Minnie Moltok goes all the way around the island. A story from Denmark

PAGE 4 Observations on the environment

It should be noted in the name of justice that the lack of fish is also attributed to pollution from the waste depot of the Cheminova chemical factory which is nicely placed at the entrance to The Limfjord, a long way from any important population centres.

It produces pesticides which are banned in the enlightened countries of Europe and the Western World, but used diligently by Third World countries – and then presumably exported in small portions on fruit and vegetables to the enlightened supermarket customers of Europe and the Western World.

More pleasantly, the lack of fish is suggested by some researchers to be caused by too many crabs (what causes too many crabs?) and by yet others to be the result of ‘strandfodring’, the pumping of sand on to the strand on the west coast near Thyborn from deeper water, and for yet others, the dredging of mussels is not without blame.

However some still believe that the problem is the shags and the seals, and the figures are interesting: In 1986 there were 45 shag nests in The Limfjord, on the island Rnholm in Nibe Bredning in the NE corner of the above map. By 1999 there were 5,318 nests at 8 locations in The Limfjord! It was estimated that in 1997 cormorants ate 800 tons of fish, of which some 200 tons were of species where they competed with fishermen. Shag numbers seem to have stabilized. The bird is protected. It is said to taste better than eider-duck.

The spotted seals have been protected since 1977. In 1984 there were 529 in Lgstr Bredning (where we mostly sail), 700 by 1988 when an epidemic hit them and they were cut back to under 500. We were afraid we would no longer be accompanied by seals when sailing, but by 1998 there were 1500 of them. A seal eats 4 kg of fish a day, and 1500 seals eat 2,190 tons of fish in a year, but only the last 90 are of species where the seals are in competition with fishermen. They compete with shags for the first 2,100 tons, so they have more reason to complain about shags than the fishermen.

North of Skarrehage, and a little to the left, at Hov, is Lnnerup Fjord, which was the Vikings’ route to Skagerrak and Norway, a thousand-odd years ago, when the land, from the weight of ice, lay lower than today. At that time the gap at Thyborn didn’t exist, though the water called Skibsted (Ship-stead) Fjord and Draget (a place where one “Draws” a boat) at its eastern end would suggest that someone went that way too.

Above: Feggeklit seen from Mors. The dinghy is actually in this picture, with the mother at the helm.
Where? “Answers, on a postcard, please, to …”

South of Skarrehage is the farm Skarregrd, which used to lie a little further north at the foot of the hill and is thought to be the seat of an officer of the king, controlling, with the garrison on the overlooking 35 m fortified hill, the in-sailing through Lnnerup Fjord, and Fegge Sund. Fegge Sund has its name after King Fegge, Hamlet’s wicked uncle, who is supposed to be buried on the land-formation at the northernmost tip of Mors, Fegge Klit.

Fegge Klit, like much of northern Mors, is made of 53 million-year-old, yellow diatom-clay, marbled with black bands of volcanic ash from the volcanoes which once lay in the depths of the Skagerrak, and in places folded into zig-zags by the Ice Ages’ glacial ice. This diatom-clay – I find this hard to believe myself, while telling it – is quarried, the ash removed, and the clay fired, crushed, mixed with “deodorizer,” and exported to the world as Cat Litter. So 25 years from now, this whole landscape may have been mixed with catshit and dispersed over the landfill sites of the world. It really makes one admire the power of Human Ingenuity, and her sister, Global Capitalism – cubic kilometers of ice could only bend it and shove it about a bit.

The cat-litter factory at Skarrehage is in the middle of this picture taken from Feggesund.

Everything connected with the factory becomes covered with a layer of pink dust.

The highest point on the island, now, Salger Hj, 89 m, lies just south of the “g” in Thisted Bredning. This area is a terminal moraine, and from here Mors just goes downhill, southward, until it slides, soundlessly, into the Nameless, Winding Channel. To be elevationally fair, there is a scenic area, Legind Bjerge, whose highest point is 52 m, west of the Salling Sund bridge, and trying to wade into Ks Bredning from the southeasterly part of the island, without first going down to the beach, could cost you a twisted ankle, if you picked the right place to do it.

There is practically no tidal variation in The Limfjord, but a wind-driven current, up to 2 kn on both sides of the island, and consequent change in waterlevel. Near land, the waves follow the coast more than the wind, which means that one can have a beam-sea on one tack and waves dead ahead on the other, something which, in a big enough chop, can cause our fine-bowed, clinker-built keelboat to wash herself like a duck. Waves in The Limfjord are steep, close together, only get about 1_ m high, in the wider waters, but having often a near-vertical front, they’re bad news for a dinghy long before they get that big, in some directions of sailing. Minnie Moltok is only little, has about 25 cm of freeboard at the quarter and has to be helped.

The Circumnavigation

With so much water around it is always a problem to decide where to sail. Generally the problem is solved by asking the questions “Where shall we eat the ice-cream today?” or “Is it a smoked mackerel day?” However, sailing round the island only presents the question “Which way?” This is generally answered by observing the wind direction and strength. Listening to the weather forecast is unfortunately not always good enough and has even been 180 wrong. This time we would have tried to buy a smaller compass in Thisted if we’d got there early enough, and therefore, and because it would be fun just for once to sail the Nameless, Winding Channel from the west, we sailed west.

A note about the wind-graphs: Beaufort scale on the right, knots left, wind-direction above, time below.

Thyborn lies in an open position on the coast, west of the island’s southern end. The wind-graph from this station gives a good picture of wind-conditions around Mors. The wind-graph for Klitmller, further north on the coast (though otherwise useless for us, because of local conditions), shows maximum windspeed as well as average windspeed. This is interesting in that it makes visible the fact that maximum speed can be very much higher than the average speed, which is the speed announced in the weather-forecast.

The effect of the wind on the sail varies with the square of the change in windspeed, so if one sails out in a pleasant, steady 8 knot wind, which freshens to 16 kn, the increase of force on the sail is not twice as much, but four times as much as when one set sail. But the more important part is that when the windspeed has increased from 8 to 16 kn, it may be gusting at 25 kn, which is not just three times as much, but ten times as much as when one set sail. Cruising dinghy-sailors who sail in windy areas have to be prepared for this by checking the weather-forecast for shipping, before sailing and by being able to shorten sail, if they sail far from land or intend to carry on, though near land. Otherwise running early on to the beach may be necessary – and that means running, on a lee coast, to pull the boat clear of the surf (remembering to lift rudder and board).