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England, Holland, Germany and Estonia 26.7 - 17.8.2005

26.7.   4.8.   10.8.  17.8.  

26.7.2005 Dover, England 51° 07 N 1° 18 E - finally back to the eastern side of the globe
Jukka went back to his wife and kid and we stayed a few days in Falmouth. It is a really nice little town in the middle of beautiful Cornish countryside scenery. The harbour was full, we didn't get a place in the marina, but it turned out to be good, because even the anchorage fee was 6 pounds (9 euros). The fee included the use of showers and dinghydock. Price level is horrifying, although it might be the same in Finland. A pint of beer costs 2.50 pounds (4 euros), a lunch in the pub 4 pounds (6 euros). Marina fees are high: about 25 pounds per night. The marinas are owned by a few big companies, so there is not much competition and the fees are equal.
We left Falmouth on Thursday (21.7.). The weather was good, fresh westerly winds and sunny. It was full moon, so the tides and currents run strong. At night the current turned against dropping the speed to one knot, although we were not even close to Solent yet. In the morning we were making progress again with a four knot favourable current. Midday the wind died and we started the engine. Something was wrong. The engine was shaking like it would be loose. And the shaking got worse. We were close to Portsmouth, so we decided to go in and check the motor. We entered the huge Haslar marina, paid 26 pounds, and started to figure out what's wrong. The shaft had caused some problems earlier, but it wasn't that. Hannu put the wetsuit and mask on, and dived to check the propeller. There was the reason! We had a rope tangled in the propeller, maybe from one of the numerous crabpots. What a relief. Next morning we continued, but not far, the headwinds made us to stop in Brighton.


Brighton marina has 2000 slips. City centre is 2 km away.

A punch of lobster and crab boats hold their berth in the marina as well.

We waited two days for the wind to turn. The wind was fresh, 30 knots in the harbour, and it was raining. During our morning coffee we heard a mayday call in the VHF. The Solent Coast Guard answeared immediately, and during the conversation there came another mayday call. This boat had lost its steering. The Coast Guard handled both cases efficiently. In five minutes there was a rescue boat on its way and within 15 minutes both vessels were underway to harbour. It happened close to Newhaven, so the help was near. But we have witnessed a case in an other country, where red flares opposite the coast guard station caused only a routine VHF information that all vessels are requested to keep a sharp lookout and assist if possible.
It was Hannu's birthday when we left Brighton. Wind had shifted to south, but only for one day. We sailed 66 miles from Brighton to Dover making an average speed of  7.3 knots, current helping. A fine birthday, although it ended to rain and headwinds. But then we were already in Dover. The marina was full (a lot of Dutch), so we got a place next to the fuel dock. No electricity and a long way to shower, but lower price, "only" 15 pounds (22 euros) per day.


A plastic rope in the propeller made the engine shake.


In Dover we bought two lobsters (10 £) from a fisherman and got two crabs for extra.

4.8.2005 Leeuwarden (Ljouwert), The Netherlands 
A lot has happened since the last update. We left Dover at six in the morning on high tide on the 28th of July to cross the Channel. Visibility was moderate with fog patches. Traffic was lively but the ships came in clusters so we crossed both TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) lines without any hassle. We headed somewhere between French and Belgian border and when we got out of the ship lanes, we turned north. Traffic was busy also here, so you had to be alert. Wind had died and fog got more dense. Very boring. The tiny Belgium was soon behind and we entered the Dutch waters. Weather forecast was given in English four times a day (Ch 23 or 83). During the night we had a thunderstorm, which didn't clear the skies, foggy conditions continued the next day. But at least we got some wind during the morning, so we hoisted the spinnaker. In the afternoon the motoring started to get so boring that we pulled into Den Helder (187 miles from Dover). Den Helder is a naval base and the harbour was full of warships. Also the small marina is maintained by the navy (15,80 euros per night or 1,40 €/m). The next day we walked to the town centre, which - I suppose - is typical Dutch: two storey brick houses side by side, small canals, pedestrian streets, wide bicycle lanes and a lot of shops and cafes.

In the afternoon a Finnish boat entered the harbour, s/y Jonega (Jon 33), on its way around the Atlantic. The couple is from Padasjoki, a small inland town, where Hannu has relatives, so we had a lot to talk about. Jonega knew us beforehand, they had asked some questions earlier by e-mail.

The stop in Den Helder happened in a perfect time, because it was raining heavily for two days. Studying the charts we got an idea: to take the inland channels over to the German border. Sailing in the foggy and shallow coastline, dotted with sandbanks, was not temptating. In the channels we would see the country and it would also bring some change. It wasn't going to be a long tour, about 100 miles from Harlingen to Delfzilj (NE of Groningen).
We bought the maps needed and casted away. First we had to sail 25 miles to Harlingen. The route has a 1.3 metres shallow spot, so we timed that to the high water. Wind was very fresh and with the current we were making 8-9 knots. The route was narrow and full of boats. They probably wondered when we took the sails down and started the engine, but we didn't want to sail that speed to ground with next boat coming very close to our stern. Well, half metre was still under the keel when we went over. In Harlingen we went straight to the lock and then we were in the channel system. No tides, no currents. Fresh grass and dung smelled - there were sheep, cows and horses on the fields. The horses were black and small - maybe Frisian horses. We were in Friesland (Fryslând), which is a province with own flag and language. We saw the white-blue striped red-hearted flag behind several boats instead of Dutch flag.
The same evening we motored to Franeken (Frentsjer), a pretty little town, and moored along the channelwall as all the other boats had done. Maps show the free stopping places as well as the numerous marinas.
The next day we made a side-trip to Âlde Feanen, a popular vacation area. It appeared to be a web of channels in the middle of the green fields. Shores were full of boats. We had to stay in the 3.5 m main channel and even there in the middle, because the sides were too shallow for us. A traditional ship's race was going on. There was hardly any wind, but these boats with huge gaff rigged sails moved unbelievably fast. And in the shallow water, only about one metre! They don't really have a keel, but two blades on the sides - or what are these "sideliftkeels" called. The vessels are called lemsteraken in Dutch, because originally they were made in the town of Lemmer. They were used as fishing boats on Ijsselmeer. Before they were wooden, nowdays many are made of steel. We saw a lot of these gorgeous boats, different sizes and colours.


We saw lots and lots of these traditional vessels called lemsteraken. They have a small draught... 


...and instead of a deep keel they have wooden 
blades on both sides. The gaff is rounded.


Big sails in the middle of the fields. 
The Friesland flag in the corner.


Race conditions: one metre water 
and about one knot of wind.

When the race was over, all the boats started to move. Motorboats, sailingyachts, canoes, even a couple of big tourist ships and a honking barge - I was sure that someone will be run over, especially because many had been drinking beer and other refreshments. But in this densely populated country people are able to manouver also with the boats. It was amazing how smoothly the traffic moved. 
We didn't find a place to overnight on that area, it was too shallow. We stuck in the mud in the middle of the chaos, far away from the docks. So we had to turn around. We tried the first marina, but it had 1.7 m depth - 40 cm too little. We remembered the rivers in the US - very often we had difficulties to find a place to stay because of our draught. We motored onwards and arrived to a "lake" - the channels broadened to a big pool. Usually these are shallow, but not this time. It was amazingly deep, 10-20 metres. We anchored in 10 metres close to the rushes. Quiet and free overnighthing place.


Holiday traffic.


During two days we passed 16 bridges . 

Next day we continued our channel adventure. The bridges opened almost always without delay, at some with more heavy traffic we had to wait a bit. There are traffic lights for the boats showing who's turn it is. There were a lot of vessels, very busy for the bridge guards. Around midday we were passing a small sailing boat, when the skipper shouted that where are you going? You cannot get under the bridge! What? Is the bridge broken? We slowed down and the dinghy came alongside. The man explained that the bridges will open, but the height is then 6.7 metres. The mark BB Geh. H 67 on the map means maximum height when the bridge is open. Couldn't figure that out from the Dutch map. We studied the maps and routes for a while, but there was no other possibility than turn around. Not back to Harlingen, though, we decided to try the route via Leeuwarden and Dokkum to Lauwersmeer. The depth on this route is 2.1. metres, same than ours, so we will see!


In Leeurwarden we rafted with a beautiful lemsteraken because there was not enough water in the channelshore for us. The 25-ton steelvessel was finished in 1995. 
It's 14 m long, 4 m wide and has a draught of 90 cm.


The three young sailors of the De Jonge Gys were very interested in our whale bone.


We didn't study closely enough the maps before choosing the route. 
Partly because we talked with a German boat taking this way.
 They must have turned aroud as well.

10.8.2005 Kiel, Germany
We are at the Baltic Sea! So we didn't get stuck in the Dutch channels, but made the 2.1 metre route, although by doing some dredging. We liked the channels a lot, it was very refreshening change. Holland is wealthy and pretty country, we saw very tidy and neat towns along the way. There was a lot of traffic. August is the holiday month for Dutch and obviously for many Germans as well. Of the several bridges we paid at three, which all were in a town, totalling 12 euros. A wooden shoe, clog, was hanging on a rope, and you put the money there.

On Friday evening we arrived to Lauwersoog, went right away through the last lock and stayed the night in the fishing harbour alongside the trawlers. Next day we had fresh NW wind and we sailed towards the Kiel canal. Fortunately the visibilitys was good when we left the harbour, because our chart didn't match at all with the buoyed route. Probably the sand moves and the routes change. We sailed between the shallow water and the shipping lane. There was much more traffic than in the English Channel, ships formed a continous line. The route was very clearly marked with lighted buoys, so it was easy to continue during the night along the Elbe. However, the busy traffic and crossing shipping lanes kept us both up on watch. Early in the morning we were at Cuxhaven, and because the current was just turning unfavourable, we pulled in and slept for a few hours. The rest 15 miles went in pooring rain and 11 C temperature - welcome to the Nordic summer!
The Kiel canal - officially the Nordsee-Ostsee kanal, the North Sea - Baltic Sea canal, was finished in 1895. It's a bit longer than the Panama canal, exactly 98,7 kilometres or 55 miles long. There is hardly any height difference so the locking is very easy. Pleasureboats enter the chamber with a white light, there is no pre-announcements or permissions on VHF. The fee is 12 euros. There was a lot of traffic, both ships and boats, the latter going mainly west. We stayed the first night in Brunsbüttel marina (7,70 €) immediately after the first lock, and the next night in the middle of the canal, in the town of Rendsburg (marina 13 €) . From there it was only 20 miles to Holtenau and the Baltic Sea. No more currents and tides! We have about 700 nm to home, but no idea yet which way we sail. Maybe via Poland...


From the North Sea to the Baltic Sea: the Holtenau lock in Kiel canal.
It's easy to tie the boat on a floating dock.

17.8.2005 Lehtma, Estonia
The crossing of the Baltic Sea from Kiel to Lehtma was dominated by fresh tailwinds except one calm day. The beginning was even too windy, 40 knots (there was a force 9 gale warning), and we pulled in to Heiligenhafen, 40 miles from Kiel. Next day the wind had decreased a bit, but it was still blowing 25-30 knots and we got good speed. We had to handsteer because the sharp and short Baltic waves were too much for the autopilot. Time to time Kristiina was surfing 10 knots and Auli had to use all her strength to get the boat straight. The result for the first 24 hours was 154 miles - probably the record without current. Although the speed was good, the weather was bad: rain and fog. And cold! Also inside the boat because the oilstove was stored away (the place was full of potatoes). In the south point of Öland traffic was heavy, ships appeared from the fog one after another. When the forecast promised northerly winds, the decision was easy: we turned to Kalmar. The bouncing waves easied in the Kalmar sound, and Kristiina was running through the night like a train. Around midnight we moored in the harbour and went to bed.
Next morning we were up and out already at six. The promised northerly wind was fortunately weak and motored towards Byxelkrok in the northern tip of Öland. On the way a Finnish yacht passed by, and we were very surprised to find out in the harbour that it was s/y Adele from Sindbad. The couple was rushing onwards, so that the change of news limited to a few sentences shouted from boat to boat.
We found the prices in Sweden expensive, but we are not quite sure about the exchange rate (Sweden doesn't have euros, but own currency). The harbour fee was 150 krowns, washing machine 25. To our surprise (and delight) we found 200 krowns, just enough for the fee and two loads of laundry. Fish - smoked and fresh - at the little shops by the shore was unbelievable expensive to our mind, so we had tasty German herring and Dutch potatoes for dinner. It was beautiful evening, sunny and calm, and it was pleasant to eat out in the cockpit for a change. In the evening we sat on the beach watching the sunset. Everything was so familiar, the light, smells, plants, rocks. We were moved.
Next day we continued in the increasing tailwind. When the waves got bigger, we had to handsteer again. But at least it was not raining this time. Sometimes Kristiina was rolling like mad from side to side. The tip of the boom touched water, and Auli got wet from a wave rushing into the cockipit. We arrived to the Hiiumaa Island under beautiful star sky after 38-hour sailing. It was 216 miles from Byxelkrok. There was one Finnish and one Latvian sailing boat in the quiet harbour. The season is over, schools have begun. It was wonderful to get into bed under the warm covers. Almost home!


The last courtesy flag!

We wanted to come to Lehtma also because it is the first foreign port on our trip. Four years and three months ago we tied on the same dock. Then Kristiina was white and shiny, everything was new and tidy. Now rusty stripes run down the hull, suncovers of the sails are dangling, and I guess that also we look a bit weary. It is hard to analyze own feelings. I try to remember what I felt four years ago, and to sense how I feel now when the dream has become true. It's hard. We are slightly nervous about homecoming, but at the same time eagerly waiting to see friends and family, and to start the new phase of life. 
There is one, more concrete thing we hardly can wait: a sauna! Here they have an excellent wood-oven sauna. Anyway, it's a year since the last time.
The next update will be after our return. We hope to see as many as possible at Sindbad on Saturday, the 27th of August!!

 

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