Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sailboat Cruisers s/v 'Bear' Family Update

Our good friends Mark and Yvette along with their daughters Jenefer and Maya are making good time along the English coast in 'Bear' on their voyage home to Florida. Here I reproduce the latest newsletter of their escapades this summer so far:

Hello again. It has been a time since I last posted so there is a lot of catching up to do. Cruising life is by no means just lying around in a hammock!

I left off leaving the storage yard of Weilandt in Fehrman, Germany. We were extremely relieved to be back in the water safely as the shear mass of Bear taxed both the trailer she sat on all winter and the crane that lifted her. She managed the quarter mile roll with one flat tire,
producing a rather precarious starboard lean. Backstay removed to make way for the lifting bridle, the massively overburdened crane lifted her over the seawall and into the water she went. It still boggles my mind to think that thirty tons of steel can float so nicely, even through the air on a twenty- seven and one half ton rated crane. All involved were, needless to say, greatly relieved!
Bear going splash 
Our first stop was the British Kiel Yacht Club, a send from a fellow cruiser from the Cruising Association and not on the general cruising book's radar. It was a well-appointed club with a mess hall, full bar, proper bathtub, as well as full of British soldiers transiting to and from Afghanistan. The club also had a fleet of Halberg Rassey sailing yachts that they used for "R and R". 

The place was a bustle with preparations for the upcoming Kiel Week, the largest sailing regatta, both classic and modern in the area. The club was not foreign to the hubbub of yacht regalia as evident on their walls. There were many photos of peaceful events and from the war, their most famous/infamous visitor, Hitler and his entourage, partaking in the fleet. 

One of the classic yachts remaining at the club was Flamingo, a beautiful 60-ish foot sloop that we were berthed next to. Her sister ship was scuttled at the end of WW II but she was spared and lay pristine next to us, awaiting the Kiel Week festivities.
Classic Yacht Flamingo
We stayed a full week to finish commissioning Bear for the season, putting sails on and delving into repair lists that are perpetual on any boat, let alone one built in 1981 and its third time around the world. Maya and Jenefer helped as well as occupying themselves.

Provisioning was done in our usual fashion; backpack and a dolly with loads of bags strapped on. Bus fare in hand, I performed my societal test on the local culture which consisted of laboriously negotiating my payload to the entrance of the bus. It never fails to bring out the best as I always receive a helping hand both on and off. Conclusion: Courtesy is trans-cultural. 
Jenefer guarding ships stores
Side trips included the City of Kiel to check out the locks that we were heading towards and to Laboe, at the mouth of the Kiel Firth. In Laboe, we toured the U boat 995 which served in WW II and featured in Wolfgang Petersen's seminal film, Das Boot. Mark was tickled because he is quite the WW II history buff. We parted ways and I enjoyed the beach with the girls plus ice cream as he ferreted about the Marine Ehrenmal, which is the War Memorial Museum. It was very worth the time, in his opinion. 
Mark between the torpedo tubes of U995

Maya and Jenefer on a "social" swing set on Laboe beach. The 
kids swing to the center so they can better socialize. 

Classics getting ready for Kiel Week
On July 20th, we motored into the Kiel Canal, our exit point from the Baltic. The Kiel Canal was open in 1895 and extends for 54 miles from Kiel, where the entrance lock is on the east end, to Brunsbuttel, where you exit into the North Sea to the west. Ships up to 235 meters long pass through this "Northsea Canal" regularly to avoid having to transit the hundreds of miles over the top of Denmark. Yachties like us, enjoy the shortcut as well, albeit it a bit intimidating being packed into the locks with these huge walls of metal! 

Maya scoping out the 'Big Boys'
The locks are so massive that there are tiny little floating pontoons that we have to tie up to instead of hooking to the walls themselves. The connection rings where so rusty, they camouflaged into the wet wood, making it challenging for us to locate them until directly underfoot. Ouch! Contrarily, it did make for an easier locking procedure as once attached, there were no lines to move or tend to as we locked through. 
Bear tied up to floating pontoon in Kiel Locks
It is impossible to complete the entire canal in one day so we stopped in the Obereidersee at a town call Budelsdorf. Instead of going to the suggested marina in the town center, we laid up on the long dock of the local yacht club, the BYC. It turned out to be a lovely, inexpensive three-day stopover. The club had loaner bikes so as to stretch our legs, always a plus, and a great BBQ set-up, which we enjoyed. The wind had kicked up and the Soccer World Cup was on in which Germany was performing quite well, two other contributing factors. 
High wind day....hazardous to small children
On the 23rd of June, we cast off and apart from encountering an unusual people mover; a carriage suspended under a bridge, we made our way uneventfully to Brunsbuttel where we locked out to meet the North Sea. 
Locking out at Brunsbuttal into the North Sea
Bear with her family of 'bears' has made it across the Channel and worked her way down the English coast to Dartmouth in Devon. They plan on making it to Falmouth late August for the Falmouth tall ships regatta.

Happy cruising Bears Yvette and Mark
We wish them all the best in their 'adventure of a lifetime' and look forward to the next instalment of their voyage.

You can read much more about the cruising lifestyle in my book 'Sailing Adventures in Paradise' downloadable from my website

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