Having chosen to store Pipistrelle for the winter at a yard in Southern Denmark close to the German border at Flensburg, we began our cruise through the Danish islands. The plan was to sail from Sweden and reach Søholm Yacht Services at Nybøl near Egernsund as quickly as possible, but with some stops on the way. In fact it took us longer than we thought because of … yes, wind and weather!
Leaving Marstrand in Sweden on a cool damp morning, we sailed the 35 nm to Østerby on the island of Laesø which we had last visited on Overlord 14 years ago (that same trip mentioned in relation to Norway). Unsurprisingly we didn’t recognise the marina, but do have vague recollections of going alongside the fishing harbour. No matter!
By now we were used to paying our fee by credit card at the nearby machine. Boat length and length of stay tapped in, a coloured ‘parking ticket’ appears, is taken back to the boat and displayed by being looped round the guardrail. Scandinavian efficiency!
Next day which we knew was going to be dry, we hired bikes to explore the island and ended up cycling 26 km! Not bad going, but it’s along cycle paths, all flat, and there was no wind. We had a look around Hedvigs Hus – one of the unique dwellings dating back to the 1600s with its thick seaweed roof. Why seaweed? With no trees or straw on the island at the time, the inhabitants used their initiative, found seaweed and driftwood on the seashore and built their houses accordingly. There are now under 20 left on the whole island.
Lunch was at the Laesø Caféen in Byrum where we tried the typical Danish fish dish of ‘Stjerneskud’, which was delicious. Thus fortified, we had a look at the church dating from the 1200’s which was unfortunately closed, and then set off again to the Laesø Saltworks.
The island produced salt since 1008, but ceased in the 1800’s and it wasn’t until 1991 when a seething hut was reconstructed, and salt production began again. It is possible in Laesø because a very salty brine is formed some 2 metres down in the sand, which has a salt concentration of 15% compared to 2-3% in the Kattegat. Our visit gave us the opportunity to see the liquid bubbling away in stainless steel tanks heated by wood burning ovens. Interestingly the stainless has to be of the highest grade – 316 – the same quality used on Pipistrelle! This is manufacturing on a small scale but it is gaining in popularity and becoming known as the ‘gourmet of salts’. We were surprised to find a delegation from the Lion Saltworks Museum in Northwich, UK, having a serious meeting to learn how to emulate what has been done here, and begin making salt again in Cheshire.
After one more day on Laesø (when it rained), we set off to Grenå, where we stayed for one night and then sailed on to Ballen on the east of Samsø before heading to the small marina of Reersø which is on the west of the island of Zealand with Copenhagen on the east, overlooking the Great Belt. This is one of the three Danish straits separating the main islands that make up the country. We were met by our friends Lisbeth and Christian (their yacht is ‘Pura Vida’), which was just as well, as the marina is not designed for yachts of our size, but we managed to get alongside safely in a protected spot sheltered from the forecast strong winds.
Reersø used to be an island before the causeway was raised above sea level, and it is a delightful spot, with many old thatched cottages which reminded us of home, and walks along the coastline and across farmland. We also had a very enjoyable evening of Danish ‘hygge’ at Christian and Lisbeth’s beautiful home, overlooking Reersø Bay.
We weathered the named storm ‘Aileen’ which caused damage in the UK, and at the first opportunity, set sail south down the Great Belt, as we were running out of time to get to Søholm. Inevitably the forecast was not strictly accurate, and after a good start with sunshine and favourable current, we then had head winds, and found ourselves dodging supertankers and other shipping using the two channels available. Power does not give way to sail here!
We finished up motoring for the last 10nm, and then had a heavy rainstorm so we stood off before making our entrance to Spodsbjerg Marina, on the island of Langeland. Once inside we were able to tie up comfortably, in a position which would provide an easy exit. This marina predominantly caters for leisure fishing boats, and a rally had been arranged for the weekend we were there. The weather was not conducive to continuing south, so after getting ourselves organised, we enjoyed a walk along the coast and inland around the many fresh water lakes.
Having planned to make Bagenkop on the west of Langeland the next stop, we left Spodsbjerg, rounded the southern tip of the island in warm sunshine. Along with lack of adverse wind and current, it was a no brainer to continuing west to Sønderborg, meaning a full day of sailing, but then only a short hop to Søholm.
We were able to moor alongside the quay in the Allsund Channel, have a look around the old town and 12th century castle and naturally buy final provisions to keep us going on arrival at Søholm, which is only 3 hours away.
The lifting bridge at Egernsund into the Nybøl Nor opens hourly each day from 08.30, so we left Sønderborg hoping to arrive in time for 12.30, but we knew it would be tight. We arrived 10 minutes late, but the staff could see us from a distance, so delayed the opening for us to catch up with the other yachts going through! How amazingly helpful!
The yard is only some 20 minutes from the bridge. Søholm run a very professional operation, specialising in the storage of boats both inside their heated and unheated halls without masts, and outside with or without masts in place. Mads Søholm was waiting to squeeze us into a slot on their waiting pontoon, and took our lines.
Almost immediately behind us we found the windfall yacht A.R., previously known as ‘Lively’ when the British owned her, and now renamed A.R. In Michael Cudmore’s book, ‘The Windfall Yachts’, she is variously described as being 125 or 150 sq mtrs! She is now in beautiful condition and owned by a German couple for the last 35 years. She had her masts removed and is stored indoors. We look forward to meeting the owners again when we return – the talk will obviously be of A.R., Overlord and Sea Scamp among others, all of them windfall yachts! Here a few photos …
From then on, we were extremely busy preparing Pipistrelle for haul out. We had opted for storage outside, with the mast in place. For the first time we had to winterise the boat for sub zero temperatures, and rain that might freeze. This not only meant replacing the fresh water in the generator and Yanmar with 50/50 antifreeze, but also the seawater cooling, together with the air conditioning, now used for heat, the watermaker using Glycerine, and the two heads, with the grey tank being totally emptied. A lot to think about, together with canvas covers on deck. There was then the multitude of other jobs from organising car hire (from Flensburg), accommodation ashore (in nearby Gråsten), flights home (from Hamburg), eking out and eating all the remaining perishable food (anywhere), washing and drying machine loads of laundry (off site) and cleaning the interior. We lifted at the end of the first week, when we moved off Pipistrelle, and throughout, we found the yard incredibly efficient, helpful and careful. Our thanks are due to the team of Mads, Flemming, Susanne and Festus.
Pipistrelle is now resting in this tranquil spot until next May, when we will return to Denmark to take her on another journey!