Showing posts from 2017

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…

River Eider

Tuesday 18th July - Heligoland to Tönning 42nmIt's only 23nm from Heligoland to the safewater mark at the entrance of the River Eider but then it's almost as far again to a harbour. For vessels coming out of the Eider the round red and white buoy indicates the end of channel restrictions and the start of open water, but for us coming in it means goodbye to the German Bight and the North Sea and hello (again) to sandbanks and shallows, buoys and then withies. You may have read enough about "Riddle of the Sands" already in this blog but just a quick note for the benefit of fans: the route we are taking to the Baltic now is the same route Davies took, in the "back story", after his narrow escape from foundering on the treacherous sands, lured astray by the dastardly Dollman. For the record it also features in the Cruising Association Almanac as Route 2a.Before the construction of the Kiel Canal this was the way through, the shortcut linking North Sea to Baltic…


Saturday 15th July - Nordeney to Heligoland - 47nm
Forecast is for 10kts of wind from the NW, going W then SW: perfect (if it happens, big if) for sailing eastwards along the coast and then turning north across the shipping lanes.
I am expecting the washing machine effect again leaving the Wadden but in fact the tide's high and it's not too rough as we head out between Nordeney and Juist into the part of the North Sea called the German Bight. This used to be called the Heligoland Bight after the little island 40 miles off shore which is our destination today.
The self steering passes its first sea trial with flying colours after a couple of false starts and steers us for over 6 hours. We use the engine only to leave Nordeney, briefly when avoiding a ship coming off the anchorage at the mouth of the River Jade, and then again for the last few miles when the wind has failed to back as forecast. I am still restricted to phone pics only on this blog: the wind vane is just about visib…

Rainy day in Nordeney

Friday 14th July - NordeneyI bet the Kaiser insisted on better weather than this for his visits to his beach resort. The basket chairs on the beach would be pretty soggy for his imperial derrière by the end of today.
It was sunny all morning in fact and we did get some jobs done. "Poor me" laboriously typing my blog into the phone with one finger, and Howard working on the wind vane self steering. Followers of this blog since the beginning will know that considerable work has already gone into bringing this very useful bit of kit (which should steer the boat when we're sailing) back into commission. It was incinerated in our workshop fire in 2009 but has slowly but surely been reconditioned and reassembled like a phoenix from the ashes. A highlight of this process, if you haven't been following, was the casting of the lead counterbalance - blogged back in May (post on 1st May called Alchemy if you are interested and can be bothered to look it up). 
Back in the canals, …

The wonder of withies

Thursday 13th July - Borkum to Nordeney - 21nm
We haven't really island hopped 'properly' yet. Not the behind-the-island-over-the-green-bits stuff. We sailed from mainland to Vlieland, a short hop in deep water on to Terschelling, then back to the mainland. Then we sailed from the mainland out past the islands and back in to Borkum. However along the length of each island inside is a shallow channel which dries out completely at low water but is navigable when the tide's in, thanks to carefully placed withies. When the red and green channel marks are replaced by a line of withies you know you're on the green bits of the chart and, at our draft, must follow them closely. Until now we haven't tackled one of these.
What follows might only be of interest to sailors, and I give my  apologies in advance to Brian Hammett and any other sticklers reading this for the use of the term "paper charts" to distinguish between these and the electronic files we upload to…


Tuesday 11th and Wednesday 12th July - in BorkumBorkum has not gone down in our log as a place we would rush back to but there were strong winds forecast for Wednesday and we had some jobs to do so we decided to stay put for a couple of days anyway. On Tuesday we walked 5km to town through nature reserve and along a beautiful wild beach which greatly improved our impression. The rather tamer beaches nearer town have basket chairs for hire, which we didn't, and ice creams to buy, which we did, and beer.It would have been a nicer day if the laptop hadn't packed up. On Wednesday Howard operated on the laptop at length and ordered a replacement part which may or may not give it a new lease of life. We'll have to wait a while before it turns up, and find other ways of doing our admin.The bar restaurant in the Yacht Harbour looked after us pretty well during our stay what with endless coffees while we used their WiFi, a fine lunch one day and a few glasses in the evenings. There…

To the German Watten

Monday 10th July - to Borkum 35 nmQuick way, slow way? Decisions, decisions. The wind is East and so is Germany, so we could lock out to sea with lots of lovely wide horizons but we'd end up motoring. Or we can chug along more canals and negotiate more bridges (loads of them in Groningen) and possibly take 2 or 3 days to get to the same place.One slight complication is our lack of a German courtesy flag. I bought a Danish one in Middelburg but they didn't have a German one the right size and then I forgot all about it. After toying with the idea of flying a Belgian flag on its side (no good, same colours but in a different order) we decide to fuel up and look for a chandlery.Our well travelled sailor friend Brian Hammett has recommended Lauwersoog marina for fuel and the outside route to Borkum so that's what we do.I'm not sure what Brian's criteria are for a "good" place to fuel up but ours are i) sufficient room to turn (tick) and ii) cheap fuel (defini…

Page 40 to page 41

Page 40 to page 41Sunday 9th July - to Lauwersmeer 13.7 nm
The provincial flag of Friesland is a gaudy affair with blue and white stripes and curious heart shaped red emblems. These are not in fact hearts but represent the leaf of the yellow water lily which proliferates here. We've seen enough of it, can't think why it never occured to me...Pic 289 fresian flags in Dokkum may follow eventuallyAt Dokkum we are in pole position to photograph the euronating in operation. You'll see it once laptop is fixed.Pic291 clog swings out, in go the euros and off you go.More green fields, water lilies, Fresian barns, bridges and then finally a lock: we are out into the Lauwersmeer. Leaving the lock we see a farewell from Friesland, in our case it is soon to be farewell to the Netherlands altogether.Pic 306We motor gently up the lake and anchor for the night just off Lauwersoog at the top of page 41.


My best photo of the leaning church tower at Leeuwarden was taken as we left on Saturday afternoon. I'd spent a happy couple of hours trying to catch up with this blog in a café with speedy wifi and then we'd walked the entire circuit of the city waterway.  Time to move on.Writing now (12th July) we have severe technical issues with our laptop computer so I am unable to download the photo, or any others, from the camera. Until a new card arrives from the UK for the Dell we have no photos except those taken with the phone or tablet. And adding those is proving tricky. Bear with me! I will add them in as soon as I can.Pic 243 leaving L with tower may followThe scenery in rural inland Friesland is very pretty, as are the canalside houses. We especially liked the enormous Friesian barns converted to dwellings, but you'll have to do without my pictures for the technical reasons mentioned above. Likewise you're missing the tallest windmill in Friesland which I snapped in Bur…

Back onto page 39 - inland again in Friesland

Friday 7th July
From Terschelling back to Harlingen and on via Franaker to Leeuwarden.

Our Dutch Wadden experience has been a treat - it's a beautiful place, we have had such luck with perfect weather, and in fact not as busy or as "touristy" as we feared. Proof, if it were needed, that sometimes it's better to have low expectations.

We are conscious of wanting to make progress north and east and we don't want to call at every island so we decide to return inland for now to the standing mast route. See blog post for 25th July in Haarlem, posted 27th July, entitled "Navigation...etc". I was clearly keeping up with the blog better back then.

We make a very early start from Terschelling (5am) and are rewarded by spotting spoonbills for the first time and by a stunning sky as the sun comes up. Optimistically we put the bowsprit out and hoisted the main but there's next to no wind and in the 3 hour motor to Harlingen none materialises.

At Harlingen we lo…

The Sharks of Terschelling

Thursday 6th July Vlieland to Terschelling 7.2 nm – we motor

Howard's skills with wiring on engines are put to the test today. During an aperitif session last night on Bonify with team Brandaan (and also team Slartibartfast who have arrived here from Texel) it transpired that some friends of Bouke and Aleid have engine issues. Bouke and Jan have made a successful repair but they still have a query about one mystery wire and are happy for Howard to have a look, so that's his task this morning.
Whilst they had three heads down in the engine, or perhaps in a coffee break, Jan told them how he had phoned the harbour at Vlieland on his approach to warn them that he was entering with intermittent engine trouble. They agreed he would proceed while he could and if the problems recurred he was to phone the harbour again and they would send a boat to bring him in. They advised him on no account to use the VHF to report his troubles or he would fall victim to the sharks of Terschelling.