Sailing in November: Are we the only ones left?

Apparently on this November day we were the only sailors on Kiel Fjord. And it was far from chilly, albeit we were pleased to conclude the day with a traditional North Frisian hot beverage called pharisäer (i.e. pharisee) which was coined by the upset exclamation of an uptight pastor upon finding out that the villagers secretly put rum into their coffee.

A sailful of wind!

On Saturday 31st May we headed out of Flensburg harbour amidst a majestic procession of historical vessels, one of which was DAGMAR AAEN of the renowned adventuerer Arved Fuchs. This time we had plenty of wind and — once a signal flare marked the start of the 35th annual Rum-Regatta — we sailed on a broad reach to the Okseøer.

With the Okseøer abeam, we overtook TUULA which we had affectionally dubbed “the family boat” in a previous encounter. We have a mock-enmity with this boat, as we always end up in a duel off the Okseøer. Seeing that they sailed close to land, I wanted to know how much draught they have. Upon responding 80 cm, I gleefully shouted back that we only had 30 cm and could therefore circumnavigate the island’s shoals in a much closer circle. I don’t know whether this spurned them, but not 1 minute has passed and we witnessed how TUULA ran aground a sand bar, giving us yet another reason to gloat over our opponent’s misfortune. But once we came clear the treacherous Okseøer shoals, we signalised a DLRG boat to help TUULA out of its misery. As the paper reports, it came indeed to TUULA’s rescue (name’s of course not mentioned).

Meanwhile the wind has increased and we had not much ballast to counter-weight the heeling, except for our latest addition to the crew: Davíð, who hails from Iceland, and weights as much, drinks as much, and laughs as loud as the rest of us taken together. So a perfect fit! I met both Davíð and Véronique (from even farther away — Canada) on an underwater fieldschool in Kiel 2011.  For Magdalena from the Italian part of Tyrol and Björn it was the first time in Flensburg too, so we were a truly international crew, but all archaeologists!

We picked up some speed, with the water gurgling along the gunwale and spray-water coming over when riding the waves hard. This was probably the best regatta ever, topped by a truly majestic moment when our course crossed that of the SHTANDART….a scene you’ve only known from pirate movies, with the exception that this was for real.  We returned drenched and tired, but happy. Now a good meal was in order, and of course the quirky prize ceremony was not to be missed, where the first in each class was punished with a mock prize, and the second rewarded with a 3 litre bottle of rum — the local brand — as is ancient and good custom in Flensburg!

The organised chaos

We did not return empty-handed to our homesteads after a couple of days of sailing in Flensburg at the occasion of the 35th annual Rum-Regatta. With a wildly thrown together crew with members hailing from as far as Iceland, Italy and Canada, we managed to win a prize yet again, however not for breaking 3 of 4 oars, as last time, and certainly not for excellent seamanship and professional boat-handling…no…but for not listening. Finally, I found an event where my principal trait is appreciated enough to be awarded. But first things first!


At the Lüttfischer-Regatta, a regatta for small open fishing boats the day before the actual Rum-Regatta, we sailed with a strong breeze up and down the Flensburg harbour basin. I kinda missed some details of the regatta-rules, and despite the kindness of the regatta organiser Gerd Büker who bekoned us that the last leg should not be sailed but rowed, we hurled in our sails in the misunderstanding that the regatta was aborted, while sitting idle on the thwarts with nothing to do except looking for bottles of rum floating around in the water. Fortunately, we got our rum in the end plus a rather nice looking painted oar as rotating trophy for being the “organised chaos”, with the admonition that we have no further excuse for not rowing properly now. Well, I wouldn’t be so sure about it….I am sure we can find one next time!


First trip in 2014


Lasse feels more comfortable on “the dark side” (…of the sail).

Skíðblaðnir got shipshape early this year, so Lasse, Magdalena and I embarked already in March for the first trip of the year in sunny and calm weather. The wind was a bit less than expected, so it was a very laidback and comfortable passage across the fjord, where we had  — once moored — apple cake and coffee. Even the cargo ships didn’t seem in a hurry today… probably waiting to take a pilot on board before entering Kiel Canal.


Reawakening with the first sun beams

Just had to take advantage of the temperature high on Sunday and painted the boat with Stockholm tar…what a difference! I am always surprised what a few winter months could wither away, but luckily painting is just a joy when this is the result:

At the same time I received an invitation to the annual RumRegatta in Flensburg. Needless to say, that we will participate again, as this is always one – if not the – highlight of the year.