It is not that often when all comes together, everything pays off and works out just fine. It was as such some days ago, when I started the sailing trip I´d later call “a pretty perfect” yachting trip. It was the big summer vacation for me and my sailing mate, with whom I sail so dearly – we had previously sailed together on a Beneteau First 30 R which later turned out to be one week of foul weather training (read the articles about this unforgettable trip here and here). But this time it would all be so different. Which of course was as well due to our boat. Not a Beneteau this time, not a GRP boat at all – but a yacht made out of my favorite yacht building material: Aluminium.
You all know about my fascination and passion for this material (read about it here) and when we arrived to board SY AMAROK as it was moored in her home port of Wendtorf at the entrance to the Kiel Bay, I was stunned and happy. She was so beautiful! The AMAROK is designed by the renown design bureau Judel/Vrolijk. There are only two boats made for two special owners and I might say that the AMAROK belongs to a very special one, Matthias, whom I was happy to meet some months earlier on the occasion of getting a special tour through his new build – a Berckemeyer 49 Pilot House, which is a stunning beauty (read about this boat here). Matthias offered to lend me the boat for two weeks and I of course accepted the kind offer. Now, here we are, at the start of two extraordinarily beautiful weeks about this extraordinary boat. Our spirits were as high as you might be able to imagine!
Matthias showed us around to make us familiar with AMAROK and after one or two intense hours of the process he wished us fair winds and much fun and left. We were ashamed by his gratitude and couldn´t thank him more. He put it this way: “I am happy for you guys. And I am so much more happy for AMAROK. She will be out now for two two weeks of sailing – otherwise she would be moored and do nothing. I am happy for her to be sailed!” And being sailed she will! We provisioned the boat (do we really need that much stuff?!?) and moved to the two cabins (my mate in the big owner´s cabin in the fore peak and I to the smaller (but somewhat more cozy) aft cabin. As the sun went down in the most theatrical colours, we enjoyed our first meal aboard, talked about the trip and went to bed after a couple of farewell-beers and some nice toasts to AMAROK and her fine owner. What will this trip bring about?
Leaving port for the East
We left early the next morning after my sailing mate went up right after first daylight. We negotiated the small and narrow channel to the fairway out of Wendtorf Marina and hoisted AMAROK´s sails for the first time. Switching off the engine – as always – was a welcome occasion. Course was set due East. My plan was to reach for the Swedish Island of Gotland which I wanted to reach since I was a small child reading books about the Baltic pirates, the Hanse and cog ship trade routes of a past time 500 years ago. Gotland was 370 miles away if sailed to on a perfect course. Weather was favourable: A stable Western wind would blow us through the Baltic Sea like nothing, my mate announced.
But at first we didn´t thought of the far away target to reach but focused on the here and now: Getting to know the boat was our priority. AMAROK is a 40 feet sailing sloop rigged with a pretty powerful sail area. The jib is hoisted the traditional way, there is no furling system. The owner likes it simple and thus announced that the jib couldn´t of course be reefed but as he was putting it: “I sail the jib up until wind speeds of some 30 knots. The boat is pretty stable!” Which was also due to the deep 2.40 drafted keel which was a hydraulically moveable drop-keel system, making the boat able to enter waters as shallow as 1.20 metres. AMAROK is pretty light, weighing in just some 8.3 tons and that was the reason why we almost always when there was wind made speeds of no less than 6.5 knots, mostly around 7 to 8 knots over ground. Pure joy!
AMAROK had a very, very powerful and stable tiller steering that worked directly on to one rudder blade. The massive stainless steel tiller was very heavy and – being accustomed to balanced wheel-driven rudders – it took us both some time to get warm with this more uncompromising, direct method of steering. Fortunately we hadn´t to push and pull all the time with full force on that tiller as AMAROK was also fitted with a rock solid powerful automatic steering system which was working the rudder all the time when underway, we just disconnected the mechanism for manoeuvring in ports. Judging from the first miles, this boat was agile, speedy, very seakind in her motion through the waves and fast as a performance cruiser. My mate and I were putting on smiles to our faces all the time. The miles melted like nothing …
Fast sailing and a favourable mood of Rasmus
The first three days the steady Western winds were pushing the boat with 7 to 8 knots very fast, but also upwind AMAROK was flying like hell – from 18 knots of wind she translated the power of the weather to 8 knots over ground with ease! Just wow! We were passing the island of Fehmarn which marks the entrance to the “real” Baltic Sea after just a few hours and were able to cross the traffic separation scheme very fast. I know this area from previous (not so fast!) trips and I was amazed by how fast we sailed indeed.
The weather was just fine: The sun was unloading her warmth and being on a reaching course we quickly removed more and more of our clothing to get some tanning by our home star. I used the hours to memorize the roping of AMAROK: Except for taking down the fore sail, which needed one man in the bow to have the sail folded up properly, the boat was rigged to be sailed from the cockpit: All halyards and other roped were diverted to heavy clamps on the coach roof. The main sail had two reefs. Of course, as the owner was a “no frills”-sailor, there wasn´t any electric winches so getting up both sails was an act of pure muscle power. Once hoisted, the boat was managed by the sheets of which the main sheet was rigged like we know it from smaller jollyboats – no winch, just a big pulley on two curry-clamps. The mainsheet was put on a big traveller that occupied a big portion of the cockpit. I later learned to trim the main perfect for upwind-action with this thing.
Passing Fehmarn we set course a bit more North because we decided not to sail all the way through to Gotland (we should have!) but to reach for the Danish harbour of Klintholm which I knew from a previous trip (read about Klintholm Marina here). We decided so because we learned that we were making progress so much more faster than hoped that we thought we could also take a full night´s sleep in marinas along the way and make good for the “lost” nights because of AMAROK´s speed. Passing Gedser to the port we luffed to North heading for Klintholm running into a full fledged calm just 8 miles to the finish.
Steaming with 5 knots driven by engine, moods were down a bit as we regretted the fact that the wind ceased to blow. Another rain shower and a stunningly beautiful rainbow later, wind returned – and it returned indeed! With up to 25 knots just in front of Klintholm we took down sails just in the moment when we would have been obliged to put in some reefs as wind increased to blow harder by the minute. I entered Klintholm steering the boat by hand in the choppy seas of the Baltic under the hollering of many masts. Luckily the rain had stopped but wind ever increasing.
After 110 miles and 15 hours of sailing the first day on AMAROK ended as I put the boat alongside the pier in the fishing harbour, just opposite to where I moored some months ago on a previous trip. But this time the weather wasn´t that favourable and it took us 30 minutes to rig the boat for mooring. As the sharp wind was blowing from the North-West it wasn´t hindered by any land or superstructures, also, waves could enter the basin in which we were mooring. The was an enourmus pressing on our mast and the choppy movement of the boat was of such annoying intensity that my mate was working hard (with rope dampeners) to at least ease the har bumping of the hull against the pier side. In the meantime I was preparing a hot late nite meal and I can tell you the cold beer was tasting just fine. We switched off the lights at about 1 a.m. as we went to our berths and tried to find some sleep whilst the stormy weather was unleashing a staccato concert of mast-clanking and waves popping at our hull. Anyway, the sleep came eventually and we dreamt away after first day aboard AMAROK happily.
Double handed sailing – our approach
The next morning is a nice one. The strong winds had blown away the last remainders of the clouds over night which have brought some downpour and when I got up I was greeted by the clearest of blue skies you could imagine. Wind was still blowing with 15 to 20 knots, the clanking in the masts wasn´t easing and the choppy seas in the harbor´s basin was still causing a lot of motion for the mooring boats but at least it was very warm when we were sitting in the cockpit enjoying a hot morning coffee. I sticked to my obligations as skipper and made good for writing the ship´s log for yesterday: 96 miles of sailing, 11 miles of running by engine through the calm before the strong winds set in. I looked at the track that was still logged in the plotter, the track of my mooring manoeuvre, the two loops for looking in the basins for the best mooring place resembled the form of a friendly smiling whale. I took it as a good harbinger.
Taking a shower and administering some private hygiene we were ready for casting off. But upon returning from the bathrooms of Klintholm harbour my mate looked at me, shaking his head: “Too much wind, my friend. Let´s stay here and wait for a day.” My mate is a professional seafarer being out on the Oceans since he was a little boy, still working in the maritime industry he is out on big commercial freighters every day. He knows about weather, sailing, traffic and the hazards of seafaring. He also has some special weather information on his huge iPad and I do have the greatest respect for his abilities, his experience and hence his judgement. So we pay demurrage for one day more. This is how we run the boat: Combining both of our best capabilities and finding solutions for situations. The day passes quickly. Outside there is a steady force 6 wind with 2 to 2.50 metres of waves. Not so amusing, especially in the short, choppy Baltic waves. But we have a plan …
AMAROK is out and sailing next day very early. Very, very early: We set our clocks to wake us up at 3 a.m. and after a quick wake-up-coffee we cast off at 4 after refuelling the Diesel bunkers with 116 litres (we were already running on the last 10 litres). The boat catches a lush wind from the West blowing just at force 1 barely making 2 knots. But we knew about this situation and therefore were underway so early. “The wind will come back!”, my mate said and at 7 a.m. it shifted to a Southerly blowing with force 2 – we “lifted off” at 4 knots. At 9 a.m. it was still 58 miles to go to our next port of choice: Simrishamn in Sweden. I prepared a very voluptuous breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, lots of fresh tomatoes and red pepper, cucumber and onions. And bacon of course. Fresh coffee and a sweet apple – could there be anything better than sailing along here? Well, yes, some more wind please …
The wind increased steadily to a nice force 4 to 5 with 1.50 metres of waves coming from the North. Not the best point of sail because that meant lots of motion in the boat. As we luffed and changed course due North around the Southern tip of Sweden I pulled up the Swedish guest land flag at our mast and the boat instantly jumped to 7, sometimes more than 8 knots over ground. Now we are talking! I was also glad we´ve had this big breakfast because cooking under these choppy conditions would have been a lot more “exciting”.
Onboard cuisine: Culinary highlights
Talking of cooking: We had stocked the boat with lots of different provisions and I was happy with my mate´s choices because this time due to my job I haven´t been able to do the shopping. I normally prefer to do the provisioning because I love cooking aboard and usually embody both skipper and ship´s cook in my sailing trips. This time my mate had to do the shopping and I was very surprised and happy seeing the boat provisioned with nice stuff – he also managed to buy just the right amount of stuff because at the end of the two weeks there was barely some stuff already aboard. The most important meal of the day, as it turned out, was on our trip the breakfast. We developed the nice tradition to not have the breakfast whilst still mooring but to have it after leaving port and being underway for one or two hours. That meant getting up, brushing teeth, doing a cat wash and drinking a wake-up-coffee – then casting off.
When sails were hoisted and the swell was permitting, I went down below to prepare the breakfast. I did this when sailing upright, but sometimes also when heeling was reaching some 20 to 30 degrees. I was only asking for a stable sailing position because cutting stuff with a big knife was something that wasn´t really compatible with lots of external motion. Anyway, I often managed to make my mate happy with some lush breakfasts, mostly iterations of the classy scrambled egg-menue.
I tried to add lots of protein and carbohydrates to deliver a huge amount of energy to our bodies, but also onions which, when sautéed, will increase appetite. Adding fresh components like pepper, tomatoes, spring onions or marinated stuff was a good source for vitamins and fibres. I was excited to learn that pan-roasted dark bread will actually not “toast” but caramelises which adds significantly to the taste. When conditions were rough I switched to preparing cold stuff like huge sandwiches (we call “Klappstulle”). Raw vegetables like carrots (we ate 4 kilograms in two weeks) or fruits like sweet apples (also 4 kilograms) were a nice supplement.
Fierce gusts off Sweden
Finally our bow turned to 002 degrees due North at 5.30 p.m. and just 3 miles to go when suddenly the wind increased heavily after having blown with a steady force 4-5 pushing us with 7 to 8 knots over ground towards Simrishamn. I don´t know if it was for our pleasant anticipation of Sweden or just the pure joy of seeing AMAROK picking up more and more speed but we both seemed to have ignored the signs – we should have put in a reef (or better two) in time because the nice talk was over very abrupt and harsh!
Fierce gusts reached the boat pulling her over to heavy heeling angles from one second to another. We were still running with full sails up. A big 70 feet sailing yacht was coming up fast from abaft, she too heeled over significantly. I eased the main and opened the sail to full swing but still the hard wind was pushing the canvas flat into the standing rigging. Not good for the laminate! The wind speed exceeded 25 knots and jumped as high as 30 knots in the most violent gusts and – what was causing a lot of wondering afterwards – the swell was building up very quickly although we were just 1.5 miles under land. Not much fetch but showing the energy that was coming up towards us!
Very hefty and violent rocking! I was dashing down to the navigation station to reach for the engine keys in the chart table, too late, much too late! We put the boat nose up dead in the wind, now jumping up and down in the ever building sees. The wind was roaring and the sails beating hard. I tried to hold as tight as I could and screamed back to my mate to let go of the jib halyard, trying to catch the canvas and fold it as best as I could. Binding together the sail with two or three ropes to prevent it from being blown away by the ravaging winds I jumped up and down 2 or more metres in the seas. Getting down the main was easier due to the Lazy Jacks, but anyway, I still had to get up some 2 metres above deck at the mast to get down the last 5 metres of sail.
We entered Simrishamn in Sweden like heavily beaten returning from the Horn or so. Wet and blown by the wind, I land the boat alongside in the old fishing harbour again because I spot a nice place there and want to prevent us from searching for free berths in the near Marina. Just land the boat and calm down. We have a vivid discussion while we open the traditional landing-beer what went wrong: Reefed to late (or better: Having not reefed at all while all signs were pointing towards increasing winds and heavy gusts), some disorientation in having started the engine too late and last not having managed to take away stress and loads from the boat and the rigg being not our own property. We learned a lot in this short – but violent – gusts. Nevertheless, we had finally reached Sweden after another 100 miles of sailing with just 4 miles of having travelled by engine power. I was happy when I closed the ship´s log and enjoyed another cold beer.
Sailing to Gotland: A dream ends
Well. The joy didn´t remained all too long because my mate checked the latest weather reports and these forecasts weren´t too encouraging: “There´s low pressure system approaching from the West responsible for the gusts. It will reach us in 2 days and it´s a big system of strong winds of more than 20 to 30 knots.”, he showed me on the map. The heavy winds were coming towards us heading with a Northerly orientation – directly to Gotland. Our target. My mate looked at me: “We cannot go there unless we want to have another heavy weather sailing trip.” That´s 2 days of moderate winds from now on followed by three, four, maybe 5 days of very violent wind conditions. It will blow us to Gotland, no question, but it will be loads of stress for us and the boat as well.
So we both agreed instantly to skip the Gotland plan. We did not wanted to put the boat and the material at risk, especially as the equipment wasn´t our own property. I suggested to cast off tomorrow and head South-East for the Island of Bornholm. Instead of sailing North-East into the eye of the storm, it would bring some distance between us and the centre of the heavy wind-system. Besides, I assured my mate, Bornholm is a dream place and I welcome this alternative plan to Gotland. The motto was: “Let´s discover the Eastern part of Bornholm!” for I just knew some of the island´s western coast.
Next morning at 9 a.m. AMAROK took in her lines and casted off from her short intermezzo in Sweden to head on 126 degrees for the some 35 miles to Bornholm, the Danish island in the Baltic Sea. Wind was blowing from the West with a force 3, no swell at all, but it was increasing. Just one our later AMAROK made speed for 7.5 miles per hour and at 11.30 we had already crossed the TSS off the Northern tip of the island. Weather was not as bad as the picture may induce but it was raining for two or three hours with temperatures down under 15 degrees Celsius. I mostly remained down below with my mate enjoying the rough conditions in the cockpit, after we put in the second reef in the main as the wind was steadily blowing with force 6-7, pushing the boat with 8 knots. Yesterday, back in Simrishamn, we went over to the 70 feet sloop we watched coming in after us and her crew invited us to have a beer with them. Asked where to go on the Eastern side of Bornholm, the didn´t took a breath to say: “Sail to Gudhjem!” So we followed their recommendation and rounded the Northern tip of the island and entered the sheltered East coast of Bornholm.
It was just barely 10 miles to go when we entered the leeward side of the island, shook out the reefs and headed down South for Gudhjem with still making 7 knots. I admired the boat for her sailing abilities more and more day by day. AMAROK is a pure sailing machine and I was a bit when we finally found ourselves just in front of Gudhjem, a small town with a much smaller harbour. Half past 1 p.m. we took down the sails and stared the engine. As my mate was “skipper of the day” today the privilege of landing the boat was his, so I prepared the landing lines and fenders to assist the landing operation. Such a small harbour … will we get a berth here? I was not so sure …
Entering the Baltic Paradise: Island of Bornholm
We did get a berth. And what a we´ve got! Gudhjem harbour consists of three small basins of which we chose to enter the last one and luckily found a berth just alongside the massive wall. The wall was much higher than our boat providing for effective shelter against the ever building winds coming at us from exactly this direction. We couldn’t believe our luck when we had the boat moored safely and turned off the engine, rigged everything for harbour-mode and finally opened the landing-beers one hour later. The sun came out and we were full of joy.
My mate, a pro seafarer since his young ages, has nevertheless never been on Bornholm. He was bewitched instantly and truly moved by the picturesque beauty of this place. Truly, sending us here to Gudhjem was the best idea our colleagues on the 70-footer could have had! It was so beautiful here, the old town surrounding the small harbour with restaurants, coffee-shops, small handcraft-stuff shops and lots of nice but calm, un-offending harbour life. Just pure joy! At the same time the location of the town and the construction of the harbour with its high walls made for the best possible shelter against the strong winds we expected to hit us in the coming days. My mate was on Cloud Number 7 and I was happy for him.
Gudhjem deserves an own article which you will get to enjoy later, but I cannot refrain from stating that this small town was capturing our minds from the start. It is just so nice, so picturesque, so beautiful that we barely found words to express our happiness of having met the guys from the big yacht and having followed their suggestion to come here. People here are so welcoming and friendly. There is a huge (and I mean huge!) ice cream bar just opposite to the harbour where you get all tastes of ice cream and loads of toppings from just awesome Danish girls, there´s an old fashioned coffee shop with sweets and tasteful Danish bakery just next door. So much to see here. The small town is built on a flank of a steep hill, you´ll climb up and get nice views over the bay area as well as the jagged Northern East-coast of the island.
As we are expecting an extension of the storm system to reach Bornholm the coming night and blowing hard for one or two days we paid demurrage for 2 days in advance. From my previous trip to Bornholm one year (almost exactly!) ago I still had some nice memories of discovering the island by bicycle so we rented two all terrain bikes the following day to go to the inland. Wind was blowing very, very hard and we went South to the small village of Svaneke (also with a nice picturesque harbour) and fought our way up North against the wind and the gusts again. 4 hours and 32 kilometres later we were pretty much exhausted and welcomed a full fledged meal in a local restaurant to replenish our bodies.
Almost all yachts remained in the safe harbour but we also witnessed a small, 35 feet Hanse charter boat leaving port. As the East coast of Bornholm was in the lee of the storm there wasn´t any swell but wind was blowing hard. I shook my head observing the crew as they left port. As they hoisted the sails – although reefed in the second stage – the boat heeled over significantly: “They will meet fierce waves and even more wind when they round the Northern tip and head directly into the storm!”, my mate commented the scene whilst also shaking his head: Why are people putting themselves to such danger? And other people´s property and material to such stresses? We wanted to play it safe and as Sweden and Gotland was out of question – but still not the first week of two gone – we faced a lot of days ahead. Let´s head back to Germany, we decided, to sail down to the Island of Ruegen. On a reaching point of sail this was the safest and most fun of all options. The last night in Gudhjem, wind was going down a bit.
Summer Sailing the Baltic Sea
As we were casting off from Bornholm on that sixth day of our trip, we did it pretty late. My mate emphasised to wait until noon to let the worst of the wind pass by and so we left the island at 1 p.m.. The plan was to round the Northern Cape – Hammerodde – again and then head in a South-Westerly direction towards German waters. But the wind this time wasn´t really sticking to what the forecasts were telling: At first it was coming from North-East (very weird!) with a force 3, making us dead slow with barely 5 knots over ground and – worst of all – against the prevailing current without making any headway to the West. At 4.45 p.m. – now a bit faster – we found ourselves off Hammerodde. That´s 3 hours and no headway.
That´s Baltic Sea sailing: Wind is ever shifting, there are seldom winds blowing constantly over days, let alone weeks. The direction is shifting almost hourly as well in the strength of the wind. To m,ake matters worse another menace added to our situation: Flies! Like a smaller model of wasps, literally hundreds of them small, annoying insects seemed to have boarded our boat. They were everywhere. Every second two or three of them landed on our arms and legs (maybe allured by the smell of sun protection?). My mate went down where there were less of them leaving the watch to me. The boat sailed along with 7 knots and my hope that this speed would make them leave wasn´t fulfilled. I started to smash them by the dozens. It took me hours to get the cockpit fly-free.
Eventually, when we were on another tack off Northern Cape of Bornholm, I suggested to my mate that maybe more than 35 miles down South to Germany would mean a very long trip and arrival late in the night: “Why not stay another day on Bornholm? Hasle is just 8 miles away?” As my mate had a newly acquired love for this island, he instantly agreed and so we landed the yacht at half past 6 p.m. in the acquainted harbour of Hasle which I already knew. A long sailing day came to an end, but to our surprise we had barely managed to round the Island due to variable winds and a strong Easterly current hindering our Westerly approach.
Discovering the East
As imperfect and unsatisfactory (from a sailing point of view) the day ended, as perfectly shaped the next day was going by. It was just fantastic sailing: The wind was now back to a moderate force 3 to 5 blowing directly from the West, meaning that we could sail the boat in full canvas on port bow with one single course due 210 degrees from Bornholm all the way through down to Germany, heading for its biggest Island, called Ruegen. My mate used to have his home soil here and knew every inch of the island. He suggested a harbour called Glowe but later we discovered that the approach might be a bit too shallow (and we didn´t wanted to mess with the drop-keel system). So we opted for a “secret” place, a very small, very hidden harbour called Lohme. It was just 6 miles East of our original destination. As I was skipper of the day I had the privilege to land the boat here.
As a German I am tempted to think I know everything and my mood keeps me drawn to leave my home country to seek new things abroad, but being here in Lohme reminded me of the fact that I really didn´t knew a thing about my own country. Lohme was just awesome! So little, so cute! The harbour offers even less berths than Gudhjem and the small village is so tiny, that barely 500 souls might live here. So quiet, so peaceful. What a joy being here!
We were greeted by a friendly, lush harbour master and what a joy – demurrage was the smallest amount of our whole trip. Well, of course, on the other hand, showers were not included and we had to buy coins and – a general problem in Germany – quality of WiFi and cell phone was low, but that on the other hand contributed to the peaceful character of this harbour. No bling-bling. No frills. Just some crews finding a safe berth and enjoying the lush nature: Lohme is encapsulated by thick forests. We also enjoyed the new style of our sailing trip: Whereas I had envisioned these two weeks as speedy heading for Gotland, spending some time there and head back, it now turned out that we had so much joy in reduced daily mileage (some 30 to max 50 miles per day) and having more free time to enjoy the venues by arriving early.
Boating at its best
What do you need to be happy? My mate and I agreed that a boat was the tool of choice to acquire perfect harmony. Both with oneself but also with nature and the surroundings. We often spent hours sitting in the cockpit, our legs stretched out on the Teak-benches, holding a cold beer in one hand and enjoying the sunset, talking of what luck may be. For us, it was simple: A boat, open water, a safe berth and the freedom to go wherever we wanted to. AMAROK was the perfect mean of transportation in this manner and we couldn´t have been happier being privileged to sail her.
This aluminium cruiser come pretty close to what I would call a perfect dream yacht. 40 feet is a very, very good size for two people cruising. The internal volume allows for two sufficiently big cabins, lots of stowage, a nice cozy salon and a big enough galley. The boat transmits a lot of trust because of the nature of the aluminium construction – even in the heaviest waves or the fiercest gusts I had never had the feeling that the boat might not be suitable or taking too much load. It was also arranged with very caring and practical oriented eyes by her current owner: Everything was placed where you need it in exactly the manner you needed to have it.
Nevertheless, it must be guaranteed that everything works. And on AMAROK it did. It was such a fantastic experience to see that everything just … worked. Without problems. Without any restrictions. The self-steering machine managed to hold her steady on the desired course no matter what conditions, the engine (a Nanni Diesel) was working just perfectly, the fridge was cooling insanely … cold, the stove, the petroleum burner, lights, just everything worked fine. A good sign of a caring and competent owner. There was no fault whatsoever. I just loved the boat! And now that we gained more and more sailing practice in her, it was sad to think of the fact that we already had been on our way back home and that this trip was nearing its end.
Heading back home again
As we left Lohme on day 8 we already had sailed 350 miles. Wind was still blowing from the West and we thought of rounding Ruegen to go to my mate´s birthplace, the harbour town of Rostock. But again forecast and real conditions didn’t matched and we were greeted by an evr increasing wind with steady 20 to 25 knots off Ruegen. We quickly went into the second reef and saw with joy that the speed didn´t came down – still, AMAROK dashed North with 7.5 knots hard upwind. Amazing!
Our problem was that under these conditions, right as we´ve had it when we rounded Bornholm, we would need a lot of tacks to get down to Rostock. Too many tacks and too much time, we calculated after the second tack and an now gusts with more than 28 knots. Another strong current and building seas of over 2.50 metres would mean minimum another 3 tacks and countless hours to reach Rostock. That´s the Baltic so we decided to go to the nearest harbour: Klintholm again! 50 hard miles beating to windward and more than 10 hours later we again moored in Klintholm, but set sails again the following day as early as 8.45 a.m. to try to make more headway to the West. But the wind had died completely this day. More than 4 annoying hours under engine on a flat calm sea, wind returned at noon with barely 10 knots true. It increased to 18 knots and finally blew us to Gedser/Denmark. We spent another quite evening here and again left early the following day to head down South-West to Germany again.
During this 10th day of the journey we´ve had a force 3 wind, decreasing to force 1 over the day blowing from the East. On a broad reach first then flat before the wind our boat was barely making 4 knots in the end. It took is 7 hours to complete the 32 miles to our next harbour – Kuehlungsborn in Germany. But just as we were readying ourselves to take down the sails in order to bring the boat to the jetty, a fierce gusty wind set in, just as it did off Simrishamn/Sweden, causing for very shaky last miles. That´s the character of the Baltic Sea: It is not predictable. And it is different every single day.
Kuehlungsborn is a nice touristy place. It was a seaside resort back in the old days of the German Reich, as well as in GDR-times. Nowadays the town is as beautiful as ever, drawing thousands of people to spending their vacations at the endless white sandy beaches. The harbour is brand new and – again, very different from all the other harbours we´ve seen so far – was attracted to a very different kind of people. The customary walk along the jetties showed some pretty nice yachts having their home port here, such as one awesome excitingly Luffe 48 which instantly catched my imagination. I think I´ve spent hours in front of her berth, barely holding myself from licking her attractive hull …
From here it was just two more days and some 60 miles to reach AMAROK´s home port again and our trip to come to an end. As we berthed the boat on the 12th day, we were happy and sad altogether. A dream had ended.
2 weeks on a sailing yacht: Statistics
The last night aboard AMAROK we enjoyed a very special meal, drank the best bottle of red wine and talked right into the black night. We talked of all the nice things we had the privilege to enjoy, about all the fantastic places we had seen and the countless hours aboard this fantastic yacht. Time to sum up. Time for numbers, facts and figures.
We, that´s two people aboard AMAROK, hat sailed in her 603 miles all in all on 9 sea-days. Statistically that´s 67 miles per day. Not a huge number, but concerning the fact that the first two days we´ve made more than 100 miles, the daily mileage shrinks to 50, which is about 6 to 10 hours out on the sea. A Baltic normal, I would say. In the end, AMAROK had sailed solely by means of wind power 487 miles, meaning that we´ve had the engine running for 116 miles. That´s a share of 80 per cent sailing/engine which is a good one for the Baltic Sea. The highest speed recorded during our trip had been 9.1 knots.
Although the Baltic Sea is not the classic charter area and weekly rates for charter boats aren´t that high compared to hot spots like Croatia or Greece, we were vry happy not having spent a dime on renting a boat. Nevertheless, we´ve spent a considerable amount of money: All in all some 1.030 Euros had been paid. Going through the ship´s account book that´s nearly 70 per cent spent for food and drinks (both on-board cooking and eating out in the harbours). Well, of course, Denmark and Sweden are not cheap places to go … I was astonished that just 172 Euros, that´s 17 per cent of the money, had been spent on demurrage in 9 harbours. Aonther 16 per cent is Diesel, although we just effectively used up Diesel worth of 4.7 per cent of the money. So, the “nice life” had the biggest amount on this trip – and that is good news, at last we had been on vacation.
Pretty perfect summer Sailing the Baltic Sea
We are privileged people. And happy people! We´ve had pretty awesome conditions concerning winds and waves, apart from two or three days of harsh blowing winds and high waves, most of the time wind had been in our favour and mostly blowing from the right directions. I had been sailing the Baltic Sea under very different circumstances! Of course, we didn´t made it to Gotland, but still, this Island, as well as Anholt which I also couldn´t reach with my mate some months ago remains a destination of my dreams. Next time, maybe?
As we got up the last day and enjoyed a rich breakfast, we packed our stuff and walked the duffel bags to our parked cars. Cleaning the boat, stowing away the sails, the sheets and coiling up all ropes was done with pride and sense for the detail. We rigged the boat in a way that Matthias, the owner, wouldn´t notice we had been here at all – and that he would be able to instantly set sails and cast off. In AMAROK, I would sail anytime again: She is such a fantastic, dependable, fast, enjoyable, nice yacht that I need some more days to think over a detailed article on this boat. I would entrust my life to her in any storm, she is absolutely fantastic without barely any tradeoffs.
Going back. Coming home. Back to our normal life. A vacation ends, life and its reality has us again. That´s always a heavy thing. The burden of so many nice memories, so many jaunty hours, so many good conversations, countless pictures taken by our eyes, tastes tasted, air breathed, people met. I again learned so many things during these two weeks: Manoeuvres, sail trim, casting off and landing a boat. Handling a boat in different conditions of winds and waves. Negotiating through waters, traffic separation schemes, fairways. The million faces of the weather. The power of the wind. It was a dream. The “small” Baltic Sea still holds so many of them, there to be discovered, so many places there to be uncovered.
Thank you, my sailing mate, for wonderful 2 weeks! Anytime again. And thank you so, so much, Matthias, for entrusting AMAROK to us!
P.S. – the AMAROK is up for sale: If interested, drop me an E-Mail for forwarding to the owner
You may also like to read about Baltic Sea sailing:
First time skipper – my first sailing trip offshore as a Captain