Having arrived in Denmark our loose plan was to sail around Fyn – the island between Jutland (the mainland) and Sjaelland (the biggest island – the one with Copenhagen on the right hand side); and our first couple of sails took us up to Kerteminde – not far from the north-east corner. Half the reason for coming here was to visit the Viking museum at Ladby where they had discovered the remains of a Viking burial ship – a prince was buried with his warship, a servant, nine of his horses and all his worldly wealth. The actual remains of the ship (and the horses) were on display, and using its measurements a new ship has been constructed, and launched last year.
From here we would explore some the islands north of Fyn, then meander down the western side, stopping off at the Flensburg and Schlei fjiords. Ok, so we sat out a day waiting for the wind to stop blowing from the north, then set out with a promise of brisk westerlies to take us up to Samso. Unfortunately the westerly turned out to be north westerly, and after an hour crashing along in 20 or so knots, we quickly agreed to turn round. Beating to windward in strong winds is bad enough when you have to ie.to get somewhere – we didn’t need to get anywhere, so it was just plain dumb. Having settled into a nice reach downwind we realised we could take the opportunity to visit our friends in Svendborg; so this is what we did. Svendborg is a nice place, and when you have nice people to look up, it makes it even better. Morten and Bolette Havlys were the people we met last year in Estonia, and we managed to grab an evening with them on the Sunday, before they had to do what we all did on Mondays. After a novel evening in a Sushi bar they rode off on their bikes into the gathering gloom; and I fear they wouldn’t have stayed dry on the journey home, as the lightening flashed and the rain lashed the harbour. This marked the end of what had been a reasonable spell of weather – as many dry days as wet – and the beginning of 10 days of rain.
During this damp period we made our way, indirectly, to the Schlei – this is an inlet/fjord which winds its way inland for 20 miles to the town of Shleswig (from where the area of Shleswig Holstien get half its name). We had been looking forward to this journey for a couple of years, after so many people had told us how beautiful it was. Sadly, when expectations are high, the reality can often be a disappointment; and so was our journey, as three hours in, the rain descended and the gloom set in to a point where visual identication of either shore was nigh impossible. In Scleswig we visited what will probably be our last Viking museum for a while, at Haithabu – more ships remains; and an amazing collection of Viking artefacts from what was one of the major Viking settlements.
If you ever get to Schleswig, it’s a must; along with Holm, the old fishing port; and the cathedral with its most ornately carved altar. Thankfully our journey back was conducted in much better weather, and I can confirm that it is indeed a beautiful inlet.
At this point the forecast was predicting a week of easterly winds, so with this in mind we made our way down to Kiel to re-trace our slog of two years earlier; down the 90 km of the canal; except this time it wasn’t so much of a slog as the winds were considerably lighter, and from behind. It was an incredibly poignant moment as the lock door closed on our Baltic adventure; but as they say, as one door closes, another opens, and we look forward to travelling through the canals in Holland.
Once out of the canal, we were back to reality with a vengeance – bloody tides again! The 15 miles journey from Brunsbuttel to Cuxhaven was negotiated into a 3 knot tide with no wind. So despite promising our poor little engine a well deserved rest after the rigours of the canal transit, it was called on yet again. Arriving in Cuxhaven we found our week of easterlies had mysteriously disappeared, and become – you’ve guessed it – south westerlies! Add to this the current presence of fog, and prospects are beginning to look a whole lot less rosy; but in the words of the immortal Mao Tse Tung, ‘the man who passes the hand of fate without suffering, is less for it’. The one saving grace was the return of some sea life; we even had our personalised seal in the harbour at Cuxhaven!
……..and finally, this week’s photo quiz.