The kids had gone to Denmark to spend some time with my parents, so Esben and I could sail the first leg of our summer holidays alone. As it turned out, that was lucky – the weather was not cooperating, and I ended up motoring directly against wind and waves from Bremerhaven to the entrance of the Elbe, while Esben was dying from seasickness below. As we turned and sailed down the Elbe towards Cuxhaven, we finally had following winds and I could pull out the genua, turn off the motor and continue inwards by sail. And after a while Esben came up to join me for the last part of the day. After almost 12 hours of sailing, we tied up in the harbor in Cuxhaven where a seal greeted us at the pontoon.
We weren’t interested in fighting the tide in the Elbe, so we could choose between leaving the harbor at 3.30 in the morning or in the afternoon. The morning didn’t seem appealing after the long day of fighting the elements, so we had lots of time in a rainy and windy Cuxhaven while waiting to depart in the afternoon. I went for a run in the rain, and afterwards I was so cold that 35 degrees in the cabin still seemed cold. Esben, meanwhile, fled outside from the heat. In the end we decided that we could handle a bit of current, and left at 1.30. We were supposed to meet my parents and the kids in Rendsburg the next day, 60km down the Kiel Canal. In the Canal, night sailing is not allowed, so we wanted to get as far as possible that night. We had a nice sail down to the first lock in Brunsbüttel, taking care not to get in front of the many cargo ships that were also making their way to canal. From experience we new that there is sometimes long waiting times for the lock, but this time we were lucky and could pretty much sail directly through. We were so happy. In the end we made it all the way to the Giselau lock, where the Eider river branches off from the canal. There’s a pretty little harbour where we spent the night.
In the morning, we got up at six to make it to Rendsburg in time. While I steered, Esben prepared bread in our Omnia stove top oven, such a luxury with fresh bread. In Rendsburg, both my parents and the kids came on board to sail the last part of the Kiel Kanal, and we quickly made it to the second lock in Holtenau. Here, only one lock can be used currently, and sailing yachts are of course last priority, so about 50 sailboats were drifting around in a rather small area with fairly strong winds. Later we learned that some had waited for five hours. Once they opened the lock gates, all boats sped towards the lock, with us keeping a bit to the rear. The cocktail of 50 boats trying to enter the lock at once, five big cargo ships already in the lock, with the propellers on and strong wind from the rear meant that it all ended in chaos with sailboats lying crosswise in the lock. We managed to stay outside without hitting any of the others there, but in the end, as the lock crew signaled that they had no more time for this circus and would close the lock, we sped past the outer boats in the lock, to get in where things were calmer. My dad was in the bow yelling back: “You need speed to steer through the turbulence from the big propellers”, and we sped through, managing to tie up in the front of the pack and get through the lock without having to wait another five hours. A bit more stressful than we would have liked. We tied up in Holtenau and had dinner before my parents got the bus back to their car in Rendsburg.
One of the things we wanted to test during the holiday was sailing longer distances over night. Our reasoning being that we would get further quicker, and the kids could sleep on the way, making it easier on them. The downside is of course that we, the adults, would need to stay up at night, but we figured that was something we could manage. So at noon the next day we started out from Holtenau with our course set on Bornholm. The fjord in Kiel is full of sailing dinghies, surfers etc., so there was lots to see on the way out. Soon we were out in open water, and Esben and the kids went down below. The waves were getting bigger and Runa wasn’t feeling well, so she was medicated with salt chips and coke and went to bed listening to an audiobook on the iPod.
At dinner time we had made it past Fehmern, were we got in lee of the island. We decided that hotdogs were a good choice for dinner, and soon after, the kids and I went below to go to sleep while Esben took the first night shift. We figured that we wanted to sleep as long as possible, so only divided the night into two shifts. Esben went first since he is good at staying up late. I, on the other hand, usually start getting tired around eight at night, but can easily get up early in the morning, so it seems we’re a good match for night sailing. Of course I couldn’t really relax lying below listening to all the sounds of the boat, and soon it was my turn to get up.
We were approaching Rügen and sailed past the white cliffs during the day. Esben had prepared dough the night before, so once again we had fresh bread for breakfast. And then Runa proclaimed that she was no longer sea sick, so her and Mattis got the lego out and played for a couple of hours. We do not have a lot of fridge space, so I had the idea that we should try out canning meals. At home I had prepared gulasch in mason jars in our pressure cooker, and for dinner we tried it out. All we needed to do was heat it up. Easy and delicious, and something we will definitely continue doing in the future.
The wind died out during the night, but Esben was kept awake by fishing vessels sailing slowly in, to us, strange patterns around Bornholm. We wanted to arrive in the morning, so slow was okay, but a couple of hours after I took over the shift I took down the sails and continued under power while the sun and Bornholm slowly rose in front of us. We arrived in Hammerhavnen at northern tip of Bornholm in the morning and found a nice spot in the small harbour. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the kids were ecstatic to get back on land. On the hills above the harbour, the castle from the kids movie “The Lost Treasure of the Knights Templar” towered, and we couldn’t wait to get out and explore the island.