Slow it down!

The next leg took us from Samso to Sejero. This involved crossing the busy traffic separation zone for the Great Belt Bridge. Switching the VHF to channel 72 is mandatory to monitor the Bridge Control.

The not quite so busy Great Belt approach!

It is interesting to hear the ships report in, request pilots and anchorages.

“This is Silver Star for Great Belt Control over”

“40 persons onboard over”

“Last port Shanghai over”

“Bunkerage 7,750 tonnes of heavy oil and 1500 litres of lube oil over”

“No dangerous cargo, 47,000 tonnes of steel products for Kiel over”

“Following Route T over”

And in return from the Control Centre, always the same……….

“Thank you Captain, we wish you a safe watch……”.

It reminds me a little of John Masefield’s ‘Cargoes’ which we learnt at school.

“Dirty British coaster with a salt caked smoke stack, butting through the Channel in the mad March days.

With a cargo of Tyne coal, road rail, pig lead, firewood, iron ware, and cheap tin trays.”

We then had a warship who was much more curt……

“NATO warship Zulu Tango Foxtrot 46”

“Control you have our passage plan”

“All ships, all ships, all ships do not approach closer than 1 nautical miles”

And from Bridge Control the familiar…..

“Thank you Captain we wish you a safe watch”.

A favourable wind meant we sailed almost in a straight line, directly the 17 miles into Sejero from Ballen. We were moored up by 1515 but being Saturday everywhere was closed until Monday!

A peaceful Sejero

Sunday we explored the island, renting bikes from Soeren, the harbour master, who also sold you the gas for cooking, ran the fishing trips and was a general fixer upper of things! We cycled out to the lighthouse for a picnic on one of the islands only two roads and then back on the other one for a change! Our both phones went crazy as we past the islands only phone mast! Humming, buzzing, bleeping and ringing as we cycled by!

A picnic at the lighthouse

This is where you rent bikes!

And even a golf course in a wheat field and even a 19th hole

We had moored next to a lovely couple who had been cruising the Danish islands for 40 years. (Hopefully they will find their way home soon!) They were slightly horrified at our plan to sail east through the reef passage at Sjaellands Odde…..we would surely be wrecked! And then even more so at our plan to sail across the bay to Hundested through the military target range……we would surely be sunk! And as for our plan to sail to Sweden……we would surely be eaten! In my angst I went to check with Soeren, the harbour master and the source of all local knowledge. He just smiled enigmatically, saying sagely ‘Well bigger ships have made it’ which I took to mean that it will be no problem as there will be plenty of space to get through, rather than on reflection that a bigger boat might find it easier! Leaving he wished us ‘Held og lykke’. Later I learnt this means ‘good luck’ in Danish!

Sailing away from Sejero

The last part of our trip, took us to Odden on Sjaelland, the final Danish island we had to cross before we reached the Oresund. We sailed the northerly route round the top side of Sejero, soon leaving the west cardinal buoy marking the edge of the reef and the Gniben lighthouse well astern. For next three hours we tacked across the Sejero Bucht until we approached the green and red buoys that marked the passage through the Snekkelob reef and into Sjaellands Odde bay and Odden, our destination for the night. Before us, the water became glassy calm in the lee of the reef that stretched for miles on either side. Seeing the red refuge tower did not inspire confidence and rather belatedly I reflected on the meaning Soeren’s wise words!

Calm water in the lee of the reef

Ahead we saw the waves breaking in great white crests on the other side of the reef. So with sails well reefed and engine surging forward, we went almost head to wind towards the gap of clear water that marked our safe passage through. As we hit the gap, the depth fell sharply first to 3.5 m and then 2.4 m as Grace pitched nose first in the short and nasty swell. Powering up the throttle we edged our way back into deeper water, 5 m, 9 m and then 12 m as the waves eased. We were now in the Odde Bay. The wind had built to a F4 gusting F5 easterly with a brisk swell as we grateful made our way towards Odden and its harbour. Odden harbour has a difficult entrance in an easterly with the swell funnelling between the moles and the two channel markers at the entrance.

Moored up in Odden

Odden is a busy tuna fishing port

Once in the calm of the harbour we struggled to find a berth with sufficient depth, Grace only draws 1.5 m but much of the moorings were in 1.4 m or less and we shuddered on a couple of occasions as the keel caught the mud. We had to slip into a berth at the far outer end of the main pontoon next to a rather tired and abandoned looking yacht! Just when you think you’ve beaten it, the wind, waves or life has a nasty habit of reminding you it has not finished with you yet! The wind caught our bows and spun us round and we were stranded against the posts. No panic! We secured ourselves and had a conference on the foredeck! Taking a long line from the bows I stepped off the stern onto the neighbouring boat, then off its bows and on to the pontoon where I looped the line round a cleat and gently pulled Grace straight in the box – easy, if a bit inelegant! Grace all secured we could relax and brew some tea…….

Slow it down!

However it was about then that I started to appreciate the true meaning of the “slow it down” labels I had been made to put over the steering binnacle and side decks by Anne and Ellie, when my only response to every difficulty was to open the throttle to the max; as just then a large German yacht made its approach between the moles and came in, they were clearly pleased to be in. After a couple of thwarted attempts to moor in several boxes, rather than moor along side the wall, in clearly deeper water the skipper attempted to moor ‘stern too’ on the end of our pontoon. It was all happening very quickly, the wind was now gusting 20 knots, the bow lines had not been reset up from the previous attempts to moor and the two people on the bow were clearly not comfortable with what they should be doing. I got off Grace to see if I could help with taking a line. As the bows moved past the posts at the head of the box, everyone was shouting to put the lines over the posts. As they did this, the skipper realised that he was getting stuck again and confusion reigned as everyone shouted to take the lines off! Mooring lines were piled deep on the foredeck, and as the boat went astern to the now wide open throttle, the most dreadful event happen, the still attached port side line started to tighten, the tangle on deck rose up around the lower leg of the elderly woman helper on the foredeck (the line had been run over the top of pulpit railings at the bow and not under them!), and slowly and irresistibly they closed around her leg as the full weight of the boat motoring astern came to bear on her leg. The sickening crunch that followed said everything. We helped secure the boat alongside, although nearly losing the sternline as this had not been secured to the boat! We were able to help with a tourniquet from our first aid kit but it was a long 45 minutes before the ambulance arrived to take her to Copenhagen, some 100 km away.

Ill-fated yacht

This was a terrible and also avoidable accident. To apply ‘Slow it down’ might have made a difference. Very shaken to have witnessed this disastrous event we resolved to leave Odden at the first opportunity.

2 thoughts on “Slow it down!”

  1. “Slow it down” sounds like good advice, do take care and do just that! A very adventurous visit to Odden, we enjoyed your description of your stay in Sejero particularly the picnic at the lighthouse, surrounded by Rosa rugosa, must be even more spectacular later in the season when the hips are ripe.
    We wish you a safe watch, lots of love, Jan & John.

    Liked by 1 person

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