Having made a better job of passage planning and tidal
calculations, we got cracking at first light, North into a Northerly, which
gradually backed through NNW to NW, ranging from F4 to F7, with an unpleasant
sea and poor visibility – the latter a repetition of this stretch back in the
Spring. Sadly it all proved too much for
Mate, who succumbed to a very bad day’s seasickness and abject misery, leaving
Skipper to manage pretty much the whole passage single-handed.
Just after midnight my weary crew gratefully tied up to the
quay in Borkum, having completed a passage of 90 Miles and 15 hours of
illness. Although a friendly couple came
to say hello the following morning, nobody seemed to care, any more than on our
previous visit, to take any money from us.
Probably just as well, as we departed less than twelve hours later, and
were soon enjoying a totally different day, with Mate helming under full main
and genoa, and the speed touching nine knots.
We continued down the estuary of the Ems river, that forms
the border between Germany and the Netherlands, and followed the channel back
to Delfzijl. We had difficulty locking
through the small lock, which seemed very narrow, into the Eems Kanaal, and
found a comfortable and friendly berth at t’Dok, a club marina. A very long hose was necessary to fill our
tanks with fresh water…very slowly.
We joined the Sunday convoy through the bridges East of
Groningen, and settled in the basin of the Zuiderhaven to await the next
weather window. Meanwhile we treated
ourselves to supper out, and a very wet walk around this bustling university
On the Thursday we turned North for Kastrup’s fuel berth,
navigating the final metres of the flight path into Copenhagen airport on the
way. Doubtless the jet pilots are used
to yachts crossing their approach route; we weren’t so sure…
In a pleasant Southwesterly, my crew set the staysail and
first reef in the main, and we set off towards Klintholm, on the island of Møn –
to the Southwest. We soon swapped up the
staysail for the genoa, and an hour later shook out the reef and continued
under full main. This worked well for
the majority of the 49 Mile passage, but for the last hour we gave up pushing
the headwind, and dropped all sails to close another circle as we motored back
into our first Danish port.
Thankful not to be delayed by another electrical failure, we
left the following morning, motoring again into a stubborn headwind across the
bay towards Stubbekjøbing. Contrarily,
we managed to float the genoa to motorsail down the channel into the fishing
and commercial harbour, having correctly assessed the leisure harbour (from
seaward) as too small for us. The town
seemed peculiarly quiet, but our wanders uncovered some interesting architecture.
After sitting out a windy Saturday in harbour, we headed
West under the first bridge, on Lolland.
Once clear we set full main and genoa in a light South-southwesterly,
clearing a second bridge between Falster and Faro, and a third at Storstrømsbroen. After lunch the wind picked up and the sails
were reduced, first staysail and then first reef in the main. By 1600 the wind was F5, gusting 24 knots, so
Skipper set the second reef. A good day’s
sailing saw us tied up to a new pine quay on the edge of a camping site at
Kragenaes, with some pleasant facilities all to ourselves.
Monday 17th saw an early departure for a 45 Mile
passage to Bagenkop, our final port in Southwest Denmark. A good day’s sailing in a steady Southwesterly
F4 with easy motion on the sea, we started close hauled under full main and
genoa, and by 1100 had tacked onto starboard, finding ourselves in the lee of
Langeland and safely West of the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) lanes. In the afternoon we noted Encore motoring a mile ahead of us, and
we enjoyed the coastal scenery and majestic lighthouse as we rounded the tip of
the island to be safely tied up by 1700, ready for a lovely long chat with
Second Mate, who was celebrating being settled in her new flat in Balham by
cooking a Mystery Dinner for friends.
The only fly in the ointment of our final days of Baltic
cruising was Skipper finding the holding tank to be blocked and full. Now we needed to find a pump out station that
we could get close enough beside to enable the problem to be rectified – soon.
Overnight the wind swung back to Eastsoutheast, giving us a
light and bright day that began under full main and genoa. Not surprisingly, the wind was once again ‘on
the nose’, and we reduced to staysail and then reefed the main, before changing
the courtesy flag from Danish back to German when we crossed the border
mid-afternoon. Shaking out the reef as
the wind kindly backed to Southsouthwest as it increased to F5, we revelled in the warm
sunshine and lovely scenery of the Kieler Bucht, the mouth of the Kiel Fjord. We decided to anchor just North of Holtenau,
the entrance to the Kiel canal, after a last hour of unpleasant winds and very
choppy water. We tucked in close to
shore, and with only occasional rocking from passing ships, enjoyed a private
performance by a fire juggler, and then bagpipe practice wafting across the
water from a nearby workboat.
On Wednesday morning we crossed the busy shipping lanes in
and out of Kiel, heading for Laboe on the Eastern bank, as the pilot book
implied a pump out station would be available.
Unfortunately we were unable to access (or even identify) such a
facility, and after a certain amount of tight space manoeuvring by my unflappable
Skipper, we set off back to the other side of the fjord, berthing once more in
Dürstenbruck. This time the harbourmaster invited us to
take the alongside berth on the pontoon, thus relieving us of the necessity to
lasso a post at the stern while not ramming the quay on our bow. Oddly, we had a second experience here of the
non-tidal Baltic producing a tidal surge, when the step onto the pontoon from
the side deck varied between almost level and about a metre up!
Back in our own company, we turned to organising the boat for
our next passages, provisioning and stowing.
We also enjoyed exploring the Pilot Museum, once the site of the oldest
Pilot station in Denmark, perfectly positioned to meet and escort the convoys
of large ships that ply the tricky waters of the Øresund between the North and
When the system for allocating pilots to commercial vessels
became automated and centralised, the station in Dragør was closed down, but enterprising
local people took the opportunity to turn it into a museum, and it remains exactly
as it was when the last pilot closed the door behind him for the final time. Now antiquated radio communications equipment
remains on the desks alongside large scale paper charts and record books, while
there is clear evidence of how the men relaxed, slept and catered for
themselves during shifts. The buildings
offer a fascinating insight into another way of life, and remain a testament to
the brave local men who made this often difficult work their life’s calling.
Before leaving Dragør, we were delighted to finally make
the acquaintance of Encore, a red (trimmed)
Ovni that we first encountered in a pretty anchorage in the Swedish
archipelago. Here she was crewed by the
Skipper and his wife, born South African but adopted Kiwis, and their guests,
her sister and partner. Another very
pleasant exchange of hospitality and sharing of sailing yarns was enjoyed by
all, and in the way of these things, contact details exchanged.
After a speedy turnaround on Wednesday and Thursday, Second Mate’s brother arrived, somewhat earlier in the day than his grandmother had, into Copenhagen airport. Again, a very pleasant few days was spent in his company, much of it relaxing and chatting in between brief dips into the most interesting sights of the city. He accompanied Skipper, borrowing Mate’s wheels, on a bike ride to Kastrup for a chandlery hunt. The Sunday evening found us at a hugely entertaining jam session at La Fontaine, a cool jazz club downtown.
Bridging the end of August to the beginning of September, we
enjoyed the company of Mate’s mother, who flew into Copenhagen airport late on
Thursday evening. After a gentle morning
on Friday, we introduced her to our lovely friends from Saltimbanque, meeting
them for farewell coffee in the sunshine in Nørreport, before they began
their final journey home to Oslo. We
hope to visit them (if not by sea) during the coming Winter. Later we drooled over the fabulous food stalls
of the Torvehallerne – the first time in five months Mate had seen a ‘proper’
fishmongers ie one offering more than just salmon or smoked anything.
We had a pleasant stroll through the grounds of the fort to
Langelinie Park, in order to say hello to the Little Mermaid. Just South of the Park is the impressive
Gefion Fountain, which depicts the Norse goddess, Gefion, ploughing the sea
with four oxen, and tucked behind this is the attractive flint-walled St Albans
Anglican Church, with a very familiar atmosphere within. We wandered past various important buildings
on Amaliegade, to gaze at Frederik’s Church, a rococo marble church, before
crossing the Amalienborg Slotsplads, the Queen’s winter palace that is guarded
by busbied soldiers. Beyond lies an
attractive route along the shore to wander through the pavement cafés
of colourful Nyhavn.
Indulging Mum’s love of Shakespeare, a visit to Elsinore
Castle, the setting of Hamlet – Prince of Denmark, seemed an appropriate item
on the itinerary. Known in Danish as
it lies less than an hour’s train ride North of Copenhagen, and was built to
pair with Helsingborg, on the opposite side of the Øresund in Sweden, to defend
the straits and collect tolls from passing trading ships. It remains an impressive fortification, and
even from the outside has an imposing presence on the edge of the town. Helsingør is a popular day trip for
visitors to Copenhagen with good reason: it boasts attractive architecture,
interesting buildings, a pleasant harbour and a wide selection of cafés
and restaurants. We enjoyed a delicious
traditional Danish style lunch courtesy of Madam
Keen to take in her third Scandinavian country in her 80th
year, having experienced Western Norway aboard a Hurtigruten cruise at Easter,
we took a comfortable train ride across the Øresund Bridge to visit Malmø in
Western Sweden. Grateful for a clear
day, the views were spectacular. The
Internet offered mixed reviews about this city, with which we would tend to
agree. There is no traditional tourist
information office (Mate had withdrawal symptoms), and when we finally tracked
down a guide and map, we were asked to pay for it. It feels like a ‘normal’ working city rather
than merely a tourist destination, and has an eclectic mix of old and starkly
modern architecture, not always in harmony.
The ubiquitous canal boat rides are on offer, and we did find a pleasant
lunch which fuelled a long, cosy gossip.
On the Sunday afternoon, a pleasant hour was whiled away in
Church, listening to a jazz concert given by a talented combination of piano,
drums, double bass and saxophone. We’ve
heard elsewhere that there is a vibrant jazz scene in Denmark, although to be
honest, this audience was mainly of the silver variety, and probably the
church’s usual congregation.