Tuesday, May 21, 2013

We're going back to Augustenborg...

Augustenborg, last time we were there....
On our return from the P&O cruise, our next priority was to decide what to do about Kalessin. Sam finishes rehab at Icanho on 19 June, so after that we are more free. I was sure that we should all go out to Denmark and if possible get Sam on board and sail about a bit before bringing her home, or getting a delivery crew (AKA Guy Brown Delivery Services) to sail her home for us. However, Sam made it quite clear he wanted to have a damn good go at living on board before making any final decisions.

For the last few days I have been researching, dithering, agonising and generally messing about. However, as of yesterday morning, we have a Plan, as follows:

Sam, Guy, Ben and I, plus car and a lot of equipment, will be on a Stena ferry overnight from Harwich to the Hoek v Holland on 24 June, and will then drive up to Augustenborg.

There is a direct DFDS ferry from Harwich to Esbjerg, which is only 90 minutes' drive from Augustenborg. However, the return trip via DFDS would cost over £800, with no option to cancel, a charge for changing dates, and a four-berth inside cabin. The Stena ferry to the Hoek means a six-hour drive to Denmark for me, but costs just over £400 return. Stena is also much more flexible - you can change dates or even cancel - and allows us to book one disabled cabin and a separate one for the boys at modest cost. I had made up my mind to do DFDS direct to Esbjerg going out and Stena on the way back, then I went to the DFDS site to make the booking and the price had gone up another £50 overnight, so I got cross with the whole thing and went for Stena. The main thing is I MUST go to bed when we get on board - I have always failed so far because I love seeing Harwich harbour from the ferry as we leave, and then I don't get to bed until after midnight and end up with about five hours' sleep.

We will arrive in Augustenborg on the afternoon of Tuesday June 25, DV, and then have two full days to do antifouling and all the below waterline stuff. We have asked Anders Dahl, who runs the marina, to prepare for a launch on Friday 28th so we can sleep on board thereafter. With luck we will be able to sail early the following week. Guy will probably stay with us for a few days while we shake down. We can head down to the Flensburg Fjord on the Danish/German border, which is said to be very beautiful, very sheltered, is close to Augustenborg if things go wrong, and gives us access to Flensburg station where Guy can get a train south. Thereafter we can explore the Schlei (which we visited in 2011 with Ben, when we we spent a night at Maasholm and another at Kappeln) and the Eckenforde, and see how things go. If all is ok we can then loop up into the Danish LilleBaelt, explore a few islands and ports, and then go back to Augustenborg. Our return ferry is booked for 24 July but this may change.

Fallback plan: if things go very wrong we can (a) come back early or (b) take the car to Wulkow. The advantage of Stena is that we can come back any day they have space, as long as we pay any extra fares for that day. If things are ok but it becomes clear that sailing Kalessin is not a sustainable option we will take her back to Augustenborg, return to the UK by ferry, and arrange a delivery crew to bring her back to the UK.

The biggest challenge is going to be getting Sam on to and off the boat. His is walking more and more, but his right leg is still very weak, his right arm and hand non-functional, and his balance uncertain, and he depends on grab handles or a stick. We have had various thoughts about using a bosun's chair and a block and tackle slung from the boom, but because Kalessin's freeboard is relatively low we think the easiest option may be to lower the guardrails, get Sam to sit on the (wide) side-deck and then he can slide, crawl or stagger into the cockpit. Obviously this will only work if we have an alongside pontoon or jetty - we haven't worked out an option for a box mooring yet, other than the fact that we'll have to be stern to. Kalessin has a split backstay which will get in the way of any possible access over the stern. Sam may just have to stay on board!

On Saturday we're going down to Chichester to spend a night on a Westerly Storm - I asked for advice on the YBW forum and the owner offered us his boat to get on and off and has now offered it for an overnight so that we can practice living on board, which is incredibly generous (he isn't using it this weekend, but even so....). It will also allow me to measure up a few things which we might need.

There's a lot of preparation to do over the next month and it's all rather terrifying, but I think we are all agreed that we have to give it a go. Anyway, it means at last this blog can return to what it was meant for, and report on our adventures on board Kalessin of Orwell.

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