Sashaying to Stralsund

A short motor today. Nothing much exciting apart from the depth at one point! Even in the very narrow channel, the depth went down to 1.4m under the keel rather suddenly. A rapid turn seemed to gradually bring it up again, but the channels here are so narrow that you can see birds walking either side – a sure sign to stick between the buoys … Despite that, a pleasant motor down to Stralsund. No chance of sailing as the wind was right on the nose which would have meant tacking every five seconds or so in these channels! The 8.9m trip took us around two hours and we moored in Stralsund City Marina.

We berthed opposite the Gorch Fock – a German training ship. She was built in 1933 at the Blohm and Voss yard in Hamburg as the first of a series of school ships for the German Reichsmarine. She is a three-masted barque and is named in honour of the German writer Johann Kinau who wrote under the pseudonym “Gorch Fock”. Kinau died in the 1916 Battle of Jutland. She has had a fairly chequered career as a ship. She started her life as a training vessel for the German Reichsmarine prior to World War II and then during the war became a stationary office ship in Stralsund. In a slightly bizarre (or desperate?) turn of fate for her, she was reactivated in April 1944, but on 1 May 1945, the crew scuttled her in shallow waters off Rügen in an attempt to avoid her capture by the Soviets. They had already been firing at her for 45 minutes with tanks. The fact that it was scuttled certainly seems to have irked the Soviets as they ordered a Stralsund-based company to raise and salvage her in 1947 at a cost of 800,000 Reichsmark (probably equivalent to around 3 million euros). She was then restored between 1948 and 1950 and named Tovarishch (Russian for “Comrade”) in 1951 serving as a training vessel for the Russian navy out of Odessa. the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 meant the end of Tovarishch and she then sailed under the Ukrainian flag for two years before being de-activated because of repairs being required. She eventually returned to Stralsund via Newcastle (in a failed attempt to restore her) in 2003 and was re-christened the Gorch Fock before becaming a museum ship. There she still lies but apparently in need of millions of euros worth of work.

Gorch Fock in Stralsund with the name Tovarishch painted over