Lizzie gets lifted out

We had decided to leave Lizzie in Denmark over the winter, to give us the option of more baltic sailing another year.   After reading lots of good things about Augustenborg Yacht Harbour from the Cruising Association (who have a brilliant Baltic Layup Directory), we contacted Anders to reserve a spot in one of his sheds.

Now we were finally here we had a busy time getting everything dry and ready to go into winter storage.  The mast had to come off, and so the boom and all sails had to be stored below decks.  The sun finally came out for the last day so Lizzie went into her shed lovely and dry.  Anders and the rest of the boatyard staff were all very jolly and amazingly efficient – we had to head off early the next morning after she was lifted out, but they kindly sent us a picture of “Lizzie in the house” as they termed it(!):


Assens to Augustenborg – torn sails, tired sailors

At least it was sunny, eh?  The wind was pretty fresh  – we’d got our smaller (#3) genoa hoisted, and were beating southwards, but we were only an hour out of Assens harbour when I head the grating rip of sail cloth and saw the clew of the genoa ripping away.  Tom rushed to furl it up before any further damage occured, but it looked like it was a simple case of old age, the sail cloth itself was worn through.    Without any foresail Lizzie can’t sail to windward, so we had the choice between hoisting the big #1 genoa – much too large for these conditions – or our storm sail.   We’d only ever used practised using the storm sail once before when we first bought Lizzie 4 years ago, and it hanks on with large loops over a furled genoa, and an annoying shackle at the base that we’ve now vowed to change to a snap!

We carried on tacking, impressed at how well balanced the boat was with such a tiny foresail and full main, but our speed was significantly slower than before.  It was going to be a long day…  The main struggle was with the waves: short and steep, they stopped lizzie dead every minute or so.  It was impossible to know whether to risk the big genoa to give us more power.  In the end, infuriated by the slow progress and uncomfortable motion we lowered the storm jib, and then in a complicated manoeuvre which involved unfurling and lowering the damaged sail we swapped the #3 for the #1 on the roller furler.  All pretty wet work for Tom on the foredeck whilst we plunged and rolled around on the sea 🙁

We were aiming for Als Fjord – about 25 miles to the southwest, specifically Augustenborg at the far end where we were planning to leave Lizzie for the winter, so this was our last big trip.  We had already decided to stop at the northern end of the fjord at a sheltered anchorage called Dyvig.  It was only a day sail from Assens, but we’s begun to wonder if we’d get there in the daylight.  The entrance to Dyvig is unlit and very narrow, so we made sure there was a back up option if we arrived after dark, but with more sail hoisted we made much better progress, and managed to work the wind shifts and currents well to make headway into the wind.  A few squalls as evening came had us reefing both the main and the genoa, but we made it through them intact (just very wet) and turned into the blissful calm of Als Fjord.  What a contrast from outside!

We were able to bear away and reach down the fjord as far as Dyvig – the entrance to which proved to be the highlight of the day – a tiny channel (maybe 10m wide) through into a peaceful lagoon beyond where we gratefully dropped anchor – all under sail with no need for the motor.  We were very grateful for the shelter as the wind gusted strongly all the next day.  Lizzie was very snug so we inflated the kayak and went for a paddle around the lagoon and a nice walk to the nearest town to stock up.

The following day was calmer and we sailed our last leg of the summer down the fjord.  About half way down the fjord divides into the famous Als Sound to Sonderborg, and Augustenborg Fiord, where we were bound.  It was a beautifully sunny day and a nice relaxing sail until a last minute panic by Tom marred the final approach into Augustenborg harbour!

We tied up safely in our last box-berth of the summer and could finally relax… except we had just a couple of days to clean and dry everything ready for winter storage, dismantle the boat ready to go into a shed, and pack all our belongings ready for an epic three-day public transport journey back to the UK.


A long sail, and much nail biting whilst trying to avoid ridiculously fast ferries (traveling at 38 knots!) brought us to the island of Samsø.

Nice harbour – but the highlight of the day was a foot long Danish pastry that Tom managed to find on special offer minutes before the supermarket closed.  We demolished it in a single sitting.

Lizzie gets to Sweden (briefly)

It was a while ago now, but we made a quick trip across the Øresund to Höganäs in Sweden – partly just an excuse to get out another courtesy flag.  A great idea as it turned out as we had a whole pod of porpoises escort us there:

Just one of the playful porpoises that kept us company in the waves
Despite being part Swede, it turns out Tom had never been there! I made him compensate for this lack of patriotism with some flag waving…

Wrecks, you say? Tom goes for a dive…

On our sail from Aero to Troense the chart showed a cluster of wreck buoys alongside a diving symbol – the wreck turned out to be a motor torpedo boat sunk in 6-8m of water, so Tom though he’d have a go at free-diving it.

We took down all sails and started the engine as I wanted to be able to manouever the boat easily into the wind and stay nearby whilst he was overboard, and hoisted our “A” flag (diver overboard).  Tom meanwhile donned his wetsuit (mostly for anti-jellyfish protection) and his ridiculously long fins.

Tom comes up from a dive – the yellow buoy behind marks one end of the wreck

Visibility was rubbish, but apparently you could vaguely make out the outline of the ship.  It was a first for me too, being genuinely single-handed on Lizzie underway – I was quite glad when Tom was safely back on board!

Just a word about Troense – we anchored off this quaint little harbour and the locals were so friendly, one passing fisherman assured us that we could row ashore and use their club facilities for free, which was very kind.  Great views too!


Holiday in Helsingør

It’s blowing a gale outside as I write this, and the mooring lines are creaking ominously – August bank holiday weather is cleary ubiquitous even in Denmark –  but we have been lucky in our harbour of refuge:  Helsingør is probably the most interesting Danish town we’ve visited.

The castle makes a spectacular backdrop to the harbour, which is a great mix of fishing boats, and assorted yachts, with friendly owners all keen to know how such a small boat from England ended up among them!   In the evening, the big town quay hosts an enthusiastic fishing contingent – some with more success than others – one guy catching something silvery and fishy about half a metre long that looked like it would feed a large family. Another painstakingly reeled in and landed a piece of seaweed, much to everyone’s amusement…  Tom had a go, though to be honest I was fairly relieved at not having to cook anything odd that he might have dragged from the depths!

Another bonus is the very impressive maritime museum, all built below ground, around an old dry dock.  The exhibitions were genuinely well done and all in english as well as Danish  – fully recommend to anyone:

Maritime heritage didn’t stop there, we were pleased and excited to see the well preserved S/S Bjørn ( in steam and offering charter trips on the sound.  She looked very well suited to day trips with a large outdoor aft deck seating area, so I had assumed she had previously had a life as some kind of ferry, but it seems she was a working tug and icebreaker(!) until the 1980s.

It’s only 3.5 miles across the sound to Sweden and it’s a popular crossing point, as we discovered sailing up the sound – over 70 ferry  crossings a day (and we’re talking big – get out of our way – ferries), so we spent a day on the swedish side as well – another pleasant historic town, confusingly named Helsingborg.


Elsinore Castle (or Kronburg in Danish) is where hamlet was set – this was our view the other night from the Harbour.



Up the Øresund with dolphins and ferries for company

Porpoises actually it turns out, but they came and played in our wake, breaching and turning under water just like we’ve seen dolphins do in west coast waters.  It was a lovely end to the trip up from Sundby (where we moored to visit Copenhagen) up to Helsingør.

It was sunny and the “heavy traffic” that was cautioned in the pilot guides didn’t really materialise until we got to the ferry crossing point at the northern end of the sound.  Our (German) harbour guide for the area expressed caution that the ferries “pay no attention to pleasure boats at all” – I think this might have said more about the expected readership of the guide than anything else, upon sight of the numerous and very large ferry vessels it was hard to imagine anyone except perhaps a container ship expecting them to give way to them!

Approaching Helsingør at the north end of the Øresund



Best harbour in Denmark?

We’ve just arrived on the island of Omo in Denmark – our harbour guide with comedy english translations described it as a small, scenic and “fascinating” island…  Not sure about fascination but the marina is awesome.  Our berth is next to a white sandy beach, has bathing steps down into the sea, so that one can return to the boat sand-free 🙂   It also has giant hammocks and an ice cream shop that offers everything on top of ice cream – Tom went for more cream?!?

Lizzie snug in the shiny new Omo Marina
Al fresco dining facilities 🙂 Clearly designed for people in very small boats to whom a table is the essence of luxury

The sail here was pretty good too.  Lots of downwind sailing and a nice beam reach across the Great Belt channel.

Skipper “so easy I can do it with my eyes closed” Tom

Into the Kiel Canal

Cuxhaven is only 16M downriver from the western entrance to the Kiel Canal – our way through to the Baltic.  The tides are strong in the river and we’re on springs at the moment so it only took us 3 hours to sail upriver to Brunsbuttel and the locks.

There are 4 sets of locks – two for big container ships etc, and two for smaller cargo vessels and yachts.  Commercial traffic obviously has priority and we were slightly worried about having to wait for the lock out in the river, stemming the tide for potentially hours.  We had chosen to sail up river, all the other yachts we saw were motoring and soon overtook us, but they didn’t gain much as when we approached Brunsbuttel we saw them all waiting outside in the river.  When we were still a mile away the lock signals changed to allow the yachts into the waiting area so we put the engine on and went for full speed ahead in the hope that they’d hold the lock for us – they kindly did, but only just, almost as soon as we’d cleared the lock gate it started to close behind us.

Lizzie just nips into the Alte Schleusen before the lock gates close.

We rafted against a beautiful german built modern wooden racing yacht, and 10 minutes later were motoring into the flat waters of the Kiel Canal.  We moored up in Brunsbuttel for the night and treated ourselves to takeaway pizza whilst we watched the big ships lock through.




Thankful for a breath of wind (and a spring tide)

“You’re not leaving tonight are you? – In the dark?!”  the German sailors on the neighbouring catamaran were politely incredulous of our intentions, but we checked the chart again -the critical buoy on the bar was lit, as was the fairway, although there were quite a few others that weren’t.  As Tom pointed out we should have at least 2m of water even if we didn’t manage to find the deepest section of channel.  We’d been on Spiekeroog island for 6 days already avoiding days with no wind or those with strong winds from the east  and were itching to get going.  The forecast was a gentle force 3-4 southerly and it was a full moon, so we set the alarm for 1.30am(!) and at 2am we were motoring out of the harbour using a torch to spot the withies along the channel.  For once a cloudy sky masked the moonlight, and needless to say the critical bar buoy was with missing or unlit, we never saw a sign of it despite both of us peering out into the dark for an hour as we negotiated the seagat.  Still what might have been a serious stumbling block for other sailors was only a minor irritation to Tom – navigator supremo.  I steered whilst he shouted compass bearings, checked the depths and told me where in the darkness to expect the shadows of buoys.   Afterwards, when I was celebrating what seemed like an amazing feat at passing the bar unscathed he grumbled that it was cheating really to have to use a GPS.  Only Tom would have such scruples!

There had been little sign up to then of our forecast wind, but a gentle breeze from the south picked up and, eager to conserve fuel, we switched the engine off and sailed gently towards the dawn.  Even at 3.30am the sky was lightening in the east and it felt like one of those rare occasions when the sea is happy for you to be there.  We hadn’t been able to re-fuel in Spiekeroog as they have no cars on the island, hence no fuel.  We had about just over half a tank (~ 7litres) but we knew that wouldn’t get us all the way to the Elbe, our` destination and we’d deliberated long and hard over the forecasts to try and make sure we could sail most of the trip, so it was maddening to watch our gentle breeze die to nothing by morning!  With a tidal gate to meet and no alternative, we switched the engine on again, taking agonizing glances at the fuel tank guage every hour or so.  How we wished we’d bought a bigger fuel tank in the UK!!

We made it to the entrance of the Elbe river as the tide turned in our favour, but we had another 25M to go to the first port, Cuxhaven.  We were glad of the spring tide sweeping us in, but even so we needed to maintain steerage way.   As it turned out we were saved by an easterly wind (exactly the forecast we’d been avoiding) which began to blow out of the mouth of the river, exactly on the nose, but we could at least now sail.  We turned the motor off and tacked in for the next 4 hours enjoying the sail, and feeling very relieved.  The wind began to die again but we were only a couple of miles from Cuxhaven and now had 3-4 knots of tide sweeping us in.  We moored up in Cuxhaven marina -had a celebratory lemonade, and quickly went in search of a petrol station.