Kanalgade, Aalborg, Denmark 57:03.246N 009:54.887E
Frans & Sarah Toonen
Sun 23 Jul 2017 17:00
Monday 23 July 2017. 56nm. 11.5 passage hours. SE5 with moderate seas backing east. Heavy rain from 12 noon. 4.2 engine hours….mostly waiting for the bridge to be mended!
From Læsø island we were headed to the Limfjorden which is not actually a fiord (in the English sense) but a natural waterway (160km) which runs west/east across northern Jutland in mainland Denmark connecting the North Sea and the Kattegat. The western entrance is kept open by dredging and most of the fiord is only used by pleasure craft as it is very shallow. We knew that the wind and rain would build through the day and so an early start was planned for 0530. As it turned out we were rafted by a yacht at 0300 so we were awake and should have just set off.
It was a lovely clear morning and we made good speed north west on a broad reach to clear the shallow 5nm spit on the north west corner of Læsø. This seemed a huge detour but with depths as low as 0cm there was no choice. As we progressed south of the island a steep choppy sea continued to build pushed up towards the shallow lee shore of Jutland by the strong easterly. Pelagia had no issue with the waves and we gibed constantly to keep the head sail flying and get into the narrow buoyed channel to enter the fiord. A few small sailing boats were leaving the shelter of the fiord to head out into the big waves and we thought them a little bonkers.
Through the heavy rain we could see industrial areas as we approached Aalborg. Both the largest wind turbine factory and the largest cement factory in Denmark are here. The marinas are west of a road and then a rail bridge which are about half a km apart. The road bridge opened on time at 2pm and then we waited in front of the rail bridge. And then we carried on waiting………joined by more and more yachts as the road bridge opened at 3pm and 4pm. We could not get any reply on the VHF so Sarah found a mobile number and the rail bridge operator explained they had a mechanical issue and could not say if the bridge would open or not. The rain kept pouring down and so we crept close to the waters edge and managed to tie on to wait and have a hot drink. The depth was around 2m and we need 2.5m to be safe because strong winds affect the depth of water. The chart plotter does not give sufficient detail and so we can only creep forward using the depth sounder.
We decided to give up trying for the marina and secure overnight between the bridges. The strong easterly was expected to turn northerly and so ideally we wanted to reverse into a small canal siding we had seen on the south side and point the bow at the wind. When it is windy you have to maintain speed or Pelagia will be blown off by the wind. When you don’t know the depth you have to go slowly in case you strike the keel. You can’t go in reverse or you could damage the rudder. On first attempt into the siding we were blown off and missed striking the other side by a small measure. The second attempt had to be faster and a line had to be secured to some old rings. We got a centre line on quickly and then a stern line so that was good. To move forward into the siding for shelter we had to drag Pelagia and move one line at a time. A couple out walking came to our aid and the four of us manhandled the 18 tons in a strong wind. Several other yachts followed our lead and secured on the main bank, they were all much smaller so depth was not an issue for them. There was no signage to say whether mooring was allowed or not but we had no choice and having been awake since 3am we were past caring. We were staying!
Up since 3am, torrential downpours and windy and still smiling even though the other half of the crew is staying dry and cosy inside. Waterproofs have given up the ghost by this time… sodden in and out.
Finally moored on, both crew knackered after a very long day.