A Lovely Marina
19 May 2018 | Middelfart
The hardest part of passage planning in Denmark is the huge amount of choice! Every small town has a marina, and there are also fishing harbours and anchorages. We are trying to average about 25 miles a day, leaving early and arriving at our chosen destination with time to explore, and maybe a late lunch ashore.
Today we are in a marina at Middelfart, an easy name to remember. In the Baltic most berths are box moorings, which involves lassoing posts on the way in, then tying up close enough to the pontoon to be able to climb off over the bow. This was our first experience and it went well, thanks to U-tube videos, forward planning with the lines, and no wind! It was rather tight however with only a few centimetres clear between us and the posts. Getting jammed would have been embarrassing. Yarona is a big boat for round here. The marina is attractive, the facilities are spotless, and it's cheap- about £20 a night.
15 May 2018 | Soenderburg
13 May 2018 | Laboe
Exiting the Canal was another anti-climax. We had to wait about an hour for two cargo ships to be locked in, then we entered the lock with just six other yachts. We tied up, and ten minutes later the gates opened and we had arrived- the Baltic! We headed for the marina at Laboe, a holiday town a few miles from Kiel.
We stayed two nights, and had the first excursion of the year on our bikes, recovered from below our double bunk. They will probably remain on deck for the rest of the summer. We had a pleasant cycle along the coast, and had a look round the German submarine U-995. It was enormous! At the end of the war it had been surrendered to Norway, who later presented it back to Germany for renovation and display as a museum. It was hard to imagine what life under the sea must have been like for the crew.
A Very Big Canal
11 May 2018 | Kiel Canal
The Kiel Canal was easy! At 65 miles long, it could be motored through in a day, but we decided to stop half way. There were only a few allowable options for this, and we were delighted with our choice- a mile up a side canal tied to a pontoon just before some lock gates. This part of Germany had been disputed with Denmark from the 1600’s on, and was finally won from Denmark in 1864. Now however it is incredibly peaceful. Maybe we should have spent the last ten years canal boating?
Back in the main canal, a large ship passed us every half hour or so. The canal was really wide, and there was really no stress.
Outside the Freisen Islands
09 May 2018 | Cuxhaven
It is possible to sail inside the islands, but four metre tides and shifting sandbanks makes this a challenge, even with a good chart plotter. So we opted for another overnight passage, mainly motoring in light winds on the nose. The bill to fill up the tanks when we arrived in Cuxhaven was €250- ouch!
A never ending stream of big ships trundled north on our port side, which was fine until they broke away to head in front and behind us into the Jade. Barrie was asleep below and I have never been so glad of AIS! The screenshot shows the problem...
Cuxhaven is Germany's biggest seaside resort, but isn't very exciting. However, the marina was excellent and good value, so we stayed two nights, and spent a day finishing off some of the minor jobs we hadn't got around to doing over the winter.
A gentle motor across the North Sea
07 May 2018 | Den Helder
We made the most of a rare period of light wind for an overnight passage from the Orwell to Den Helder in the Netherlands- much easier than hopping up the French and Belgium Coast. The sea was almost as calm as this Dutch canal! The only stress was a mystery throbbing noise that started in the forepeak and got steadily louder- until we realised it was the giant rig a mile away drilling piles into the seabed. We timed the tide well for an easy entrance into the Navy Marina, and stretched our legs round the town before settling down for a good night's sleep.
Ipswich, Foxes Marina
06 April 2018 | Ipswich
We've had a month in Ipswich, with Yarona hauled out for the first time in two years. We decamped for a fortnight to a holiday cottage nearby. Yarona has had a thorough clean and polish inside and out, and here she is looking very shiny, about to go back in the water.
Winter in London
16 March 2018 | London
Maybe we wouldn't have been as keen to spend six months living here on board if we had known it was going to be one of the coldest winters for years! Our best new purchase has been an electric blanket. But despite the Beast from the East, we have had a fantastic time here in St Katherine Docks, exploring London and almost beginning to believe we were locals. I've managed a couple of days Locum work most weeks, which has just about paid for the new generator. Installing that has kept Barrie very busy.
Up the Thames!
24 September 2017 | London
The blog has been neglected, but after a few great weeks in the Azores we sailed for Southern Ireland, and crossed our outgoing track in Schull. Then the Azores and the south coast of England, and finally we motored up the Thames to our winter berth at St Katherine Docks, next to Tower Bridge. Yarona is about to become our London pad for the next six months.
28 May 2017
We dropped the anchor at noon, and took the dinghy in to the tiny marina to check it out. It's tight, but there should be room for us to move in tomorrow. This must be one of our most dramatic anchorages ever, between the huge outer breakwater and towering cliffs. The best find is a great cafe. A large Pizza to share, four beers, two expressos and two cakes- €27 total! We plan to stay a while....
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 13
27 May 2017 | SW of Flores, Azores
Blue sky again, with happy fluffy little clouds. I can see a terrier chasing rabbits and ducklings along the horizon; Barrie thinks I definitely need to get to land. The swell is very slowly reducing, but the wind is from the north, meaning we are bashing into it for the first time this passage- but it's only 14 knots, and is due to back to the SW around midnight. We had three separate visits from dolphins yesterday. Once we heard the squeaks before we saw them. Some were spotty, so out came the reference book. 'Atlantic spotted dolphin- often in large herds of several hundred. Vigorous swimmer, able to make high leaps. Often plays around yachts'. The faster ARC Europe boats should have caught us up, heading for Horta, and I'm surprised we haven't seen any. We haven't seen a yacht since our first day out of Bermuda. We hope to be dropping the anchor before noon tomorrow.
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 12
26 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
Last night was truly miserable. After heading 30 miles south, we turned east and made good progress with just a scrap of jib. The wind stayed 25-35 knots for eight hours, and the maximum recorded gust was 49 knots- the highest we've ever seen. And it rained- heavily for six hours. No reading or podcasts on watch- too wet for kindle or IPad. But for the last few hours we've been heading in the right direction again. It's still wild and windy but there are patches of blue sky, and the swell is due to decrease. 240 miles to go, so we only need to manage a minimum average speed of five knots to reach Flores in daylight on Sunday. It's our 38th wedding anniversary today, and not one we'll forget.
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 11
25 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
It's not over until it's over.... We had a lovely overnight sail, with no stress on the watches and good sleeping down below. But we were concerned when we looked at the downloaded forecast this morning. We were in danger of running into the storm soon to pass over Flores. So we emailed Commander's Weather to ask their advice, and are now sailing due south as fast as we can, in totally the wrong direction. This will take us away from the worst of the wind and the swell when the storm comes through tonight, and once it arrives the wind shifts to the SE, so we can put it behind us and charge back to Flores. Saturday should be calm. Well, that's the plan, lets hope it works out. We are now likely to arrive on Sunday.
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 10
24 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
What a difference a day makes! The sun is out, the swell is regular and gentle, and we're on reach in the right direction under full sail at 7 knots. Yarona is ship-shape again, and normal dinner service is resumed- creamy chicken with mash for dinner. We may will be motoring tomorrow, and as we have plenty of fuel there are no concerns there. But- getting in to Flores is looking challenging. We need to get behind a small intense low that passes over the island on Friday night/Saturday morning, and avoid getting headed by the wind from the north that follows it. We may decide to motor north then follow the depression along the same latitude as the island, but it's still a bit early to call. Barrie had to call up a Turkish cargo ship this morning (I was having a wash below), when it changed direction and a comfortable 3 mile CPA as shown on the AIS suddenly went down to less than a mile. Maybe they were coming to have a look at us, but that is far too close, especially as we are sailing to wind and not a fixed course. The watch leader agreed to change course and pass us to stern.
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 9
23 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
I'm typing with one hand and holding on with other as a squall comes through. A band of big grey cumulus passes over us about once every two hours, with the wind always shifting clockwise and the speed increasing by at least 10 knots. We cope the lazy way- just head more downwind for 10 minutes until it passes. We have a good saw-tooth track. We have now turned towards Flores, maybe a bit too soon, as the latest downloads show less swell behind us. We probably haven't done ourselves any favours by going so fast as we've kept up with the worse weather. It should be calmer tomorrow, with slightly less swell. The less said about the catering on board today, the better. Less than 600 miles to go!
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 8
22 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
It's still a wild ride here in winds of 25+ knots and seas that are now over 3 meters- but not due to get any bigger, thank goodness. Yarona is coping magnificently and blasting along- these conditions really bring out the best in her. We had another visit from Dolphins yesterday- giving us some moral support. Last night the front came through at midnight on my watch. The squall line looked very pretty on the new radar plotter, and I got Barrie out of bed in good time. The wind shifted from SW to NW so we jibed, and are still just about maintaining our due east course. We will probably turn towards Flores tomorrow morning, once the worst of this is over. At least the sun is shining now, but it's cold- thermals and warm hats are needed at night. The interior of the boat is a shambles- heaps of clothes everywhere, as putting them away is just too much like hard work and it's essential to time the opening of cupboards with the roll so as to not have contents flying everywhere.
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 7
21 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
Half Way! The only problem is we are now 150 miles south of the direct route, galloping due East on latitude 34.30N. This seems to be succeeding in getting us away from the huge storm north of us, and winds are only 20-25 knots, with 3 meter seas and growing. But all is coming at us from behind, so nothing Yarona can't cope with. With only a well-furled head sail we are making 7 knots over ground. When not on watch the best option is to lie stuffed into a bunk with pillows, listening to podcasts and music on Spotify. The bad weather is all forecast to be over by noon on Tuesday, and we can turn north east towards Flores. The irony is we may be faced with three days of motoring in no wind.. So we are are using as little power as possible, turning off the chart plotter, turning up the fridge, and allowing the Hydrovane to steer the boat rather than the electric autohelm- old-skool sailing. The less diesel we use to charge the batteries, the more miles we can motor. It will probably be emergency foil-packed curry for dinner tonight- it's been on the boat a year so needs eating anyway.
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 6
20 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
Commander's Weather have given us an updated route to minimise the worst part of the storm that is developing between Bermuda and the Azores. Unfortunately that has meant heading south east and east for a few days. It adds a few hundred miles onto our route; perhaps an extra day or so to our passage. Even so, we still expect the wind and seas to build during the next 3 days so we have been getting the boat and ourselves prepared. I've just baked some flapjack ...nothing like getting ones priorities right!
The conditions today are fabulous! We have clear skies and and warm sunshine. The wind is around 14 kn from our starboard quarter. Our big blue sail and some mainsail is pushing us along at a steady 6.5 kn.
We keep getting large pods of dolphins playing in our bow wave and there are quite a few sea birds (Shearwaters?) gliding just feet above the waves and swell. The only evidence of human life is the odd big merchant ship ...... and the disturbing number of floating plastic bottles! I could get all philosophical about it all but I will save that for another day.
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 5
19 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
Last night the wind was from dead behind, and not really enough of it, so Yarona ghosted along wing-on-wing at barely four knots. The sea was calm, so I managed movie hour in the cockpit on my night watch. Neverland with Kate Winslet and Johnnie Depp was even more surreal mid-Atlantic. We both slept soundly off watch for the first time this passage. Today has been an excellent day, sunshine and a bit more wind. We have dropped the pole that kept the headsail from slatting, and are now creaming along on a broad reach at almost 7 knots. We have change course to head slightly more south. There is a really bad storm forecast for Tuesday, with its centre to the north of us, so we want to put more miles between it and us. We downloaded GRIB files and synoptic charts as usual this morning, gulped at what they showed, and sent a request to Commanders' Weather for an updated forecast and routing advice. They haven't sent it yet, but I suspect they are very busy with a lot of worried sailors out here. We are averaging a sighting of one ship a day. They all divert around us, the default CPA being about four miles. So far we have only seen one other yacht. On each of the last three days we have had a visit from a large pod of dolphins, always around the same time, late afternoon. We treat this as a good omen.
Bermuda to Flores (Azores) - Day 4
18 May 2017 | Mid Atlantic
It's time to head back to Europe! We've just enjoyed 3 weeks in St. Georges Harbour, Bermuda, exploring the island in between some very windy spells.
We left Bermuda at mid-day on Monday. Thirty plus boats in ARC Europe were scheduled to leave yesterday so it will be interesting to see how many catch us up.
We've had 3 fast days so far with good wind and fairly kind seas so we are well on track. The wind has dropped today so we are ghosting along at 4 knots using our genneker with a pole to stop it collapsing in the roll caused by the swell. I'm just starting to find my sea legs and beginning to feel human again! Distance to go is 1260 nm. With luck we should arrive in about 9 days.