We departed Mandal at 2100 BST yesterday evening.
At 1500 BST we arrived in Hirtshells, Denmark.
It was quite a tiring sail. There were lots of very attentive commercial traffic.
One Yacht ‘Garlix’ (showing also on AIS) I spotted just after leaving Mandal. The red of her bicolour showing clearly. ‘Garlix’ was getting out of the current a little quicker than us. I was to see her again on radar and AIS.
I had telephoned the Norwegian CG for clarity about the forecast and just to make sure I heard correctly and nothing was lost in translation I repeated it to him having written it down. We then discussed the passage we were making. He told me the weather was perfect for us. He DID say visibility GOOD but possible fog banks! The two don’t exactly marry with each other. No no! Spoke to a fishing vessel who needed help with a prop wrap. Conditions are beautiful. Have a nice trip!
After 12 hours sleep I am refreshed. It’s lovely weather here today and I am in swim shorts, a T shirt + flippy floppy thingies on the feet. For the second time this trip I got a cramp in my left leg during the night. I’m not sure how to describe it, but I think it’s a cramp. It starts in the ham string area and then goes all the way down the leg. It feels like a torn hamstring. It’s like damage to the whole leg and painful. It’s important to get the leg straight. After about five minutes it subsides. But it’s cramp but not cramp, so must be cramp. I did get a bit of cramp in Stavanger. But that was leg cramp and the attack is quick and sudden. Sitting having supper with Svein Erik and Ingaleiv I was quick to get my leg straight.
The sea trip to Denmark across the Skagerrak was interesting and had a mixture of everything. The winds were strong enough from the west to start with to sail directly down wind with a preventer on the main and a poled out genoa. There was a permanent light to the north and a full moon to the south under a cloudless sky. And warm.
It was off Mandal that I spotted ‘Garlix’ bicolour. She slowly and steadily moved further S but still showing her port side. I realised how important it was to get S out of the west going current along the S Norway coast which is at its strongest, 1 to 2 knots, about 5 NM from the land. Interesting.
But there was light to the north where, not too far distant, they experience permanent daylight at this time of year.
And to the south a full moon.
It was magical, with just enough wind to push the boat through the water at a gentle five and half knots. If one was sailing a long way, and the sea gods really loved you they would let you do this in to eternity. It was just so special throughout the very short ‘night’. Magical.
I missed the sun coming up as we briefly went on to a starboard tack to cross the only properly marked TSS. It seems ships go wherever they want in this deep sea.
It was certainly broad daylight at 0300 BST.
After the TSS we resumed out easterly course and gradually, as predicted the wind slowly died and the engine was on at 0500 with the genoa furled. Visibility was fabulous. There were ships everywhere. AIS targets could be seen over 35 miles away on my A150.
At 0930 there was the faintest breath of wind from the NE. Enough to get enough lift to motor sail with main and genoa. But slowly closing from the east was a dense fog bank. Now that was not welcome!
I watched the fog approach. I switched on the radar and started monitoring before the fog arrived to check all was working. Targets were being picked up. The AIS was seeing targets many miles away but vessels only with AIS! Which would be all the big commercial stuff. As a positive, in this part of the world, all fishing boats we have come across seem to be AIS equipped.
I had not slept and had felt quite sleepy but the fog now had me wide awake.
At 0940 we were in the blanket and I switched the engine off and we ghosted along making about 4 to 4.5 knots over the ground with just a breath of NE wind. I activated the automatic fog horn and also had a hand held fog horn ready.
Quickly looking at the charts Hirtshalls was nearer and could be sailed in the current conditions. It was nicer with the engine off and be able to listen.
‘Garlix’ then appeared again on AIS. We had both made the same passage and arrived at the same time. They were about 5 NM ahead of us. I gave them a call. They were still going to Skagen despite it was being 35 NM further!
We ghosted along through the fog heading for Hirtshalls. Several times we spoke to huge pieces of traffic which we could hear. Yes! We have you. We have already altered course! Safe watch etc. Nice. I was only worried about lobster pots as we approached the land. At 1400 the coast suddenly appeared completely as we came out of the fog 5 NM out.
I started the engine for the last few miles and got the sails down motoring slowly over a smooth shallow sea.
Harbour gave us permission inbound to follow a high speed ferry that materialised behind us out of the fog bank.
I don’t suppose those machines slow down for anything except very rough seas.
So we are in Denmark. The Skagerrak has been crossed. I am contemplating a sail to Skagen for charts, engine checks and some housekeeping on the ship.
But first there is a marine aquarium to find!
I did not find the aquarium.
We are anchored off a sandy beach. Its warm. There are eleven boats anchored outside Osterby Havn, on the NE side of the island of Laeso.
There is a festival going on somewhere on the island this week end. The harbour is full to the brim with boats. We could force our way in somewhere I’m sure and be welcomed but this is what we like. Anchored in about 6 metres of water in sand.
I pumped up the inflatable and went ashore. Just to the beech and then to the local small supermarket to stock up. That was heaving with people too.
When I returned to ‘Talisker 1’ I cleaned her mucky waterline. She looks a little smarter now.
This is more a Mediterranean scene. Climbing out of the dinghy in to warm clear water. Pulling it a yard up the beech knowing there is virtually no tide. Sitting in the cockpit writing this with the noise of children swimming and playing on the beach.
This morning we left a magical island with an eccentric Laird. Well! I will call him a Laird. But more of him and his island later.
We left Hirtshalls yesterday morning.
It was lovely there. Very unpretentious with few yachts and mostly fishing boats. My neighbour gave me fresh mackerel the moment he docked with his catch, the night before we left. Last night I cooked them and the gas ran out, so I ended up changing the gas bottle over and then finishing cooking by steaming them. They were supposed to be fried very hot in butter for half a minute each side. But, tell me there is NOT something very special about very fresh fish. My brother Henry, a very good cook, says you can always tell. ‘Jimmy! The meat will be sticky to the bite”. He can not bare to watch me cook.
Very amusingly a Norwegian Yacht did arrive during my stay and forced its way between the other Norwegians in a very relaxed way to my way of thinking. I would have been far too wary of upsetting anyone. There was hardly room for a fender between them and certainly nothing when he was backing between them. It was a fairly new Oceanis 37.
Out of this Oceanis 37 spilled a youngish couple with their young family. Then out of the companion way came the bicycles. Not the collapsible type but the full size and go far type! I was impressed!
‘Where on earth did those come from?’ I asked absolutely fascinated.
‘Oh it’s only a days sail from home so I filled the cabin with them. Tomorrow we all cycle 50 kl to a park, stay the night and then cycle the 50 kl back. Denmark is flat you see!” Well done them is all I can say. And I’m told Denmark is NOT flat.
Yesterday I managed to depart with the shore power cable still attached. The cable is surprisingly strong. Luckily no one was out of bed to witness this hopeless incompetence but I saw it (much worse) and could not believe I could have done such a thing! My only excuse was this Thames Estuary sailor was moored stern too for the first time in his life with the bow attached to a buoy. But that is not an excuse. There is no excuse. Thankfully it was my older and shorter shore power cable and not the pristine new one. The cable is no good. The plugs might be!
I did feel bad. And ridiculously stupid. I hope that they still have shore power. If they don’t perhaps they wont realise who the culprit was! What Doc would call a ‘whizz bang’ could easily have occurred.
Feeling an idiot we motored in no wind until just after 1100 when there was wind. From then on it was a lovely sailing day. Flat seas and perfect undemanding conditions in lovely warm weather in shorts and a T shirt.
Danish CG (Lyngby Radio) were having an interesting morning. 5 people spotted in an inflatable boat drifting and then rescued off Skagen and then later the announcement of a rocket launch for the following day and could all vessels give the area an 8 NM clearance to be sure of NOT being struck by rocket parts. Doc then told me a Brazilian forecast had included a locust swarm. “Imagine furling them in your genoa?” he said.
Rounding the NE tip of Denmark at 1200
we sailed straight in to Skagen for fuel and the chart agent, which is mentioned in Reeds Almanac.
Skagen was boiling hot and the whole world was there including two huge cruise ships. Motor boats and sailing boats rafted sometimes seven or eight deep in the large harbour.
The fuel area was empty so we came along side to fill up. There was again the loathsome self service and no translation on the CC machine on the pump. We managed in the end!
We rafted to 5 boats with the promise we were not staying and in the heat went in search of the chart agent.
I might as well have asked for rocket-propelled grenades when I eventually found a chandlery. No charts except a N and S Kattegat. And no pilot books or anything else on harbours. No one wants them anymore!
I couldn’t wait to leave and sail in the relative cool of the open sea.
We left Skagen at 1530 and had another lovely five hours of sailing close hauled in light airs making very good progress and not sure where to stop.
I then spotted a very small island with an equally small harbour on my e7 chart plotter. No sailing directions!
I texted Sally to see if she could see anything on line. Only a pretty photograph of a small harbour with boats was her reply!
At 2045 last night we were rafted to two boats in the very small harbour at Hirsholm Island. Wow! Lovely.
It is very very small indeed with a lighthouse and a few very old and small pretty houses and cottages. There was a chap on the quay who seemed to be making sure every boat could get in. Most were bows or stern in to the jetty on the outer harbour wall with their anchor laid. Not the easiest thing to accomplish alone. I was grateful for the raft.
The bird nose was terrific. The houses and cottages seem to be holiday lets. And what a wonderful out of the way place.
This morning my neighbour on the inside left and we found ourselves next to a very old boat with a very welcoming couple on board. Proper cruising people I thought. The 1928 boat was called ‘Fortuna’. Home port of Arhus.
I asked them about charts and he sympathised as he said he always carried them but the only way of getting them now was on line. He was so kind and recommended places between here and Kiel and THEN produced old charts all the way from S Kattegat to Kiel. I tried to refuse them but he showed me he had the same charts but more up to date. With electronic charts as well we should be ok now.
His wife told me to go to the top of the lighthouse, which was in remarkable condition. There were beautiful curved panelled doors and the whole lighthouse is so well preserved.
Earlier I had met the HM. A very eccentric and kind man, with a twinkle in his eye.
‘You’re the English!’ He said.
‘Then its free for me?
We paid just 100 Kroner for a bit of paradise. I gave him 200 Kroner and the change, a sopping wet 100 Kroner note, came out of his bag. The poor chap had dropped his bag of harbour dues in the water.
The note he gave me is still pegged up in the heads.
‘Have you lived her all your life?’
He seemed in a hurry to get round the island but he confirmed as much. All his life on this tiny island! I made my friends on ‘Fortuna’ laugh by asking if he was the Laird.
I must find out about him and his island. My guess is it belongs to him and there will have been LH keeping somewhere in his families past and certainly in its preservation now.
I was sorry to leave in very light airs.
Just a breath of NE allowed us a short 20 NM sail to the island of Laeso.
We are now southbound all the way to Kiel. If conditions suit it will be 4 relatively short days sailing to get us there.
Yesterday we sailed. I should say motored the 40 NM to the tiny Island of Anholt.
We are anchored off the N side of the island.
There is wind from the S today, which should veer westerly later this evening. I plan to take advantage of that and sail S in to the southern Kattegat, probably to Samso Island.
I have not been ashore here. All the nine anchored boats from last night, except 2, including us, have departed.
The Kattegat sea has been like a sort of fairy tail ocean so far. I half expect to see the Dawn Treader materialise any moment. Yesterday, motoring through a mirror calm, there were porpoise. Lazily exposing their curved back and dorsal fins as they broke the surface of the sea. A seal appeared with a large mackerel in his mouth looking around with a strange sort of ‘look at me! I’m so clever!’ before swallowing the fish whole and disappearing below the surface again.
There was just enough wind to sail to begin with but by midday even the main was down. And it was hot.
I am contemplating going south. Three days sailing to Kiel. I am so worried about leaving the canal and making our way to Den Helder. I am thinking of Helgoland, Borkum and then, weather dependent, inland to Den Helder from Delfzijl or outside if the weather allows.
I must stop thinking ahead and concentrate on the present. Like getting to Samso Island. That is all that should concern me now.
This evening we arrived in lovely Armhoved harbour, Samso.
We are two good days sailing out of Kiel and the canal. I am going to rest up here tomorrow as fairly strong southerly winds are forecast. I also need to rest and start preparing myself for the rather stricter Germans.
Yesterday afternoon we left Anholt Island and in a rather muddled way sailed east round the island, if only to look at the lighthouse.
It added 10 NM miles to our eventual next harbour Grenaa.
On arrival, a kind Dane let us raft to him. All the harbours and anchorages are phenomenally busy.
Samso is no different and again we are rafted, this time to three other boats.
I was a little nervous of the boat on the outside being smaller than ‘Talisker 1’. A pretty Danish lady invited us alongside and I was slightly alarmed her husband carried on cooking supper for her and their two children while she took our bow line. It was a little windy. She also stood holding it not wanting to attach it to anything. The boat in the raft in front seeing impending doom was hanging off the back of his boat with a very nervous face.
‘Talisker 1’ sidled up and gently kissed our Danish lady’s top sides and with the minimum of fuss. I took the bow line and we were secure. We are now all tucked up with shore power so I can charge the lap top.
There was a lovely anchorage just before the harbour full of boats all properly spaced and well spread. I carefully picked my spot and down went the anchor in 5 metres. The ignominy of the anchor dragging surrounded by boats all head to wind was awful. Up the anchor came bringing with it a vast quantity of kelp. That anchorage was not going to help me sleep easy with the wind getting up so I opted for the harbour.
On our way in to Grenaa I think I saw the ‘Dawn Treader’.
Only trouble was it was flying a Swedish Ensign and the nav lights rather let it down. It followed me in to the harbour and I could not resist taking a picture.
Yesterday and today we managed to sail most of the time. Today, just before miday and very briefly, we were hit by a squall. I got the genoa to the first mark, freed the sheets and she took off at a terrific pace. It was over as quickly as it had arrived.
The engine is all right. If something did trouble the propeller it is now free again.
As forecast it’s been blowing hard from the south this morning and we have had a lovely time.
First of all I woke and lay in bed wondering if and when I should get up! It took much courage to role out of bed. I was comfortable. This was going to be a day of battery charging FOR ME.
I made a cup of tea and sat in the cockpit! My neighbours said good morning. Dreamily I realised we were one boat less in the raft and no one had disturbed me. No no problem I was told. They had looked after my shore line and shore power cable.
The pretty lady and her husband were leaving soonest. Their children were just waking up when they were about to be underway. And then we were two, rafted to the lovely Swan 38 “Torhildur’. The elderly owners are on board their boat but they are helped to continue sailing by a very capable son, his wife and two daughters. When they left the wife and one daughter were left on the jetty, obviously going home by other means. The other young daughter was all dressed to sail.
Earlier on the son had come on board ‘Talisker 1’ with suggestions for our route south. A very good man and my guess someone one would be very happy to sail with. He also knows our man on Hirsholm Island. He has been hunting and fishing with him. Our man of the island vacates it in the winter for the main land!
We were just outside the little harbour, broadside on to the southerly wind that was freshening. On the other side of the quay, inside, there were a few free berths, bows facing the quay and wind with piles.
A very nice Dane, Soren, with a Bavaria, agreed we should move and that he would help us. My Swan friend offered the same. However, a line of boats were coming in from the anchorage and quickly the three large slots were taken leaving an awkward narrow gap pile just inside the entrance to the harbour.
Soren came on board ‘Talisker 1’ to help. My Swan friend helped us first back away from their boat and then Soren organised bow lines, lifted fenders inboard (no room between the wooden piles) and we motored in to the harbour turned head to wind and gently came in to the awkward berth, with boats moored close by on the opposite quay at the entrance, to starboard. By this time there were plenty of spectators and hands to help the Englander.
‘An audience! I love an audience!’ I shouted nervously and then the manoeuvre went perfectly, thank goodness. My Swan friend took the bow lines from Soren. I got the stern line round the starboard pile. Such was the narrow gap, we were hard up against the pile on the port side and hard up against a German yacht to port.
This was the first time on piles for ‘Talisker 1’ and me. I have since managed to adjust everything so we are well fendered to the German Yacht and a couple of horizontal fenders on the pile will save the teak rubbing strake. It’s a good spot in this wind.
Why are the Brits so corked up about parking their boats? The grim bent man at the helm with his head as though locked in a vice like grip facing forwards. He is approaching a quay, not looking left nor right. Along his toe rail are equally grim crouched shipmates, their heads locked in the same vice like grip, armed with dock lines. The approach is invariably too slow. The mountain is being made out of the mole hill as there is a scramble of crew getting ashore while his grimness at the helm raises his voice to fog horn decibels.
‘Doc’ told me he once had to gently prize the tiller away from a pupil after the pupil had parked his own boat. ‘It’s ok! You can let go now’ Doc told him gently.
Since leaving Scotland I have not seen a single British boat. Since then the sailors have unanimously been laid back and competent in their approach!
I have met some very good sailors on this trip. They are quiet, not opinionated, great listeners and they watch and observe. Their boats tell you everything about them. They are for the most part Norwegian and Dutch. They know who they are! I can add Swedes, Danes, Belgians and French now. Thank you for accepting me in to ‘your world’ of sailing.
Brits! Don’t be offended! Many many of you are not in ‘that’ category! You are very competent. You know who you are! You are not included! I thank you all too!
Along our port side is a Maxi 84 with a very young couple, or am I getting very old. Lovely people with a very small baby boy. I liked the way they arrived along side us. I took the bowline from the very young Mum. Their tiny baby boy was tied to her chest!
‘He always wakes up when we are arriving somewhere’ she told me.
I was able to tell them about James R’s adventures collecting a Maxi 84 from war torn Croatia. And Doc also owned a Maxi 84 and enjoyed it very much. It does not look an old boat! I was able to say that they had been charter boats and survived the ordeal to see life afterwards with better caring owners!
Tomorrow the winds should be westerly and we will head further south. It’s been lovely on Samso Island.