So this was the final leg of the voyage. We threaded our way through the canal system after midnight and this time it was truly dark as we had sailed more than 400 Nm South and the days were getting shorter. There was no wind as we left the harbour and entered the Gulf of Gdansk.
We hoisted the main in the hope that the wind would come. By morning the wind was strong enough to shut down the motor and we were making 6 knots under sail and it only got better from there on as the wind angle shifted to the beam – fastest point of sail!
Once out of the Gulf of Gdansk we hit a home run all the way to Usedom island and the Marina Kröslin which is also known as the Baltic Sea Resort. I had exchanged a number of emails with the Capitanerie and they were expecting us. There was a lot of interest in the Kiwi boat with many asking whether we had sailed all the way from New Zealand. Like George Washington we could not tell a lie but said we had sailed Roaring Meg across the North Atlantic from the east coast of America in 2006. They were very interested in the 2014 voyage of discovery from Morocco.
Peenemunde (the mouth of the river Peene) has a rather infamous past as it was the development and launch site of the V1, V2 and V4 rockets during World War II. Morbid curiosity saw the Roaring Meg crew take a ferry ride across the river to inspect the site and the museum. The bulk of the site was dedicated to a coal fired power station which was used to create the rocket fuel needed to power the rockets. Post war much of the equipment was removed from the site by the Allies and sent to the four corners of the earth. Some of it has since been returned such as the launch pad which used super heated steam to fire the rockets before the motor kicked in.
Each of the four powers wanted the German scientists to work for them on rocketry and so there was a ‘tug of war’ with the Soviets grabbing the site itself as part of East Germany.
As if we had come a full circle there was also an old Russian submarine (U461) sitting in the dock for our inspection. What a complicated piece of equipment! So many valves, manifolds, switchboards and electrical wiring in a very confined space. Apparently some of the crew used to sleep in the torpedo tubes when they weren’t being used. One would want to be a light sleeper!
It was now time to go to work and prepare Meg for winter. We have done this numerous times before BUT in the warm climate of the Mediterranean and this time it was Northern Germany, only 20Km from the Polish border. In winter, we are talking snow and ice and temperatures that reach minus 16 deg Celsius! Everything needs to be drained of water including our two water tanks that hold 400 litres. Also we removed the mast for internal storage:
Meg will sit outside but I have arranged to have her shrink wrapped for protection, so we had her in the sling to get onto the hard. All deck equipment must go below decks e.g. life raft, inflatable, outboard motor, EPIRB, life rings etc,. All the running rigging must also be removed and pull cords left in place. All linen washed and dried. Perishable food disposed of and so the list goes on.
The first day we arrived I met an Englishmen, Bill Attwood who has been most helpful ever since. Bill knows all of the Marina staff, as he has been attached to the Marina while upgrading his yacht ‘Kinsa’. His wife Imke is German and very kindly drove me to Zussow station to catch the train to Berlin. It was a mad rush for me and I keep remembering jobs that I did not do, however Bill has kindly agreed to sort the small stuff and give the batteries a charge from time to time. The new house bank of batteries (4x 120 Amps – AGM) cost nearly GBP 1,000 and we certainly don’t wish to destroy them in the first winter.
Enrico is one of the main men at the Marina and his English is quite good. He insisted that I speak in English and not German as he wishes to improve his vocabulary. I once lived in Germany for 15 months and learned to speak the language which has stayed with me. It takes a few days to get into the groove but I am now firing on all cylinders! Enrico is a big unit and very fit as he boxes and coaches the local boxing team. Kröslin is a 5 star marina and has very nice facilities with full yacht services. Meg had picked up a yellow discolouring to the white hull but Enrico showed me a new product that when applied to the hull quickly removes all of the staining. See the before and after photos…she now looks as shiny as a new pin!
It is always with a tear in my eye when I part company with Meg as she has been our home for the last 100 days. I am reminded of the poem “Sea Fever” by John Masefield….
I must go down to the seas again to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sails shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face and the grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide,
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow rover,
And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.
It has been an epic voyage of over 100 days. As a cruising sailor you always have two choices:
- To spend a lot of time in one particular area and get to know the coastline really well; OR
- To push the yacht, cover a lot of water and gain an overview of many different areas.
We chose the latter and so in the 100 days we called into 35 ports and visited a total of 18 countries that is if we call Scotland a separate country as I think that they are about to vote on succession and the Isle of Man is certainly self-governing. We pegged all of the courtesy flags on a length of braided line in the order that we encountered them. See how many flags you can recognise from the photo.
The order of visitation was as follows;
Morocco, Spain, Gibraltar, Portugal, Ireland, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Sweden( again), Finland, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and finally Northern Germany.
And that was that. Goodbye Meg!