Row Round Denmark for Clean Seas

Community engagement project to remove a ton of trash from the sea
UN Goals 12 14 17

The Row Round Denmark for Clean Seas project was a country-wide community engagement project to remove as much trash as possible from the beaches and seas around Denmark. It was also a record making attempt as (hard to believe) no one had rowed around Denmark in a rowing boat before. The combination of a good social purpose combined with a record making attempt enticed numerous beach clean-up groups and rowing clubs to support the project. 

Nine event stops were made along the coast round Denmark. Each event day started with a beach clean up, followed by an opportunity to row Christian and Lars’ ocean rowing boat “Yantu 2”, then a community dinner, and finally a presentation about ocean rowing, the importance of clean seas, United World Colleges, and Christian’s on-going project “Did the Chinese, like the Vikings, visit America pre-Columbus?”  Quite a mouthful, but all topics close to Christian’s heart. 

It took Lars and Christian 35 days and 1,297km to claim the record of being the first to row round Denmark in a rowboat. 

Arrival at Kollund
Arrival at Kollund
Showing off the day’s rubbish loot, Grenå Rowing Club

Along the way 136 beach clean up volunteers helped remove 899kg of trash from the sea. 108 people tried to row “Yantu 2”, and 453 people participated in the communal dinners and presentations.

Harbour Clean up with Os om Havet’s scuba divers in Helsingor Harbour

Christian and Lars also crowdfunded for the “Os om Havet” (Us about the Sea), a start up Danish environmental NGO, which specialises in organising volunteer scuba divers to clean up harbour basins. A total of DKR25,510 (USD3,730) was raised.

Lars and Christian started rowing 27 June ’22 and finished 35 days later on 1 August ’22, having rowed 1,297 km (700 nm).  They had 8 days of unscheduled port layovers due to adverse winds. Average rowing speed 4.85 km/h (2.6 kn). Max speed logged was 26.2 km/h (14.2 kn), when the surfed a breaking wave crossing the Great Belt between Hjelm Dyb and Odden Havn.

  • Rudbøl Sø – Esbjerg 83km
  • Esbjerg – Hanstholm 220km
  • Hanstholm – Hirtshals 98km
  • Hirtshals – Skagen 56km
  • Skagen – Læsø 72km
  • Læsø – Øster Hurup 69km
  • Øster Hurup – Udby Høj 31km
  • Udby Høj – Grenå 52km
  • Grenå – Odden Havn 89km
  • Odden Havn – Hundested 30km
  • Hundested – Gilleleje 37km
  • Gilleleje – Helsingør 26km
  • Helsingør – Svanemølle Havn 45km
  • Svanemølle Havn to Dragør – to Dragør 30km
  • Dragør – Klintholm Havn 96km
  • Klintholm Havn – Gedser 67km
  • Gedser – Sønderborg 152km
  • Sønderborg – Kollund 43km
18 June ’22 @ 8:18, Border stone 242, Rudbøl sø 
1 August ’22 @ 15:03, Border stone 1, Kollund

1. Community Event – 29 Jun ’22 – ESBJERG

Fantastic first community event stop that set the bar really high. 30 people from Esbjerg Roklub and Total Energies collected around 80kg of trash from Hjerting beach. Kim from Ren Strand Fanø then went through the various types of trash and told us their origins and environmental impact. About 20 people test rowed “Yantu 2” and in the evening 80+ people participated in the communal dinner and talk, generously hosted by Total energies. See FB Post. After we left Esbjerg Roklub arranged another beach clean up to support us. On 5th July 11 people from “Torsdagsholdet” collected 100kg of trash at Måde Beach and Esbjerg harbour. 

Our great local partners

“It was great to have Lars and Christian visit. We not only had a great day with our members doing the beach clean up, we also got to row an ocean rowing boat. Not many ocean boats around, so trying to row one was exceptional. The communal dinner and Christian’s presentation was a perfect ending to a superb day”

Lars Kruse, Event Coordinator, Esbjerg Roklub

Additional Support – 03 July ’22 – HANSTHOLM

Strandet is a local beach clean up company in Hanstholm, and although we did not have a formal event in Hanstholm, Strandet still organised a beach clean up south of Hansthold harbour to support us. 6 people collected 97kg of trash. 

Our great local partner

2. Community Event – 8 Jul ’22 – LÆSØ

We had a fantastic time on Læsø, where we ended up being blown in for 4 days. VisitLæsø took great care of us. They arranged a beach clean up with us on the northern end of the island at Bløden Hale where 7 volunteers colleceted 60kg of trash, including 1 ghost net. Læsø Fiskeindustry kindly sponsored the lingustine for the communal dinner, which was expertly prepared into a lobster-bisque soup by Michael from Vesterø Deli. About 40 people then went across to Bøde Huset for the presentation. It was too windy to test row “Yantu 2”, but an “open boat” was held, which was particularly popular with children. We were treated like royalty on Læsø, enjoying a free flow of food and beverages at Vesterø Deli for the duration of their layover, so we were almost sad when the wind finally died down and we could row on. See FB posts 7 July, 8 July, 9 July, and 11 July

Our great local partners

3. Community Event – 13 Jul ’22 – GRENAA

Grenaa Roklub was an excellent host who arranged the harbour pier clean up, as well as the community dinner and the talk venue. In total 42 people participated in the dinner and talk. The wind was still strong, but 6 people did try to row “Yantu 2”. The clean up was something else. Grenaa harbour is by far the dirtiest place we visited. We were 9 people who within 1 1/2 hours removed 153kg of trash from inbetween the bolders on just 7(w)x3(h)m of the pier and the pier is severel hundred meteres long. We contacted the owners of the harbour, Grenaa Harbour A/S, but they did not really care. This is a huge problem as we did not even scrape the surface. See FB post here.

Our great local partner

4. Community Event – 14 Jul ’22 – HJELM DYB

We had a different community event together with the NGO Levende Hav and open water swimmers Henry Stokholm and Kjeld. Levende Hav uses an old fishing boat “Kutter Anton” to spread its mission, Henry and Kjeld wear speedos, and Lars and I row “Yantu 2”. We had agreed to meet in Hjelm Dyb to draw attention to Aarhus municipal’s questionable decision to dump several tons of harbour sludge there, which it needs to get rid of due to its harbour expansion. It was a windy day and we were several km out to sea, but Ebeltoft Filmhøjskole still managed to film the event expertly from shore using a drone as well as from onboard “Kutter Anton”.  Se FB posts from Levende Hav, Henry, and us

Our great local partners

5. Community Event – 20 Jul ’22 – HELSINGØR

This was a special event day, as we were cooperating with Os Om Havet, the environmental NGO we were collecting funds for. They had arranged to block part of Helsingør Harbour, so we could send divers down safely. That an event they had organised. 20 scuba divers supported by 19 trash collectors on SUBS and kayaks removed 352kg of trash fromt the bottom of the harbour in a few hours. Another environmental NGO, Dråben i Havet, came by to help out. In the afternoon we took 20 rowers for a test row in “Yantu 2” at Helsingør Roklub and in the evening Helsingør Roklub hosted the communal dinner and talk, with around 30 participants. Mark Allentoft-Larsen, co-founder of Os Om Havet, joined the talk, and participants donated Kr2,500 (USD362) to Os Om Havet on the spot. Great evening! Se FB Posts from Os Om Havet, Dråben i Havet and us.

Our great local partners

Helsingør Roklub
Os Om Havet

6. Community Event – 22 Jul ’22 – SVANEMØLLEN, COPENHAGEN

The day stated with a beach clean up together with Nordic Ocean Watch, where we colleced 10.5kg of trash in 2 hours. 0.6kg of this were cigarette buds, which people discard on the beach. We then went back to Danske Studenters Roklub (DSR)’s clubhouse where we took 18 people test rowing “Yantu 2”. In the evening DSR put on a tasty BBQ, followed by our presentation. 46 people participated in the BBQ and after dinner talk. We slept in the “King’s room” – DSR is a club with a long and proud history. See FB post.

Our great local partners

Danske Studenters Roklub

“We greatly appreciated the cooperation with Christian and Row Round Denmark for Clean Seas. Together we reached a larger audiens and were able to put focus on our common fight for a cleaner marine environment. TAVAHA – which is our saying for “tag vare på havet” or “take care of the sea.”

Regitze Andersen, General Manager, Nordic Ocean Watch Denmark

Additional support – 26 Jul ’22 – 55°N at Strøby Ladeplads

Alessandro and Henriette Cataldo collected 38kg of trash from a local beach to support our row.  Thank you 🙂

7. Community Event – 27 Jul ’22 – KLINTHOLM HAVN

Klintholm harbour was not a scheduled stop, but we were blown in there for 3 days. On arrival we chanced upon Morten Andersen, a can-do local entreprenueur and the rest is history. Morten took great care of us throughout our stay, finding us a place to crash and introduced us to EnBW, who maintains  a number of wind turbines off-shore. We ended up doing a dinner talk for around 40 EnBW employees and the next day we did a beach clean up with them. Klintholm beach west of the harbour was by far the cleanest beach we have come acoss and, despite being 11 people, we only manged to collect 3kg of trash in 2 hours. If only every beach could be like that…  See FB post

Our great local partners

Additional support – 29Jul ’22 – Albuen Strand

We had to skip our scheduled call at Nakskov because of adverse weather, but that did not prevent Kim Østfeldt-Witt, chairman of Rudbjerg Forenede Boldklub, from still going ahead with a local beach clean up.  He collected 5kg of trash from Albuen beach to support our project.

Our great local partner

Rudbjerg Forenede Boldklub

8. Community Event – 31 Jul ’22 – SØNDERBORG

Due to adverse weather we arrived two days later than expeced in Sønderborg, but that did not prevent Sønderborg Roklub from putting on a BBQ and we took around 10 members test rowing “Yantu 2”, spanning from 14 to 70 years of age. The presentation was done in the rowing spinning room, with participants very appropriately seated on Concept IIs. See FB post

Our great local partners

Sønderborg NSR

9. Community Event – 1 Aug ’22 – KOLLUND

On our final day we were met out to sea by Gråsten Ro- og Kajakklub, who invited us for a coffee stop. We then rowed on to border stone nr. 1 at Kollund where   Kollund Roklub received us in style at the finish line. Kollund Roklub members rowed “Yantu 2” back to the club house, whilst we walked. At the club house Kollund Roklub treated us to a first class BBQ and we celebrated and talked into the night. A great end to a fantastic project. See FB post

Our great local partners

16 Aug ’22 – SLESVIG

Denmark lost a big piece of its territory to Germany in the 1864 war. Part of this territory was returned to Denmark through a referendum in 1920, but to this day there are still things that remind us of the time when the border was different. One of these things is the fact that there are still German rowing clubs in Denmark (like NSR in Sønderborg) and a Danish rowing club in Slesvig. So, although not in Denmark, we brought “Yantu 2” to Slesvig, where around 20 Slesvig Roklub’s members test rowed her, followed by a community dinner and presentation with around 45 people. Great evening where we also colleced DKR1,100 (USD161) for Os Om Havet. See FB post.

Our great local partner

4 Sep ’22 – AABENRAA

One of our recurring sponsors, Hans Michael Jebsen, hails from Aabenraa, so it was a great honour to be invited to Aabenraa Ro- og Kajakklub’s open day. “Yantu 2” was available for test rowing, but the wind was too strong, so we went directly to the community dinner and presentation, in which more than 30 people participated. Great evening with a slightly changed presentation and many questions. See FB post

Our great local partner

13 Sep ’22 – NAKSKOV

We had originally scheduled an activity stop at Nakskov en-route round Denmark, but due to adverse weather we had to skip Nakskov, so it was great to be able to deliver on our promise and visit Nakskov Roklub. It was again blowing too much to test row “Yantu 2”, but instead we had a talk around the boat, followed by a community dinner and presentation, with about 30 participants. Another great evening. See FB post.

Our great local partner

Os om havetFunds raised: DKR25,510 (USD3,730)

For this adventure, we chose to fundraise for a new Danish NGO called “Os Om Havet”(Us about the Sea) because they make a difference where most other clean up organisations cannot.

Trash floating in the sea or washed up onto beaches can be picked up by pedestrians, kayakers, SUPs, rowers, and boaters. This trash is a relatively straight forward to collect through beach clean-ups, but it only accounts for about 30% of the trash that ends up in the sea. The remaining 70% ends up at the bottom of the sea, where it is difficult to get to. There it slowly disintegrates, and much become micro-plastics, which causes great harm to living beings as it enters the food chain of animals and humans.

Os Om Havet is focused on reducing the hard to get to 70% of trash that remains in the sea. There are not many organisations that operate in this space and that is why we chose to support them specifically. Os Om Havet organises recreational scuba divers to clean up trash from the bottom of harbors, where there is an unbelievable amount of trash. This trash is difficult to access. We did one clean up with them in Helsingør harbour where we removed 352kg of trash from the harbour basin within a few hours. See FB posts 20 July22 July23 July,  24 July 2022.

“Being a cash strapped little known environmental start up it was amazing (and a bit unbelievable) to get a call from Christian saying he was going to row round Denmark for clean seas and that he wanted to fundraise for us. When things sound too good to be true they normally are, but Christian and Lars delivered and raised DKR25,510 for our work. Thanks guys! Respect!”

 – Marc Allentoft-Larsen, Co-Founder Os Om Havet

os om havet frederiksberg dage
Christian, Marc, and Lars promoting their cause Frederiksberg Dagene
If you would like to support Os Om Havet’s great work, below is information about how to donate:

Os om Havet, Ny Carlsberg Vej 9, 4, 1760 København V, Denmark, CVR No.: 38781820 (CVR = Business License

“Yantu 2” was the same rowboat Christian used for the Reverse Viking Row for Mental Health, except the size of the aft cabin had been reduced.  

Ocean row boats are designed for downwind and being off-shore, so they have a lot of windage and drift a lot. Even in moderate conditions they are impossible to row to windward. If you are off-shore with no risk of being pushed onto land this is not a problem, but it is a problem when you want to row close to shore and make frequent harbour calls.

Original cabin size
Original cabin size

It was not an easy decision to reduce the size of the aft cabin, because the oversized aft cabin helps right the boat in case of a capsize. Reducing the aft cabin size on one hand made the boat less safe because it was no longer self-righting, but on the other hand it made the coastal voyage safer, because maneuverability was improved. The decision criteria boiled down to: “what is the risk of a capsize” vs. “what is the risk of being pushed onto shore”? 

Modified cabin size
Modified cabin size

The risk of a capsize was low because Lars and Christian were never out to sea for more than a day or two, so they had reliable weather forecasts, enabling them to stay put in a harbour until any bad weather passed. And even if they should have been unlucky enough to capsize, they were always close to shore in relatively warm water and could easily be rescued, assuming they could not right the boat ourselves. At the same time the reduced cabin size enabled them to row into winds, which they would otherwise not have been able to make progress in, thereby reducing the risk of dissapointing our event partners by missing scheduled event stops. 

The cut away section
The cut away section