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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Svendborg - Kalvehave (12 July 2016)

The weather forecast for Wednesday 6 July turned out to be as promised with winds freshening overnight and becoming noticeably strong, even deep in the harbour at Svendborg. With a gale warning in force for SW and W Baltic no boats were leaving!
So we headed to get the train for the 45 minute journey to Odense, the main town of the island of Fyn. What was immediately apparent is that there are major infrastructure works in progress. A main road that divided the city centre in two has been closed and along its route major changes are being made. Not surprisingly there is also a knock on effect to other roads and so you do end up regularly skirting construction barriers.
Odense trades heavily on being the birthplace and home town of Hans Christian Andersen and the HCA Quarter (also known as the Historic Quarter) has plenty of old houses, cobbled streets, cafes and shops as well as Hans Christian Andersen Hus! We stumbled on the home and gardens and fortuitously one of three summer daily performances of “21 fairy tales in 21 minutes” was under way so we enjoyed that for a while.
Performance at Hans Christian Andersen Hus
Our next call was at the impressive cathedral where, in the crypt, you can view the bones of King Canute. The Cathedral was built in the 1300's and is named after King Canute who was murdered nearby in 1086. Two other early Kings of Denmark, King Hans and King Christian II are also buried in the Cathedral.
We then spent time and had lunch in the Latin Quarter. This is the heart of the arts and cultural side of the city, including Brandts, once a textile factory with its characteristic industrial yellow brick architecture. We spent a while admiring furniture and interior design objects from Danish and international designers in Lerche Design said to have been voted the world's best “Visual Merchandise” store and the best design shop in Denmark.
Giant deckchairs in the Latin Quarter
Back in Svendborg it was the evening of the European Championships first semi-final with Wales playing Portugal. Fortunately it was being shown on the television in the small harbour information office; unfortunately Wales lost 2-0! But they had achieved more than they ever expected by just being there.
During the night the wind began to subside and on a sunny morning with a F4 W wind forecast we, like many others, slipped the mooring. We followed a small Danish warship heading S down the sound then after a few miles turning W around the island of Thuro and then heading N up the coast of Fyn. Amazingly the wind direction held steady so we sailed on a pleasant beam reach although, as we have come to expect, the wind was stronger than forecast being generally F5 and quite regularly F6. Still it made for good sailing as we sped along at between 6 and over 7kn. We soon covered the 25nm to Nyborg and found space in the Osterhaven (West Harbour) very close to the town centre.
Until 1560 Nyborg was Denmark's first capital and where the first constitution was signed in 1282. Today it is a small town. But it does have a castle (the first mentioned in 1193) with impressive ramparts and a moat and the centre is full of old merchant's houses and other attractive buildings. 

Former Merchant's house, one of the older buildings in Nyborg
Nyborg was previously a busy ferry port but in 1997 an 18km bridge – the Great Belt Bridge – was opened connecting Fyn to the mainland of Denmark. The west section rests on 63 bridge piers and is a combined road and rail bridge; the east a road suspension bridge and here there is also Europe's second longest submerged tunnel 8 km long, 75m under the sea surface. As a sign of the times you pass an old laid up ferry as you enter the harbour. Still good news for leisure craft as we now make use of an area that must have been busy with commercial traffic many years ago. 
We planned to leave promptly on Friday morning but unfortunately a problem with the heads (toilet) sea water supply meant that maintenance work was required. This took longer than expected so we decided to spend time catching up with clothes washing, boat (house) cleaning and other domestic tasks. It also meant that we could see a special evening event in Nyborg. This involved live music, food and drink stalls and general shop openings from 1800 onwards. Unfortunately heavy rain began at around 1600 and continued until a little after 2000 putting a dampener on proceedings. By 2000 we were wet enough so retired to the boat although we could still hear the bands playing.
So it wasn't until the following morning that we slipped our mooring and headed across the Great Belt to the little island of Agerso. We had a pleasant motor sail the wing being mainly behind us and fluctuating from a gentle F3 to gusts of F6. We were slowed a little by having to dodge two ships in the channel just S of the Great Belt Bridge. But after just over three and a half hours and 20nm we easily identified our target by the departure of the ferry and we were soon entering the very small harbour.

Whileaway in the harbour at Agerso
At that time we could easily find ourselves a space alongside the harbour breakwater but as expected for a Saturday in the holiday season by 1700 the harbour was very full.

Agerso village pond
Agerso is only about six miles north to south and two miles at its widest point and we covered the island on our bikes in the afternoon. The oldest farm on the island was established around 1830 and most of the development including houses, church and mill were around 1870-1920 or so. The island now depends on agriculture, fishing and tourists and it has a few camp sites for young and old!
On our ride around we saw quite a coastal area used by birds (heard many skylarks), the old battery built in 1808 during the war with England and the small lighthouse on the southerly tip. As we approached this Andrea said that she could see a lady on the top floor beside the lantern. I could not. There were two doors to the lighthouse, both locked! But as we came away we spotted a lady cleaning the glass around the lantern! So not a ghost after all. This was confirmed when she passed us on her bike as we cycled back to the village!

The ghost in the lighthouse!
It was a busy evening in the harbour with the ferry making a couple of trips, fishing boats departing and late coming sailing boats squeezing themselves in to the most unlikely spaces.
Twilight in the harbour
The following morning the weather was terrible with heavy rain from about 0600. We decided to put up with it at about 1000 and were rewarded with a cracking close hauled sail and even the rain stopped about 1100. So after heading SW for about 20nm we arrived in the tiny harbour on the island of Femo.
Femo cottage - could be in a village in England
Femo is an even smaller island than Agerso so we decided to have a walk and visited one of the two villages and, as it is Sunday, the old church. This revealed that the first church had been established on the island around 1500, the current building is from 1903. Another Danish approach to be mentioned (not unique to Femo, occurred everywhere) is the sale of unwanted possessions at the garden gate. Smaller items are displayed on tables with prices (usually car boot level) and a money box left for people to pay. We noted that this couldn't happen in England as within five minutes the usual suspects would have pinched the box and contents.
Sometimes older and larger items are displayed for sale
We returned to the harbour to find that a few more boats had arrived. But by the end of the day, when the Harbour Master came to collect the dues, the harbour was fairly full with perhaps 15 boats in the outer harbour and 10 visitors in the inner harbour (plus about 15 locals). The ferry arrives three or four times a day and seemed to carry about 10 vehicles maximum plus just a few foot passengers. As we sat on our boat we admired the many swallows constantly swooping over the harbour collecting the many midges and small flies, quite a few disappearing to nests to feed their young.
Swallows taking a brief break on the harbour wall
On Monday morning we set sail with our planned destination being Vordingborg just 22nm miles due E. Fortunately the wind was still coming from the W so we had an excellent down wind sail towards the road and rail bridge that connects the big islands of Sjaelland and Falster. After the bridge we had to cut across some very shallow water in the middle of the channel; and to our surprise (and delight) found that there was a newly created buoyed channel that took us 2nm diagonally across the sand and enabled us to pick up another buoyed channel into the marina at Vordingborg. So for the last 5nm (about an hour) after the bridge the average depth was around 1.5m and it got as low as 0.5m! Fortunately we did have some deeper pools too!
We arrived at Vordingborg, which is a reasonable size marina at about 1400. Despite the early hour the harbour was very full, all the boxes were taken and boats were already rafted out in places. We found an alongside berth right in front of the Clubhouse and were relieved to squeeze in. Vordingborg is clearly a very popular location and when we walked the short distance through the ruined castle walls into town we discovered why it might be crowded. This was the first day of a six day music festival and the town was packed even at 1600 on a Monday afternoon. There were musicians playing in bars and cafes and in the castle grounds work on a big stage was being completed. In addition there were many street vendors in the town and we also noticed some serious looking men pulling a caravan and handing out leaflets from the Folk party. Talking to the Dane who was skippering a boat that rafted up to us later we discovered that these are the Danish version of UKIP with similar views and approach. Like all we have met on this trip he was disappointed, concerned and couldn't understand the Leave vote in the UK referendum!
Street sculpture Vordingborg
Vordingborg's historic claim to fame is that of being the residence and  power base of Vlademar I (Vlademar the Great) famed for reuniting the Danish Kingdom in 1157 after a period of civil war. Also notable is the Church, Vor frue Kirke, dating from the mid-fifteenth century with elegant frescoes and a wonderfully carved baroque altarpiece created in 1642.
Vor frue Kirk
Although the marina is more than half a mile from the castle grounds we could enjoy the live music until well into the night!
So one night was enough and the next day we set off on a short journey W through the sound, gently runing before the wind whilst carefully following the many cardinals and buoys to stay in a channel in some shallow areas. After 12nm we passed under the bridge linking Sjaelland and Mon and turned immediately to port to the harbour at the village of Kalvehave. On our way in the small ferry across the sound (might take two cars) passed us. We had a pleasant afternoon walk along the coast footpath and then through unmetalled roads with small one storey houses on spacious heavily landscaped plots.
Small harbour and village of Kalvehave
It was also a sunny afternoon and evening so perhaps the weather is set to improve as we head N over the coming days?

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