Kattegat

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Cruising in the Kattegat

The Kattegat is a bay between Sweden and Denmark and is a continuation of the Skaggerak, which separates Norway and Sweden. Its name came from late-medieval Dutch navigators, who likened it to a hole so narrow and fraught with rocks and other hazards that even a cat would have trouble getting through it. With electronic charts, depth sounders, and navigational markers, it's a lot easier for us than it was for them.

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Sod roof
The sod roof is a common and charming sight in rural Denmark. Using turf to cover a roof is an ancient and inexpensive option and used frequently in colder climates. In North America, it was often said that if it rained for a day outside, it rained for two days inside. We've been told that New Year's fireworks are a special problem for rural residents, because sparks have set roofs on fire.
Crow-stepped gable
Crow-stepped gables, these stair-steps at the edges of the roof, have appeared in Northern Europe since the 15th century and are a common sight in Denmark. This church is in Ls, which was our first stop after leaving Hallberg-Rassy. Læs is the largest island in the Kattegat. Læsø and the island of Anholt make up the Danish "desert belt", because there is so little summer rain that streams and ponds dry up.
Gilleleje
This is the fishing port of Gilleleje, Denmark. It was our first stop on the main part of Denmark. The town dates back from the early 1500s, first as a seasonal fishing village and later as a year-round community.
Kronborg Slot
The city of Helsingør is a large port in its own right, but its horizon is dominated by the castle made famous by William Shakespeare. It's pronounced in English as "Elsinore" and was the somber setting for the tragedy of Hamlet. Shakespeare never actually visited the place, but he must have had a fine sense of it, even incorporating its famous tapestries into the scene where Polonius hides behind a curtain. The castle's real name is Kronborg Slot.
Ballroom
When the castle was completed in 1585, this ballroom was the largest hall in Northern Europe, at 62 meters by 12 meters (200 feet by about 40 feet). Kronborg Slot was funded by tolls paid by ships passing through the sound that separates Denmark and Sweden. King Frederik II would sit in his chambers and watch the ships go by. Ships knew to lower the topsail as a sign of respect for the King. A dinner guest once watched the ships go by with the King, and noted in his diary that one of them didn't lower the sail until four warning shots had been fired at it.
Holger Danske
It's possible that the legendary character Holger Danske was based on a real man who'd resisted and then fought on the side of Charlemagne. But the legend tells of a man who lives in the dungeon of the castle Kronborg Slot, his beard so long that it reaches the floor, his sleep so deep that it never ends. The legend says that Holger Danske will remain asleep until there is some threat to Denmark, and then he'll rise and save the country from the danger. Even Hans Christian Andersen wrote a story about it.