‘We were entering a little cove encircled by trees’

Now that our two heroes are finally out in the field (see September 26), we’re starting to think more directly about the logistics of our own adventure. For each day in the book we need to chart where we think Carruthers & Davies are, so when we get out there in the autumn (funds allowing), we can be confident of following in their wake as closely as possible.

So where is this ‘little cove’ where Dulcibella is moored? What we do know is that on leaving Flensburg harbour in the dinghy, the two men pass ‘a long frontage of lamp-lit quays’ on their left-hand side. They then reach a broader stretch of water and see dark hills on either shore. The only other clue we get is that Davies wanted to be in a place near a local carpenter.

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Where is ‘the little cove’?

Looking at the map of Flensburg fjord today, I think there are three possible options. If they kept rowing in a straight line they’d end up in a cove at Wassersleben, which today would put them bang smack on the German-Danish border. If they headed further out and up the fjord the first obvious coves would be on the right. Today that would mean they’d either be mooring at the Flensburg yacht club  – which doesn’t seem that out of the way to me – or bang smack outside the German naval academy at Mürwik, built by the Kaiser in 1910 as a showy statement of his maritime ambitions – a location that has a nice touch to it, given what Carruthers & Davies get up to later in the book.

Main building and tower of the “Marineschule Mürwik”, Germany’s naval officers school in Flensburg-Mürwik. By Felix Koenig (King) (Self-photographed) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
I guess it’s sensible to look at an older map and make a decision about what looks like the most obvious spot for Davies to be able to find a carpenter, but keep away from the main town.

Map of Flensburg & environs 1910, taken from http://discusmedia.com/maps/german_city_maps/3481

These days you’d probably favour Wassersleben as the least crowded spot, but on the 1910 map you can see that the main road out of town still runs that way, whereas the other two possible locations are a bit more off the beaten track. So that places us either at the yacht club or the military academy.

To be clear, we are not seeking to do this Adventure on a boat. For the most part our plan is to hug the coast on bikes and then take trips out on boats where and when we can.  That way we can’t get too knocked off course by the weather (and we don’t have to learn to sail).

It means also that we need places to stay en route that are as close as possible to where the Dulcibella would have moored. Given we’re thinking of  hanging around with local people as much as possible, this AirBnB place – https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/3837048?s=4 – is exactly the kind of place we might need to hole up in for the night.

The Flensburg Boat Museum

Encouragingly, Flensburg does have a boat museum so we’ll be contacting people there this week, to see if we can get a day out on the fjord in a suitable aged boat. I’m quite keen, too, to find a ships carpenter to talk to.  Flensburg would have been packed full of them back in the day, since this was a huge boat building town. But it seems a lot of them ended up leaving for America or even further away. I’ve found, for example, a Carl Heinrich Thomas Schoenherr on an ancestry site, who would have been working in the area around the time that Carruthers & Davies turn up. But that family has ended up in Chicago. I guess Childers could not have guessed how much emigration and exile was going to happen in the coming years.

We’re never told why Davies needs a carpenter, by the way. But, what with the bandaged hand, the substantial caulking and repainting job he’s doing and the need for new rigging screws, it’s pretty obvious that something bad happened to the Dulcibella out in the Frisian islands in the weeks before the adventure proper begins…


2 thoughts on “‘We were entering a little cove encircled by trees’

  1. Davies had “carried away a bobstay” entering Ostend on his trip North. The bobstay is a rope or chain which runs between the cutwater (stem) of a yacht on the waterline at the bows and the end of its bowsprit, to provide support for the bowsprit to resist the upward pull of the foresails. Of necessity, this is a very strong fitting and breaking it would probably have caused quite a bit of woodwork damage. He couldn’t sail without it and the damage caused him to lay over for a couple of days – longer than he would have liked – in Ostend, in August, which he despised. Possibly he had jury-rigged a quick replacement and then needed a carpenter to do the job properly. The very large rigging screws he had ordered Carruthers to bring out might have been for this purpose. The episode in the gale on the way to Flensburg would not have helped, either.


  2. On second thoughts, “Dulcibella” was seaworthy when Carruthers got to her, so most likely the rigging screws weren’t for the bobstay and the carpenter – who we don’t meet – had finished whatever job it was. The leaky cabin and Davies’s caulking (hammering its of tow into the seams of the planks) indicate that the planking on the deck may have been new, having been replaced as a result of damage to the bowsprit fittings. Replacing planking is a very skilled job indeed (just look at the shaping on any teak-decked yacht) and would have needed a proper boatyard carpenter.


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