Tag Archives: Baltic

The Floating Ocado Delivery

18th July

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.

Baltic Bits

The lack of tides mean that the Baltic opens up many new types of mooring which are made easier with having the right set up. Whilst it will take a while before we pass as natives – having the right kit at least makes it easier. We bought our is Sweden as the kit is readily available and possible the one thing that is actually cheaper than the UK.

WP_20150404_14_23_50_Pro_editedBow Ladders – given that most moorings either in marinas or tying up to a rock mean that you come in bows to – the only way to get off safely is by using bow ladders. This prevents sprained ankles and makes it a very easy process. But it doesn’t stop the heart failure as you bring your boat within a meter of solid granite. Ours are made by Batsystem.

Mooring Hook – in many locations your stern is tied to a buoy. There are 2 types of hook. One which is just an open hook – which works as long as the hook is under tension – which is more difficult to handle if you are short handed. The other has a safety catch to lock it onto the buoy.

WP_20150621_14_00_38_Pro_editedStone Hooks and Hammer – If you are tying up to a rock then these get hammered into the cracks to give you a point to tie up to, as trees aren’t always in the right place.

Self Locking Safety Hook – this is used around trees and allows you quickly tie up to a tree. The hook is on the end of the rope and you hook it back on the rope. The hook doesn’t open when under pressure and needs to be bent 120 degrees to open it up.

Stern Anchor – All the locals use a bruce anchor, but the next question is what size should you get? We have a 20kg anchor with 2 m of 10mm chain for 42ft boat. The size is also determined by what you can handle without giving yourself a hernia.

WP_20150404_20_07_58_ProAnchoring Davit – whilst this isn’t essential – it certainly saves our backs and the gel coat. Ours is made by NOA. It folds down when in harbour.

Anchor chain holder – a convenience tube to store the chain

Ankarolina – very useful for stern anchoring or when mooring to a buoy when short handed. When it is running out Mags hands it to me and I don’t have to worry about it tangling up. Likewise when bringing it up the reel makes it easy to store. Ours is 56m and 35mm width.

WP_20150518_09_38_24_ProRubbing strake ropes – Box moorings are very common in Denmark and Germany and boats designed for the Baltic have rubbing strakes. An alternative is to use wide rope suspended along the length of the boat. You can either buy them ready made or make them yourself.

Useful chandleries:

Sweden: SeaSea, Watski,


Tied to a Rock

21st June

The procession of boats that had left on Friday were clearly all returning back to their marinas and we seemed to be the only ones going against the flow. Hopefully this would mean that our next stop would be fairly empty. We motored into a gentle breeze and about 2 hours after leaving Sandon we arrived at Trasko Stora. It had several places to moor against the rock and if we chickened out we could always anchor in the middle.

WP_20150621_14_00_38_Pro_editedFirst we needed to decide where to go, there was one spot which looked perfect which had recently been vacated by a motor boat. Our first attempt was less successful and we had to pull away just about 2m from the rock as I hadn’t quite judged that the wind would blow our bow off – so we reversed, up came the anchor and we started the process again – at least it kept the locals entertained. The second time around we were successful and Mags stepped onto the steep rocky shore with a line which she tied to a tree and she then  hammered  a stone hook into a crevice to secure the second line. We feel like we have now passed the Swedish initiation test – mooring onto a rock.

It was a tranquil spot and the sun came out and was actually hot enough for shorts. After lunch we tried to explore the Island but without crampons we weren’t going to get very far. So we retreated to the boat, just as a single hander sailed into the anchorage and moored on the rock next to us effortlessly… it was very impressive. It will be a while before we are that proficient – if ever!

WP_20150621_19_28_07_ProMags had her usual afternoon zizz and I cleaned the boat. I went ashore to take some photos and ended up talking to the single hander – who shared his top recommendations for places to visit in the Archipelago.

Dinner in the cockpit – without the cockpit tent ( a first this year) rounded off by a beautiful evening sky.

A Floating Bastu

20th June

WP_20150620_13_11_37_ProWe awoke to the steady drumming of rain on the deck, which wasn’t conducive to going sailing. Plus there was next to no wind so it was a rather lazy start to the day, breakfast in the cockpit – 3 cheers for the cockpit tent. We watched the optimist ‘match racing’- well drifting to be precise. It is fantastic to see how the island is set up – it has a 4 little Oppies for kids of the club to sail. By lunch time the rain had stopped and finally the sun came out.

WP_20150620_13_19_53_ProWe explored the other half of the island – which was covered in blueberry bushes which will be ready for picking in about a month or so. We were just watching the world go by when the Club Captain came by to talk to us – so we now have a good understanding of how the Island functions. He also gave us some good advice –stay out of anything marked blue on the chart unless you are mooring. We have certainly landed on out feet when we picked the marina – particularly as when we put our names down on the waiting list we had no idea about the club’s island.

WP_20150620_13_31_49_ProThe Bastu or Sauna like in Finland is a great tradition. There is private one on the island but the common one is floating, which is a clever way of avoiding the building regulations which prevents any new building within 300m of the shore. Our British visitors (and Mags) will be pleased to note swimming costumes are worn in this one as it is open to all.

The mid summer pole should have gone up yesterday – but the weather was miserable so they had the ceremony today – with children singing and dancing round the pole. Where as yesterday most had stayed on their boats prior to the party – today with the better weather the club element became much more apparent as the island came to life. It was lovely just to relax on the boat after our hectic travels earlier to get to Sweden.

Home Sweet Home

7th June

With an evening flight to Finland we had an early start on what was our last leg of the journey from Kiel to Stockholm. The wind direction had changed overnight and was now coming in directly through the entrance – so there was a fine chop on the water just to add to the fun.

Our route out was a little more complicated than coming in as it had 2 dog leg in it which thankfully were marked with leading lines. Sorry it was too scary to even think about taking photos!

My “mastery” of Swedish extends to understanding the Swedish weather forecast – which is more than I can say for the Finnish equivalent. I have to give their forecasters the prize for the understatement. The weather forecast was SW to W 18 -24knots with risk of gusts over 20 knots 80%….. given that is was regularly gusting 40 knots meant their forecast was true but not very helpful. But Carra takes these kinds of conditions on with relish – and with 3 reefs in and the staysail we were very comfortable. Mags with her cattle prodder on full belt ( see the post of XX) was able to go down below to produce Bacon butties which were most welcome.

P1070279_editedOn passing one rock and I mean a rock I thought I saw a chair – Mags got out the binoculars and it was infact a toilet…

Most sailors will recognize the phenomenon that means the wind is always coming from where you need to go. Well on this cruise we have been very lucky is has always been behind us but today the wind was on the bow – but again our luck has held and we have been able to be on one tack all the way up a fjord ( not sure Sweden has fjords).

P1070288Exactly a year ago to the day, we had done the reverse of the route with a group of friends from the UK. The narrow canal cut though felt even narrower when a large motor boat decided to overtake us in the middle of it…. I had indicated to him to stay behind us, but as he passed us at the narrowest point I gave a thumbs down sign to the driver – his wife look embarrassed – he just didn’t look at me!

P1070295We wound our way through the islands, narrow passages and with the scenery changing from the remote archipelago to banks lined with houses as opposed to summer cottages and then by about 2pm we had the first glimpse of our marina, which is to be our sailing home for the next few years. We had been allocated L62 – but when we arrived it was clear that it was not going to work as the access to the berth was way too narrow for our size of boat and with winds gusting 40 knots it wasn’t wise to try. So we found an alongside berth that was free. It is a club rather than a commercial marina so it doesn’t have visitors places, also the harbour master is only there during the weekdays. So we left them a note explaining why we had had to abandon her there. We checked with near by owners that it was free and we just hoped that we would have left before an irate owner turned up. So after 700 nm we have made it from Kiel to Stockholm.

8th June

A phone call to the office and thankfully they managed to find us a new berth 2 away from the spot were we had abandoned Carra. A great relief!

Short Cut or Long Way Round

6th June

We hadn’t really appreciated the beauty of Ringson when we had arrived late last night. Judging by the movement of the top of the trees it was clearly windy outside but it wasn’t apparent in this sheltered haven. About half the banks were bounded by reeds and exposed rock in the rest, some of which had a few boats hanging off them and a couple of boats at anchor it – clearly we weren’t alone in thinking it was an ideal spot! If we weren’t on a timetable we would have happily have spent a few days here chilling out but……

We had been warned about the mud that would be on the anchor so we had the deck wash set up and it was all cleaned before stowing. By 9am we were out of the harbour, the sails were up and we were speeding along at 7.5 knots. There was a rain shower and out came the Sowester (fleece lined Mags would add)

WP_20150606_12_50_08_ProGoing anywhere in Sweden there are 2 ways: the long way around and then the short cut – the latter always involves very intricate routes, and this was no exception. Doing this at speed wasn’t an option – so we stowed the yankee and put a second reef in and it made it less of a white knuckle ride. It is amazing that it can go from 54m to 3m in a very short distance. Once the other side of the islands we then were exposed to an uncomfortable swell which meant sailing downwind wasn’t an option… on went the motor, down came the sails. After an hour or so we fell under the shelter of the island of Uto and so lost the swell and we were soon cruising along at 6 knots with just the yankee up.

A narrow entrance - and you can see only the rocks that are above the water in this picture
A narrow entrance – and you can see only the rocks that are above the water in this picture
Looking out towards the entrance at Gronskarfladen
Looking out towards the entrance at Gronskarfladen

We had a lovely sail through the outer edges of the Stockholm Archipelago. The entry into Gronskarfladen was narrow, shallow and a dog leg thrown in for good measure. When visible rocks above the water are only 3 metres either side of you, it concentrates the mind! We dropped the anchor about 8pm and soon had a beer in hand, relaxing in the cockpit.

The Last 100 nm Leg

5th June

Having flown in late Friday evening from the UK, Mags had done a sterling job getting the boat ready. All I had to do was step on board and cast off the warps and go. Our first task was to fill up. Ever since we had Carra the fuel gauge was not reading correctly – so with the tank relatively empty the plan was to fill the tank in 20 litre amounts and recalibrate the gauge. A grand plan til you find that the pump at the filling point will only allow you to put in a max of 31.76 litres and then you have to put the nozzle back in the pump – which involves hauling a big heavy hose across the boat and enter your credit into the machine and start all over again….and when you need 245 litres of diesel it is a rather length affair. But now at least we know how much fuel we have in the tank. We wanted to get out of the river to a nearby anchorage so that at least we had a headstart for the next day – as in total we needed to cover 100nm back to our marina just north of Stockholm.

Every now and again in the Archipelago you see a small island where are the trees are dead and completely – which means that Cormorants are in residence and their guano has killed the tree. This tree never had a hope as it was covered in their nests.

Thankfully with the long summer days we arrived at 22:30 to the last of the twilight and dropped our anchor in a delightfully enclosed bay of Ringson with a narrow and shallow but straight forward entrance (for Sweden). With the anchor secured, anchor app on we turned in.

Getting Closer

23rd May

As we left the secure anchorage we touched the bottomed – clearly an unmarked rock as we were in 3m of water – but it was a gentle nudge at a very slow speed. So I wasn’t too concerned. But note to self always take the same route out. We then spent the next hour rock dodging as we picked our way through the meteorite field to get to the main thoroughfare. The wind was expected to be on our beam but instead we were head to wind and was much stronger than forecast. Once in the channel (still quite narrow) we hoisted the main sail and had some exciting sailing with the main and staysail up doing 7.5 knots – but when the passage got very narrow again we stowed the staysail so we had better visibility and to go a bit slower.

Just before entering the river that goes to Nykoping we took down the main for an hour long motor up a narrow river – with a completely different landscape from the rocky archipelago – this shallow river was bounded by reed marshes. We were planning to leave our boat here and Michael the harbour master had said he would meet us – so about an hour before we called him to let him know our arrival. We also wanted to know about depth at the fuel pontoon – at least 2.5m he said….. well when it got to 2m I went into reverse – so we didn’t get any fuel. Michael allocated a berth for us between the booms. It looked narrow but he assured us it was big enough and we would fit. We later found out it was 3.8m and we are 4.06 wide. We did fit …. only there was no room for fenders that weren’t having their life squeezed out of them. Not somewhere to leave your boat for a couple of weeks. The space we were supposed to have he hadn’t bother to reserve – even though he had known for a month that we were coming….. and a motor boat was parked in it. I wasn’t happy were we were. So he agreed to move the motor boat. So we left with all the fenders deployed but there was a strong cross wind…. Despite all attempts to fend off the result was a scrap down one side. To make matters worse the next berth was quite shallow and the keel hit an old anchor stone on the bottom which had been there from a previous marina which he failed to warn us about. It was a very frustrating way to finish what had been a great trip. All very frustrating -so we packed away the boat and then went to the marina restaurant for a meal.

23rd May

We had few hours of cleaning and stowing anything that was movable below as the marina had no security and a public footpath goes through the marina past out boat. The showers were great and we were soon wondering through the very attractive city of Nykoping, an ice cream en route to the train station. 6 hours after leaving the boat we touched down in Helsinki… she is definitely getting closer!

A £4 App earns its keep

22nd May

Just before turning in we had set the anchor alarm app and went to bed…..only to be woken by the screeching of the alarm going off at 0130. The wind had got up and was now NW – even thought it was supposed to be SW- W – which would have been ok for the anchorage. We had dragged slightly with the change of wind direction. We tried to reset it but couldn’t and I am not sure we would have slept any way. So we decided to set off early as it was better to get some sleep in watch system and be safe. So we headed off to Harstena. Thankfully I had put in 2 routes into the chart plotter the previous day – one shorter route picking our way through rocks and the other much simpler but longer back out through the channel. Given the fact it was dark and we were tired I picked the easier one. With night only lasting for a very short time at this time of year – the sky was lightening as we left one Archipelago and set sails for the next one and by the time we got to it the wind was blowing a steady 26 knots – so as we picked our way through the rocks. Once sheltered by the islands, the sea became like a mill pond – which didn’t reflect the strength of wind. It is quite incredible that you can have 45m depth of water yet 2 boat lengths away you can see rocks.

WP_20150522_15_17_33_ProHarstena had a perfect little anchorage which was concealed as was the village, until you had entered the cove. One side of the shore was lined with old red wooden houses. We picked our spot, and the anchor dug in first time, and as we were surrounded by reeds on one side it reassured me that there was some mud for the hook to dig into.

After lunch we pumped up the dinghy – so much more civilized now that we have a 12v dinghy pump. We fitted the torqueedo (electric outboard engine) – but it failed to start, we assumed that the battery wasn’t charged but it was later diagnosed that Mags had forgotten to switch it on! So we rowed the short distance ashore.

WP_20150522_15_21_05_Pro The hamlet has about 45 permanent residents and in the summer makes its living from the tourists that visit – but thankfully this was off season so it was just us and the locals. It is a beautiful, authentic village full of little red houses in various states of repair and the village dates back to the 14th Century. With it being out of season the bakery wasn’t open yet or the shop – so after a short exploration we headed back to the boat and an early night after a very long day.

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