Sister's Journal

Date: 31.July.1999
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Position: 55 degrees 42 minutes North, 12 degrees 36 minutes East
Back for more ... Anholt United

Our break at home is over ... only too short, and we've been back on the boat for nearly three weeks now. Returning with us from the states were Camelia and Ryan, our niece and nephew respectively. C & R (AKA the ARs, the amazing redheads) are from El Granada, CA. Camelia is 18 years old and graduated from high school in June. Ryan is 15 and will start his sophomore year when he returns home. The ARs will be with us until August 17 when they fly home from London.

We returned to the boat in tiny Ellos, Sweden July 13. While we were gone Hallberg-Rassy did some repairs for us, the most important of which was to repair the not insignificant ding in our keel which, you may remember, was caused by a sneaky Norwegian rock. After talking to several people about our "close encounter" with one of Norway's finest rocks I find that the consensus, at least among Swedes and Danes, is that they are indeed the most sinister and hateful of all the Scandinavian rocks.

Hallberg-Rassy closes the yard for a month each summer. The last work day before the closing this year was July 16, three days after we returned. On that Friday a Dutch owned HR-39 sailboat arrived at the yard with a good sized ding in the keel, not unlike the ding that we had put in ours. The skipper wanted HR to lift the boat so they could assess the damage. He also wanted them to fix the damage but really didn't know what to expect since it was the last work day and a lot of the employees had already split. His concern was amplified by the fact that the boat belonged to his father. He had already reported to his dad that the boat (new in June) had been damaged
and he sooooo wanted to be able to call back that same day to say that the damage was not significant and that it had already been repaired. HR to the rescue! They hauled the boat, the damage looked bad but wasn't, and they repaired it on the spot. By early afternoon the crisis was over.

We hung around for a few days, recovering from jet lag, getting our compass "swung", doing some grocery shopping and visiting Gothenburg. The weather was fantastic. We planned to leave the yard on Sunday, July 18. Early Sunday morning was overcast and drizzly but dead calm. About mid morning we left. Literally within minutes of our departure the wind came up and it started to rain. Of course, the wind was on our nose. Oh well! We motored through the archipelago, out into the Skagerak and on toward Laeso, a Danish island in the Kattegatt. The going was pretty rocky rolly and Ryan began to change color. He decided that he wasn't "enjoying this very much" so we changed course for Marstrand, a Swedish harbor only a couple of hours from where we were at the time.

We had been to Marstrand before the summer season when we had the harbor to ourselves. We had heard that it was a hotbed of sailboat racing and that it was always full of boats during the summer. In fact, about half the boats would have to leave before you could actually refer to the harbor as full. Boats were tied to boats were tied to boats were tied to boats and so on. It was wild and crazy. The harbor was a destruction derby of boats moving forward, backward, left and right. Sister was one of the bigger boats drifting through the harbor and it seemed that everyone gave us a little extra berth. We spent a very rocky rolly night tied to the side of an old Danish sailing fishing boat. Tied to our side was a pretty dinged up sailboat which had been chartered by a group of German men who didn't have a clue. When they tried to come along side Sister they did it too fast. When they couldn't find the brakes they struggled mightily to avoid colliding with us. They grabbed at Sister's rigging to push off. They threw fenders and body parts between Sister and their boat and, amazingly avoided a collision. I was a little pissed off about their assault on my boat but, of course, I appreciated the valiant effort to recover.

One night in Marstrand, on to Laeso, a small, fairly uninteresting Danish island in the Kattegatt where we were stuck for a few days awaiting reasonable weather. Finally, we escaped south to Anholt, an even smaller but ever so much nicer Danish island.

We spent three days on Anholt enjoying the gorgeous beach (Ryan studying the tops of his feet as he walked past the topless lady sunbathers), great restaurant and holiday atmosphere of the island. Danes flock here by the bunches. They come by boat, there were probably 400-500 boats in the oh so crowded harbor, and by ferry. There are virtually no accommodations so those that arrive by ferry are almost all campers.

Just after we arrived in Anholt in the evening, we went ashore and stopped to have a beer and listen to some very local musicians playing an accordion, a mandolin and a saw. At one point we weren't paying attention and the accordion player knelt behind Camelia and began to play "Love me Tender". The mandolin joined in. Camelia turned around to see this guy on one knee and looking straight at here with the absolutely brightest blue eyes I've ever seen. Camelia has red hair, lots of freckles and a reddish/bronze complexion from all the sun she'd been getting. That is to say that she's pretty red, but not fire engine red ... not, at least until she realized that she was being serenaded there on the quay in Anholt. She was appropriately embarrassed but also clearly enjoyed the attention.

While on Anholt we enjoyed watching the "Anholt Cup" (my name for it). The local soccer team, they wear "Anholt United" on their t-shirts, regularly challenges various subsets of the visitors to the island to a match. One match, for example, was between Anholt United and the Swedish campers on the island at the time. Anholt United is a motley assemblage of boys, young men and old men. The old men reminded me a lot of "Comatose", the old man's volleyball team that I was a part of for so many years. As Carole King sang, "They moved with some uncertainty", that is, and this really reminded me of Comatose, when they moved at all.

The game proceeded, as do most soccer games, with virtually no scoring. There was a unique time keeping system that, apparently, allowed Anholt United to decide when the quarters ended. Once we thought the game was over when the teams gathered together in the middle of the field. It turned out that they were gathered around a case of Tuborg that mysteriously appeared and the break in the action was just a beer break.

The matches are held in the Anholt Bowl (again my name) and is attended by a vast minority of the current population of the island ... maybe 100-150 people. The Anholt bowl looks a lot like a pasture. The grass is shorter than the surrounding fields, which are definitely pastures, and there are goals at either end so it apparently really is a soccer field. There is also a concession stand at one end of the field. There you can get any kind of beer you want as long as it's Tuborg green. You can get it, that is, if you can squeeze in between the players queued up at the stand.

Anholt United even had a cheerleader squad. They were mostly young women who led the roaring crowd in ... maybe one or two, clever yells. They must have been clever because everyone that understood Danish laughed at them. Each cheerleader had two homemade pompoms made from a variety of rags they had stripped from bed sheets or some such.

When the match really did end, the players from both teams lined up mid field parallel with the sidelines. They drank beer, saluted the crowd and did a version of a wave ... one might called it a microwave. Being from Seattle where, some say, the wave was invented, I felt particularly at home.

There was a particularly vociferous cheerleader for Anholt United. You might call him their head cheerleader. He was tall, slim, bearded, maybe 40 years old. He wore pants that were much too short for him, suspenders and a bicycle helmet. He came across as something of a clown. He moved up and down the sideline loudly urging on AU and vigorously greeting, with a high five and some unintelligible Viking-like utterances, each fan that he encountered. At first we thought he was drunk but he drank only soft drinks and it became apparent that he was somewhat mentally disabled. We learned that he was a year round resident of Anholt and rather than shun him or
simply put up with him the other residents went out of their way to make him feel special. They enthusiastically included him in the local scene. After the match the AU team called him out on the field and presented him with a poster size framed picture of himself. In the picture he apparently was on holiday somewhere. He wore a sports coat and tie, and was coifed just so and looked very sharp. He unwrapped the picture and held it up for all to see. He was clearly moved by the presentation. So was I.

For Camelia and me, both of us being pretty beachy people, Anholt was a great place and we'd probably still be there but for ...

A second report from Copenhagen next.

Chuck, Andy, Camelia and Ryan in Copenhagen


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