable – an identical model has even won various regattas, such as the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (2015).
In addition to the top-deck saloon, our catamaran has 6 cabins (3 in each hull). The two spacious cabins at the rear include cupboards for clothes or groceries and comfortable mattresses made by Flexima. Those rooms are reserved for skippers Josh and Christoph (when he’s on board). The cabins in the middle are only slightly smaller and, just like the others at the rear, their large windows flood the rooms with daylight. There are also single bunks at the front of each hull, which can be accessed via the hatches. These are also nice places to sleep and somewhat detached from the rest of the catamaran. Needless to say, all our cabins have their own plug socket, fans, bedding and comfortable pillows.
When the catamaran was struck by lightning in 2018 and the damages were covered by the previous owner’s insurance company, the vessel was upgraded with the latest on-board electronics and two Raymarine chartplotters. However, we’ve also added a whole range of new features to our Lagoon 380 charter boat, as we wanted to make life on board as safe and pleasurable as possible. This mainly includes the following upgrades…
We’ve installed 6 completely new AGM batteries that supply enough electricity to cover our typical power consumption for several days (even though we never let their power levels fall below 80%). Thanks to our inverter and remote monitoring system from Victron Energy, our electrical needs are met at all times. We’ve also installed solar cells with a total capacity of 1,100 watts – two solar panels on the davit and four more on the Bimini top – because we don’t want to be dependent on our two 30 HP Volvo motors (after all, it’s a sailing boat). Whenever the sun is hiding behind the clouds, our Silentwind wind generator produces lots of energy from up to 30 knots of wind speed. Thanks to our new additions, we’re now completely self-sufficient without relying on the motors.
The pièce de résistance is undoubtedly our new Aquatec desalination system, which can produce up to 180 l of desalinated water per hour – it’s so efficient that we only have to use it once every three days for just one hour. Due to the high energy demands, we only use the desalinator during motorised sailing, although it could also be powered by our wind and solar systems for a while. Thanks to our watermaker, there’s no limit to the showers we can enjoy and the dishes we can wash up. We usually refine the drinking water with our SodaStream carbonator to make mineral water and add syrup or pieces of ginger (the perfect remedy for seasickness).
So, you could describe the SY Staatenlos as a fully self-sufficient catamaran. All we need is a few extra diesel reserves for manoeuvres and wind-free days – just in case we don’t have enough fuel in our 450 l tank, we carry 12 additional 20 l canisters. Our boat has a range of almost 1,000 km when fully fuelled, and the two Volvo Penta motors – each with an output of 30 HP – propel our catamaran through the waves at a top speed of 7.7 knots. We can hit higher speeds under sail. As we left the Strait of Gibraltar and headed towards the Atlantic, we’d already picked up a speed of 13 knots with a good wind behind us. The Volvo Penta motors are actually also brand new – with the 2006 ones getting broken during our voyage in the Canary Islands. Luckily, we found quick replacement there and have some improvements with basically the same motors, but newer technology.
You won’t exactly starve to death on our catamaran… We’ve stashed away enough food to last several months. As we’ve got lots of storage space, two large refrigerators and a freezer, we can carry fresh and perishable food on board for a few weeks. In addition to lots of fruit and vegetables, Christoph and Josh love a bit of dried meat and stocked up on over 10 kg of biltong in Mallorca. It goes without saying that we also have an on-board bar with a wide range of fancy drinks, such as Croatian Julischka, Mallorcan gin, Caribbean rum and much more… And there’s no shortage of fine wine and beer.
We usually cook on our gas stove but we also have an oven. The induction hotplate adds a bit of speed to our cooking when the catamaran is running on motor power (or using solar power on a lower heat setting). However, the centrepiece of our kitchen is our “Meateor” grill… Everyone wanted to throw Christoph’s clunky baby overboard at first, but it only took him a minute to win the heart of every crew member with his perfectly seared steak. With a top heat of 900°C, the grill makes light work of many other dishes, such as bread and pizza using special baking stones. It can be used safely – even in rough seas – and our gas consumption is much lower than with the gas stove because everything is cooked through in a jiffy. We also have fishing tackle and a spearfishing harpoon on board, but this equipment is hardly ever used due to Christoph’s fish and crustacean allergies.
The standard features on our Lagoon 380 are a cruising mainsail and a Genoa made by North Sails, but we didn’t want to settle for standard… We’ve installed an additional bowsprit with a top-down furler, so that we can hoist another sail. We’ve also decided to upgrade our catamaran with two more sails from North Sails. One is a G0 upwind sail that gives the catamaran an impressive boost even in lighter winds. Our new downwind sail, a G2 gennaker from North Sails, is ideal for the trade winds encountered when crossing the Atlantic and sailing in the Caribbean. Both sails are designed in black and yellow (emphatically anarcho-capitalist colours) and feature “Taxation is Theft” in our usual lettering, which means the SY Staatenlos can be identified from afar when we’re cruising along bustling coastlines.
Our rig has been examined by an independent surveyor and declared fit for our itineraries. We exchanged the old 2006 aged mainsail and genoa into brand new ones tailor-suited by a Croatian sailmaker. Although our catamaran has four possible sails, she can be comfortably steered by the skipper alone, but things are much easier with at least one additional crew member. We usually motor-sail with a full mainsail, which is reefed accordingly as the wind picks up speed. If the wind is right, we can also use the Genoa – and if we just want to float along the waves, we turn the motor off completely. But we’re not purists here – we’d rather motor-sail at 7 knots over long distances than sneak across the sea at 3.5 knots.
Our gennaker sail is mainly used for lighter winds from behind, which you usually find on Atlantic routes. It’s kept in a waterproof bag on the bow, waiting to be quickly unfurled in the right wind conditions. Due to its size and relatively free flight, we only tend to use it during the day, as it can be dangerous at night and can hardly be kept under control by one person at night.
The downwind sail really tested our patience… After placing a wrong order and running into some delivery problems, we had to wait for over two months for the necessary bowsprit to arrive – and then we couldn’t find a suitable marina to install it. We’ve finally managed to get everything sorted in Lanzarote – and the downwind sail is now ready and waiting for its first taste of the breeze. This will let us sail much harder into the wind if we ever need to.
Our decision to buy a catamaran – of all boats – was very much a conscious one, because one of the many advantages is the huge amount of space on board. In fact, we’ve got enough room for a wide range of amenities that make life on board a real treat. We’ve already described the fully electrical equipment in all four main cabins, two of which feature comfortable mattresses made by Flexima – we can even have sweet dreams in the stormiest of seas.
All cabins also have their own plug socket, wardrobe and fans. We’re doing without an energy-guzzling air conditioning system at the moment, and heat and UV protection is provided by alternative pieces of equipment, such as our ventilation sail. After taking a refreshing dip in the ocean, we can wash off the salt water in the warm showers in the wet rooms and at the stern. Thanks to our watermaker, every passenger can have a nice shower every day.
A black, tailor-made Bimini top shields us against the forces of nature in the cockpit – come rain or shine (and the occasional storm), the cockpit is the centrepiece of the SY Staatenlos. When the weather is nice, we can completely remove and stow away the side walls of the Bimini top. When the sun is shining bright, we have a mesh that provides UV protection – and our waterproof sheeting provides shelter in cold, stormy and wet conditions. The captain’s vision isn’t impeded in any way, as the sheets are partly transparent, especially with the spray protection to the front. As the outdoor facilities are so good, we hardly ever use the saloon with its comfortable seating, but it provides lots of storage room and places to put things when cooking and doing other things.
When the weather is good and the sea is calm, the front of the catamaran is another popular area – there’s nothing nicer than lying on the trapeze and watching dolphins dart past on the surface of the water below. It’s a lovely place to spend a few hours with comfortable upholstery and tailor-made solar protection. We’ve even spent a few nights there at anchorages, where we’ve stretched out the relaxing hammock between the furling Genoa and mast and just drifted off to sleep.
Dropping anchor is always such an event. As the SY Staatenlos is so practically self-sufficient, we tend to moor at lonely anchorages or lively beaches than at the ports of this world. This is much cheaper in the long term (you often have to pay 1.5 to 2 times more for a catamaran mooring space) and it’s also much more pleasant. It often takes hours to plough through all the formalities at marinas – and all you get in return is electricity and water that you don’t even need, disgusting sanitary facilities, noisy streets, neighbours and other boats that usually create unpleasant and dangerous floods.
We’d rather just follow the slogan of our anchor manufacturer, UltraMarine: “Drop it, Set it, Forget it”. Thanks to our new electronic anchor winch and 80 m steel chain, the 35 kg UltraMarine anchor is set within a minute and has never let us down on any seabed. Its predecessor was completely different – a 30 kg iron-shaped anchor that caused us quite a few sleepless nights. I’d recommend the UltraMarine anchors to every boat owner out there. We also have extra snubbers to take some of the work off our anchor – and they’ve been working even better since we got new ones.
We obviously don’t want to forget the Internet situation on board… After all, our sailing adventures shouldn’t be the death of Staatenlos.ch – quite the opposite. After five years of non-stop travelling madness, the SY Staatenlos has given me much more time for my numerous projects. We came up with a few ideas to ensure a stable Internet connection. As most of our time is spent in coastal waters, we ensure fast and reliable connectivity with two state-of-the-art 5G routers (Huawei 6G CPE Pro 2), one of which is kept in a weatherproof box that is wired through the mast under the radar at a height of about 10 m. We’ve often had a stable Internet connection around 80 km away from all Spanish coasts. The router on the mast features a globally usable Google Fi SIM, which I’ve been using in my mobile phone since 2016. Google Fi might not be cheap, but it works in almost every country and saves us from clambering up the mast to swap the SIM. And what’s more, we sometimes have local Internet even dozens of miles before arriving in a new country. When I add together the separate tariffs for the WiFi and my mobile phone, I pay $ 120 a month for Google Fi, which gives me 22 GB of Internet per SIM. Whenever we use up 22 GB on a SIM, our surfing speed is reduced to 128 kbps, but we can purchase a speed booster for $ 10 per GB. And that’s what we usually do, even though we end up racking up an additional $ 500 to $ 1,000 a month when the Internet is used a lot by the crew. After all, these costs are quickly evened out. A cheaper alternative is to use our second router in the saloon, where we can insert local SIM cards depending on the country. In Montenegro, for example, you can buy a whopping 500 GB for only € 10! Whenever I have good network coverage, I obviously just use the Google Fi tariff on my phone.
On the high seas, however, even the best routers lose reception at some point. That’s why we’ve upgraded to satellite Internet and telecommunications, which are also more secure. There are various options with huge price differences. Whenever transatlantic yachts use satellite services, which isn’t always the case, they tend to go with an Iridium Go! terminal, which has an extremely limited range of uses. The hardware costs just under € 1,000 and the data flat rate costs € 140 a month – it’s cheap, but so is the data speed (6 kbps). You can’t surf the web freely either – you have to use a special app to read your emails, check the weather or make expensive phone calls. We had to come up with an alternative solution…
The technology and satellites are already there – they’re deployed on large freighters and cruise ships that have the space and money to install them. As we don’t tend to make many ocean crossings, we want to keep the acquisition and running costs low if we’re not using the terminal. At the same time, we want to be able to work productively with our mobile devices. That’s why we went with the Explorer 510 terminal, which uses the three orbiting Inmarsat satellites. As the terminal weighs only a few kilos and fits in a normal rucksack, it can even be used for other expeditions on land. The Inmarsat satellites cover the entire world except for the extreme polar regions, which we wouldn’t even dream of visiting in a small fibre-glass catamaran anyway. It’s so easy to use – you just have to switch it on, align it (under the open sky) and surf away. It also works really well at sea – as long as the ship stays on course and doesn’t sway too much.
As Inmarsat satellites use BGAN transmission, you can expect a data rate of around 448 kbps, which is good enough for everyday business activities. The Explorer 510 terminal costs just under $ 2,000 to buy and you pay an advance flat rate of $ 756 to use satellite telecommunications, which is billed at 99 cents per minute. That means I can also provide you with a standard consultation session on the high seas for $ 100. Internet use is billed in stages depending on your data usage. It’s very expensive but not unaffordable – and the price drops sharply as your data volume increases. 1 GB costs just under $ 1,000 a month, while a data flat rate is “just” $ 4,000. From 30 GB at 448 kbps, your surfing speed can be reduced to 128 kbps. This is still a good investment for ocean crossings lasting several weeks, even if it means you can only work now and then. However, we shouldn’t forget the safety aspect and the morale of the crew – chatting with your family in the middle of the Atlantic or calling the emergency rescue team can be crucial. And the latest weather updates greatly reduce the travel time of the SY Staatenlos.
As health and safety is one of our main concerns, the SY Staatenlos is equipped with a life raft and an EPIRB system for worldwide tracking in an emergency – even though this equipment is not a requirement for boats of her size. When we say “emergencies”, we’re only really talking about capsizing, because catamarans are practically unsinkable. However, even capsizing is extremely unlikely with larger blue-water catamarans – it would take a lot of bad luck in stormy seas with short waves of at least 10 m or utter carelessness when sailing in gusty conditions. Even then, you can stay in the hulls until you’re rescued – just upside down (every cabin has an emergency hatch, allowing you to escape downwards… or upwards)!
As our boat is fitted with AIS, we can notify other boats about our own route and receive notifications from them. This also means our location can be viewed via common tracking websites, such as Vesselfinder and MarineTraffic. However, our Yellowbrick tracker is more precise and reliable, as it reveals our current satellite location, speed and more at freely selectable intervals (usually 1 hour for us). It’s much easier to handle than the BGAN terminal and can even send emails via the Iridium satellite network if necessary – with a significantly longer battery life. In addition to the AIS receiver and transmitter, we’ve also upgraded the mast with a new Raymarine Quantum Doppler radar, enabling us to detect foreign objects up to 45 km away and alerting us straight away if other ships come within our immediate radius. There’s nothing quite like a night watch – and it’s wonderfully relaxing to sail under the starry sky of the Atlantic. Our FLIR thermal imaging camera sheds light on even the darkest of nights and reliably detects objects within a 2 km radius – it can be a true lifeline, especially if someone falls overboard at night. But it should never even come to that, because we wear high-quality life jackets with harnesses fastened to the ship.
Our Highfield dinghy isn’t exactly a toy; it’s slightly overpowered with a 20 HP motor but essential for our self-sufficiency. Attached to the davit at the stern of the ship, it connects us to the outside world when we drop anchor and has already hauled in tons of food, diesel and people.
It would also ensure our survival in the open ocean – but we can also use it for more fun things like water skiing.
We’re not going to lie – the SY Staatenlos is also a bit of a pleasure boat… As we sail around the world, we can explore countless beautiful bays and exciting cities. If we ever drop anchor and get bored, entertainment is only a few metres away, as a whole world of possibilities can be discovered in the water.
My favourite gadget is my Hoverstark Aquajet underwater scooter, which I’ve nicknamed “Manta” because of what it looks like. As it moves through its 3 gears, it hits a top speed of 10 kph and can plunge down to a depth of 30 m. I mainly use it for snorkelling – one battery charge lasts up to 2 hours and lets me easily cover distances that I’d never manage as a swimmer. If you like snorkelling, we have several full-face and normal masks on board.
If we ever want to explore the deep sea, our FyFish V6 underwater drone is a big help. Similar to a flying drone, our underwater drone is attached to a wire and can be moved flexibly through the ocean up to a depth of 100 m, allowing you to explore everything with a light and a good camera. During a penetration test in Croatia, we made it all the way down to the seabed at a depth of 80 m in the barren waters of the Adriatic Sea. We look forward to lots of new FyFish adventures in tropical waters with many reefs.
In addition to the underwater drone, we also have two flying drones on board, which take magnificent aerial photos of the SY Staatenlos. The first drone is a small DJI Mavic Air 2, and the second is a large Swellpro Splashdrone 2+, which can land on the water and take pictures at a depth of up to 30 cm. It can even fly and film safely in rain and strong winds.
If leisurely water sports are more your thing, we have an inflatable SUP board that has been used to explore many a cove and can also be used as a kayak. The pink flamingo ring has almost become the Staatenlos mascot – it’s the only place on board where smoking is allowed (tied in the water with a lead). It’s also a great place for us to hold our consultation sessions. A larger flamingo party island for 6 people is already waiting for its first users.
Needless to say, we want our guests to be fully entertained on board, and this is usually ensured by our good Internet connection and power supply. We have a nice selection of board games, such as Catan, as well as chess, poker and a steadily growing collection of on-board literature. You can also pass the time watching films, YouTube videos or Netflix series on our Nebula Pro projector, which produces a clear image almost everywhere on board – we’ve even watched films on harbour walls and our Genoa sail when the wind is low. And if you’d rather knuckle down and get some work done, you have more than enough opportunities with our mobile printer / scanner, a professional radio microphone and your own devices.