First sail in the North Sea

Chip-Chip had spent a week in Rendsburg, after Esben and I sailed there from Maasholm. The little harbour in Rendsburg was really well protected and the berths small enough to fit our boat. Also, it’s right next to the train station, so no more crazy maneuvers to get there like we had to to get to Maasholm.

We all took the train to Rendsburg on a Friday afternoon, and after stops in Bremen and Hamburg the kids were glued to the train window to have a look at the bridge crossing the Kieler Kanal. And then we were there. It was dark already, and we quickly got the kids to bed – and then we got a cold beer from the marinas restaurant. Really, really nice and quiet evening.

We can see the bridge across the channel

We wanted to get to Brunsbüttel early the next afternoon so we had a change to see the town. So we were up bright and early, leaving at the same time as our neighbors who we had first met in Holtenau before entering the channel, and who were now on their way back to Hamburg. It was a beautiful morning, and as we made our way out to the main channel, Esben and Runa baked our breakfast bread in the Omnia stove top oven.


Sailing in the channel is pretty relaxed, especially on a sunny day like we had, and the kids spent the whole day playing below. Esben and I took turn steering, reading and relaxing, and at some point I went down to bake a cake with the kids.
We had 70 kilometers to go before reaching Brunsbüttel, and we sailed in to the small harbour at around three in the afternoon. There were not too many boats, and we got a nice spot, laying along the dock, with a direct view to the locks and the big cargo ships going through. Unfortunately that meant that we also got to feel the swell from the big ships as they passed us.

It was really warm in Brunsbüttel, so we went for a walk to get ice cream. The locks in Brunsbüttel are much more accessible than in Holtenau, with viewpoints and information for visitors, and even a museum, which we didn’t see.


We spent the evening in the cockpit waving to the sailors on the cargo ships that passed right by us. And I couldn’t help but think what would happen if one of them lost control and crashed right into us…

Planning the sail with the tides is new for us, and the Elbe, which we would enter the next day has tidal currents up to around 4 knots. We can sail 5 knots when motoring, so it’s definitely worth taking the direction of the currents into account when leaving. We had the right charts and new that we should be leaving so that we would sail towards Cuxhaven with the outgoing tide and get there around slack tide, when the currents were no longer so strong. But we figured that this plan would get us to Cuxhaven too late, and decided to leave at high tide.

The next morning, we turned the vhf on on the lock channel to follow the communication, and when we heard a sailboat asking when they would be let through, we were quick to get out to join them in the lock. We only just made it as the they started closing the doors of the locks as we sailed in – but at least we didn’t have to wait three hours this time!


This time we could really see the difference in water levels during the locking, but soon the ports opened, and we were let out in the Elbe. We made sure to stay out of the main sailing channel, many big cargo ships were coming through. It was a grey day with the winds against us, so we motored again. It took a while for the currents to really pick up, and as we new we would, we reached the entrance to the harbour of Cuxhaven when the currents were strongest. And of course both a tourist boat and a sailing boat exited the harbour when we wanted to enter. But in the end all was fine and we could hail the bridge that needed to open for us to enter the City Marina.

Once docked inside, we called the harbour master who had already left, and who told us that we could just pay when we came back for the boat. So that was nice. Also, the marina was really protected, so we had a good feeling when we headed for the train station. And it was so nice to have the boat so close to home, just a 45 train ride away – or as it turned out, a taxi ride. The train was cancelled, as it always seems to be when we need it…

Into the Kieler Kanal

We had gotten to bed at around 1 am and slowly woke up to the sound of – nothing. Most mornings somebody yells that they need to use the bathroom, or pick a fight about a toy, but for the first time in a very long time Esben and I would be spending this weekend alone, without kids. And how nice it was to wake up to silence. The night before we had driven Mattis and Runa to Esben’s father where they would be spending the weekend – and then we drove the two hours back to Maasholm where Chip-Chip had spent the last three weeks in the marina.

We wanted to get to Rendsburg in the Kieler-Kanal by Sunday, and were not in a hurry. So of course we ended up staying until around 11. We had bought a new omnia oven, which was supposed to be great in the absence of a real oven on board. Esben had prepared dough for bread in the evening, and with some excitement we put it in the little oven. And it turned out that it worked exactly as well as everybody said, and we got fresh bread and coffee for breakfast. A great start to the day, and definitely a new tradition on board – it even gives less dishes to wash than our usual oatmeal with milk! And it is of course so much more delicious.

We finally left the harbour, and sailed out of the Schlei with many other boats. We set a course towards Kiel, where we wanted to enter the Kieler Kanal the next day. It was a great day of sailing, finally we had sun and off we went on a broad reach with the wind vane doing the steering. Soon we entered the Kiel Fjord, where it seemed that half the population of Kiel had gone sailing. Sailing dinghies zoomed in and out, some just for a pleasure sail, others were racing – and then there were the big ferries sailing to Norway and Sweden, along with the merchant vessels – and of course us.

We needed to top up our fuel tank before entering the kanal, and therefore went in to Strande, a marina in Kiel Fjord. Here, they had a proper fuel dock and we were soon off towards Holtenau, reading for the motor sailing the next day.

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Diesel stand in Strande

We found a great spot in Kiel-Holtenau, right next to the big locks, and spent a lovely evening there. Once again we wanted to test our stove top oven, and made baked potatoes in it – it was great. We took a walk along the kanal and out to the old light house where people were singing loudly along to German schlagers.

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The Omnia strikes again!

The next morning our neighbors asked on the VHF when they could enter the kanal – and where let right through. Awesome! After half an hour we went out – and were told to wait. After three hours there were approximately 15 pleasure boats waiting to get through and we were becoming somewhat impatient. It turned out that we had come exactly at the wrong time, when they started getting all the merchant vessels out of the kanal. But finally it was our turn, and we excited entered the lock. It all went rather smooth, and after 10 minutes we heard something in the loud speaker which we didn’t understand, but then the boats ahead of us began moving again, and we could see that the lock had opened and we could enter the Kieler Kanal. Pretty awesome!

As we entered the kanal, the sun came out again, and we continued slow but steady towards Rendsburg where we were meeting Esben’s dad and the kids. We would leave Chip-Chip in Rendsburg for another week and then come back by train to continue our trip towards Bremerhaven.

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The scenery is not too exciting, but it’s still pretty cool to be in the kanal