Summer Holidays 2015

Chapter 1

We pushed hard to get away Saturday, but by the time I had gotten anchor winch (no,no you guys with dirty minds – I wrote winch – not wench – jeez what the mind can read even though the eyes see something else) working and everything screwed back together it was getting late in the morning.  Why was I working on the anchor winch (no – not wench)?  Well, when I tested our anchor winch Wednesday of last week the control unit didn’t work and I ordered a new one – of course, it was back-ordered, so no it didn’t show up Friday.

Luckily, I remember that a couple of years ago I bought a wireless remote fromm the internet- It was lying in a box up in the attic.  Of course,I had to find it and then install it and it wasn’t as straight forward as I thought it would be and etc etc etc.

To make a short story long – we finally got underway at around noon.

Zero wind.  Nada. No wind at all, only 33 degrees and the sun blazing away from a blue, blue sky. All of which means that our friends aren’t completely correct. Erik, now sailing towards the Mediterranean has said that I should call him whenever we’re going sailing. That way he’ll know it is going to be terrible weather and it is time for him to open another bottle of wine and stay in port.  Allan, another friend (who thinks he is a witty wag) has asked that we call him when we sail – because we apparently only sail against the wind – so if we’re sailing west – he’ll know he should sail east.

Yeah – what are friends for?

So we motored away towards Hven, where we tied up alongside Tonny and Marianne who were anchored, had a beer and later we grilled frankfurters on our gas grill (yes we have a big grill on the boat – sailing does not necessarily mean roughing it.)  But first, it was happy hour with G&T’s (yes we also have an ice machine on board).

The blazing sun meant we tired quickly and we hit our hammocks early.

Vinni and I got up at 3:30 am (ungodly hour) and slipped away as we were sailing to Anholt, an island about 10 hours north.  We left very early in order to get there by early afternoon.  Anholt is known for having its harbor fill up very quickly and we wanted to arrive early so we could get a good berth. We slipped away early enough that we were asea when the sun came up. This time of year the sun rises slowly and almost diagonally, so we were treated to an orange sun that peeked over the Swedish coast and then began it meandering up the sky. We could feel its warmth increase as it rose.

sunrise in Øresund

sunrise in Øresund

vinni catching the sunrise

vinni catching the sunrise

Tough life being a sailor

Tough life being a sailor

A beautiful morning sail, capped with seeing Kronborg (Hamlets Castle), to the portside in the rays of the morning sun. Seamen have written many sad songs about seeing Kronborg to port, indicating as it does that you are sailing out onto the great seas. In olden days of course, you didn’t know when, or if, you’d ever come back. Many songs have also been written about seeing Kronborg to starboard when you’re coming home. Kronborg was the icon that showed you had made it safely and soon would be in your wife’s arms.

Kronborg to port

Kronborg to port

no wind at all

no wind at all

The weather was a repeat of yesterday, blazing sun, hot as hell and no wind. Nada again today. So we motored the entire way, arriving midafternoon.  Surprise, surprise – right after arriving we saw a wonderful spot where we could lie longships to the pier.  Not believing our luck, Vinni immediately dropped Capri right on the dock, I tied her up and guess what?  It was time for happy hour.

We did managed a quickie trip in the ocean, Vinni all the way in, me only to my knees – but that was because I had my wallet in my pocket (aren’t I good at making excuses?).

Soon 5 old-fashioned small sailboats arrived. They had no motors and with no wind they had rowed practically the entire way from Copenhagen (75 nautical miles – 36 hours). They docked, drank several cold ones and hit the sack immediately.

Older gaff-rigged boats arrive

Older gaff-rigged boats arrive

The local bar has taken the consequences of all the thirsty sailors and laid a large stock of vodka in………

Note the tank behind the fishing boat

Note the tank behind the fishing boat

A closer look - they won't run dry today

A closer look – they won’t run dry today

Dinner was a couple of good grilled steaks, fresh new potatoes, bernaise sauce, a good bottle of wine and for some reason, our bed started looking very inviting and comfortable so we hit the sack.

Anholt harbour

Anholt harbour

The weather changed the next day, gone was the heat and blazing sun, welcome in the normal Danish summer weather – meaning you get everything all in one day – nice sun, cloudy skies, a couple of showers, nice sun, cloudy skies a, couple of showers – well you get the picture. Nothing much to do, so we walked the couple of miles up into town, bought a few things at the grocery and walked back.

Monument for the soldiers who were killed by the British in the war with England 1811

Monument for the soldiers who were killed by the British in the war with England 1811

empty beaches

empty beaches

Dinner, on the other hand is always something special on Anholt. Why?  Because the local fishermen sell freshly caught langoustines right off the boat – 4 kilos for 150 kroner (about 20 dollars US). So dinner was boiled langoustines, fresh-baked baguette, and champagne (yes I brought some champagne from home just for this).

It doesn’t get much better that that and we sat up watching the night sky begin to turn dark.

Læsø

Well, if we’re going to go anywhere, we need to get going. There was a weather window Tuesday so at midmorning we left Anholt.  Vinni impressed most of the harbor with her maneuver for getting away from the dock when the wind has you pinned hard on it.  It is not a difficult maneuver, but you rarely see a woman attempting it. Vinni did it with aplomb and left a trail of men gaping.

Outside, it was blowing 20-22 knots so we started out with a double reef in the mainsail and single reef in the jib. The waves were up but not too high. Lots of boats were leaving at the same time as us, everyone utilizing the weather window to get to their next port.

Whenever two sailboats are going the same way, it is a race (no matter what their crews say). We paced a couple of other boats (including a Faurby 42 footer) the entire day, neither gaining on them nor their gaining on us)

Midafternoon the wind died completely so we turned on the engine and motored the rest of the way, arriving at Læsø at 7 pm.  We took showers (wow, did that feel good) and made spaghetti and arrabiatta sauce.

So – today is Wednesday the barometer has been dropping all night and this morning.  I’m baking bread and catching up on my writing.  We’ll be getting weather reports all day and hoping for a change – otherwise it will be a wet holiday.

So –where to begin?

To start with, we didn’t rent bicycles. It was getting late and we decided we could just as well wait until morning since we weren’t going to use them that evening anyway, and thereby save some money (we don’t earn our money that easily LOL).

Dinner was spaghetti with tomato sauce, a dish which was meant for a supper while at sea, but since we hadn’t done any 24 hour sailing yet, we decided to eat it and not spend a lot of time on making dinner. I moseyed past the small store and bought a baguette and that was it (ok, we did have a G&T and some wine with dinner). It had been a long day and the bed was calling our names.

It is tough to be a sailor – all that fresh air and the rest of that stuff.

Next morning I was up early, buying breakfast rolls at the store.  Today we were going to rent bicycles and pedal around the island.

But wait!

The weather forecast called for rain, rain and more rain.  Hmmm. Rain? Not really. I mean, spend the day pedalling around in the rain? We are on holiday – aren’t we? It could wait until tomorrow so we decided we could walk around Østerhvaneby. Which we did, taking in the main street, all the stores (5 of them), saw the sign showing the way to the golf course (3 km) and everything that was on the harbor.

This grand tour of østerhavneby lasted about an hour (and another hour was spent shopping in the 3 stores that sold sailing clothes). So we were back on Capri at lunchtime. We ate and having exhausted ourselves with the grand tour that morning, we took a long afternoon nap. We were invited to visit Per and Pernille, our neighbors in Copenhagen that have a summer cottage on Læsø. Actually, they have two summer cottages on Læsø (a very long story goes with  that LOL). The one is an old farm that still has a partial roof made of seaweed (Læsø is the only place in the world where roofs were made with seaweed). The other house is a perfect example of a seaweed-roofed house. It is on the list of Danish historical houses and if you even think about driving a nail into it or similar they will lock you up forever. It is considered an irreplaceable and priceless piece of Danish history.

the seaweed house from the side

the seaweed house from the side

Seaweed house from the front

Seaweed house from the front

We were invited for dinner at 6:30, and Pernille said it only took ½ hour to walk from the harbour, so we left Capri promptly at 6:00. Pernille had given Vinni instructions on how to find the house so we marched up the main street, turned left on Grusvejen and continued out on Mosevejen.

And continued marching out on Mosevejen – and continued to march – we crossed several smaller roads, including one called Mosestien, but kept right on going.

It was going on 7 o’clock and we were were beginning to wonder if Pernille had sent the cavalry to save us when Vinni’s phone rang. It was Pernille – are you coming?

Vinni explained that we had marched out of Mosevejen, reached the end and turned right and were now on Jegensvej etc etc. Thereafter started a conversation that I only heard one side of, but apparently Pernille was explaining that we had gone much, much too far.

But they had indeed the cavalry after us. Pernille, along with the bloodhound albert, were out looking for us.

To make a short story long – Vinni is not a pathfinder and neither is she capable of reading a map (GPS was invented just for her LOL). We had marched much, much too far (5-6 kilometers) and now needed to march back again. We should have turned on the road called Mosestien and we would have walked straight to their door. A few minutes later we met Pernille and Albert, who led us to the house where Per was waiting with a glass of chilled white wine (thank you!).

It is an unbelievable summerhouse they have. They have managed to preserve some of the old seaweed roof. For the rest they have heaped loads of money and tons and tons of love on the house and it is beautiful.

They served a feast of a meal with crab claws and langoustines for appetizers, baked fish and veggies for main course and a berry dessert. We loosened the buckles on our pants several times.

When we finally walked home (the correct and short way this time), we needed the exercise.

Their other house, as I mentioned is a true “seaweed” house. Her again they have heaped loads of love on it and it is magnificent.

Dawn came early the next morning and we spent the morning looking at weather forecasts. Our plan (plan B) was to sail onwards to Skagen, then Norway and then follow the Swedish cost back down to Copenhagen. Looking at the Danish National Meteorological site – it said rain, rain, rain, strong winds etc. for next couple of weeks.

Well bully for them – what do they know? So I switched to yr.no, the Norwegian site (they are almost always right) and guess what?  Rain and hard winds, then hard winds and rain, followed by rain and hard winds.

So finally we downloaded the weather charts and could see a line of low pressure fronts stretching clear across the Northatlantic and all the over by Canada another low pressure front was forming.

Ok – scratch the trip to Norway. No way we were going to cross Skagerrak in gale force conditions. Maybe we could just go to the Swedish coast. Weather forecast there – same as in Norway.

Bullshit!

Ok – let’s look at Plan A, which you may remember was the Baltic states. After all, if the weather was nice there, then it was only about a 3-3 ½ day sail, which was ok.

Unfortunately, the weather looked just as crappy over there.

Ok – what to do? Before we left, we had jokingly said Plan C was two tickets to Portugal (we do have a house in Portugal). This option was now on the table. A quick check with Portugal showed the house was not rented out, and I found some plane tickets on the net. The weather forecast for the Algarve said sun, sun, sun for the next 3 weeks.

So – should it be a golfing holiday instead of a sailing holiday? Should we trade out 3 weeks of dressing in our sailor foulies every day and enduring rain and more rain? Or wearing shorts and a polo, playing golf, lazing by the pool etc?

Well.  We are Vikings and naturally we chose to keep sailing in the hard winds and the rain. I mean we are sailors. And hardy ones at that.

Right. What have you been smoking? In your dreams! I bought the plane tickets and the only question that remained was how do we get to Copenhagen in time to catch the plane.

The weather report for the next day said sunshine, but very heavy winds. Luckily for us, from the north/northwest, which meant it would be blowing right up our butts.

Per and Pernille stopped by that evening for drinks that became dinner and a few G&Ts (mostly me and Per) and some wine. The next morning we sailed. As an aside here, normally in Denmark we don’t have tides, but here on Læsø they do. It is close enough to the North sea that they have 50-60 centimeters of tides – very interesting.

Once again Vinni got the chance to impress the entire harbour with her boathandling skills, laying out with a maneuver few women would attempt (not very many men either).

No one else was leaving and once outside the harbor we were in big waves. Not the little Kattegat waves we normally see, but big Skagerrak waves, that started all the way up in Norway and have had 250 nautical miles to grow and get big.

BIG MAMAS in other words.

Handsteering in the waves

Handsteering in the waves

We set the genua, and only the genua and began our march towards Copenhagen in 12-14 meter per second winds (or 25-30 knots, 50-60 kilometers per hour or Beaufort 7, gusting 8). The waves were big and getting bigger by the hour. But it was great to get out and sail in some real he-man weather instead of this pussy-shit we had been in up to now.

Checking the sails

Checking the sails

I guess our sailor friends are right – when Vinni and Carsten sail out, it is a good day to stay in the harbor, open a bottle of wine and wait until tomorrow.

The waves kept growing and soon the autopilot couldn’t handle them, which meant we went over to handsteering. A couple of hours of handsteering and you’re pretty much crapped out, so Vinni and I steered in 3 hour shifts. While the one steered the other slept. If this continued – it  would be a long, long day (and night).

So – did it continue? Yes it did. Right from 10 am through to midnight (when we passed Kronborg).

Whitecapping and breaking waves

Whitecapping and breaking waves

More breaking waves

More breaking waves

Early in the evening, while Vinni was sleeping, the sun was low in the sky. The waves were 2-3 meters, some bigger. Waves generally come in sets of 7. seven waves to a set, every 7th set is a fair bit bigger, then 7 more sets etc.

So there I was, merrily steering away when a huge dark shadow encompassed Capri, stretching all the way from her bow to her stern. At the same time I heard an express train coming.

Hmmm. Shadows being cast from an absolutely clear sky? Express trains out her in the middle of the ocean? There aren’t many possibilities for this happening. I glanced over my shoulder, knowing exactly what I would see…….

Oh shit.

I saw exactly what I expected. A huge wave, at least 4 meters, breaking was set to run me down. It was a vertical wall of water that was going to dump a few million gallons of salt water on me in just a couple of seconds. I did manage to have a quick thought before it hit.

Are we having fun yet?

Damn right we are!

I have to admit I think I am ready to be admitted to the rubber room. It is really good that Vinni is building a psychiatric hospital right next to her hospital – then she can come visit me occasionally.

Why do I say this?

Because in the past year I’ve only sailed in gales and storm conditions (in fact every sail has been gale force, storm force or worse), and now I find myself beginning to enjoy sailing in these conditions.

Honestly – you have to be completely off your rocker to enjoy this.

But what happened with the big wave? You ask.

Oh – that one? It pounded up against Capri’s stern, dumped a zillion gallons of water on me and then left me alone.

Long about midnight, we passed Kronborg, Vinni relieved me and she sailed Capri down Øresund through the middle of the night, waking me when we passed Middelgrunden. A half an hour later, we docked in front of the house.

We sailed 135 nautical miles in 18 hours, flying only our genua, averaging 7 ½ knots. Very fast indeed, especially considering we were only flying one sail.

We spent Sunday flying and are now sitting by the pool in our house in Portugal. Here are a couple of pics so you all can get extremely jealous.

So since we are now on a golfing holiday, you’ll get no more updates – I’m sure you aren’t interested in hearing about how warm it is how good (or bad) our golf games are etc.

But the G&T’s will be nice and cold………………….

The G&T's are cold

The G&T’s are cold

Vinni's morning swim

Vinni’s morning swim

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