Circumnavigating Denmark

I rounded up a great crew for my first sailing trip with Baluba: Helge came along with me from Stavanger, Martin flew in from Tromsø, Kjersti was on her way home from Spain and Kristian joined us straight from his annual canoe trip, before flying to Ibiza. Our goal was simple: circumnavigating Denmark. The geographically savvy will know that Denmark is a peninsula, but thanks to the Kiel Channel, it is possible to sail from Kiel through Germany and end up on the Elbe, making it is possible to circumnavigate Denmark in a sailboat.
Eirik (one of the other owners) had sailed Baluba to Gothenburg in Sweden, so that’s where we met him and traded his car for the boat. We cast off as soon as everyone was onboard. There was a nasty low on its way in from the Atlantic, so we wanted to get over to Denmark, because then we could sail protected by land. We took aim at Grenaa and motored straight into winds that increased and exceeded 40 knots that night. It sucked. I got seasick, which sucked even more. Thank God I had crew that were up to the task. The one good thing I can say is that Baluba is an awesome boat. She’s an Ovni 435 and she took everything in strides, without a worry. While the ride might have been bumpy, with the strong wind and building seas on the nose, the boat didn’t even flinch and made us all feel very safe. I was on my feet again by the time we got to Grenaa and am happy to say that I was able to shine when I was needed: docking at a crowded marina. It went without a hitch and before soon, we were all enjoying a nice brunch at the best breakfast place in Grenaa. We spent a relaxing day in Grenaa; mostly everyone recuperated from the rough overnight trip.

The following morning we set sail and enjoyed great sailing weather: 20-25 knot winds on the beam, with hardly any waves, because there was zero fetch, so close to land. The area around Gothenburg was getting hammered by 40 knot winds and rough seas, so had we delayed, we would have been stuck in Sweden for a few days. Instead we got two great days of sailing (and some motor-sailing) down to Kiel. The galley team: Helge and Martin cooked up some excellent dishes and we were always well fed.

When we got to Kiel we headed straight into the Kiel Channel after some initial confusion with where we were supposed to pay for sailing through the channel, not to mention some archaic system of lights that were supposed to signal when we were supposed to enter. We figured it out eventually, but that was after getting honked at by a freighter and yelled at over the VHF: All good fun! As an added bonus we didn’t have to pay for sailing on the Kiel channel, because they didn’t accept cards and we didn’t have €uros.

The Kiel channel was a nice and easy trip. I’m happy we weren’t at sea, because the wind was howling, and we had many hours of 30+ knot winds. You’re not allowed to sail on the Kiel Channel, so we motored. The wind was on the nose, so sails wouldn’t have helped anyways. A lot of big ships passed us going in both directions. It was obvious that it is an important seaway. The most curious thing we passed was a flying ferry. It hung suspended on cables below a railway bridge and transported cars back and forth.

We spent the night in Rendsburg, where we had a decent meal at the yacht club. I say decent, because I’m sure Helge could have cooked up something better. The next morning we met Peter Foerthmann and took delivery of my brand new WindPilot Pacific windvane. I’ll go into detail about it in a later post, but suffice to say, I’m very excited about it.

At the end of the day we tied up in Brunsbüttel. Tripadvisor helped us find the best restaurant in town, where we enjoyed a couple of beers and a few superb pizzas. The next morning, we left on the outgoing tide and motored across to Cuxhaven. It proved to be a much better town than Brunsbüttel, mostly because the marina was awesome and the sun was shining, so we enjoyed beers and good music. We headed into town to eat dinner and ended up at a Greek restaurant … Don’t ask: We go to Germany and what do we eat? Burgers the first day, pizza the second day and Greek on the third day. We did enjoy German beer, so in that regard we were local patriots. The crew stayed out late in the evening, enjoying the liquid refreshments Cuxhaven had to offer, while I hit the sack, because I had to get up at 04:30 to drive to the Netherlands (in a rental car) to pick up my new anchor and dinghy (more about that in a later post). I made it there and back again before noon, so I was happy.

When I got back both Kjersti and Kristian had taken off, because they couldn’t stay any longer, so Martin, Helge and I continued back to Norway. The sailing back to Norway was very nice: We had periods of great sailing wind and periods where we needed to motor, but considering the howling winds we had experienced in the week leading up to casting off from Cuxhaven, this was very enjoyable. Helge and Martin once again cooked up great food, so were not left wanting. We did 4 hour shifts, so when we got back to Norway we were feeling pretty good. We tied up at Sokn and reflected on a nice sailing trip. We had hoped for fairer weather and a chance to do some freediving, but all in all, we couldn’t complain. New adventures await!