16th – 22nd September
Mags had taken the car over early and had been a real star removing the sails single handedly – not an easy task folding a mainsail for a 42ft boat. She did many other jobs on the list before I arrived. Thankfully I got out of Finland on the last flight before a strike grounded all planes which was just as well as the crane was booked for Friday to take us out of the water.
It was an early start the next day beavering away removing halyards and some last minute jobs before parking next to the mast crane. Dog House Marine were ready for us and they stepped aboard asking if all the electrics for the mast were disconnected ….. arghhh we had completely forgotten to do that! It followed by a session of getting to know your boat very quickly. Some wires had joints but others we needed to modify a plastic housing to ensure the wires could fit though without having to remove the soldered connectors. Whilst we were disconnecting everything, the guys took the boom off and the spinnaker pole. It was beginning to dawn on us how long it was going to take to put the boat back together again next season. Soon the stays were all off and the mast was winched slowly off the deck – the only casualty was the windex. It is a heavy old mast and it took 5 of us to man handle it horizontal and onto the cradles.
Next we took her round to the slip way and soon were hauled out by a very big trailer – a lot less stressful than a crane and slings – which is the way in the UK. As she emerged from the water – it was clear that the UK antifoul is a lot stronger that the local brew as there was no growth underneath – except a bit of a slime. But there was a big knot of fisherman’s line wrapped round the shaft – carefully missing the stripper – which is a gadget that is supposed to prevent that happening. We have no idea where we picked that up – but very thankful that it had not impeded the prop – given that it took 30 mins to cut if off when we were on dry land – imagine if we had had to do that underwater.
Carra was soon in her new home (a shed) for the next 7 months. You can store the boat safely outside but given that we couldn’t visit to check on her after winter storms we decided to go for the safer option. Also it wont be as cold in the winter inside plus when we do come to do work on her – regardless of the weather we will be able to crack on. Many of the locals leave their boats outside and have a big tent that is erected on poles or the other option is to have the boat shrink wrapped.
Very fortuitously there was a mobile platform in the shed which I borrowed, which made washing the hull and polishing her a whole lot easier. Though polishing a 42ft boat by hand is anything but easy as my body will attest too – given that I could hardly move the next day. In order to be able to not walk like Quasimodo, I decided to break down the task and completed it over the next few days. We left a bag of beers for the owner of the platform – I don’t think that I would have completed it without it.
The major job was preparing the boat for winter – which can get as low as -30C. So it was essential to remove all water from the freshwater pipes and taps. This involved using the dinghy pump to blow air down them. Mags at one end of the pipe with the pump– and I was waiting in the heads with a bucket for the squirt of water – as if milking a cow only long distance. Though our neighbour Anders a sprightly Eighty-year-old did suggest using vodka in the fresh water system – no wonder he is spritly! Everything else: engine/ heads/bilge pumps/deckwash/holding tank all now have antifreeze in them.
The only frustration was servicing a winch and a white plastic bit that wouldn’t budge and broke when I levered it off with a screw driver. So much for winches that are easy to maintain according to the maker…
We also looked at all the berths to find suitable ones. Whilst our current berth has an uninterrupted view down the fjord (does Sweden have fjords?). It does mean that we face the prevailing wind and quite a fetch can build up and result in Carra being pinned against the fenders which grind away on the topsides – not ideal. So we are keen to move berth for next season.
It was soon time for me to head home and Mags stayed for a couple more days to tackle a few more jobs and to bring the car back by ferry. But also given that this was our first time preparing the boat for winter in these conditions, we had booked an Engineer to check over our work. He was also able to show Mags how to ensure that water is out of the water pump. We are pleased to report that he gave us a A+.
It was lovely to have friends Andy and Sharon join us from Finland and spend the weekend with us. Our first guests onboard and great to see that finally summer had arrived in the Baltic – teeshirt and shorts weather + plus enough wind to sail. The picture at the top of the page, Andy took and is the view from our boat in the marina at sunrise.
Our destination for the weekend was a little natural harbour called Ladau. We had just anchored when we noticed a man waving us away from a house – resisting the temptation to wave back – we moved the anchor to appease this unfriendly native. We were much further than the 200m required by law but we would rather have peace and quiet. Mags and Sharon went swimming off the boat a tropical 21C – though still not hot enough for me.
It was a lovely evening just chatting and laughing in the warmth of the evening sun. Some young kids of one of the neighbouring boats kept us entertained. First catching a fish, followed by a drunk father trying to kill it and filet it. Then the enterprising kids did a tour of all the boats proudly displaying their wares in a plastic bag. We even got the sales pitch in English – but it was an old couple that took pity on them and parted with some kroner.
The next morning was glorious but not a puff of wind as we set off. Fuel stops are few and far between in the archipelago and fortunately there was one close by and we were able to top up the tanks. Our gauge still showed full – yet we were able to fill up with 130 litres! We are still trying to solve the fuel tank gauge problem but I think we are going to have to replace the sender. There was still no wind and we motored back – taking it in turns to helm – as it was just too hot standing in the sun for any length of time.
We wanted to ensure we secured a place in Malma Kvarn, which is a lovely traditional harbour lined with little red houses. We were meeting Adam and Lynne, who we had met a few years ago at a talk about our trip round Britain. Adam had noticed we were in the Baltic, so had emailed and we had agreed to meet up. Getting up early meant that we actual got the best of the day – a great sail in full sun. However, within about an hour of arriving it was pouring with rain. We had invited Adam and Lynne on board for Dinner and we had a lovely evening, great company + a present of British teabags – they clearly knew how to impress Mags!
As we had to catch a flight in the evening and we had a 5 hour sail ahead of us– we had a 7 am start, which is obscenely early in the Baltic. Up on deck you couldn’t see more than 200m – thick pea souper…. fog. The Swedish forecast was again spectacularly missing this vital piece of info. We set off with Mags glued to the radar and fog horn in hand. Rocky passages take on a whole new meaning in the fog. The scary bridge wasn’t so scary this time around mainly as we couldn’t really see it! After about 3 hours of motoring it finally cleared and we wound our way back through islands. We came across a pair of white tailed sea eagles fishing – you cant miss them with the size of their enormous wing span and their white tail feathers.
Ostholmen is a beautiful secluded inlet and we had found a great spot anchored right in the middle. It was a glorious sunny day, so we decided to stay put and just enjoy being there. The inlet is overlooked by a cliff on which hang some very large bird boxes. These aren’t for your average blue tit as each one must be about 2 ft tall. Breakfast in the cockpit, followed by a dose of people watching as they left their moorings. It was a great day relaxing and doing boat jobs. We took the dinghy off to explore the uninhabited island of Ostholmon – yet it has a sauna! Mid afternoon the man in the Ice cream boat turned up. Top idea! Post ice cream – we scrambled up to the top of the cliff to admire the view into glistening sun. Back onboard we ate Dinner in the cockpit with the evening sun illuminating the cliff face.
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.