Weather-bound in Assens

Today it is blowing force six and pissing down with rain.  We are snugly moored in Assens harbour and won’t be doing any sailing until the weather calms down.

We have booked our winter berth in Augustenborg, which is thirty miles to the south of here.  Lizzie will be stored in a nice dry shed over the winter. Our lift-out is booked for a week today, so we are in no hurry.

There are a couple of nice-looking anchorages on the way, so we will amble southwards in a day or two when the weather is a bit more cheerful.

Another up-wind slog

We eventually left the very nice (but unfortunately-named) town of Middelfart and headed south.

The wind in the narrow Snævringen channel was gusty and sometimes very strong, so we stopped to pull in a couple of reefs which reduced our angle of heel to something a lot more civilised.  We managed to find the un-buoyed small channel past the island of Fænø, at least close enough not to run aground, even though it wasn’t exactly where the chart shows.

Twenty minutes later the wind was down to a steady force three and we were hardly moving, so we took the reefs out again and had a nice sail down the rest of the channel.

Once we hit the more open water of the Bredningen we were hard on the wind, which was back up to a solid force four/five and sending sizeable and steep waves in our direction.  The sailing was uncomfortable for the first couple of miles because the waves kept on nearly stopping us – we kept lots of sail on to power through them which meant we were heeled right over once more.

As we reached deeper water the waves died away and we had a much more pleasant sail, and the wind later freed so that we were almost able to point in the direction were were trying to go.

The original plan had been to head for an anchorage a couple of miles up a river on the west side of the channel, and then head across to Assens (on the east side) the following day.  The waves picked up again as we neared that area, so we abandoned that plan and headed straight to Assens.

The last few miles into Assens were hard work – we were close hauled again and heading into some steep waves.  The channel and sandbanks are not marked by buoys, but Catherine managed to pilot us straight into the harbour very accurately.  We paused in the lee of the breakwater to get our sails down, and motored in.  As soon as we were inside the water was flat and the wind seemed much lighter, leaving us wondering whether we had imagined the conditions outside.

Samsø

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…

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.