Fast sail to Brunnsbuttel

Our plan was to be at the entrance to Elbe at 0800 UTC to get the tide with us up to Brunnsbuttel and the Kiel canal. We planned to stay overnight at Borkum and start early the next day.

The wind was now 12-15 m/s and the sea looked wild, even inside Schiermonnikoog, the sandy island outside lauwersoog. We used the engine and “tacked” against the wind between the green and red buoys. We had the tide with usand made good progress.

When we came a few miles out, we saw tourist boats where people stepped off the boats onto what was earlier the sea bottom, but which now quickly became sandy islands!

Outside Schiermonnikoog, the shipping lane suddenly veered to the West, while the charts had it drawn going North East. We followed the buoys, but at one point, we could not see the next buoy and the waves (around 3 meters high over 6 meters depth) looked like they would break over the boat. On both sides the waves were indeed breaking over sand shoals. We were a bit anxious at this point, but suddely we spotted the next bouy and knew we were on the rights track after all. A little bit further out, the water got deeper and the seas got calmer.

We went a bit further out before turning east. The wind was strong and we made good speed (6,7, and even 8 knots at times). Every half hour or so there was a few high waves (3-4 meters) that was threatening, but Matilda climbed over them every time.

This was a sea that could make you sea sick and Urban did get sick  (despite that he had sailed the Atlantic a few weeks earlier!). I felt uneasy, but was never sick. We decided that, once on the open sea, we would not go to Borkum and have to go out to sea over sand banks again, but we would go directly to the Elbe. With the good speed, we thought we could make it in time.

By early morning, we approached the Elbe entrance and found we were actually 2 hours early! The entrance is very long and it was still 20 miles to go to Brunnsbuttel, so by the time we arrived there, we had a good helping tide.

We called the Kiel canal on VHF and were allowed into the lock almost immediately.

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