“There´s either you´re loving her – or you really, really hate her!”, says Pauli. He is our Skipper, welcoming me upon boarding POGO 1. He knows what he is talking about since Pauli is one of the few ancestral Skippers of that Class 40 racing yacht with thousands of miles of expertise in sailing that speed machine. Talking of either loving or hating the Pogo 40 S, I can clearly state: I definitely fell in love with her. She is the ultimate sailing experience!
It was clear from the first day of my previous sailing cruise with POGO 1 and Sailingisland.de, one of Germany´s biggest provider for sailing adventures, during a three-day speedy trip to the island of Helgoland in June (read it here and here), that I´d have to return. Return for an even longer, bigger sailing adventure onboard a Pogo 40 racing yacht. And here we are: Ready to embark on a seven day cruise. It´s more than that, it´s one of the big Baltic sailing classics: Round Fyn.
Storming, Norming, Performing: Pogo´s Crew Embarking
When arriving for a sailing trip it´s always an exciting thing to get to know your fellow crew members. This time it was not such a big surprise as I could persuade Jens, who was good company during our Helgoland-trip, and one of his friends, Lena, to join our ride around Fyn. Friederike and Jan arrived some minutes later at the boat and since we again knew Pauli from our previous trip the crew of POGO 1 was complete and – blessedly – appeared a nice mixture of different people.
Of course, we would not have to undergo the standard procedure of teambuilding and skipped the “storming”-part. Cast of the berths was a no-brainer: Jens and me chose the fore peak, Jan´s wish to have the port side saloon berth was granted at once and the spacious starboard aft-cabin was generously offered to our sailing women. Pauli stayed in the pilot´s berth port side aft of the ship. Perfect!
A provision´s list was written in a matter of minutes and it began to turn out that it would be me to be in charge of providing (hopefully tasty) food for the crew: I accepted the position of ship´s cook happily and an hour later our crew arrived with some carriages of … mainly beer. Having put only 50 Euros into the ship´s cash proved too little and so we raised the amount to 200 Euros per person for seven days – having spent 180 Euros in the end. Whilst shopping was going on, Pauli, Rieke an me began to ready the ship for casting off by stowing our rucksacks, getting the berths ready, filling up fresh water tanks and getting the roping right.
Sun was already going down when we had everything neat and in order to sit down in the cockpit and have a couple of beers. Chatting, getting to know each other and talking about our expectations and wishes for the trip we watched the night fall, went to a local restaurant and our last dinner in Germany for the coming seven days. Excitement was building up – I couldn´t barely accept to stay here for another long night. If I was the Skipper, I´d been casting off and hoisting our sails immediately.
Why is that? Because I know what Class 40 sailing means. “She is basically a huge jolly-boat”, Pauli explained to the others: “She is damn fast, even in light winds. She is a strong, rough boat, built for sailing and for sailors.” Yeah, that´s right: A Class 40 is a pure racer, a yacht made to be sailed. Not a cozy cruiser: “I´ve seen some people arriving at the jetty, seeing her and turning on their heels to leave. As I said: You either love her or you hate her. There´s no grey zone.” Sailing a Class 40 is pure sailing joy (as you may read here too) and I had book my trip now on September on purpose: I wanted to experience Pogo 40 sailing in heavy weather. Hopefully …
Leaving Kiel sailing north to Denmark
Next morning, a bit shocked about the intense snoring (and happy to having bought the real good ear-plug Oropax-stuff), we´ve had a nice breakfast and after cleaning up the boat, Skipper Pauli started the safety- and ship´s-briefing which was very detailed and took about two hours. Looking at the weather forecast and on to the Kiel bay area it was a bit disappointing: No wind, just occasional light puffs. Anyway: “Ready to casting off!”, Pauli sang and we had our life-jackets tight, lines away and off we went.
Leaving Kiel-Laboe Marina hoisting the main sail was a no brainer since Jens and I already know how to attach the first four swivels of the flat top main sail to the halyard: A bit cumbersome. But when done a couple of times, it worked well. Hoisting the main went just fine, although it´s really hard work getting those 70 square meters to the wind, but I enjoyed pulling the halyard … and belting out a nasty shanty. Pauli offered the tiller and we happily took over the helm, though there wasn´t much to helm at all.
Qickly the hot temperatures, the slow headway and the nice and gentle up and down of the boat allured the first lady to taking off (most of) her cloths to enjoy a sunbath on the fore deck. “I refuse to start the engine”, Pauli stated earning our approval: “We are a sailing vessel. And when there´s no wind, there is no wind.” Anyway, I thought: Even in such extreme light and puffy conditions we were making three knots, again being the fastest sailing vessel of them all, which wasn´t the promised speed-trip at all but nevertheless a powerful demonstration of a Class 40´s sailing abilities (of which you may read more in detail here).
Time went on and we barely made the miles. We used the time to have some chatter about sailing, our own sailing careers and the boat in particular. Pauli sketched his plans for the upcoming days as he had excellent knowledge about weather forecasts: He damped my joy for a heavy weather cruise. “Not this time I guess,” he said: “But I hope there will be more wind during the coming days to take us round Fyn.” Oh my, that bad?
Fyn is the third largest Danish Island (if one wouldn´t count Greenland as well) and has roughly 3.000 square kilometers of area. 500.000 Danish citizen live on Fyn where Moeller-Maersk in Odense is the biggest employer, Odense the biggest city of Fyn. Sailors, especially German sailors, love Fyn for it´s versatility: There´s the large open waters between Germany and Denmark (we are currently sailing in), the Danish South Sea, an archipelago of most beautiful small islands and countless anchorages, the Little Belt where the island is green and full of forests (untypical for Denmark), the rough side if Fyn to the North and the Great Belt to the East, a dense shipping lane for commercial traffic. All of which we were going to experience during the coming days.
Wait! Is that really wind approaching? “Ready at the sheets!”
Pogo 40 Regatta Feeling. In Slow Motion.
As the wind field hit us, it filled the canvas sufficiently and upon leaving Kiel Bay area the wind rose to a nice Beaufort 3, which isn´t quite what I was hoping for and what a Pogo 40 was built for but that was nevertheless welcomed and better than nothing. We ran close hauled at a speed of around 7 knots and fun returned.
Further north having Schleimünde abeam (where I´ve bought my OLIVIA Kings Cruiser 33) we sighted a flotilla of some 10 traditional sailing vessels and we altered course to come nearer. As much as he is a speed addicted sailor, our Skipper Pauli loves the old fashioned way of sailing too as he is also an active Skipper for those vessels too.
As much as I hoped Rasmus would bring a hard blow to the ship so that we could literally plow through the field of those happy vessels, we´ve had enough surplus speed to overtake any of them with ease. Greeting the other crews and switching from leeside windward would offer fantastic views onto those sailing marvels.
As Jens saw that the vessels all had the same flotilla flags he went down below deck and reappeared with his own: “Skipper, asking for permission to set our pennant.” Skipper agreed and so we´ve had our black Sea Sheperd flag proudly waving in the wind at our port side shroud. For us it was fun, for Jens, being a practicing vegetarian, a political statement as well. As we all affirmed Sea Sheperd´s activities we (at least tried) decided to have a vegetarian crew catering during the trip. Except the big steaks and some bacon for breakfast …
We felt wind was increasing and Pauli grabbed the helm to have some maneuvers performed within the large flotilla of traditional sailing vessels: “Let´s get a glimpse of every single ship!”, he says and was pointing to each of them – most of which he was familiar at least to her name. Some of them he had sailed previously by himself and it was exciting to see him really having fun.
Suddenly he stood up and cried: “Ho! There´s RYVAR of Flensburg!” A beautiful gaff-rigged two masted schooner on our starboard side up front: “Man the sheets and ready to tacking!”, he yelled and we hauled tight our sails to bring her closer to the wind as Pauli altered course – pointing directly with our bowsprit to her bow. Down below our AIS anti-collision alert set off …
But Pauli is a true pro, timing our approach in a way that we crossed RYVAR´s wake within a safe ship length distance. As we were passing her hull Pauli was waving and yelling greetings to her Skipper, whom he knew by name. Some 10 minutes later the two were chatting via VHF and Pauli´s face was happy as can be. “All ships, all ships beware: Pauli is cruising around in those waters!”, the other skipper joked via radio. Upon returning to our deck he asked: “Coffee anyone?”, apparently happy and full of joy. The fresh hot coffee was a treat for the whole crew.
Reaching Sonderborg Harbor
Wind was easing later in the day and was expected to die down shortly before 6 p.m. so that our Skipper decided not to land at a Fyn harbor this day but to try to using all that remaining winds to bring us as far north as possible. Easterly winds made again a beating into a Fyn harbor unlikely so that we turned the bow of POGO 1 to the West: “Let´s go to Sonderborg”, Pauli said. Which was a clever decision.
Sailing into Flensburg sound turning west we had the most efficient point of sail with having all power of the wind pushing us from aback. Furthermore, we hoped for a funneling effect of the shoreline that could provide for compressed wind and even more pushing power – essential when winds a dying down. And behold: It went exactly as he hoped for and so we sailed into our first port of Sonderborg, hitting Danish waters.
Sonderborg is a nice little town at the south end of the Als Fjord which must be passed through a bridge. We were not seeking to pass that Fjord the next day so we were looking for a mooring place right at Sonderborg waterfront as there is no such thing as a marina. All was occupied already so we opted to go alongside a nice looking sloop with a gaff rig. “Ho there on the the sloop”, our Skipper shouted: “We have to raft next to your boat, is that okay?” Asking for permission is good seamanship, as well as to grant permission. The grumpy wive of the other boat´s Skipper had a very unpleased face: “If it´s necessary …”, she said, seemingly uncomfortable with our approach. I could only shake my head – how appellative: This was a German boat. We all disapproved her behavior, nevertheless tied up our boat alongside.
We couldn´t have a walk in Sonderborg as sun was already setting and sailing those 35 miles from Kiel to Sonderborg in extremely light winds with top speed of just barely 7.5 knots took a very long time. We were tired and hungry and so I hurried to get a warm meal to our plates: The vegetarian version or Spaghetti á la X-Yacht (see the recipe here) was fast, easy and convenient and nobody of my crew mates disliked my cooking capabilities. Two beers later we went to our berths and despite the fact that two berths away a flotilla of no less than nine British Hallberg-Rassy and their crews seemingly enjoyed far more cans of beer, we found a good night´s sleep. Such a good night´s sleep that I wasn´t able to hear some of the Brittish guys coming over to our berth to insult our “wide arse”. That could not be meant for our ladies …
“Eightnineten”, that was the motto of the day, as our Skipper was telling us. Eight o´clock our alarm clock set off, nine o ´clock was the time to have breakfast and finally we planned to let go the lines to cast off at nine ten o´clock. Surprisingly we managed to leave Sonderborg just in time. It was of utmost concern for Pauli to have our sails hoisted in harbor to leave the sound under sails, showing the Brits “how to sail”, which we managed to do. Although, again, there wasn´t much prospect of receiving a good blow today again. But the day was young and Jens was sacrificing a good chunk of his beer to Rasmus, the God of the Winds yesterday evening. Well, it was non-alcoholic beer …
Fast Passage Sailing with a Pogo 40 Racing Yacht
Going west from Sonderborg all the way back we came down here yesterday promised wind conditions at least as strong as yesterday. Having the small Island of Kegnaes port abeam the wind eased a bit, still our Pogo 40 S was making good headway with 7.5 knots. Again, we were the fastest of all sailing vessels in sight and apart from the perfect sunny weather a nice 0.75 meter swell was making our ride at least appearing “offshore”.
We used the time to get to know our racing yacht more in detail. A Pogo 40 is a Class 40 racing yacht optimized for double and single handed sailing. So all lines are diverted into the cockpit and essentially everything can be done on the two cabin roof mounted winches on both sides of the entryway down below decks. Genoa sheets are worked on the large winches in the cockpit, a further smaller winch on top of the life raft housing for the mainsheet at the back of the cockpit. A huge traveller for fine tuning the main will complete the roping.
We´ve got a nice strong breeze at a close reach and make good headway. Break even for a Pogo 40 is around 8 to 9 knots when the boat starts planing and that´s what was happening next: The foaming white wake, always pinching at our tail suddenly stalled and off we went. The constant gurgle at the stern yielded to a soft Swooshhhh and we all had a big grin in our faces.
Sadly, the wind eased again and POGO 1 was back to 6 to 7 knots, nevertheless we were moving and spirits were high. We rounded the southern tip of the island of Aero when Skipper Pauli announced that he has made a decision where to go today. “We won´t make it far north today”, he said, knowing that winds are to die down later that afternoon. Furthermore: “Wind will shift significantly to west, which again won´t be favorable for us.” So where to go?
“Aerosköbing”, he said. And we rushed down below deck and regrouped around the large navigation station right in front of the entryway. Looking at the charts, we quickly identified Aerosköbing: It´s a small marina on the northern side of Aero. We would be making significant miles to reach Aero, bringing us away a bit from our more northerly course for rounding Fyn. “No problem”, Pauli said: “If winds will remain blowing from the west, we can go on rounding Fyn counter-clockwise. If the shift back to east, we go back to our plan to do the rounding clockwise.”
Jens and Rieke were doing some navigational practices whereas the others went back on deck to sail our ship. Some minutes later we sighted Aero off our bow and noticed the change of wind directions as well. Sails adjusted, we went on to bring ourselves nearer to the shores of Aero, which was a bit tricky as we were ending up running before the wind and having the swell coming in from aback as well.
Rounding the westernmost tip of Aero, called Skjoldnaes, it was a matter of one or two more hours to reach Aerosköbing which was done at 5 o´clock later that day. Our first real islandish marina here in the Danish South Sea, known and beloved amongst German sailors for its rich anchorages, empty shorelines and countless small islands. But also for its shallows and tricky currents. Pauli knew perfectly where to steer and whilst we were at the helm he occasionally gave hints where to steer and avoid shallow waters.
Aerosköbing Marina: Marvel in the Danish South Sea
As we were approaching Aerosköbing the wind virtually died completely. “That was again sailing ´till the very last minute”, Pauli stated as we took down the main sail, furled the Genoa and started our engine. The sun was already going down, painting everything in perfect golden colors. A warm breeze was gently bringing fresh salty air to our lungs. I couldn´t believe that some 24 hours earlier I was still inhaling stinking air, car exhaust gases and the smell of a big city like Hamburg. This atmosphere was simply … priceless.
Aerosköping approach is an easy one, as long as one hits the fairway buoy. From here a narrow waterway is carved into the shallow Baltic Sea and will guide ships safely to the marina. A ferryline operates Aero on an hourly bases so one can be sure the waterway is maintained properly. To both sides rich green farmland was setting a nice colorful contrast to the no less richer blue of the sea. I couldn´t take my eyes off that beauty. How many people would be living here on Aero?
Some 7.000 people live on Aero, as Wikipedia will later tell me. Most of them in the three bigger “towns” of which Marstal is the biggest – and the most known marina to sailors. We wanted to avoid too much traffic and we will later be excited about the abundance of tourists and other yachts in the harbor. “We will have a look into the harbor first before going to the marina. That place is awesome”, said Pauli. Let´s hope that there´s a place for our Pogo 40.
As we were steering her through the near shallows, cows, standing half in the waters, were greeting us. Another ferry left Aero and we followed the fairway right into the small harbor. I could spot a couple of yacht masts, but only a handful. And how lucky we have been! There was plenty of space left to have our yacht brought alongside the pier and land her safely. Our first landfall on a Danish island!
As our boat was tied up, we proceeded with a (German?) sailing tradition – the so called “Anleger”. Translated it would mean “The Lander”. A Lander is simply a beer. The reward for the – of course – abstinent sailor who is not having a single drop of alcohol when underway. This was and it is an iron rule aboard POGO 1 and all the other vessels I had the pleasure to sail with: No alcohol whilst under sails. But upon landing and having her tied up and secured, an ice cold beer is the best reward one could imagine …
As we began to check for the harbor´s facilities, Pauli began to do some maintenance work, when we heard a scream and saw him sitting a bit scattered on the reeling. “What´s going on, Skipper?”, we asked. He pointed to the water. “There. Lies. A part of our port side winch …” Well, no problem, I said, knowing that Jens was not just an able seaman but an experienced diver as well. Three meters of clear waters – a no brainer for him. I secretly hoped. He accepted the challenged, dove down and on his first trial returned proud with the shining metal ring, vital for our winch. Pauli was happy: “Bring me another Lander!”, he proposed and laughed.
Before I prepared another meal – a vegetarian Thai Curry of which the recipe will be an upcoming article here in the Onboard Cuisine-section – I also went for the facilities to have a long hot shower. Not to mention the extra fast and spotless WiFi connection provided in all Danish harbors and ports we´ve met, toilets and showers have been fantastically maintained and I must admit German marinas could learn a lot from their Danish colleagues about this topic. So we had dinner and a couple of beers more, sang along good old shanties and agreed to have an Eightnineten tomorrow upon crawling into our sleeping bags.
An even faster Passage Sailing with a Class 40 Yacht
Breakfast was marvelous the same as the whole harbor was. Priceless to having got a mooring place here in the old basin, some five other yachts chose coming here too instead to the – assumable equally nice – marina on the other side of the ferry dock. Sun was up and high, fast drying the condensation off our deck. The crew returning from the morning showers enjoyed another round of hot fresh coffee and when Pauli announced “Ready to casting off!” we quickly buckled our life jackets and dashed to the lines to have our Class 40 yacht freed from land again.
Will we get some more winds today? I was asking myself as the ferry was overtaking us once again, leaving the Pogo reeling in her wake. Predictions were again contradictory and judging by the clear blue sky without any clouds whatsoever there was – unfortunately – no sign whatsoever why this day should be different from the past two days. “There is a steady high pressure system over all of Europe which is responsible for low winds and … no fun for Pogo sailors”, Pauli said. A friend of mine who is a professional pilot was text messaging: “Expect no wind for the whole of the coming week. I´m sorry.” Oh my …
Nevertheless, as we left the shallow waters and sailed back north-west to leave behind Aero and begin our clockwise rounding of the island of Fyn wind increased. “Tighten the sheets to close hauled!”, Pauli announced and that was when the fun began. I rose my hand to have the helm as I love beating to the wind and trying to bring a boat exactly to the edge of the wind, squeezing out every tenth of a knot. Which is a no brainer on the Pogo – she is easy on the helm, one can steer her tiller with two fingers.
The boat went to a considerable heeling – bit nowhere near being frightening or causing concern. In fact, she remained heeled so stable that no approaching wave could divert her from her course. For half a minute or so she would hold her course without any correction to the rudder was needed. It was pure joy! We´ve got all crew back to the cockpit from her bow as it became increasingly dangerous to remain there. Splashing water came over her bow and I was screaming in pure excitement.
Again, we didn´t reached speeds in excess of 8 to 9 knots, nevertheless, the apparent wind speed by sailing close hauled will create a feeling of going warp speed anytime soon and so was the adrenalin level of us as well. We could hold that cool course for an hour or so as Pauli announced a more northerly course. Veering to a beam reach the boat slowed down a bit. And our Skipper hat that particular look in his eyes …
“Gennaker time!”, he said. After five minutes of preparing the sheets I winched up the hose containing the large light wind sail at her halyard. As the sail was up, Pauli hoisted the plastic swivel and a few seconds later the big blue Gennaker was up to full size. The Pogo went up in speed considerably and we would be later running more than 10.5 knots under Gennaker, which is quite a wonder in such light airs.
I have been sailing the Pogo 40 previously with Gennaker (read it here) and back then we´ve had much stronger winds, reaching up to 14.5 knots as benchmark. Nevertheless, having her dashing up north in excess of two-digit speeds was pure joy. “Hold that course for some two hours”, Pauli announced, leaven Jan at the sheet and me at the helm. Ten minutes he re-appeared with a freshly brewed Espresso and foamed hot milk. What a treat!
Speaking of treats: As I had to learn from suffering that forgetting to eat and to drink whilst sailing can have serious side effects and effectively limit a sailor´s abilities to control the boat I was keen on preventing myself from repeating that failure. A banana here, a handful of nuts there. A bowl with salty chips making the round from time to time and thick sandwiches helped to keep our stomachs full. Everybody was assigned his or her own bottle of 1.5 liters of pure water and we tried to have it emptied upon arrival at the next harbor. Sailing is eating and drinking discipline as well.
Reaching Middelfart Marina
Veering off the beam reach to a more running point of sail for the last two hours we had to take in the Gennaker first. Only to have our Genoa furled in some time later. As Pauli was expecting and we all feared, the wind almost completely died as we reached Middelfart marina bay. But only one hour earlier, there was an utmost different thing going on … we had to reef!
Putting the ship to a close hauled course the Pogo 40 experienced a jet effect along the narrow channel between Jylland (the Danish mainland) to our port side and Fyn to the starboard side. Wind rose to levels I was keen to experience all the time, heeling increased significantly and she simply took off like nothing, reaching up to 12 knots. It was pure excitement sitting on her windward side, having our legs dangling over the freeboard and feeling the spray of the cold water. Pauli put in a reef before Rieke wouldn´t be able to control her twin rudders.
But than joy didn´t last for too long and after leaving the narrow part of the “Lillebaelt” off the small island of Brandsoe to our port side the jet effect died as did the wind as a whole. So we took down the main in hope to reach Middelfart marina solely with Genoa, which we almost did. “Another hour with 0.5 knots? Not with me!” and Pauli started our engine.
Taking down and stowing the mainsail on a Class 40 is a tricky thing as well as again the upper four swivels must be unclipped from the halyard. The flat top with 3 battens must then be put to the middle of the boom, the whole sail stashed and packed neatly. As there was no swell at all we did this work whilst out at sea, unusual for us.
Sun was coming down and a lot of other yachts were returning to the port. We brought out our fenders to starboard side, readied the lines for landing and I was the one to leapfrog to the jetty and have the lines put through the landing rings. A maneuver of only two minutes and POGO 1 was tied up again safely to the pier side. We did some 50 miles today. Considerably more than yesterday, but again, we all were a bit disappointed: “We have the coolest and fastest racing beast imaginable, booked a trip in September to have nasty conditions …”, I said whilst opening my Lander: “And what did we got? 35 Degrees Celsius, hot summer weather and no wind at all …” All were nodding.
Surprise, surprise! As I wanted to have another dinner prepared, the gas bottle went empty. Pauli was fuming and cursing loud, as we discovered that the spare cylinder was empty as well. Rieke surrendered to walk into town to try to get another one. I guess she was happy to spend one or two hours off board, putting a safe distance to our … “manly” humor and jokes. There was a big hello as she arrived back with a fresh full gas bottle and I went down below deck, turned on the sound system to prepare another hot meal for the crew.
The first three Days – My Impressions
There were the first three days of our Round Fyn sailing cruise on a Pogo 40 S racing yacht. On the negative side there was the weather. Although I love to see ladies in bikinis lolling on the fore deck I rather wished to have my oilskin wetted by nasty waves, strong winds and my stomach turned upside down by constant heeling and excessive rolling due to high waves. Well, that´s sailing. On the pro side, there was this fantastic Class 40 boat with an even more fantastic Skipper Pauli. A very nice company by our crew and this pristine nice spirit among the crew. A great trip so far.
As the sun went down and we slowly shifted to our berths, I was begging Windfinder.com to send us wind. Wind. Wind! Like as if would help, Jens was again pouring some non-alcoholic beer into the water to attract Rasmus, the God of the Winds, but Pauli didn´t really left hope for stronger winds. “We can be happy to even round Fyn, to be honest.” Anyway, I thought: If not now, I will certainly return aboard POGO 1. And this time, I am going to book the latest possible trip … maybe than I´ll get my puking leeward.
In the upcoming article we will see what the coming four days of the Round Fyn trip will bring. So much can be said: I will get at least a glimpse of puking …
Visit Fyn´s Official Website here
Want to have the unique sailing experience on a Pogo 40 as well? Visit sailingisland.de
All Class 40 racing yacht-articles on NO FRILLS SAILING here