Date: August 17th 2006
We've come down to the East German Baltic coast. Friends of ours have always been on about how good this part of the world is, but we've not been to Germany for three years and never to the East. I have to say - they appear to have a point.
On the way down from Kalmar we stopped off at Kristianopel (nice little spot), Karlskrona by the back route (shallow, weed -ridden but pretty) and then to Christiansø, a small Danish island off Bornholm. This island was originally a fortress, and it now looks like something out of a film set. The harbour is small, and consequently full, and the list of don'ts (no swimming, no dogs,no mess, no riff-raff etc.) is substantial, but you can see why people go.
From Christiansø round to Bornholm, and then down to Sassnitz, in Germany.
Sassnitz was a shock. Loads of restaurants serving decent food at knock down prices. (You can eat out for £10 a head). Some character and life. (It doesn't take much after Bornholm!) Our further investigations indicate this may not be unique, and I'm just beginning to see what the Germans come to expect as the norm. The only down side to Sassnitz is that the harbour gets something of a scend (roll) in a southerly gale - not good for the boat - or a nights sleep.
One thing I've always hated about the southern part of the Baltic is what I call the 'marina rush'. Unlike the Swedish archipelago, where there are simply hundreds of places to stop, in the southern parts, overnight stays largely have to be in marinas. As there are often limited places, this can lead to eager yottie types leaving earlier and earlier in order to be at the next one in time to get a berth. Our studies show that the Dutch are the winners at this game. They seem to leave at about 4AM, in order to be at the next one by midday. The Brits and the Germans fight it out together, leaving about 7 or 8AM. The Swedes get up about 11AM wondering what all the fuss is about.
Sassnitz has stacks of room. Two days of bad weather and there were still places. It remains to be seen whether this is true for the rest of Germany but things have been promising so far (and this is the height of the season)
There is one other downside. Germany is charter boat (specifically Bavaria charter yacht) territory. Hundreds of them. Some of the people they rent these things to really shouldn't be allowed out on their own. They have either never been in a yacht before or had about 5 minutes instruction. There is always at least five people on each boat, only one of which knows vaguely what to do, and he hasn't told the others. They stand around either looking gormless, or rush to the action like five year olds playing football. Its highly entertaining to watch, as long as your own boat is not too close.
The huge and modern marina at Kroslin is opposite the old V2 missile development site at Peenenmunde. The old power station to the plant has been turned into a rather thoughtful museum. Its rather a shame that they don't have too much of the actual hardware (its probably all in the Smithsonian), but they do have some of the infrastructure. The old power station itself is decidedly spooky.
One thing I hadn't grasped was the sheer size of the site. The power station was actually a small remote outpost, with the rest of the site stretching for miles up and down the coast. A major regret is that we didn't get time to go and see what exists outside Peenemunde itself, if anything (it has all reputedly been destroyed), but particularly Pfufstand VII, where all the original V2/A4 action took place, and the basis on which all rocket launch sites have since been modelled. Its a derivation of the V2 don't forget, that took Neil and Buzz to the moon...