Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Egensund to Aebelo

Sunday 16th August 2009, Egensund.

Distance Logged 0 miles

Michael Schupp, Sally & Simon

The Ryanair Bugle sounded moments after we touched the runway at Denmark’s Bilund airport – another Ryanair flight arriving ahead of schedule. A few minutes later we were in our hired Ford Fiesta speeding south to join the boat at Marina Minde near Egernsund on the Flensburg Fjord.

It blew hard all day Sunday so we stayed put in the marina and got the boat ready for sea. Sally shopped whilst Michael and I repaired the vang with a formidable new rivet gun. Then Sally disappeared! Sonderborg is only 8 miles away and she jumped in the Fiesta to take it back to the Europcar drop off. She was supposed to be catching the 4pm bus back but at 6pm there was of sign of her.

At 6.30 she arrived and, rather sheepishly, confessed all. She had struggled to find the new depot and so posted the keys to the car through a letter box somewhere near the old depot which just happened to have an old Europcar sign up. Though, it had to be said, there was no sign of a car hire car park or a desk. Anyway she abandoned the car in the street and set off to walk the mile or so to the bus station. Half a mile later she came upon the real Europcar Depot!

It costs quite a bit if you lose a hire car so she retraced her steps whilst pondering how to retrieve the keys from a randomly selected letterbox in Sonderborg. It’s probably a good job it was a sleepy Sunday afternoon and that the man monitoring the CCTV cameras was otherwise engaged because the first thing she did on arrival at the supposed ‘key drop’ was to thrust her arm through the letter box only to find that she needed to grow another longer and thinner arm. Fortunately no rabid hound removed her hand and she strolled around the yard looking for inspiration.

Car thieves often use bits of bent wire and so it was that she came upon one which turned out to be perfect for job. It was just a moment’s work to hook the keys through the letter box with the wire and retrieve the precious keys.

By the time she was back on the boat the easiest thing seemed to be to have a nice meal in the marina restaurant and a good night’s sleep.

Monday 17th August

Distance Logged 65 miles

Egensund to Aebelo

Everyone goes aground in the Baltic at some stage and we have been lucky over the last two summers. Today was the day, with only 2 days left in the Baltic, that we blotted our copybook.

We left the marina early in light winds which was fortunate as the prop was fouled with barnacles reducing thrust quite alarmingly. With the main not yet bent on we drifted down the Flensborg Fjord before dodging in to the lee of the shore. I went forward to drop the anchor only to find that the ‘down’ solenoid for the windlass was on strike. I eased the clutch on the windlass and away went the anchor rather sooner than I had expected. Anyway we were securely fixed to the sea bed and it was time to bend the main on and fit the battens. This can be a tedious job but all went well and the anchor came up with just a smidgeon of Danish mud.

In the picturesque port of Sonderborg we circled until 11.35 when the traffic stopped and the bridge lifted. Along with a handful of other boats we lunged for the gap and headed north before passing under the high road bridge under sail.

The rolling Danish countryside passed by close on either side as we reached north in a moderate westerly. We reefed after motor sailing a leg to windward and then eased the sheets on the new course. The boat was cruising along nicely under staysail and reefed main. All very relaxing and so we did.

I guess the alarm bells should have sounded when Michael, who was helming, announced that we would be able ease the sheets further once we had rounded the headland. I never looked to see what he meant but , a few seconds later Sally shouted 3 metres then, immediately after, 2.5 metres then a soft whooshing noise as the boat came to a complete stop on a sand bar about 50 yards west of the headland. Sure enough the sea there was a sandy yellow and we were hard aground.

Yacthmaster Sally, with great presence of mind, shouted, “start the engine” and then did so. Michael was looking a bit bemused and was, at first, in denial. But there was no denying it, we were still hard aground!

With the engine full ahead and the helm over I tried to pivot on the keel and tack the sails but 75 horse power wasn’t enough so into reverse we went with sails sheeted in to induce some heel. Nothing happened. Michael and Sally moved onto the leeward gunwale and I felt a little bounce as the chop lifted us. We were bouncing backwards very, very slowly with the engine straining in reverse against the sails that were trying to drive us forward.

As we finally came free I gybed and sailed 300 metres off shore before tacking and then rounding the headland. Only our pride was dented and I am hopeful that we now carry less weed on the keel but, I suspect, we also carry less antifouling after sandblasting the lead bulb.

By now the skies were grey and the wind freshening as we sailed north through the Lille Belt and under various pylons and bridges. Mercifully the winds were off shore and the seas flat. A few rain showers passed over and every now and then the unmistakable whiff of excrement drifted from the shore. Does the whole of Denmark stink of pigs?

We entered the Kattegat 14 months after leaving it and steered north west where we aimed for the nature reserve island of Aebelo. We arrived at 2130 and, as night fell, anchored in 5 metres off the eastern shore just south of 2 moorings which were occupied by German boats. The forecast was for south westerly’s over night becoming westerly’s on Tuesday and possibly north westerly. All gale warnings have been cancelled.