Buying Chip-Chip

In the fall of 2015 I started looking at boats online. Slowly I figured out what type of boat we wanted. First of all not too big and not too expensive. Since we had never had our own boat before we didn’t know if we would like it, so we didn’t want to throw too much money after a boat we were gonna sell again anyways. Also, smaller is easier to handle for two adults. Also, we would like 5 berths and the possibility to close off the v-berth so the kids can be put to bed at night and fall asleep in peace. Since there’s four of us, an extra berth would mean that we could invite somebody else to come along sometimes. And I prefer having a head (or toilet), for obvious reasons. And an inboard motor in good shape, making it possible to sail around Bremerhaven, in the North Sea, where we live without being afraid that the speed is controlled by the strong currents rather than the motor.

In the beginning I looked at the Nordic Folkboat, but as I came to the above conclusions about needs for our boat I moved on to slightly larger types. Also, I figured that it would be good to have a boat that would have the potential to take us a bit further than the Inner Danish Waters – having the possibility to sail to Sweden, Norway or the UK just gives some more freedom. I looked a bit at the Trio 80, and some more at Bianca 27. I liked the Trio 80 for its’ 5 berths and navigation table, but didn’t like the appearance so much. I liked the Bianca 27 for it’s heavy displacement, headroom and looks, but not so much that it only had four berths. In the end we went out to look at an Albin Ballad and a Great Dane 28. Both were from the 1970’ies, with 5 berths and a proven blue water record. The description of the Ballad sounded great, but when we saw it, the boat had obviously not been sailed much lately and seemed damp and uncomfortable down below. So that one was out. The Great Dane, on the other hand, we liked a lot when we saw it. Only problem was that all installations were from the 1980’ies – and the motor was the original from 1975… It was, however, freshwater cooled and started instantly. The guy who had owned the Great Dane had kept her in sailing condition and done a lot to make it possible for him to sail her singlehandedly. Despite of the shortcomings mentioned above we eventually decided to buy the Great Dane Chip-Chip.

The kids are waiting for the adults to finish talking

The kids are waiting while the adults talk about boats

We sailed her home in the first week of October on a sunny fall Saturday. The kids came along and we spent a night in the neighboring harbour. It was lovely, and we’re looking forward to going sailing next summer – after some work…

Moving to Northern Germany

Renovations are going on all over the city of Bremerhaven, but for Germans, Bremerhaven is still pretty much synonymous with unemployment and high poverty rates. I didn’t know anything about that when I was finishing my physical oceanography studies in Gothenburg and started looking for a job. At the time, Esben was already working abroad most of the time and we had our one-year old daughter to also consider. As Esben is somewhat free regarding his home base, I could look for jobs outside of Denmark, but because of our daughter Runa we preferred to not be within driving distance from Denmark.  

In the end I looked for Ph.D. positions related to oceanography in Scandinavia, Northern Germany and the Netherlands. Because I had studied biology as well as physical oceanography, my dream was to find a position that combined the two fields. And I was lucky; AWI in Bremerhaven were looking for someone to work on coupling a biogeochemical model to their Finite Element Sea-ice Ocean Model. A pretty cool – and pretty daunting project, which I started in December 2010. 

Moving to Germany is not that complicated for Danes, it’s basically a matter of finding a place to live and sign in at various offices in the city. But how do you find a nice flat in another country? Our German wasn’t great, but we managed to find a website with flats and made appointments to check some of them out. We quickly realized that most of the places we looked at were in a pretty bad shape and located in areas where we didn’t want our daughter to grow up. Additionally, we learned that a kitchen is not normally included in flats in Bremerhaven. 

In the end we chose a 90 m2 apartment with four bedrooms in Bremerhaven neighborhood of Geestemünde. We moved there two weeks before I started working, to get settled and for Runa to start in private daycare. We had been really lucky with the daycare, getting a place for Runa close to our home with a really nice Tagesmutter. We didn’t know beforehand, but later learned that it can in fact be rather difficult to get daycare for kids younger than 3 years.  

AWI is a very international work place with people from various backgrounds. I liked working there from the beginning, and generally we felt quite welcome in Bremerhaven. The locals have been very friendly, and despite of our less than perfect German, we seem to have been able to communicate with people anyways. I guess the proximity to the sea also helped me to feel at home.