If you’re cruising the Baltic, Detlef Jens recommends taking the time to visit the beautiful Flensburg Fjord
All of a sudden we are between the two small islands and the water is very still and very clear. Somewhere ashore, a mule cries, but I have no time for that – the last of the boat’s momentum carries us quietly to a perfect spot just off the rickety wooden pontoons of the small isle and, as quietly as the surroundings are, our anchor slips into the water with hardly a splash. Ashore, some people are sitting in the sun, obviously very relaxed, sipping their wine and gazing across to us.
What a place! Despite sun, wine and mule we are not in Greece, but in the far north of Germany or, to be more precise, the very south of Denmark. The Ochseninseln, Oxen Islands as they are called, lie in the innermost Flensburg Fjord, which forms the Baltic border between the two countries. The smaller of the two, to the west, has a hostel for Danish schools but the larger one, to the east, can be visited.
Once, these islands were only used as secure pastures, hence the name. Later, a few families made a meagre living by fishing and boatbuilding on the islands and in 1845 the boatbuilder Lorenz Issack bought the larger island, which stayed with his family until 1982.
‘The anchorage between the two islands is sheltered in nearly all conditions’
A small but somewhat derelict boatyard still exists but one shed was transformed into a charming if rustic island inn, aptly named Øens Kro. Sometimes, if you are lucky, food and drinks will be served; sometimes not. The island is currently being run on an extremely laid back basis. At other times, live music acts perform and visitors come from the land in the small motorboat ferry that is operated by them.
This anchorage between the two islands is sheltered in nearly all conditions but one could, depending on wind direction and depth, also anchor anywhere else around the islands. It is best to approach the main anchorage (depth under normal conditions around 2 metres) from the north-east, the cut between the two islands to the south is very shallow indeed.
When coming round the island from the west, be very careful of a shoal spit extending from the smaller island northward, the end of which is marked by a small and quite inconspicuous pole. Shallows also extend east of the larger island. There is no tide as such in the Baltic but water depth can vary up to one metre, depending on wind. Check the depth before your final approach, which, without local knowledge, really should not be attempted in the dark.
There are plenty of other sheltered spots in this part of Flensburg Fjord. The delightful seafaring town of Flensburg itself is only just over three miles away, offering several first-rate yacht harbours and all onshore amenities. And just across to the German side of the Fjord lies the yacht harbour of Glücksburg where, during summer, many international regattas take place.
Sailing into the inner Flensburg Fjord presents something of a detour on most Baltic cruises – but one that is definitely well worthwhile.