Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
Entering Copenhagen Under Sail
In bright sunlight and light winds the Picton Castle passed through the breakwater into Copenhagen harbour under full sail. Nicely and slowly we sailed past the long quay of Langelinie with a few cruise ships moored for the day. One of the ships was the Albatros, the captain of which is my old friend and shipmate from the Danmark, Jarle Flatebo. When not captain of this modern ocean going cruise ship he is captain of the Norwegian Sail Training Bark Statsraad Lehmkuhl, a ship about the size of the USCG Eagle, built in 1914, sailing out of Bergen with civilian and Naval cadets. After much blowing of loud ships whistles and various other salutes we took in sail at the Albatros and steamed to our berth at Nyhavn past the Little Mermaid, past the new opera house, past the queen’s palace in downtown Copenhagen.
Nyhavn – meaning New Harbour – was built in the mid to late 1600’s as part of an expansion of the city of Copenhagen, inspired by the ambitious King Christian the 4th. Now you might well ask “if that’s the new one, what about the old harbour?” Well, that one dates from 1100 or so and is a short walk to the southwest. Copenhagen sort of means “Shopping Hook” or merchant city which is what it was, still is. Anyway, Nyhavn was, until fairly recently, the working port for smaller vessels and has quite a history of being one of the last rough and ready ‘sailor towns’. Now it is a lovely destination in the summer or any time of year for sitting at one of the many cafes in the sun. While much more upscale than before, there seems to be a conscious effort to make a home for the spirit of an old sailors’ waterfront of yore. Old wooden sailing and fishing vessels along the cobblestone quay, cafés, wandering musicians, even a tattoo parlour still in business. If you do not feel like paying high Scandinavian prices for drink and food, bring your own and set up a picnic right on the quay and that is perfectly okay too – it’s a very Danish thing to do. This place is clean and tasteful, they even vacuum the streets…