11 August – bikes

From Julesminde we carried on to Ballen on the island of Samso, then to Llangor  and eventually Ebeltoft, where we were going to pick up Andrew and Susan, friends from Norwich.  They arrived at Aarhus Airport, fifteen minutes away by taxi,  but their driver took them to the next yacht haven along, so we had to rush off to retrieve them.  Unfortunately a gale also arrived, which kept us in Ebeltoft for two days but luckily we had access to a television in the ‘Sailorshuys’ and could watch the Olympics….and Ebeltoft is a delightful medieval town in any event.

We went to Aarhus the next day, which was lovely, because Andrew wanted to watch the 200 metre men’s final.  After a lengthy walk around the town, which is quite large and a University town, we found two televisions in bars, but failed to find the Irish bar where we had been promised they would be showing the Olyhmpics.  The delightful barmaid in the bar we had chosen had been looking through her paper during the afternoon (after we said we would be back) to find out where she could show us the Olympics in English, but unsuccessfully.  It didn’t matter one bit – we saw Usain Bolt do his thing, after which Susan and I had a game of darts, the first one for about 20 years for both of us.
The weather held for the rest of Andrew and Susan’s visit.  We sailed back to Samso, where we went for a walk on the first day, when Hugh and I had to paddle across knee deep water to get back to the dinghy because we got lost, and then decided to hire bikes on the second day.  Bikes can be hired anywhere on the island, but we chose our local shop (where the lady offered me a job next year, so I might just go back) and paid £7 for a day’s hire for each bike.  They were ‘sit up and beg’ styles, but quite comfortable, and you brake by pushing the pedals backwards.  Some of you will know that I don’t cycle much – the last time was a trip from Hungerford to Bath along the Kennett and Avon Canal, and I ended up with a bruised coccyx and three months sitting on a circular pillow !!  The other members of the party are much more used to it.
The lady in the shop suggested we should go to the top of the island, a trip ranging from 15 to 30 miles, depending upon your point of view, and we punctuated the trip with various stops for drinks and eats.   At our first stop, by a little harbour, we left the bikes and went for a drink, sitting in the sun outside a cafe.  A lady walked past us, pushing a bike, which looked suspiciously like mine as I had a map under my rear luggage carrier.  Hugh said that’s your bike !  I looked at it and decided that it probably was, so wandered after the lady, who had parked the bike next to one boat and continued walking to another.
That’s my bike, I said, to the people on the boat next to the bike.
The people on the boat said no it’s not.
But, I said, it is.  I hired it this morning from Llangor.
No it’s not, you must talk to the lady who left it.  We are supposed to look after it.
I waited until the lady came back.
That’s my bike I said.
No it’s not, she said, I’ve just taken it from the bike hire stand.
I said yes it is, I hired it from Llangor this morning.  We have a contract and the number of this bike is on it.
She said so why is it in the bike hire stand.
I said where is the bike hire stand.
She pointed to our (now) three bikes which we had inadvertently put in the only position in the harbour where bikes are left for hire.  You take your bike and put money in an honesty box.  The horror of the situation dawned on me.  She realised that we had made a mistake and very kindly allowed me to have my bike back, and then had to walk a mile to the next nearest hire place.
In the meantime, Susan’s bike had disappeared also, so we moved the remaining bikes to another place, drank our drinks, and waited for another bike to be put there so that we could nick that instead of Susan’s, on the premise that they all belonged to the same company anyway, so it wouldn’t matter.  We had just finished our drinks and were wondering what to do when a bike appeared, Susan’s bike, which someone had taken to the local supermarket and had now returned.  She grabbed it, and found in the basket a dog harness!    Off we went.
On the way back from the northernmost tip, I raced down a hill, but no-one else joined me.  After about 15 minutes I decided that I should investigate and walked to the top to find Hugh furiously pumping the tyre of a stranger, who turned out to be Ex Royal Dutch Navy Doctor.  He had a problem with his fold up bike and Hugh and Andrew were helping.  After another ten minutes or so, it became obvious that Hugh’s pump was not cutting the mustard, so we all agreed that we could do no more.  The man’s wife had been lurking on the other side of the road, definitely not getting involved with strange English people.  Hugh and the ERDND hit it off because they had been in the same places in the Navy, etc. so everything was very jolly and we got an invitation to go to his boat for drinks.
On we went, and stopped in Marup for an ice cream.  After a while we saw the ERDND pass by, running and pushing his bike whilst his wife rode hers.  We continued our journey and, after a few miles, came across them again, whereupon Hugh hit upon the wonderful idea that if the ERDND took one of our bikes to ride back to the marina on, giving his wife a dubby on the rear wheel, Hugh would push the damaged bike back whilst riding his own, and Andrew could ride the other fold up bike (the wife’s).   Oh, what a good idea that was.
The ERDND took this on board, loaded up his wife, and set off like a bat out of hell, leaving us to sort ourselves out – Hugh riding his bike and pushing the damaged bike, Andrew on the wife’s bike and Susan and I bringing up the rear, me thinking that being helpful was all very well, but this was going a bit far.
After a further mile, Andrew realised that his  (the wife’s) rear tyre had gone down, so we all stopped and out came the pump again.  Furious pumping failed to inflate the tyre, so now we had three bikes which worked, and two fold up bikes which didn’t, and the ERDND and his wife had disappeared with one of our bikes.   We ALL started walking, and it was a long way home.
Within about 50 yards we chanced upon the central bike hiring place,the place where the man who owned all 800 bicycles on the island lived and worked, so we wandered in on the offchance that he could help with the two bikes with flat rear tyres.  This man was not happy.  He had seen the ERDND go past on one of his bikes with his wife on the back, and was angry because you are not supposed to carry more than 25kg on the back of his bikes.  Once we had explained how we had ended up in this situation he was a little more happy, and inflated the two rear tyres (Hugh’s pump is not Danish and therefore could not be used with Danish fold up bikes).
Off we went again, but now we had five bikes which worked and only four people.  The solution – fold up one fold up bike and put it into Hugh’s luggage carrier, then he can cycle back to the marina (still miles away) with one hand on the handlebars and the other behind his back and over his ear holding on to the fold up bike behind him.  By this stage I really was not happy, but ever the English hero Hugh set off and managed to make it all the way back without falling off or dropping the bike.
The ERDND meanwhile had got back to the marina, and realised he was on his own (with his wife) and we were nowhere to be seen, so he then returned to see what had happened to us.  Unfortunately when he returned to the place where we had last seen him, we were inside the cycle hire shop getting his tyres blown up, so he went back as far as the place where we had first met us to make sure that he hadn’t passed us, before turning round and going back to the Marina once more.
We never did take him up on his offer of drinks.
I’d like to tell you another story, but maybe another time ….
With love

Toilets ! – 14 August 2012

On 14 Aug 2012, at 18:28, Jenny Litton  wrote:

Dear all

The toilet facilities on boats are fairly basic, but those of you who are used to camping will be familiar with long drops, chemical loos, dig it and bury it, etc. etc.   When guests come aboard, Hugh has a set routine that he goes through covering topics like fire extinguishers, gas location, life jackets, and he mentions what to do if the boat is at anchor and people want to do more than pee – but only briefly because we are usually in marinas so depositing one’s waste is not usually a problem.  Water waste usually goes into the sea (sorry for all you swimmers) and the rest is held in a tank until it can be removed out of peoples’ way.

Still, what with all the lovely islands and all, we have been anchoring rather a lot, and on one of these occasions we had guests on board.  We were going ashore for a night out, by way of the dinghy, and I asked if everyone was ready.  Hugh said that Andrew was just in the loo having a pee.  A disembodied and fairly jocular voice came out of the toilet saying ‘Oh no, it’s much more serious than that’.

Hugh’s back jolted as though he had been prodded with an electric stick.  ‘What’, he demanded, ‘what are you doing ?’  Andrew replied that he needed to do more than a pee.

‘But you have to move the handles’ shouted Hugh.  At that point, Andrew asked which handles.  ‘The handles in the cupboard next to you, under the sink’. shouted Hugh.  ‘But I don’t know where they are’, said Andrew.  Hugh launched into a complicated tirade as to how there are two handles, and in order for the waste to go into the tank, they both have to be moved, but one before the other, else the contents of the tank are voided into the sea.  Andrew appeared out of the toilet looking shocked.  ‘Did you go’, asked Hugh. ‘No, I couldn’t’ replied Andrew. ‘You put me off’.

Hugh went on to lecture us all about the handles in the cupboard, the way they started off, where they had to be placed in order to put the contents of the toilet into the tank, what you had to do afterwards, etc. etc.  Unfortunately it was not very easy to understand as he referred to the fact that the handles had to be vertical or horizontal when in fact they weren’t horizontal or vertical to anything except the pipes.  There then ensued a lesson, with Andrew and Susan on their knees peering into the cupboard to see where the said handles were, where they were placed at any one time, and where they should be.

My attention span had been worn out by then, and my concentration cut off, but I am for ever grateful to Susan for then writing down the instructions and drawing a diagram.  The instructions read ‘Bottom Top Crap Top Bottom’ which we can all understand.

Here endeth the Lesson regarding Toilets

Jenny xx

Onwards and upwards – 9 August 2012

Subject: Onwards and upwards

From Kiel we have managed to wend our way to the Danish island of Samso, which is quite beautiful, via Schiel, Augustenborg, Middlefart, Vejle Fjord, Julesminde.

Last night we were in Ballen, and tonight we anchor off Langor, amidst bird sanctuaries and a nature reserve.  We prefer Denmark to Germany.

In Augustenborg we visited the boatyard where we will be leaving the boat for the winter, and we’re very pleased with the well run boatyard, and the people who run it.  There will be about 12 English boats there over the winter, and we met people from four of them for drinks.  One couple, Christine and Pat, have sailed their boat from Sweden every year for the past seven years and are thinking of moving to Augustenborg – Christine is nearly 80, and has two tin knees, and Pat is 75 !!!

While in Augustenborg we found a little  bakery, but not until late in the afternoon.  The choice of bread was severely limited, but we settled in the end for one which the assistant told us was full of corn.  We had to put the loaf in a rucksack to carry it as it was so heavy.  Having got it back to,the boat, we decided to have some for breakfast the next day.  It smelled of linseed oil, and tasted of linseed oil.

We only had one piece each, but then had to get rid of it, which I decided to do by cutting it up into bite sized pieces. It filled a whole carrier bag, so it had to be fed to the fishes over a period of time because we didn’t want to attract seagulls.  We felt like Hansel and Gretel – anyone could have followed us for miles by tracing the linseed…

Denmark is very beautiful, if a little flat, and although we have seen many boats from Holland, Germany, France, and even one from Switzerland (??) we have only passed one other English boat in Holland – and he was looking the other way and didn’t see us – and a boat registered in Southampton but without anyone on board in Julesminde.

Whilst in Julesminde, we came across a B and Q (or the Danish equivalent), something we had been looking for for some time since Gary went up the mast for us in Borkum, and the bucket full of tools descended before he did, into the water.  Hugh has been panicking because he needed a screwdriver when the mast comes out. anyway, this B and Q had a ‘jump up’ going on in their car park, live music and beer, much better than you get in Fratton !!!!

After surviving the locks in Holland, now we have to cope with ……. BOXES !!!!  Boxes are the way that you are kept trapped in the Baltic’s marinas.  Imagine no pontoons to tie up alongside, but two trees placed vertically in the water vaguely around where the back of your boat will be.  The trees have been denuded of branches, and are called piles.

In front of you is the pontoon, but because you are approaching it at right angles you obviously have to stop before you get there.  I think I mentioned our first entanglement with a box in a previous missive.

We went into one box, and did pretty well, so thought we had it cracked.  The next one proved us wrong.  You have to attach four ropes, from the corners of your boat to each of four different points, which is fine if you have four people, or even three would be good, but you can see that with two people there is a bit of chasing around.

Having rigged up the boat with four ropes, Hugh then drives us in. My job is to put one rope over one pile, then run forward to collect another one or two ropes, and in addition to leaping off at some stage, I also have to stop the boat running into the pontoon.  Hugh, meantime, has to put the second rope over the other pile as we go past, and then stop the boat.

It all sounds very easy.  However, add a bit of wind, and two boats either side of us to avoid, it becomes a bit more of a problem.  On the second occasion there were even two strangers on the pontoon waiting for me to throw them my ropes, but one rope wasn’t under the rail, so I had to rig another rope which meant doing a bowline (IN PUBLIC) which obviously went wrong so I had to do it again.  Then I threw the rope in a panic so it just went into the water instead of the waiting arms of my saviour …. And also Hugh was yelling to me to get fenders out, and push the boat from the pile ….. I was so mad with myself afterwards that it had gone so wrong.

So, the next time we talked it through and decided on a different strategy.  We would both go forwards and put a rope on the pile as we passed it.  Hugh would then go back to the helm, and I would fend off the pile, then I would go forward to do the front bit.  No wind, perfect.  And so it was, except that Hugh couldn’t.t get his rope on as the box we went into as the box was so big, in a new marina, that we couldn’t reach both piles at the same time ..he was mad after and I was glad that he realised how frustrating it was.  He had to use a boat hook in the end.

Even worse. We watched a single handed sailor leave his berth, no revs, pulled himself out by his ropes, undid them, pulled himself out past the piles and off he went, so that’s how we did it when we left, but I am sure we will have more experiences.

The weather has been changeable apart from a few days of sun, but we have had thunder on a few occasions.

Our faces have become tanned from being in the open air – not a glowing healthy tan, but tanned like leather so that we remind ourselves of gypsies, or Saharan Arabs, the sort of look that is called ‘weather beaten’.  And, of course, our tan extends to our necks,  our forearms, and up to Hugh’s knees because he wears shorts (commonly called a ‘farmer’s tan’).  The rest of us is still pallid because even when the sun comes out the wind is still cold, and I dont get my clothes off unless it is roasting !!  Perhaps we should have gone to Greece?

Still, we are enjoying ourselves, and still talking to each other (which seems to be more than some couples we have moored against in marinas do!)

Lots of love to everybody for now

Jenny and Hugh xxx

Ps. I’ve never seen so many jellyfish …. Lots -no millions- of white dinner plate variety and thousands of those that look like intestines with long stingy things hanging down.  Unfortunately we haven’t got our ‘how to identify jellyfish book’ on board but Hugh went swimming one day and got stung on a very delicate part of his anatomy, but he didn’t tell me for a day because he knew that I would tell him off.  They are everywhere.

Sent from my iPad

Pps. Since writing the above we have been joined by Andrew and Susan, which makes life much easier.  Now in Aarhus, where we had to come to see Usain Bolt, but you wouldn’t believe how difficult it was to find a television !!!


Sunny Kiel – 24 July 2012

Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2012 17:48:12 +0000

Dear all

Well, here we are in the Baltic – brilliant sunny weather, calm seas and blue skies – just like Hugh told me it would be.

We dropped Liz and Gary off on 18 July and then got stuck in Delfzijl for a couple of days whilst it thundered and lightninged, with hints of F10 gales.  So, we had our hair cut.  As we don’t speak any German it was a bit hit and miss, but we both came out scalped.  The term ‘short back and sides’ has never been so rigorously enforced, and we keep looking at each other as though we are with a stranger.  Hugh kept telling the hairdresser to ‘tidy it up a bit’ but something may have been lost in translation !!  I asked for something that I could manage without doing anything to it after I came out of the shower, and now look like a German lesbian (I have nothing against them by the way).

Eventually we left Delfzijl and moved back to Borkum, whence we had come.  Heiko (harbourmaster who sounded like he had come from Glasgow) and Jackie (who had come from Glasgow) looked after us again in the old naval harbour.  The first time we went there we had to clean the fenders afterwards as there was so much black stuff on them from the harbour walls, but this time we ventured into a berth which would not require that.

We moved on to Helgoland (funnily enough not a sand dune but a lump of rock stuck in the middle of sand dunes) in a F6, gusting F7.  It was different.  Imagine Jersey or Guernsey crossed with Legoland.  The tourists come by ferry and spend lots of money on duty free booze, cigarettes and perfume, then poke off again.  It has lots of camping, guest houses and hotels.  On the Saturday we arrived much partying was going on, including the local Fire Brigade who had moved their four engines out of the garage and opened it up as a summerfest or, as Hugh put it, a Fire Brigade jump up.  There was a live band, drinks (long, short, cocktails) and wursts to eat.  Goodness knows what would have happened it a fire had broken out.

The next morning, Sunday, we were treated to a full church service on board a Danish training vessel which was moored nearby – at 7 am.

On Monday we headed for the River Elbe, which we had to get to by a certain time otherwise the 5 knots of tide which runs with you runs against you !  The entry to the Kiel canal was exciting – probably 40 yachts all trying to jam in at once.  Being English, we meandered along at the back waiting for people to sort themselves out before positioning ourselves against an unsuspecting boat, and ‘Oshit’, the great god of locks, was on our side.

90 kilometres later, with beautiful weather and sunshine all the way, we popped out of the Kiel Canal at the other end and are now bedded down nicely in a yacht haven in Kiel.  Unfortunately George, our constant companion and autopilot, has decided that he no longer wants to be part of our journey, and has given up the ghost.  Although Hugh spent most of the morning with his head in a hole at the back end nothing has improved, and George will have to travel back to England with us on 30 August, but we are not sure how he will get through customs !

At 8 am this morning we were woken to the sound of blaring horns – Hugh said that something big had just come in.  Unknown to us it was the Queen Elizabeth, which decided to leave this evening as we were skyping Mair in Canada, and so he was treated to a view of the QE leaving Kiel, and even more blaring of horns.

We got the bikes out today and rode up to the supermarket.  Hugh was rather appalled when it turned out to be Aldi (only usually shopping in Waitrose or Albert Heijn) but we managed anyway. Unfortunately neither of us speak or read German, which makes shopping rather interesting.  We have to go down every aisle to see what it might contain.  We rode back laden down with all sorts of fishy goodies, along the cycle paths and without falling off the bikes.

Kiel’s waterways are very busy – much busier than Portsmouth.   We will stay here tomorrow and a) investigate the town if I am lucky or b) go tot he submarine museum if I am not.  One would think that H would have had enough of submarine museums ……..

So we wish you Gut Nacht (although night time here is officially 10.30 pm to 2.30 a.m as it stays light so late) with much affection

Hugh n Jenny xxx



40 days and 40 nights!

Date: Thu, 19 Jul 2012 09:17:12 +0100

It rains, and it rains, and it rains ! Funnily enough, on our travels we came across a life sized replica of Noah’s Ark. It was big, with a bright yellow roof, but I wondered if it was big enough to hold two of everything ? And I don’t think there is mention in the bible of Mrs Noah having to muck it out either. The place would sink within a few weeks.

So, here we are holed up in Delfzijl, an industrial town in the north of Holland. Liz and Gary left us yesterday after a ten day visit, and we will miss them dreadfully – not least because they shared the cooking and washing up, and were a big help when sailing. The forecast today is for F5-7, with gusts of F10. Put that together with the fact that Hugh has had a tummy upset (Delfzijl-belly) for the last few days, and you can see why we are not going anywhere.

Before Delfzijl, we were in Borkum, one of the Frisian Islands. The Frisian Islands are just a set of long low sand dunes, which are out of the water. The downside is that there are countless other sand dunes under the water, and navigating is a challenge, although there are very good buoyed channels. The yacht haven at Borkum is an old naval harbour and quite quirky. We were welcomed by the harbor master with a broad Scottish accent. It turned out that his wife is Scottish, and that is why we thought he was a Jock.

They run the local bar, and you have to put a €50 deposit down for the toilet key !!! They say that people take them. Unfortunately for them we were leaving at 7 am so Liz rang them, and got them up, so that they could return the money.

We will go back to Borkum tomorrow, probably, and then a long jump ready for the Kiel canal.

I ought to report an accident which we had when coming into Delfzijl. Gary had the bow rope. The wind was blowing us off the pontoon. Lizzie had the stern rope. Gary jumped on to the pontoon, and then jumped off. Straight into the water !! No reason, he just kept going. Luckily he still held on to the bow rope, but Lizzie then thought that she should see if he was OK, so didn’t put the stern rope on. I leapt off and took their ropes, so the boat was secured, although a bit adrift.

Gary was out of the water so fast that he kept his glasses on, and even his tobacco stayed dry !!! After a hot shower he was fine, and no damage done, but the speed with which it happened was shocking.