This year’s summer has been rather cold and the first real heat wave arrived on the last week of July. We enjoyed the sun and cozy Seedorf but the clock was ticking and it was time to move on.
Getting on the way was again pleasant because we had a perfect sailing weather. Temperature was 27 degrees and wind was from the stern. We quickly brought the gennaker bag to the foredeck and prepared the gennaker snuffer. Soon the gennaker was flying and Suwena sailed proudly towards Stralsund.
The only road connection to island of Rügen is in the city of Stralsund where two bridges cross the strait of Strelasund. The newer Rügen bridge or Rügenbrücke is a 40 metres tall highway bridge. The older Ziegelgraben is a bascule bridge that needs to be opened. In July the opening times were at 8.20, 12.20, 17.20 and 21.30. The day was beautiful and we were in no hurry, from the beginning our aim was to reach the five o’clock bridge opening.
The gennaker was up proudly the whole way through the sea area on the southern side of Rügen. As we aproached the Strelasund strait on the western side of the island we were pondering if there would be enough wind angle in the strait for the gennaker sailing. After turn the apparent wind angle was 90 degrees and our gennaker was all fine after trimming. The strait is narrow. Its width at narrowest is only half a nautical mile and it follows the shore of Rügen towards Stralsund and north. We were in no hurry because we were a few hours ahead of scheduled bridge opening. To slow us down we dropped the gennaker and continued under bare poles. Our speed was half a knot and the current pushed us forward another knot. In total that made us move forward with the speed over ground of one and a half knot.
German sailors have warned us that in Germany the police really follow, do boaters use the day shapes. We were laughing when we joked about what kind of a day shape should we raise now because we were moving forward in the strait without engine and without sails. Usually sailing like this happens in heavy weather when even the storm jib is too much sail area for stormy conditions. We however were floating in the middle of a beautiful summer day. A half knot speed through the water was enough to keep the boat steerable. Two and half miles before the bridge we saw an attractive bight that already had several boats anchoring out and the nearby beach was full of sunbathers. We joined them and lowered the anchor as well. For the first time ever we were also raising the anchor ball into the spreader of Suwena.
Sea temperature was 21 degrees and I took the opportunity to go swimming around Suwena. We quickly reached the decision that the bridge will open tomorrow as well and we will spend the rest of the day relaxing in a place called Strelasund Mittlerer. Before the sunset all other boats weighed their anchors and also the last swimmers from the beach went home. The whole bight was only for two of us – how great is that?
On Thursday we aimed for a midday bridge opening. At the bridge was quite a pack of boats waiting for the opening time. It was like being on a motorway. Several boats were going in parallel and bows were almost touching sterns while motoring in the queue through the open bridge. On both sides of the bridge were about 30 yachts waiting for passage. We and some other drove half a mile into the harbour of Stralsund city. Rest of the pack started raising the sails to continue further north. The overall it was like at the start of the sailing competition. The bridge over Strelasund is the only passageway on the western side of the island when travelling between west and southern side of Rügen. No wonder that the boats are swarming around the bridge four times every day.
There are at least four harbours in Stralsund on both sides of the strait. We and other visitors stayed at Stralsund city harbour. The marina is big and the berths are marked by boat lengths in metres. We noticed that the harbourmaster really enforced the markings. From our pontoon one boat had to change place because it was made fast into too long berth. This is actually quite a good because rafting up is always more easier if both boats are at about same size.
We spent Thursday evening strolling on streets and alleys of Stralsund city. There were small boutiques and a few department stores for shopping. For more historic minded visitors hanseatic city of Stralsund also has a beautiful Gothic church. Delicious smells were floating out from numerous restaurants and terraces were full of people enjoying the summer. Special feature in the city are smokery boats in the harbour. The fresh fish catched during the night is smoked and sold freshly at the piers.
Overall Rügen felt like a good sailing destination. The waters of the island are best for a week or two sailing around the island by making short day hops from one bight to another. The Strelasund and the sea south from Rügen are also protected from the waves of Southern Baltic Sea. This have been noticed by numerous charter companies who rent the boats for a week at a time.
On Friday we continued from Stralsund towards Heiligenhafen. Strelasund continues norths for another 10 miles before we were able to turn west on the Baltic Sea. There are several bird sanctuaries on Rügen shore and one of them was immediately after strait on the Baltic shore. It is not allowed to enter these areas by boat and we witnessed first handed that the police really enforces this. Behind us was a small motorboat full of youngsters that turned towards the coast in protected area. At once the coastguard vessel near by lowered dinghy and went full speed to intervene. Luckily Andrus had planned our route outside the protection area and we could continue without being stopped by policeman.
After midday the wind started to pick up and we changed purring of Perkins into the silence of gennaker for the rest of the journey to Heiligenhafen.