We sailed from Terschelling, Netherlands, exited the cut between the Wadden Islands to enter the North Sea at approximately 6:00 P.M. The predicted forecast was south-southeast wind at 15-20 knots. Brian and I sat together in the cockpit through sunset anticipating the night. We’d run jack-lines and were clipped into our harnesses and bundled beneath two layers topped with foul weather gear. The sails were raised, but we continued to motor since the wind remained light; the course was set just outside of a major shipping channel. We re-heated leftovers for dinner. Warm cups of tea kept our hands cozy. We were mindful of upcoming wind farms to be avoided which would require course adjustments. We kept a close eye on the AIS overlay on the chart to compare transmitting ships to the actual navigational lights being spotted as darkness fell. The night was clear and crisp; phosphorescence jettisoned from Detour‘s stern as the boat moved effortlessly through the water. Brian and I took 2-hour shifts. The wind increased and mid-evening we turned off the engine. The wind continued to increase, we reefed the mainsail. As predicted the wind became a steady 18-20 knots. Late night, we added a second reef to the mainsail only to be taken out again just before dawn. The overnight was uneventful and Detour‘s aft cabin had provided a snug sea bunk. We had cruised smoothly at 7-knots, upwards of 8-knots during the stronger wind. At daybreak the wind dwindled. Mid-morning we had to decide our final destination; Helgoland (outlying German island) or Cuxhaven (first landfall inside the mouth of the Elbe River). The wind continued to decrease; we motor-sailed to maintain 5-knots. From our location at that time, it would be roughly 17 nautical miles to Helgoland compared to roughly 17 nautical miles to the entrance of the Elbe River with additional mileage into the harbor at Cuxhaven. As luck should have it, we approached the Elbe River at slack tide enabling us to enter the river on an incoming tide. The current would give us a 3-4 knot boost and we’d surely make landfall before dark. So the decision was really whether to detour for the purpose of sightseeing (two recent detours were fresh on our minds) or continue toward our planned route during ideal conditions. Cuxhaven received an unanimous vote.Sailing pre-season gave us our choice of berths at the harbor. We chose an easy spot, along the 15-20 meter pontoon. At 6:00 P.M. we were settled just in the nick of time for the harbormaster to give us a run-down of the facilities prior to ending her shift for the day. It was April 2nd, and we realized that our little overnight hop put us right on schedule for our spring plans. Welcome to Germany! The following day there wasn’t much action in Cuxhaven; it was Sunday and nearly everything was closed. It was fabulously warm with clear blue skies. We’d sailed north and suddenly spring had sprung! We set out without our jackets for the first time in months. We found the walking street lined with boutiques, bakeries, and an ice cream parlor. Around the harbor, cafe table umbrellas were sprawled beneath the sunshine to extend their seating area onto the patio. Racks of souvenirs cluttering the walkway forced passersby to admire that one, Cuxhaven key chain they just couldn’t leave without. Tour guides offered us a trip aboard their passenger cruisers out into the Elbe River to spot the seals, “Eight seals today, we leave at half-past one.” No thanks, saw over a dozen seals on the way here aboard our private tour boat! A bus, disguised as a train on wheels, steamed ’round the harbor along the waterfront bike path headed toward the beach. We followed, first atop the dike then down near the water. Caravan parks were frequent and throughout our stroll we noticed couples we’d already passed out enjoying the day as well. Bikes whizzed past. Cuxhaven was very reminiscent to us of Cape May, NJ. A vacation town, pre-season. Advertisements were hung for dinner theater shows, guided beachcoming tours during low tide on the mud flats, horse drawn wagon rides in the mud flats, and cruises to the outlying Wadden Islands of Germany. We noticed every few blocks there was a cigarette vending machine. On some lucky corners, the cigarette vending machine was accompanied by a vending machine with a selection of condoms and vibrators. Guess there was maybe more action here than we thought!
Our second day at Cuxhaven was all about business. We provisioned Detour, making two trips to the nearby Lidl grocery store. Food prices are lowest in Germany so this was a great opportunity to stock those staple items that we needed aboard. Laundry was on the agenda, the perfect day for line drying with the sun shining once again. We attempted to do our internet errands, but the wifi connection was terrible. We managed to get a weather forecast and messages sent to family, then continued our guide book studies to determine where we were headed next!This seal joined us at the docks for the day, sunbathing and posing for photos.