Monthly Archives: July 2021

Kyrkvikens and Cakes

With the luxury of time and no set schedule, we could pick our direction according to the wind. So we had a tranquil sail downwind to Trasko Stora, a beautiful anchorage that shows the archipelago off at it’s best. After the frantic activity of getting the boat into the water, the peace of just swinging on the anchor was bliss – just to take in the scenery –  the warm tones on the red rocks – it was good to be back living aboard. Mags went for a swim – a pleasant  (for a Scot) 21C – unless there is steam coming off the water it is too cold for the southern softy.

Getting the anchor up the next morning was problematic, in that a twist in the chain has caused it to seize solid on the drum of the anchor windlass (the electric motor that lifts up the anchor). Which meant that Mags had to take the windlass apart – whilst I did circles of the anchorage. Thankfully, as she services it annually, she knew how to take it apart quickly.  So in no time the anchor was shipped and we were on our way. With northerly winds for the next few days, we decided to meander down the chain of islands to the south of the Archipelago. This would leave us in a good spot to sail to Denmark should Anders sell the boat….though a diminishing prospect. We spent the night in a natural harbour  Bjorko which was rather spoilt by a ramshackle marina – but it was more of a passage anchorage.

With the wind directly behind us, ( would the mainsail ever make an appearance?) we sailed down a large stretch of water – gently cruising, avoiding the occasional lump of granite. The last time we had been in these waters we had been beating into a strong winds. What a difference it makes going where the wind takes you.

Ornö Kyrkvken

Our destination was on the Island of Ornö– Kyrkviken – or Church bay. A straight forward but narrow entrance – the kind that you don’t go down if anyone is coming the other way, as there was only a few metres either side of the boat. The large harbour was overlooked by the white church that sat high above the bay and glistened in the morning light. The harbour had a small marina – but we chose to anchor further in the bay.

We explored the harbour by dinghy – bought some freshly basked bread and had an ice cream. We decided it was a nice spot to spend 2 days. Mags baked some oat biscuits then went swimming to cool down. 25C, an oven and hot flushes aren’t a great combination. We had arranged a facebook tea and cake session with my mother and had had some mini cakes from Betty’s sent to her. It lifted her spirits albeit for a short while, as she has been very low.

We saw our first sea eagle of the season.  I did some work for Captain’s Mate – an app I have helped design and has taken up much of the winter months. The next morning ,after our boat jobs – we headed into the village and went to the museum and the guide told us of the history of the island and the village school where the museum was situated. With only 30% in private ownership, the Island is ruled by 2 sisters – and this was reflected in the houses: those with dodgy jetties and well worn red traditional houses – as opposed to those with proper little mini harbour jetties and smartly painted houses. No guesses which belonged to the landlord of the Island. The island had been a source of Feldspar ( used in Porcelain in Europe) and I walked to the quarry that is now filled with water.

There are a couple of harbours in the Stockholm Archipelago that I have been on my list of must visit. Utö is a holiday island, the main harbour which we have visited before  but it would be packed and I was keen to anchor in the Kyrkviken as it was on the list. Arriving there at 10am afforded us the best chance of getting a spot, as it is when most Swedes leave. Sure enough the anchorage was empty. The corner of the inlet is over looked by the simple yellow wooden church which was glowing in the sun as the anchor bit the mud.  Close by was the church pier where the islanders of yesteryear would land, having rowed in large church boats – driven by  as many as 12 oarsmen.  After lunch, we set off  on an expedition to the main harbour by dinghy with Dizzy our electric outboard –  attracted by the famous Utö Bakery and their fab cakes. It was just over a mile to the main harbour – and we have been using the dinghy a lot in the last harbour. With 51% left in the battery, we set off into a brisk head wind. The battery started to drop and drop 40%, 30%….. we went a bit slower – we got there with 26% left. Cakes on board, we set off and with a downwind advantage we got back with 8% left…. I now understand the range anxiety with electric cars. Though in fairness to Dizzy, we had managed 4.5 miles in total on 92% of the battery. Kettle on and a nice cup of tea with our first cinnamon bun of the trip. Bliss. Mags – the water baby did a few laps of the bay whilst I practised my guitar.

Mags with Uö tKyrkviken

First Rustler Owner’s Baltic Meet

Everyone at the Marina was pleased to see us. It has been Carra’s home for 6 years now. We were due to be in the shed for 3 nights – but a tin shed at 30 C is the equivalent of being cooked alive slowly. So we were relieved that they could put us back in the water early.

No slings – no drama

I went to move her round to the mast crane – there was a pathetic cough – but she failed to start. We have the ability to start her using our domestic batteries and the engine roared into life. One for investigation but for now we had to get the mast on. Niklas and the crew from Doghouse manoeuvred the heavy mast into position. But the back stay ( the wire holding the mast up at the back) appeared  to be 10cm too short. There were comments about the boat must have relaxed…. I was very sceptical given the thickness of our fibreglass. Then they decided to try and force the mast back by hauling down on the mainsheet with a taught topping lift. After 10 mins of achieving nothing,  I was concerned that they might break something but also I just didn’t believe the boat relaxing was the issue. I said something must be rigged differently, as I pointed out the mast hadn’t grown and it was seated correctly at the bottom – so there must be something different at the top. There then followed much shouting and I think Swedish swearing – I haven’t done that du- olingo lesson yet  and it was ascertained that the trainee rigger had not noticed that there was a link missing on the forestay (the front wire) hence the mast was too far forward. Surprise, surprise once the link was in place the backstay fitted. I was just glad the boat was still in one piece after the demonstration of brawn rather than brains.

We then set to rerigging the boat – all the lines and halyards and sails – hot work in 30C. We decided to try starting the engine with just the engine battery – and it worked first time. But I wasn’t happy why hadn’t it charged with the shore power. One to check out.

Carra and Sini

During the winter I had chatted with Mika a Finn who had just bought a Rustler 42 – he had planned to do an Atlantic Circuit but due to Covid he had got to the Kiel Canal and decided to go next year. On his way back he dropped me a line and he popped into the marina for a night so we had the first Baltic Rustler Owners meeting. It was inspiring looking at all the adaptions Mika had made to his boat….. we now have a long list. They joined us for Dinner on board Carra and we had breakfast with them on Sini the next day. Mika and Outi were a fascinating couple – Outi had sailed across the Atlantic with her family when she was 15years old. She was now helping her father  build a wooden boat – that he had designed – he is 81 years – just shows you that age is no barrier. Mika was a serial entrepreneur who had designed a digital lock whose power was derived from putting the key in the lock.

After they left we did some tests on the battery. Marcus our friendly New Zealand Electronics engineer found that the fuse between the battery and the shore power charger had blown – as a result of the condition of the battery. So he put the battery on an external charger to be reconditioned for 24 hours to see if it could be brought back to life…… it couldn’t so we bought a new starter battery. But considering she had been left for nearly 2 years we were lucky than only a battery had failed.

Last shop stowed and we cast off our lines and set sail down Svinninge Fjord – not knowing if we would be returning or going to Denmark.

Plan F Succeeds

Having missed the sailing season in 2020 – we were keen to get Carra out of her shed and into the water so she still felt loved – boats don’t like to sit doing nothing. Our intention was to move her to Denmark – so that we could her get her back to the Uk in 2022 before the 30th June to avoid paying VAT twice on Carra – a joy of Brexit.

Having jumped through various sizeable hoops – finding care for my mother so in an attempt to make me feel not quite so guilty about leaving her and getting vaccinated – the question was still could we get there?

  • Plan A in 2019 was to drive back out to the boat as we had taken some pieces of equipment back  including the saloon cushions that needed a repair. But given that we couldn’t  drive through Germany, NL or Be…..
  • Plan B – fly – but we couldn’t fly into Sweden as it had banned people entering from the uk….nothing looked possible.
  • Plan C – In June, entry to Sweden via Iceland was allowed – but not really that appealing. Later Sweden allowed entry through Denmark – but we couldn’t get into Denmark without a worthy purpose.
  • Plan D Later Denmark allowed double jabbed Brits in and it was debatable if you needed to quarantine. We wrote to Anders ( Marina Manager of the Yard in Denmark) to tell him we were definitely coming out and could we get a berth.  But only if he managed to sell a boat he would have a space for us. We were hoping the Danish market was as buoyant as the British boat market.
  • Plan E – Fly to Denmark and get the train to Sweden but we really needed to get the stuff out to the boat that we had brought back…..
  • Plan F – We would drive to France, stay in with Mags’ brother and family for 10 days so that we could drive through Germany – we still couldn’t drive through Be and NL. Plus we weren’t suppose to leave the UK but we were able to get travel insurance that covered us.

So we had a plan, and we would leave on 15th July…… But then it was clear that the Delta Variant was running rampant in the UK and Angela Merkel was trying to persuade the rest of the European leaders to ban anyone from the UK. So we needed to get there as soon as possible – we left my mother’s on Tuesday afternoon following a hospital appointment  and by the afternoon of Wednesday 30th we had driven home,  packed, had  our lateral flow tests to get into France and we were on the Chunnel train bound for Calais.

After 10 enjoyable days in France with Sandy and Corinne, and a PCR test by nurse whose party trick was to make the majority of the swab disappear up your nose whilst counting to 5 very slowly – we were off.

By the time we got to the French/ German border it was raining –  “biblical quantities” as I texted a friend. It was to continue raining like this for the next 4 days resulting in those devastating floods in Germany in the area that we passed through. We passed into Germany – without any controls. The Danish customs man wanted to see our PCR test. The final crossing was across “The Bridge” scene of the Nordic noir into Sweden. The cheery customs official wanted to see our passport and we were in. 1900 miles later and twice our normal mileage we arrived at the Marina with a sigh of relief and disbelief that we had made it.