Antipole cruises

And so to Gdańsk

From Darłowo we had a beat against light winds to reach the port of Ustka.

This is another holiday resort which we would have skipped but the winds necessitated a stop-over.  It had quite the largest pirate ship we have seen.  On this the master of ceremonies shouts through speakers to hype up the passengers to shout ‘Ahoy’ over and over until it is loud enough, whereupon a cannon is fired (well a firework banger is let off) and they proceed to sea.  Once trips are over for the day, this ship became a disco at night until 5:00am in the morning quite near us.

So we were very glad to set sail for the quiet at sea.  It was a long beat against light winds until we came to Łeba [~ Weh-bah].  We berthed alongside Lotte with Litha, Frank and dog Otto, who had made the same passages a day earlier.  Łeba is another teeming resort but, thankfully, quieter where we were berthed, at least when a pirate ship was not passing. We read that the population of Łeba is about 4,000 in winter and 44,000 in the season!

l➤r: Frank, Stefan, Ynskje, Litha & Otto

L ➤ R: Frank, Stefan, Ynskje, Litha & Otto on high dune

Łeba is close to the Słowiński National Park and we all made an excursion there on bicycles.  It is noted especially for its very fine sand – more like dust than the sand we are used to.  This has heaped up into vast sand dunes and the sand dances about in a breeze, although there was insufficient for it to do so on the day we were there.  These vast dunes are moving eastwards with the prevailing winds at a rate of 3-10 metres per year.

On 29th July we had a westerly wind and set sail in the company of Lotte.  We had a five hour spinnaker run and managed to make it all the way down Gdańsk Bay and into the port.

The history of Gdańsk is long and complex. It was a member of the Hanseatic League and variously occupied by, amongst others, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Prussia, Russia and the Teutonic Knights. In between Word Wars I and II it was an independent city state under the League of Nations with both German and Polish administrations. On 1st September 1939 the German invasion of Poland began when the battleship Schleswig-Holstein fired upon the Polish garrison on the Westerplatte – the first shots of WWII.  Today a monument marks the spot and, in keeping with sea-faring tradition, we lowered our ensign as we passed at dusk.  From here we motored for fifty minutes through the vast docklands, which, even at night, were a hive of activity.  Eventually we came to the heart of the city and moored right opposite the Crane Gate.

When the Soviet army took Gdańsk in 1945 they set upon rape, pillage, Gdansk port cranegenocide and systematic destruction of the city – over 80% of its buildings were completely destroyed.  Since that time Poland has gradually re-built the city over the years. It was decided not to re-build the grand German-Prussian buildings but to re-build according to the medieval plans and drawings.  The result is very pleasing to the eye and popular with visitors.  The Crane Gate is one of the iconic buildings, dating from 1363 or earlier.  As well as functioning as a city gate it also served as a dock crane for the lifting of cargoes and, importantly, for stepping or unstepping masts.

We had an enjoyable time exploring the town with Stefan as our guide.  Over the weekend there was also a major market taking place.  Ynskje found stalls selling the most delicious mushrooms such as ceps and we feasted on these on several evenings.


On Saturday the crews of Antipole and Lotte travelled by train to Malbork to visit the castle.  This vast complex was the head quarters of the Teutonic Knights – monastic warriors who converted by the sword and ruled a large swath of northeastern Europe.

Malbork is the biggest castle in the world, vast and very impressive.  Even taking just the standard tour route took us around five hours.  During WWII it was a Nazi stronghold and in 1945 the Soviets largely destroyed it, which must have taken a lot of doing given the thickness of the walls.  Since then it has gradually been rebuilt, with the tower of the high castle completed just earlier this year.  This mammoth project is still a work in progress.  It gives the visitor a fascinating insight into the organisation and functioning of the Teutonic Knights.

On Monday we plan to sail for Lithuania – more news will follow in due course.

Ynskje, Tony & Stefan

Stefan adds:

At Darłowo I was welcomed on board the first class ship Antipole personally by the captain and first officer. They assured me that for every meal I will be invited to the captain’s table. This is more that can be expected even on the best five star boat.

Stefan in BalticSailing along the Polish coast provides more challenges than in most areas. Lack of bays and other places to anchor overnight provided logistical problems for Tony. We had to sail, as Tony described above, from one port to another waiting for the right weather. We ended in Gdańsk with a trip to Malbork castle. Tony and Ynskje enjoyed both places. Tomorrow we are sailing to Klaipeda town where I will leave the good ship Antipole.  I hope that after their sailing Ynskje and Tony will find time to produce a book about their experiences.

Thank you Ynskje and Tony for your great kindness and hospitality.

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