Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Leg 5, 2001: Gothenburg, Sweden; Denmark; Germany; Holland; Southhampton, England

Click on photos to enlarge.

Hallberg-Rassy Open House

Since our last update on Aug. 17, we had a busy week, managing three coats of varnish on the caprails and four coats on handrails and interior trim around the galley and stairs. Amanda enjoyed daily lap swims at Hotel Sjogarden, next door to the HR boatyard and I ran the hills and woods around Ellos each morning. I was still vacuuming when the show opened at 10 am Friday morning, but Mahina Tiare was looking tops! Some of the comments we had during the show included, "Are you just taking delivery of this boat" and "Oh, I didn't know that HR did refits!" (They don't, but we work hard to keep her looking like new!)


Mahina Tiare at the HR open house

The show was a packed-out success with over 25,000 people from around the world attending. Our slide show Saturday night was sold out long ago and we were delighted to share a table with Tom, Dalton, Claude, and Karolina from Leg 4, plus Tom and Karolina's spouses and Emil from Leg 5, as well as Christoph Rassy and extended family. Our slides of Spitsbergen arrived just before the show and it was breathtaking to see them projected on a large screen. By Sunday night we were both exhausted and many of the boats had already moved out of the harbor. Monday it was blowing 25-30 and as we completed our minor projects we watched the HR salesmen take dozens of people out for test sails on the demo boats. Particularly popular was the brand-new German Frers HR 43. Sporting an identical mast to the HR 46 and a more modern stern and underbody, rumors were flying that she is just as fast as the 46! It is a cool looking boat, and I can't think of a better design for two people. Fast, sleek, long waterline, sexy stern, tons of storage. Oops, I'm sounding like a salesman, which I am not!

New HR 43

Monday afternoon saw winds gusting to 45 knots as we surfed south to now familiar and favorite Marstrand, the lovely old resort island halfway to Gothenburg. Breaking seas to 18' (no joke!) at the exposed three mile stretch made for some overly exciting sailing, and after we tied up a three-hour long thunder, lightning, rain and wind storm clobbered the island. Tuesday brought winds in the mid-40's and we were happy to arrive and tie up in the exact same spot next to the Gothenburg Opera House by 1300. It was strange to be in the same slip that we departed from for Spitsbergen on May 15th.

August 31, 2001 56.30N, 11.03E, Log: 46,758 Baro: 1008
Beam reaching at 7.5kts in 16kt easterly winds

Leg 5, Gothenburg-Southampton crew arrived yesterday at noon, and by 1600 we were motoring down the river for a quiet night and visit ashore with our friends Lars and Susanne in Hjuvik. This morning we set sail at 0600, planning to sail 60 miles to Anholt, a Danish island in the middle of the Kattegat. With beam winds of 18-22 knots and steady boat speeds of 7.5-8.3 knots, it became obvious that we could sail on, closer to the entrance of Germany's Kiel Canal, still making landfall before dark. Grenaa, a historic seafaring harbor was 24 miles further, and is now 8 miles ahead. This will be the first visit for most of us to Denmark, and we are excited about it.

Grenaa u Djursland Penninsula Aug. 31 56.24N 10.55E
82 miles
We arrived in Grenaa around sunset and with strong winds, limited turning and dock space, and no bow thruster had our work cut out for us docking.
In the marina we found a rack of free loaner bikes, with a map saying drop them off at any one of four locations. What a neat service of the town! In this historic ferry town we found wide boulevards, cobblestone streets and brick and timber houses, of a much different architectural style than we had seen in Norway or Sweden. Our time in Grenaa was short as we left at 0600 in order to make as many miles toward the Kiel Canal entrance as possible.

Korsor - West Sjalland Sept. 1 55.9N 11.7E
After leaving Grenaa we struck headwinds and had to motorsail awhile, but later the winds clocked to the NW and we had a great reach in 18 knots. We sailed under the Great Belt Bridge along with a whole string of ships, and then turned to port to moor in Korsor, on the south of a Naval basin. Once moored, Kurt Petersen, who sails his HR 36 Tessa with his wife Gitte came by and told us how much he had enjoyed our slide show at the HR Open House dinner. Korsor, 60 miles form Grenaa, is a quaint town with 19th-century church and interesting houses that we enjoyed viewing.

Holtenau Lock u Kiel Sept. 2 54.22N 10.8E
60 miles
Our early morning departure started out with a nice sail that turned to motorsailing in choppy 25 knot headwinds with wind against tide. 60 miles later we arrived in Kiel to be greeted by a rugged lot of sailors. They were racing flat out on cold rainy Sunday with rails in the water and going for it! The traffic in Kiel Harbor was intense, and we were relieved to pull into the little Holtenau Yacht Haven at the entrance to the Kiel Canal, a quiet, tree-lined spot with a dozen Dutch sailing barges and sail-training schooners. Soon after tying up, Amanda and I went for a run, exploring the locks and meeting the friendly lockmaster who explained how the locks worked and told us that they average 2,600 ships passing per month. He proudly announced that their locks were able to accommodate longer ships than the Panama Canal.

Leg 5 crew at Keil Canal entrance.

Over the past year we had made tentative plans to meet up with Lore Haack-Voersmann, a German psychologist who is joining us on Leg 1-2002, from Panama to Hilo. To our mutual amazement, it worked our for Lore and her husband Peter to join us and our crew for dinner at a fascinating 1800's grain warehouse-converted into a restaurant, a short walk from the canal entrance. We had an excellent dinner while looking at Lore and Peter's photos of their just-completed sailing trip from Norway to Fair Isle, the Orkney, and ending in Scotland's Caledonian Canal on their 53' steel ketch with their four teenagers. Lore, with over 60,000 miles sailing experience, much of it on square-riggers has to be by far the most experienced person yet to join us for an expedition.

Keil Canal Transit Sept. 3
70 miles

Mahina Tiare in Holtenau Lock.
At 0700 we stood by in front of the small lock opening, soon joined by two German yachts. The massive gate opened, the lights started flashing and we motored into an immense lock before the gate closed behind us. Once Mahina Tiare was secured, we ran up to the control tower to pay the equivalent to $34US, take pictures of the locks below and chat with the lockmaster. Unlike Panama where a considerable amount of paperwork is involved, here they didn't even want to know the name or nationality of the yacht. We were told not to exceed 8 knots, that we could sail as long as we kept the engine running, and to make sure that we stayed well over to the side when large ships passed. The countryside was bucolic with grazing sheep and cows and dozens of swans gracing the shoreline. Amanda taught rig maintenance and our keen crew stripped the squeaking mainsheet winch to bits, cleaned, lubricated and reassembled it while I steered and Amanda helped.

Crew stripping squeaking winch.

There was a nice town we could have stopped for lunch or overnight, plus a lake that we could have anchored in, but we chose to push through past Brunsbuttel at the far end and 15 miles further to Cuxhaven,53.52N 8.42E. Located on the Elbe River entrance to the North Sea, Cuxhaven, with its distinctive architecture, large rolling grass sea walls, iron flood gates, tree-lined lined streets and friendly yacht club marina was an enjoyable stop. The harbormaster answered my myriad of questions on North Sea conditions and pointed out that the club provides free loaner bikes for visiting yachties. My preconceptions of Germany went out the window. Everywhere we met helpful, friendly people, the food was excellent (especially the bakeries) and the architecture was impressive.

Before deciding to sail the following day on the high tide we examined the weather. We'd been watching the procession of lows with gale force winds on the North Sea on the weatherfax charts for months. Detailed customized weather forecasts from Commanders' Weather, as well as Leon Schulz (husband of Karolina (from Leg 4) relaying weather from the Dutch, German and Danish websites twice a day gave us highly accurate forecasts. Commanders' Weather (as usual) provided the most accurate and precise information. How they can consistently do a better job of forecasting than the official government forecasts when they are in Nashua, NH continually amazes me!

We motorsailed down the Elbe River to where it meets the North Sea with a shallow river delta containing shifting sandbanks, dredged channels and breaking bar conditions with wind against the tide over Force 5 (according to the harbormaster). The German Bight of the North Sea is shallow with a high concentration of shipping, fishing, oilrigs and nasty weather on treacherous lee shores. The prevailing wind conditions are SW, which would mean headwinds for us enroute to England. However, we learned that when a cold front passes, the wind shifts to NW or even North, usually of gale force, for a brief time. We got lucky!

A cold front with Force 7-8 gale warnings was due to pass the night of September 4th, with NW to N winds 20-30, gusts 35-40. Fortunately the winds hadn't piped up yet when we smoked down the Elbe with 2-3kts current carrying us along and at the entrance we had 7 knot winds and no breaking seas. By midnight the winds increased to 30, gusting 34 knots and the seas occasionally broke over Mahina Tiare, but our solid crew never complained. We navigated buoy to buoy, along the outside of the busy shipping lane and were thankful for our dependable Raytheon 24 mile radar. We had considered stopping at Ijmuiden, Holland to rest and explore, but with a forecast of another day of NW winds, followed by SW winds, we decided to push on another night for England.

Ramsgate Sept. 6 & 7 51.19N 1.34E

Remsgate Harbor Front
We arrived at Ramsgate, England at 1520 on September 6th, having covered 360 miles in 48 hours. Situated near the entrance of the Thames river, 60 miles east of London this historic 17th century harbour, with seaside resort town containing Victorian architecture has a history that includes fishing, smuggling, numerous shipwrecks and trading. The guest harbor was well laid out with excellent facilities and we found a fascinating maritime museum featuring several of the boats that rescued thousands of allied soldiers from the beaches of Dunquerque.

Brighton Sept. 8
60 Miles

White chalk cliffs near Brighton
To be assisted by the tide we left Ramgate at 5am and motorsailed along the southeast English coast admiring Dover's famous white chalk cliffs. The new Brighton Marina complex complete with canal apartments, movie theatre and mega stores also treated us with a visiting Normandy French market in the middle of the Venice-like fountain square. We all went crazy buying, bread, olives, cheeses, pates and tortes, while enjoying the cultural exchange and tasty free samples.

Chriss and Emil at the Normandy Market

Cowes Sept. 9
In the morning we visited the tired seaside city of Brighton, where most young residence were nosily returning home to after a night on the town and motor bikes were doing English speed record trials along the stony beachfront boulevard.

Cowes Waterfront

Looking for a quieter scene we sailed on to the Isle of Wight and the traditional sailing town of Cowes. We met up with the delightful Jill Baty on War Baby and heard her high praises of the Jubilee Regatta. Jill said that she would pass on doing another Cowes week due to the commercialism, but that the Jubilee turned Cowes back into the yesteryears of sailing, when you walked down High Street and knew everyone and that respect was always present for boats and fellow sailors. Crew enjoyed wandering the trendy sailing stores (pink is in) and talking their way into all the prestigious yacht clubs to admire their trophy rooms.

Jill Baty who taught our San Francisco seminar aboard yacht War Baby (ex Tenacious)

Beaulieu Sept. 10
Afternoon class was man overboard practice and crew battled the infamous Solent winds and tides to cut circles around newspaper headsaall were recovered.
Amanda and I are now craving a quiet anchorage, but no such luck in this neck of the world. Digging into her memory back of past Solent visits Amanda came up with Beaulieu River in the New Forest between Lymington and the Southampton Water. Winding our way at high tide up, the narrow river through marshland alive with water foul we arrived at the historic shipbuilding location of Bucklers Hard and paid yet another $40 for a nights berthage. This time though we are in idyllic surroundings and an evening stroll down bramble lanes had me chasing crew away from the Bucklers beer garden to gather blackberries for a pancake breakfast.

Bucklers Hard

Yarmouth, Isle of Wight Sept. 11
This morning 6 out of 8 of us hiked or ran four miles along the river to Beaulieu to rent bikes and explore the scenic countryside of the New Forest. What a treat to be zooming down country lanes with cows, horses and tame wild donkeys all over the place, and to stop for lunch at a 250 year old English tea shop. After waiting for the tide to come in, we sailed on one tack six miles to Yarmouth, a small historic seaport village. Tomorrow we have intense teaching lined up for our final topics: splicing, cruising communications, sail repair, deployment, warp and drogue and storm staysail, plus going aloft for rig check, before sailing to Southampton to see the Volvo Ocean Race (formerly Whitbread Around the World) boats and finding our slip in Hamble Point Marina.

Here's our sturdy Leg 5 crew:

Meara Clark, 34 retired two years ago as a Bank of America's VP of Regional Government Affairs to become a Site Manager for Team Read tutoring program in Seattle. She and her husband,

Brad Clark, 31 who is Liquidation Manager for just sold their Cal 34 which they sailed on Puget Sound because Brad has applied to Marine Corps Officer Candidate School.

Emil Finch, 57 is escaped from Yugoslavia at 19, eventually making his way to Kansas City where he became an orthopedic surgeon. Recently retired, he signed up for Legs 5 & 6 and is considering buying his own ocean cruising boat.

Chriss Mitchell, 50 and her husband Mark (who joins us on Leg 9) left the madness of Hollywood where she was a film producer for the mountains near Lake Tahoe, where they sail a Cal 34. They are excited about the Nov. 2002 delivery of a new Amel Super Maramu and introducing their daughter, Alex, age 11 to cruising in tropical climes.

John Holton, 50 is VP of Marketing for a food ingredients company and singlehands his Freedom 30 out of Chicago.

David Holton, 56 is John's brother and used to be in the insurance business. David sails his Mason 33 out of Connecticut.

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