The fastest floating hedge!

At the 36th annual Rum-Regatta we participated in the Lüttfischer-Regatta (a race for small traditional fishing boats) in Flensburg’s harbour basin. Due to a lack of wind, we had to rely heavily on our rowing-power.

This year I mustered a formidable crew of beardy Vikings (a floating hedge!), so we gained the lead within only few seconds after having crossed the starting line. I felt a “little bit guilty” about our easy win, as we almost got all the prizes there were: (1) The strange bell-shaped brass object for the fastest smakke was ours, (2) the wooden scoop was ours (officially, because we were rowing so hard that a lot of spray water came over. Inofficially, all the water came in through the many dry cracks), and (3) we almost received the painted oar for the best rowing, but we got that one already last year for not rowing. We returned home with not only rich booty, but also with fame, as we made it onto the front page of “Flensborg Avis”, the local Danish minority newspaper. Once again we had a great time, which was only dampened slightly by the fact that we could not put to sea the next day at the actual Rum-Regatta, as 7 bft in gusts were forecasted. In all honesty, I think with this great a crew it would have been possible, but I put the safety of my crew & vessel first!

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.


This year we almost missed out on the greatest local maritime event: The Windjammerparade, where the entire fjord is veiled by spreads of white canvas, most notably of the majestic four- and three-mast barques, but also many other historical vessels. My boat was on the trailer still and a new coating of anti-fouling was drying. But on the eve of the parade, I found two volunteers – Leif and Magdalena – who helped to slip the boat. Next morning the boat was leaking heavily as the planks had formed many dry-cracks. But we were determined to participate, so they were caulked with ettan.

We were caught in the doldrums with almost no wind, as the parade passed along our side. Black clouds were emerging, and with it a freshing gust of wind and an even more refreshing rain, that later turned into hail.  We were returning to our marina in style, accompanied by thunder and lightning.

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!