Saturday, May 30, 2009

Welcome to the Baltic!

Our first Baltic lighthouse

The yacht and fishing harbor where we are is called Möltenort, but the town itself is Heikendorf. It’s a Baltic resort on the east side of the Kiel fiord across from the locks of the Kiel Canal. This is where we’ll be for a couple of nights or longer depending on the weather. It was a bit traumatic getting into the box mooring here, so we aren’t eager to leave right away.

Strong winds kept us in Büdelsdorf until Friday. Good thing we liked it there. We had been on the west side of the guest dock, but that meant that with westerly winds like we had, waves and wind kept us hard up against the dock. The harbormaster didn’t like that, and he (via his son who helps him) asked us to move Wednesday morning because even stronger winds were expected in the afternoon. That was a very difficult thing to do, even with lots of help, because the wind was blowing us off the dock on the other side, and we had some difficulty with the language barrier and convincing all the guys to cleat our mid-ship line so that John could use it to maneuver. They didn’t realize how heavy our boat is and that they couldn’t just manhandle us sideways. Eventually we got close enough that I could get off the boat, and only minor damage was done on an earlier, failed attempt. The bow hit the stand with the drinking water hose on it and broke the stand. They had it repaired and back in place before we left on Friday.

Last night we anchored in a little lake (Flemhuder See). That was restful, and we just took it easy. This morning we set off again and made the eastern lock of the canal at Holtenau just before noon. Again we were the last boat in, and they started closing the gates as soon as we cleared them. This time we had to tie off at the pontoon ourselves. It was lower than I felt comfortable getting down to, so I took the helm, and John handled the lines. The wind was on our nose, so it wasn’t a problem, and a German woman from the boat in front of us helped and gave John directions to go pay the canal fee. It was only €35, a relative bargain as canals go.

Looking back at the Holtenau locks

Getting into the box mooring early this afternoon was pretty much as difficult as we thought it would be—and we had help with the bow lines. Wind on our beam was part of the problem, and our lack of experience accounts for the rest. We didn’t break anything on our boat or on the dock or on anyone else’s boat, so in the end it’s all good. We did have the life ring pop off, which scared us because it sounded like something breaking. Climbing over the bow railing and anchor to get to the dock is too challenging to do very often, so John has rigged the passerelle, and now it’s pretty easy. John built the passerelle (basically a boarding ramp) in Florida because we’re told we need them in the Mediterranean to get off the back of the boat. In Amsterdam we loaned it to Sjoerd, but this is the first time we’ve used it ourselves.

Home Sweet Box: Passerelle poised for action

The guys next to us said that there’s a storm right now in Travemünde, where we’re planning to go next, and it’s heading this way. By Monday, though, it’s supposed to be calmed down. The Germans we’ve talked with seem pleased that we’re heading to Lübeck.

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