Denmark. Mission accomplished!

Thursday 27th JulySchleimünde to Sønderborg - 18 nm
The final leg to Denmark is achieved under sail. Goose-winged to start with (from 7.30am) then pole down as the wind veered.  9.45: into Danish waters, time for a new courtesy flag. White cross on red ground duly hoisted. 11am: tied up on Sønderborg quay, prime spot with great view of the castle (Slot).
We left the east coast of England back in May with the aim of cruising "towards Denmark" and now we're here. Mission accomplished.
We've travelled about 830 miles, mostly with the assistance of the engine, especially inland in the canals, but we've also had some great sails on the way. We've enjoyed visiting Kent, northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands including the Wadden Islands, the German Watten, Heligoland, Schleswig-Holstein and now we're in Denmark. 
Sønderborg on the island of Als seems to be the current mooring place for the Danish royal yacht so we're in good company.

We've still got about 6…

Sussing out the Schlei

Wed 26th July
Laboe to Schleimünde via Kappeln - 28 nm
Thank goodness for a better day! We set off out into the Baltic Sea. 
Wind is 16kts from the North (of course) but at least it's sunny and dry. We don't sail all day but we do enjoy a few hours of peaceful zig-zagging without the engine before motoring into the River Schlei.
This is it! This is Bonify's new cruising ground. From now on we're on the lookout for a winter berth. We want a secure boatyard where she can be lifted out in September, mast still standing, and covered up until we come back again next spring. We're looking at transport links, prices (of course) and also hoping to find a place we like the feel of. There are some big marinas out here which feel a bit impersonal - small yards are often friendlier places, much more our thing as long as they have a crane or hoist big enough for our 12 tons. Smaller places tend to be cheaper too.
The River Schlei has a few places for us to check out, and Pete and Sa…

Kieler Förde

Monday 24th to Holtenau 18.5nmTuesday 25th to Laboe 4nm
Once you've done ship-spotting then motoring along the Kiel Canal can be rather dull, especially in the pouring rain. It must also be frustrating to have to wait around for the lock at the far end but we got lucky in this respect. We called up as we approached and were told they would be calling the assembled crowd of leisure boats into the lock in 5 minutes - but not to worry if we missed it as we wouldn't have long to wait.Pants on fire!! (Liar, liar). We did make it and motored straight in at 17.30 but once out and tied up the other side at Holtenau we kept an eye open and it was a full 2 hours before the next lock-load of leisure boats came through.A horrid big lock with floating boards to tie up to, which the fenders ride above. We were glad when that was over. 

The staging at Holtenau is a good place to lie - the rain had cleared and there were lots of comings and goings to watch while the barbeque sizzled.
So unfair o…

Rigging screws? Hmm...

Sunday 23rd July - guest crew join at Rendsburg.
If you believe what you read in Riddle of the Sands (sorry, here we go again) then guest crew joining your yacht in the Baltic can be prevailed upon to bring any number of weird and wonderful items of equipment.  Carruthers brought rigging screws, a prismatic compass, a pound of Raven mixture for Davies's pipe and a No. 3 Rippingille stove.  We thought that a replacement heating system was rather a lot to ask of guests trying to stay within the Ryanair hand baggage limit, and in any case the current heating system is not quite ready to be consigned to the deep. Though Howard does distort its name from Webasto to Webastard sometimes, so it may only be a matter of time.
Anyway Pete and Sarah very kindly made room in their bags for our new cockpit cover (now adjusted since its first fitting back in Bergen op Zoom) and a pair of shorts we'd asked for. Pete had also packed a rigging screw which we hadn't asked for, but you can see wh…

Kiel Canal to Rendsburg

Saturday 22nd My - from km 39 on the Eider Canal to Rendsburg on the Kiel Canal - 26nm
We have to leave the gentle winding country lane with wildlife and small boats and head for the highway. (Though not before we spot what we think is an eagle sitting watching and waiting next to a lonely seal lolling on the shore, and then another eagle flying off with a fish writhing in its claws. Wow! Photo to follow).
The Kiel Canal is a straight motorway with constant two way traffic. The HGVs here are ships, some of them massive, saving themselves 250 miles on the journey round the top of the Jutland peninsula of Denmark.
Facts: Proper name Nord-Ostsee-Kanal. Opened in 1895.  98km long. 
We've avoided the big sea locks at Brunsbüttel at the North Sea end by taking our longer prettier route but there's no way through to the Baltic Sea (Ostsee) for us now without joining this big ship canal part way along. The contrast couldn't be clearer than in comparing shots of our chart plotter.

I took …

Eider Canal

Friday 21st July - Eider canalThe Nordfeld lock which brings us out of tidal waters for the last time (the Baltic Sea doesn't really have tides) is only a couple of miles from Friedrichstadt and once through it we are in the Eider Canal. 
Canal it may be but it looks and feels like a river wending its way northwards and eastwards in big sweeping curves for mile upon mile. 
Most of the supposed boaty stopping places from now on (marked on our chart there with a yacht symbol) are tiny: just a few posts by the bank with a few small motor boats in and almost no sailing boats. Süderstapel is an exception and is somewhere we might stop another time to have a look round. Our rather ancient pilot book tells us to look out for a colony of storks near the church and we are lucky enough to see one stork fly over as we pass. 
Another highlight spotted on the river bank is a pair of musicians: one playing some kind of squeeze box and one a cello. We throttle back to listen but the breeze carries …

Inland Schleswig-Holstein

Wednesday 19th July to Thursday 20th July - River Eider inland
Reasons to take the River Eider route to the Baltic:1. It's easier to get to from Heligoland (in the right conditions). 2. You avoid travelling (and crossing) the River Elbe with all its traffic and strong current. 3. You avoid the massive ship lock at Brunsbüttel where we have heard of yachts having to wait as long as 4 hours out in the Elbe before locking in. There are some issues with the locks and they are not all operating. 4. There's no commercial traffic, till you join up with the Kiel Canal
5. Once in, it's more interesting to travel along a river with small towns to visit than 100km of straight ship canal.
So, Tönning was our first town with its small harbour a feature in itself overlooked by houses and cafés. When the tide went out overnight we didn't see the mud, we just floated in almost no water. 
On Wednesday we moved on to Friedrichstadt, just 10nm further on, a pleasant short trip with withies to m…