Allen Cai in Samso

IFR 2002 - Ega, Denmark

Allen & Cai ready for the off....

Being a wimp, I had decided to travel to Copenhagen by plane and then sail from there to Ega in a friends yacht. I know this is not the done thing but I cannot afford three – four weeks sailing to the IFR, one week at the IFR and three – four weeks sailing back, a total of six – eight weeks!

We left Birmingham Airport, Allen Barnby and myself, bound for Copenhagen (the lovely capital of Denmark). After a delay of an hour due to the inevitable Air Traffic Control problem we took off and were soon speeding to our destination. The weather was fair and within the hour we were over the Friesian Islands where I am sure we could see Diana and Bugle V1698 making their way through the drying channels. The Kiel Canal soon emerged and we followed it to the Baltic Sea in just over six minutes! I bet that is the speediest Kiel Canal journey ever! Across Sealand and finally landed at Kastrup Airport near Copenhagen after and hour and a half of pleasant travelling. Outside the airport building Cai Christiansen was waiting and whisked us off to his yacht, Helena – a Hallberg Rassy Monsun 31. Bags and sailing gear were put onboard and we persuaded Cai to take us out for a quick two-hour sail, as the weather was glorious. Returning to shore we again piled in Cai’s car and drove to his house in Hillerod where we were treated to a tour of his two vintage American cars in their own special museum! Cai is a wonderful host and soon had us drinking beer and preparing for the following morning. Bed beckoned as the last of the beer was consumed.The next morning all three of us jumped aboard “Helena” with bags of food, crates of beer and gladly no Gammel Dansk! Everything was packed and we cast our lines at just after 10:00. The weather was again lovely, blue sky, F2/3 from our starboard beam. We sailed North to power past Hamlet’s Castle at Helsingor around the top of Sealand. Gillelije came into view after a few hours sailing and was to be our first port of call. This is a lovely fishing town that caters for the tourist and local alike. We sailed right into the inner harbour of three and moored alongside three other yachts. Once we had secured “Helena” we prepared to go ashore and taste the delights of the fish restaurants and the local beer! The bar we chose was obviously for the locals so we joined in and found out the best way of buying beer. You purchased a ticket for 200 Danish Krona and that bought you ten beers. Well, the problem is three does not divide into ten so there was one beer left over. I wonder who drank the extra beer, Allen? Returning to “Helena” we heard that a storm was due that night so extra lines were being attached to all and sundry. It was like my mum’s knitting! After more beer we all retired for the night and slept, well Cai and Allen did whilst I fretted about the storm and the strength of the mooring lines. All was well during the night though the winds did reach F8/9 and many of the boats were moving quite earnestly against their mooring lines. (Day One – 22.4 Nautical miles)

The next day was fine but with the remnants of the wind against us and an uncomfortable sea. We left early but soon found that both wind and waves were against us, which meant using the engine for the whole trip. The views were glorious as we engined across the North side of Sealand and through the narrow gap to Hunstead at the entrance to Isefjord. This is a very commercial port and harbour but all the essentials were there after our slog against the wind and waves. We were all very pleased to finish for the day and retire to the local bar and restaurant. I thought sailing was a place to lose weight, certainly not on “Helena” and the way we drank and ate! (Day Two – 19.4 Nautical miles)

Helena Monsun 31

Helena (HR Monsun 31) in Samso

The next day proved to be much more civilised with wind and sunshine and this time helping us to our destination. The first problem would be to find the small channel at Mellemrevet. With the age of GPS this was not too much of a problem as we found the red and green buoys marking the entrance. It was here, as the wind died completely, that we spotted our first porpoise or Marsvein as the Danish call them. These are very small dolphin type animals that reach about 1.5 metres and seem to be very friendly and serene. They were seldom seen in more than groups of three or four but more usually by themselves or with a youngster in tow. This certainly made my day as it was two years previous I had seen my last dolphin whist crossing the North Sea to attend the IFR at Hoorn. The wind stayed away for the rest of the day leaving a clear glasslike sea with blue sky and glorious sunshine. Truly the dreams of a perfect holiday. We skirted around the Northern tip of Sejero to the harbour of Sejerby. This is a lovely quant island harbour where the pleasure yachts mix with the island fishing boats. The shop was very basic but the showers were superb. It was here that a Vega owner’s dog took exception to Allen leaving the table, whilst we were still drinking, and gave him a nip on the leg. The good thing was that the owner was so upset about the incident that he bought another round of beers. I don’t think the dog had rabies but it does take a long time to show…. (Day Three – 34.0 Nautical miles)

We left Sejero the following morning, again in bright sunshine and a fair wind. This really was idyllic sailing. To be able to wake up and decide when you are going to sail rather than the tide telling you when to sail is glorious, if only the season was a wee bit longer in The Baltic I think I would keep my Vega there! We made our way towards the lovely island of Samso which was fairly straightforward until we reached the entrance channel to Langor. This was about five miles of twisting and turning around outcrops, sunken banks, small islands and sand bars until we reached the entrance of Langor. Again this was a beautiful small yacht harbour that was absolutely packed but there always seemed to be just one more space. It was only a short trip and enabled us to walk around the bay and see the birdlife and lifestyle of the inhabitants. Beer was consumed; food was eaten (including the delicious local New Potatoes). (Day Four - 17.4 Nautical Miles).

The following day was again blue skies and fair winds; we had been very lucky so far. The route out of Langor was much less tedious as we were travelling North through a much more straightforward channel. We sailed the whole leg until about a mile off Egå when the wind died totally. With the engine on we motored into the harbour to find a place between lots of other Vegas where we were told that the place was reserved for the Vega IFR. We explained that we were just a large Vega and pointed to our Vega and British flags. All was forgiven and we nestled between two Danish Vegas. Delighted with our trip we went straight to a very nice looking bar/restaurant and had two beers each. The bill arrived of £25, which showed us that the club was the place to drink and not this very swish restaurant! The trip from Copenhagen was a fantastic start to the IFR and boded well for the coming week of racing, festivities and fun (Day Five – 22.3 Nautical Miles). TOTAL – 115.5 Nautical Miles sailed in a very relaxed fashion… Steve Birch Vega “Southern Comfort” V1703