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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Rostock - Burgstaaken (24 September 2016)

On another warm sunny morning we started our exploration of Rostock. A city of over 200,00 people with an interesting historic centre surrounded by a ring road heavy with traffic. Rostock had been heavily bombed in World War 2 and then suffered at the hands of concrete slab building during the the DDR (East Germany) era. It does have a large student population which gives it a lively feel although this is offset by empty shops and buildings and wide open (and empty) spaces. Nevertheless we were interested to see Marlenkirche, the only church to survive WW2, with its 12 metre high astrological clock built in 1472 showing the exact date on which Easter falls every year. The integral discs last for 130 years, the next one due in 2017. The clock is apparently the oldest one of its type in the world still with its original mechanisms.
Astrological clock completed 1472
There was little else of particular note apart from two remaining city gates and the impressive 13th century Rathaus.
With the temperature at 27C in late afternoon (incredible for the Baltic in mid-September) we dined out on excellent fish in a restaurant on the waterside.
A relatively early start the next morning, casting off at 0745, as we had a fair distance to cover to our next destination, Wismar. A still sunny morning as we motored up the river to the mouth at Warnemunde. Rostock industry gradually gave way to reed beds and tree lined banks and then back to industry with the ferry terminals (from Sweden, Denmark and Finland for certain), a naval base, cruise liner ports, ship repair yards and plenty of other marine activities. For the first 5+nm we didn't see another boat but then in the last mile we met three incoming ferries, the ship that services the marine cardinals and buoys, ferries crossing the river, a naval service boat and a small support ship.
Once clear of the mouth we turned W and for the coming hours we mainly motor sailed with the help of a light following wind until we turned into the bay at the foot of which is Wismar.
We had completed over 44nm by around 1545 when we docked at the sailing club at Westhafen. 
Wismar is a smaller and more compact town than Rostock. It is a short distance through a wide bay and still has some commercial shipping, mainly coasters from Sweden and Poland delivering timber and other goods so far as we could see. There is evidence in the shape of cranes, warehouses and other buildings of greater marine commerce including shipbuilding in the not too distant past. There are three major docks and half of one, the Westhafen is now occupied by the yacht club that we berthed at. Another, the Alter Haven, also has some space for fishing and larger vessels whilst the third, Uberseehafen, is largely derelict except for a small municipal marina in the corner. The Alter Haven is steadily being regenerated with warehouses and mills turned into flats, fishing boats selling their wares from the boats, new shops and quite a few restaurants. There is some way to go but it looks promising. 
View from the Tower towards the Westhafen
Wismar became a Hanseatic League town in the 13th century and its buildings clearly testify to a prosperous place for hundreds of years after that. The town and some surrounding areas then spent most of the 16th and 17th centuries as part of Sweden and there is evidence of that too, including two baroque Swedish heads which stand on mooring posts guarding the entrance to the harbour. (These are replicas, the originals having been damaged by a Finnish barge in 1902, one original being in the town museum). Then in 1945 the town was bombed by the RAF and finally Wismar was in the former East Germany until 1991 which is why not everything about the town is satisfactory. But it is a UNESCO heritage site with a superb central market square dominated by a magnificent Rathaus. It is said to be the largest remaining medieval town square in Northern Germany. 

Part of the central market square
 We also visited four churches, St Nikolai Kirche, the largest and only remaining intact of the three red brick churches that dominated the roof-scape before 1945; Heiligen Geist Kirche, originally a hospice dating from the 13th century; St Marien Kirche, originally built in the 13th century but all that remained after the 1945 bombing was the steeple; and St Georgen Kirche, again bombed and then left in ruins in the time of the DDR, its shell has now been reconstructed and it is used for concerts and public events. So quite a change in church use in about 70 years.
Although a lovely sunny evening there had been a little cloud in the sky that day and it looked as though, after 11 days of sunshine, the very warm spell was coming to an end. The following day there was more cloud in the sky and the forecast was for strong breezes of F4 and F5 for our 30nm trip to Travemunde. We cast off just before 0900 and for the first few hours headed north out of the bay. As we began to lose the shelter of the land the wind and the waves increased until eventually we were coping with winds of F5 gusting to the top end of F6 and wave heights of around 1.5-2.0m. Naturally we were sailing fast at times but once we turned to head W, for the last final 90 minutes or so we had the E wind right behind us as we surfed with the waves.
Travemunde is a coastal resort at the mouth of the Trave river which leads to Lubeck. It is a thriving holiday resort and a very busy car and commercial vehicle ferry port with regular departures to Scandinavian and other Baltic ports. To our surprise the various marinas had few spaces but we did eventually find a place for a couple of nights. We were at the end of a pontoon adjacent to the main channel so the ferries passed very close to us.
Ferry manoeuvering in channel, going astern to dock.
On Sunday we took the bus to spend time in a founding city of the Hanseatic league which also has over 1,000 historic buildings, some dating back to the 12th century. Another World Heritage Site which also suffered bombing, in 1942, but also famous for its marzipan. We spent a day looking at the impress city centre with streets lined with medieval merchants' houses and spired churches. 
Street with Merchants' houses.
 The 13th to 15th century Rathaus is apparently widely regarded as one of the most beautiful in Germany; the very substantial Gothic Marien Kirche has the world's highest brick vaulted roof and was the model for dozens of churches in Northern Germany; and there are two remaining city gates, the Holstentor which appears to have a sag and the Burgtor. 
Holstentor City Gate
We found Willy Brandt House, an exhibition about the life and work of the Lubeck born former Berlin Mayor and then West German Chancellor very interesting both for what it said about him (for example he was an exile in Norway and then Sweden from the early 1930's until the end of WW2) and the events he handled including the Nazi years, War Crimes Tribunals, the Berlin Airlift and the Berlin Wall, his European commitment and his philosophy of Ostpolitik. 

By Monday morning the strong winds of the two previous days had abated and so we left and headed around 12nm E to the smaller town of Neustadt. This time it was a pleasant sail in a NE 3/4 on our beam. We tied up in the old harbour and strolled around a busy but ordinary town! 
Quay close to town centre
The following day we cycled along the coast stopping for coffee at the small holiday resort of Pelzerhaken and then for lunch at the larger resort of Gromitz. The cycle route was very varied from well built promenades to mud tracks (thankfully dry) through woods.

Sculpture en-route
It was another sunny September day so there were plenty of other cyclists and walkers. We passed by a number of mobile home and caravan parks as well as apartment blocks and hotels in the main settlements. There were signs that these were originally small villages but clearly much holiday development had taken over. Not surprising as the sandy beach was virtually continuous.

On Wednesday morning we headed NE along the coast motoring against a NNE wind until we passed a headland where the coast changed to a NW axis and we were able to sail to the small resort of Grossenbrode where there is a large lake accessed through a narrow channel. We were now just 5nm from our final destination and so Thursday was spent beginning the process of laying up Whileaway. There was just a light breeze so we spent a couple of hours taking down the sails and putting them in their bags for the winter. Then we began cleaning and other chores.

Friday was already warm at 0900 as we headed the short distance to Burgstaaken. We were able to tie up to the company pontoon and continue our preparations for the removal of the mast and the lift out on Saturday morning.

The mast is lifted off
 In the succeeding couple of days we completed our list of maintenance and related work before, on Tuesday morning we drove the 450 miles to the Hook of Holland and the ferry to Harwich.

By the end of our 2016 cruise we had travelled 1,121nm sailing on 45 days and staying on board for 77 days. Our journey had taken us from Amsterdam, through the Netherlands, the East Frisian Islands, the Kiel Canal, the German Baltic coast, various islands in Denmark, part of the west coast of Sweden and back to Germany. The weather had been a little bit indifferent early in the year but September had been marvellous with almost three weeks of unbroken sunshine. Next year we are thinking of varying the times that we are away and heading up the east coast of Sweden towards Stockholm.

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