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2004 - 7
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Part seven: Denmark,  Germany, the Kiel Canal and Holland's Standing Mast Route.

Denmark

Klintholm (26th Aug, 62 miles from Ystad)

We rose at 0600 to check the weather and the sea state. The weather was supposed to be OK but the sea was horrible and we watched a few early birds setting off and a few of them returning, spirits dampened. Chris on Tacuba II decided to set off and did so at about 0800 but it took us another hour to ready ourselves to have a go.

Leaving the marina meant crossing shallow waters whilst dead to wind and the new Brunton propeller just wasn't giving the drive to enable us to take on wind and waves dead on the nose. Anyway we persevered at speeds as low as 1 knot until clear of the harbour then we turned for Klintholm. We motor sailed for a couple of hours on a course about 40 degrees off the one we needed until Janet once again asked why we were doing this. We decided that the current course was more suited to Rodvig so that became the destination until the wind backed further. Now the opposite tack put us dead on course for Klintholm so, guess what, our re-revised destination became Klintholm again.

About this time we saw huge black clouds directly to windward of us, a sure sign of things to come. We tried to steer around this blackness but it kept getting bigger so through it we went. Inside it was horrible; the wind rose to 30 knots, the rain pored worse than we have seen it all of this year, and then the lightening started. It was like flash guns at 6 feet and big base drums at 3 feet, and it was all around us. It passed over us after about 30 mins and left us with a perfect wind towards Klintholm which, by the way, was still over 30 miles away.

At about 1900 the wind died and we were left to motor. A call to Tacuba II showed them to be 30 mins in front and in similar winds, and actually just in sight, so on we both motored. About 5 miles from Klintholm we met a wave pattern which stopped us dead. We tied higher revs, lower revs, tickover and then we tried travelling along the waves until we got speed up again. This was frightening as it showed us to be at the mercy of any short steep sea.

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It was getting quite dark now and the stake nets (staked fishing nets), which extended to right under the cliffs, were becoming difficult to see, luckily Chris on Tacuba II had seen a huge group and given us a course to avoid them. It was dark as we tied up but we were 65 miles nearer home. We all agreed that these SW winds are becoming a pain and they have now blown consistently for over 2 weeks. Luckily we've probably only 1000 miles to go!

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Hasnæs ( 26th Aug, 23 miles from Klintholm)

We planned to go to Gedser today but we had a depth sounder problem; we were in about 3 metres of water but the gauge showed anything from 25 to 125 from one second to the next, not giving us much confidence particularly as depths around Danish harbours are often extremely shallow and Janet is very nervous of shallows. I swapped the display for the spare but that was the same so a transducer problem maybe? About this time Tacuba II set off as agreed, maybe we would catch them up before Holland.

Once they had gone our gauge started to read correctly but I didn't tie these two events together, anyway it worked and I could do nothing to make it read incorrectly so we also set off, about an hour behind Tacuba II and 20 minutes after a Bavaria 40 had set off.

Once clear of the harbour we were into a F4 wind, on the nose again, and one accompanied by horribly lumpy waves in a shallow sea. We followed the Bavaria 40 tack for tack and passed them. We were pleased with progress but not with the distance still to go, we were tacking through about 110 degrees meaning an almost doubling of the distance we needed to sail.

Soon after being passed the Bavaria had had enough and went behind the Danish island of Falster into more sheltered waters. We could understand why as our motion was only slightly better than his whilst we were amongst these short steep waves. Janet found an alternative destination so Hasnæs it was. We ditched the main sail and, with only the smallest of headsails, set off down wind to Hasnæs about 8 miles away. The wind was still rising as we neared Hasnæs, so much so that we sailed into the small harbour under bare mast alone, and still at 4 knots. Once inside Janet got ashore but by the time she made the lines fast Mithril was 10 metres of the quay and I couldn't throw a line into the wind to reach her. Luckily we were helped by a Dutch couple and we were soon snug along side the outer harbour wall. A second Dutch couple leant us a power lead extension as our 50m cable wouldn't reach.

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Hasnæs has a very small Spar shop and, surprisingly, thatched houses where the thatch covers the vertical walls as well, quite charming they were. The showers were free, the hottest yet and with a plentiful supply of water, we needed them as we were pretty chilly after our mornings sail.

Gedser (28th Aug, 28 miles from Hasnæs)

The forecast was for strong winds later in the morning but when Janet went for her regular morning walk she returned saying there was hardly any wind at all so why not crack on the motor and dash to Gedser as that was the previous days intended destination. So without breakfast off we went hoping to beat the arrival of the strong winds.

We chose to motor SW and keep near the shore so if the strong winds did arrive the waves would still be smallish. By 0830 the wind was WSW F3 and allowed us to stop the engine and sail directly towards the southern headland of Falster 20 miles away, around which is Gedser. We had a great sail and arrived in Gedser at about 1200. Just as we were arriving we saw Klaus and Evelyn on Alegria leaving for Warnem�nde. We would have liked to catch up on there exploits of the last month and tell them of ours. Another day maybe.

Gedser is a town not worth a detour to visit. Its neat, has a supermarket and a ferry port, and that's the lot. But if the weather is bad then the harbour is very secure as we discovered when Klaus rang from Germany to say he had spent 3 peaceful days sheltering from strong SW winds.

We had a lunch time pizza in the harbour restaurant with Chris and Margaret of Tacuba II and then a very short stroll into town.

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Germany

Heiligenhafen (29th Aug, 44 miles from Gedser)

We put Heiligenhafen into the nav' system as a waypoint and discovered it was 35 miles away, then at 0730 we followed Tacuba out into the twisty channel to the sea. We hoisted sail as we went along the ferry route out of the main port and Janet commented we were 100 degrees off course. Excellent news as the other tack would take us to straight to the Fehmarn bridge and Heiligenhafen.

Once we had settled onto the new tack we found we were about 50 degrees off the wind so had a super sail for the next 25 miles, almost to the bridge where the wind disappeared completely. Earlier in the day we had given way to a P&O cruise ship and received much ribbing from Chris who had stood on and watched the ship alter 20 degrees to pass him. His radar showed the ship to be doing 20 knots and it made an early course change to avoid him. It would probably have done the same for us but best not risk it eh? Even so it was still near enough to order a drink from the bar.

This time we went to the large marina as we knew that Jorgen, the friendly harbourmaster from our earlier visit, had retired one month previous. It would have been nice to see Jorgen again as we had spent quite a few days with him when we first had our fuel pump problems.

We chose to have a full day rest and so, unlike Tacuba II who wanted to continue to make progress as the winds allowed, we had a cycle round to the nature reserve on the sea ward peninsula. We joined the free guided tour and heard about the flora and fauna of the area as well as the bird life and, surprise surprise, saw a huge Baltic Eagle quartering the ground for prey. It was huge, even bigger that the Sea Eagles we had seen in Finland. A real bonus.

Holteneau (31st Aug, 51 miles from Heiligenhafen)

The trouble with going East from Heiligenhafen is that a blooming great firing range gets in the way and so has to be passed to the North adding 10+ miles. We wondered about going straight across it as a freighter tried to do but a light aircraft buzzed him, then he was called on the radio and told, in no uncertain terms, that he risked being hit by uncontrolled thingy-bobs. We thought it might be torpedoes, but our German is virtually non-existent.

We left early knowing it would be a long day and had a good sail in light SW winds to the Northerly point of the range then as we started to turn more southerly the wind and waves arrived, what timing. We had a horrible motor sail for about 20 miles before we could turn south proper and into the Kieler Forde where we could really hike along as the force 6 wind was more on the beam.

We went to the British Kiel Yacht Club (BKYC) and met Pegasus who arrived minutes before us. Being 1830 the place was deserted so we helped ourselves to the showers and had an early dinner aboard.

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August's figures
Distance logged. 881
Hours at Sea. 176
Engine Hours. 77
Average distance per day. 44

Rendsburg (1st Sep, 20 miles from Holteneau)

A short day but a moderately early start as we wanted a half day off from this S-Westerly charge.

The locks are about 1 mile from the BKYC and were open as we arrived. Once inside the gates closed, Janet paid the 18 Euros and we were out into the canal by 0915 with 18 miles to go to Rendsburg.

The canal seemed quiet and only a couple of ships passed us. We tied up in Rendsburg at 1045 and then, as is the norm, we filled the 30 litre day tank ready for the following day.

During the afternoon we walked around the town looking for a supermarket, but it seems there is now no supermarket in the town, but there are a least dozen bakers.

Cuxhaven (2nd Sep, 50 miles from Rendsburg)

At 0830 we followed the 3 sets of leading lines out into the canal and in warm bright sunshine set off to motor 35 miles down the canal to the locks at Brunsbuttel. We saw none of the wildlife seen on the earlier transit but it was a good trip anyway. We filled up the day tank whilst on route and again just before we entered the lock. Quickly through this time and out into the strongly ebbing river, we were at times doing 10 knots over the ground. We arrived at Cuxhaven too late to pay the harbour master, shame. We had a drink on Tacuba II, consulted Chris's charts and agreed that Nordeney was a good destination for the morrow. We had earlier read the Baltic pilot and found it probably too shallow for our 2m keel but the latest charts showed we would have enough depth, particularly if we followed Tacuba II along the shallow channel. Cowards eh? We worked on the principal that if they didn't hit the bottom we probably wouldn't either.

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Nordeney (3rd Sep, 66 miles from Cuxhaven)

We left Cuxhaven at 0600 which coincided with first light. We hoisted the mainsail in the harbour and followed about 12 boats out into the start of the ebb tide. After 10 mins we all realised it was a sailing day and so steaming lights went off one by one and presumably engines were stopped, anyway ours was.

We sailed out of the river and along the coast for 40 miles until at 1300 we realised more sail was needed and hoisted our cruising chute but after half an hour we turned on the motor as the SE F3 became, I've written in the log, "fickle".

We followed Tacuba II into Nordeney and never saw less than 4m until right in the harbour where we tied up it was 3m with 1m left to go down to LW. At LW we knifed about a foot into the mud but stayed very upright. Tomorrow we planned another rest day as we understood the island to be very pretty.

The morning started with a good old lie-in and was then spent obtaining diesel fuel for both boats. Barry discovered that one of the plastic 35 litre fuel cans we have could be rested on the cross bar of the Brompton and, once tied to the seat post, still leave room to pedal, so a couple of half mile trips were made, 70 litres in all. I'm told 1200cc motor bikes carry less fuel.

We cycled into the town later in the day and enjoyed our regular treat of ice-creams and coffees in a caf� in the town square. Then we parked the bikes and did a thorough job of strolling in the sunshine round the town.

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This monument is made of stones from each of the cites bombed in WW2. The stones have the cities name engraved into them, just like tomb stones. We chose not to speak when we were standing by it, after all, it was us or the allies doing the bombing.

Nordeney is a very up market island resort with regular ferries coming from mainland Germany with tourists. It is also quite old and in many areas unspoiled, I wish the camera battery hadn't gone flat. We rounded off the day with a circumnavigation of the island on the splendid coastal cycle path.

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Holland

Lauwersoog (6th Sep, 60 miles from Nordeney)

My hands are sweating even thinking about the trip out of Nordeney, what a morning. This is how it went . . . . . .

We had been worrying about this stretch of the coast as it involves 2 days each of over 75 miles, both direct into the prevailing winds and with tides doing more to hinder than assist. Chris and Margaret said "no problem, go via the ANWB Standing Mast Route like us". The route they were meaning travelled along the inland waterways of Holland and, as all of the bridges lift, it is ideal for yachts and is quite pretty in parts.

We read our pilot and found the description badly written and very difficult to follow but Chris had the Dutch map of the route which included all of the revised bridge opening times and, most importantly, the water depths. We agreed to do it with them.

Planned as a 60 mile trip with about 40 miles at sea we agreed to leave at first light and so we were all on deck at 0600 waiting for the daylight to arrive. However, what did arrive was thick fog, a real pea souper. We waited an hour and then realised that if we didn't go soon the tide would leave us stuck in our berths for about 4 hours.

Trusting to technology we agreed to follow, in reverse, the route Tacuba II had travelled earlier in the season, i.e. a route known to be good and one still in GPS memory. In addition they would run the radar and we would follow closely behind then, very closely behind them.

And that's what we did, for about 30 mins we travelled around the Western end of Nordeney and up the channel to the NW and out to sea, Chris following the route on screen and watching the radar. We simply followed his transom and stern light, Janet steering and me plotting our position on the detailed chart every minute or so just in case we lost the transom. We saw one boat anchored in the channel, he was not daring to move due to lack of viz, and 2 buoys, and that was plenty because they came as such a really sudden surprise. Viz was never much more that 10 yards during this time and at sea it rose to about 50 yards and then over the next hour to about 200 yards. It was midday before we saw the sun and then the mist was gone suddenly.

Once past the island of Schimonikoog we headed South between the islands, Riddle of the Sands territory with thousands of birds standing in knee deep water, that's the birds knees. We hoisted sails and had an hour of close racing with Mithril just holding her own against the lighter more agile Catalina 36.

At Lauwersoog we came to a lock at pretty much the same time as 50 other boats and all wanting to get through at the end of the weekend. What a fiasco, there seemed little order and everyone was hovering not wanting to loose position or give ground to other boats. Half of them were steel barges and couldn't care less about the plastic yachts and half of the others had little capability to manoeuvre at such slow speeds. We touched a few boats as did many others but no one seemed troubled by it. Then we were invited to join a raft of 5 boats hanging off a barge on the inside, we were really forming a barriers against other boats passing us and so we progressively moved forwards as one into the lock, phew.

Once out of the lock we entered a small lake, the Lauwersmeer, and Janet was horrified, it was only 2.5 metres deep, I didn't dare tell her this was the deep bit and so kept quiet and tried to see what was ahead of us on the small chart we had. 2.1m it said, that's if we found the deep bit, oh boy oh boy this could be tricky.

By now we were in a convoy of 6 boats and we all followed exactly in the wake of the preceding boat, reasoning, if he gets through so will we. Anyway it became clear that Tacuba had gained draught over the years and was a touch deeper than expectations and deeper than us so they occasionally touched bottom, whilst we continued in 1.9m of water. We firmly believed we drew 2m but what the heck, we got through that bit and made it to the marina 1 mile further on. From here on the water was supposed to be deeper. We tied up in 2 metres in a tiny little marina only five minutes from our first bridge of the following day.

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Leeuwarden (6th Sep, 20 miles from the Lauwersmeer)

The morning was again misty but as we only had to be able to see between the banks of a small canal we set off. The mist soon cleared leaving a good if quite breezy day.

Into the inland canals proper now. We passed wonderful houses, surrounded by their own private waterways and with their boats moored at the bottom of the garden. At times we were passing through fields with cows and horses drinking at the waters edge.

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Lunch stop at Dokkumer.

Also at times we had very little water, under the keel, maybe a few inches. The time passed quickly and we where not kept waiting too long at the bridges. We had our lunch at Dokkumer whilst we waited for the bridge keeper to have his lunch hour.

At some of the bridges fees are collected, by lowering a clog on a fishing pole into which you put the correct money as you pass through. Interesting, you need to have quite a bit of small change, luckily we had been warned, so we were prepared.

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The best bit was mooring up beneath trees on the canal bank alongside a park right in the middle of Leeuwarden. The only nerve racking bit being when both us and Tacuba got stuck in the mud just short of the bank but with a bit of a wiggle we both made it to the bank and tied up, typically all the canal boats moored where there where no trees and we were left to find space among the branches overhanging the water.

We tied up with a real cats cradle of mooring lines to allow our mast head to stay clear of the branches. We had a walk into town and sat with a beer in the square, another good day.

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Lemmer (7th Sep, 47 miles from Leeuwarden)

No mist today, but quite windy, which made hovering at the bridges awaiting there opening quite tricky. We were up in time to catch the first bridge opening a 9 am. There are quite a lot of bridges to negotiate just to leave Leeuwarden and although it was rush hour we did not have to wait long. The canal was now larger and deeper, so we could stop having our eyes glued to the depth gauge. One of the bridge keepers was obviously having a bad day has he kept us waiting ages, despite there being no apparent road traffic. It was quite windy and we had to shunt backwards and forwards avoiding quite a few huge fast moving barges, we were glad to see the bridge finally open and pass through unscathed. We had a few tricky moments in the lock at Lemmer, due to a large barge running his bow thrusters as we came along side him in the lock. But we did manage to tie up securely and were quick off the mark when the lock opened to be well out of the barges way. The wind was blowing as we left the lock and entered the Ijsselmeer, so we quickly hoisted sail and as we turned into the 25 knot over the deck wind, everything below that we hadn't stowed because we had been a motor boat for the last few days promptly launch themselves around the cabin, luckily nothing got damaged. We moored in a tight corner in the marina at Lemmer in 2.1m, we are almost getting used to these low non tidal levels.

Enkhuizen (8th Sep, 17 miles from Lemmer)

The Ijsselmeer is surrounded by sailing destinations, but you can only pass through either end of the dyke at Lelystad or Enkhuizen. Today we said goodbye to Chris and Margaret who were taking Tacuba to the marina at Lelystad where they keep her. We have really enjoyed their company and would not have even considered Nordeney and the canals without their help. We hope to keep in touch. We have decided to head off for Enkhuizen as it is nearer to the locks which will ultimately take us to Amsterdam. We had a good sail in a gentle breeze across the Ijsselmeer and arrived at Enkhuizen in time for lunch. We moored in the largest marina, although, as we discovered later, there is the opportunity to anchor just outside the marina, but had tied up and paid.

We had a super visit in the afternoon to the open air museum where old buildings from all over the Ijsselmeer have been transported and rebuilt into a village representing what life must have been like in years gone by. We had smoked herring straight from the smokery oven and eaten with our fingers great.

We also walked into the delightful small town and watched yachts passing into the inner harbour through the old lifting bridge. A super day.

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Ijmuiden (9th Sept, 35 miles from Enkhuizen)

By the end of today we hope to be back in tidal waters so we were a little behind our planned schedule.

We chose to leave early in the morning and made our way to the locks, we locked out quickly with only one other yacht sharing the vast space. We are now at the other side of the dyke and sailing in the Markermeer, the average depth is 3m but we had a good sail to the Oranjesluizen and we only had a ten minutes wait for the bridge to lift. Then, along with lots of other assorted craft, we made our way into the lock. What a pickle, boats where sideways, jumbled together small rubber craft along side the wall with boats like Mithril diagonal between a barge and a motor cruiser, no organisation. The barge owner who Janet had a good chat to said it was quiet day compared to most of July. Glad we missed the rush!

The lock seemed to take for ever but at last we were out and in the centre of Amsterdam. It was interesting to see it from the canal as on our earlier visit we had been land based. We passed through the centre quite quickly dodging ferries and barges, once outside the centre the canal widens and passes through quite a rural area, until just before Ijmuiden where it becomes fringed by industry. We where able to sail under just head sail along most of the canal and we tied up in the lock at Ijmuiden with three other yachts, two of which were going to take part in racing on the following day. We tied up in the tidal marina in Ijmuiden, which is vast with very good facilities.

The following day we received the 5 day forecast via the HF radio and, as you can see, we were seriously looking forwards to Thursday in the hope it was accurate, as any thought of heading into these SW winds and the resulting seas was a non starter. By the way, this is the first time we've seen mention of a force 12 or seas 5m high.

THAMES (51.6N 2.2E) SST: 17C
SU 00 SW 5-6 - 1.5
SU 12 SW-W 6-7 - 1.5
MO 00 SW 7-8 9-10 3
MO 12 SW 9-10 11-12 5
TU 00 SW 8 10 3
TU 12 SW 8 10 5
WE 00 W 6 7-8 2
WE 12 W 5 6-7 1.5
TH 00 N 5-6 7-8 1
TH 12 NW 4-5 - 1

The wind during the time we where in Ijmuiden was horrendous, at one time we saw 48 knots in the marina and right on our side so we heeled and danced around like being at sea, and it lasted for days. The beach, close to the marina, is beautiful soft sand and much of it was deposited around the marina and on the boats during the course of the five days. The sand was piled up in the entrance to the shower block and in the office doorway, the paths around the marina were under the sand and boy did it smart when it was blowing in your face. We saw holiday chalet owners out shovelling the sand which had piled up to the level of the windows. Also the noise of the wind at night made sleeping very difficult. We and numerous other boats began to believe that we would never escape.

The yacht racing for some sort of Dutch national award was cancelled due to extremes of weather. Nice phrase. Most of the crews simply went home choosing to take the boat back to the home marina at some future date.

The town is about 15 minutes away on a bike, it was great with the wind behind you but on the return it was dreadful. Even Barry had to get off and walk as the wind was so strong it was impossible to keep the bike moving, and at times simply standing still was nearly impossible. On about the third day we seriously thought of going back into the canals and following the standing mast route through to Vlissingen, glad we didn't as that afternoon five boats, including one Brit, came through the lock into the marina having turned back as one of the bridges was closed and would remain that way for a long time. They also joined the boats waiting to escape to sea.

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