“So, when will Christian come?” O asked for maybe the fifth time in twenty minutes.
“I think they are an hour or so away, so soon, very soon!” I replied, knowing that I’d probably have to answer the same question a few more times before they’d actually arrive.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves!
A Few Days Earlier
After our comfortable (or for me, in the night, less so) sail from Sweden, we spent a few days looking at things in Rønne, as well as driving around the island in a rental car. Bornholm is quite the magical island, and I’d strongly recommend any and all sailors to visit!
Here are some highlights from our travel diary.
Dueodde beach is located a snatch away from Rønne and it is really quite amazing! The sand is whiter than white (it was traditionally used in hourglasses!) and the panoramic view of the open sea, breathtaking.
Unfortunately, it was very windy when we visited. So, while a great day to take in the beauty of it all, a much less than terrific day— due to beautiful sand blowing into our eyes, ears, hair, clothes— to spend on the beach.
The children didn’t mind though. “Can we roll down that sandhill? Can we? Please?” Suffice to say that we did a lot of sand removal exercises before getting back into our rental car again.
The Voldemort Forests
M loves walking around in forests (we others like it as well), so we visited two places that promised us some fascinating nature experiences: Stavehøl vandfaldet (Stavehøl waterfall) and Døndalen (officially marketed as the ‘Harry Potter forest’).
Stavehøl proved partly a letdown, because of the waterfall we all had expected to see. When we reached it, it was not very big, just a few drying up streams of water trickling down between some stones and branches.
The surrounding forest, however, was quite cool. “Wow, look at those trees, they look scary!” M pronounced.
“Yes,” I added. “This is the forest where Voldermort lives!” And so that meme got started, and after this, almost all at least slightly scary forests became Voldemort forests.
On the way back, though, the children took the adventure a few steps further. “Look at that dark tunnel, is that the Pennywise tunnel? Should we try to walk through it?” O and J reasoned excitedly.
It was a dark and slippery tunnel, but we did it anyway. O went first, then J, then M. I carried little L (it wasn’t very easy!), and last came Charlotte.
“My shoes got all wet!” O shouted once on the other side, half angrily but half more excited than ever. “But it was great!”
The other forest, Døndalen, was nice as well. Not much water in the waterfall, but the walk there under big Wizarding World trees, it was great.
The Medieval Village & The Castle
The next day we visited Bornholm Medieval Centre.
By happy coincidence, the annual medieval festival had just started, and in addition to the numerous medieval dwellings on the grounds, there were a lot of people living there for a week, role-playing life as it was lived a few hundred years ago. Nice!
Among the most memorable events were two guys firing a real cannon. Their show was great, and the big crowd was laughing at their every joke. (We did as well, although we didn’t really understand what they were saying in Danish.) And then they fired the cannon! And the crowd went “oooh!” at the huge sound, and we as well! (No language barrier there.)
After the medieval village we went to visit the Hammerhus castle ruins. Mostly because M insisted we should do so. “You didn’t forget, did you? That you promised that we would go and see the castle?”
It, too, was quite impressive, and the children enjoyed it immensely!
Of all the Bornholm sights we saw, the most impressive was probably Jons Kapel — the chapel of Jon, located right next to the sea on the west coast of Bornholm.
The legend is that Jon, a very devoted Christian, used this scenic place as his own church, preaching to the islanders from a naturally made pulpit high up over the water. Hence the name.
And you could sense the power of it all, standing there, where Jon supposedly had stood, and it really was quite breathtaking.
I strongly recommend this place to anyone visiting Bornholm.
It was, however, a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the actual place. And they had quite a few signs warning of “steep stairs” ahead. They were not kidding! The stairs were quite amazing, actually, but very steep.
So, a big recommendation, but be careful.
When will Christian come?
“So how long before Christian will come?” O asked again, although I’m sure he knew the answer, having asked the same question just a few minutes earlier.
Many months ago I had received a message from another couple, they also planning to buy a new Hanse 388. I had tried my best to offer them good advice (as I always try to), but also my almost unqualified recommendation to “just go for it!”
Now, on our way to Rønne, these very same persons— Christian and Eli— had sent a me photo of their brand new 388 that had just been handed over to them. “Hello! We are now in Greifswald and just got our new boat, ‘Cameo’. Proud and exhausted!”
And then, a few days later, another message, saying that they were now in Sassnitz and probably heading towards Rønne. So, “Will you still be there? It would be great to have dinner together!”
When I told the children that we would likely meet another Hanse 388, and that I had just received a message from Christian, O got especially, almost overwhelmingly excited. I don’t really know why his reaction was so big, but sometimes it’s not that important to know. Life isn’t just well-placed dots with straight lines from one to the next, but usually strangely surprising with all kinds of irregular shapes and colors to form fascinating art.
So we were all waiting for them a lot, for some reason or other.
And then the day came when they’d actually arrive, which made it even more exciting. Christian sent me some messages informing us of their progress, and we kept looking at the horizon trying to find their boat.
Then I suddenly noticed them, right on the other side of the breakwater.
“I can see them!” I shouted to O. “Look, there outside! That gray boat! It’s them!”
“Wouldn’t it be cool if Christian put his boat behind ours, but stern to stern, so we could make a bridge between them?” O suggested.
They were still outside the breakwater, taking down the sails, and with a few other boats coming in at the same time, I was nervously trying to will the other boats not to take the place behind us. (“This is not the docking place you are looking for. Move along!” I did my best to jedi mind trick them.)
“Yes, that would be cool!” I said, and sent off a text to Christian to see if he’d approved of our playful plan. I had never met him before, obviously, so I didn’t really know if he’d think it a silly idea or not. (Some adults are like that sometimes, trying to be too much like adults, at the same time missing out on the childlike world, where most things silly are more important than the things that aren’t.)
“If we reverse… wind coming from which side?” he answered with a text.
A few moments later and O was jumping up and down on the pier as they slowly motored forward towards us. “Look, there is Christian!” he shouted.
And my jedi mind trick had indeed worked, and the place behind us was still free!
Christian went past us with their new and shining boat, turned it around, and started reversing towards our spot. The wind was blowing them off of the pontoon, so little by little the boat drifted in the wrong direction, and finally, they ended up way too far away for Eli to throw the lines.
“No worries!” I shouted. “We’ll be here waiting for you, just go again and we’ll get you!”.
It’s not very fun to do a difficult docking with a new boat, so I was trying my best to lighten up the situation and make it easier and not more difficult. And it obviously becomes more difficult after the first missed try, knowing that there are a few more people standing up to see what’s going on, keenly waiting for some kind of potential docking mishap to take place and entertain them.
On the second run they were still quite a bit away, but much closer, so we just went for it. “Throw me the line!” I shouted to Eli, and she did. “And then the stern line to Charlotte!”
I put the line through the pontoon ring to get some more leverage, and Charlotte did the same. Then, we put all our strength into the lines and tried to muscle the boat closer. And it moved! Inch by inch it got nearer the pontoon.
“We have you!” I shouted to Eli. It was actually a bit of a struggle, but I noticed we had just the amount of strength to overpower the wind, so I felt confident we’d get it sorted out.
We got the boat secured to the pontoon and I looked up at Eli with a broad smile. “Welcome to Rønne!” I said.
She made an elbow corona greeting gesture and replied with an equally broad and warm smile, “Oh thank you, so much! And I felt so bad for you struggling to get us tied up! Thank you so much!”.
And with this, just a few words, and some heartfelt and disarming smiles, we were no longer strangers. In some magical way, we had very quickly skipped all the boring structural getting-carefully-to-know procedures, and just welcomed each other with open arms. It was a bit like being a child again, when prejudice isn’t the first activating trigger but new people are mostly and mainly just more friends joining a cool adventure together.
Maybe that’s why O had been so excited beforehand? Maybe his inner sense had already let him on to what was going to happen.
A Lovely Time Was Had by All
After having struggled with some of our summer sailing— due mostly to the seasickness issues— it was a relief and blessing for us all to meet the Cameo crew of two, and feel the uninhibited joy of just spending time with them.
Christian was absolutely great with the children, and they adored him right back. The bridge between our boats was just the start of it, and soon there were constant games and events taking place with our two boats setting the stage for it all.
“Christian, can we play cards with you?” “Christian, I have a surprise for you!” “Christian can we show you … “
And we more adult children, we had a great time as well.
Not only one dinner, but three dear and long evenings together, with good wine and great food, and discussions ranging from this and that to sailing and seasickness, from here and there through beautiful music, to what life is and has been, and what might be in the future for us all.
It was absolutely adoring and lovely.
And we gave small gifts to each other. They started, and we tried to keep up, but in the end, they outgifted us every time! Thank you for all your gifts, as well, again.
It was absolutely lovely.
During our last evening conversation, we talked some about where we “Charlottes” should head next. Continue west, towards our Norwegian aspirations (now unattainable and replaced with more modest Swedish west coast aspirations), or maybe east towards Poland and the Baltic states?
“There is this amazing place in Denmark you should visit,” Eli said. “It’s called Ærø island, and it’s so beautiful! And you know it’s very romantic and a lot of honeymooners go there, so you should absolutely go as well!”
It sounded perfect, but the wind was in a bit of a disagreement. After having sailed from too much upwind from Finland to Bornholm, we wanted to have the wind on our backs for the next leg. And that meant going east instead of west. Towards Poland instead of romantic Ærø.
“We’ll have to go there, absolutely, someday,” I said. “And maybe we’ll meet there together, next time?” I added, not just saying so, but really hoping that one day we maybe would.
And then, a bit later, it was sadly time to say goodbye.
It was quite late in the evening, but we had allowed the children to stay up so that they could bid their farewells as well.
“Can we come now?” M shouted from our boat, and then they all marched up to the bathing platform. O started to say his goodbyes, but after the first word, he got overwhelmed by the whole thing, started weeping, and ran back inside our boat.
We were all getting tears in our eyes. “Can I go and talk to him?” Christian said, and jumped over to our boat and disappeared into the cabin.
A few moments later O felt a bit better, and we continued where we had left it off.
It was strangely sad for us all, though, this bidding farewell and hope-to-see-you-again thing.
Onwards, to the East
The next morning we left the harbor, closing the inventive bridge between our boats, and leaving an empty space of water, for some other boat to fill.
What we also left, I hope, was a feeling of appreciation and affection, to this wonderful couple who had given us so much of that in return.
Some hours later, out on the sea, O looked out on the horizon, and on the Bornholm island, that was slowly getting lesser and farther away. “We will meet them again, won’t we?” he said. “Promise we will?”