Friday, July 15, 2011

It's a gas

I woke at 6am to the sound of pouring rain and a German forecast of southerlies up to force 6. Simon Keeling's forecast shows tomorrow considerably better, so it was an easy decision to stay here. It's been the first day since we arrived in the Baltic with rain on and off all day - up until now, most of the rain has tidily been at night.

Sam went off to find Camping Gaz in Travemünde, always an interesting adventure. Fortunately the people at the campsite next to the marina were able to give him accurate directions. The ferry people recognised him and said hello, which is worrying - it must be time to move on.

At lunch Ben sampled a strange cherry-flavoured soft drink which he bought a couple of days ago. He took a couple of sips and looked thoughtful. "It tastes like....silage," he said. We were disbelieving, but indeed it did. It was so horrible we poured it over the side.

In the afternoon we visited the tall ship Passat from which this marina gets its name (Passathafen). Launched in 1911, it was one of the last big sailing ships operating commercially. In 1957 its sister ship, Pamir, poorly maintained and crewed by cadets and a captain with inappropriate experience, sank in the Atlantic when its cargo of barley shifted in a hurricane. Passat, equally poorly maintained, was taken out of service and bought by the port of Lübeck, and here she still is.

When we reached Guernsey on Kalessin in 2006, Sam's oldest friend Robin Swift gave us a copy of Eric Newby's "The Last Great Grain Race", which is still on board. Newby was on a ship called Moshulu, and when they reached Australia to pick up their cargo, the first ship they saw was Passat. It's strange to read Newby's description of her, then look out of our portholes and see her across the harbour.

As we left Passat we were surprised to see visitors arriving in very smart suits, posh frocks and high heels. Even more surprising was the arrival of a basket of live doves. It turns out you can get married on Passat and the wedding party was just assembling.

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