Happy 80th Elaine.
Now that the coldest and darkest months of January and February are over, I can (almost) safely say the worst is over. Mind you, there was no ‘worst’. At winter’s peak, the temperature in Flensburg settled between -2 to 5 degrees with a couple of days where the mercury dipped to minus ten. At the same time last year while in the UK, we experienced the Beast from the East, which dumped tonnes of snow upon the little isle. I’m told also that here in Flensburg last year a blanket of snow covered the town for a couple of weeks. As winter morphs into spring, I’m fully aware that this transition may still bring changeable weather so it ain’t over yet, but the warm weather so far is ‘most unusual’.
A few weeks ago ice developed around the edges of the harbour providing a skating rink for seagulls. With February typically the coldest month the water temperature chills to around 2degC. Luckily the water that flows around Blue Heeler is slightly warmer due to an outflow of tepid water from a nearby manufacturing plant, so I’m told. The temp sensor on the chart plotter revealed that today’s water temperature is 6degC. Last weekend a delightfully sunny 13degC attracted folks to patron the nearby Beach Café where they sat and sipped their beers or wines while they looked at the boats. We sat in our sun-warmed cockpit to have a brew and watch the people too!
But the best news is that we now have more daylight hours, which will only increase the further north we go as the 2019 summer season advances. Hooray!
So, how did we endure winter aboard?
Each day I would walk an hour or so despite the weather mostly to walk through the volkspark or along the hilltop with views overlooking the fjord. The Gross Strauss is a mile long shopping street closed to traffic and often filled with loads of pedestrians. I’ve found some good shops, but alas, haven’t found any Vegemite (all I found was Marmite; a poor second).
Strolling around Flensburg is quite enjoyable. Riding around is easy too, with plenty of bike paths around the town and beyond. A sprinkling of sand by city workers keeps paths safe during the snowy days. Denmark isn’t far away – half an hour cycle along the western shore of the fjord to cross at the start of the Gendarm Path. This route was in use between 1920 until 1958 by walking gendarms defending the Danish border, but nowadays this route can be hiked or walked 74kms along the South Jutland coast. Nearby Glücksberg and its famous castle is about 12kms away and worth the ride. The rest of the day is filled up with the usual tasks of lugging water to the boat, laundry and grocery shopping, plus watching YouTube shows and news in the evening.
Over winter Wayne knocked off a few jobs, as did I, and despite a couple of cupboards needing a good wipe out and spray of vinegar to wipe away the water and keep away the mould, life aboard has been warm and comfortable.
Our time in the northern winter also gave us the chance to meet blue water sailors who have sailed many years around the world, plus local sailors, so it’s been great to share stories. Together we’ve enjoyed outings to Rømø and Tønder in Denmark, walked the beaches of the North Sea and forest doggy walks. Thanks to everyone here who’ve made our stay special 🙂
So now, after four months in our tiny home keeping warm and saving our pennies, our reward is a train-trip (something we’ve been meaning to do for many years). March should be a good time to travel and a Eurail pass makes the trip affordable and less stressful than driving. Our plan is to travel through Germany and its border countries leaving visits to countries farther south for when Blue Heeler is in the area. By the end of March, the UK will jump ship from the European Union – time will tell whether it will sink or swim. BREXIT has implications for us so we are watching, closely.