Log #15b Copenhagen to the North Sea

June 30, 2000 in Log Series 11 - 19, Logs by Series, Series 15 Baltic & North Sea, The Logs

Log #15b Copenhagen to the North Sea

Written at Loch Toscaig, Scotland
June 30/00
Covers the period May 10 to May 25/00

Before going to Copenhagen (København) we stopped in Helsingbørg, Sweden, May 10 to visit the family of Dan Warkander, Judy’s brother-in-law. We enjoyed their company, sharing a lovely meal with the whole family, and the pleasure of visiting Dan’s parents. We were even able to send some E-mail from their phone line.

Helsingbørg is redeveloping its waterfront with a new camber separated from the main commercial and ferry docks, containing the Helsingbørg Yacht Club, with a museum complex and a promenade around the basin allowing the public to stroll past dockside bistros and restaurants located in front of upscale condominiums. The Yacht Club was very hospitable, one of the members waving us to an open slip at the end of C dock. These slips had finger docks with water and electricity readily available. The cost was only 80 Swedish Kroner a night (about $12.00 Cdn or £5 UK, $9.00 US) which included water and electricity, a nice club / bar , free showers, free washer and drier, a heated drying closet for damp wet gear, dock carts, and the “piece de resistance” – a SAUNA! The camber is located right downtown near a pedestrian mall with all kinds of stores, restaurants, theatres, parks, cinemas, and the ferry docks within a five minute walk. Other than the dockage, we found prices to be as high as London. Again we found most people spoke some English and we had no trouble communicating. The people were very friendly and helpful.

On May 13 we crossed  the sound over to the marina at Helsingør, Denmark to fill our fuel tanks and go to Kronberg Castle, better known to us as Elsinore, the castle of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Fuel is cheaper in Denmark. No one was at the fuel dock, and the pumps were a prepay format which took some getting used to as we did not know the cost per litre, or frankly the value of the Danish Kroner. How much fuel would 200 kroner give? After feeding in bills two or three times, we finally completed our refuelling after 700 Kroner.

Then we wanted to find an available slip to stay for a few hours to visit the castle. They were box moorings! We saw a couple empty across from the fuel jetty and a boater said the one was available. We manoeuvred around in the restricted channel to line ourselves up, trying to stay on the upwind side on our approach to the outer two mooring posts. In order not to drift down on the next boat, I kept a fair bit of way on to enter, knowing I could rapidly go astern to stop the boat. We stopped OK, STUCK BETWEEN THE TWO POSTS! Veleda was too wide for them and we were stuck tight amidships. We couldn’t push hard enough on the posts to free ourselves. Full astern did not free us. I was debating lowering the dinghy to add power or to take a kedge anchor out into the channel to pull us off. However a German power boat that was at the fuel dock with us, saw our predicament and came over to take a line to pull us off. His 250 hp and our 30 hp finally worked and we came free. No too embarassing! Then someone said the (wider) slot next to it was also free and we could use it. This time we were successful.

The castle was very interesting and well maintained. After going across the moat and outer wall we found ourselves in a large cobblestone inner courtyard. We bought a full ticket for the castle and museum, not inexpensive, but worth the price. We had a conducted tour through the  ancient cellars and tunnels beneath the castle and then were able to wander through the rest of the castle, which was well restored. One section was devoted to the Shakespearean play “Hamlet”. They put the play on in the courtyard each year and are presently preparing a larger stage for it. Several sections were devoted to the original royal rooms and furnishings. There was an excellent display about the North Sea oil and gas industry showing on a floor sized chart where the different fields and stations are located. An extremely good video and guide pamphlet explained all the stages of the exploration, production and transportation from the rigs. The castle contained a good marine museum as well. Judy and I cannot pass up a marine museum. We left mid afternoon and had a pleasant sail, wing on wing, down the sound to København. We went in at Langeline Jachthafn, the smaller, more expensive, but well located marina, a two minute walk from the Little Mermaid. We were flagged into one of the few remaining spots by the very friendly harbourmaster. These were bows on moorings, but rather than the box type moorings which have stern posts to squeeze between and tie to, these had a mooring ball which was picked up and secured by a stern line. This was paid out to allow the boat to tie the bow to the jetty, then we tightened up on the stern line to hold ourselves off.

We did the usual tourist bit of museums, royal palace, docks and strolling around. We particularly appreciated the Resistance museum located only a few minutes walk from the marina with a tour in English conducted by a history student, describing the chronology of the occupation of Denmark. The exhibits started from before the war, and the early days when the Danish administration stayed in place and gave limited cooperation with the German occupying forces in WW II. As resistance increased and strikes in Copenhagen took place, the Nazis took over the administration and clamped down on the resistance and the populace. There is a story that the King of Denmark, when informed all Jews must wear the Star of David, appeared in public with it sewn on his coat. Apparently this is not true, but the Danes did help a large proportion of the Jews in Denmark to flee to Sweden just before the Germans started rounding them up. Our guide described the ambiguous attitudes within Denmark regarding cooperation with the Germans. There was a fledgling fascist party in Denmark. After the war, some of the small businesses which supplied the occupying troops were prosecuted in court, yet the members of the government which advocated cooperation with the Nazis were voted back into power in 1945 after the liberation.

A dinghy ride in Sprite through the waterfront canals allowed us to see the old canals in Copenhagen and the marina facilities across the channel in Christianshavn as well as the new condominiums going up in the unused commercial dock areas. We were quite happy to be at Langeline Marina, as the other marina across at Christianshavn, and the central one at Nyhavn, were  most unappealing. Across from our marina was the Royal Yacht which departed before we left. We made good use of the public transport system to go over town to the Tivoli Gardens for an enjoyable evening in this colourful playground. We just wandered around drinking in the atmosphere, listening to some jazz in the bandstands and enjoyed a Chinese acrobatic troupe doing some fantastic balancing and juggling acts with spinning saucers, barrels, hoops, banners and poles. Upon leaving the Tivoli, we were able to figure out the public transport system not only to get back to the marina, but also for our train trip the next day over to Roskilde.

Written – July 1/00, Island of Rona

Roskilde is a ancient community dating back to the Viking era and earlier. All Danish kings have been buried at Roskilde Cathedral since Harald Bluetooth was buried there in 986, up to the last monarch, Frederik IX in 1972. However for us the real attraction was the Wikingerschiffs-museums (Viking Ships Museum). Here were the remains, restored, of five Viking ships sunk in the 10th or 11th centuries as a barricade to thwart other Viking raiders from attacking Roskilde. From these remains, plans of the construction were made and several sailing replicas have been constructed. It is a great place to see these craft and the school children who come down to sail and row them, as well as to learn the carpentry and sail making skills of the Viking era. The town is at the end of the Isefjord; a good marina serves the area, but it is a day’s sail down the fjord to reach it. We anchored at the entrance to the fjord on our way across the north coast of Sjaelland, but did not want to take the time to sail all the way in to Roskilde. This is a town I would highly recommend, and it is well worth spending a couple of days enjoying it. Unfortunately as I write this we just heard on the radio some tragic news about Roskilde, that eight young people were crushed to death at the music festival held there the end of June each year.

We left København at 0930 on May 16 and after a lovely spinnaker run of several hours and 23 nautical miles, went in to Helsingbørg at 1400 for groceries before starting our sail across the Kattegat to the Limfjord, another 120 miles away. This was the start of the worst two weeks of our journey so far! Incidentally, the weather was wonderful, warm and sunny for most of our sojourn in the Baltic from Kiel to København.

Even as I write this at this instance Judy informed me we have just run out of propane again, one of the problems I am just about to comment upon. Fortunately our Dominion Day (Canada Day) supper is ready, and we will just have to do without coffee or tea.

The misfortunes of the next two weeks started after we left Helsingbørg, when we ran out of propane with over 24 hours to go before reaching the Limfjord and civilization. Cold food for the overnight crossing until we arrived at Hals at 1030 the next morning. Two hours later while motoring, the engine alarm sounded and we found we had broken the alternator belt. Fortunately we had a spare and, replacing it, carried on.  The marina at Hals looked good, although no one was around. The town adjoined the harbour and we got a hot sandwich at the local supermarket, the only place open. No propane in town. So on we went another 17 miles up the fjord to Aalborg, a fairly large city, going alongside at the fuel dock of the Vestre Baadelag Yacht Club. We found out that the fuel dock would not be operational for a couple of weeks, so we stayed at it free of charge for several days (with electricity).

Danish propane tanks don’t fit our installed connectors (either North American or British) and there was no way we could get our British or Canadian tanks filled. We were considering the expense of putting in the Danish system, but then found at a chandlery a single burner butane system called Glowmaster which we bought along with the only eight butane canisters they had. Hot food was now possible, though meal planning, with only one burner, was a bit more of a challenge than usual.

One of the places on the Limfjord we wanted to see was the StenalderCentret (Stone Age Center) in Ertebølle. We spent a day on the bus going from Aalborg, and had to walk about five kilometers from Ertebølle to the Center, but it was worth it.  Judy’s Dad has written a couple of children’s books about this era, and we wanted to see the good display they had on the manufacture and use of flint tools. When Judy phoned home to tell her Dad about this trip, she found out that her sister Jacqui was flying up to Aalborg the next day to visit her mother-in-law who lives nearby. We had a nice day with Jacqui and Anders and their baby, Pierre (the one who was born on my birthday July 19 last year while we were crossing the Atlantic – so he is special to us) and enjoyed meeting Anders’ mother for the first time.

While in Aalborg we did routine maintenance, changing the oil and filters, and topping up fluid levels in the batteries. All seemed OK. We left May 20, fuelling up at another dock first. Within a half hour the alternator belt broke again in mid channel. No wind. We hoisted sail anyway, drifted out of the channel and dropped the anchor. The only spare belt we had was the one that was too small because of the larger pulley on our heavy duty alternator. Remember the fun we had when we found this out last year while coming up the Thames into the Medway? However, we had the universal belt that was given to us at that time by a local fisherman, and used it to get us going and back to the fuel dock at the Yacht Club. While Judy went over to the Yanmar dealer across the camber, I found out I could fit the belt that was too small by taking the pulley off the engine, fitting the belt on the loose pulley, then bolting the pulley back on the axle. It worked!! When Judy returned I told her about it, and was just in the process of levering against the alternator bracket to tighten the belt when the pry bar slipped AND I BROKE THE TEMPERATURE SENSOR!!! AAAaaagghhhh!!! The Yanmar dealer ordered one for us, but we had to wait three days for it to be delivered.

It was delivered at 1315 the 23rd, and we were under way by 1430, having let the engine run for a half hour to make sure it was the right sensor and worked properly. Later that afternoon we passed the Danish Royal Yacht, and dipped our Canadian ensign to it. It caught them off guard and some poor sod tore aft to respond, and lost the flag halyard. The last we saw of the Royal Yacht, it was turning a bend in the channel with the ensign flapping uncontrolled in the breeze. That night we paid 75 D Kr (About $12.00 Cdn) at Løgstør harbour, the only time we paid a marina fee in Denmark. The next day the winds were heavily against us and we had to go across several wide lakes which blew up quite harshly. On the last lake on the Limfjord we were going into a force six wind and could not winch in our genoa, as the seizing on the genoa sheets was slipping every time we sheeted in. We had to power into the wind with our engine, going into Lemvig Fiskerhavn for the night. It is a fishing village with no real accommodation for pleasure craft. We found some space on the downtown docks and spent a pleasant evening fixing the genoa sheet, talking to  curious locals, and wandering through the deserted town pedestrian precinct.

We left at 0700 the next day, May 25, and by 0930 we were clear of the Thyborøn Canal, out of the Limfjord and into the North Sea en route to Norway, to encounter a full gale within twelve hours as described in Log #15c, which I completed earlier. If you did not get this #15c let me know, as I have had problems sending some E-mail.