Second Summer on the Baltic Sea, Pt. 2
June 12, 2011
NATO is conducting Baltops 2011 war games. We had to leave at 2am to take advantage of a 3-6am cease fire to pass through the Polish firing ranges. Ian was good on his two hour watch and woke me up when our speed went over nine knots to take in sail.
We arrived in Leba after the night sail. Coming in was tricky. There is a sandbar at the entrance not marked on the charts and we bumped on the way in. We found out that the bar moves when we left the next morning. We were up early. Our goal was Gdansk, eleven hours away. The marina was well sheltered but as we reached the mouth of the harbor we could see waves breaking over the jetty. It promised a fast downwind trip but we found something much more exciting.
We hit the sandbar again on the way out and it almost did us in. The entrance is unmarked by buoys except for one, which on the chart is in deep water. We didn't realize, however, that the bottom had moved. This time we hit and the next wave knocked us into shallower water. I turned the boat into the waves and went full throttle hoping to move out to sea when the crest of the next wave lifted us. All 35 tons of us slammed down when the trough followed. After a few minutes it was clear that we were being driven back into ever shallower water by the waves that were breaking over us.
Jeannie called frantically for help as I struggled to keep us off of the beach and head into the wind. Soon the Search and Rescue (SAR) boat arrived and threw the line to us. It missed time and again in the bucking waves. When Jeannie and Ian did catch it they could not secure it before the surf and wind dragged it out of their hands. I could not leave the wheel that was now torn from my hands each time the rudder hit. I had to grabbed it again on the next lift to keep our heading.
Finally a SAR hero leaped aboard and helped us get the line on. Now we had to find a path to deep water. The SAR boat pulled away in one direction and then the other inching us forward on the crests between slam downs. It seemed we were stuck but the SAR man who was with us kept yelling we would make it. Finally, thank God, we did.
That was when a loose line found our propeller. Our engine seized up and stalled. But we had just returned to deep water and were under tow back to the harbor by a boat that knew the way.
After tying up we kissed the ground. I spent the next two hours unwrapping the prop in the zero visibility unhealthy water. We carry full dive gear on board for emergencies like this.
After everything was back in shape we went to town and returned with beer and snacks for Search and Rescue. They are our equivalent of firemen and Leba, with its sand bar, has a 24/7 station. Those on duty live in a dorm next to their boat. We arrived and knocked on the door. They all came down. Only one spoke a little English. He kept saying 'it is my job". It is and it was our boat they saved.
That night we toasted Leba SAR and Kelly Archer for building us such a strong boat. Our damage seems to be one light bulb that fell from the mast.
We did have a lovely down wind sale but a day later than planned. We are now in Gdansk and Ian leaves tomorrow. Everyone seems to have recovered.
Gdansk is a delight. Our marina is up a maze of channels inside of the old Hanseatic city also known to history as Danzig. The Hanse merchant class ruled. The houses they built and gilded stand as monuments to their success. They line the broad Royal Way filled with Outdoor cafes, shops, buskers and crowds. It is a festive setting.
June 24, 2011
Stockholm Mid Summer Festival
We arrived in Stockholm after an overnight sail from Gdansk to Gotland and then on to the Southern part of the Stockholm Archipelago. We had planned stop in Lithuania and then spend some time visiting new anchorages here but decided to head to Stockholm. The Russians have closed off the direct approach from Gdansk to Lituania and I wanted to find an electronic technician to help troubleshoot our lightning issues.
We returned to Navishamen on Djurgarden where Rasmas, the harbor master lined up a helper. He arrived two days later. By then I had sorted out most of the problems. He was an electrician and knew less about electronics than I did so was of little help.
We did get away to visit the Nobel Museum and several cathedrals. We had planned to leave today but it is midsummer and Skansen, an outdoor museum on our island, is celebrating the midsummer day. And so we will go dance around the Maypole like pagans and leave tomorrow.