Caressing the Keel

Ystad Restaurant in Ystad Ystad proved to be the perfect crew changeover harbour. It had a fast and frequent direct train from the Marina to Copenhagen Airport, and it was the home town of Kurt Wallander and therefore offered opportunities to see our very own Ken Branagh in action. David and Vaughn left in the morning and Frank joined in the afternoon having slept more or less throughout the hour long international journey. It was just as well the train terminated in Ysatd or he could have gone on to Stockholm.

Ali had provided him with various delicacies to keep his body and soul together during the arduous trip, and it was on the remains of these that the entire crew dined that night. There were pork pies, egg mayonnaise, tomatoes, several types of delicious sandwiches, mince pies, cake, cheese, and fruit. And afterwards 12 baskets of crumbs were collected and given to the Swans.

The morning offered a pleasant North-easterly wind, so we applied all sail and were soon bowling along the coast westward towards, as it says in the log, Denmark. Soon Trelleborg was under our lee and we decided to go all the way across the Oresund to Rodvig. The wind rose a bit and we dropped the mizzen. A bit later it rose again and we lost the main, and put the mizzen back up. By mid-afternoon, we were really travelling in 2 meter seas under nothing more than a reefed headsail. As dusk fell we entered a packed Rodvig harbour and found that the only remaining spot whad a 25 knot cross-wind and was right next to the refuelling pontoon. So we planted our bows securely against the quay-side and leant against the leeward boat whilst we organised ropes to the windward mooring piles. Frank nobly resisted all the helpful advice from the quayside and hung on like grim death till all was settled. Not the easiest of first days, but it all ended well and G & T’s when down a treat. Over 70 nm that day!

Windmill on Bogo What a contrast the next day was; scarcely a breath of wind. We slipped down south into the shallows between the Danish islands. Piles and withies drifted in and out of the mists. The chart suggested a nice rural anchorage to the south of Taero, so we aimed very carefully for there. Fingers of seaweed caressed out keel as we slipped smoothly through the waters, with the depth gauge often showing zero. In and out of limpid pools we travelled seeking the channel and generally feeling our way by touch. We played around for an hour trying to find just the right spot for the night. But at last the anchor plunged over the side deep amongst the reeds and we relaxed in a pleasant bay far away from all civilisation. And the anchor held till just after breakfast when the seaweed to which it had become attached tenderly let it go. We slipped back to the channel and soon found ourselves being pursued by a local, but the channel was initially to narrow for him to pass us safely by, so he had to slow and follow in our wake. Eventually the channel broadened and he went past us, striking a course across the flats towards the bridge. “Well, he’s bigger than us and looks as if he has done this before” we thought; so we picked up speed and followed closely behind reasoning that if it was too shallow, then he would run aground first. But he didn’t and we didn’t, and soon we had sailed under the Gronsund bridge – just west of Bodo. There we noticed that the engine was getting quite hot and had to pause awhile to extract the weed that had lovingly crawled up into the cooling water intake. The Gulborgsund is a narrow bit of sea that separates the islands of Lolland and Falster. It is guarded at either end by lift bridges with restricted opening times. As we approached from the North a couple of yachts flying German ensigns were already circulating awaiting the moment. As it happened, the moment arrived with us and we sailed straight through with scarcely a break in our stride. The Germans then kindly sailed ahead again and performed the same service of alerting the bridged people at the second of the two bridges. So kind! Just south of Nykobing, the channel, such as it is, winds an intricate but prolificately buoyed path through the flats. Once more languid weeds eagerly caressed our keel whilst a bordello of virginal swans brushed hopefully against our sides.

The Old harbour in Warnemunde We crossed from Gedser to Warnemunde in the former East Germany. It was Sunday and very hot. Now Warnermunde is the town that likes to say ‘Verboten’. Fifteen of the first thirty words we read were 'verboten'. I wonder what it means? We had not come across it in Denmark. Mooring alongside the quay, between certain poles, alongside certain boats, anywhere at certain times, between the mooring poles if you were more than a certain length, or, once moored, walking across the grass or through a particular gate, or eating on the bridge were amongst the things that were ‘verboten’. There were even things that we were told were ‘verboten’ despite the absence of a notice. But mooring up beneath the boatyard's crane in a place that really should have been forbidden, we found a friendly harbour master and his amused daughter who said that that spot would be perfectly OK - and the small crowd of verboten-dichter dispersed disappointed. The place was full of holiday makers. There was a particularly good piece of street theatre going on in which a man and his puppet dog played snatches of popular music that was appropriate to the passers-by. An old man leans out of a window, the dog looks up and ‘O my Papa’ comes out of the loud speaker. A woman leads her four children in line-ahead through the crowd, the dog watches them go and a marching tune is struck up. All good humoured; the crowd loved it.

Later we enjoyed a rather good meal out - local fish in saffron sauce - and watched the world go by.

Square with Alte Swede Nicholai Church From Warnemunde we sailed along the coast to the Hanseatic city of Wismar, viewing the fabulous beaches bestrewn with colourful beach huts on the way. We engaged the locals in a race. When the wind was gentle their light hulls let them get away from us; but when the wind blew up a bit, causing them to spill their wine, Voltair took them coolly to windward. In Wisamr we went looking for a beer and found it in the restored Altmark, in the cafe next to the famed ‘Alte Swede’ hostelry – a reminder that these parts were once dominated by Sweden. We visited the Nicholaikirche, with its tall brick built arches. On the way back to the boat we enjoyed some delicious cod and chips from a sea front stall.

In the morning a large crowd gathered to see us off, all carefully equipped by a city official with flags to wave. Well, they were either seeing us off or welcoming the first visit of the cruise ship Europa.

Burgtor of Lubeck Entrance to town from the harbour; the Schiffsgesellshaft And so to Lubeck, our final port. We had a wonderful meal in the same restaurant as before who still have the cochlini with truffles on special offer just as they had done two years before. And in the morning we visited the white cathedral where Bach had once played.

But we had to tuck Voltair up once more in the narrowest and shallowest of mud-births halfway up the river and leave her on her own for awhile.

Would she still be there when we returned? Would we ever extract her form the berth? What tickling awaited her keel next.?

All will be revealed in the next postcard when we attempt to resolve the riddle of the sands.