In Danish Waters With My FAM

A couple of days sailing in Denmark can make such a difference. And being on a tiny Gruben FAM while cruising the mighty seas of this planet automatically brings a major danger along with it: You could get addicted to this kind of sailing.

Horuphav, final preparations

Capriole had been my sailing boat (well, enlargened dinghy) for three years already before I went on this trip along the beautiful Danish island of Als, near the fjord of Flensburg. For sailing on the Baltic Sea, or rather sailing along the coasts of Germany and Denmark, Capriole was a rather tiny example of a sailing boat.

Some boat details

Class:  Gruben FAM (built by Gruben)
Length:  5,40 m
Beam:  2,05 m
Draught:  0,30 – 1,40 m (depending on whether the ballast fin is up or down)
Displacement:  435 kg
Ballast fin:  88 kg

In my first season with my Gruben FAM Capriole I had a berth in Flensburg Wassersleben. Hence I was well aware of her capabilities and sailing her in open waters.

Sailing in Denmark – can’t get enough on day 1

After the usual organisational preparations, mishaps and excitement I finally made my way to Høruphav, starting point of our little tour along Als. The trailer I was allowed to leave in the (deserted) boathouse, thanks to the very helpful harbour master. Fellow sailor came along, sails and other stuff fixed, attached, stowed, hidden or sunk (not). We were ready to head off round about lunchtime.

Our first stop was originally planned to be Sonderborg. Wind was excellent, sailing smooth and fast, so we just kept going along the Sonderborg Sound. Despite headwind we decided to make a go for Dyvig, a beautifully set and sheltered anchorage and harbour place. We just about managed to get there before sunset – and that is approximately 22:30h at that time of the year. Two very exhausted (and very happy) sailors slept deeply and happily during that first night on Capriole.

In Dyvig you could spend weeks and forget the rest of the world

Wind force 6 blowing straight into our faces kept us from leaving Dyvig for two days. There was no way of getting out of Dyvig with our tiny sailing boat (and the, adequately, tiny motor). Sometimes that’s the way it is when sailing in Denmark: fantastic and beautiful weather, perfect conditions – on the contrary, the weather can be a real pain for days (weeks…).

We used this time off from sailing for a bit of running, relaxing and long walks, enjoying charming small villages and wonderful countryside. A bit disappointing was the visit to Nordborg, which I found rather dull – maybe I was too full of expectations towards the city of Nordborg based on my fondness of the excellent yachts from Nordborg Baadebyggeri.

bye bye - burning the witch
bye bye – burning the witch

Midsummer in Dyvig

While we were stuck in Dyvig celebrations were due for midsummer. Long day, short night, and luckily for us a big party organised by the local sailing club. They invited us to come along and join their barbecue. There were heaps of excellent beer at a price most folks in Scandinavia would sell their mother-in-law for.

And, finally, we watched the spectacular tradition of sending “the witch” up into high air. In a rather hot air and smokey fashion. After all it wasn’t too bad that the wind had made us stay, and the sailing in Denmark on the following two days was simply brilliant.

Small Gruben FAM confusing other crews

More than interesting was watching yachts coming into harbours after we had secured our berth (especially in Sonderborg).

“Free berth up front, five ahead”… until, of course, they reached that berth and found – with a slightly astonished and confused look – that it had already been occupied by a sailing boat half their size. Capriole’s mast usually was only slightly longer than their boom (well, a minor exaggeration here…).

That is, by the way, also one thing I like about sailing in Denmark and especially the Danish South Sea. There are lots of larger yachts around, of course, but you do get quite a few smaller boats as well. The sailing ground is quite sheltered, and sometimes it simply is too shallow for larger yachts.

A long weekend is too short for a sailing trip

Back in Høruphav, five days later, we came to the usual conclusions: the trip was way too short, we should do this more often, a basic sailing boat is more fun, keep it simple.

Although we were not able to sail for two days this weekend on my FAM was absolutely fantastic. Once again I understood that it does not necessarily have to be the act of sailing itself, that keeps me so happy on a sailing boat. It is, more or less, simply the time spent on a dinghy or a yacht.

And this is the kind of sailing I want to be doing also in future. Being very close to the water, having a small and at the same time reliable boat. Sailing single handedly or with very small crew. And keeping technical equipment simple but solid. This mixture of simplicity and reliability has since then become my maxim.

Similar trips on small boats

Before and after I owned my FAM Capriole, I went on various other “dinghy cruising” tours. The most memorable ones were

More sailing trips on small boats are definitely due!

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