(Youtube Part 0 – The journey to the Gota Canal)
On 6 April I hope to be back in the water and sailing out of Warmond,it’s really going to start now Helga my potential embarkation for the canal has decided to accompany me with her boat to Friesland, to get to know each other better, once in Friesland she will decide if she wants to take the adventure of sailing with me through the Göta Canal.
Now I don’t have to talk to my kitty alone but have a conversation partner. Together we will then head towards Sneek. Helga had asked if she could bring her electric bike, then it would be easier to get off somewhere and cycle to a train station to pick up the train to Aachen.
(Youtube Part 1 – Crossing the IJsselmeer)
Via Amsterdam, we now sail to the Oranjesluizen on the IJsselmeer. Destination Enkhuizen. Initially she preferred no waves and via the border lakes, but the forecast was calm, so she dared the crossing. The wind was max wind 4 Bft from SSE and the Genoa was up so it went smoothly.
Helga was keen to get into Enkhuizen, so we spent the night in Enkhuizen.
Once in Enkhuizen at Easter, we moor for 1 night and eat something together at the fishmonger’s.
We continue our journey to Stavoren, again with a calm bakstag wind.
From Enkhuizen, the journey continues to Sneek. Helga is a kind and caring woman, who provides a healthy breakfast every morning, including Easter.
(Youtube Part 2 – Oil pressure Sneek)
Once we cast off at Stavoren, we are in Friesland. I then always say “So I am thus again” My roots are in Friesland and since 2008 I am almost always there for 2 months on the way there and back. The weather still leaves something to be desired, but that will eventually improve over time.
Through the Frisian countryside we sail across the Fluessen and moor at my favourite island “De nieuwe Kruispolle” a U-shaped island.
Over dinner, we discuss the progress of the trip.
The next morning at breakfast, she announces that she will not be taking part in this trip after all, including the Göta Canal. She will disembark in Sneek. I regret this, of course, because a bit of companionship and helping hands in all the lock complexes near the Göta Canal is necessary after all. But I respect her opinion.
The next morning we sail on past Heeg to Sneek, once we arrive in Sneek Helga has gathered all her things and I put her bike on the quay, packed and ready for her bike ride to Grou, where she will catch the train via Zwolle to Aachen. Goodbye Helga, bon voage.
(Youtube Part 3 – Sneek – Dokkum)
Having solved the necessary problems or postponed them until winter, I continue my journey. The journey is via Friesland by the standing mast route across the Margrietkanaal and after Grou portside out to Leeuwarden.
(Youtube Part 4 – Dokkum – Lauwersmeer)
Then via the dokkumer Ee to Dokkum and the Lauwersmeer.
On the Lauwersmeer, I usually keep waiting until there is a good weather lock to cross Helgoland.
Out of the estuary
(Youtube Part 5 – Lauwersmeer Helgoland Eider)
On 8-5-2023 I sail through the Robbengat lock into the sea. It is calm weather wind SSE 10-15 knots. I have decided to sail on non-stop to Helgoland. It is expected to take me about 24 hours there, hoping the weather and waves remain calm. The night is still calm, although the weather is getting worse so I adjust my radar.
At dawn around 0500 hrs and passing the traffic lanes, the wind starts picking up and the waves rise to nasty proportions. The waves rise diagonally from behind, making the Asmara roll with hits from port to starboard of about 30-40 degrees. This will eventually last until I enter Helgoland around 9-5-2023 10am. A quick, 8pm, but tedious passage. These are those moments when you say I quit, I’m fed up with this. Always that Elbe bend. During that violence, shortly before departure I had checked everything cabinets locked, fridge closed, etc. But unfortunately I had taken another knife out of the cutlery drawer and had not re-locked it. So at some point that drawer with everything in it lands on the kitchen floor with a thunderous roar. That too.
Once inside Helgoland, I book for 2 nights. Unfortunately this year no investment in Whisky for the winter, the budget won’t allow it. I decide to maybe buy a few more individual bottles the next day, but first I do some shopping, fruit and vegetables. Later, when I am on board with the groceries, I want to go back to the liquor shop for a few single bottles of Whiskey, but when I get there, the shop is already closed. It is still too early in the season and all shops have adjusted shopping hours. Tomorrow the 11th they don’t open until 10.00, so I will have to do without because I have an appointment at the petrol station at 09.00. Unfortunately, no whiskey.
So the next morning I filled up the boat with 557 litres of diesel, unfortunately I couldn’t take any more because the boat was in a tilt. Another setback.
(Youtube Part 6 – Eider Baltic Sea Vordingborg(DK))
I sail out immediately afterwards at 09.45 and set course for the Eastern Eidersperrwerke to go through the lock there and to Tonning. The wind is favourable NO 4 Bft. Since I have to sail sharply, I steer the boat on the windvane to keep the angle between windward and upwind course at 30 degrees.
At 15.03 I reach the out tower for the Eidersperrwerke approach. Once through the lock, which goes smoothly, I have the current with me and arrive in Tonning 1 hour after high tide at 7pm.
The next morning, I want to leave 2 hours before high water to have the current with me on the tidal Eider river. I leave at 07.20, the Tonning bridge opens smoothly, now the railway bridge and the Friedrichstadt bridge, and then lock in the Nordfeld lock at 09.51. I am now on the inner eider again so no more tides. Another bridge at Pahlhude 13.18 and then I moor at Tielehemme a very small harbour. I decide to stay there for 3 nights. Wash, refuel water etc. port money via envelope.
On 16-5-2023 I leave at 14.50 and via the Lexfahre lock I arrive at the Gieselau lock (KM40 Kiel Canal) . There I pay for the Keil Canal to Kiel. After the suis I spend the night there, which is always free.
On 16-5-23 at 08.44 I turn into the Kiel Canal towards Flemhudersee where I will anchor. Still 60 Km to go. As I sail past Rendsburg, I see that the “Reitdiep” of Aart and Iet from Groningen is anchored there. When I app them and ask about their plans they want to continue tomorrow, I invite them to moor next to me on the Flemhudersee. They like that plan and at the end of the day they turn into the Flemhudersee and moor next to me. After drinks aboard the Asmara, they invite me for dinner with asparagus at their place aboard their Barkass. Delicious dinner.
The next morning at 07.45, we both leave. They go to Aero, my favourite island, I go east along Langeland. Once through the Kiel lock, our paths separate. We keep in touch en route by VHF radio on channel 77 until the end of the day.
(Youtube Part 7 – Nyord(DK) – Karlskrona(SE)
The crossing to Langeland is calm the wind is variable 1-2 Bft and the sea calm. Around 18.00 I sail past Langeland and let the boat drift for another hour to try to catch a cod, but alas. Now I heard on German TV that cod catches are declining alarmingly. In 2021, for instance, the sport fishery had still caught 4400 pieces the following year barely 900.
On the east side of Langeland I anchor at 20.0 along the coast at “Vindeby Skov” on 18-5-23
The next morning 19-5-23 I leave at 09.00 with light clouds and a wind ONO 3 towards the Bogestrom passage. At 1712 I moor to a mooring buoy SE of Vordingborg at 2.5 metres of water.
After this quiet night, the idea is to walk into Kalvehave today, Saturday, for the necessary shopping. when I moor there and someone takes my lines, he says the supermarket is closed on Saturday. Got me again. Alternatives? Yes he says to Stege which is across the road and there are several supermarkets there and open until 8pm.
So I untie again and leave for Stege. Arriving at the approach barrel I have to walk through a meandering concrete gully of a couple of miles, next to the gully less than 1 metre of water. IK arrive and more off, this time I am luckier a short walk away 3 supermarkets, I choose the nearest one the “Netto”, well known to me.
When I’m done, I sail back through the same channel and continue towards Nyord, an island where I have anchored before. At 17.00 I drop my anchor in 2 metres of water.
On 23-5-2023 I raise my anchor at 06.35 for a long crossing (12 hours) to Sweden. I first struggle through the Bogestrom passage, a meandering route between shallows, but well-paved. At 08.08 I am out of the channel and back on deeper water. Wind is NW 2-4 Bft. I now have to sail very sharply, no fun for the Asmara. At some point I switch the automatic to windvane, with a fixed wind angle of 30 degrees and a tightly stretched Genoa.
So the boat now turns with the wind and no longer follows the track. This goes well for a while until I’m too far off my track and start to make a reverse turn, I press the tack port button on the AP(Autopilot) and, at the same time, while the boat is turning, walk out to untie the Genoa from starboard and pull it to port. I do not manage to set sail, further investigation reveals that I am sailing exactly through the core of a low-pressure area, so the wind is now turning 180 degrees. I put the boat back on track and now suddenly have ZZW 2, so straight ahead. Fine, then. However, a rolling swell does start again. Around 19.45 I drop my anchor east of Ystad to within 100 metres of the beach.
24-5-2023 After a quiet night, hoisted anchor and left at 08.00, to Simrishamn (26Nm) There is a nasty cross swell again, the wind WNW 1-2 Temperature 14.8 C. After rounding the cape, the wind is 3ft and I set the Genoa, but that is of short duration, Genoa rolled in again. And so you keep busy. At 13.45 I turn into Simrishamn harbour and moor at a jetty alongside.
25-5-2023 Today the area around Karlskrona is on my list. We leave again at 08.00. It is partly cloudy wind W 3 Bft and pressure 1024Mb. Expected arrival 18.00. Trip length about 58Nm. At 16.36 wind picked up to 4Bft. As I approach between the islands, the violence lessens and the depths become shallower. I now have to pass through a swing bridge 4 metres high. My current Navionics chart shows Bridge=16m long / 4m high, but the most essential thing is not there. What are the opening times times and how do I approach the bridge keeper. You can forget bridges and VHF radio in Denmark and Sweden. How well organised we are then. There is no real name of the bridge either. I Google both island names and search for bridge. After about 15 minutes, I find a phone number. When I call that I luckily get someone who speaks English and yes the bridge is operated every hour from 0800-20.00. So I say I’ll report back when I’m in the area.
By now I am walking again through all sorts of gullies with protruding rocks beside me, then comes the moment I am going to call her again. I report 15 minutes in advance, that I will be at her bridge at 6.30pm. Whereupon she starts to sputter and I understand after low sputtering that she will open it at 7pm. Ok I still reply “I Will slow down” So I put the throttle on idle, but even then I am 15 minutes early. I put the throttle in neutral and let the boat drift a bit, but I don’t have much room. So this fumbling I do continuously, once close to bridge 19.50 I have a bit more room around it in terms of depth and then turn at least four laps before this official starts operating the bridge at 19.01, in that time three cars have passed over. I dash through at 6 knots hoping she doesn’t change her mind.
The wind is still strong 4-5 from West, I look for a suitable anchorage and find a bay where a ferry also calls. I dive in a little deeper again and drop my anchor at 19.50, at 2.3 metres under the keel, 3.5 metres of water. As I roll out the anchor chain, I hear the familiar rattle and suddenly “kluunk” , the gauge then reads 9 metres of chain, then just the hum of the anchor motor. What now, I walk forward and see a pile of chain in front of the anchor winch. When I pull that back in and tighten it again, the anchor also comes in with it. So I lower it again and again “kluunk” and the anchor chain stops spilling out. So I now have 9 metres of chain on 3.5 metres of water. factor 3 would be standard but I usually use factor 4-5 or higher depending on current and wind. so 3×3.5 should be at least 10.5 metres of chain. The boat is idle, I am tired after 12 hours of sailing, so I first have a drink and then dinner, then we will see.
After dinner, I go and investigate. The anchor bin is accessible in the tip from the inside. I once made a hatch in there myself. So first remove all the supplies that are normally in the point and then unscrew the hatch. I now pull the chain towards me coming out of the pipe to the deck and after a few metres, suddenly a piece of chain comes out in a clump.
You don’t imagine a 10 mm chain tangling as it falls in a heap. With much effort, I manage to unravel the knot and spread the chain heap a bit further. Job done and anchor hatch closed. I now let the chain extend to 18 metres.
But there is still a little devil waiting and it reveals itself at 04.00 next night. The wind has not abated, indeed more unfavourably, turned, still 5 and is now blowing into the bay.
So at 04.00 my anchor alarm goes off, when I get out I see that it is scratching and I am already close to a dilapidated jetty on 0.6 metres of water under my keel.
I’m getting out of here, this place is haunted. Start the engine, turn on the instruments, wait until I have GPS and raise the anchor. Now what? Fortunately, it is already getting light and the situation is manageable. I put the boat idle ahead and on AP (autopilot) and meanwhile start scrolling my plotter for a suitable anchor or mooring place. The areas around me are littered with shallows, rocks or choppy winds. meanwhile, I sail the boat towards Karlskrona on the AP. On the plotter, I find a long stretch of water close to the harbour with a long row of trees along it in the lee, which seems to suit me. Finally, at 05.00, I drop my anchor in 3 metres of water, completely out of the wind. I go to bed for a few hours anyway.
When I get up around 0900, I’m still in the same spot in very calm water. I decide to stay here for the weekend. I see another chance to make some drone footage at this spot and launch my YouTube film Part 7.
Also on Sunday, a government boat passes by with two men and a woman on board. When they honk their horn and I go outside, they ask if everything is OK, because they had already seen me. After confirming that, a chat follows. I tell them I am on my way to the Gota Canal and am looking for another crewmember. To which they reply, then you should come to the pub, you’ll find someone. I say that’s not in the cards right now, but here’s my card if you’re going for a beer, my phone number is on it let them call. Then they sail on again.
I do some laundry and work on my blog and YouTube channel. The temperature is still not holding up, not getting above 20.
End of part 1