Inverness – Copenhagen. North Sea and Well Known Shores
We are home. The last three weeks since sailing out of Carlingford marina has flown away. I remember that I, when sailing off, were thinking that the next three weeks would bring new experiences and adventures to the many we have had already since we bought the boat for a little more than 2 years ago. This was guaranteed. Which adventures and experiences was not possible to know, but I hoped they would mainly be on the positive side. The adventures up to and through Scotland are described in earlier posts, but this last part of our trip home was quite different from the two first weeks. Even though the steep waves of the North Sea did set a footprint, the adventures did not disappoint us.
The weather forecast for the North Sea looked promising. Biggest challenge would be the wind dropping, with only light winds and some days no wind at all. Tonny had arrived friday evening, so Saturday morning he and I went to a few DIY shops to find two more 20 liter jerrycans so we would have a total of six. With these we would be able to reach a coast from anywhere on the North Sea if required. In such circumstances we could hope for being more than half way, so nearest coast would be danish and not scottish.
We left Inverness with High Water around 2 pm Saturday, and with full tank and jerrycans of diesel. The plan was to get as far as possible as fast as possible to catch the tail of an area of north going wind, which moved westerly.
We were able to sail at least 8 knots going with the tidal stream out of Inverness Firth and into the bigger Moray Firth opening up to the North Sea. I was not too happy about myself, as it wasn’t until we were out in the Inverness Firth I realized, that it was quite shallow and we might have to follow a not very obvious route out instead of just heading directly for Chanonry Point. I did find a way out, it was high water, so actually we might have been able to sail anywhere in the firth. We were lucky to see a few big dolphins at Chanonry Point, raising the expectations for Moray Firth, which has very good conditions for dolphins and whales, so our chances of seeing whales were the best we’ve had. We did not see a single dolphin or whale…
Saturday at 8 pm we reached the most northerly point on our entire trip home from Spain. We were sailing 8 knots, but half an hour later the wind died. I would have preferred wait as long as possible starting the engine, but on the long run we would save more fuel by motoring now and reach the area with wind, which should build up Sunday just east of Scotland. Missing that would mean a lot more motoring. So we started the engine which we used until early next morning. At 3 am we said goodbye to the most easterly scottish coast, and around 6 am, the wind started building up.
It was time for the real part of crossing the North Sea, where we would be far from land, and oil rigs were almost the only sign of life around us. Many does not like sailing the North Sea, most often because of the steep waves that build up due to the shallow water. Actually, the weather was perfect for the next one and a half day, and still we have to join the choir of unhappy North Sea cruisers. We were sailing close hauled with full sails, except for a period with a reef in the main. But the waves were really annoying. They were steep as expected, but also irregular making the boat bump around in many directions. And with constant heeling, the life on board was really challenged. When down below preparing meals, do the dishes or on the toilet, we came up nauseas or even seasick.
Heaving to, a break in the middle of the North Sea
After 24 hours like this, June suggests that we heave to, which is a way of “parking” the boat, so it is quite steady. It is often used when sailing into a storm, which we haven’t experienced yet. Now we could test it without too much wind and less consequence if we failed. But we succeeded. And what a relief. Of cause the boat moved around, but not nearly as much, and we felt how calm and silent it gets. We hove to for half an hour, where we cleaned dishes, prepared dinner, and relaxed from the heeling and shake-ups. After this, we sailed on with renewed energy and certainty that this was something we are going to use again.
As expected from the weather models in my GRIB files, the wind died again Monday around 7 pm. We were approx. 125 nautical miles from the entry to the Limfjord and had plenty of diesel for this distance. We started the engine, and motored with as few RPMs required to still keep 6 knots of speed – the engine did have a problem keeping the motor oil, so we’d better be careful. Living on board now got a lot easier. Tuesday morning June baked rolls and cinnamon buns, and we enjoyed the fantastic summer, sending a few thoughts to the bimini we packed away as we didn’t think we had to protect ourselves from the sun at this latitude.
After 430 nautical miles since we sailed out of Inverness marina, we entered the Limfjord. It was fantastic, not only because of the flat water. It was rather because we have really good memories from the Limfjord. This was where I started sailing when 8 years old, where June and I sailed together for the first time, where we sailed our first multi days trip around the island Mors, and here we promised each other that some day we should sail to distant shores.
The Limfjord was also fantastic in another way. In Struer and Hvalpsund we were welcomed by family and friends. Actually we sailed Tonny home from Scotland, as he has a boat in Struer, where we met Helle and those of their family who were able to come by – and brought dinner and breakfast to us. In Hvalpsund, where I was born and raised, we were welcomed by Åge, Dorthe and my mother – and my mother invited us for plaice at the local restaurant – after which Bente and Niels came by the boat, bringing a delicious cake. So we were catered very well for, just as usually when visiting this part of Denmark. But it didn’t end here. In Inverness Laura asked Søren and Merete if Søren wanted to sail with us from Hvalpsund to Copenhagen, as they would be back in Denmark by then. So he did. As Søren said, when Laura invites you don’t decline. And with Søren came a basket full of sandwiches, egg, melon, etc., which we lived well from for at least 24 hours.
Chaos at Anholt
It was now Thursday, and we wanted to get to Ishøj south of Copenhagen, where we had arranged for a temporary berth for Carpe Diem. So we wanted to reach Hals at the exit of the Limfjord the same day. The westerly wind was perfect, so we made it to Hals by sun set. The marina was quite full, but we rafted up along a smaller boat, where the owner and crew was very helpfull rafting us up in the strong winds. They said they were leaving next morning early, but this suited us well. Next morning we were up early and sailed off without hearing anything from our neighbors. It was downwind sailing to the island Anholt in Kattegat, which we chose because next day would be a shorter distance. I have never before seen so many boats compared to the available berths. The harbour master met us in a dinghy when entering the marina, explaining that there were 2 boats for every berth. Getting a berth was quite a challenge, involving unsuccessful anchoring etc. before we rafted up outside 3 other boats, down a channel made up of boats rafting up. Søren bought fresh fish, which we prepared for dinner, and we had a nice walk in the hills surrounding the marina. We have to see this island properly som time.
Maneuvering the boat out of the marina was perfect, regaining some of the lost harbour-maneuvering-confidence of the skipper from the day before. The plan was reaching Elsinore, and then we would probably be able to get to Kastrup or Lynetten Sunday. This meant we would have to sail the boat the last distance to Ishøj when back at work. We started of with sails set, but after lunch the wind died, and we started motoring. Just north of Sealand we saw dolphins. We are sure they were hunting, as seagulls were picking up fish from the middle of the group of dolphins.
Kronborg Castle, the home of Hamlet
Elsinore marina was quite full, which we were rather tired of, so we decided to sail further down The Sound. With Kronborg Castle on starboard, we headed for Nivå, but I decided to sail to Lynetten or Svanemøllen instead, which I again changed to Amager Beach where we could moore at a mooring buoy. An example of how resolute skipper can be… The advantage of this plan was that we could reach Ishøj, our final destination, Sunday.
The trip down The Sound was very special. It was mainly as any other trip we have had in our previous boat Mira a few years ago, but with small glimpses of a big goal being achieved. Around midnight we found a buoy at Amager Beach where we stayed during the night. We were now only one and a half kilometer away from our house. It was fantastic waking up on the boat with the sun rising over The Sound. We then realized that it was not a mooring buoy we picked up in the dark, but a buoy marking a swimming only zone. Good thing that there were no wind during the night… Nanna came down to the beach and was picked up in our dinghy, after which we sailed the last 19 nautical miles to Ishøj, arriving around noon. Here, we were first welcomed by Peter, who was at a pontoon at Vallensbæk marina, which we pass by going in to Ishøj Marina, and then by Anja and Deniz, who had been so kind to drive our car to Ishøj so it was a lot easier for us to get home – next day was a working day…
Not only this summer’s cruise of 973 nautical miles had come to and end, but the entire trip from Torrevieja in Spain, south of Gibraltar, up along the Portuguese atlantic coast, crossing the Bay of Biscay, up to Ireland, through Scotland and over the North Sea to Denmark, had come to an end too. This was really difficult to understand, and maybe it still is. Maybe we realize it, when we now easily can go to the boat and go for a quick sail. And now it is time for the next part of the plan preparing the boat for even more long distance cruising. We will get back to that, but for now we just want to enjoy having the boat close to home.