August 14, 2008
One word describes Swedish boating weather the last few days:- WINDY.With the obvious implication:- Bumpy seas.
From Helsingør early Sunday, (up at 5), to try and get some distance in before the wind blew even harder and the rain set in. Not really successful. We’d only just got as far as making sure the ferries couldn’t get us and then unrolling the genua, more than enough sail really, when the rain started. So, a wet and bumpy ride north-westward until the headland at Kullen, beyond which the waves should be less confused. Not so. So we headed round the corner for shelter, into the tiny little harbour at Arild. Very intimate, with two guest spots, either side of a fishing boat, whose skipper was helpfully friendly and intimated that he could get out alright next morning. He must have done, I didn’t hear him!
A very sad sight on the hard. Two sailing boats on stands, damaged. One seriously, and very probably the one reported wrecked the week before. The other, probably the one which was saved in the nick of time. Cordoned off to keep the inquisitive away, but I had to take a closer look. And a pic or two. A very sobering sight, and one to make me go through all my safety equipment and routines.
Swans and ducks:
You know how they appear at breakfast time? First the ducks. No bread for them from me, I’d run out. But as I’d cut my hair the evening before, in the cockpit, there were tufts of hair everywhere, and a gust of wind blew them overboard. A rush of ducks. You ever seen a duck spit?
Then the swans, (by this time the ducks, and hair, had gone). Majestic. Insistent. Miffed to hissing point at no snacks from Josin. Too few guest boats perhaps.
The weather cleared up during the morning and we set off in bright sunshine and 20+ knots of wind, from the west. This had of course blown up a new set of waves, at an angle to yesterday’s, so again a bumpy ride. However, the going was so good that we passed plan A harbour, then plan B harbour, then plan C harbour, and ended up in Träslövläge, over 50 nm. Weary but happy. Slept late the next morning, and after a wander round the ‘town’, and careful studies of both the Swedish and Danish weather forecasts, decided to move on and traverse the next bit of open sea.
A natural harbour tucked into the islands south of Mønster, with a Swedish Cruising Club buoy to moor to, provided admirable shelter from the strong, by now, SE’ly wind, and we felt comfortable. During the night it rained, no problem, but the wind went round to the SW again, which was a problem, as it funnelled through the gap between two islands and bounced us around. OK, a quick dip in the sea to freshen up, (17 degrees), then onward again, another bumpy ride in a 25 to 30 knot wind, with only half the genua unrolled.
We were alone on the seas. Three hours took us into the shelter of the islands south of Gothenberg, where the waves subsided, but the wind didn’t. On the way across the shipping fairway I saw 35 knots on the wind instrument several times, between two thunderstorm clouds with spectacular lightning and thunder, even less sail out still giving max speed, and it was a relief to get into calmer conditions in Ökerö harbour. Weather tonight: strong gales and winds. We’ll stay tied up until things calm down a bit!
Josin has behaved beautifully, carrying me in style from wavecrest to wavecrest. (She wanders something dreadful under those conditions though!). Nothing broken, stretched, bent or bruised. Someone asked me if I’d had a fishing line out. Hah! Even mackerel can’t swim that fast. Saw several small dolphins playing in the waves, obviously having a great time, though they didn’t come close to investigate or play with me and Josin.
August 09, 2008
3rd August, in Dragør, dawned threatening, with a promise of better to come.
The Music Festival equipment had all disappeared during the night, and an army of sweepers were busy clearing up the mess of beer glasses and cans, hamburger wrappings and cigarette packets and stumps. There were three horizontal ‘revellers’ left, occupying benches. They were still there when last i looked.
Late morning the skies cleared and the wind went round to the south west and blew. So we were off, northwards, with maybe the island of Ven as a goal, or further north to Helsingør. The route was a compromise between close to the coast where the wind was turbulent and variable, or further out where the waves were less comfortable, but the wind was steady. Saw 28 knots of wind on the instrument a couple of times, and speed, under just genoa, was max. So Ven was passed and must wait for another day.
There are three ferry companies operating between Helsingør, (Denmark side) and Helsingborg (Swedish side), and about ten vessels of varying size and speed shuttling back and forth. Choose your moment to cross the road carefully. Permanent swirls of currents and turbulence to entertain the bobbing seafarer, and the ferries only steer to avoid each other.
The small boat harbour is just on the north side of the enormous and magnificent Helsingør Castle, (Shakespeare, Hamlet, Elsinor, OK?), causing even more turbulence. Approach under engine only is the advice. The harbour is large, estimate two thousand boats, and finding a slot is time-consuming. Ended up alongside a friendly German, who was alonside another German, who was alongside…. I moved Josin to a quayside next morning, before the weather really blew up, and myself to Bodil’s flat, as she had just come home from a hike on another friend’s sailing boat.
Monday and Tuesday the wind howled, and the harbour was filled with the screaming and flapping sounds of sailboat rigging. It pelted down too. The Swedish met office reported a record 33 meters per second (over 60 knots) wind in Helsingborg, and a rainfall of 88 mm in 30 hours. Heads down and check the mooring ropes often! Nothing untoward happened in the harbour, but checking with the Rescue Service brought the news of a German solo-sailor’s boat on the rocks and no sailor. Later in the day another boat was towed off the rocks at the last moment, before it would otherwise have been smashed. The crew survived.
The weather calmed down enough by late Tuesday afternoon for us to venture out, so we drove to Louisiana, a fantastic museum of modern art about 20 km south. Place was practically visitor-less, so we had an undisturbed wander, and wonder. A special exhibition was of models, drawings and videos of many of the modern museums. Incredible structures, some of them, which this engineer studied at length. (Much more enthralling than the Art!) Some of them have obviously only been made possible by the use of Computer Aided Design. Some beautiful, some hideous, all very imposing.
Wednesday was calm-ish, so we had a slow sail to the harbour of Kirkebakken, on the west side of the island of Ven, a walk up to the top of the hill for the view, and a quick rush down again as the weather was threatening. A blustery 10 nm sail back to Helsingør. That was the calm between two angry Lows
Thursday, Friday and today have thus been also non-sailable, but dry enough today to enjoy an open-air Glad-Jazz concert in the town square.
Forecast is for the wind to go round from the NW to S during the night, and blow only 20 knots. Rain spreading from the west later. Forecast to be winds generally from the south for the next few days, so progress northward can be resumed.
A really early start is planned. Alarm set for 5am.
August 01, 2008
Ystad was only a stop for one night, as the westerlies were getting closer, so it was another early start, away from the dormant larger boats, and out into a very uncomfortable sea. Bearing in mind that yesterday had been almost millpond smooth, it was a mystery where all those wave had come from, in several directions at once. We bobbed, we rolled, we pithched, we jerked this way and that, and Rorbert, the autopilot, just couldn’t cope, even though the beam wind blew us along at an adequate speed. So I steered. It gets both boring, and tiring, to try and hold a straight course under such conditions and after six hours it was a relief to enter the Falsterbo Canal and calm water.
We were very lucky to arrive just as the bridge at the north end of the canal opened, and then there we were, only lunchtime (though lateish), and out into the Öresund. Southerly wind still, and getting up, so why stop? Dragør is only a few hours away. Sunshine. Calm water, no waves. Go!
Past 48 windmills to port, all except one doing their thing. Denmark is a pioneer in windpower, and there are many to be seen, almost eveywhere. If If the charts are recent, or updated, you could almost navigate by them! They all have a red light on top, so must be very visible at night.
Past and through the traffic lanes, (to and from the Baltic, buzy), sharp lookout needed and choose a good-size gap. Big boats make big wash. We bounced again.
South of the Øresund Bridge. A very impressive piece of civil engineering, Motorway and rail. From the Danish side, near the Kastrup airport, first a tunnel to a man-made island, Pepperholm, (the natural one just to the north is called Saltholm!), then a bridge on legs before the suspension spans in the middle, then more on legs over to the Swedish sid near Malmø.
Approaching Dragør, it was obviously time for a lot of other boats to end their sailing day, as there was almost a queue to enter the harbour and find a slot. We all backed and filled until for me, someone shouted ‘over there, ignore the red sign’. Josin just fitted between the stern-posts, and we were docked. Helpful people having a friday evening party on board the boat to port, and unhelpful people having a louder party to starboard. I wandered over to pay my dues at the harbourmaster’s. Lots of people, both sitting and standing, mostly with a plastic beaker of beer in a hand. Red T-shirts proclaimed that it was Dragør Music Festival in white lettering. Large temporary stage with enormous loudspeakers promised decibels. Beer-wagons both here and there. Stomach sizes confirmed that the Dames like their beer. ‘Probably the best……’ etc.
I was awakened from my well-earnd zizz by someone testning the sound quality, and strength. Boded ill for a quiet evening. Sure enough, bands of varying ability played. The strength of the bass sounds dominating, together with distorted-guitar vibrations, and of course ‘lyrics’ in english. (not English). So I went for a long and exploratory walk. Out to the old fortress with a fantastic view, and then through the narrow cobbled streets of the old town. Very intimate, and flowers growing out of pots on the ‘pavement’
Next day, slightly overcast and no wind, typical pre-frontal conditions, I took the bus/train in to Copenhagen, to buy shoes… its a long story why…. Felt claustrophobic amongst the myriads of saturday wanderers, so having found one pair but failed with the other, I travelled back to Dragør, where the music had not yet started, but the beer drinking had. Everybody happy. More wandering before the sound-storm.
Danes are good at bicycling as well as beer-drinking. Thought the attached picture was appropriate:
Southwest, strong wind forecast for tomorrow. Northwards, here we come!
July 31, 2008
Summer disappeared yesterday evening.
After two nights in Christiansø, and with the promise of a serious change in the weather and westerly winds, I got started early, (like 5am), and headed west. The easterly wind was weak enough to need engine-help, but after a couple of hours strengthened enough to just sail. Still bright sunshine and calm seas and a very relaxing sail, to Ystad, 55 nm in 11 hours. On the way past Kåseberga, where there is a several kilometer long cliff, about half a dozen colourful paragliders were drifting back and forth in just enough updrift to keep them from landing at the bottom. From my vantage point a mile out to sea, it looked like they had a traffic problem, but discipline and competence mut have been good enough, as they sailed slowly past each other. One went just a little bit too far to the west, where the slope was lower, and the lack of lift made him land, luckily on the top.
Nearer Ystad it was into ferry-territory again. To Bornholm, Germany, Poland at least. The gas-turbine driven mega-catamaran, Bornholm Ferries, came in, and left again while I was approaching. Gas turbines, all 90000 horsepower, engineered and delivered by my old company, Kværner Energy. It didn’t look as though it was going very fast, as it is bigger than a football pitch, but it disappeared over the horizon very quicky, almost without a sound. Eerie!
Found a nice little bit of jetty to tie up to, amongst the bigger yachts who like to leave a space between themselves, and was thus ignored. It really is remarkable how Josin’s 30 foot length is now in a size minority. Suits me!
July 30, 2008
Hello those intrepid people who will read this blog. First attempt at a trip entry, but by no means the first place visited.
Christiansö is a small group of islands in the Baltic, the most easterly part of Denmark. Was a fortress, then a penal colony, now home to a community of about 100 people, who, amongst other things, fish, but mostly cater for tourists and boaties. Must be quiet in the winter.
Arrived here yesterday after a wonderful sail from Utklippan, a lighthouse islnd off the SE corner of Sweden. Mostly easterly wind, up to 15 knots, blew us here at record speed under mainsail and gennaker. I’m getting o know how to use that special sail, and getting quite good friends with it.
Today I’ve joined the tourists, wandering round the two main islands, looking at the sights, the view, and the gulls. Still bright sunny weather, and virtually no wind. Hot therefore!