Yes, there is a lot to tell about our adventures in the Baltic Sea, Kattegat, Skagerrak and the
but let’s start with an impression of the alternative route from Holland to Ireland, over the
top of Scotland.Cargo ships have schedules, which always have two sides. Or you are lucky and sail ahead of it, then
you can hang out on pretty islands or sightsee-sail around them, or you have to take the fastest route
to get there in time.
Last weekend, while our short stop in Den Helder we had the choice: wait until
the south-west storm passes and then tack for 10 days against variable winds (the shorter route) or
take the chance and go around the British Isles, 500 miles more.
Checking the weather forecasts did not give a clear picture while the wind was picking up from the
south and above all, there was constantly a saying from our first voyages ghosting along my head: Gy
zult geen goede wind verleggen!! Now, let’s go then! Dirk, Louise, Marco, and Miranda brought us out
into the Schulpengat, where we started tacking just as the current turned and soon made our way
around the shoals and up north.
At first, legislation and economy kept us in their grip, traffic scheme
after oil rig after windmill park…it is amazing out there! War on nature and sailing ships is going on, as
usual, there is absolutely no change recognizable on the North Sea. New oil and gas fields are
exploited, trying to keep up against Russia and the Middle East, new windmill parks drilled and
cemented into the seabed, trying to color our energy-wasting green, and those pretty purple stripes
on our chart, the TSS (traffic separation scheme). 3 separate ones just off Den Helder!
As a sailing ship you have to alter course and do everything possible to cross those imaginary but still ruling lines
at a right angle, and if you do not totally succeed in crossing at 90 degrees because of wind and
currents, they see you with their eye of justice, call you up and prosecute you, even if there is not a
single ship around you could impede of its course of justice!
But finally, you get up to the Pentland Firth, where the world changes into a beautiful and exciting
challenge with nature. Changing winds and strong currents with magic eddies, many new birds, white
striped dolphins, seals, and even a Minky on the road. The wind was kind and kept us minimal
steerage through the dangerous passage and even turned with us after passing Cape Wrath. Now
heading to the Hebrides, closely passing rock after rock and discovering a new seabird every hour,
the crew is content that we choose this route instead of our good known old friend, the canal de la
So far we had a great voyage this summer with several cargoes, still, the voyage is becoming a long
one now for some of the crew, which have been onboard since mid-December, but also coming to an
end, as we have to deliver a functional and ready-to-load ship back in France. The wine delivery was
not the only one this summer, as the people in Copenhagen are unbelievably thirsty and only seem
to drink natural wine there! Our friend Sune Rosforth has introduced a whole new wine drinking
culture there in Denmark, with his charm, knowledge, and unstoppable perseverance. Since him,
Copenhagen is, next to Tokyo, the capital of natural wine worldwide. Copenhagen still has the
advantage of the transport 😉
We had a wonderful time in our Danish offloading ports Copenhagen (Under the bridge at Sune’s)
and in Gudhjem, the ancient natural port on Bornholm, where we lay in front of Provianten, the Havn
Bar of our great friends and clients Maria and Thomas. As the winds were kind to us on the way up there,
we had some time to spare and used it in all kinds of ways, painting the ship, exploring and
feasting over the island, getting to know many friendly locals, and sharing a taste of rum with even
Due to the wind, we decided to pay a visit to Christianso where we anchored overnight and were
woken by howling seals on the easternmost rocks of Denmark.
Back to Copenhagen, we discharged a load of Svaneke beer, which was accompanied by master
brewer Jan Paul, who made even some beer on the voyage in our galley. Some precious boatbuilding
oak from Bornholms sawmill Koefoed was loaded for Den Helder, where it will be used in one of the
local sail cargo projects.
We also visited the Danish sail cargo project Hawila in Holbek, where the international crew worked
hard to get this beautiful Baltic Trader back in sailing shape again, renewing structural parts as well as
constructing a substantial hold for future cargo and art-ventures! We wish them very well and hope
more enthusiast and talented craftswo-men to join their team.
Now all sails are set, bound for Cork in Ireland, where we receive a cargo of beer for France, we hope
that corona rules will allow us a shore leave, as for many of us it would be the first pint in Ireland
In respect of wind, current, and rocks,
The swell is getting big. The sun tries to appear with rainbow touches.
The sea is wearing an undescriptive ocean blue and the foam is whispering after our passage.
We passed some cargo ships sailing through Gibraltar. Two of them actually told us they wanted to alter course without knowing that we are a sailing vessel under sails. They were suprised, yes we do that nowadays throwing ourselves in this gigantic and strong nutshell. Now, between Madeira and Morocco, it sounds exotic.
About 4 p’clock this morning the main stay sail is settled back and I had the feeling that the main sail needed some attention as well. So it decided to open it’s seam. 60 cm to restitch by hand, some caresses. I wanted it to stay in one piece for a few more days to help us to sail further south.
Here is a world where we fix the stuff when wood, rope, metal, fabric are about to break. We needed all. Make-up doesn’t last too long…
Each watch has it’s routine with sweets and sandwich habits to refuel bodies and minds.
We are flying a FT flag on top of the mast … not that we are expecting to attract the attention of the public around for commercial reasons, but only to see where the wind comes from up there. It’s hanging brave on the sticks for miles and miles now. In calm or in the storms, it is there, used by the UV, the salty sprays and the undisturbed air. Soon we will see only an “I” left of this flag.
Little celebration on board today for the Dutch citizens: SinterKlaas. Thanks Sabine and Joop to have provided chocolate letters the day we left Den Helder. You made 15 sailors super happy even, if half of us don’t celebrate this day usually.
We are ready for more whales by the way…