Monthly Archives: June 2018

Celebrating Juhannus (Midsummer) with Friends

The sky was very grey and very ominous – so for the first time since May 4th we got into our oilies. We left Hanko through the narrow breakwater and set sail east – well motor sailed at least. One plan had been to stop in Jussaro at an anchorage but we would then have to leave at early o’clock to out run a gale so decided to press on and anchor in a nice safe spot. Just after the decision was made the heavens opened and we sheltered as best we could from the elements.

DSC06062

Part of trip plan has been to visit some friends’ cottages in Finland. So we were very excited when we could see Diana’s lighthouse which is by her house come in to view – so we called her up to let her know we were passing . Our original plan had been to stop at Diana’s cottage first but given that is open to the SW and that was where the gale was due from, we sail pasted and she waved standing next to the lighthouse – it was a real high spot that we had actually made it here. We then tucked round the back of Stromso (Piia’s Island) and found a safe anchorage to spend the next 2 days. Piia wasn’t at the cottage yet – but again her jetty is open to the SW. So we opted to anchor opposite where we would be sheltered from the gale. We dug the anchor in well, let out 7 times the depth of water in chain to ensure we stayed put and retreated to down below for a bit of binge series watching – the sound of heavy rain just confirmed our choice (of anchoring and binge watching). Having watched “The Split” we surfaced after 2 days, the wind had abated and so we moved across the bay to the Piia’s pontoon.

DSC06191

Tied up safely, we welcomed them onboard – it was so lovely to see them. We had forgotten have stunning their house is. Nestled in the trees, their modern long house clad in wood, slopes to perfectly match the descending ground. It blends in with the surroundings and the carpet of blueberry bushes. Each room having a view over the water. The sauna stands alone and overlooks the pontoon. Piia had put the sauna on and within 30 mins we were sitting in the sauna with a view over Carra – we were pinching ourselves that we were really sitting in the Sauna at Piia’s.

WP_20180623_11_23_45_ProWhen I got out of the sauna – there was some groaning from the pontoon. The wind had increased and the boat was in danger of moving the pontoon enough to drop the bridge connecting the pontoon to the shore into the water. So with no time to lose I got Christian and Christoffer to help me drop her back onto the buoy. Then Christoffer went to pick up Mags in the dinghy – who was now out of the sauna and wondering what was happening. We were shortly about to have lunch but not knowing what was the rating of the buoy or the size of the concrete block securing the buoy, I wasn’t keen to leave the boat. So Mags went for lunch and I stayed on the boat and tidied things up. It was a bit frustrating – but I wouldn’t have enjoyed the lunch if I wasn’t sure that Carra was safe. After an hour I was happy that the boat wasn’t moving and the wind had dropped so I went ashore and had lunch and celebrated our arrival with a glass of Champagne.

Diana was over from her island and she was keen to come on board. Pikku Carra (our dinghy) was hidden behind Christian’s and Piia’s motorboat. Diana assumed that she was getting in a rather large 5m rib. So she was very surprised when we pulled out Pikku Carra which was less than half the size and she realised that was her mode of transport! We had some pre dinner drinks on board and then we walked through the meadows with everyone to the other side of the island to eat a delicious meal in the Island’s restaurant. With the World Cup on the guys were keen to get back to watch Sweden versus Germany. The World Cup has rather passed us by.

DSC06184

Later that evening we watched the end of the midsummer bonfire. Pia had suggested that we go back to the house and sit round the fire pit – which we thought seemed like a good idea ‘til we realised it was in fact 30 mins past midnight but it was still deceptively light. Once we all realised the time, we decided to call it a day. A Midsummer Day we will remember for a long time.

DSC06198The next morning we had a sauna with Piia before inviting Piia and Christian over for a rather yummy chicken caesar salad on Carra – all cooked from scratch. It was soon time to leave – we were just popping round to the other side of the island to Svarto – where Diana lives.

Her jetty is a stone one but as it was nearly 100 years old and relatively small for our boat I approached with caution. None of the charts show any depth detail for this bay. We attached briefly to her jetty ‘til we realised that the angles for the shore line would not be sufficient – so we decided to anchor in the bay. Diana’s house: Hammarborg is an historic wooden house that dates back to the time of the Russians. Her great Aunt had bought it to find peace and quiet to write – several of her books were published. The house stands on the promontory with its only little lighthouse. The forest has grown around the house to you don’t really see the beauty of the old house until you are close to it. The semi-circular summer room must have had a spectacular view of the sound before the trees blocked its view. We had a lovely dinner with Diana, it was very special being able to celebrate having made it to Hammarborg.

Whilst we were happy to anchor in the bay for a short time – it wasn’t really suitable with the expected wind direction for overnight. So about 2130 – we returned to Carra and moved to a sheltered spot. We were just anchoring when our AIS alarm went off with a man overboard coming from our boat. It was a false alarm as we both were still on the boat. Frustrating we couldn’t cancel it – so we informed the coast guard that it was a false alarm and went to bed.

The next morning we were keen to solve the problem before moving on. We had this problem previously and Raymarine had solved it by reflashing the AIS. Which we did – but it didn’t solve the problem. So we then contacted Raymarine who told us to do a factory reset on the chart plotter – this didn’t clear it but worse still it removed all the depth contour lines. Not very funny when you are in a rocky anchorage. They then blamed the chart manufacturer that we had a faulty card. They seem to fail to grasp the concept that it was functioning perfectly well before they suggested we reset the chart plotter. Eventually we found a setting in the chart plotter which went we turned it on – all the depths reappeared. So clearly they don’t know their own product. This wasted a total of 3 hours. But still no resolution to the MOB. As we had already wasted enough time – we set off. The islands are close together here, as if you were on a big boating lake and there was a very attractive passage through Barosund with relatively high cliffs dotted with pretty traditional summer cottages . Before long we were out past the islands and the water opened up with less land around us.

By now we were aware of an armada of boats going west – and we appeared to be the only one going east. It was as if they had all been invited to a party which no one had told us about. It was to continue until we reached Helsinki the next day. We were glad as this meant more space for us! With a flash of inspiration I did discover what had triggered our AIS. It was Mags’ lifejacket – there was a piece that was pressing against her test button. So finally the MOB alert stopped.

Frustratingly the wind was on the nose so we were just able to motorsail for all bar the last hour. We sailed into the small attractive harbour of Porkkala. This peninsula, the last major one before reaching Helsinki had still been occupied by the Russians as late as 1956.

A is for Alands, Abscess and Agony

The route from the marina to the jumping off point to the Aland Island (Finland) is one straight fairway – with the odd rock thrown in – with a NE. I was expecting to have to motor the whole way. But with an E wind we were able to sail the whole way on one tack and found a safe little anchorage sheltered from the strong winds overnight. During the evening I was aware that I had a slight tooth ache…. We left at 6 am the next morning to get to our destination before lunch time when it was due to get more windy. We had a relaxed sail over arriving in Rodhamn at 11am.

DSC05967Rodhamn is a real favourite of ours. Its name comes from the red granite rocks that make up the harbour – one large island – and a few islands providing a natural harbour. The is a wooden staging/board walk that hugs the edge of the island providing a harbour to moor on. Red paths cross the island as the rock’s natural lichen is worn away by P1080786visitors. Rock circles and mazes lie around places by former islanders – though more recent residents I suspect. The harbour master sells fresh bread and cakes – what is not to like. There is a small museum in the old radio building telling the history of the island life. We went for a walk and heard the remarkable tunes warbled by a nightingale ( the bird beng identified by our Finnish Neighbour) With strong southerlys due being tucked in was perfect shelter – so time to get the watercolours out followed by 2 hours looking at the heads and achieving very little…..By now the tooth was more painful. It was Friday afternoon when I realised this was going to be more than just a tooth ache as the pain was spreading to my ear. Thankfully we have some antibiotics onboard that can be used for abscesses and I started taking these. As I was pretty sure it was an abscess there was no point going to a Dentist in Mariehamn as he would have to wait for the antibiotics to work so we set off early to go to Sandvik on Kokars. There was a total absence of wind so we motored. By now my jaw and face were in agony – any slight movement would send excruciating wave of pain off. So I resorted to Dr Google – who suggested various pain remedies most of which we didn’t have on board but I tried out the bite on a wet teabag. Albeit disgusting, it did appear to help. I kept hoping the antibiotics would take effect after all it had been a day. But by lunch I was feel decidedly unwell and at which point we met 2 ferries in a very narrow passage. Could the day get any worse – by now there was enough wind to sail but I didn’t need anything more to think about so we continued motoring. At which point the fog came in – with only 200m visibility you needed to concentrate. Mags manned the chart plotter to spot other boats on AIS – once of which was a ferry travelling at 12 knots. But as we approached Sandvik the fog lifted and the sun shone. I also started to feel better – finally the antibiotic appeared to be winning against my abscess. We moored up, to discover we had boats either side us with all female crew – that is a first!

Sandvik was worth exploring but I wasn’t really up for it. But by the evening I was feeling better and the shower made me feel better still. The harbour is build off a massive slab of rock 20m x 50 m with a beached old fishing vessel – whose colours came alive in the evening sun. The world was starting to look rosy again the antibiotics were definitely working.

With the wind in the wrong direction, we motored all bar the last hour to Uto. It is very remote as it is on the edge of the Archipelago – this low barren island with a big lighthouse was an active pilot harbour as it had been for centuries. It also has had a key role in Defence and only recently in the last 4 years has it been opened up to visitors.

DSC06008The Island had more houses than I was expecting and organised into streets – well dirt tracks. The harbour was bounded by lots of working traditional boat houses and was very attractive. We walked up to the lighthouse and round part of the island. This is the only place I know where the harbour facilities include carpet washing racks!

Whilst the tooth was much less painful the next day but I was keen to get to a dentist – plus there was some windy weather expected.

DSC06012So our initial plan of stopping over night at Rossala was abandoned and we did a longer leg (57nm) to get to Hanko, arriving at 8pm – which was no issue due to the midnight sun. It doesn’t really get dark at the moment. We expected strong winds on Wednesday so opted for the more expensive Island marina as it was more sheltered than that of the town quay.

I got the first ferry at 8 and by 8.10 I was at the Dentist and left feeling relieved as I secured an emergency appointment at midday. I was expecting just have xrays more antibiotics and get the root canal treatment performed in Espoo by my old dentist. However, I was persuaded that the best course of treatment was to have it extracted then and there as the tooth was cracked. 6 injections later – lets not mention the dropping anaesthetic ampule on me and I was getting increasingly alarmed. Not helped by the fact that it was a difficult extraction. Finally the tooth was extracted – for the grand price of 57€. I returned to the boat feeling somewhat traumatised and lay around doing not much for the rest of the day.

DSC06021

Wednesday after our boat jobs were done – we explored a bit of Hanko – up the pink water tower with great views of the surrounding archipelago and then visiting the beach with the iconic Hanko beach huts and grand old Russian Summer Houses. We wondered around the market ice cream and bikes in hand then returned to the boat.DSC06044.JPG

Rally and Painting

The challenge with a Rally is that there is a timetable which is fine till the weather hasn’t read the programme. It was decided that due to some expected bad weather we would miss out one harbour and do a 40 mile sail into the wind. Leaving Nynashamn as usual we instructed our chart plotter to follow the course I had entered the night before. It refused. So I tried again – no joy. I rentered the route – again it refused. This isn’t really an issue as you can see the boat on the chart. Later we noticed that AIS ( it shows us information about other ships) was not visible on the chart plotter. Also a couple of other functions were no longer working on the chart plotter. We had a sinking deja vue feeling. In 2015 when bringing the boat over  a problem with our GPS caused most of our electronics to fail. Was this the start of that again? For now there was no real issue so we got the sails up and was able to sail in the right direction albeit close hauled. 7-8 knots meant we were making good progress. However there comes a time when tacking is lovely but if you want to arrive at a reasonable hour you need to put the engine on. But from the speed we were able to achieve for the revs – something was amiss. The engine was not overheating but we were only able to achieve 3.5knots – it would be a long day. Either we had something round the prop but it was still functioning or it was something else. In 2015 we had got some nylon fishing twine round the prop – was it a repeat?

We decided to take a more sheltered route that the others to enable us to make slightly better progress and past the delightful town of Dalero – lots of different coloured wooden houses nestled into a hillside. But soon we were back in open water trying to motor into a Force 5, our speed sank to 3.2knots directly into. Had we not been on a rally we would have diverted into another harbour. So we rolled out the yankee with a couple of reefs and sailed. Cracking along at 7.5 knots was great only it was 45 degrees to the direction we wanted to go in.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After a long 12 hour sail we got in at about 8pm to Sandhamn. There was a welcoming committee who directed us to our space. It wasn’t the best place but we tied up. Having put out extra lines we tidied the boat and went to eat. But I felt quite low – after a long days tiring days sail, fed up with all the equipment failures and in a pretty rubbish position which would be exposed to the wind the next day. There was one element I could change – so we moved and it was worth the effort as I felt much happier and could rest easy.

Mending a boat is part of normal cruising life but I had thought owning a boat from new would mean that once the teething troubles were sorted them there would trouble free for some time. So far the pieces of equipment that have failed:

• Air X Breeze The wind generator – failed after 1 year

• Offshore Systems fuel gauge sensor, water gauge sensor, holding tank sensor

• Raymarine – GPS failed knocking out all the electrics . GPS replaced

• Gas regulator – 3 years

• Propeller – replaced after 1 year

• Selden – reefing lines incorrectly threaded and halyard crossed

Thankfully all have been done under warranty but each comes with the effort of solving it and getting replacement part – and don’t get me started on the heads ( the toilet) that is a work in progress.

The windy weather kicked in and I was very pleased we had moved although we were away from the other Rally boats we were in a very sheltered spot. We were keen to see if there was anything wrapped around the prop. Attaching the gopro ( waterproof camera) on a stick we were able to see under the boat and have a look. There didn’t appear to be anything on the prop. On speaking to Rustler they suggested rotating the blades to see if they could rotate freely. This meant Mags putting on the wet suit and diving under water. I attached a line under the boat so that she could pull herself down to the prop. Thankfully the water was very clear – but it was 14C. There is a reason I bought the wetsuit to fit Mags. Everything seemed fine.

By then most of the day had gone and it was time for some more socialising – we had nvited the crews of Celtic Warrior (Derek and Julie), Blue Orchid (Paul and Gwenneth), Gilliat ( Christine and Martin), Galtea of London ( Douglas) onboard for drinks which was fun to get to know some more people and hear about their adventures so far. Later we joined the crews of Gilliat and Blue Orchid for an enjoyable meal in the Vardhus bar.

Douglas (Galatea of London) is a talented artist and always captures his environment with a watercolour sketch – we now have a picture of Carra at Sandhman – how special is that! He keeps encouraging me to take up my watercolours…

douglas 1)

Prior to leaving the next day I was hoisted up our Rally leader’s mast as he had lost a halyard up it. Job done we were off. Robert on Trenelly had a similar prop and he suggested once out on the water putting it into full throttle forward then neutral then in reverse to see if it would clear anything that was trapped under the blade. I did this the first time and then repeated it but noticed that now in neutral she was idling at 1900 revs but the engine was not doing 1900 revs. This highlighted the issue – the rev counter was misreading. So I ignored the rev counter – used engine noise to select the revs as opposed to the rev counter and we were back to normal cruising speed of 5.5knots under engine. So our rev counter was misreading – another thing to add to the list. I think over the cruise this year it was been getting progressively worse and putting it up to high revs just forced the issue and it then became obvious. That is a real positive about the Rally – you can take the advantage of those with more engineering experience to give you different strategies to try to solve issues.

With a short passage to our anchorage and it was a fine sunny day, wind on the nose (as per normal) so we had plenty to time to tack. We got out all three sails and had a cracking sail. Rallies aren’t races….. but when you have several boats setting off at the same time everyone tweaks the sails to go just a little bit faster. Paul and Gwenneth ( Blue Orchid) had a cracking good sail and a good tactical decision to hug one side of the fjord saw them over take us – but it did allow me to take some really good shots of them sailing amongst the rocks.

Gallno was a scheduled anchorage with a small entrance it gave the appearance of being in a lake once in. As will all the islands of the inner archipelago – it is a low lying Island that is densely wooded but importantly with a good dose of reeds at the edges which is always a good sign when you are anchoring. The weather was colder than it had been for a while – typical as we had a BBQ planned for that evening. We moored near to Galetea and Douglas invited me over to plaint with him. This has to be one of the hightlights of the trip. He is a very good teacher and it was a very relaxing hour I spent with him. He taught me to really look at the colours and not to worry about the detail. But I still have much to learn.

About 6 we gave him a lift to the BBQ which was on a small island in the middle of the anchorage, which was thankfully sheltered from the wind. Followed by drinks with Derek and Julie (Celtic Warrior).

There was a loose organisation around the rally with no skippers briefing everyone would try and find out when everyone was leaving – which appeared to be about 9 am. We had decided we would leave at 8 as we wanted to get into Vaxholm early and clearly so did everyone else. As we left at 8 – so did all bar one other boat! So much for 9am.

The rocks always provide interesting tacks – once again it was head to wind and we were now back in home waters as it was close to our marina. We hade a brilliant sail with Blue Orchid – this time we were able to even the score. But we weren’t racing of course!

DSC_0039 (2)

Mags picked up the lazy lines with our Boat Show gadget which had a trial place on the boat until it proved its worth. Mags has decided it can stay.

DSC05866

Vaxholm is a lovely old town overlooked by the Castle but has a very bouncy harbour due to the wash from a large number of yellow car ferries that plough their way to Rindo and back every 15 mins. We had drinks onboard with Trenelly’s crew ( Helen, Robert and Steve) after which we were invited onboard Gilliat for an evening meal and we took along a Princess cake in the shape of the Swedish Flag. Martin and Christine were great company and the social aspects are a real bonus of the rally. They have had an issue of charging on their boat so they are going to stay in our Marina berth after the Rally whilst they go home and let Marcus our friendly NZ electronics/ electrics expert in the marina fix it.

DSC05856Despite being close to Vaxholm and sailing past the Castle many times we have never actually visited it. But it was part of the Rally activities – so we boarded the little ferry across to the Island. The island fortress was one of the principal old naval defences of Stockholm. As you might expect it is made of thick stone – but surprisingly refined inside. The castle was used at the time of the Russian invasion in 17th and 18th Centuries. That night all the Rally had drinks onboard Duo our Finnish Boat ( Merja, Saku, Kirsti and Heppo) – Kirsti starting the evening off with a song about the Rally.

The next day the Rally which headed off to Stockholm. We had already decided not to join them with but to go back to the marina to get ready for the trip to Finland – but we would join them in the evening. Arriving back at our marina at mid day gave me the chance dedicate some time to the heads – which has begun to be a feature of the cruise. Firstly I replaced the pump and next I wanted to place an inspection hatch in an area of pipe work that you cant access to see if there were any clues as to the issue. That job alone took about 3 hours as I needed to remove the toilet bowl as well and by a new saw. Frustratingly after half a days work the loo is still isn’t working as it should.

Sunday we had a lunch invite to Goran and Lena’s summer Cottage which is on the waters edge overlooking Vaxholm. It had previously belonged to Lena’s parents and was an idyllic spot. We also met their son Jacob and his wife Eva and their 3 month old baby Olivia. It was a baking hot day, so eating lunch by the waters edge over looking the busy harbour was a perfect way to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon and Lena and Goran are great company.

Later that evening we went into Stockholm to join the rally for drinks on Celtic Warrior.

Monday we spent provisioning the boat and following a conversation with Paul from Blue Orchid I took the valves out of the vented loops and blocked one with clingfilm to see what happened. Success the heads worked perfectly…. But the vents shouldnt be blocked but at least it means there is no blockage in any of the pipes.

We joined the Rally for the last night and had a meal out. Mags did a speech to thank Nicholas and we gave him a present to thank him for organising the Rally. We then retired for drink on Blue Orchid before leaving. It was sad saying goodbye to everyone as for a just over a week we had become good friends.

IMG_4139 (1)

Northern Fender Challenge

29th May – 3rd June We delayed our start as there was due to be more wind later – but it was all relative and after the first hour I had assumed it would be a motor all the way. But eventually there was enough wind to sail. Whilst much of our sailing has been past wooded islands, today we were on the edge of the archipelago and the islands were just a series of small bare skerries devoid of vegetation. Occasionally you could hear a strange moan – which sounded like seals and sure enough when we got the binos out the rocks were littered with seals. Thoughout the day, we saw navy boats and helicopters buzzing about – clearly the Navy war was still going on. Idklubben was another sheltered anchorage – patrolled by a somewhat testosterone driven male Swan – who appeared to do circuits of the Island all day in full feathers puffed up mode.

DSC05733Previously we had done this passage when we brought Carra up from Germany – though under engine. But with time and familiarity of sailing close to big lumps of granite our confidence has grown and we have plucked up courage to sail though these rocky passages – now we enjoy sailing through them. Though at the particularly interesting narrow, shallow passage with a double dog leg we did roll up the Yankee ( the big sail at the front) to slow us down; as doing 7 knots with 3.5m below you would be a tad uncomfortable. We entered the wonderfully sheltered natural harbour of Ringson which we planned to make home until the southerly winds arrived in 2 days. Tucked up safely waDSC05739s Blue Orchid ( we had met them in Vastervik) – we had been playing boat leap frog with them since then, so it was nice to catch up them again. They invited us over for drinks in the cockpit – very civilised.

It was so hot Mags decided to go for a swim and complete the fender challenge. Ringson is an enclosed harbour and with only 4m depth the water does heat up. Though at 20C it was still too cold for me. The fender challenge is you need to climb onto a fender (not easy) and raise your hand in the air.WP_20180531_16_05_38_Pro

We were due to join the Cruising Association Rally in a couple of days, so we had time to fit in one more anchorage. We set off from Ringson without a breath of wind – but within about 1hr the wind had filled in an we had enough to sail. Sails tweaked we then comfortably passed a yacht – not that this is a race of course! There was a cut through we could take that would avoid us going round a headland. As to be expected round here it was narrow with 2 dog legged. We rolled away the Yankee but managed to sail through the passage – then sails out and home for the night was the sandy natural harbour of Nattaro.

DSC05745

One of the stats I monitor is how much sailing to motoring we do. Currently it is at 51% motoring and I am keen to get it below 50%. Which does mean whenever possible I will try and sail. However the short trip of 7nm from Nattaro to Nynasham was going to be a very long one at 1.5kn – so reluctantly I put the sails away and we motored. It was pulverisingly hot – no wind and the sun beating down. Mags decided her PJs bottoms were the best way to keep cool in the midday sun. Thankfully she changed before mooring in Nynashamn with most of the Rally boats watching.

We arrived and the marina had the dreaded boom moorings – short, thin bits of metal with hoops at the end. The challenge is how to do get your ropes through the hoops when they are just above water level whilst trying to park the boat. A previous bad experience with one – had left us and Carra scared by the experience – so we had invested in one of those gadgets you see at boat shows – a hook that attaches to the boat hook and you can attach your rope to the hoop at the end of the boom. It worked! Though we were glad of help from Paul who was able to fend the bow as we needed to then replace the hook with ropes through the loop – which was not an easy task.