23rd July Marcus turned up at 8am sharp to replace the gps unit. Water had got into the unit and corroded the terminals. He also replaced the wiring back to the backbone and was pleased at how easy it was to access all the wiring – one of the many benefits about a Rustler.
By 11am we were ready to leave, but there was a major decision to be made. Do we go under scary bridge or not. The short cut to our next destination would save about 1.5 hours but goes under a 20 m bridge. Our mast is 19m including aerials and there is a positive water height of 16cm – which leaves 80cm. Which might sound a lot but with the optical illusion from the cockpit it looks like you will hit it. We decide that to go for it…..
The front boat has a crew member at the top of the mast
…..but to go slowly and don’t look up. Our confidence was somewhat lessened as a boat in front of us got to the bridge and did a dramatic U turn. Next thing we saw was him hoisting a crew member to the top of the mast with a Go Pro and pole to film it. I looked at Mags and before I could even say anything, I was told don’t even think about it.. So dear readers, the only footage you will see of scary bridge are stills from the cockpit. I did look up just as we were about to go under and my heart stopped……
Safely under – we ghosted up between the islands. Then the heavens opened and we stuck on the engine and we headed to the Island of Moja and the harbour of Kirkviken. It looked an idyllic spot with traditional red houses lining the harbour and on old church – hence the name. But alas all the rock spots were taken, the only option was to anchor. But after the third attempt trying to get the anchor to hold, we gave up and headed for Ostholmen and discovered a gem of a spot.
22nd Having been raining most of the night, it was still oilies weather as we left back through the rocky entrance following our inbound track of last night. But the rock alert doesn’t stop when you leave the natural harbours. The charts here have a worrying phrase in this part of the archipelago – “all known rocks less than 6m depth are shown”. We don’t want to be the ones to discover the unknown ones. So it is relief to make it back to the marked fairways.
We had a cracking sail beating into the wind – til the channel got too narrow to make it viable. Ever since our crossing from Germany our gps unit had not been working and we had to rely on the internal gps of the chart plotter, so our next destination was the Bullando Marina to meet up with the Raymarine dealer. Bullando is a lively marina whose close proximity to the outer archipelago makes it very popular. Last year when we were looking for marinas for Carra we had looked at it but with a 7 year waiting list it wasn’t option.
I gave the locker lid a good clean with an abrasive fibreglass cleaner which has removed a bit more of the burn mark from the BBQ, much better than it was but you can see it.
There is always a task list of things to do and tonight’s activity was to put up picture in the saloon. The west coast of Scotland can have some stunning sunsets and this picture is from where Mags grew up on the Kintyre Peninsula overlooking the Island of Cara. Cara is a Gaelic word for friend and can be spelt Cara or Carra.
21st July – After a bit of scrapping I was able to remove the black which was actually melted plastic not burnt fiberglass. But you could still see the ring of the BBQ in darkened fiberglass. But without the black it wasn’t so noticeable. Still very frustrating through. We had used the BBQ in exactly the same way many times – so not sure what caused it. So Cobb BBQ owners be warned!
Although we had moored there before, we had never explored the main Island of Rodloga. The main harbour was further round the island, so we jumped in the dinghy to explore and found a gem of a hamlet. Traditional red houses surrounding a rocky bay with one small pier for dinghies. Once ashore we followed a narrow path round the wooden houses that appeared to be nestled amongst outcrops of rock to a very well stocked shop – the basics and a delicatessen. It even had Duchies Originals, plus Digestive biscuits….. it is amazing what you value when living abroad!
By now we were virtually the last boat to leave. So with just the 2 of us it would be interesting as the wind was blowing her off. The challenge was to remove all the lines whilst holding the boat and get back onboard. I held the boat on a short rope whilst Mags clambered around the rock and removed the stone hooks and warps. She then held the short rope and I got back on board. Just as I did, there was a big gust of wind. I rushed back to the engine controls as Mags thought she was about to start water skiing from the bow. Thankfully I was able to bring boat close enough (after some helpful encouragement from Mags) for her to get on board. So I just avoided leaving her stranded on the rock!
The wind was bang on the nose so we decided to motor sail down the channel to our next harbour. The anchorage at Lokoa was hidden behind an intricate rock strewn entrance. The rocks of the bay were already lined with boats so we decided to anchor in the centre of the bay.
Mags is the red spot between the 2 buoys
20th July – We awoke to the steady drumming of rain on the hatch, and I was just contemplating turning over when Mags was up and about with swim suit in hand. The water temperature wasn’t exactly hot…a chilly 16.6C. Anything below 22C isn’t even an option for me. It clearly was cold judging by the expletives that were uttered on entering the water. I assumed it would be a quick dip then out again, next thing I saw was her doing laps of some distant buoys….. quite bonkers.
The rain passed and the sun came out – there was a gentle breeze and we wound our way through the rocks. There was a marked difference in the scenery, the islands became smaller and less inhabited. With only 14nm to Rodloga it didn’t matter that we were pootling along.
In the distance there was a very dark ominous cloud, we were still enjoying the sunshine but it was getting closer – then the wind died it was clearly being sucked into the weather system. It wasn’t long before we heard the rumble of thunder. We took down the sails as there are always severe down drafts under thunder clouds. We also put the handheld gps and mobile phones in the oven – this should hopefully protect them if we were stuck by lightening. With the engine on we would reach our destination faster and I would rather play lightening roulette with other boats around rather than being out on our own – is that uncharitable of me? The storm was 20 miles away, then it was 8 miles away it was getting closer, then the rain started, but thankfully the storm just past behind us and we emerged into the sunshine and we entered the fairly straight forward Rodloga natural harbour.
We had been here the year before with the Baltic Charter and we ended up in exactly the same spot. There was quite strong cross wind so we were quite pleased to have someone ashore take the lines. Mags set off like a mountain goat round the rock banging stone hooks into various crevices and with a rope from our stern to the shore we could brace her against the cross wind.
The evening skies cleared and the harbour was bathed in glorious sun, which really brought the red colour alive of the traditional houses on the main island.
It was soon time to fire up the Cobb BBQ which is designed not to get hot so you can put it on the deck. After dinner in the cockpit it was time to clean it. To my horror it was stuck the deck. The bottom plastic had melted to the deck. After quite a force I was able to remove it, which revealed a great big black circle and burnt fiberglass. There were only 2 reasons to be thankful. Firstly it was on the locker lid, so worst case we could replace the locker lid and we were able to remove the BBQ – I suppose it could have been a lot worse – we weren’t happy though. We have used our BBQ many times before on the deck and never once had this problem. We banished the offending item ashore to cool down.
It wasn’t quite the sun kissed weather we were hoping for this holiday as we left marina kitted up in our oilies. The weather forecast was 14-20 knots with the risk of gust over 20 knots being 73%! Amazing the level of accuracy 73% … if only it was correct….as it was gusting over 30 knots regularly, though technically they were correct. The Swedish weather forecaster clearly don’t feel the need for any more detail above 20 knots.
We sailed along the main ferry route into Stockholm though in the opposite direction making our way out to the outer archipelago. You might be imagining a massive boring wide channel, but no, the contrary was true, a pretty route with islands and very narrow passages. Quite impressive that the ferries weave their way through undaunted.
With the wind behind us and just the yankee set, we had a lovely sail through the islands. Along the route you get the ideal opportunity to look at all the drop dead gorgeous waterside properties. Initially main homes but as you get further away from Stockholm they are summer cottages – though some are mansions but some are no more than a hut on a rock…. Or in this case a very attractive hut.
We dropped our anchor in the tranquil deep bay on the island of Sjalbottna – with high rocks overlooked by some lovely summer cottages. The one in the banner picture had a buoy for a large boat, a sauna by the waters edge, a beach and the house on the cliff over looking the bay… that would suit us perfectly. The clouds parted and the sun came out, so we finished the day with dinner in the cockpit wearing shorts
The car was full to the gunnels with all sorts of boat stuff which we had been gathering in the house. I am a regular shopper at West Marine in Seattle – so amongst our boat goodies was a second anchor which I am sure must have raised a few eyebrows in American Security. We were taking the overnight ferry from Turku to Stockholm – which is a beautiful crossing through the Turku and Stockholm Archipelagos and the Aland Islands.
We had planned to sail that day – but both of us were shattered after numerous drunks decided to argue/ yodel outside our cabin on the ferry – plus it was raining and there was thunder. Neither of which made the idea of a sail very appealing. So we decided to stay put and chill- after all it was a holiday. We provisioned the boat and found the local chandlery ( as clearly we didn’t have enough boat stuff), and I spent the rest of the afternoon making up some permanent mooring lines.
We emptied the car – only to fill it up again – as Carra had acted as a big waterborne Ocado Van from the UK and every spare space had been crammed with everything from bottles of wine through to washing liquid – all at a fraction of the price of Finland.
With a top opening fridge, the biggest challenge is always preventing everything getting squished at the bottom and turning into a prime evil swamp. Also it is impossible to get anything out quickly. We had some hamster baskets (without the hamster) made to fit our fridge. These are wire baskets that sit on each other – it also means we can fit much more in the fridge and still get to it all quickly.