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September 15 to September 22, 2005: Return to Germany for Winter Camp

September 15, 2005 (Thursday)

It was grey but a lot nicer than the day before. We had breakfast down below (it was too cold for the cockpit) and left at 0900 sharp, no problem with the various lines. Juergen had taken off the starboard stern line and both spring lines. I took off the bowlines. He untied the knot (bowline) on the port side as another boat's line was above ours, and off we were. It was very difficult and tight to get out of the dock given the size of our boat and the distance between pilings from our and dock number 9 (behind us), but Juergen made it perfectly. I was very proud of him.

We motored out of the harbor and, as we had the wind right on our nose for the 20.3 nm run, we decided not to bother taking the main out either. It was a bumpy and uncomfortable ride, with strange waves which, though not very high (around 4-5 ft) constantly pushed a lot of water over our bow. Thank God we had closed all portholes and hatches before our departure. We had to clean the dodger glass once in a while if we wanted to be able to see anything even though the Baltic Sea water was a lot less salty and, therefore, less difficult to look through compared to Atlantic or North Sea water. We saw very few boats and if so, they were sailing in better directions than we were based on the wind. Some threatening clouds started mounting, increasing the wind to around 26 knots true. We did not care as we wanted to get to the mouth of the Schlei, not a river, not a fjord, as we learned, but the remnant from the ice age and molten "dead ice". The entrance to the Baltic was artificial and needs to be kept open from time to time. It was a three-mile drive through a narrow channel, well marked with lots of brightly reflecting buoys. We passed two or three harbors / marinas until we entered the town of Kappeln, a small Northern German town. The town dock has lots of piling-spaces, all relatively narrow and barely wide enough for us. Also the current, purely driven by wind, not tide, not the stream of a river, was very strong. We barely made it into the spot, lost a fender in the process which Juergen went after by means of our dinghy - thank God we finally found a purpose for the dinghy which, as you might remember, we had purchased in Germany, had air freighted to New York, kept in our aft locker until we got to Cuxhaven or even beyond (I already cannot remember) and never used it. In the meantime, I got help from two young men tying up our lines properly so that we were sufficiently far away from both pilings, we tied a spring line to ensure staying far enough away from the dock, and we were all set.

Juergen came back, fender in dinghy. We chatted with one of the two gentlemen for a while and then had lunch in the cockpit, played some Backgammon, before we walked into town. It has a nice pedestrian shopping area. We investigated whatever was being offered, found a fishing and weapons store where Juergen had the reel on our fishing rod repaired overnight, etc. We found some books, maps, screws Juergen needed and went back to the boat. It was getting rather cold, and I was glad when we got dressed to go to dinner. The restaurant we had in mind was full and could not accommodate us. We made reservation for the next night and went to a place right near the boardwalk, i.e., just a stone throw away from Impromptu. The food was typically Northern German, delicious, and the portions way too huge. We returned more than half of what was on our plates and felt bad about it, but there was no way we could eat the entire portion.

We had noticed that there was Internet access - wireless!!! We were in seventh heaven and checked e-mails and at least updated our website as far as we had prepared it.

September 16, 2005 (Friday)

It was cold in the boat but the sun was shining. We had breakfast in the cockpit and decided to walk around town after we took care of some things on the boat and tried to call Claudia to wish her a happy birthday. Unfortunately, we missed her. We walked around, bought some cake and decided to have coffee and cake rather than lunch.

We went to the restaurant just in time for our 1900 reservation and were served an excellent Northern German shrimp soup (you would never know how this tastes as it is so different from any shrimp you have had before, if you have not had those special ones. We both love them, but they demand an acquired taste, which not everybody shares with us). The rest of the meal was ok, still way too much. We went home around 2100, more than full and ready to read, make some phone calls, etc.

September 17, 2005 (Saturday)

The night was horrible because another boat arrived around midnight, with very noisy people onboard who had no concern for others. They talked loudly and did not stop. An hour or so later, they must have returned from wherever, because the chatting started again. By that time, it was past 0200 and I was hopping mad. If it had not been so cold, I would have gone out to complain. But this way, I would have had to get fully dressed, something I was not looking forward to and, therefore, I did not. In the morning, I had no desire to get up but then, I had to as we needed to pick up Juergen's dry cleaning, and I wanted to take a couple of pictures from the bridge onto town and the town docks.

We had lunch on the boat, played Backgammon, enjoyed watching other boats come by as the bridge opens every hour at a quarter to. It is amazing to watch the types and number of boats all wanting to get through. There are not a lot of international boats, but we saw two Danish, a bunch of large and old Dutch ships and, today, we even saw a boat from New Zealand. I was very impressed.

Juergen packed up the dinghy again as we will be leaving for Kiel tomorrow. One more evening with Sigi and Biene, and then we will go through the Kiel Canal towards Glueckstadt. This means, that our sailing trip for this year will be over soon, and there will be a bunch of things that will need taking care of. It all depends on when the boat will be taken out of the water. If it happens promptly upon our arrival, we will try to prepare it as best we can for next year's season. If not, we will have to do the work (or most of it) in the spring next year.

Here are some of the pictures I took in Kappeln:

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Downtown Kappeln Pedestrian Walkway
Herring Nets in the Middle of Kappeln Harbor
Kappeln Harbor at Sunset


September 18, 2005 (Sunday)

We left Kappeln after breakfast and barely made it out of the "box" as the pilings were a little narrower than Impromptu. Thank God for our rub rail!!! We raised the main in the channel as the wind was blowing quite nicely. The genoa followed shortly thereafter. A police boat followed us in the channel for a while. I waived. One of the men on board waived back - they never spoke to us but we are sure they checked us out as one of them was on the cell phone for quite some time. We shortened both sails after a while as the wind piped up to around 30 knots (apparent) - and got faster as we heeled less. We made it into Schilksee harbor around 1430 or so - with a little incident which upset us because of the attitude of the two young women on their small sailboat (I don't know what type it was): "sailboats always have right of way". Well, not exactly, if one looks at all the rules. We were motoring inside the marina along a very narrow channel and were almost ready to tie up to the dock to our starboard side. The wind was still blowing and pushed us towards the dock. They were going along this narrow channel on the wrong side (namely the port side) and had departed well seeing that we were entering. In the end, the space between our stern and the dock was too narrow for their boat (thank God there was room under the dock so, nothing happened to the women nor their boat and, in the end also not to ours though initially it seemed like we had a deep scratch. Juergen realized that it was only some of the fiberglass of the other boat... and wiped it off. The sailing instructor had motored on the other side of the channel (the correct side) but had not left us any room to move out of the way. There was some discussion about the attitude... they were glad we did not file a claim (because of the assumed deep scratch).

Sigi came by briefly to ask us to come by their house around 1600 for coffee and cake. We did. The walk took about 10-15 minutes. It was quite cold... The afternoon and evening were very nice. Antonia joined us for dinner in a small Italian restaurant, together with her parents. Hannah spent the night at her boyfriend's house...

September 19, 2005 (Monday)

As we had agreed to have dinner with Sigi and family tonight again, this time in a fancier restaurant in Kiel, we spent the day laying around, playing Backgammon, reading, writing the last few postcards, etc. Sigi picked us up at 1830. The drive was brief. We went to the restaurant where he will celebrate his 50th birthday on October 26 with about 60 guests. It was very pretty, and the food was excellent. The mood and conversation were great as well. Hannah was to depart for Poland on a student exchange the next morning. Antonia was to take a train to Kopenhagen to visit with some friends, and we were leaving the next day. So, Biene called it a good-bye dinner.

September 20, 2005 (Tuesday)

We went to the eastern lock of the Kiel Canal (Holtenau) early as we wanted to go all the way to the other end, to Brunsbuettelkoog and shared one of the old locks which are nowadays used for pleasure craft ("Sportboote" in German) with just one other sailboat. This boat was on its way to Rendsburg, remember this town from our description on our way through the Canal from west to east? We saw lots of container ships and tankers and also a few sailboats. Shortly before Brunsbuettelkoog, we noticed an old sailboat, Anita, being towed through the Canal by a small but powerful workboat from the yard which will be home for Impromptu for this winter. They tied up at a parallel dock. We followed and then spoke with them to arrange for us to follow them the next day all the way to Glueckstadt.

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Kiel Canal at Brunsbuttel - in Fog No commercial Traffic that Night

September 21, 2005 (Wednesday)

It was so foggy that we could not see the other side of the harbor. It was eerie. Since the lock in Glueckstadt only opens around 2 hours before high tide (we are back to tidal waters), we agreed to leave around 1300 plus and had to wait for the lock to open around 1500. By 1510 we were through and began the 10+ nm up the river Elbe. With the current, it took just about one hour. Getting into the outer harbor of Glueckstadt was a little tricky because of the 3+-knot current, but of course, we made it. Then we went through the very narrow lock, which was still open. After "Anita", the other sailboat, was secured, we tied up parallel to her - perfect. Getting into this harbor was amazing. It is a long narrow stretch of water (about a quarter mile) flanked by most gorgeous old houses, some of them former salt silos, which have meanwhile been converted into apartments - beautiful. We took the mainsail off already and met with our friends Maren and Hannes for dinner. They live in one of those salt silos and overlook the boats...

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Glueckstadt Harbor
Yachtwerft Glueckstadt where our Impromptu is stored for the Winter

September 22, 2005 (Thursday)

What a morning! The sun is shining, it is warm and beautiful. We drank too much as Hannes served champagne, wine (red and white), Aquavit, and more wine... We both were suffering. Juergen recovered faster than I but after a few aspirins and a long shower (if trickle because our water pressure works in strange ways) I felt well enough to clean up, prepare lunch, etc. We had taken the genoa down in the morning before I decided to lie down for another half hour...

We are sitting with the boat yard manager to discuss the work that will need to be done on Impromptu over the winter. Later, we will meet with Hannes and Maren for dinner again. It is Hannes' birthday today which we drank into until 0130 this morning.... No more wine for me for tonight!