Monthly Archives: July 2019

Sam jamming with the sea birds and revenge is a dish….

Elaine left us in the morning and our plan was to look for a weather window to cross the 132nm to Finland, we wanted a good wind direction, but not too windy so that we could sail all the way without it being too lumpy. I looked at the long term weather and there was a distinct lack of wind for the next 4-5 days. Not what I was hoping for as it would mean we would have to motor. We had a choice wait 5 days or go and hope to catch the last of dying the wind. Härnösand wasn’t really a place we wanted to spend any more time than we had to – so we decided to go for it.

We set off east out of the fjord – frustratingly we were head into the wind. But once clear of the headland, we could set all 3 sails and head roughly in the right direction – close hauled into the wind. Which was great as it made what little wind there was appear stronger. 6.5 knots was more than I could hope for. We managed to sail for 6 hours but with the wind progressively coming round first at 90 degrees then from behind us it meant the wind we saw got lighter and lighter until we only doing 2.7 knots. Time to capitulate and turn on the engine…..

sailingWe were sad to be leaving the High Coast – it is a stunning area to sail in and had exceeded our expectations – dramatic scenery, pretty little fishing villages and unique geological features. But with each mile travelled, the view of the High Coast disappeared over the horizon and soon it was just sea that was visible. Given that we were expecting the trip to last 26 hours, we set up a watch system. Having had dinner, Mags went off watch and went to sleep. There were a couple of large ships to watch out for – but with electronic tracking (stalking or its proper term AIS) it was like playing a very slow electronic game. It was interesting seeing all the exotic destinations they were bound for – one was going to Alexandria.

But with no sails to tweak – few ships to watch out for…. I was getting bored and that meant I would start feeling sleepy. I got out the sweetie box. But there are only so many mint humbugs you can eat….

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The guitar mid crossing

So out came my guitar and I decided to have my only concert in the middle of the Gulf of Bothnia. From Bossa Nova, Ed Sheeran, Tracy Chapman, The Beatles, Oasis, James Blunt, the Shadows – Strumming away, I gave it rooty toot – singing at the top of my voice – my guitar teacher would have been proud of me as I even played Paranoid by Black Sabbath (not my favourite but apparently a useful technique he tells me) – all on my ½ sized classical guitar……The engine drowned out the many dodgy notes and I was able to labour until the misguided belief that I was the next cool acoustic guitar soloist. But just before you rush to book me up for your next party:

a. I cant sing
b. My “set” wouldn’t last long – as I only know one song from each
c. I would still like to have some friends.

It never really got dark – at about 2230 the sun was setting but it would rise again at 0300 so the sun just went below the surface and only had 4.5 hours to rush round to the other side of the sea so it was like having a permanent sunset and sunrise.
Mags took over – she had been oblivious to my gig. It rained for a bit and she saw a weird horseshoe rainbow then I was back on watch for a couple of hours, then Mags took over again. 10 am we had bacon butties – always good for morale plus we were able to sail from there – a relief turning off the engine.

DSC01112Our destination was the light house island of Kylma-pihlaja about 5 miles off the Finnish Coast – close but very isolated. We arrived 26 hours after setting off – into a small harbour which had been hewn out from the rock, was a former pilot station harbour and we were the only yacht and a hand full small motorboats out for a lunch stop.

DSC01102Tip toeing through the goose poo, this was a bird sanctuary – we walked round the island – and climbed the lighthouse which was now a hotel. By 2030 we were completely pooped and fell into bed….. next thing we knew it was 10:30…. It was a lovely sunny day and we were the only boat here. A fine harbour so we were quite happy to spend another day here.

Boats came and went all day – it appears to be a coffee stop for the coast guard and pilot boats, the ferry made frequent stops. One couple will be rueing the day they didn’t check the time of the last ferry and with no beds in the inn – a water taxi came out to pick them up….ouch – expensive!

IMG_20190714_171424With the harbour deserted all bar one small motorboat, a yacht arrived…..with the whole harbour to park in – he chose to moor 2ft in front of us at right angles by picking up a stern buoy. Making it more difficult for us to get out. It was totally out of order and inconsiderate. So I took great delight the next morning in springing Carra out – this is a technique where you pivot the boat using just the engine and one warp – which brought her stern out perpendicular to the harbour wall. He came out to watch, initially he looked worried as it isn’t a commonly used technique in these waters. He was about to make a very “helpful” comment then stopped to watch –– we exited perfectly…..I felt satisfaction for all the mansplaining I have had to endure as a skipper – this was womansplaining to an inconsiderate skipper without saying a word and it felt great!

Ed Note: Spell checker recognises mansplaining but not womansplaining!

Toasted Marshmallows, Crayfish and a Bonkers Museum

We had received an email from friends that we had met on a rally last year that they were going to be in Ulvöhamn. Whilst Ulvöhamn is one of the must see places in the High Coast, its attractions can be done in 2 hours; so not the place to sit out a day of windy weather. So it made sense just to pop in for lunch. Robert and Helen from Trenelly invited us onboard for a lovely lunch. Followed by showing Elaine the “sights” and it was back to Saku’s boat Duo for tea and cakes. It was fun catching up with them all and about 4pm we had a gentle drift to Norrfallsviken.

socialThe next day you could hear the waves crashing on the nearby shore and the wind whistling in the trees but we were all tucked up with not enough wind to turn Bertie, our wind generator. He is called Bertie after a Scottish phase Birling Bertie – Birling being Scots for spinning. Bertie is a bit of a drama queen and can make a light wind sound gale force strength. But even he was silent.

DSC01013Once the fresh rolls had been delivered to the boat, we were ready for our hike. We were keen to show Elaine the cobble beaches – so we decided to repeat the walk we had done previously – but it is amazing how much quicker it was without carrying a bike! The hut and fire pit we picked for lunch had dramatic views over the headland but little in the way of vegetation, so it was just as well we had collected some wood en-route. We had improved our BBQ offering – these were no ordinary bacon butties, these were…….. M&S smoky BBQ cooked bacon on fresh baked seeded bread rolls and smashed avocado – all very Hampshire darling. Followed by toasted marshmallows on sticks whittled by Mags.

img_20190708_153633.jpgWe had a leisurely start hoping that the sea would have calmed down from the previous days windy weather. Sadly it hadn’t, thus the deep swell and light wind from behind us meant that it was a lumpy and uncomfortable trip. It wasn’t til we were protected by land could we actually sail. Haggvik was tucked up behind an island and had more in common with a small boating lake and as a result it was very protected.

DSC01072It was a real suntrap – perfect for a cold beer and chilled wine whilst watching the wildlife. Slovenia Grebes kept us entertained – parents and 2 young riding on their mother’s back. Definitely a case of ugly duckling turning into beautiful swan, as the 2 babies looked more like ugly baby dinosaurs.

 

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Haggvik – you can just see Carra nestled in front of the island in the centre

Not only was Haggvik in a lovely setting – plus it was a bargain – free washing machine in the price of the harbour dues…. That meant a dobe evening. Close by we visited the most eclectic well actual totally bonkers Museum that I have ever been too – Mannaminne. It has everything from a woolly mammoth, old ships, trains, cars, farm equipment, computers, telephones, building from across Scandinavia and that is only a tiny portion of what they had…..you name it – they had it – todays junk tomorrows museum piece came to mind.

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We had a lively sail out of the fjord, the scenery here resembling the Norwegian fjords, then out into the open sea which was very tame compared to the previous day. Gybing downwind through the skerries and islands which is always fun and gives you a sense of achievement when you don’t need to put the engine on. We tucked into the small old fishing harbour of Lövvik for the night.

IMG_20190710_131805For Elaine’s last sail we had a great wind and sailed between the islands. We looked into Lustholmen, where I thought we might stop for lunch – but holiday time on a club island meant it was packed; so we headed off to Härnösand where we would be dropping Elaine off.

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High Coast Bridge – Swedish Equivalent of the Golden Gate Bridge

The guest harbour was in the centre of town and seemed to be the drinking spot for the local drunks. The reception committee thought nothing of urinating next to the buildings in front of us. It couldn’t be a greater contrast to the little harbours we had seen for the last few weeks. Härnösand had been slightly oversold by the Rough Guide – or may be we had been put off by the reception committee. But the grand square – was very ordinary with a couple of nice buildings. There were some nice wooden building in pastel colours – but the best bit was a fab little deli. Clutching our garlic mayonnaise and strong cheddar we headed back to boat. However, one redeeming feature, it did have a very good Restaurant and Elaine treated us to a lovely Dinner. Mags and Elaine sharing a traditional Crayfish Dinner complete with silly hat and bib.

Celebrities and the Photo Shoot

Elaine arrived late in the evening, after a day travelling, to be told that we would be leaving at 0630 and it was likely to be raining – she took it very well. On the positive side, the plan would give us the best chance of getting into Trysunda but no guarantees. We left on time but the drizzle and the low claggy cloud kept the coast line a secret. At least, we were able to sail and as we rounded the headland and glimpsed into the harbour, we had fingers and toes crossed that there would be a space – given that it had been packed 2 days earlier we weren’t sure…..

Well it was practically deserted – there was a beautiful British yacht nudged into the harbour lifting its anchor as we arrived. It could have taken a direct route out but they motored towards us to say hello – as it drew closer I recognised it and it’s famous Skipper – well famous in sailing circles Tom Cunliffe. We chatted for a short while then they headed off south. It was good of him to come over.

DSC00974DSC00963Slowly the weather cleared and sun and blue sky were seen. One advantage of being tied up by 10 o’clock was we had ample time to explore the island and it gave us a chance to revisit our favourite stone beach with its big silky smooth rounded cobbles and big grey rocks – shaped by the sea into perfect seats and warmed by the sun. DSC05046A place for contemplation and just being.

Trysunda was our favourite harbour of the trip and we thought we could do a bit Carra photo shoot here with Elaine as our human drone. We would do circuits of the harbour while she took pictures from a nearby hill. Much to the amusement of the locals from their docks we did loops, sail out sail in. Once over we went bows into the staging just close enough for Elaine to hop on to the bow ladder and reverse quickly. Photo shoot in the can, we left…

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Swimming 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle – 63 Degrees North

Mjalton as an anchorage had caught my eye, a natural anchorage which is a perfect circular inlet. There was little to go on – the chart said less than 3m but I had read that it was 3m deep. There was narrow entrance and as we approached there were strong gusts of 25 knots and I bottled it. I didn’t fancy having to reverse quickly through a narrow gap if I didn’t like it in there. So we set course for Trysunda ….again. With the wind just off close hauled and 2 reefs in the main, we romped along at 7 knots. Just as we arrived, 3 boats left and we managed to pick up a buoy. With other boats already there it is a lot easier to handle cross winds as your bow has no where to go and you can nose in gently to check the depth. With 2.7m by the keel but less than 1m under the bow – we were safely in.

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Trysunda is a an old picture perfect fishing village and consequently it is a magnet for boats. Last week when we tried before we were the only boat here – but now there were 2 boats on every buoy. You moor in the Baltic with your bows onto the wooden staging and your stern clipped onto a buoy at the back. Throughout the day more boats arrived – there was an evasion of Finnish boats that had come across the Gulf of Bothnia. Just when you thought it was full – they squeezed a few more in. The principle being if there is a gap wide enough to stick you bow into – you can force your way in.

The was an informative little fishing museum in a boat house describing the fishing fleet and life on the island. Originally it had been 3 islands with three sounds – hence the name Trysunda. But the sounds have been long since filled in with the land rising and it is estimated there will be no harbour in 1000 years time – but then with global warming – who knows they might be back to 3 sounds. There was a sweet little white wooden 17th Century chapel with the coolest key hanging up on the outside. Inside painting adorned the walls.

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The next day we climbed the hill and went to the north beach – to our surprise we found a stunning sandy beach. We walked on to the next beach which was a total contrast. It was stones – but not your normal stones. Imagine smooth rounded pebbles – normally they would be a couple of 2-3cm centimes long. But these were 20-60cm – very tactile and then some massive lumps of rock – complete smoothed by the sea but made up of lots of crystals and warmed by the sun. It was a magical beach.

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rocksOne of the pleasures of being in Scandinavia – I am not exaggerating when I say that since we came over in mid May I can count on 2 hands the amount of litter that I have seen and picked up and no plastic in the sea. So these beaches were pristine with only driftwood on their shores. Beaches and pretty red houses – this was a very special place – no wonder it is busy in the holiday period.

 

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Left – Mags standing on the bottom – it is that shallow

Good paths meant it was a great island to go for a run on – so off I pootled. Though I was less convinced by Mags choice of activity – Swimming – a sentiment shared with our boat neighbours who normal will go for a quick dip whenever they can – but not here. Just 200 miles south of the Arctic circle and only 11C…… Even the sea kayaker who she chatted to her mid swim thought a 2mm wetsuit was a little thin.

dsc00852-1.jpgToo soon it was time to leave this little gem of a harbour, as we need to go to Örnsköldslvik to replenish the supplies and to pick up Elaine. Having thought we could sail there was not enough wind when it was in the right direction and then going up the long fjord, it was against us and had strengthened. So it was a boring motor.

ovikThe town is dominated by 2 massive ski jumps, the bottom of one is crossed by a bridge – not exactly conducive to wanting to jump further! Going for a run here, I cut through the graveyard. It was very different to a British one – which even the nature of the name “grave yard” is not very uplifting. But in Sweden they are called Church gardens and flowers and greenery abound, with each stone having a little garden growing permanently. They even provided sets of gardening tools to tend to the garden. Sadly I fear in the UK these would be nicked….map

This is as far north as we will go on this trip – 63 Degrees 17 N.

 

Hiking and Prehistoric Times

With some windy weather expected, we decided we needed to find a good place to moor and Docksta provided just that. Plus it is right next to a national park so there would be plenty to do for the next few days of northerlies. I had looked at the harbour and there was one spot I was keen to get which meant that we would be well protected and could leave the boat there. So an early start meant that we could got the pick of the places. It is still quiet up here – during the week more than 2 boats in a harbour and it is positively crowded. White Haze followed us in in – I am sure they must think we are stalking them. We did beat a large German boat in – a rather satisfactory beach towel victory moment.

IMG_20190701_155111We were greet by an incredibly friendly and helpful harbour master Tommaso and his wife Anna and it was a surprise to hear their Italian accents. Tommaso was speaking at full tilt and by the time we had put the 2nd rope ( of 4) on ashore he had given us a map of all the hiking routes, told us the best routes to go on and given us the brief on the facilities!
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The following day with Mags dosed up on ibufofen for her dodgy knees, we set of along part of the High Coast trail in the Skuleskogen National Park. We walked though ancient pine forests with rare plants and lichens, past Bronze age burial chambers, saw cobble fields (beaches) at 200 m above sea level and walked

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Bronze age Burial Chamber

DSC00679across bare rock with knurled pine trees growing in the most unlikely of locations. Steep climbs rewarded with great views of the islands below.

DSC00661ravineArriving at a beautiful lake with a little red bothy for the trail hikers and a couple of fire pits, it was the perfect lunch stop. Our route returned through the Slattdalen Ravine – created over 1.5 billion years ago with steer granite walls and rocky floor.
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IMG_20190628_094940Continuing on the High Coast Trail the next day, we past a suspended seat with different positions as demonstrated by Mags– which is part of a series of architectural installations along the trail.

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Skulebergets on the right

From there we climbed Skulebergets, which has the worlds highest shore line at 286m above sea level and it has a cobble field at this height – meaning that it over 8000 years old. When you see the sea way down below it is incredible to see how much it has risen.

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The metal sign is where the sea level was 8000 years ago

I am pleased to say that Mags knees held up and she managed both days without limping!

We decided to hire a car to explore the area and visit some prehistoric rock paintings. There is a reoccurring theme with the coast of Sweden – trees and vast swaths of them. Thinking there might be a little variation in scenery we headed inland – as we are all treed out. But no – the vista of trees didn’t change.

carvingWe took a guided tour round some of the 2600 carvings which are believed to be between 6000 -1500 BC. Their proximity to the roaring water of the hydroelectric dam is a dramatic situation for these unique carvings.

They depict elk, people, salmon, bears and boats. Believed to be carved with quartz, they are painted in modern times as they would be impossible to see otherwise. It is debateable whether this is the right thing to do but it does make it easier for the untrained eye.

We discovered the Fjallraven Outlet store – lots of cool outdoors kit though an alarming number of people wearing socks and sandals. There was a danger of spending serious money here and blowing the sailing budget – but as a friend said we could always park the boat and continue by dinghy!

On the roof of the harbour clubhouse, there was a nest with 2 seagull chicks that were only 3 days old – cute feathery brown balls.. The only problem being to go to the loo you had to pass close by with both parents on guard duty. In other harbours, we have had to negotiate artic terns that attack you with their beaks but the seagull just swoop at you – harmless you think but when they really don’t like where you are – they deploy the ultimate deterrent with the bombing accuracy of the dambuster bombs – father seagul scored a direct hit all over me.

We invited Ada and Akko and a British couple Helen and David over for drinks and enjoyed more tales of daring do around Patagonia and other exotic boat locations. Carra’s high seas Hummus was made for the occasion.