Close hauled to Kiel (Kiel-hauled?)

Finally, the Baltic!
Before we set off, I had my reservations about ‘getting there’, and in many ways they have proved to be true; although there have been some pleasant surprises.
The initial thoughts were of setting off from somewhere in East Anglia, and bowling along downwind all the way to Kiel. The reality has been that the winds have generally been easterly, so progress has been somewhat slower! Two or three days at sea on a broad reach can be really pleasant, but sailing to windward for 12 hours in a 10 metre boat, is as much as we can manage. We don’t have sophisticated auto-steering mechanisms, so it’s hands on the tiller the whole time; and everything is an effort – you spend the whole time bracing yourself – steering, sitting, preparing food/drinks, even (especially?) using the heads. The mind is still willing, but the flesh…………. Getting the tide right weaving in and out of the Frisian islands invariably meant a degree of motoring, and especially so for our journey up the Elbe, smack into a light headwind. This last stage became a bit of a race as the sky darkened with large thunderclouds rolling our way. The wind soared from 5 knots to 30 in the space of 15 seconds, and the skies became even more menacing, with white wispy fingers of cloud emerging from the pitch black background, almost appearing to be reaching out for us! Thankfully we just managed to retain our lead, and sneaked into Cuxhaven before the rain. The weather did have the final say, however, for when we got to Brunsbuttel, and the entrance to the canal, we were greeted by a north-easterly of between 10 and 20 knots which accompanied us for the entire 50 mile journey. We will need to work hard to reduce our carbon footprint from here on.
On the upside, however, the wind angle gave us the opportunity to visit some places we wouldn’t otherwise have seen. In addition to the Dutch Frisian harbours of Vlieland and Lauwersog, we stopped at the German islands of Borkum and Norderney; both real surprises, in the sense that they are both well developed, beautifully maintained seaside resorts – not just the shallow water sand dunes of a popular novel. The biggest shock of all, however, was Cuxhaven; we both had an image of a grey industrial town built up around the harbour. Well, the harbour is there ok, but there is nothing grey about the place; it’s busy and bustling, full of colour, endless cycle ways and has a really nice feel – and some interesting seaside furniture on show, to boot.

Punch & Judy stall?

Punch & Judy stall?








Deck chair or beach hut?

Deck chair or beach hut?








In fact, our experience of Germany so far, has been nothing but positive. Good food, cheap harbours and really friendly people. We broke our journey through the canal at Obereidersee, where we stayed at one of the local yacht clubs. This was a very tranquil setting, with a couple of pontoons nestling in the corner of the small lake. It was blowing 25 knots the following morning, again, from the NE; so we stayed in bed – it was blowing 40 the next day, so guess what? Has this been the longest journey up the Kiel canal since records began?

Cruising company

Cruising company







We now look forward to several months of sheltered sailing!?!

This entry was posted in A bash at the Baltic, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Close hauled to Kiel (Kiel-hauled?)

  1. Ah Cuxhaven! I did all that the other way of course and guess what, we had the wind on the nose too! Fond memories though. See:
    my blog entires from 2005
    Hope the weather improves for you. We are due a deluge here tomorrow!

  2. Lynda says:

    Greetings from the West coast of Ireland where the temperature is aprox 10 degrees lower than where you are (we are stalking you!). Currently in one of 240 pubs in Dingle (pop 300!)and thinking of moving N in the morning.
    Have fun.

  3. Ian & Janette says:

    Well done Vela and crew.
    You are giving us great encouragement as we set off eastwards in a few days time.

  4. Donna Gray says:

    Hi Mike and Louise
    Delighted to hear you are getting on so well although the wind does not seem to have been very kind to you. We are currently in Dartmouth but have had one of the wettest windward trips I can remember. It really is no fun arriving somewhere soaking wet right through to you undies, tired, cold and hungry. The heater has been extremely well used just to dry us off and warm up. In fact one morning we had an early start so out of bed, on with the dirty wet clothes, wet waterproofs no breakfast and set off. There must be a nicer way to spend the summer!
    Things at now a little better but weather still unsettled.
    Take care, love Donna x

  5. jane gower says:

    Well done, I’m glad you’ve made the crossing safely.
    Lovely to be able to read the blogs, specially for those of us that don’t get out much.
    Keep them coming!

Comments are closed.