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Friday, 22 September 2017

Sonderborg, Denmark - Burgstakken, Germany (15 September 2017)

On a wet and gloomy Wednesday morning we slipped our lines at around 0830 and in company with two German boats started heading SW towards Schleimunde, the entrance to the Schlei fjord. We were able to sail with a moderate S wind and completed the 20nm to the narrow entrance to the fjord in good time. Passing through the entrance into a tight buoyed channel, we were immediately dodging tripper and fishing boats and then we motored some 4nm to the town of Kappeln, mooring at a sailing club about half a kilometre from the town centre.
Kappeln itself is fairly ordinary but there is a busy road crossing in the town, with a bridge refurbished about seven years ago.
The bridge at Kappeln
In the afternoon we looked around what was a mainly modern centre. 
Perhaps not the best name for a driving school?
But there was an impressive Police HQ and a traditional windmill on the fringes.
Smart windmill
The following day we drifted down to the bridge which opens at 15 minutes to the hour and then continued down river.
For the next 20 nm depths outside the channel were typically 3 metres, with perhaps a little more in the channel itself. After waiting for the opening of the bascule bridge at Lindaunis, shared by rail and vehicular traffic, we continued down river through pretty countryside with sometimes wide lakes and then narrow channels between land.
Waterfront location on the Schlei    
Eventually we reached Schleswig, the navigable head of the Schlei. This was an interesting mixture of old and new. On the way into the town centre we visited the Cathedral of St Nikolai, an impressive building with some highly skilled carvings.
Impressive work
We also had the opportunity to climb the high tower which gave good views once breathing had returned to normal!
Looking across one part of the town towards the Yachthafn
Best of all was the traditional fishing village of Holm, well preserved small houses in a very attractive setting.
One side of the square in Holm
The next day we returned up river to Kappeln in continuous driving rain although with some wind behind us we were able to sail. Frustratingly there was some sort of problem with the very rusty bridge at Lindaunis which meant that one opening failed to materialise. As a result two German boats and ourselves had to wait for about an hour and three quarters for the bridge to open, with no explanation as to why! Once through, after about another 6nm, we had to wait for the newer town bridge but this did open punctually. We again moored just N of Kappeln. The town has many restaurants so good quality food is very reasonably priced, especially those with fish!
We were now anxiously watching the weather for a week ahead. Such medium term forecasts can be unreliable, but we had noted that a deepening low with attendant high winds seemed to be a permanent part of the forecast for our last seven days. We had various options on where to go next and if that element of concern hadn't been part of the forecast we would probably have stayed longer in the Schei. But as it did, on Saturday we opted for a 46nm passage to Heiligenhafen. With S and SW winds forecast we were looking forward to our trip SE. After two hours sailing the wind was quickly heading us and became E for the following hours accompanied by heavy rain!
Not the most enjoyable weather .......
We choose to stop at the small sailing club at Heiligenhafen rather than the large marina and found a very welcoming and chatty group of people. We have been to this very busy town before and know that it attracts many visitors. 
The Sailing Club at Heiligenhafen
On Sunday, after some quick shopping we had an enjoyable lunch at a restaurant overlooking the marina. After that we slipped our mooring, picked up fuel and then headed NE, under the bridge linking Fehmarn and the mainland and on to Burgstaaken where we leave the boat for the winter. A pleasant cruise drying out the sails from the previous days rain!
It was the right decision. The winds picked up on Tuesday and by Wednesday evening were a minimum 35kn gusting to over 50kn. Whilst tied to the pontoon it was very uncomfortable. In addition there was a very rare occurrence of a sharp drop in water levels caused by the low pressure and strong winds. The fall from normal levels was nearly a metre, apparently unheard of in Burgstakken. The consequence for us (and others) was that for a while we sunk into the (thankfully) soft mud! We were aground for over 12 hours but no damage was done. Two days later the mast was stepped and Whileaway was lifted out ready for moving into the shed for the winter. 

Part of the quay at Burgstaaken
By Sunday warm and sunny weather had returned and we were able to have our last lunch in Germany in a restaurant on the quay.
So a summer that was constrained by our engine problems but nevertheless we covered some 850nm, visiting 31 ports during the 10 weeks that we were on board. For the most part we had reasonable weather. Now we need to start thinking about next year ..........................

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Rodvig - Sonderborg (5 September 2017)

Monday 28 August was sunny and with light S winds forecast. With favourable visibility this was a good day for our planned passage to Vordingborg which required sailing about 20nm between islands through narrow buoyed channels. But first of all we headed 10nm SSE to the Fairway buoy across the bay which marked the beginning of the channel. To follow the channel we had the paper chart (below) and an electronic chart plotter with a GPS showing our position. But as buoys are sometimes moved to reflect shifting sands (and charts take a little while to be updated), the GPS position has some margin of error and the channel is only about 12 metres wide in places, we also heavily use Mk 1 Eyeball to spot the red and green channel markers and the various cardinals! The chart shows the channels starting top right of centre and eventually leaving this sheet at bottom left. The channel markers and buoys look like small black pillars in the picture.
Part of the passage chart
The shallowest parts of the channel tend to be in the first part going NW to SE and at times we had just 0.5 metres under the keel. With crystal clear waters it was easy to see the seabed and at times the fish! There were very few other boats although we were followed by a German flagged yacht who had caught us up at the start of the buoyed channel and then slowed down to follow us at a careful distance! Spotting the buoys keeps you busy so time passed quickly and after about 7nm we were approaching the small island of Nyord (just below centre right on the chart). This has a very small harbour but looked like it would make a nice lunch time stop. It requires a careful approach from near a buoy that is an isolated danger mark but we never had less than 0.7 metres in the approach. Not much space in this small harbour (and quite a narrow entrance) but we tied up just inside.
The harbour at Nyord
There is a small settlement around the harbour with some very attractive buildings, including a couple of cafes and a small shop. Although an island there is a road bridge to the larger island of Mon but the settlement is very much at the end of a 10km road from the nearest town.
Attractive gardens at Nyord
After lunch we resumed our passage, now through wider and a little deeper channels, passing Kalvehave were we stopped last year and on to Vordingborg for the night. This has a poorly marked entrance from the channel and in places is very shallow. We attempted one approach from the main channel towards their marked channel and lost our nerve when the depth was showing as 0.3 metres under the keel. So we turned back and tried another approach from the main channel, this time reaching the long channel to the marina with the luxury of a minimum depth of 0.5 metres. Our passage from Rodvig had been 32nm.  It was another beautiful evening. We had also stayed at Vordingborg, with its castle remains, last year, so it was just an overnight stop this time.
The following morning we again had light S winds forecast as we headed E under the road/rail bridge (26 metres minimum clearance) and then NE through the Karrebaeksminde Bugt. This turned out to be a very warm day with winds of F2/3, maximum about 12 knots. We did sail for about half the time but each time as our speed dropped to 2-3 knots we had to give up for a while. Still a very leisurely 37nm to the small island of Omo arriving about 1700. A small guest harbour, about one third full, but all German boats apart from ourselves, one Dane and a Dutch barge!
Fishing harbour (with barge alongside) at Omo
Omo is served by a ferry which comes from the large island of Sjaelland about every two hours. It stays for about 10 minutes to unload and take on a few passengers and an occasional car or delivery lorry.
Ferry going astern into the harbour
Having enjoyed some warm and sunny weather it turned wet but warm overnight so the next day started with heavy rain. The island was very misty throughout the day and did not look at its best. Nevertheless we cycled to the main settlement in the centre of  the island and visited what was a well stocked shop for an island of 170 people.
Welcoming carving at the entrance to the main settlement
It is clear that the island must be much busier in the main holiday time as there are quite a few summer cabins and houses.
Holiday home
But agriculture is still a mainstay of the economy and on cycling round we came across some of the deer, hares, pheasants, herons and other birds - plus numerous horribly fat brown slugs!

Startled deer!
The following morning saw little improvement in the weather. It was gloomy under heavy skies and with the threat of rain. Nevertheless we set off about 0930 to head E sailing a few miles off the N coast of the island of Langeland which is surrounded by shallows. Initially we sailed with a N wind of F4 on the beam. Having tacked a couple of times as the wind came around to NW and strengthened to the top of F5 together with a current pushing us S I decided that we should motor the last 4 nm to the narrow gap in the shallows N of the island. Once we did that we turned SW and with the wind behind us it was much more pleasant. After a couple of hours sailing we turned W then N into the narrow sound leading to Svendborg. However our destination was just short of that town, being Troense on the island of Tasinge. We tied up about 1530 and briefly explored the area around the Sailing Club where we had berthed.
Many Danish Harbours now rely on automatic machines to collect your berthing fees but Troense still has a Harbour Master. As the gentleman resplendent in peaked cap with gold braid, smartly attired and with his cash bag around his shoulders approached, Andrea remarked “Now that's what I call a Harbour Master”!
Impressive HM!
A little later we could hear a loud rhythmic clanging of an engine. Svendborg has an excellent collection of historic craft and some enthusiasts were exercising a little work boat around the bay.
Steam driven work boat
On Thursday, after cycling to the supermarket a couple of miles away we went a mile in the opposite direction to visit Valdemars Slot (Slot being the Danish name for Castle). This grand house has a splendid position commanding the entrance to the channel to Svendborg so we had seen the outside of it. It was built in 1639-44 By King Christian IV for his son, Count Vlademar Christian. But he never lived there and was killed in battle in 1656 at the age of 34. During the war with Sweden (1657-60) the castle was occupied and badly damaged. When Danish and Swedish naval forces met in a sea battle in the Bay of Koge, the Danish Admiral Niels Juel defeated the Swedes and captured a large number of ships. The King, being short of gold at the time, gave him the castle and the estate in lieu of the prize money that he was entitled to. Juel initiated an extensive renovation and created a monumental baroque house from the rebuilding. Today it is owned by Alexander Fleming, the twelth generation of the Juel dynasty.
Valdemars Slot
There are 17 rooms in the house open to the public mostly with appropriate furniture, historical paintings and collectables. What we were taken aback by was a huge attic which has a “Trophy hunting and ethnography collection” mainly that of a famous (apparently) Danish hunter, Borge Hinsch. It is a little disquieting to be in a large area full of stuffed wild animals and birds with pictures of the hunters celebrating their kill. There were also information boards justifying trophy hunting but Andrea and I find it rather a strange activity!
We did enjoy the house and the history and also had an excellent traditional Danish lunch in the restaurant. 
Traditional lunch
We cycled a round about way back and found some pretty Danish houses and villages.

Attractive thatched homes
One other feature we saw a number of times was the traditional ferry “Helge” as she took tourists and others around the bay stopping at, amongst other places, the Slot and the Sailing Club. Fine looking vessel.
Helge approaching landing stage
Saturday morning was sunny; we couldn't believe what a good spell of weather we had enjoyed since returning in August. The downside was that the wind was again very light so all we could do was motor the 19nm W past Svendborg on the island of Fyn and three small islands off the coast of Fyn until we reached Lyo. This is another small island about 4km long and 3 km wide with a population of around 200. The very pretty village is in the centre of the island about 15 minutes from the small harbour where the ferry calls about five times a day. 
The village pond in Lyo
The whitewashed Church has a circular graveyard, claimed to be the loveliest in Denmark! No information on whether the incumbents agree! It is certainly well maintained with miniature box hedges around every plot and many flowers and shrubs. 
The praised Chruchyard!
From there we walked to the NW of the island passing a Dolmen from the early stone age and then being able to view the reef and bird sanctuary. This is a flat triangular spit surrounded by a salt meadow. Many birds breed here earlier in the year, particularly arctic terns, little terns and avocet but regrettably we couldn't spot any of these.
Bird sanctuary
The following morning we decided to thread our way around the islands the short distance to the town of Faaborg which we had visited last year. We achieved three objectives. We fuelled the boat; did some shopping at Lidl; and had a smoked fish lunch at a popular little cafe on the edge of the harbour that we had visited last year. After lunch we returned the 5nm to Lyo but instead of mooring in the harbour we joined a couple of other boats anchored off the sand spit and had a peaceful evening and night in the bay.
Beautiful evening anchored off Lyo
On Monday we weighed anchor and headed NW towards the island of Als. Despite the wind gradually becoming WNW we were able to sail for a while as we headed to the N of the island. We rounded this and then turned S and with the wind having dropped slowly made our way through Als Fjord and then into Als Sund both of which separate the island from Jutland. Both the Fjord and the Sund are beautiful with rolling hills running down to the waters edge. 
Als Sund
After a 30 minute wait for a lifting road bridge on the edge of the town we tied up alongside the town quay in Sonderborg.
Whileaway on Sondorborg Town Quay
The busy town is a large shopping centre and has a mix of old and new buildings, some of the latter the usual concrete eyesores that you see in many places! It is a University town so that adds to the buzz.
New buildings dwarfing the old
Sonderborg is very near the border with Germany so has suffered from incursions! The Prussians took possession of Jutland in the 1864 in a war in which the Danes were forced to retreat to Als. After WW1 the population were offered a referendum on whether they wished to return to Denmark and they voted to do so, the change happening in 1920. Of course, during WW2 the Germans again occupied Denmark. Not surprisingly the second language here is apparently German rather than English.
In the afternoon we cycled 10km down the coast on an excellent foot/cycle path to Horuphav, a sleepy village with a small harbour. 
Basking seals sculpture on coast path
It was another warm and sunny day although with cloud building. Looking at the forecast it seems that we are now in for a period of rain and strong winds as a low that has been bringing poor weather to the UK, is set to push away the Baltic high that we have been benefiting from.