Saturday 26 May
…nautical miles, that is, since we left Amsterdam around ten weeks ago. All well and good, this leisurely cruising pace, but we have a date in Tallinn at the end of June. In fact, in exactly one month’s time, and there’s around 700 more Miles between us and that rendezvous…
Anyway, back to the present, and we continue to take small steps Eastwards, mainly because we are pushing into a consistent if unseasonal Easterly or Northeasterly wind, which makes for a less than comfortable point of sail, close hauled, heeled over and slower than we would like.
We followed the usual routine, Mate slipping me cleanly out of Solna marina and back to sea, setting my mainsail ready for the anticipated breeze while I was heading straight into what little we had so far. As usual, the wind built around lunchtime, and grey clouds soon surrounded us. Skipper changed my genoa for the smaller foresail, and took the first reef in my mainsail.
Away to the North, Mate spotted forked lightning, and sure enough, soon we were thrashing through a thunderstorm, with torrential rain segueing into stinging hailstones. Visibility was very poor, mainly because Mate was squinting through slitted eyes, trying to avoid the worst of the onslaught. Skipper had turned off all non-essential electronics as a precaution (to try to preserve any that hadn’t already been fried in the last storm), so Mate concentrated on the depth reading, as we were following a lee shore. [For non-sailors, the wind blows onto a lee shore, and could beach/shipwreck an unwary vessel; watching the depth soundings for reducing numbers indicates the boat is drifting in too close].
After around half an hour, the conditions eased, although by now Mate was very wet. Skipper relieved her at the helm, and she went below to change into dry, warm clothing, and all was well for the remainder of the 37M passage. Another factor in sailing into the wind is that tacking adds miles to whatever the pilot book suggests is the distance to be covered that day. This was a better day than some, from that perspective, as we only covered an extra five miles: possibly the ‘good’ to balance some of the ‘not so good’.
Glad to reach our day’s destination, the heavens opened again as we made our way without difficulty into the mouth of the Wieprza river for Darłowo, soaking Mate once again as she prepared my lines and fenders. We timed it nicely for the bridge opening. Passing the local pirate ships, done with their day’s trips into the bay with holidaymakers, we swung by the fishing harbour for a look. This has been converted into a yacht basin, but for smaller vessels than me, judging by the length of the finger pontoons, so my crew followed the suggestion of both the pilot, that they know is somewhat out of date, and the harbour guide, published this year, and tied up alongside the Usteckie pier.
As usual, they spent a weary half hour or so tidying me up and securing everything for the night, so you can imagine Mate’s reaction when, at the end of all this, a man purporting to be ‘harbour staff’ came along to tell us we could berth in the ‘marina’ we’d already rejected. Luckily, Skipper was on hand to thank him politely and decline the invitation, whereupon he explained that the port’s pilot had told him to ask us to move, as the pilot would be guiding a large vessel out to sea past us during the night. Skipper assured him we wouldn’t be bothered by the activity, and reluctantly he left us in peace.
Skipper then wandered across the bridge to a quayside fish stall to buy lovely freshly landed flatfish to fry for supper.