Monthly Archives: August 2018

Plague and Pestilence hits Carra

Jill arrived in the evening bearing gifts – a new rev counter and bacon – what else could a girl ask for! Plus more importantly a puzzle book for Mags as she had finished her last one. The next morning we left in time for the 12 o’clock bridge – given that it is the third time we have past through it in a week – it was positively routine. A great sail across to Lumparland and we were tucked up nicely in Bomarsund as the wind built throughout the day. After lunch of – surprise surprise – corned beef sandwiches, we wandered up to the fort – through the woods. It was a glorious sunny day and a beautiful walk – the path meandered through the trees that were clinging onto the rocks clearly marked as the rocks had been worn smooth, elsewhere the rocks being covered with pillows of sage green lichen. As Jill said “you expected pixies and fairies to be living here”.Bomarsund

The fort with its old Russian canons with the double headed eagles over look the approach to the harbour. We then walked down to the garrison fort and to the plaque for the first VCs that were awarded here.

Bomarsund was a decision point, do we go north about and cross from Sweden from there or do we go south to Rödhamn and cross from there? With strong southerlies for the next few days – we elected to go north about and had a gybe-athon through some rocks. We had both sails up and it was fun getting the gybe angles right for some narrow passages between the rocks.

Mags and her new puzzle book – order is restored on Carra

Once through it was a reach to our next harbour – through quite a wide channel to Hamnsundet. It was completely deserted, so we decided to come along side – as I wanted to polish one side of the hull. It needs to be done once per year and it is much faster and easier from a pontoon than once in the shed where the topsides are 3m from the ground.

We were due to go to an anchorage the next night before turning the corner and coming south to Karingsund. With 2 days of southerly winds ahead I knew we would need to motor and the next day the winds were lighter so we elected to go straight to Karingsund. Which in the end was very fortuitous, but more of that later…..

DSC07364Frustratingly as we turned the corner to head south so did the wind – but at least with lots of islands and rock to negotiate it did flatten out the sea. According to the chart there were navigation buoys directing you around the shallow, narrow entrance into the harbour– but all bar one set were missing. Karingsund is a perfect harbour, very sheltered from all directions and an old fishing harbour with lots of fishing huts lining the natural bay in various states of repair.

About 2 weeks ago Mags had been bitten by a tick. Ticks here can carry lyme disease and TBE. We had been vaccinated in Finland against TBE on the Punkkibussi – a bus that came to the supermarket. But there is no vaccination against lyme disease. I had removed the tick but it was very small and didn’t appear to be full of blood so didn’t think it would cause a problem. After a few days the bite disappeared, so all was well…… Until today when Mags had a red rash about 8cm wide. I was 100% sure this was Lyme’s disease, which can be a life changing, disabling disease if not treated quickly. So we got into a taxi and went straight to the hospital and sure enough Mags was diagnosed with lyme disease. So next stop was the chemist to pick up some very strong antibotics. As the Doctor said she was lucky to have had the rash – not everyone does and that is when it goes untreated with unexplained debilitating symptoms . But he was confident catching it so early meant that she would fully recovery. Also we were grateful that Mags got treated in an area where it is prevalent, so they knew the signs and issued the antibiotics immediately rather than waiting for the results of a blood test which don’t appear positive for some time. Hence many places delay the treatment and then wonder why they have high rates of untreatable lyme disease.

Although Mariehamn looked empty we found a restaurant full of locals and the Schnitzel lunch hit the spot – thanks Jill. The trip into town also allowed us to do some food shopping and overt a beer crisis onboard Carra. Throughout the day Mags had been feeling more unwell. Amongst other symptoms extreme fatigue is one of the impacts of the disease.

Early morning in Karingsund
Back in Swedish waters

There was an early morning fog in the air when we left Karingsund, but it soon cleared and with F2/3 wind just forward of the beam we had a lovely sail with all 3 sails up we were making great progress. Bacon butties were most welcome as a mid morning snack – given that breakfast had been early o’clock. The smell of bacon buttie didn’t even raise Mags, so I knew she wasn’t well. Quite quickly we lost visibility of the Aland’s and Jill and I sailed ….. Mags slept.

Soon we were weaving our way into Arholma’s West harbour- a pretty harbour with your typical red houses and wooden boat houses supported on stones. We tucked in behind the floating loo and anchored.

Life on Arholma

Jill and I went for a stroll round the island – in theory to look at the island but in reality in search of cinnamon buns. With all tourists gone there were only locals (70 live here all year round) and they seemed to be able to survive without cinnamon buns! bakenWe returned having failed in our mission but having explored the church and the beacon at a giddy height of 25m above sea level….. Mags slept.

Jill visiting the floating loo

Jill was determined to use all items of clothing she had brought and the swimming costume was yet to be used. So decided to visit the loo by swimming to it. Mags occasionally surfaced but soon went back to bed and ….Mags slept

Our next destination Sjalbottna, a lovely anchorage but we couldn’t be believe it was to be the last of our cruise. With a gentle breeze we were able to tack our way between the rocks, it is great fun – planning your tacks to avoid the rocky islands. Jill and I dodged the small yellow ferries that shuttle between islands and managed to sail virtually all the way to the anchorage..….. Mags slept.

As we were taking Carra out of the water we needed to fill up Carra with fuel – so headed for Vaxholm and were able to sail all the way. This time ferry dodging was with the big ships that come into Stockholm and if it wasn’t for our ability to see them electronic – you would get quite a shock as you don’t see them behind the islands……. Mags slept…. only surfacing for the ferry.


You could tell we were back in the Stockholm Archipelago as there were the white ghostly islands – all vegetation being killed off with Cormorant poo. DSC07430Once anything growing us dead, the birds move off and after a while it regenerates. You know when you are downwind of one of these islands. Once tied up at Vaxholm – Jill went off in search of cinnamon buns and was successful! We made our way back to the Marina. Sad that the cruise was over but pleased that we had completed our trip and had seen everything that we had wanted to see and been able to share our adventure with so many friends……. Mags was awake!


The joys of Lymes disease is that that once you have started the antibiotics you feel worse as the dead bacteria appear to have their revenge as they float around your system waiting for your body to remove them. Mags has had some rough days since coming back to the marina but every day has felt better and is nearly back to normal.

Windy weather in Lumparland

With only 1.5 hours between friends, we had a quick clean of the boat and had just about finished when Caron and Yvonne arrived bearing gifts. A vented loop (don’t ask – it is for the loo) and salad cream essential for my corned beef sandwiches which now are a key ingredient of my stable diet, due to the 25 tins we had on board – and now down to the last 6! We have made less progress on the cuppa soup mountain though, which is less appealing in hot weather.

The windy weather looked set in for the week which was frustrating – but not much we could do about it. But there was an opportunity to get to a harbour before the next front came through with 30 knots winds. We were heading to Lumparland – part of the mainland or in our minds home to Willy Wonker.

The narrow canal Photo: Caron

But to get there we had to go through a narrow canal with a bridge opening that meant we had to leave at 1110 on the dot. So safety brief done, we cast off and timed our arrival at the bridge for 1200. There were a couple of boats coming the other way and it felt like we were squeezing through – it always seems a challenge the first time…. Mast just past the bridge, it swung shut and we had a good downwind sail across open water. This route was the approach the British and French Warships used to sneak up on the Russian Fort at Bomarsund. The battle was part of the Crimea War and the warships took 48 hours to destroy the fort that the Russians had taken 10 years to build. A simple case of the Russians expecting the attack from a different direction. Given the rocks it must have been an impressive bit of sailing getting the warships so close.

DSC07250Bomarsund is one of our favourite Aland Island harbours. Stunning red rocky cliffs provide a dramatic backdrop for the deep harbour which has been used for centuries by old sailing vessels. The vessels being tied to the rocks with big rings that are still used today. Trees and lichen cling onto to rocks and gravity defying angles with little sign of soil. The board walk follows the contour of the rock and is suspended over the water and more importantly it is incredible sheltered from any southerly winds. So the only sign of the near gale blowing were the trees on the top of the cliff.

c and y 2The following morning Caron and Yvonne went off to explore the fort – we stayed on Carra and caught up with some admin. The wind was due to drop slightly in the afternoon and with a downwind sail – it looked like there was an opportunity to sail. But at lunch time you could see it was still very strong wind – so we decided to stay put.

Looking at the bowels of the boat on her phone

Caron and I then set off to explore the heads to see if we could solve the problem by way of a boat colonoscopy – with a go pro camera on a pole we explored parts of Carra that had not seen day light for some time. Caron’s knowledge of pumps was very helpful – whilst we couldn’t solve it – we were able to eliminate a couple of causes and I was better able to describe the problem in terms of pump pressures.

The sunset that evening was the essence of tranquility and beauty. ( see banner photo – by Caron)

As is often the way with windy weather, once past we found ourselves becalmed and so we motored to Kastleholm. Enroute were treated to a very close view of a sea eagle spiralling down to the waters edge – the closest we have been to one. Crossing our path on our way to our harbour was an electric cable which was 22m from the water – we require 19m so in theory there should be 3m spare – but it looks like cms from the deck – which is why I find it easier not to look. So I just had to ignore Mags saying “are you sure we will fit under” and go for it.

Having had strong southerlies we now picked Kastleholm as was good shelter from the strong northerlies for the next few days. We explored the Jan Karlsgården museum in the morning – although it was the second time that week it was still very interesting.

Whilst it was windy the sun was shinning, so we had a great 25km cycle ride around a nearby lake – which was rewarded with cinnamon buns that Caron had bought earlier.

gor in mist
Early morning mist Photo: Caron

I was frustrated that we hadn’t been able to show Caron and Yvonne any harbours beyond Lumparland. But provided we were quick we could get out to Rodhamn the next morning and show them the outer Archipelago before the next windy weather arrived. We awoke at 0530 with mist swirling on the water and as we set off the sun shone through the mist it was magical. We sailed all the way back to the bridge and made it through the first opening at 9am. Passing through for the second time … it seemed less scary.

Focusing on rocks and beating another boat

After some tactical tacking we arrived at Rodhamn at 11am. Rodhamn is another favourite of ours but we had never seen it deserted before, indicative of the sailing season being over here.

sign rod
The leading lights of Rodhamn! Photo: Caron

We had the choice of spots on the wooden staging. We went off and explored the island – to my horror I saw a small snake ( I hate snakes). Thankfully it was small, so I managed to suppress my inner desire to scream but with evil yellow eye lids – I wasn’t getting any closer.

rodhamn 1With the wind due to increase soon we only stopped for an hour before sailing back up to Mariehamn.

Caron loves sheds – so the old harbour was a brilliant shed spotters paradise. A wonderful old working boat yard with lots of boat sheds – some on land, some over the water but all focused on restoring old wooden sailing boats. It is a favourite spot of ours in the grand metropolis that is Mariehamn, think small town with a parochial feel but that makes it sound way too lively.

We strolled over to the other harbour and pondered who was the owner of the £46 million super yacht called Africa 1 – we were convinced it was some despot African dictator. Mags asked one of the crew but despite her teachers integration – they didn’t divulge the owner, as they are sworn to secrecy. This only reinforced our view, definitely dodgy money.

Caron and Yvonne treated us to a delicious meal in Mariehamn. They left on the 9am ferry, with Jill not arriving for another 12 hours we were able to get ahead on the admin – aka laundry!

Ferry Dodging

We left Pia and Juhana’s secret harbour in the sunshine but it was soon replaced with grey skies with that ominous look and within an hour it was raining. We can’t complain given that we have been sailing since May and today was only the second day since then that we have had to don our oilies.mags

Many of the islands have small yellow car ferries connecting them, they beetle back and forth and leave as soon as they fill up. Unusually one waited for us to sail past. We dropped anchor near Korpoström in a very sheltered spot which was surrounded by traditional summer cottages.DSC07127

We awoke to a mirror smooth water – but this was more a reflection of the sheltered anchorage than the true wind strength. Whilst we were in the lee of the land it was relatively calm but as soon as we lost it’s protection both our reefs (making the sail smaller) were needed. We tacked out amongst the last of the skerries and we were in fairly open water for a couple of hours. Creaming along at 7 knots. As we neared the Island of Kökar, we were passing through a narrow channel marked by buoys, I had been checking off the buoys as we passed them with the boat on autohelm. DSC07156I clearly was daydreaming at one point and suddenly saw that we were about to pass the wrong side of a cardinal buoy – marking a rock…… quickly I took the boat off autohelm and at the last minute past the right side of the buoy….that was a bit of a wake up call! We dropped anchor in Sandvik for the night.DSC07153

Our next port of call was Rödhamn which is SW from Sandvik – but the direct route is not buoyed and many rocks are uncharted – so to follow the buoyed route you have to go north for 5 miles and hence it is 10 miles longer than a direct route. However, Juhana had given us the waypoints for a short cut through the rocks – DSC07166which was a big help but we were grateful that the weather was benign for our first attempt. It was beautiful but rocky with those you could see and scary for those you couldn’t. It was a relief to be out into open water – but now the hazards were ferries – within 20 minutes, 3 had passed through a narrow, shallow gap. The one that Mags said “they will never go down this one it is too shallow”. We never learn – I think we had said the exact same thing a few years ago at another pinch point – so we had to do a quick change of course to get out of the way into safe water. We dropped the sail in the tranquil waters of Rödhamn harbour and then anchored.

In a light wind, we drifted towards Mariehamn. Mags would only put up with my desire to sail for so long before I was reminded that we had a lot to do once we got in… we had friends arriving and no food onboard – we had last seen a supermarket 2 weeks ago. There was a crisis looming too, as we had just eaten our last ship’s biscuit – essential for Carra’s crew’s well being. The engine whirred into life and we moored in Mariehamn East harbour mindful that we were expecting a few days of strong winds. We cycled off to the supermarket to restock. My little eyes lit up when I spied hobnobs on the shelf…. We had last had these in May!

DSC07190Sharon arrived early; it was lovely to see her finally as we had been to her house in Helsinki and she had stayed in ours over the summer – but we had missed each other. Sadly the weather was not conducive to sailing, even through the harbour was sheltered the top of the trees reflected the true strength of the wind. We set off to explore Mariehamn, wandering through the main street and wide boulevard to the west harbour.

Part of the Fort at Bomarsund

We hired a car the next day, given the weather sailing was still not an option; so we drove out to Karlingsund for lunch and then to Bomarsund – where the first VCs were awarded.DSC07199

Then onto Kastleholm where we came across a real gem the open air museum – Jan Karlsgården. Many traditional buildings and windmills showing the former life in the Aland Islands.DSC07208

Throughout our trip we have been fender challenge missionaries – spreading the challenge to various other boat crews around the Baltic. Sharon was keen to try it, so we packed the car with 2 fenders and went off to a swimming beach. They ( I was not going in) waded out and fenders were seen rocketing skyward with much hilarity. Soon Sharon mastered the fender challenge and I managed to capture both of them doing synchronised “Yeeha” – the cry that is uttered when you are astride the fender with one hand in the air.


Sharon left early and we had 1.5 hours before Caron and Yvonne arrived.

Swallows and Amazons Forever!

We set off early from Seili, with a scrap of yankee (front sail) out we were screaming along across the open water. It was fairly breezy (F5) but at least it was behind us. The waves calmed down significantly as soon as we crossed the wide channel and had the protection of the land. We made our way up towards Turku, spotting a curious seal enroute, and with each open bay we saw the wind and waves increase until we were close to our destination.


We were due to stay with some friends Pia and Juhana at their cottage. They too are sailors and they keep their boat in a harbour close by. We have received several pictures of the entrance and a google maps imags the night before, which I had studied at length. But the closer we got – all we could see were reeds. Then suddenly you could see the top of a mast but there appeared to be no entrance, just a bank of reeds.

entranceWe arrived at the entrance which was marked by 4 white posts in pairs, each pair being about 6m apart and we started our approach. With a strong cross wind it wasn’t easy – and the narrow entrance was lined with reeds for about 100m. We could see Pia and Juhana standing on their boat indicating left and right as we came through the shallow bit – it was shallowing 2.3m 2.1m, 1.9m…. we draw 1.9m. They had said it was 2.3m so I assumed it was just weeds on the bottom and anyway stopping was not an option. Once in, we parked next to their boat Kuutti (Finnish for seal pup). This harbour was small but perfectly formed, it was about 20m x 20m, so we only had about 3m at each end to the bank. The close proximity of the trees and the sea protected by the reeds meant that despite the strong wind outside it was tranquil within. It was true Swallows and Amazons stuff – this was octopus lagoon, home to the Amazons!


It was a very special harbour and it has to rate in the top three of remarkable harbours I have a taken a boat into. Each of those harbour have a common theme – they are hidden, have very narrow entrances which afford them remarkable protection once inside. Every time there is a big sigh of relief and quite a buzz from just making it into the harbour. The first one was over 40 years ago. When I was 11 my father and I built a wooden mirror dinghy, which was as a result of my love of the Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons books which I had devoured as a child. I was enthralled by their adventures. As a result of this slight obsession, which included dragging my father to watch the film 5 times, my mirror dinghy being called Hirundo (Latin for Swallow), knitting a red bobble hat so I could be an Amazon (Nancy Blacket was a great female role model!) – the final piece was taking my mirror dinghy up to Lake Coniston to visit Wild Cat island (or Peel Island as it is called in real life). We had taken Hirundo into the harbour, which from afar it appeared as a minefield of rocks but only when you were close to the entrance did a path open up, the rocks parted and you could enter safely. Despite the wind whistling outside she was perfectly peaceful tucked up in her secret harbour. Quite magical. The other harbour was Utklippan, which is on an island 12 miles of the south coast of Sweden.

Pia and Juhana invited us for brunch knowing that we that we had had an early start and we sat in the sun catching up. We had a tour of their cottages – with the exception of the main house Pia and Juhana had built the other buildings, including their original cottage which is a sauna and guest bedroom and the terrace has a wonderful view down the sound. houseThey also built Kuutti – she is the same size as Carra and it is remarkable that they built him (Kuutti is male) themselves when they had a young family – it took them 9000 hours. Quite an amazing achievement. At their harbour there was even a very smart composting loo for our use.

cyclingWe cycled to see some of the island of Rymättylä, from the sea it appeared to be dense forests – but surprisingly the interior was made up of small arable fields. Our destination was to get some raspberries and strawberries.DSC07095 With the lack of rain and abundant sunshine they were small but oh so sweet! Yummy.

Once back at their summer cottage Juhana had smoked some fish and we ate our delicious lunch on the decking. We spent an hour relaxing, swinging in their hammocks before having a sauna and dip in the sea.

We returned to Carra gently bobbing about with Kuutti in their lagoon– just like 2 old friends catching up. Well I hope that is all they have been doing! DSC07109

Pia and Juhana came for drinks and then we returned for a fabulous sea food paella before collapsing into bed.

I awoke to heavy rain but by the time we went for brunch it had stopped and the sun had come out. It was very thoughtful of Pia, she made us bacon and eggs. A real treat – as bacon is not easy to find in Finland. We walked around their island before returning to Carra.

Leaving using a rope to stop us going forward

IMG_0317[5102]It was time to leave…. Well this would be interesting. We tied Carra’s stern to a tree using one of their lines and pivoted on that point. As there was absolutely no room to go forward. It worked, so we threw back their line and soon we were gingerly heading out to sea following their leading lines past all the reeds. What a great weekend, we had been truly spoilt!

Reeds and Grebes

We left Oro following an intricate set of leading lines – most of these weren’t on the charts, which was not surprising given its military history. In Finland, leading lines are a science, in most places you are never more than 5 mins from seeing one (I am not exaggerating). Many times you can see more than one – and their colours contrast brilliantly against the dark green of the forests. With so many rocks and skerries there is always a convenient one to place the front leading marker. It is said that Finland has 50% of the world’s navigation marks, Sweden 40% and 10% for the rest of the world. Seems about right.

Having been on small islands since Kardla – we needed a food shop so we popped into Rosala to get some essentials from the little shop there. Also it would allow the wind to move round to a westerly enabling us to sail. We anchored in Helsingholm – a sheltered bay with the requisite wooden red houses and wooden staging for boats.

With only 18nm to go the next day it was a relaxed start and our sail was set within 10 mins of leaving. As we left the outer archipelago and the density of forested islands increased as did the number of boats. With schools starting after the weekend there was a steady stream of yachts returning to Turku. I think we will be on our own next week!

DSC07014For the last few months we have not seen land that is greater than about 5m above sea level. So this part of the archipelago with high rocky islands made a pleasant contrast and in the sunlight the colours of the granite looked magnificent. Lots of islands here are called Hogholmen (high coast).

Coming towards us was a yacht and I suddenly realised I recognised it – it was S/Y Duo and Saku (minus Merja) – we had been on the rally earlier in the season with them and with whom we had spent a lovely day in Helsinki. We waved frantically but Duo and Saku were soon passed in a flash.

We sailed all the way to Seili and anchored in the shallow bay – off a sweet little church. A perfect spot, sheltered from the strong southerlies that we were expecting for the next few days. We were surrounded by wide beds of reeds on 3 sides and bobbing between them were a few grebes with their adolescents chicks.

DSC07061We have reached a milestone – we have been sailing for 100 days. I must admit it doesn’t feel like 100 days – we have a rhythm and pace and the days just pass, the only reason we know what day it is: my strip on my HRT tells me what day it is. Though I know it is time to come home soon as Mags is down to her last puzzle book!

We watched boats come and go from the little pier – the windy weather meant no one stayed very long – but with our anchor well dug in and sheltered from the wind, we had a relaxing day. When we had been in Espoo, I had been to my favourite wood whittling place and made several things including a shelf for a cupboard out of an oak floor board. Although I had never got round to putting it up – so a day at anchor with no distractions was perfect.

DSC07023The next day we rowed ashore to explore the island. The island is very well maintained and since 1964 has belonged to Turku University as a research station. The building are well cared for and lots of red wooden houses surround a large stone yellow main building with a central courtyard. We wandered down to the other harbour past the wood fired sauna.

DSC07050Everywhere we go there are information boards in Finnish, Swedish and English. The first signs of life here dates back to 500 BC. But it was in 1619 that Seili became a leper hospital, the chapel where we are anchored opposite dates back from 1733. The bell tower is quite unique.


DSC07025From 1840 – 1962 the island was repurposed and became a mental hospital for the chronically ill female patients. They have preserved a cell in the main yellow building – it is tiny and the straight jacket on the bed is quite chilling. The “hospital” seemed more about isolation than it did treatment. It was quite shocking and thought provoking.

By now the really strong weather had come in and with gusts expected of 40 knots we were glad to be back on the boat. We could see the trees on shore being buffeted in the gale, the boats on the jetty shuffled their positions to try and escape the cross wind. But we hardly moved – how much less stressful it is being at anchor.

Four Harbours and a Wedding

We left early with a couple of other boats who were crossing back to Finland. We have enjoyed the 3 weeks we have spent cruising Estonia and everywhere you feel the sense of pride in this young nation – which earlier this year celebrated 100 years since their first declaration of independence in Parnu. The regaining of independence some 30 years ago has seen this country grow as an entrepreneurial beacon – it is still developing but you feel it is on the pathway to success. Though they are always have the constant threat of their sabre rattling neighbours to contend with.

Despite it being a hot sunny day the visibility was barely 2.5nm, and with little wind we were motoring. Using all our electronic wizardry, we crossed the shipping lanes without any dramas. Just after lunch the wind filled in and we had a cracking wind and with all 3 sails setting, we soon found ourselves back amongst the rocks and skerries of the Turku Archipelago. It is strange how different the geology is in Finland compared to Estonia – yet at their closest they are only 45nm apart. Estonia with it’s sandy beaches and round boulders and Finland with granite islands and skerries everywhere. As we sailed past some of the bigger islands we were able to summer cottage spot. But having just been to Latvia and Estonia we were aware of how affluent most of the summer cottages appeared.

We anchored in Rosala – Notholm. There was space at the little harbour but it was good to anchor again and enjoy the peace and tranquillity. Not to mention it is better for our cruising budget. In the evening the wind died, the water being glassy still and the reflections were all around. Quite beautiful in the late evening sun.

Our next destination was the charming harbour of Brännskär, run by a young couple – who had turned this small harbour, well one pontoon to be exact, into a little gem. Arriving just after lunch we picked up a stern buoy and watched the harbour gradually fill up. Just when you thought it was full, the boats would create a space by just forcing their bow into a gap and squeezed fenders would pop out. This reminded us another reason why we like anchoring as you don’t have to be squeezed in closely to your neighbours.

There was a café selling lots of yummy things and we came away with some pulla ( Finnish cinnamon cakes) and knackerbrod (cracker bread) all baked on site. Most harbours in Finland you get a sticker or ribbon to display to show you have paid.  We stick them on a board – which has also been called our logbook by some friends. Here you got a small block of wood with Brannskar beautifully written on it. By the evening there was a fire pit alight and several Finns went off to the 2 saunas. Given that it was still +30C we didn’t feel the need.

We left before most people had surfaced and within 10 mins were sailing. We picked our way through the rocks – which would be quite impossible without a chart plotter – sailing with just the Yankee up as we were dead down wind. We dropped our anchor just after lunch and had a lazy afternoon enjoying the peace and quiet of Benskar.

All week we had seen towering clouds build – some forming in the shape of an anvil (Cum Nimb) – you can get lightening with these clouds – but they had come to nothing. But today we were expecting lightening in the afternoon. We had picked Benskar as it was close to our next harbour of Örö as we wanted to make sure we were in before the thunder storms.

DSC06931 It is never good being in a thunderstorm with a big metal mast sticking up. At least in a harbour you can play Russian roulette with the other masts if the lightening hits the harbour. Also as this harbour has a particular tall radio mast we would be safer. We motored through a delightful part of the archipelago with lots of small islands each with a summer cottages and a perfect little harbours. But the sky got darker and darker to the point of being very dark steel grey – which provided a lovely contrast to the green of the pine trees and the red rock. Just out of the harbour the lightening forks started – very visible against the grey. The sky was incredible – as if someone was stirring the clouds with a big stick. The air was being sucked up into the centre of the storm – creating the most incredible cloud formations – which were clearly laden with rain. We tied up just as the heavens opened and the downblast and rain were impressive. Lightening and thunder indicated we were close to the centre . So we retreated down below. DSC06948

We had noticed a boat that was decked out with flags and white flowers on the guard rail it looked beautiful – clearly a bride and groom we soon to tie the knot. You had to feel sorry for them – we have had weeks of sun and this was the first rain we had seen. Thankfully the rain stopped when the bride emerged from the boat – a few hours later the boat had a sign “Just Married”.

We had planned to meet some friends in Oro and at one point the thunder looked like it might prevent them from coming. But the storm passed and Pia, Anni and Jukka battled their way through the rain and arrived in the bay in their speed boat – they cruise at around 27-28 knots – as opposed to our 5-7 knots! Anni had made us a little boat complete with Union Jack and named Carra. It was lovely to catch up with them as we hadn’t seen them for 4 years since we stayed on their island: Horsholm. Sadly we were too big to moor near their island.

We had lunch and the sky looked like there were signs of blue – we decided to go for a walk but – the rain started again – so we retreated with pulla ( cakes), ice-cream and tea and coffee.DSC06945

The ferry moored overnight just behind us and we realised that we would not be able to get out until after it had moved at 0930. Not a problem until we need to leave but to give us flexibility so we could leave earlier we decided to move to the only free space. It was the first move of the day.

The fortified island of Örö has only been open to the public for 3 years, because for the last 200 years it has been part the military defences of this area. First by the Swedes and the British, then Tsarist Russia and more recently the Finns.

The Russians used it as part of the Peter the Great defences of St Petersburg. Scattered throughout the island there are lots of old defensive installations, as well as wooden red huts that were part of the garrison. The island has a backbone of cobbled roads – thankfully you could cycle to the side. We cycled the length of the island, it is covered with small stubby pine trees and areas of open heath land with heather in full bloom. On the west coast unusually there was a sandy beach with sea kale growing abundantly.

We returned to the harbour to find we were the only boat left on our pontoon. The hammer head wasn’t the best location for the windy weather we were expecting. So we decided to move – the second of the day. Just as we did a motor boat – well it was more of a ship / size of an apartment block arrived. They went on the hammer head that we had just vacated and would provide a sizeable DSC06975wind break. We moored up on the deserted pontoon and had just finished putting our storm warps out to be told by the harbour staff that where we had move as it was reserved – despite the harbour being empty. So we moved again – the forth of the day. OK the music has stopped, can we stay here please.

A day of windy weather allowed Mags to see if she could reset the rev counter – which hadn’t worked since early June. We now had all the codes/ settings to attempt this. However, it failed to resuscitate the patient.  In discussion with the engine manufacturer who got her to try another test using our new posh multimeter (after our cheap Chinese one had been rubbished by our friendly mechanic back in Sweden) – he is 99% certain the rev counter needs replacing. We can live without it temporarily but annoying.