Well… here I am at last, in Scandinavia, on the beautiful island of Bornholm. This is officially the furthest north that ‘Free’ and I have been, in our long relationship. Now, every mile further north is new ground. I am in the tiny fishing village of Nexø, on the southeast side of the Island. Bornholm is officially part of Denmark, so I am finally in the Viking Realm!
What a struggle though…
Normally when one leaves Sassnitz on Rügen Island, the voyage should be to Rønne, the largest town on the south west of Bornholm; however after an hour at sea, I realised that this course would be murder, piling into large waves, pitching and yawing all over the place as the endless nor’ westerly wind screams its defiance.
To avoid this nightmare, I eased off to take the waves on my port bow and decided on the longer but less uncomfortable route to eastern Bornholm. The problem is that when moving directly into the wind, one cannot use sails, thus the motion of the vessel becomes less stable. A sailor can aid the boat’s motion, by easing off the wind a little, filling her sails and damping any violent movement.
When I say, ‘less uncomfortable’, it is meant in a totally relative sense, because the voyage lasted fourteen hours and was just about as uncomfortable as I have been in a very long time; sixty-seven, hard-won nautical miles. Hour after hour of rolling around into unexpectedly large waves is no joke and has you wondering whether it is all worth it. The price has to be the achievement on reaching my goal after all these years, but it took some serious seamanship and determination to do it. The harbour here in Nexø is surprisingly empty, and I’m not surprised! This is no place for novices or armchair dreamers.
If it is going to be like this all the way north, I am in for a very tough time indeed. As I sit here at a small café writing this, the wind is screaming through the town. Tomorrow it should ease off and I am hoping to continue north to the tiny island of Christiansø. I remember Danne telling me all about Christiansø during winter in Amsterdam. He had never visited it before but intrigued me with his description. I felt I really must visit! Well, Danny boy… I’m nearly there!
Trying to find casual Internet is not easy in either Germany or Denmark; at least here in Nexø. I’m sure in a larger place such as Copenhagen, this would not be a problem; however a lovely man in a photography shop has allowed me to use his Wi-Fi connection to send this narrow little thread to you all. Even in sophisticated Europe, such conveniences cannot be taken for granted.
And so to the future…
Mechanical problems have once again reared their ugly head and I find myself wondering just how much further I can continue on this endless treadmill of misfortune. Now it is the starter motor on my engine. In the past few weeks it has become less and less reliable and now I am having to short circuit the solenoid and “jump start’ it. This of course is a dangerous act and the problem needs attention. It is beyond my ken to understand exactly what is wrong, having tested everything I can.
There is something unnerving about having to put the engine back on again after having sailed for a while, only to be greeted by an ominous click and then silence. The magic insulated spanner is then applied to the terminals aided by a few ‘Hail Marys’. So far it has worked.
However, two more angels appeared alongside me… Captain Jan from Poland, a sprightly and incredibly strong seventy-five year old, with five sailing students on board his yacht. I explained my problem and he came on board to help me with a great idea to by-pass the constant, dangerous ‘hot-wiring’ of the starter motor. He constructed a switch from his supplies and fitted one for me. One of his students, Dawid, could speak Italian so he relayed my responses to Jan into Polish.
It seems a cruel twist of fate to be thwarted by money rather than whatever the elements can deliver. In the end it seems that no amount of courage or determination can counter this. I have a short while to consider my next action after Christiansø… North or South? Entering the expensive realm of Sweden could become a nightmare with the cost of living plus any repairs I may need.
I have come so far, but as I have always said… Trading money for time was always my philosophy. What good having the money and a top range sailing boat if you are too old to use it? How many folk have I met who have told me they were going to buy a boat one day? The world is too full of ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’. One piece of action is more valuable than all the books on ‘how to’.
Whatever happens now, I have had years of sailing, most of it trouble-free, have met many friends and experienced a life of endless change and vibrancy. In my mid fifties, I have followed my dream for seven years while young enough to really appreciate it, and I am eternally grateful. Maybe now it is time for a change…
On a lighter note:
Yes… yes… yes!!! How sweet! Here is a little photograph of my favourite currency. They still have the coins with holes in! I remember as a street musician many years ago, collecting the money after playing in Denmark. The tiny little coins were known as Øre and we would make necklaces out of them.
Oh happy memories of a footloose and fancy-free life!