MINNIE MOLTOK GOES ALL THE WAY AROUND THE ISLAND A STORY FROM DENMARK
Page 9 Sun 19 Aug Nessund – Vilsund (Violet course)
“Hard-weather warning for Fisher, East, 30 kn …” Ah, well, better get started, it’s only Visby Bredning and Dragstrup Vig. Dragstrup Vig will be worst with a fetch of 8 km when we come out from rndrup Hage, but nothing like Lgstr Bredning with 20 km.
The start was delayed by the discovery that someone had forgotten the bag of food. Luckily, in these modern times, there is an open supermarket at the last village, where the transport officer can take in supplies. Otherwise we sailors would have been faced with the prospect of several hours of mental torment knowing we wouldn’t be able to make a sandwich, in weather where we couldn’t make sandwiches even if we’d had the makings because the wind would blow the cheese and lettuce off the bread.
Nessund ferry had lost a screw. Luckily it has one at each end, so they could reach the staithe. As we prepared to sail, a flock of divers turned up, with wives, and made ready to try to find the lost screw. “No problem. The ferry-crew cut a mark in the side of the ferry where the screw fell off.” Aha.
There wasn’t much wind on the beach. There never is. But a boat across the sound was leaning so much they’d definitely spilled their coffee. We set off with a deep reef. North of the ferry-staithe, while we were too interested in the divers’ antics, the daggerboard hit a rock. We’d rather not do that. We were well inshore. Two hundred metres up the coast we landed on the stony beach and reefed right down, setting the reefed jib. The wind had been increasing steadily since we arrived at Nessund. We found it wise to relieve ourselves of some water, thinking there’d be water enough in a short while.
Reefed right down. The yacht to the left has black anti-fouling paint. Boats don’t sail properly at that angle, but reefing (if this possibility is fitted) spoils the fairground-effect.
Actually, sailing closehauled in hard weather isn’t that bad, in protected waters. As long as you’re well-reefed, your sandbags are placed right, and you know where your towel is. As we came out from behind rndrup Hage the real state of the wind and waves showed itself and the wind increased steadily. The mother and a couple of local friends with their dog had driven out to rndrup to watch us and thought we looked “very comfortable.” The keelboats sailing along with their anti-fouling on show didn’t look at all comfortable. They saw us again later crossing the mouth of Dragstrup Vig, as they sat in the house cossetting themselves with cake and coffee. We didn’t see them.
Crossing the mouth of Dragstrup Vig. Apologies for the plastic bag – I wasn’t sure the cardboard single-use camera could survive a soaking. Note that reefing and 50 kg of nicely placed sand make it possible for the dinghy to remain upright without the crew having to hang out. A crew hanging out is a crew risking capsize. Minnie Moltok is making very good speed though deeply reefed.
The main had been made a little too flat for my liking, but in the gusts that was no disadvantage. The biggest two-or-three-waves-in-a-row (with not much more than a boat’s length between) had to be taken with the broad Mirror bow. An attempt by the helm, in the dryer part of the boat, to take a photographic impression of the conditions in a gust while crossing Dragstrup Vig, for this report, was frustrated somewhat by his unwillingness to remove the camera from its plastic bag because of the water in the air and by his lack of concentration on the job at hand, due to the approach of a group of steep waves demanding attention. Crossing Dragstrup Vig with the wind gusting at 30-odd knots, I was enjoying myself immensely. There’s something really exhilarating about a good blow when the boat is under control.
In the lee of Stokkr Odde, heading for the end of the reef.
Stokkr Odde’s reef stuck out a little further than was visible from a distance, and our position was anyway too much easterly from luffing up to the waves so we made a broad reach round the end of it then sailed quietly up to the next bay, Rovvig, where there was only a metre between individual pieces of infant chop and where it was often blown flat again. The last 7 km up to Vilsund were plain sailing. On the way, following a couple of careened keelboats, we met a German boat sailing at a reasonable angle, whose helmswoman had reefed sensibly and therefore was relaxed enough to wave.
We were delighted when we reached Vilsund, at three o’clock, and even more delighted when, shortly after we’d landed, our transport turned up, the mother having come by on the off-chance after her visit at the friends near Nessund. So we left Minnie Moltok on the beach and drove home to fetch her trailer. 19_ km in 3 hours and 40 minutes. That’s 5.3 km/h or 2.9 kn. Not bad at all. Very favourable current.
Vilsund. Mission accomplished. Crew forced by the mother to be photographed, despite dire hunger.
Friday, 24 August, Round Liv (Blue course)
I had thought that having circumnavigated the island we had finished and could relax into normal lethargy, but Minnie Moltok’s owner undeceived me: “We haven’t photographed the seals.” “Yes we have – at Munkholm Odde.” “But not on Ejerslev Rn.” “Well there was that motorboat. Anyway they’re probably on Blindern.” “Then we’ll have to sail to Blindern. You can’t send that report without the seals.” “Well, if that’s the way it has to be …” “That’s the way it has to be.” It’s her dinghy.
But that a pleasant 17 km round-trip to take a picture of seals on Blindern turned into a more eventful 40-odd km trip round Liv needs some explaining.
Minnie rigged with mast in forward position, before leaving for Blindern – seen it before? Well I like the picture.
Since we were three in the boat, the mother not wishing to miss a pleasant afternoon sail, we rigged Minnie with her bowsprit. This gives more room, not least because that silly kicking-strap-thing is out of the way of people sitting in the cockpit. The sun shone, the sky was European blue (hazy), the wind blew gently from the east at 6 – 8 kn. Creeping up to Ejerslev Rn, the daughter photographed seals, but not many. The other 1500 were on Blindern, and Liv Tap. We rounded the holm and set course for Blindern, 130.
A few seals on Ejerslev Rn. Not enough for the owner.
At Blindern there were seals enough, but with a wide-angle rather than a telephoto lens, seals at that distance – we don’t go so close that they flee into the water – could just as well be seaweed or even date-pips for someone seeing the resulting photo, unless they were told. These photos are of genuine, wriggle-like-a-maggot-into-the-water-and-stick-your-head-up-like-a-Labrador seals.
Blindern ahead, southeast, Liv to the left, eastern end of Fur to the right.
Any normal family would now turn round and head for home, but here’s one that sometimes doesn’t know when to stop, which is when adventure begins – we could sail down to where Liv Tap begins and carry the boat over to the east side, then sail home round Liv. Good enough; home by 21.30. We sail on, but where is the yellow buoy marking the Liv Tap nature reserve? The mother would rather cross the spit on the legal side of the line. We sail on. It seems the buoy has gone. Probably gracing the lawn at somebody’s holiday-cottage. The father would cross anywhere at all, but he’s a troglodyte.
Here are seals on the southern part of Blindern. Fur in Background.
There’s another pack of seals on the northern part. The two groups don’t quite meet, which makes us think there are two tribes of them.
By now we are well on our way down the spit. The wind has increased to about 12 kn and we’re close-hauled. Unfortunately Liv Tap with its Sand Reef is between 4 and 5 km long down this side, and just as long up the other side. It will take 2 hours to reach the southern end and an hour to run up the other side. We sailors discuss the possibility of sailing through the channel between Liv Tap and Liv Sandrev. It’s about 100 m wide with depths marked on the chart of 10 cm to the north and 20 cm to the south. If we could find the yellow buoy marking the southeasterly corner of the reserve and took a bearing on it and if it were in the right place, we could with some luck find the channel and sail through, but we wouldn’t have much chance to manoeuvre if we were a bit astray. Skipper decides not to risk it and we round Liv Sandrev at 20.15. From here it is 20 km home which will take 3 _ hours with this wind. Home at 23.45. Uh. Not the best place to be, Liv Sandrev.
An hour later finds us at Liv Haven, where we think to leave liquid and take in solids. This may have been a mistake, since it cost an hour, but may have made no difference. We sailed out with a reef in and set off into the dark.
Nearing the north end of Liv we saw a white flash beyond the horizon to the north-northwest, where no light should be, but it showed no sensible interval. Later a red riding-light appeared. This could be a mussel-dredger. They have a powerful light for when they work the “trawl.” Though they are seemingly on an unthreatening course, we hold a northerly one, also to be well clear of the large stone at the northeast of the island, as the mother insists, which is only covered by 30 cm of water, and whose position we can only know approximately in the dark The red disappears to be replaced by the white, so whatever-it-was is going away.
Clear of Liv, we sail 300 for home, two hours away. However, as we come to the west, out of the shelter of the island the infamous Limfjord-chop appears, running up from the south. It is misty and the only stars visible are directly above and difficult to steer by. The fixed compass in not aboard and it is increasingly difficult to juggle the tiller, the torch, and the hand-compass (which only glows for a short time after being illuminated) while avoiding the larger waves, which coming up on the quarter can swamp us if not taken right.
The cat-litter factory’s light appears, which solves the problem of navigation, but further west the waves will be much bigger. That means less room for error. Finding the right path through the waves with a torch is not safe enough, so I put the helm over and we beat back to the island. That feels much better. Though for various reasons we should go home, the likelihood of being swamped in the middle of The Limfjord is a better reason for going back. Norwegian Mountain Knowledge Rule Nr 8: “Vend i tide, det er ingen skam
snu.” Meaning: “Turn in time, it’s no shame to go back.”
It never fails to amaze me how little wind there is under land. There are many and large stones littering both water and beach on Liv’s northwestern shore. The beach is steep. This is a family looking for a bed. Minnie Moltok sails nervously southward, afraid of stubbing her dainty toes. It’s ten years since we were just here last and it’s not easy to remember quite where and how. We land, almost, between the stones, the crew hold the boat while the skipper goes off to find a beach that looks like a bed.
Landed by the bed the sailors threw the ballast and the mother out and carried Minnie up the beach, where she was laid on her side on the ballast and large sponge with her hull toward the breeze coming up from the south. The boom was taken off the gooseneck and tied under the gunwale, the main stretched out as a roof. The extra main was a blanket, and the crew settled down for a not particularly comfortable or warm night – but a buoyancy aid is a great help.
Sat 25 Aug Round Liv II (Blue course – with dot)
At seven o’clock Minnie is again on her way to Mors. Twenty minutes out, with 100 minutes to home, we are blessed with the experience of torrential rain, flattening the sea and making the whole surface send shoots of water 15 cm into the air. Then the mother sees lightning flash in the darkness that hides Mors. “I want to be on land now,” she says, so I put the helm over and beat back to the beach we have just left.
The island of Liv which is 2 km east-west and 3 km north-south and mostly composed of sand, with clay in the lower-lying southern part and in the cliffs in the northwest, belonged to the Vitskl monastery from the latter’s establishment in 1158. Vitskl became the Bjrnsholm estate at the Reformation. In the sixteenth century, several hundred pigs could be fattened on the nuts and acorns in the oak and hazel forest. By 1800, because of overgrazing, felling for timber and fuel and clearing for arable use, the forest had shrunk to only a tenth of the island’s area, to be replaced in large degree by heath. In 1805 a law was brought in forbidding grazing and felling in the forest remaining in Denmark. Extensive nationwide tree-planting in the last third of the century resulted in a third of Liv being now wooded.
From 1911 and for the next 50 years, Liv was a (prison-) colony for male criminal mental-defectives, as part of a policy of eugenics that was popular in the civilized world at the time. The colonists were allowed to leave and marry if they agreed to be gelded first – freedom of choice is an important principle in a democratic society. The policy may have led to an improvement that is not immediately discernible to the casual observer.
Today Liv is managed by the Directorate for Forestry and Nature as a nature reserve and tourist destination.
We carry Minnie Moltok over the stones and set her on the beach. We find a way up the cliff, walk across the island, buy provisions at the shop, continue to the haven and look for a fast boat sailing to Nykbing, in time to catch the bus to get the mother home earlier, but without success. Several crews have not heard the weather-forecast. We are informed that at this mast-top it is blowing 6.8 m/sec, 13.2 kn and that the forecast is for increasing wind and thunder, later. We eat breakfast at a convenient picnic table in increasing wind and head back across the island to the dinghy, hurrying to get ahead of a mother and son who do not agree about the delights of being out in Nature. He tells her it would be much better if he were playing a video game and I find it difficult not to agree. Luckily the son’s arguments prevail and they do not follow us to the beach.
Minnie is launched at midday, sailing with two jibs, one poled out, and the topping-lift hauled to lift the boom and bring the centre of effort even further forward for an easy run home. Near land the wind goes to the south and the jibs are laid together for the last couple of kilometres. Two hours, 6 km/h, 3.24 kn. OK. We always take two hours for the trip from Liv.
And so Minnie Moltok went all the way round the island … and another island, the daughter got her seal photos, and the Editor got his report … and the father? he’s just this guy, you know.