Like a Whale Beached ashore - A Story by Stefan Forlauf and Claudia Mermann
Nightmare. In the middle of the night, the wind intensifies, does not hold the anchor, and the ship is thrown ashore.
There are many stories that with the help of the Internet, people managed to find what they were looking for for a long time. One of these stories about us and our boat, which we accidentally stumbled upon on the net. And we immediately realized this is exactly what we need. "Vinkona", which was carefully looked after by the previous owner, became our friend. By the way, "Vinkona" means "girlfriend" from Icelandic. This name immediately evokes a picture of simple and majestic beauty. There are shady fjords, glaciers descending from the mountains, and, most importantly, the sea. Changing its color from bright turquoise to deep blue. North…
In early August, when we had the opportunity to spend several days without our children, we decided to conquer the north of Europe. From Schleimünde, across Sonderborg (Denmark) v Alesund (Iceland), pier Stevningnor, is our first stage. We stay here for 2 days. This summer's weather has delayed. What follows is an extract from the ship's log, which will reveal the dramatic events of that night.
Light breeze, 1 to 2 knots on the Beaufort scale, variable from southwest to east. Later the wind changed to the northeast and began to subside.
We are not moving forward. East of Barso, we changed course by 330 degrees and set off to look for anchorage.
We glide across a sea full of jellyfish into a bay Sandwig near the beach Hejsager... We had to look for a place for a long time until our "Vinkona" was securely anchored. A flock of wild geese soars in the sky in an even formation, we rejoice at life and the sight that has opened before us.
Strong gusts of wind rock the boat. Stefan checked our position relative to the coast, turned on the echo sounder and GPS.
The waves are getting higher. Vinkona is parallel to the beach. The red numbers on the echo sounder show a depth of about eight meters.
Heavy rain is a veil, making it difficult for visual observation. The wind changed direction again. The keel is only 46 meters deep. The Vinkona unfolds around the anchor chain.
Stefan decides to keep the position. In total darkness and with increasing rain, de-anchoring does not seem like a good alternative.
Something has changed. Stefan and Claudia look outside. It's light outside, the rain has stopped, the echo sounder shows only 1.20 m under the keel. The Vinkona moves differently than it should when at anchor. The anchor does not hold, the waves and wind smoothly carry the yacht to the shore. Now every second counts.
The engine is started quickly, the tiller and the engine control lever are put forward. Powered by a 27-horsepower motor roars, the propeller foams a mixture of water and sand. Two waves, more than the previous ones, lift the Vinkona and move it even closer to the shore. She's broke like a helpless whale. Time stands still until we realize what happened.
Stefan is exhausted. He grabs the cell phone, his hands shaking.
Claudia dials the number instead. She contacts the Danish Maritime Rescue Service and returns the mobile phone to Stefan. The conversation takes place in English. Briefly and businesslike, the man on the other end asks about the details of the incident. Stefan gives the coordinates and describes the situation. They promise that they will take care and call back.
The water supply system continues to work - a blessing in this situation. We had a bite of slightly stale bread and took a few sips of cola. “I don't want to lose our yacht,” Stefan said. He felt terrible. "Stop it," Claudia replied. “I was asleep and did not help you. And I bear exactly the same responsibility for what happened. " We try to console ourselves with the fact that the Vinkona's construction allows it to sit in shallow water at low tide. But will it help in this situation?
The dispatcher of the Marine Rescue Service calls back. We need to wait a while for the Coast Guard rescuers to arrive. We wait and ask ourselves - is it possible to tow the Vinkona to the depths so easily? Will we damage the bottom, keel or something else?
The phone interrupts the flow of thoughts. The man from Coast Guard boat MHV 910 introduces himself in a calm voice like Michael. "We're going to help you!"
MHV 910 rounds Cape Ravshalen much earlier than expected. A large, bright orange inflatable boat approaches us, jumping on the crests of the waves. Two men, wearing bright orange life jackets, cheerfully greet us in German. "This often happens, we will help you." We're not alone anymore.
When Stefan had to give the rescuers the rope, he nervously began to untie the halyard attached to the mast. Claudia brought in a suitable rope from the locker. The inflatable boat was moving at full throttle with a 100 hp engine, yet the Vinkona did not move. Her long keel stuck diagonally against the direction of travel in the sand and held her in place.
Several volunteers are helping us. We have lengthened the main halyard and are trying to use the mast as a lever. The keel of "Vinkona" appeared only halfway. Suddenly, the steel loop on the mainsail breaks and pulls out one of the shrouds, which are under tremendous stress. The mass of water pressing against the keel and the weight of the sand act as a powerful return spring. "Vinkona" jerk into starting position. We're holding on, things are going well. Rescuers in Danish announces by radio: “We are coming back!” The inflatable boat is removed.
The free ends of the halyards dangle in the water to the beat of the waves. A lady walking the dog along the shore is trying to help us. Since the halyards cannot be reached, she takes off her trousers and goes into the water without further ado. Approaching the boat, she asked for a hook. She returned to the shore. A young couple decided to help her.
The beach assistants folded the ropes. If this day began with a hopeless situation, now, these people who help us have made it better. Stefan gratefully accepted the tied halyards and securely fastened them to the mast.
The men in orange life jackets returned. Together with Hendrick, they boarded the yacht and secured a special cable from Vinkona to the MHV 910.
A sudden jolt rolls the Vinkona and turns its bow towards the sea. One imperceptible moment, and the boat is already afloat, as if nothing had happened. Our assistants wave to us from the beach. We are quickly moving away from the coast, increasing the distance between us, and there is not even time for gratitude. “Let's try to start the engine,” Hendrik suggests. The motor starts to work for a while, but after a second it stalls. The screw is probably damaged. The rescuers offer to tow us to the harbor of Abenraa and invite us to join them. Hendrik stays aboard the yacht while we are in the inflatable boat. Claudia enjoys surfing and gets an extra lap around the MHV 910.
On board the MHV 910, we feel as if we have been booked for tickets to the Marine Adventure Park: first a ride in an inflatable boat, then a boat tour from the captain and coffee in the crew cabin. We were introduced to perhaps the most important person on the ship - the cook.
“If the cook is not good, then there is no complete harmony on board,” explains Lars and sits down with us with coffee. Like everyone on board, he speaks good German. We were struck by the fact that no one is wearing a uniform on this warship.
“On weekends, volunteers are accepted on the ship,” explains Lars. We have a ship on which we can go, fuel and also food. Isn't it wonderful? ”We walk along the deck with the camera. “We have no ban on photos. We are not at war. ”Still, the name of the ship reminds us of the times when German-Danish relations were not so calm. "Ringen" is the name of the ship, the same as it once belonged to the Danish militia army.
However, this is in the past. We rejoice at how unbureaucratic and neighborly they welcome us. For most Germans, it is inconceivable that during the entire rescue operation no one demanded our address or our signature. Also, no one told us what we did wrong, and how much our salvation costs.
A rope hangs down from the Vinkona into the water. The men suggested that perhaps she was blocking the screw. We immediately thought about the halyard from the mast, but preferred to remain silent.
On board the ship, a Danish chef serves fried potatoes with fried eggs and Danish canned beer.
For approximately 13 nautical miles, the MHV 910 towed the Vinkona from the scene. An inflatable boat gently tows the Vinkona to the quay wall at the yacht club in Abenraa Bay. And again we do not have time to say goodbye to our saviors, who hastily leave.
The Danish yachtsman suggests that the problem with the propeller was due to the rope. “I’ll put on my diving suit now,” he says. Shortly thereafter, he disappears in a neoprene suit, with an oxygen tank and a diving knife, under the hull of the yacht. We can't believe in our luck.
The motor starts the first time. We give "more gas", and the propeller vigorously whips up the muddy port water. The screw rotates evenly and without vibration. We breathe a sigh of relief. We ask our savior what we can do for him. "Ah, now would be nice to have a cold beer."
Between Schleimünde and Maasholm, our home fjord has become a foreign, hostile body of water. We feel stronger and more confident than before. At the next opportunity, we will raise the sails again. We would not want to do without this grounding experience so much we have experienced and learned a lot. The second anchor is now always aboard the Vinkona, and we leave even more distance to the shore. The steel body offers significant advantages in this situation. Our advice, in spite of the acquired life experience: Better not to be shipwrecked!