Fortune has smiled on me since leaving the Kiel Canal and I now find myself in the charming little Hanseatic town of Wismar, in the old East Germany, or what used to be laughingly referred to as the Deutsch Democratic Republic. Adolf Cornels will be paying me a wee visit tomorrow as the gearbox is weeping a little oil. So hopefully he can remedy that before I leave towards Rostock.
And… has summer finally arrived? This morning Wismar awoke to hot sunshine and a light westerly wind teasing the Alter Hafen (Old Harbour) where I am moored up in the middle of the town.
The previous two nights found me exercising one of the last true freedoms on the sea, the right to anchor. There is nothing more liberating and connecting with the past than doing what mariners have done for hundreds of years. The peace and sublime connection with the elements, knowing that there is just a piece of metal securing you from disaster and drifting, is profound. I have enjoyed hundreds of free evenings under the stars over the years, with only the gentle lapping of wavelets and soft breezes to keep me company. Quite honestly, my anchor is worth over a thousand euros in the mooring fees I have saved.
After I left the British Kiel Yacht Club, I sailed in a glorious light nor’ nor’ westerly wind through the Kieler Bucht (Bight) to the Island of Fehmarn where I anchored of the tiny village of Orth. The following day was hot and sunny and I continued in the same vein this time sou’ sou’ east across the Mecklenburger Bucht until dropping my anchor off the enchanting island of Poel. The ground here is kelp and weed so a careful thorough approach is needed to ensure that your anchor is securely ‘in’. During the night a stiff northerly breeze blew up, revealing a glorious canopy of stars and I slept little, but I needn’t have worried for ‘Free’ held her ground and bobbed gently from her anchor chain until the morn.
Two free nights and many hours of pure sail have taken the sting off the previous expensive Brunsbüttel debacle and I am finally beginning to enjoy the sailing again here in what the Germans refer to as the Ostsee (East Sea). My plans are to continue the ‘Hanseatic Experience’ by visiting Rostock and Stralsund (once like Wismar, belonging to Sweden) and after that, sailing into the strange, mysterious waters of Rügen and the Peenestrom (where the Nazis developed the rocket).
My aim is to enter Polish waters via the Stettiner Haff before reaching the port of Swinojscie. If you are interested, I invite you to look up these places, as it will overwhelm you by me trying to explain the geography. All I can say is I am enchanted by this little known and visited part of Northern Europe. I have only seen one other British boat here so far and they keep her on Fehmarn Island for the winter.
Like me, they have been enchanted by this step into the past to the way sailing used to be…