Day 13 – Scandinavian sailing

Sad departure

After refuelling in anticipation of light winds and getting clearance from port control we sadly left Ronne at 0800.  A close look at Hammershus castle on the North West coast during our transit past the island and Bornholm receded into the distance.

Hammerhus Castle


Bornholm is well worth a visit.  It’s full of cute villages, nice people and it’s great for cycling.  In Gudhjem on the north coast you are allowed to cycle up the hill through the main street, but not down the hill.  Which is interesting, as in Bray, the main town on Alderney you are allowed to cycle down the hill, but not up.  It’s an island thing…

A happy Danish pastry – or as they call them Vienna Cake – absolutely delicious

Sail away, sail away, sail away


The forecast was for light, variable and generally unfavourable winds, so for the first four hours we motorsailed.  As the wind backed we hoisted the cruising chute, which powered us along to an un-dieseled 5 knots, the sun shone and things generally looked good.  Elixir another rally yacht caught us up and as we dropped our chute due to failing wind, they hoisted theirs, in bright pink.

Thunder, lightening


We motorsailed away from them as they were off to Utklippan to spend the night en route but a dark and ominous grey cloud was in front of us.  We heard the rumble of thunder and saw spectacular lightning in the distance. Visibility dropped, the temperature fell ten degrees and the rain started.  Torrential rain, with a strengthening wind. 

Andrew stayed outside as Suzanne went in to start cooking Swedish veggie meatballs in honour of our arrival in Swedish waters.  The sails were drawing well but engine continued to be used to keep us ahead of the lightning flashes.  Water gushed from the end of the boom as it ran down the sails.

Complete immersion


It stopped as sudden as it had started, with blue skies and failing wind, and it was back to motor sailing as the speed dropped to 2-3 knots. 

For the night watch Andrew opted to wear his immersion suit.  Not because of any impending disaster but because it’s been cold at night, and sitting around in the cockpit watching for merchant ships with drunk, sleepy watchkeepers attempting to run you over doesn’t keep you warm.  It does keep you awake though.

Pre rain and pre immersion suit


Light variable winds all night kept the engine on until 0620 when a bright and cheery Suzanne took the deck and let a cold and less cheery Andrew off to go and get some sleep. 

Visby, Gotland, Sweden

By 1100 Andrew had “slept” for a couple of hours and we were back to motor sailing, into a short uncomfortable chop through the deep water shipping lane.  This slowly subsided but with the wind remaining on the nose we motorsailed our way to Visby, alternatively sleeping and watchkeeping. 

We motored past bird island where we could see no birds and inviting looking beaches which lay at the base of precipitous and crumbling cliffs.


Sailing towards Visby, the main city on the Swedish island of Gotland, you could make out the cathedral spires. We asked for permission to enter Visby harbour and after waiting around on channel 25 with no answer, decided to enter anyway, slowly and cautiously following a huge RoRo ferry.

Approaching Visby

Our final berth was rafted up against 2 other rally boats, both American, and more experienced rally sailors.

Our daily stats

It was a long 35 hours, with 27 motor sailing and only 8 sailing, consuming 17 gallons of fuel on a voyage of 204 miles

You can hear more in episode 20 of our podcast ‘2 in a boat’ – Sunshine on a cloudy day – due for release on 25 August 2019.

Day 12 – Sugar, speed and sailing

Our speed potential

At 0900 we listened as rally control gave out instructions for today’s departure from Warnemunde over channel 77. The planned noon departure had been put back to a suggested 1400 – 1500 due to the wind strength and speed of the 15 boats in our rally flotilla, suggesting we’d arrive too soon.  We’re not really used to sailing too quick, so were a bit concerned that they’d overestimated our speed potential.  How wrong we were.

We pottered about getting our usual jobs done, flask of soup, flask of hot water, smoked salmon sandwiches, biscuits, fruit, Doritos, orange squash, and a couple of posh pot noodles. Suzanne had also bought fresh croissants for breakfast, and a marzipan Ritter Sport for Andrew, to keep him going during the early hours.

Jerry can man can’t

About 2pm we pushed back from our berth, hit nothing (which is good as people were watching this time) and set off for the fuel barge. We arrived at the same time as a jerry with a can.  He was really helpful, called on the intercom and refuelling man arrived by bicycle about 5 minutes later.  

Embarrassingly he was refused service – as it is ‘verboten’ to walk around the harbour with fuel cans on show.  “Ridiculous” jerry can man said to us (through clenched teeth) “verboten is the most used phrase in German.  Of course it is very important that things should be verboten” and chuckled (or grimaced, I’m not quite sure) .  

We inquired could we fill them on our boat and deliver them to his boat but refuelling man clarified that he could have his diesel if his cans were in bags, a bit like having alcohol but only if it’s in a brown paper bag.  We furnished him with two “bags for life” and he could now legally buy diesel and walk back to his boat.

On leaving the fuel berth we headed out of the marina, slowly, sorting ropes and fenders knowing that once we were in the maelstrom of surf outside such things would be difficult.  We discovered our imaginary seals were also real at this point.  How embarrassing. (Listen to our podcast to hear more on that subject!)

A Crystelle Venture record

Outside the breakwater things got a bit more serious.  Force 6* onshore wind was whipping up some wicked waves and we set off on a wet, bumpy reach to our first turning point.  This was supposed to take seven hours but we made it in five.  We ducked inshore of the wind farm following most of the other ARC Baltic boats.  The waves weren’t huge but they were big enough to give us a non-tidal assisted Crystelle Venture record of 10.4 Knots momentary surfing speed.  

Proudly flying the Danish courtesy flag (along with our own and that of the Cruising Association)

The waves subsided, night gathered and now Andrew’s watch began.  During the night the boat was barrelling along, with speeds of between 6 and 9 knots.  At one point Andrew considered reducing sail area to slow down as the boat was quite twitchy above 8 knots and it was difficult to get the autohelm to steer a good course.  Sustained by a bar of Ritter sport chocolate (marzipan), packet of choccy biscuits, tomato soup, four slices of bread, a penguin and turkish delight Andrew saw the night through.

watching the sun go down over the Baltic sea

Early the next day, 0700 we reached Bornholm, Denmark, standing off the harbour entrance at Ronne and waiting for permission to enter.  Once the harbour radio operator woke up we were allowed in, berthing snugly against an Oyster 575 who had tailed us by a couple of miles all the way from Warnemunde but passed us at about 0500.

Checking in with the harbourmaster at Ronne on Bornholm

Follow that boat!

To keep tabs on all the boats in the Baltic rally, each boat has been kitted out with a Yellow Brick tracking device. You can follow the Arc Baltic from their pages, or even download the Yellow Brick app. It gives updates refreshed every 4 hours. You can also still view our progress on AIS.

Our daily stats

110 miles in 16 hours, a serious sugar headache and a couple of days to explore the Danish Island of Bornholm!

*Force 6 is 30 knots, 35mph, try sticking your arm out of a car window at 35mph, that’s how strong the wind is.  Don’t put it out too far though, and certainly not your head…that is dangerous.