BALTIC 2007 (mostly Denmark)

After an excellent 2-day trip traversing Germany via the Kiel Canal, we finally locked out into the glittering Baltic Sea at Kiel. The weather was bright and sunny, and as we had stocked up with water, fuel and food, we decided not to linger, but head north to Denmark. 

It was great feeling to pull down our German courtesy flag, and hoist the rather lovely red and white flag of Denmark, as we anchored of the eastern tip of a small island called Aero. The Danes really do flags; every house has a tall white flagpole sporting either a large Danish flag (apparently the oldest flag in the world), or a long thin streamer also in red and white. The Danish yachts have a modified version of their national flag with a swallowtail cut in the end, and they go for big! big as in always trailing in the water unless there’s a brisk breeze blowing. It made us happier with our rather large Red ensign. Advertise the fact your British and be proud of it!

Even on our first day in Denmark, we discovered a few of its quirks. Firstly the incredibly shallow depth of water. We had to get used to sailing with only a few metres (if that) under the keel, and wo-betide going out of their well marked channels or you would find yourself aground, and no tides to float you off. We also noted their rather nice ‘bijou’ buoys that use ‘bog-brushes’ for the shaped top-marks. They are trimmed to the required shape, and painted the relevant colour, the starboard marks looking like small artificial Christmas trees. 

The following day we did the short hop to the island of Lolland, and tied up in our first Danish Marina at Rodvig. Their mooring technique is somewhat different as its almost all bows to the quay, and required lassoing a couple of posts as you make your approach. You then tie your bow to the quay and pull your stern back on the lassoed ropes. All very well, unless there is a cross wind that blows you onto a neighbouring vessel.

Rodvig was delightful, and we filled our wallets with Danish Krona, and investigated the local supermarket. This was a big moment for us, as we were concerned that the cost of living may be too high for us. However, prices were on par with England (including wine which was a great relief!), and many things were cheaper.

The next few days saw us move quickly north to Copenhagen to meet a friend who was joining us for 2 weeks. Mixed weather saw sunshine, very heavy rain, and strong winds, however, we successfully made the small town of Dragor, close to the airport, and picked up ‘Clare’.

From here it was only 15 miles to the heart of Copenhagen,  and it was a fine feeling to sail in past the ‘Little Mermaid’ and tie right alongside ‘Hans Christan Andersons’ house at the ‘Nyhavn’, which is right in the heart of the city. Here we were surrounded by incredible coloured old buildings, many old traditional ships and yachts, and all the hustle and bustle of a large European city.

We stayed a couple of days, enjoyed the sights, but were keen to get away from all the noise and head for somewhere quieter. 

Our first quiet place was not too far away, and a small island called ‘Flatfort’. It was in fact a tiny island 5 miles out from Copenhagen, that had been fortified against the British, when Nelson was trying to bombard the Danes!

The island is completed surrounded by a breakwater, and once inside, a yacht could be tied up anywhere along about a miles worth of circular quay.

The walk around the island took about 30 minutes, and the views were fabulous, looking over to the city, and eastward to the new huge bridge that links Denmark to Sweden.

Heading north the following day, saw us moving in and out of Danish and Swedish waters, so we had fun hoisting and lowering our courtesy flags!

Denmark certainly has many small harbours (often called guestharbours), so it is easy to sail until you’ve had enough, and either dive into the closest harbour, or anchor off if wind and weather preside.

We moved north out of the Baltic and into the Kattergat, headed for the recommended Swedish town of ‘Torekev’ and its off lying nature reserve island of ‘Hellands Vedero’

The wind was light and we flew our ‘borrowed’ cruising chute. A fine sight of yellow and orange rip-stop nylon that billowed out ahead of the yacht.

‘Hellands Vedero’ was particularly beautiful, and we wondered why it was so quiet as we dropped out anchor in the empty bay on the east side of the island. Only when we arrived ashore did we see the map of the island and the ‘NO ANCHORING’ sign in the bay!

However, we still managed a brief walk ashore before hauling the anchor and sneaking back out, headed for ‘Torekev’ harbour’, our first foray onto the Swedish mainland. The village was charming, with a tiny maritime museum, and pretty little harbour, we had plenty of time to explore as the following day the wind picked up to a very strong northerly, and it rained and blew for most of the day and night. This was a great shame, especially for the Swedes as it was a bank holiday for midsummer’s day, and I suspect that many of the prepared celebrations were abandoned due to the awful conditions. 

Once the skies cleared we headed southwest and back to Denmark, making for the ‘Roskilde Fjord’ and old town of ‘Roskilde’ which was the capital of Denmark until Copenhagen took over in the 16th century. Apart from the natural beauty of the fjord, we also wanted to see the famed ‘Viking’ museum, which has restored Viking ships and sailing reconstructions. 

The trip was interesting, but a little tortuous, as we mainly had to stick to many very shallow channels, however, after 20 miles, delving deep into the heart of Denmark, we arrived, anchoring off the harbour entrance.

Roskilde was delightful, a decent size town, but with a small feel. Dominated by its huge cathedral, that is home for all the deceased monarchs of Denmark. The harbour is 30 minutes walk from town, but has plenty to offer including the best Chandlery in the world that sells Beer and wine!

The Viking museum was excellent, with 6 restored Viking ships salvaged from the fjord in the 1960’s. The remains are on display in a heat and moisture controlled environment. Outside are many exhibits including the workshops that were used to traditionally build new versions of the 6 ships that were discovered.  These ships sail (and row) daily, and make a fine sight. 

As it happens, out timing was perfect, as a big event was taking place. The largest of the discovered longboats was one that was traced back to being built in Dublin (one of the many Viking strongholds). The reconstruction was about to embark on a great adventure, and sail from Roskilde to Dublin via Scotland. The vessel was to be manned by 65 volunteer sailors. Remember there are no cabins, toilets or comfy facilities. Crew would just sleep in the bottom of the boat and use buckets to go to the loo! – Rather them than me!

The vessel was almost completely original, though sported a Radar. VHF radio and GPS! – These were held in a discreet box at the back of the boat, so didn’t detract too much from the original vessel. 

The weather at this time was very unsettled, and the forecast was giving gales and even hurricane force winds in the surrounding areas. We thought we were safe, as the fjord is well sheltered apart from the north. Though the forecast was for strong westerlies, suddenly in the afternoon it swung north and increased to gale strength. We now found ourselves bouncing around 30 ft from the breakwater. After some frenzied activity, we hauled the anchor, and motored 3 miles to a small sheltered bay to our northwest, where it continued to blow and rain for the remains of the day and all night.


The following day, we returned to Roskilde, still in strong winds, as we had to drop ‘Clare’ off to return to Copenhagen and home. To make life easy, we headed for the marina in the harbour, as she was leaving at 05.00 in the morning!

It was only as I returned to the boat having been to see the harbour master, that I realised the yacht moored in front of us was another ‘Finnrose’. This was indeed remarkable and quite exciting, as only 12 were ever built. 

I was also slightly embarrassed, as she looked fabulous, teak decks, teak cockpit, new mast and sails and looking very glamorous. We found out later she was built in 1973 (we are 1970), however, she had been owned by the current Danish Couple for 30 years, and they had lavished her with plenty of TLC and a lot of money.

We were invited aboard the next day, and spent lots of time admiring and comparing notes. I took photos of her lovely cockpit, and also measured up her sprayhood, which is far superior to ours. Also, interestingly, he said that he had increased the size of his rudder, which is something that both sue and I had discussed.

We also took the opportunity to get the bikes out, and had a splendid cycle along the coast, into a forest and through the rural lanes of Denmark. It was all very lovely and tidy, and quite pretty in a gentle way. 

Having re-stocked the boat, we returned to our sheltered anchorage, and decided to stay a while longer to enjoy the current good weather, and get the canoes out for some paddling.

On the Sunday, with much pomp and ceremony, the Viking longboat left for Dublin, and we paddled our canoes amongst a flotilla of yachts to wish her a ‘bon voyage’.

We too left the following day, and though the forecast was promising, soon found ourselves being blown out of the fjord with a stiff breeze, gusting force 8. With little natural shelter from the strong SE wind, we were forced into the marina at ‘Hundested’, a unremarkable town, but a welcome refuge.

Though the wind was from the west the following day, the wind had moderated, so be beat our way westward, headed for the mainland. 

We dropped the anchor after 40 miles just outside the pretty harbour of ‘Ebeltoft’. It was a gorgeous little place, with cobbled streets, timber framed thatched cottages and a chandlery that sold wood blocks and old tarred rope!

After 2 nights, we set south under headsail alone, with a steady NW wind. I was feeling a little under the weather, so as sue navigated, steered, and generally took command, I sat down below and read an entire book!

We anchored on the island of Samso, on the eastern side in tiny harbour called ‘ Langor’. We anchored in the bay, just to the east of the harbour, in the company of Danish and German yachts. Once again, the wind blew and the heavens opened, but at least the anchorage was snug.


The following day, after an auspicious start, the sun showed its face and we went ashore for a gentle stroll. The island is very quiet, with horse drawn carts and few cars. Our highlight was to come across a wild gooseberry bush, so we filled our bags and look forward to a special treat.


‘Langor’ sits in a natural lagoon, surrounded on all sides apart from the small channel leading in. It was perfect to explore in the tubbies, so launching them from the foredeck, we proceeded to paddle into the lagoon. One incredible island was full of bird-life. Why this particular island was a favourite I have no idea, but there were thousands of cormorants, gulls, terns, ducks and swans, all making a lot of noise and guano!

Once again, the weather was against us. We ended wind bound on ‘Langor’, for 3 more days. Too windy to paddle, we took ourselves ashore in the dinghy and explored by foot. On one trip to the shops, we came across a fine collection of mushrooms (Lady’s Parasols), about 9” across. We picked a few, and had a fine accompliment to our chops that night.

Finally, the wind reduced, and we once again headed west, beating into a light westerly breeze. That evening we anchored under the lee of a beautiful tear dropped island called ‘Ablo’. Though we didn’t venture ashore, the scenery was gorgeous, with sandy beaches and dense pine forest.

Next day took us further west, to the top of the ‘lillebelt’, one of the most attractive sailing areas in Denmark. It was a frustrating sail, with light headwinds. When the wind died, we’d furl the sails and start the engine, and within 10 minutes, the wind was back up, so we’d stop the engine and start sailing again. This happened about 10 times before we just gave up and motored! The channel between the mainland and the island of Fynne was small and quite busy with traffic, with an impressive looking bridge linking the 2. We were aiming for ‘Middelfart’, but on arrival, found the harbour quite small and full, so motored a further 4 miles around a peninsular and to the south of ‘Middelfart’, where there is a marina. Though a less interesting place than it sounds, it enabled us to stock with food and water, wash clothes and have hot showers. Yet again it blew ‘old boots’ and rained. Finally in the later afternoon, we left the marina (to save money), and anchored opposite off a beautiful island. Suddenly the rain stopped, wind died and all was tranquil. Pure bliss at last.

Going ashore, we discovered an almost pristine island covered in natural mixed vegetation and small fresh water lakes. It was like eden, and only appeared to have a single house on it. There were pheasant, we suspected deer (thought we didn’t see any), and a profusion of wild raspberry bushes, that we made good use of and collected a large bag full. 

By lunchtime, the sun was making an effort, so we upped anchor and motored (no wind) down to a small harbour called ‘Assens’, where we picked up a free mooring a mile away behind the tiny island of ‘Toro’.

The following day, the sun shone, though a stiff SE breeze was blowing through the anchorage. After morning chores, we launched the ‘tubbies’ and had an exciting, rolly paddle to the beach, close to the marina. The town was very pleasant, with cobbled streets and old grand buildings as well as some rather lovely beach huts, each surrounded by colourful gardens and vegetable plots.

As a treat, we afforded ourselves a cold beer outside an irish bar and listened to tinned gaelic folk music. The paddle back was into the wind, so a tad wet, enough that I had to strip off on returning to the boat. Salty clothes are bad news, as they never dry, so looks like another washing session soon.                                               



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