- Captain Albert's Blog -

Stories from the Sea, Past and Present

28 June 2010; Copenhagen day 1.

From our last point of “mayhem” last night it was a quiet run through the Kattegat. That body of water where Sweden and Denmark are starting to come closer and closer. Here the traffic routes ensure that nearly all the traffic is following the same pattern and that makes navigating easy. I had planned to be passing “Hamlets” castle around 9 am, and then to be at the pilot station at 10.30, followed by a docking at 11.30 with the official arrival scheduled for noon time. Thus we were nicely on time and shortly after 9am we rounded the land tongue on which the castle stands. The best time to come by here is in the morning as the sun shines on it from the East. In the afternoon it is often caught in a glare when the sun is setting behind it. It is of course not Hamlet’s castle, but a later version on the same location, but it is very pretty to look at and the Shakespeare link makes for a good story.

We had glorious sunshine and the castle looked splendid from about three miles away. Of almost as much interest are the ferries that cross this entrance to the Oresund or Sund, which is the name of the water here between Denmark and Sweden. They travel from Helsingor to Helsingborg as there is no bridge yet that covers this narrow passage. These ferries, used as they are to the constant stream of shipping, either cross your bow very closely or your stern, to adhere as much as possible to their timetable. There is a bridge/tunnel system at the Southside of Copenhagen, which is much longer due to widening of the “Sund”.
Thus the ferry’s deal with a lot of traffic during the day and night.

In the middle of the “Sund” or The Sound, lies the island of Ven. An elevated area with green rolling hills (low ones) and dotted with several farms. This island acts as a natural traffic divider with the southbound traffic staying to the West of it on the Danish side and northbound traffic staying to the East on the Swedish side. This is not compulsory but it just makes sense to do so from the point of good seamanship. Occasionally there is a seaman who thinks differently and that gives then most of the time heated discussions over the VHF. The crew of the Prinsendam are good seamen and so we kept to the West.

That brought us by 1030am to the pilot station as planned. The pilot was all excited about our arrival and came speeding out early and hopped onboard before we got to the correct location. From the pilot station it is about 5 miles to the dock and with 10 knots speed that only takes 30 minutes. Most captains including myself prefer to swing on arrival so we can dock nose out, which saves time on departure. Thus we swung around just inside the breakwater. Our allotted berth was this time near the top of the Lange Linje, so by the time we had swung around the ship would be almost in position. That meant that I had to try to get the stern of the Prinsendam as close to the dock as possible to avoid having to go sideways for a big distance. To make that possible I used the top of the Lange Linje as a pivot point. For guests watching this on the bow it can be quite scary as the ship is moving forward with considerable speed, poking its nose in the harbour behind the end of the pier and then only at the last moment when the stern gets more momentum, the bow swings away.

It all worked like clockwork and by 11.30am we had the gangway out and were safely docked for an overnight stay in Copenhagen. The Danes were out in force, enjoying what was for them “finally the start of the summer”.

Hopefully for our guests it will be a good stay as well, as Copenhagen is a great city to visit and this weather is making it perfect. I looked forward to by bed, for a good afternoons rest, as all the traffic last night had cost me most of last nights sleep.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Albert,
    Being 1/2 Danish I am always interested in how your sea travels are to my Mother’s home country! Get plenty of sleep, maybe you can dream a little about the “Little Mermaid” who has vacated the harbor temporarily and travelled to the Danish Pavilion at the World Fair in Shanghai, China.

    Best regards

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