Friday, July 12, 2013

Sønderborg again

We spent three days in Flensburg in the end, as Wednesday was a bit gusty. I took the opportunity to go and get a Campingaz cyclinder from Flensburger Yacht Servie, the same chandlery we visited last time we came to Flensburg. It felt more interesting travelling by yacht and bicycle. We were right at the head of the fjord in Flensburg, only three berths down from the very end one, which meant we were relatively close to the main road on the west bank. It wasn't incredibly noisy but there was always background noise, and of course emergency vehicles with two-tone sirens, which are probably meant to be audible if you are inside a well-insulated Mercedes, and are ear-shatteringly loud if you are foolish enough to be a pedestrian or on a boat.

Yesterday we sailed all the way back along the fjord, just over 20 miles back to Sønderborg again, although this time to the marina rather than the town quay. There's a lot less traffic noise than the quay, but loads and loads of families. Unusually this marina has a couple of guest pontoons rather than just getting people to find a green-marked space, which means there are lots of families and children running up and down because all visitors are concentrated in one area. As I type there's a firework display going off which is VERY LOUD. It has to be this late (11.30pm) because it really doesn't gte dark enough for fireworks until after 11pm.

Our sail yesterday was excellent, with beautiful sunshine and little fluffy white clouds, although the wind varied quite a lot in strength and occasionally in direction, and the fjord wiggles about a bit so as the pilot book says, "most points of sail may be experienced". I'm trying to persuade Ben to spend more time helming, which is difficult, as he still tends to revert to dark-dwelling teenager given half a chance. At one point I got him to take the tiller so I could have a break, and then realised I hadn't actually had a break, I just made lunch. So I got him to take it again while I sat below and read for 10 minutes. I am quite impressed at how well Ben and I can handle this boat, admittedly in very easy conditions, but still we are actually going from place to place, sailing with both sails up and no engine some of the time, and mooring successfully.

We've been dithering a bit about where to go next. I want to go to Ærøskøbing, which is said to be very pretty, and which we missed out on last time we were here. It's on an island to the east of here and is a longish passage (around 31 miles), mainly because it's 20 miles just to get to the open sea. Not so long ago we'd have laughed at 30 miles, but although Sam is coping better with sailing he still finds it hard work. I also want to be able to sail (without engine) as much as possible and arrive early enough to get a good berth - before 3pm, or even earlier if possible. It struck me that Saturday in the high season probably wasn't an ideal time to head to a pretty island port and expect to find a space easily. So tomorrow we will nip down south to the Schlei, to Maasholm or Kappeln, stay a couple of nights in the Schlei as Sunday is forecast to be a bit windy, and try for Ærøskøbing on Monday instead.

In the meantime I made the most of being here by cycling on the bridge across the Alssund and up to Dybbøl bank this afternoon. It was the scene of the last stand of the Danes against the Prussians in April 1864. The Prussians won, apparently because they had fluted cannon, and the Danes lost Schleswig Holstein. By Danish standards Dybbøl is a high point, and there were wonderful views across poppy-laden fields to the Flensburg fjord, Germany to the south, Sønderborg below and dimly in the distance the islands of the Lille Baelt. I cycled (very slowly, as our folding bike has no gears) up the old quiet coast road, and it is scattered with rough stones engraved with messages commemorating the soldiers who fell at each spot. Very atmospheric and very beautiful.

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