Tuesday, June 2, 2009

At anchor again

This afternoon we anchored in the Großenbrode Binnensee and were surprised to find free Internet. Thank you, Großenbrode Yacht Club! (For you non-German people, the letter that looks like a capital B is called a sharp ess, and it's pronounced like ss.)

While we were at Heikendorf, we did a lot of walking. (The marina is supposed to have free bicycles to use, but the harbor master informed me that they all needed repair and weren't available.) First, we went in search of a grocery store—without a map, which allowed me to practice asking for directions. On the way home we found a much shorter and flatter route. There are signs to the harbor but not to the supermarket.

The next afternoon we followed the fjord-side walking path the other direction—toward the sea—and found the beach resort and a U-boat memorial. The beach chairs here are really beautiful. They're half-an-egg-shaped wicker about five feet tall. (Looking at the photo below, I see they aren't really egg-shaped, but that was my impression.) Inside the half shell is the chair, complete with foot-rests and colorful upholstery. They would be great in Oregon. I think the idea is to use the shell part to protect yourself from the wind.

Baltic basket beach chairs

The U-boat memorial was also quite impressive. We've seen other memorials to the fallen Germans of both world wars, and I confess that we always feel ambivalent. While I understand intellectually that not all Germans were Nazis, and in my heart I feel for those who lost fathers, sons, brothers, cousins, and friends to the war, the memorials seem a little threatening to me. The U-boat memorial with its fierce German eagle was particularly so. I was impressed too with how carefully the memorial and its grounds and flowers are tended and with how huge the loss of life was—more than 30,000 German submariners lost their lives in WWII. I didn't know.

Memorial for German U boaters

Everyone was very nice to us at Möltenort/Heikendorf. Our neighbors on both sides visited with us. On one side they spoke only German, but on the other side the people spoke the best English we've encountered here. They were a couple a little younger than us who had done the great Atlantic circle back in the mid-90s. From here that's down to the Canary Islands and across to the Caribbean, and then up and back across.

Since the English of the one couple was so good, we asked them for tips in docking in boxes. They said they hate them too and avoid them whenever they can. The people on the other side said to practice in the summer. I assume they meant when it wasn't windy. I had a Skype-chat with Andrew from Dandelion later, and he shared what he'd read about it, which pretty much agrees with what we'd been observing. Put big loops in two long lines. These become your stern lines, and you put the loop over the upwind or up-current piling just as soon as you can so that you can use it to help control the direction of the boat as you continue forward. At the bow, you have a long line ready to toss to someone on shore (best case) or to put on the cleat yourself. People here have open bow pulpits so that they can easily step ashore if they need to. Once the bow line is on shore, you back up to do the other stern line, and then go forward again to finish with the second bow line. The good boxes have lines that run from the dock to the pilings to complete the box. Those are a big help; you use them to keep the boat straight going in and out. We'll never be great at it because we're always visiting. Regulars keep their lines set on the pilings. But we did a good job getting back out of that box, and I'm doing my homework to try to find side-ties or anchorages for the rest of our time in Germany.

Solstice in our box

Last night we went to the village of Orth on Fehmarn island. We hoped we would be able to sail the 35 miles to get there, but the winds were just too light. Mostly we had to motor-sail. I'd picked Orth because it was small and looked charming—and because it said you could side-tie along the village wall with the harbor master's permission. When we got there, the wall option didn't look appealing, but we saw people in the cockpit of a big steel cutter, Victory, that was side-tied at the end of a dock and asked if we could moor to them. They said no problem. Whew!

Village harbor at Orth

Orth was supposed to have some shopping in the village and electrical power on the dock and Internet. The shopping was wind-surfing stores, the power on the dock was only for regulars (visitors had to go all the way to shore), and the Internet cost €9 for two hours. We said no thanks to the Internet and power and bought a few things at the fruit and vegetable stand that opened this morning. Despite it being not quite as advertised, we enjoyed our stop at Orth. For future reference, John says the showers are some of the nicest he's seen.

I don't think I've mentioned day-signals before. They're almost mandatory here but rarely used in the States and other places we've been outside of Europe. When you're motor-sailing (motoring with sails up), you're supposed to fly a cone with the point down. Ours looks a lot like a witch's hat. At anchor you fly a sphere. These signals go somewhere toward the front of the boat. We've been using the staysail halyard and a down line for ours. It is really nice when people use these because you can tell at a distance what they're doing.

We had anchored here and found the single-malt for a celebratory sip after a nice sail when we heard a loud pop. Scramble, curse, scramble. The line attaching the anchor sphere to the staysail halyard chafed through and the staysail halyard was halfway up to the spreader. John tried to snag it with the boat hook, but it was just barely out of reach. He rigged a loop on the end of the boat hook thinking that he could snag it that way, but by then it had worked its way further up and was still out of reach. Quick! Get the bosun's chair and get me up there before it gets too much higher. Long story short, I got to go up the mast in 20 knots of wind at anchor, and John had to get me there. He had the worse end of that deal. There's no fetch here, so the waves weren't throwing us around, and I didn't even have to go up to the spreader.

So finally we're peacefully at anchor in seven feet of very clear water (amazing how clear the Baltic is), using free Internet, and listening to the wind howl. The anchorage is big, our anchor is good, and we have the anchor alarm set but aren't worried. Tomorrow we'll probably go to a marina in a town with a grocery store, but for now, all is good.

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