We ended up staying an additional week in Gilleleje after returning from London/Paris due to unusually strong and persistent winds from the East. So strong were the winds that it blew so much water around that the water level in the harbour came up by 1/2 a meter!! Red Roo was sitting so high above the marina infrastructure pontoons and pylons, it was a jump down off the boat (which had been a climb across). Amazing just from wind, not tide as we are still in an area where tide rise and fall is very very minimal.
I guess I must also mention the very exciting last Saturday in September which happened whilst in Gilleleje . . . yes Phil’s AFL footy team the Richmond Tigers won the grand final. He was (and still is) one very happy Tiger supporter. It was a long time coming, 37 years since they last won a premiership but win they did, well done lads.
Phil finished rigging a set dock lines with snubbers, these are “shock absorbers” and it was done out of necessity. We were getting jerked around wildly as the wind shifted and the water level rose. It was rough, no other word for it. We were getting blown off the dock (a good thing), we put some of our extra fenders on the boat on the other side of the pontoon who was getting blown onto it and rubbing really badly against the pontoon, other neighbours a couple of boats along asked for help to get the boat next to them off their boat, it was being blown onto them squashing them, of course all happening after dark in the howling wind and rain doing it all with torches – fun!
When the sun rose the following day (well when the darkness gave way to light, using the word sun is a bit misleading) the forecast predicted stronger winds for the coming night – no thank you. We moved. Not far, just 500 meters over into the fishing harbour, basically as close to the wind direction as we could get where there was both shelter from town buildings and no water between us and the wind (not allowing a chance for the wind to blow waves up creating swell). We snuggled in amongst the big fishing trawlers and rafted to a large motor boat and it was like a different world – we could certainly still hear the wind howling but we hardly moved at all, such relief. We could see the yacht masts over the other side of the harbour rocking and rolling – suckers, but then again people were not living on them like us.
Once the weather finally settled we gave the sea an extra day for the swell to subside before finally setting sail again and heading West.
Destination Odden Havn 33 nautical miles. There was a little swell still on the water but nothing too bad, we were definitely ready to move so off we went. The morning was fantastic with sun and a perfect amount of wind and angle for sailing. The forecast was for dropping winds however of course we got the exact opposite with wind and swell rising considerably – welcome back to the water! About half way through the journey we surrendered to F6 winds and put a reef in the main sail (reduced the size of the sail due to the strong wind) it provided a bit of relief and settled us down a bit but then the wind continued to build along with the swell and at about the 3/4 mark we put a second reef in the main, it was getting pretty messy.
Red Roo was riding the waves well and it wasn’t too bad, just took us a bit of getting used to after three weeks not on the water, perhaps one would say we had gotten soft!
Phil voiced concerns about getting into Odden Havn due to the waves breaking near shore which would be about where the entrance to the marina was (the point where it goes from about 12 meters depth to 3 meters), we would be entering the harbour taking waves on the side, lots of “ummmming” and “arrrring” and even a review of the nautical charts to see what other options there were further on that may be better to get into…. however as we got closer to Odden Havn we could see we would be ok. We had to come in fast with a lot of throttle power on to cut through the waves and swell then back off quickly to pull up once behind the break wall – instantaneous calm, and then a quick scramble to get fenders out of lockers and on around the boat as well as shore lines attached (it was way to rough to do them a mile out as per usual).
We bypassed the yacht berths and went into the fishing vessels quay (again close to the wind and protected by larger vessels) and tied up on the wall. Phil immediately cracked a cold one and soon found an old sea dog on a nearby boat to down a couple with and talk about “that wind”! He also wanted to sound a local out about our next leg which involves crossing a shallow reef through a pretty skinny channel and with this wind how realistic it would be anytime soon.
When we eventually got around to tidying up the boat and doing up the sail bag Phil spotted a tear in the sail 😦 not ideal, and our second this year for the main sail!!
Now any of you that know me well, know that I enjoy sewing and can be quite crafty with a needle and thread however you will be amused to read that this hand sewing job involved needles the size of crowbars (I may be exaggerating a little, but not much) as well as gloves, pliers, leather and metal hand protector and thread thicker than dental floss (Heather I don’t recommend taking up sail repairs by hand sewing as a hobby). Anyway it had to be done, so we took the main sail off the tracks on the mast and threaded it down through the saloon hatch into the boat and I got busy with it.
It was a small tear and pretty quick and easy to patch. Job done, although not my neatest work it was very acceptable and the captain was impressed. Whilst we had the sail down it gave us a chance to check out how my last hand sewing repair patch was holding up from May when we tore it in Germany, that tear was both a lot bigger tear and a lot harder to repair being near the edge meaning I had to sew through the seam and extra layer of material and it took hours with each and every stitch needing the pliers to pull the needle through the material. Anyway good news is it is holding up great, no signs of any further tearing and no fraying of the seams of the patch.
Overall the usually tough sails are getting pretty fragile and pretty darn thin in places, showing a lot of UV damage obviously not from the couple of years we have been sailing . . . no not at all – no fear of UV damage during that time!, but it is from the couple of years Red Roo spent in the Caribbean before we brought her. The sun is hard on the sails and lines and we knew that when we brought her that we would need new sails in the fairly near future, we have managed two years (maybe because we have avoided the sun!) anyway fingers crossed we get another one out of them as you can imagine it is not a cheap thing new sails.
We spent 3 nights in Odden Havn and the majority of it inside the boat out of the rain. We ended up moving the boat on the second day as where we were didn’t have power and we wanted to run the electric heater. This meant moving to the wall that is the breakwater on the outside and us on the inside, plenty of shelter from the wind as the wall is quite high (you can’t see over it) so we didn’t get blown around BUT the waves were breaking over the breakwater and over the boat!!! Seaweed on the decks and you had to time your exit from the boat between waves.
Odden Havn was a sweet little community which looked to be primarily built around it’s fishing boats, we did get out for a walk with our umbrella each day and they had quite the variety of seafood being sold in the harbour warehouses. The houses were all homes being lived in unlike Gilleleje which looked to be all summer holiday homes.
Monday came around and the swell and wind had settled and indeed were forecast to drop right off during the day so we set out early in an attempt to be able to get the 31 nautical miles to Ballen done under sail while the wind was there to be used.
We had to motor the first 5 miles into the wind out to the reef and across it (depth of 7 meters in the channel over the reef) but then were able to raise the main and headsail and enjoy a great day on the water averaging around 6 knots speed over the water.
After the reef we were crossed the main shipping traffic zone from the ‘great belt’ seeing a Danish war ship and several container ships but managed to sneak across under sail without having to change course for any.
We arrived at the deserted harbour of Ballen just as the wind ran out of puff, we had slowed right down with the wind dropping for the last 2 miles and threw a fishing line out the back without success.
Ballen is a port on the largish island of Samso (114 sq kilometres and a population of 3,500). We arrived around 4pm and enjoyed a couple hours of sunlight (not sun) and even got out the cobb and cooked up what we fear will be our last bbq of the season.
The days are getting shorter and considerably colder, the season is definitely behind us, indeed today was the day we actually started heading back south. Meaning retreating for winter – where to is yet to be decided, but the next 3-4 weeks will see us check out the last of Denmark on this route south, then back to Germany through the Kiel Canal and at some stage make a dash out and around the (sometimes nasty) North Sea back into the canals of Holland. Then we will (maybe) make a plan/decision for winter.
The next morning we left Ballen at sunrise a very decent hour of 07:30am destination Middelfart (Phil giggles every time he says it, toilet humour men love it!) anyway Middelfart was 40 nautical miles south.
We are fighting hard to keep winter away with neither of us even suggesting getting our thermals or Musto (foul weather gear) out, however Phil was wearing his wet weather hiking plastic pants overtop of his jeans as well as several layers up top including rain jacket and beanie, myself dressed in tights (not thermals) under tracksuit pants and singlet, long sleeve top, long sleeve t-shirt and jumper. We refuse to give in – we are just adding a lots of layers and ignoring all the obvious signs – despite knowing it’s inevitable.
A long day under motor, some assistance from the main but the angle was very fine, basically straight into the wind all day, but the wind wasn’t too strong so at least we were not fighting it, in fact we were actually were 30 minutes ahead of schedule when we reached the narrowing of the small belt where we had to take current into consideration (hence the forward planning). The last hour of the journey in the populated areas under the big bridge was wet and grey, and of course we tied up in the rain.
We secured in Gammel Havn on the northern side of Middelfart. We are the only modern boat in the quay with all the others being very old traditional wooden boats, so pretty to look at (not sure what they think of us!).
We explored the sights of Middelfart on foot enjoying walking through the woods and along the foreshores.
Middelfart was traditionally Danish’s whale oil port. By whale they actually mean porpoises. We visited the local museum and learnt all about it, and as terrible and wrong as it seems today, it was a means of survival back in the day and they didn’t know any better. We did see a couple of porpoise as we sailed to Middelfart, and can understand why it was the regions main industry as the water narrows and snakes around a couple of corners making it perfect to trap them back when they were using wooden rowing boats. Despite the couple of porpoises we still haven’t seen much water life in the Baltic, we were thinking we might see more in this region but not so, other than fishing boats. We are certainly back into Jelly Fish territory however, the water is very clear and the jelly fish very large, very yellow and lots of them.
I also tested out the Danish health care system with a visit to the Dentist after cracking a tooth and revealing a large cavity. I walked in off the street, got myself an appointment for half an hour later, was in the chair for an hour (with local anaesthetic) getting the whole filled and tooth rebuilt and was charged 1,559 danish crowns (about $325 Aussie Dollars). So I was very impressed with both the service and the cost. I am sure that I have never left the dentist in Australia without forking out a lot more than that even after private health rebates.
The other amusing incident in Middelfart was when Phil was bombed by a local seagull. Some call it lucky, I call it funny!