Thursday was Ascension – a holiday all over Switzerland and the beginning of what are known as “hay holidays” around here, from the tradition of haymaking and keeping the kids home from school to help out – until after Whit, 10 days later. Of course, these days, it’s a good opportunity for an off-season trip somewhere far away, but for us, it meant a long weekend to carry out a plan we’d had for a while: taking a trip on our little vintage yacht around Lake Constance, wherever the wind took us for a few days… For those unfamiliar with the area, Lake Constance covers an area over three countries – Switzerland in the south, Germany to the north and Austria at the eastern corner. Down there at the southeast, at Altenrhein, is where the mighty river Rhine enters the lake, flowing through it (approximately along the Swiss-German border, in green), through the narrow channel at Konstanz and off down the Untersee towards the Neuhausen Falls at Schaffhausen… As our vessel is berthed at Romanshorn, along the southern shore of the lake, the larger part of the lake is our oyster, so to speak.
Ascension itself dawned bright and slightly breezy, so just right to get going after a light lunch, watching the breeze through the poplars on the lakeside. Although the sun shone brightly (as our red faces that evening reminded us!) and the water sparkled merrily, a light breeze was all it was, so after a couple of hours, we decided to make our way into the harbour at Arbon – one of the oldest settlements on the lake, which in Roman times was known as Arbor Felix. With spring weather having been somewhat unpredictable, not too many people were boating this holiday, and finding a berth just outside the harbourmaster’s office was no problem at all. We soon had everything neatly stowed away and set off to find ourselves a bed for the night – as it turned out, we didn’t have far to go, as the Rotes Kreuz just across the road was happy to offer us a nice, clean, simple room with a view out across the lake… Expecting a simple and possibly limited kitchen, we were quite surprised to find a menu with a huge choice and the quality of the food absolutely impeccable – my fish was fresh and expertly dissected for me by the staff (I’m not so keen on my meal looking at me…!). So a highly recommended awarded right there.
After a good night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast amongst friendly staff, we decided to brave what had become a less than desirable day’s weather. Grey, drizzly, windy and somewhat grim, the few sailors on the surrounding boats seemed to have battened down the hatches to stay inside until some improvement in conditions, but we climbed into our rain gear and got on with it. A somewhat nervous sailor myself, I was slightly alarmed as we came out of the harbour to be met with (for me) unprecedented choppy waves, a strong wind, heavier rain and a good deal of the lake trying to get into the boat with us… That, in better weather, would look something like this (including the Säntis mountain just over past the left-hand edge of the pic)!! Ahem. Well, it was a situation where we just had to get on with it – my husband had sensibly decided to replace our large foresail with a smaller one and with that, we sat it out and eventually, although it remained grey, it first settled into a spot of dead calm and then, as if remembering what it was supposed to be doing, blew in a nice little wind just destined to carry us northeast to Lindau without getting any wetter – in fact, it was enough that we were totally blow-dried by the time we got there, and actually improved in the process (the weather, that is, probably not our appearance!). Notice the colourful “urban knitting” on those benches in front of the tower!!
Doesn’t the boat look tiny between the other two?! She was well protected, though, and so covered that we felt able to leave her there for the night and find ourselves a place to stay – preferably with plenty of hot water! This turned out to be the Lindauerhof, right on the harbourside, where we were given a lovely double-aspect room with windows both out onto the old townhall and the Rapunzel tower… See Rapunzel’s plait hanging down from the window?!
We were so tired from our day’s battering by the elements that we had an early dinner followed by a cosy dessert and coffee and were fast asleep… very soon 😮
The following morning dawned very sunny and despite all weather forecasts for an east wind that would have blown us straight back home again – nope, it was a west wind that necessitated rather more work. First of all, we had a wander around Lindau, which is such a pretty little old town on an island offshore (I wrote about it and some of its history a while back). So picturesque… this is the Hochzeitshäuschen (little house of weddings), just next to the hotel – With lots of lovely little shops to browse, we made a few purchases and then packed ourselves back to the boat, stowed our bags and readied ourselves for the trip back home to Romanshorn… Tacking back against the west/southwest wind took a while but we made good speed most of the way, got splashed a little by some lively waves that crept over the bow – and I had a deluge dropped in my lap after a police boat passed us (thanks!!) – but once again got plenty of sun and wind and after nearly 6 hours made it back to our home berth. I’m pretty proud of having steered all the way back no matter the wind, so seem to have gained confidence in our little yacht, which must be a good thing! Anyway, it was the first time we’ve taken her all the way around the top half of the lake (we tacked up to Friedrichshafen so basically covered all the area to the east of the dotted ferry line on the above map) so another time, perhaps we’ll head up to the north-west for a change… Home again, home again, jiggety-jig…