Position: 54°24’37.0″N 10°13’33.1″E
The small seaside resort of Laboe hugs the coast about 11 kilometres northeast of Kiel. This is a family place full of day trippers from the city. Surrounded by fields of wheat, the long line of white kiosks facing the beach is busy with the calls of children playing and the hum of adults buying crêpes and schnapps.
There is a concert stand, a skate park, and plenty of places to sit and watch the world go by as you shoo the greedy gulls away from your ice cream. You have to buy a ticket for the beach and can shelter in a wicker booth if the wind picks up or rain starts falling. We are as far north as Prince Rupert, British Columbia, and summers here are mild at best.
Laboe is also a favourite spot for water sports like windsurfing and kiteboarding. It is easy to see why. A large shoal lies just off the shore a few hundred metres north of the town. The shoal is knee deep and safely bounded by a spit of land with a snack bar along its northern edge, and a navigation buoy on its western side.
Carol, who spent many years pulling the muscles out of her shoulders kiteboarding, murmured wistfully that it would be a great launching spot. You see, kiteboarding reminds Carol of Annie, her loyal golden lab. Out at Oregon’s kiteboarding paradise Hood River, Carol would launch onto the Columbia River leaving Annie on the beach waiting impatiently for her return. Other boarders lay out their lines in preparation for the day eyed Annie warily. With good reason. As soon as Carol hove back into view, Annie would make a beeline towards her, tangling as many kites as she could in her excitement. That was over 15 years ago. Carol retired from kiting after a major shoulder repair, now she periodically tells me to go fly one instead.
Being partially blind in one eye, I have always gravitated towards sports that don’t involve balls being hurled in my direction at high speeds with the expectation that I do something about it. Windsurfing, skiing, and golf are appealing in that regard. If I were younger and more coordinated, I’d have a go at wing foiling. Actually, that’s just an excuse. I’d just like to be in better shape before trying an insanely complex combination of physical and mental actions like getting a surfboard with a hydrofoil to float above the water by directing a giant inflatable kite held above my head. Carol’s expert kiteboarding friends tell her it is the most challenging sport they have ever tried. They should know.
From the Vikings to the mutiny aboard the Storozhevoy, the Baltic Sea is steeped in naval history. One of Laboe’s popular beachfront attractions is the U995 submarine. It had been decades since I walked through Chicago’s own Unterzeeboot, the U505 at the Museum of Science and Industry. Growing up in Hyde Park, as kids we spent hours and hours in the museum. In the early days access to the sub, like the rest of the museum, was free. My memory of the U505’s bulkhead hatches is they were a deal larger and more accommodating than the U995’s.