Alas we must say farewell to The Netherlands and move more rapidly north towards the Baltic. We have enjoyed Holland immensely and have tarried a little too long . We had to get some diesel as we were leaving Makkum and a kind local yachtswoman used her card in exchange for Euros because our Australian cards are more often than not, unacceptable. Just a banking bureaucracy idiosyncrasy here in Holland. We were very grateful for the assistance and have found the Dutch to be extremely helpful and friendly throughout.
From Makkum there is just one final Lock to be negotiated before we bathe Taipan in salt water again. The Kornwerderzand Lock was hell busy. There seem to be endless long weekends here and everyone is out in their boat. We entered the lock with a great flotilla of yachts and small power boats and the usual jostling and positioning ensued. We are getting better at this and didn't make such fools of ourselves this time. The boats around us were very interested in our travels and a pleasant quarter hour was filled in chatting in the sunshine as the water did its up-down thing. Out of the lock and after a pleasant 36nm sail along a somewhat tortuous route between sand banks, in a well marked but busy channel we dropped the anchor in Vlieland.
Vlieland is just one of the many islands forming a 150 nm buffer to the Dutch and German north Coasts. There are extensive shallow sand banks between them and the coast, and it is a popular recreational boating area. Marinas are packed on weekends and this weekend was no exception.
The next leg to Helgoland, a tiny speck in the German Bight, was 140nm. The long hours of light enabled us to sail the route in in Daylight. Arriving in Helgoland at 10pm to find a huge fleet of predominantly German yachts, rafted up as many as 10 deep in the small harbour. The Bi Annual Race from Hamburg having just been run. Being a long weekend, racing was to be conducted all weekend and getting in and out of the packages (big rafts of yachts) was conducted like a military manoeuvre and often..as boats came and went.
|Helgoland. Isolated island in the German Bight.|
The forecast came in and it was not looking good. Gales forecast for the next 4 days. We either leave the same day or stuck for 4 days. A hurried trip to a fantastic provider ashore for a boat load of duty free was necessary before we could leave. The provider delivered to the boat which was a bonus and did encourage a bit of an overspend but once again fully provisioned we headed back to sea for another 65nm run to Cruxhaven, a German port on the mouth of the Elb River. The big race from Helgoland to Edinburgh was starting as we left and Taipan was piped out of the harbour to the dulcet tones of Scottish bagpipes. Not enough wind to sail meant we had to use some of the new duty free diesel to make the marina before nightfall.
Cruxhaven Marina was basic and fairly expensive but we did stop and made an early getaway in the morning to make the Kiel Canal Lock before it became crowded. The lock was a fiasco because we were unprepared for the fact that one had to disembark to tie to a floating pontoon inside. The first of this type of locking arrangement. After some much appreciated help from the crew on a returning race boat we secured to the pontoon and waited. The water rose a mere half meter or so and then it was all over and we headed north in the Canal in a flotilla of yachts all going the only way possible.
|Playing with the big kids in the Kiel Canal.|
Rendsburg was our next stop. Tying alongside a jetty at the City Marina we were hardly secured before we were visited by a very grumpy harbour mistress telling us the jetty was reserved for boat 15m and above. Having politely informed her that we were 15M we were moved up the jetty a little way and allowed to stay. The alternative was between poles, bow too, on a low jetty. The width of the poles aft was scarily narrow and the jump from the bow to the dock formidable. Lucky we scraped in length wise. Well it rained cats n dogs for the next 2 days. We did eventually venture out to the supermarket for a fairly major provisioning run, given that we had been warned that everything in Sweden, Denmark and Norway is poisonously expensive.
The gloom became less wet and we'd had enough of Rendsburg so we dragged ourselves out into the Canal again after two nights on the dock, for the final onslaught to Kiel. Forewarned is forearmed so to speak so we were not caught unawares at the final lock. Neatly docked like true professionals, we even avoided the Canal Fee because the lock ladder, up which one has to go to pay, was broken, and we were informed we could transit for free! Bonus.! To be fair Rendsburg was probably a nice town. We just didn't see it in the best light. We were told it was lovely by several people and the restaurant at the marina was indeed excellent, friendly and reasonably priced.
|Arrived in Leboe Baltic Bay Marina. In the Baltic at last|
Emerging into the Baltic at last as the weather fined up and we made our way to Leboe on the north eastern shore of the Kieler Fiord, leaving Kiel to the south. We had made arrangements to have some service done in the Baltic Bay Marina so we spent the next two days there. The workers never really materialised. One excellent technician did come and help put the finishing touches to the Webasto heating system. Just an air lock we couldn't budge. The Yanmar mechanic didn't show and neither did the Electrician. We have been without our Genset for over a year now since having an oil seal replaced in the Bahamas. It has never produced any power since. We have not found anyone yet to tell us why. Frustrating.
Weekend is here and no mechanics so we are gone. Goodbye Germany and hello Denmark. A brilliant sail north west to an anchorage just south of Sonderberg for the night and into Sonderberg in the morning for a days exploration. On route to Sonderborg we watched a Coast Guard Vessel shadowing us for several hours. We waited for them to pounce and they did, just as we crossed the Danish Border. They were of course extremely professional and courteous and after an inspection of our passports to make sure we have not overstayed our Schengen Visa they departed.
We are now in Denmark.