Sociable times in the land of pretty red fishing villages

The natural alarm clock was heavy rain above our heads. Which is not exactly conducive to getting up. 2 blobs of rain in a forecast and we really don’t feel compelled to go sailing. The offer of a free washing machine eventually got me up – warped priorities?

The longer your stay in a harbour the slower you are to leave, so our 11am leaving turned out to be 4pm – well there was a very good hardware store to be visited, and the washing to do and and …. Our planned destination a little anchorage 2 hours away. Just as we were about to enter the anchorage we received a text from our friend Douglas to say he was planning to be in a harbour about 2 hours away. So we decided to head over and join him in Kuggonen.

They arrived minutes before we did – and took the buoy in the centre of the bay. An attractive old fishing harbour with a deep bay. The rocky shore and the lack of vegetation did not bode well for anchoring. 4 attempts later and the chain continued to rumble indicating it was not holding. In the time that we faffed around anchoring – Douglas, who is an extremely talented artist, had painted the scene. We were in the picture but hadn’t stayed long enough to finish us at anchor. Douglas offered that we come alongside him. It wasn’t my preferred option, as we were both heavy boats – but as the conditions were due to be benign overnight and the next harbour was 4 hours away or 2 hours back to our original one. We decided to risk it and set the anchor alarm. We joined them for drinks and left at an hour we had not seen in a while 11:30pm.

We didn’t move but it wasn’t a good night’s sleep – aware that we probably shouldn’t be 2 on the buoy. But we awoke to not a breath of air and thick fog. So we weren’t going anywhere soon. Douglas, Marjorie and Russell joined us for morning coffee. Eventually the fog rolled back out the harbour – we bade farewell, as we headed on our journey north and they turned south.

We sailed to Mellanfjarden, with an inquisitive seal checking us out enroute but the fog was never too far away. When it started to roll back in, we switched on the motor, keen to get into harbour before it did. Another harbour that was supposed to be deeper than 2m but shallower than 3m but in reality was deeper than expected and some rather fine leading lines – made it a harbour of no dramas. Soon after we arrived, Iain and Renske moored next to us– (Mags had meet them in Hudiksvall whilst I was in the UK). Later we joined them in the Restaurant and met Johan a local character.

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Mellanfjarden at 11pm and still light

With the sun setting so late (11pm) it is easy to lose track of time or was it the beers anyway it was another late night.
“Exhausted” after our 2 nights of socialising – two late nights and one poor night’s sleep and we decided to stay another night in Mellanfjarden and have a lazy day. Time to explore in our dinghy Pikku (Little in Finnish) Carra.DSC00263 Our electric engine gently whirred her way past the houses as we had a good nose deciding which property we would like to live in. I left Mags pottering in the dinghy and I went off to take some photos. A beautiful white old yacht came in. They picked up the stern buoy and an elderly gentleman on the wooden staging went to catch the lines. Only he fell and missed the rope. By which time the wind caught her bow and quickly blew her away from the dock. Enter Mags to the rescue, in Pikku Carra the tug….. Mags went to get the bow line and take it to shore – through a fine display of seamanship she managed to go into reverse instead of forward. Get the line wrapped round herself, but eventually threw the line – but the same elderly man went to catch it and fell over again. Mags then disappeared under the jetty at a rate of knots only to emerge with the propeller spluttering as she tried to avoid the rocks. Thankfully said man then decided best he left. Calm restored, we managed to get the heavy yacht – White Haze to shore with me pulling and Mags pushing the bow with the dinghy against the wind

Early next morning – well for us anyway (8am) we followed White Haze out of the harbour in glorious sunshine. A fickle wind– one minute we were drifting at 2.5 knots – the next creaming along 6.5 knots – but we failed to make ground on White Haze despite a morning of tweeking sails and interrogating AIS (electronic stalking of other boats) as to their speed.
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I have decided that tricky harbours entrances here are on a sliding scale of 4 categories: interesting, challenging, you have got to be joking and no way. I have never plucked up courage for the last category. For about 30 mins we meandered about a relatively large looking lake clearly avoiding invisible boulders than lurked beneath the surface but with 4-5m depth there was no drama….well until we went round the corner and the narrow shallow bit came into view– this one definitely fell into category 3. XXXX – you have got to be joking were my exact words. It felt like we were scraping past the rocks on both sides – and it wasn’t that deep either. But we were rewarded with Skatan, a stunning little harbour, which made the fact that my heart had missed a few beats worth it.

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We were greeted by Capt Ahab, the most friendliest of harbour masters. Actually the only HM we have seen so far. We moored alongside and opposite White haze.

skatanDSC00302Skatan oozes pride – the beautifully kept red houses with white capping are in immaculate condition, beautiful tended pots and the all the wild lupins and lilac were in flower. Capt Ahab was a mine of local info having lived here since he was a boy and his parents before him – he could still remember the village as an active fishing harbour.

dsc00275.jpgWe invited Akko and Ada from White Haze over for drinks….. Their yacht radiates elegant beauty –from the grain of the coach roof, the sleek lines of the white covered steel hull, the wooden mast and her sheer simplicity. No gadgets and gimzos that adorn most boats these days. White Haze was of the KISS (keep it simple stupid) school – she was a go anywhere boat and indeed she had – they have sailed over 100,000nm in her. Yet her the condition belies this fact. Some of the places they have sailed to: Antarctica, Easter Island, Galapagos, Alaska, NZ, Japan, South Africa. Last year they sailed round Iceland. I asked them about the roughest weather they had sailed in “ we crossed the Beagle Channel (between the bottom of South America and Antarctic) and we hove to and went to sleep” – and we wont even sail in 2 blobs of rain!

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