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Danish Islands, Baltic
Just noticed there are no posts regarding northern Europe here at all. So I thought I might add one.
I'm a novice sailor, but I was out for the first time in the Baltic a few weeks ago, for a week cruising around the Danish Islands in the Baltic.
What a great time! Sailing is almost always fun, but there were a few things about the area I liked particularly.
First off, it's really beautiful, with lots of little islands and channels, as well as the open sea of the baltic. The area is anything but urban, with picturesque farmhouses and old fishing villages all over the place. The wind in the baltic tends to be good, we never had less than Bft 5, and we went up to 8, which some of the more expirienced sailors on board claimed was not so good, but it made for fast, fun sailing and I had the feeling I was doing something exciting. So I liked it quite a bit. These conditions are not all that unusual there apparantly - which contrasts to near-zero wind in parts of the med where most of my friends sail.
In addition - you can't throw a brick without hitting a harbor of some sort around there. One of the crew claimed, (and she would know) that the area has one of the highest densities of harbors anywhere in Europe...and I can believe it. This was nice, as many are small, cute little things, but there was always room, and above all, cheap! We were sailing a Bavaria 37, and we spent only about 100 Euros for the whole week in harbor fees. All of them were quiet, most were within about 100 yards of their respective town or city centers. There was always something to do, or somewhere to go.
The weather was fresh...but swimming was ok, and at night you could wear a wolly sweater...really great.
All over - everyone is out sailing. Not crowded, but friendly. Sailing here is a normal part of life, and most of the boats are small and simple, not like the million-dollar ego jobs I am used to seeing in the med. I saw so many families out on cute little folkeboots (a type) that I think I am changing my dream of a big fourty footer....and will look for one of these, cheap, and low maintenence boats for my family too.
Also - Harbors and ammenities everywhere were looked after with Northern European efficiency, and almost everything was new, or newly renovated.
Its not the blue-green waters of the Med, but its relaxed, and a great place to go with little kids. Plus - its a lot cheaper than the med. I am sure we will be back soon!