April 22 -May 3, 2018
To rewind for a bit, after we exited the Kiel Canal we made our way to Laboe, just across the harbor. Laboe being an important naval base, the government sited a German Naval Museum here next to a 1936 memorial. Originally built as a monument to WW I German sailors who lost their lives, in 1996 the German Naval Association rededicated the memorial. Now this imposing structure stands for “those who died at sea and for peaceful navigation in free waters” regardless of country. The plaque also notes that naval vessels and merchant ships from all nations show their respect by lowering their flags when passing by.
The site includes a tour of a Uboat
and a museum with a subterranean memorial to all sailors who died at sea and an upper floor with billboards full of the country’s naval history
and a room solemnly depicting all ships and submarines sunk during WW I and WW II.
On a lighter note Laboe offers locals and visitors alike a chance to enjoy the sand and sea. We saw sun worshipers stretched on the beach and strollers, like ourselves, walking the boulevard.
As we continued to make our way into the Baltic we sailed from Germany to Denmark to Germany again, changing our courtesy flag along the way (all yachts visiting from a different country are required to fly these, and JUANONA has an array of them aboard).
A stopover in a very quiet marina in the small town of Gedsner made for an easy overnight port.
We headed into the little town to check out the provisioning opportunties, which is where I saw a vegetable that looked like it should be floating in a large bottle of formaldehyde. Egads, this must be when they say it tastes better than it looks.
We didn’t add it to our shopping basket.
A motor-sail the next day brought us back to Germany heading for the city of Straslund, a former member of the powerful medieval Hanseatic League.
Within a few miles of Stralsund we spotted a customs boat whom we saw pivot and head our way.
We’ve been hailed and/or stopped by customs in almost all the countries whose waters we’ve sailed. Just outside of Vlieland, Netherlands a Dutch coast guard called us on the VHF radio as we were starting our overnight passage to the Kiel Canal. When Max reported our boat name they stated his birth date asking if he was the captain aboard. Obviously we are in the database!
This time the officials asked for our passports (carefully transferred via a secure pouch stretched to us), approved them, and smilingly returned them. Have to say every government boat who’s hailed us has acted professionally and graciously.
We soon reached our destination and tied up at the city marina offering us a nice view across the harbor
and a jetty full of fishermen taking advantage of the herring season.
Eager to stretch out the sea-leg kinks we began exploring, stopping when we found ourselves in the Old Market Square
and spotted an excellent place to bask in the afternoon sun. I’m in heaven, and Max seems pretty relaxed, too :)
One of the most imposing structures sitting on the Old Market Square is St. Nikolas Church, a prime example of Hansa’s brick Gothic architecture. It’s the largest church in Straslund, with origins of 1234 and a final design completed by 1350, and one of the reasons this city is on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. We had to see it.
A very welcoming young woman gave us our tickets and apologized for her rusty English (which she spoke perfectly, by the way) because she rarely saw Americans here. With our self-guided brochure we explored:
an impressive high altar c. 1480
a 1410 altar of St. Olaf, one of the original 56 altars (during the Reformation in the 15th century most were removed), with scenes of his life: converted to Christianity by the English King Canute; Baptism in the cathedral in Rouen, France; put on a ship to Norway with priests and a Bishop; arrival in Moster*, Norway; his death in a battle; and, his open casket serving as a place for pilgrimages
* In 2016 we actually stood in the church in Moster, built in 1150 on the site where he proclaimed Christianity the religion of Norway in 1024.
the shopkeepers’ pews and altar c. 1574
As one of the Hanseatic towns, the merchants were a powerful force and protective of their status: a club-carrying individual and inscription at the pews’ entrance
warns non-members of this guild “For shopkeepers only! Anyone else gets it on the nose from me!” Nothing like christian charity.
and, wooden relief panels from the pew of Riga (or Novgorod) traders.
Stralsund served as a major trading hub, and the panels depict hunters, beekeepers, and on the far right a Hanseatic merchant.
Another site definitely worth exploring is the Ozeaneum.
This structure is the newer half of the German Oceanographic Museum. The older one shares space with the Museum of Local History in the repurposed 1251 Dominican Monastery of St. Catherine.
The Ozeaneum offered a fascinating science lesson in all marine disciplines. Even for someone like me who is not scientifically minded, the exhibits draw you in. Plus, I’m a sucker for visual aids.
The first room featured large wall illustrations explaining basic phenomena associated with the seas, such as:
ocean currents, both deep water (black-gray) and surface (yellow) [for the current to pass around all the oceans takes almost 1,000 years]
high pressure systems generating trade winds blowing warm water west replaced by the upwelling of cold water
wind currents composed of the tropical trade winds, the temperate westerlies, and the polar easterlies (in yellow) which generate warm (orange) and cold (blue-gray) ocean currents noted as 1=equatorial , 2=sub-tropical, 3=circunpolar Antarctic
tides, from minimum (Neap tides) when sun, moon (in 1st or 3rd Qtr) and earth form a 90º angle to maximum (Spring tides) when sun, moon (new or full) and earth are in a line
In addition to these billboards, we passed free-standing displays, one being the basins and sills of the Baltic Sea. It’s composed of brackish water due to over 200 rivers draining into it and being almost cut off from the North Sea. The latter supplies the Baltic Sea with oxygen-rich water flowing along the bottom.
We saw montages of marine life living both in and around the sea, one showing a Lion’s Mane jellyfish, which we saw quite a few of in Norway three summers ago. No touchy for sure.
Another room focused on current research. I was surprised to learn about seabed claims: a country can explore part of the ocean floor simply by purchasing a license from the UN Seabed organization for $250,000.
And, I knew tropical forests offered important drug ingredients, but I didn’t realize this pertained to marine bacteria and fungi, too.
Intriguing photos and signs pointed to more research:
the world’s largest test tubes off the Spitsbergen coast,
and the use of tides
and kites as alternative energy sources. I would love to see this configuration crossing the ocean!
And, when exhaustion struck from reading all the signs and staring at tanks of fish, you could have some stupid fun
or relax on a lounger placed under whale sculptures listening to their plaintive and haunting songs.
But, one of the main reasons we came centered on seeing the tuxedo birds, who didn’t think much of Max’s singing…
Next, an island in Denmark we’d been hearing about ever since we talked of cruising the Baltic…