A lovely anchorage off Æbelø, and a wet dog

We had a slow but very relaxed sail downwind from Samsø to the island/peninsula of Æbelø.  We were goosewinged and running dead downwind for most of the day, in light winds, mostly with Fred the autopilot steering.

Æbelø is just about an island, but is joined to the shore by a thin bit of low lying land which you can apparently walk/wade along depending on the water level.  The anchorage was very scenic, and there were about five other yachts spread out along a mile or two of the shoreline so it didn’t feel crowded.

We inflated our canoe and went ashore.  The island seems mostly uninhabited, though there are a couple of houses.  There are twenty-foot high mud cliffs behind most of the beaches, then a lot of beech forest and some open areas grazed by deer.  Skip enjoyed playing on the beach as usual, but was far too interested in the deer to be allowed off his lead anywhere else on the island.

I carefully prevented Skip from swimming because we were about to go back to Lizzie to sleep and I didn’t want a wet dog trying to climb into my bed all night.  Unfortunately, Skip got a bit enthusiastic when climbing back on board Lizzie and jumped prematurely, ending up in the classic “front paws on yacht, back paws on rapidly-moving-away-canoe” position (we’ve all been there).

As the gap widened, Skip couldn’t stretch enough and disappeared with a splash.  After what seemed like ages, he he resurfaced and I dragged him back into the canoe by his harness.  We managed to get him warm and approximately dry before bedtime, and luckily this doesn’t seem to have put him off either canoeing or swimming.

To the land of Odde

After an uneventful night in Sweden we woke at 6am to make the most of the forecast southerly wind. There wasn’t much of it as we left Höganäs, so after some attempts at sailing we gave up and motored out across the shipping lanes.

There were quite a few ships in the Øresund, travelling in both directions (in separate lanes) and at different speeds, and we had to pick our way carefully between them all.

After we had safely made it across to the Danish side, Catherine went back to bed for a snooze while I imagined that I was singlehanding.

The wind picked up to a perfect force 3 reach, and the coast just to our south sheltered us from waves.  I stopped the engine,  lashed the tiller and went below to put the kettle on.

Lizzie sails herself in these conditions, so we trundled along for the next few hours while Catherine slept and I watched for ships, adjusted the sails and played with the dog.

I had diligently checked the navigation warnings the previous night and discovered that there was a military exercise taking place in the area which we were planning to sail to.  It wasn’t clear whether the whole area was actually closed, but anyway it was due to finish by 2pm.

We were overtaken by a small warship, and as we approached the area they were parked at the corner of it and we passed close by them.  A military helicopter was buzzing around and two RIBs full of marines went past.  We heard fast jets in the distance.

A few other yachts were around and nobody told us off, so we headed on towards the military area, which due to my amazing planning (luck) we entered at five minutes past two, just after their exercise had ended.

Catherine had woken up by this point, so we had some second lunch and I experimented with our electric auto-pilot (“Fred”) which we haven’t used much on this trip.  He worked well, so I continued pretending to single-hand all the way to the harbour entrance, with Fred steering most of it.  The wind had picked up, so we did most of the last few hours at 5+ knots, which is fast for Lizzie.

I started the motor and lowered the sails, then with my crew on duty again we executed a perfect box-berthing manoeuvre in Odden Havn.

The Sjaellands Odde is a thin peninsula sticking out of the top of the island that Copenhagen is on.  There are lots of holiday houses here, and lots of nice coastline, and not much else.

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:  https://mfs.dk/

Maritime heritage didn’t stop there, we were pleased and excited to see the well preserved S/S Bjørn (http://ss-bjoern.dk/) 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

 

 

Møn to Rødvig

This was a nice sail in three parts:

First we had a tricky leg to windward, which we just managed to sail without having to tack.  The wind was a solid force four and felt quite strong.  We were sailing across a very shallow area and had to follow the correct course between a series of cardinal buoys marking even shallower patches.

Unfortunately, the cardinals were small and hard to spot, and there were lots of floats with flags everywhere indicating static fishing nets.  There were so many flags that it was difficult to work out which ones might be connected.  We managed to avoid getting snagged on anything, but were relieved when we could bear away onto the next leg.

The second part of the trip was downwind, so the sailing felt a lot more relaxing, but the navigation still required a lot of concentration as we were in a narrow and very twisty channel out through the sandbanks.  The channel was well marked with buoys and posts, but even in the centre of the channel we only had about half a metre of water below the keel at times.

Finally we reached open water and were able to relax for the third section of the trip – twelve miles downwind across the bay to Rødvig, our next port on the way to Copenhagen.  By now the strong winds had built up some steep waves, so we rolled quite a lot a times, but otherwise the sailing was very pleasant.

As we approached Rødvig I made Catherine put on her waterproofs as a big black rain cloud was heading our way.  We read that the waters surrounding the harbour entrance are infested with lots of static fishing nets, so we took the recommended (slightly less direct) route in.  As it turned out we didn’t see many net flags anywhere around Rødvig compared to the forest of flags that we had sailed through that morning further south.

We found a vacant berth (indicated by a green plastic marker) in the small-boat harbour and executed a perfect box-berth mooring.  And the rain cloud missed us so we were soon back in shorts and t-shirts, enjoying the nearby beach.

Stages 1 and 2 of the route, out through the sandbanks.

To Femø

A fairly short day sailing between two islands in the Smålands area, which is a patch of sea almost enclosed by the larger Danish islands.

We were close-hauled on the starboard tack for most of the passage, then we tacked into the Femø Sund and entered the harbour along the recommended track between the shallows. The short waves and fresh wind made it seem hard work at times, and we envied those sailing downwind.

Femø was a nice island with a friendly shop in the harbour.  Later we went for a walk and found an avenue of old pear trees, with lots of fruit on.

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

Tracing my roots

Some of my (Tom’s) ancestors come from Marstal, a shipbuilding town on the small Danish island of Ærø.  This happened to be our first port of call in Denmark too, so it was very exciting to visit.

After the sea finally arrived back in the Kieler fiord (see previous posts) we refloated and were able to leave and sail up to Denmark.  To begin with we were very wary of shipping traffic because of the Kiel canal entrance and the nearby Traffic Separation Scheme, but in fact we saw very few ships.  After negotiating the TSS we passed three ships at anchor near Kiel lighthouse and then we set off away from the shipping lanes directly to the Danish islands.

We had a great sail in nice conditions, though gradually the wind strengthened and some rain showers came through.  We made it safely into the large harbour at Marstal, very sheltered behind a long boulder breakwater built mostly by local volunteers in the 1800s.

Once moored up, Catherine and Skip sheltered below from the rain while Tom explored the town.  Initial findings:

  • Public barbeques next to the marina pontoons, so that you can grill the fish you have just caught.  These are a common feature of Danish harbours.
  • Large shelters next to the marina pontoons, with barbeques under them.  So that you can grill the fish you have just caught without getting rained on.
  • A sea-kayak club and a rowing club.  Also both common features in Danish harbours.
  • A large maritime museum.
  • A small but nice town with narrow streets, pretty buildings and lots of hollyhocks.
  • Several shops selling stylish Scandinavian homewares.

Aground Again

We are currently in a small harbour near Kiel and are firmly aground.

We moored in this harbour two days ago to sit out a low pressure system with associated strong winds.  We had a relaxing day yesterday visiting a WW2 U-boat nearby, and when the strong winds arrived last night as forecast we were snug and smug inside the harbour.

While there are no significant tides in the Baltic, the water level does change as a result of the wind.  When we moored there was more than a foot of water below us, but when we awoke this morning the sea had dropped more than 2 feet.  The gale has blown all the water over to another part of the Baltic.

We have deployed some extra lines to try and stop Lizzie falling over, and hopefully the sea will reappear soon.  We are definitely stuck here until it does.