All things eventually come to an end. We are now safely docked south in Denmark, ready for the next chapter, and the 18 months long sailing trip has come to an end. A lot has happened the last 10 days and most important, we have enjoyed the last 300 miles to the max!
We came in to Makkum (north in Ijsselmeer) in snowy weather, and it continued to snow during the night so in the morning we had 5 cm of snow on the boat and in the cockpit. It disappeared quickly when the sun came up and as the long-term forecast gave us a “no go” on the ocean we decided to have a bike ride to Harlingen, one of the neighbor towns. Harlingen is outside the locks (in the ocean in other words), and is a very picturesque town built up around the maritime transport industry. At least the traditional, though still an important harbor. Anyway, this means that there are probably 50 big traditional sailing ships in the harbor and Harlingen is also going to be one of the 4 hosting towns for the 2018 tall ships race.
After 4 days in Makkum, it did look like a weather window could open, so we went through the Sluise (lock) at Kornweersanden and back in to the ocean again. We sailed the 30 NM to Vlieland, which we figured out would be a good place to start, to get to Brunsbuttel, the start of the Kiel Kanal. We timed it to get 2 runs with the current from behind and just one with the current on the nose. This worked out remarkably well, and we got in to Brunsbuttel 10 minutes before high tide. 169 NM in a bit less than 20 hours is good. Maren now has the top speed record for the boat, with 14,5 through the water and 16,8 over ground (including the current).
We have now done the Kiel Kanal twice, and compared to another of the big channels, the Panama Canal, we love the efficiency here. It is just to go to the lock and when you have the right signal – go in. The same drill when going out, and it is all with a smile. Not even any charge, which of course is good for the end of the trip for a long-distance cruisers wallet. The only thing you can not do in the Kiel Kanal with a leisure boat is to be on the move at the time between sunset and sunrise, which at this time of the year means there is not too much time you have to move. We had one stop, in the middle of nowhere, even without mobile phone connection!
After exiting the Kanal, in to the Baltic sea, we found we still had a couple of hours of daylight, so we decided to go upwind, 20 miles to Olpenitz. Nice harbor, but in the winter time nothing happened here…
We believe we have one of the faster homes on the planet! Maren has got the top speed for now, which did not feel spectacular at all. The potential, when we get proper sails and sail plan for more wind conditions, we will have a lot of good sailing experiences on board OctoPus. The upwind stretch from Kiel to Olpenitz was 45 degrees on the wind and around 9 knots of boatspeed. True wind between 12 and 15 knots.
Thank you to the bridge opener in Sønderborg for letting us quick and swiftly through there, we`ll bring a Freia Milk chocolate next time!