Blog 13 Denmark 2015 23 July - 2015
Frederikshavn, Sæby, Hals, Grenå, Ebeltoft
When I was ten years old, Danny Kaye featured in a film as Hans Christian Andersen. He sang about sailing in the Skagerrak and the Kattegat. I had a rough idea that they were where Norway, Sweden and Denmark kind of get together but only now am I absolutely sure which one is which. A few days ago, at 6 am, we left Göthenberg - Sweden's second city - and sailed the 44 miles across the Kattegat to Denmark, well, motored actually as there was not a breath of wind on that sunny morning. The need was that forecasts predicted a week of bad winds which would trap us in Sweden longer than we wished.
After all the things I have said about people who photograph the meals they have on the table and tell the world on social media, I am loath to now mention food. However, at our first Danish port in Frederikshavn there is the most excellent harbour side restaurant which did a buffet to dream of. Naturally the place was crammed with custom and it felt an honour to be shoe horned into a spare corner. it was so good we booked to go back the second day when they did a similar things but with every fish possible, within reason - no dolphin though - and we like fish. It was even better and a brilliant welcome to Denmark, and I slept like a marmot as the French say.
I'm not sure it is entirely true these days but there certainly was a time when the Swedes and Norwegians poured across to Frederikshavn to buy unfettered cheap booze - it was only sold from government outlets in Sweden called System Bolaget but seems a little easier these days. Consequently the town prospered as a ferry port and while it is a fair size for a Danish city I was surprised to discover what I can best describe with the words "Welcome to Car World." Over a large area, side by side and back to back with nothing else in between were just about every car showroom you can imagine - very confusing for the potential purchaser - feeling like a dolphin not knowing which mackerel out of the 300,000 to eat first.
The strategy of coming to Denmark's east coast is that it gives protection from the predicted week of strong westerlies while we moved south towards Germany over the following weeks. Consequently, a weather window this morning enabled a short but very fast sail down to Sæby, the most quaint little village abounding with roses, holly hocks and tiny painted houses straight out of one of H.C. Andersens story books. The large marina by contrast is full to bursting with yachts and motor cruisers, and it seems that Norway must be empty this week because they are all here vying with the Swedes as to who has the biggest flag, although the Danes are coming in a close second with their rather special swallow tailed Danborg - reputed to be the oldest flag in the world.
Three ports, Hals, Grenå, Ebeltoft all follow in quick succession - one of the penalties for moving on rather than lingering - and yet some events will be embeded such as the visit in Hals to a Lithuanian cum Danish hairdresser lady by my wife since we had given up hope of finding a windless day for me to cut her hair as usual. The results surprised us both, Jane doesn't recognise herself in the mirror and I keep thinking I've got a new wife. Either way we are both yet to decide if this is a good thing.
There is no mistaking a Danish harbour. Apart from the national flag everywhere, they have lovely stubby little fishing boats and sand dunes and long waving grass at the edges where pink boulders are piled up as protective walls, and box moorings with "telegraph" poles to tie to and make a complete hash of if you haven't done it before. Small coloured houses, cobbled streets and flowers and sadly one of the worst sounding languages I know of - not at all bad to read but the pronunciation is impossible - luckily most Danes speak excellent English, they are sensible people.
We shall be here at Ebeltoft for maybe four days, first to rest from a very tiring near gale sail from Grenå today and secondly the weather man is bringing two bad days. Ebeltoft will be thoroughly examined.