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Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Dragor - Rostock, Germany (13 September 2016)

Having had August at home we started our journey back to Whileaway on the evening of Monday 5 September. This time we took the car as near the end of the month we would be getting Whileaway laid up for the winter and we had gear to bring home. Our journey took some organising.
We left Wiltshire at 1800 on Monday night immediately after a Board meeting that I needed to attend. We then drove nearly 200m to Harwich, arriving at 2145 and soon on to the Stenna Line ferry. We were off the ferry and cleared border control at the Hook of Holland by 0830. We drove through Netherlands and Germany (mainly on motorways)  to Burg on Fehmarn Island a distance of about 400m arriving there at 1545. After a little delay as our contact was not at the yard that afternoon we eventually put the car into one of the yacht halls to await our return in Whileaway and sorted out a few details. We then had time for a beer and an early supper in Burg, sitting outside in the warm sunshine. We walked to the town station and caught the local 1844 train to Puttgarden on the north of  the island, where shortly afterwards we boarded the 1905 ICE train from Hamburg to Copenhagen. Having boarded, the train rolled on to one of the regular ferries for the 45 minute crossing to Nyrobing in South Denmark. So having just boarded the train we had to alight and go to the passenger area on the ferry! The ferry company made much of the fact that we were travelling on one of a fleet of the most environmentally friendly ferries in the world, amongst the features being a big bank of batteries enabling the ferry to store power for later use.

Scandlines Hybrid Ferry
Once across the water we re-boarded, had a quick passport check and the train then continued to Copenhagen arriving on time at 2222. From outside the station we caught the 5A bus towards Sundbyvester Plads and at the Dresundsve stop we changed to the 350S to Dragor.
We were on Whileaway in Dragor harbour at 2330 just under 29 hours since leaving Wiltshire.
Apart from the loss of a fender (don't know why) Whileaway was just as we left her. After all the usual checks, refitting some gear that is stowed away when we leave her and reprovisioning at the local shops we slipped our mooring at just after 1130 on Wednesday morning.
We headed south towards the small town of Rodvig which we had visited in July. It was a sunny day with just a little cloud and for a while we were able to sail but then the wind dropped and being on the nose we decided that it would be quicker to motor. We were about half way to Rodvig, crossing from one part of the Danish coast to another when Andrea noticed three seemingly identical naval ships heading north on a parallel course about 2nm to the E of us. We were watching them, interested in what they may be up to, when the VHF radio burst into life with "Whileaway this is Polish Warship Resko". I returned the call and Resko requested that we switch to a working channel. The next call from ORP Resko was blunt "Whileaway change course 10 degrees West". I called back "Polish warship Resko this is Whileaway, confirm alter course 10 degrees west, over". There was then a little delay and the answer came back that there was now no need for a course alteration! so we pressed on. Naturally we kept watching the three ships wondering what they were up to in what were Danish territorial waters. They certainly manoeuvred around, sometimes circling, sometimes stopped before eventually they set off S heading back from whence they came. We could only assume that they were on some sort of exercise, perhaps hunting a submarine? Later we established that the ships were Minehunter/Minesweeper class so perhaps they were supposed to be finding dummy mines?
Arriving at Rodvig just before 1800 we were surprised at how empty the harbour was. On our last visit in mid-July the harbour had been three quarters full when we arrived at lunch time! This pattern of quiet empty harbours stayed with us throughout the following days, so much more pleasant than being with the crowds! When we had visited Rodvig before we had visited Stevens Klift and other places so this time we just required an overnight stop.

Beautiful sunny September morning in Rodvig harbour
The next morning was again sunny and we watched the swallows flying low over the water catching breakfast. before setting off to the S again, this time just 25nm to Klintholm on the S coast of the Island of Mon. We sailed nearly all the way there, admiring Mons Klint, the unusual sheer sided white cliffs, more of which later. Klintholm is a popular passage port for vessels heading W/E or E/W in the S Baltic Sea. The harbour has some relatively new holiday homes and the settlement around the "Havn" has quite a few houses plus a holiday camp site, a small supermarket and a few restaurants. It is a very pleasant place to stop.
On Friday morning we decided to explore the east side of Mon. we decided to begin by cycling 17km to the main town of Stege. The town has plenty of old streets and buildings and lies alongside the waterfront.The main street had a variety of shops and a nice feel to it.

Limited selection of products in this shop?
After a coffee and a look around we were next to head east across the island to Mons Klint which we had passed the day before. This would involve a 20km cycle ride and so Andrea proposed enquiring about the bus service. There was an hourly service and on asking the driver (with the assistance of a local - who it turned out was an ardent follower of Wiltshire crop circles!) it was not a problem to take our folding bikes on the bus. So 45 minutes later we arrived at Mons Klint. The geology is that about 70 million years ago Denmark was covered by ocean. The chalky ocean floor was raised above sea level before the last ice age reached Denmark about 12,000 years ago.Ever since then the cliffs have been eroding and at present rates the cliffs and the island of Mon will disappear in about 50,000 years. Mons Klint is also known for its Peregrine Falcons (breeding here having vanished from Denmark for 30 years), wild orchids, the black spotted blue butterfly (seen nowhere else in Denmark) and of course many fossils. Unfortunately we didn't see any of these particular features!
Mons Klint
We walked down the 500 steps to the base of the cliffs and then along the very narrow beach to the next steps about 2km along. We completed the loop back to where we had left our bikes and then cycled about 15km back to Klintholm. That evening we had an excellent meal in a very friendly Italian restaurant close to the harbour - with a little musical interlude provided by the chef/proprieter!
On Saturday we had another warm sunny day and at 0930 we slipped our mooring and started heading W towards the estuary that leads towards Stubbekobing on the island of Falster. We were able to sail close hauled for about three and a half hours before putting on the motor and turning north into a narrow buoyed channel between the islands of Mon and Falster. Stubbekobing was pleasant but sadly quite run down with empty shops and houses despite some signs of industry. A bright spot was the traditional ferry still operating between Stubbekobing and the island of Bogo.
Histoic Bogo Ferry
So the following day we set off back down the channel and then W  along the coast to Gedser. Another warm sunny day and more sailing with a SW wind around F3/4. As we neared Gedser we could see the ferries (between Germany and Denmark) moving up and down the buoyed channel. We crossed that channel and left a drying bank to port turning up towards the harbour. Plenty of room again as we chose an alongside berth. A walk around Gedser revealed some interesting buildings, a mixture of old and new, but again it looked as though there had been better times in the past. Indeed an exhibition in the ferry terminal showed that the heyday was in the 1960's and 1970's with busy ferry crossings and a railway terminal. Gradually other ferry routes and bridges developed and the trade declined although a regular ferry service is still sustained. After a lovely day another beautiful sunset.
Sunset Gedser
The following morning we spent time on domestic issues - clothes washing and boat maintenance. After lunch we cycled N to the town of Nykobing F (The F to distinguish it from other Nykobing towns in Denmark). This seemed thriving with plenty of attractive buildings and people about in the town centre. It also had plenty of industry with what looked like grain silos, sugar beet processing plants and so on. But by the time we got back to Gedser we had cycled just short of 50km (over 30m) so quite tiring on our Bromptons. 
Traditional houses Nykobing centre
Tuesday 13 soon produced another warm sunny day. We left after taking on diesel and were soon sailing due S with a variable E and then SE wind. So we sailed most of the 26nm to Warnemunde, dodging the Scandline ferries at times and then began motoring the 7nm down the Warnow River to Rostock.Initially it was a very industrial and maritime landscape but this then gave way to reed beds before we rounded a bend and then began to see the buildings of Rostock in front of us. This was to be a two night stop so plenty of time to explore the city the next day. 
Approaching Rostock

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