Antipole in the Baltic

Utklippan & Christiansø

We were rather sad to leave Karlskrona and have much enjoyed our time in the Saltövarv boat yard.  

Utklippan

We sailed forth on 3rd May to Utklippan, a group of low-lying skerries about 17nm off-shore.  A harbour has been created between the two largest skerries, originally as a refuge for fisherman.  It benefits from entrances on both the east and west sides, so there is a choice depending on wind direction. These days it is a staging post for passing yachts and migrating birds.  It is also a nesting place for Eider ducks and has a population of frogs and toads.

We like to have an easy first passage of the season to shake down and find our feet again.  A fair breeze was forecast and we made good time, while eying an ominous dark cloud that got larger and larger.  As we approached Utklippan it came upon us with winds of F8-9.  We got the sails down and decided to stay off shore until the worst was past.  Normally, we wait until in shelter before rigging fenders and mooring lines, but, concerned at being able to hold a position inside the tiny harbour in such strong winds, we decide to prepare for berthing before entering.  So Ynskje clipped on and crawled to and fro along the deck making preparations while Tony tried to hold the boat steady.  Eventually we entered harbour once the winds had eased to F6.  We were very relieved to get tucked up and plug in to electricity to warm up and dry out.

(New! Click on the photos to view as a gallery)

Christiansø

The next day we sailed 44nm south for the remote and small Ertholmen [“Green pea”] archipelago.  It was a rather cold sail – the water temperature still only 2.8ºC.

Between the main island Christiansø and neighbouring Frederiksø is a natural harbour.

Antipole (far right) lying in the harbour at Christiansø

The islands have been a Danish naval fortress since 1684 and the two islands are surrounded by battlements and each have a magnificent defensive tower, now museums.  In 1808 The British Navy bombarded the islands in an unsuccessful attempt to take them, ostensibly to try and curtail Danish privateers who were harassing British merchant ships.

The naval fortress closed in 1856 and the islands have become a conservation area.  Only traditional buildings and materials are allowed (linseed oil based paints, no plaster board etc.).  There are no cars – indeed the only wheeled transport we saw were children’s bicycles, wheelbarrows and a couple of zimmer frames!

The islands are a haven for wildlife and an important breeding ground for many thousands of Eider ducks.  The Eider duck weaves its nest from its own down to produce a lovely warm wad, which was much used in Eiderdown bedding.  [Note for younger readers: Eiderdowns were common bedding before the arrival of the duvet and serve much the same purpose.]  We saw dozens of baby Eider in creches bobbing about on the water (play video below).  We read that later, before the young are able to fly, their mothers escort them swimming some 10-12nm across the sea to Bornholm, where food is more plentiful.

There are many ponds on the islands and two species of frog – the Edible and the Marsh frog.  By some quirk of nature, all the Edible frogs are male and the Marsh frogs female.  They interbreed and their offspring are either male Edible or female Marsh frogs.  Thus, instead of a hybrid cross developing, the two separate species are maintained.

Here are some of the views and sights we enjoyed.

On Monday we departed from Christiansø and made for Bornholm, the large Danish island some 10nm south. Our passage was into the teeth of a contrary F6 wind with rain squalls, so we reefed down and set the storm staysail. It was a long beat covering over 21nm. We finally came to the pretty little port of Gudhjem [“God’s home”] where we plan to spend some time exploring. Hopefully, the weather will improve too.

More news of Bornholm in due course.

Ynskje and Tony

2 thoughts on “Utklippan & Christiansø

  1. Alison Naisby

    Hi, many thanks for your blog and news. Glad you got through the force 8/9 storm & safely into harbour. What beautiful and fascinating places you have visited, thanks for the pictures and history. All the best for fair winds for the next part of your voyage,

  2. Liz

    I love the video of the baby eider ducks. They look like unruly children! I really enjoyed watching the Eider ducks swimming in Norway. No babies then of course in February.

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