Tag Archives: Maintenance

Chance Encounters with old friends and meeting Foss and the Nauticat

Despite the lack of wind, we set off – with only 9 miles – we were able to drift at under 2 knots and as expected the wind picked up and we arrived at Katanpää in a reasonable time. It is an island with a military history, built in the Russian occupation of Finland as part of a defence plan for the Baltic that was created 200 years earlier by Peter the Great. Later it saw life as a prison. The Gun emplacements and many of the wooden buildings housing the troops were still intact, all connected by cobble stone roads and built by forced labour. The cobbles, we now are the result of uplift of land that we had seen on the High Coast.


We had noticed a British boat in the harbour – so I went over to invite them for a drink….We met a lovely spaniel with blonde highlights called Foss and the Nauticat – and their owners Julie and Yvonne. They bought their boat in Finland and 4 years later they are still here. They love it just as much as we do.

1Conversation flowed easily and drinks turned into dinner. Before we knew it was well past our bedtime. The next night they invited us on board for Dinner…. which included delicious home made ginger cookies and home made bread – we needed to stalk these two! Lulling them into a false sense of security….we went our separate ways the next day. However, you can sail….. but you can’t hide!
The sun was pulverising and with only a light wind, we arrived at Brundalsviken hot and bothered. I popped into the shop to see what the depth was at the fuel pontoon. In a bit of a dwam (Scottish word) with the heat – I suddenly heard my name being called – it was Tommi Paattakainen – we had worked together closely in Nokia. It was lovely to see him – he and his son Aaro came on board. It is a small world. We ate ashore at the Thai Summer pop up restaurant and it was definitely worth the trip here.
With strong northerlies due, we were keen to tuck in out of the way. Moonstar (Yvonne and Julie) don’t have AIS – so it is difficult to stalk them without their knowledge – so you need to be less subtle – we messaged them and agreed to hole up in the same harbour. A family owned harbour with a lot of charm and tastefully developed – Parattula/ Peterzens. It was a little hurricane hole sheltered in every direction – if a little shallow in parts -thankfully it is mud as we arrived and it showed 2m under the boat. When we left it was a mere 1.8m!

img_20190730_113651.jpgLater that day, Mags was just returning to the boat when she heard her name being called – it was Sakku and Merja. We had met them last year and then we had seen Sakku on the High Coast in July. It was lovely to see them and we joined them for a drink aboard Duo and catch up on their news. Next morning we invited them over for Coffee and Pulla ( Finnish Cakes) before they headed off.

We had a list of admin and maintenance jobs to be done – including changing the secondary fuel filter which was long overdue.

lifeOnce they were all ticked off, we went for a dog walk out to the lighthouse.

dsc01490.jpgFoss, unlike Magoo, was beautifully behaved and was desperate to go swimming but wouldn’t unless she was given permission. It wouldn’t even have crossed Magoo’s mind to have asked. He belonged to the school of “ask for forgiveness after” … though come to think of it, he didn’t do that either. For the next 2 nights, we ate alternatively chez nous then chez Moonstar.

We awoke to the rain, it was the first time for weeks – so we wouldn’t be leaving today. We headed over to Moonstar – they were getting ready to go. So this time, we needed to deploy another cunning tactic. The mention of cheese on toast worked – they don’t have a grill and had said they missed it….. they decided to stay another day. After cheese on toast and cheese toasties – we had a movie afternoon and watched Hidden Figures followed by walking Foss.

Before they took out a restraining order, we decided we really couldn’t detain them any longer and so waved goodbye. We have really enjoyed their company.


They managed to escape!

A Royal Flush

Carra lives in a shed for the winter with about 30 other boats. She has been very discrete about who her neighbour is. Apparently it is the King of Sweden motor boat! I haven’t seen him working on his boat…oh to have staff.

WP_20190517_09_33_36_ProThe next few days were governed by a big spreadsheet of jobs to do to get Carra ready for launching. Some routine maintenance, some required new skills to be learnt – like repairing some gelcoat in the cockpit. But there was one job I was dreading – to fix our loos or heads in boaty speak. Those that followed our travels last year, will know that I spent a fair amount of time trying to fix it. Like a baby that has to be winded, Carra has had to burp when trying to pass poo, so that the bowl can be emptied…. It has been a problem since birth. Tedious doesn’t even cover it but embarrassing when you have guests. So I was on a mission. We had even bought an endoscope so that we can trace pipe runs that couldn’t be seen and to check for any blockages. Be thankfully you have been spared the photos. I don’t know if I should admit this – but I even wrote a formula of the forces involved to try and problem solve this…. So now you know how sad I am. Stage Directions: Background Science Music. To continue with the science we had the banana test…. How many pumps to pass a banana with a measured quantity of water. It was a family activity with Mags holding the bucket to catch said banana. I am quite sure I could now write a dissertation for a Masters on our Heads. The only possible issue I could find was a potential air lock on the outlet pipe. So I spent a day modifying the joinery so the pipe would get a better drop to the seacock (the hole in the boat) and shortening the pipe. Frustratingly, there was only a very marginal improvement in the banana test. To placate myself, I decided that the air lock would only be an issue in the water… the true test would come once launched.

Over the next few days the jobs got ticked off, the car was emptied and the journey down a step ladder followed by a 200m dash to the loo became more wearisome. Soon the shed doors were opened, light came streaming in and Nicklas and Tommi came to collect Carra for launching. The next few days were a whirl of activity: mast on, lines rerigged, sails on and kit stowed.

Like expectant parents, we awaited the arrival of the first opportunity to test the loo properly………. and yes we are pleased to announce that……… we have a functioning loo!

Bletchley Park Code Breakers….not

Mags performed her usual Houdini trick; which meant that all the boat stuff that had been assembled in the sitting room disappeared into every nook and cranny of the car. It is amazing how much you can fit round the spare wheel! Previously we had broken the journey to the ferry at Kiel with an overnight stop – but the security of the car overnight is always a worry. So this time we drove in all the way to Kiel and boarded the ferry to Gothenburg the same day. It is always a trip down memory lane, as the ferry passes the former British Kiel Yacht Club – this the home to Army Sailing for those stationed in Germany…part of my misspent youth… but also of my Father’s, who did his National Service here.

From Gothenburg we crossed Sweden to Stockholm, stopping enroute for lunch but sadly there was no free Wifi. However, there was a protected network close by called Harry Potter’s Great Hall…. After a recent visit to Bletchley Park, we both fancied ourselves as code breakers. Having exhausted all the obvious Harry Potter passwords, we resorted to trawling the internet to find some more obscure ones. But to no avail – other than using up data to find access to free wifi that would save us data….. rather warped logic. Through it did keep us entertained whilst waiting for our Pizza.

IMG_20190514_174128It is always with a sense of home coming when we get to the marina – back in our Scandinavian second home.

Wrapped Up for Winter

The next 9 days were governed by a detailed spreadsheet – a glorified list of things to do. With temperatures reaching -25C, Carra has to be ready to withstand the winter. The mast off was due off on 4th and Carra due to lifted the next day, there was a lot to do. However, Mags was still suffering and was on very light duties. But gradually she regained her strength and we were able to crack on with our tasks. The days flew past, spent taking sails off, cleaning the dinghy, oil changed, the new rev counter fitted to name a few of the tasks. We had clearly been transporting a colony of spiders round the Baltic – which all needed to be removed. They had even established a home and a few spiders webs up the mast….how do they get up there.

Soon we were taking the boat around to get the mast taken off. This is our 4th year over wintering here so it is becoming routine. With the mast off we were able to track down the cause of an annoying squeak from the main halyard. We had been in touch with Selden (mast manufacturer) as there was also wear on the halyard. We knew it was partly due to a crossed halyard but when the mast came off we looking inside the top of the mast you could see the halyard was fed the wrong side of the bar. Next year it is going to be so much easier to pull the sail up without all that friction! Plus they are going to replace the main halyard and topping lift free of charge.

Marcus, Nicholas and Tommi

As we pulled Carra along the pontoon to the awaiting tractor and trailer, she felt heavy as if we were leading a reluctant animal away from her summer pastures into her winter shed. Soon she was out of the water and still no growth underneath – we last put antifoul on her in 4 years ago in the UK!

lift out

Going, going, gone
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Mags blowing through the water

To ensure Carra can cope with the winter all water needs to be removed – so no food with water can be left on board, all water is blown out of all the pipes in the drinking water system or replaced with antifreeze for other systems.

Changing the oil and greasing the prop

This involved my favourite activity – taking the heads apart. Which had its final revenge as the contents of the outlet pipe blew back over me. Thankfully I had washed it out many times and so was only antifreeze…..or that was what I was telling myself.

DSC07623 - CopyAfter 5 days of being in the shed – the need to climb down a ladder and walk 500m to the loo was wearing rather thin. The thought of an ensuite loo was very appealing.

With all jobs done – we left Carra. Over the last 4 months we had sailed 1800 miles and all that remained was to drive 1000 miles home in 2 days.

A few stats from our cruise:

• Summer cottages visited: 3

• No of boats seen crewed by all women: 3 excluding us

• Puzzle books completed: 6

• Corned beef tins consumed:25

• Guests onboard: 53

• 57 new fish collected (each one represents a new harbour)

• Days since a bath: 138

• Hero of the day : Antibiotics!

That is it for this year, thanks for following our adventures

rod s and m

Police, Chains and Two Rescues

As the night club was due for another early morning of entertainment we decided to leave at 4 am – as we had a long day ahead of us. We passed the club and I can confirm it was definitely noise not music that was blasting from the speakers – but it seemed to gather a large crowd – though not many seemed to be dancing – but just standing.

We motored down the river – the commercial port clearly doesn’t sleep and clanking of ships being loaded was all around. We passed a flotilla of tiny dinghies out fishing – and you could see why with lots of fish jumping.

Sauna boat

It was frustrating there just wasn’t enough wind to sail and it was a long, hot motor. Thankfully the wind filled in at about 3 pm and we were able to sail until entering Parnu. We arrived at the harbour entrance about 8pm, passing a floating sauna boat when a motor boat sped past us enjoying the evening sun. He decided to cut inside a green buoy but you could see the birds sitting on the sand bank that he hit at speed. The front of the boat stopped instantaneously and the stern came completely out of the water – and came crunching down. One then got out in the ankle deep water. Thankfully no one appeared hurt. But there was no way we could help.

We had tied up feeling rather tired after our 16 hour day – when the same boat decided to moor next to us – having been pulled off the sandbank. They were clearly drunk and arrived with no fenders out. They reversed in but missed the buoy to secure their bow and the wind then brought the bow round crashing into us – fortuitously they hit a well place fender. When they were about to hit for a second time – we shouted at them to watch out – as they seemed oblivious. Which then resulted in a torrent of what appeared to be Estonian abuse – so we asked them to move on. Finally they did with a final “F You” as they departed. Mags had at this point taken a picture of the registration number (as all boats are registered here) and went to report it to the harbour master. He was most apologetic. Although no damage was done he wanted it recorded – so Mags was in the process of writing out a statement – the same party came into the restaurant where the harbour master is located and started pushing Mags around. She rounded on them and calmly said in her best teachers voice “not to intimidate her” or she would call the police. The restaurant manager had had enough of their behaviour and called the police anyway. The police came and spoke to us and gave them a warning. It was a disappointing event which hasn’t been representative of the friendliness of the Estonians we have met on out trip. Boats and alcohol are not a good combination.iron

It was a joy to have a long lie in – no loud music and no early start. It was a beautiful day so after a lazy start we wondered into town. Parnu is billed as Estonia Miami – thankfully it isn’t. But it is Estonia’s summer capital. It has beautiful buildings with stunning doors, iron balconies, and decorative iron work on many of the buildings.

doorsWe walked around the town did some shopping – it was much cheaper than Tallinn which is why I suspect we could hear so many Finnish accents.

In the Soviet Occupation, Parnu was deemed a fishing port, so the international commercial harbour was closed. Factories were forced to produce goods according to the planned economy. It was also regarded by Soviet citizens as going on a foreign European holiday – it was seen as a “western” experience. How far Estonian has come since those days.

Mags hadn’t had a haircut since mid April – one was long overdue so I deposited her in a saloon which looked busy (hopefully a good sign) to return an hour later to be greeted by a lego person. It was not so much the haircut it was the blow drying which had her hair stuck aerodynamically to her head. Hair styled by legoland.

The next day we awoke to the rain – which got heavier and turned into thunder. So it was definitely a boat job day. In the early evening we treated ourselves to a night out at the cinema to see Mamma Mia – here we go again. It wasn’t as good as the original but it was still enjoyable and it made us laugh out loud.

We left Parnu on a windless day. So it was another hot motor. We past the island of Kihnu with its brilliant white bolders which looked, with the heat, as if there were floating on the water. On closer inspection with the binos the white was a few years of bird poo. We managed to sail for a couple of hours before arriving at Kuivastu. By now we were beginning to see the same group of boats as we headed north. Within seconds of arrival the Union Jack was flying. A welcoming tradition they have in all Scandinavian Countries – they will fly the National Flag for each of the visitors in the harbour.

Puzzle book in hand

Our next destination was Heltemaa a ferry port on another island and a convenient stop on our way north. It has a long entrance (2nm) through some very shallow (3m) banks either side of the channel. With a ferry every hour we had to time our arrival as you didn want to meet it coming the other way. We moored on the hammer head as it was the only space big enough. I had just stopped to allow Mags to get off to tie up and put the engine slowly in forward when it was clear we werent going forward. Mags then noticed there was a massive chain coming out perpendicular from the pontoon securing it to the ground and the keel was clearly on it. I moved the boat away from the pontoon to avoid the chain. There was another chain at the other end. In fact there were 4 chains securing the pontoon 2 chains at each end. But we had enough clearance either end. I checked the weather to make sure it was benign particularly when we were leaving the next day which it was. I then marked on the side of the pontoon where all the chains were. It is very poor of the harbour not to have signs up next to the sign that shows the depth as 2.7m…..well unless you happen to find a chain then it is less than 1.9m. I knew that I could spring the stern out an avoid the chain – but not ideal.

Early morning in Heltemaa

The next morning we got up early – to ensure we left when there was predicted to be no wind – ensuring we could avoid the chains but also we timed it as the ferry was throwing his lines ashore we crept round the back of him and left. I was relieved that we got away without incident.

The water temperatures are currently at about 22-24c – the shallow waters and the weeks of endless sun have created an explosion in algae growth which looks like curdled milk does in tea only mustard coloured. It ends up in big streaks as it lies to the wind and swell. We motored through quite a lot enroute to Kardla.

We passed a seal protection zone – but there was a distinct absence of seals – but as a local fisherman had put out a net, clearly humans and seals ignore the protection zone.

About 10 am the wind filled in and we were able to sail. I was glad of the lack of swell as we had to cross one reef and the entrance to Kardla was fairly shallow which would have been quite nasty with any chop.

The harbour master insisted we went on the pontoon with the larger finger pontoon. Lesson learnt: I should have stuck to my original plan which was a pontoon further in as this one was open to the east. We tied up inside a large German Halberg Rassey 43 – which at least, along with the concrete hammer head they were tied onto, would act as a wave break.

By late afternoon there was a steady F4, perfect for the windsurfing competition that was taking place outside the harbour. They were soon joined by kite surfers – lots of coloured sails going at a fair lick. They were even windsurfing on skateboards infront of the harbour office – clearly this is a windsurfing mecca in Estonia.

Even NE F4 meant it was getting uncomfortable – but we had already had extra lines with snubbers (rubber shock absorbers) on. But we had noticed our German neighbours, who were off sight seeing, only had 3 lines on and no snubbers – which was totally inadequate. We suddenly realised their boat was a lot closer to us than they had been before. They were in an extra wide berth (about 8m wide) with a pontoon on each side. We went to have a look at their ropes. The stern one had slowly been slipping but the boat was far too far away to get on from the side the ropes were attached. The rope had slipped so much that I realised I would now be able to get on from the other side . I climbed aboard – just as Mags caught the stern rope as it was about to part ways with the pontoon. We managed to pull the boat back to the original position – not easy with a heavy boat and a cross wind. Unfortunately I couldn’t open their lockers to see if they had any more ropes. The boat on the other side of the pontoon was also in trouble. It was on the outside of the pontoon ( hammer head) and facing the open sea. Their fenders had burst and those that hadn’t were in the wrong place. The side of their boat was being smashed into the pontoon. It wouldn’t be long before damage was done. So Mags went to get the harbour master and I moved fenders with the help of one of our other neighbours and pushing the boat out far enough to get them in was not easy. I also used their lifering as a fender. The harbour master arrived with 2 fenders which saved the day.

By now the German couple had arrived back. The husband had a knee issue and his wife was not very agile and they were trying to work out how to get on board as there was quite a gap. Soon a crowd gathered and started to pull on the ropes. But as all the ropes were secured on the boat it was not changing the boat’s position. They would pull it in slightly closer but it would drop back. I decided, that provided I believed I had been a mountain goat in a former life, I would be able to leap onto their boat . So when they next pulled the boat in – I went for it and managed to get on board. They then told me how to open their lockers and I got a second stern line on board and we were able to pull the boat in. We managed to get the wife on board and finally with the use of our step we got him on board.

We returned to our boat and went to eat and contemplated moving as it was due to be strong easterlies the next day. Next thing we knew we had a visit from the German couple with 2 beers and 25 Schnapps miniatures. We gratefully accepted the beers but returned the schnapps as neither of us would drink them and to be honest we didn’t need a reward – we hoped that someone would do the same for us.

I was chatting to some of the people we had met in other ports and said we were about to move – and I was grateful of the offers of help. Particularly leaving our berth with a strong cross wind. It meant they could throw the rope back onboard and I could just focus on steering. We also carefully explained the technique we would use coming in. We are a heavy boat and with a cross wind it wouldn’t be possible to just pull the boat in with the ropes alone against the wind, we would need to use the engine. It is a technique that works well. So we showed him before we left what we would do and that he must tie the rope off and not try and hold it – as I needed a fixed point. We explained why and he said no worries he would do that. We left with no dramas and I lined up on the berth. We arrived as planned so Mags could hand him the midships rope without throwing it. I stopped and we asked him to tie it off. But no he just held it…….. this resulted in a loud stereo – “TIE IT OFF” from both of us….and eventually he did and we were able to drive the boat in – without coming close to the neighbouring downwind boat who were looking worried when they had seen who their new neighbour was going to be. I was pleased that we had moved – I felt much happier. Particularly as it was now gusting 26 knots and would be stronger the next day.

There was actually a boat flagged in Tuvalu ( a small Pacific island) home port Rotterdam with Russians onboard. Laundry comes to mind!

We chatted to one couple who had seen our episode with the drunks in Parnu – they were had admired the way we a had got rid of them. Though they hadn’t exactly jumped to our aide or given any moral support at the time!

The next day we had a boat job day. Mags set out to mend a puncture on her back wheel. As it is a Brompton it is a different system to a normal bike for removing the back wheel but thankfully there is a good video on how to do it as it is rather complicated. In order to ensure no vital parts fell into the sea she elected to mend it on the harbour but this meant she was on view to all. By the time she had finished she had had 3 men telling her she was doing it incorrectly and telling her what to do. Each failing because it wasn’t like a normal bike. One even took a tyre lever and showed her how to use it…failing to see that she had already put one on. I am sure they thought they were being very helpful…..mansplaining. She then changed both fuel filters and we went out for a lovely meal at the harbour restaurant.

We had decided to hire a car for the day. First we went to the most northerly point where stands a 12 m monument to the 852 people who lost their lives when the Estonia sank – only 137 people survived.. It is a bell that only rings when the wind is in the same direction and force as that fateful night. The bell has the faces of children on it to remember all the children who died and those who would never be born. Very moving.

We then headed to the east of the island to the world’s third longest operational lighthouse.

But by the time we had been to the south, we realised that inland there was not much more than thick pine woods and some small villages and a lovely old thatched church.


Rally and Painting

The challenge with a Rally is that there is a timetable which is fine till the weather hasn’t read the programme. It was decided that due to some expected bad weather we would miss out one harbour and do a 40 mile sail into the wind. Leaving Nynashamn as usual we instructed our chart plotter to follow the course I had entered the night before. It refused. So I tried again – no joy. I rentered the route – again it refused. This isn’t really an issue as you can see the boat on the chart. Later we noticed that AIS ( it shows us information about other ships) was not visible on the chart plotter. Also a couple of other functions were no longer working on the chart plotter. We had a sinking deja vue feeling. In 2015 when bringing the boat over  a problem with our GPS caused most of our electronics to fail. Was this the start of that again? For now there was no real issue so we got the sails up and was able to sail in the right direction albeit close hauled. 7-8 knots meant we were making good progress. However there comes a time when tacking is lovely but if you want to arrive at a reasonable hour you need to put the engine on. But from the speed we were able to achieve for the revs – something was amiss. The engine was not overheating but we were only able to achieve 3.5knots – it would be a long day. Either we had something round the prop but it was still functioning or it was something else. In 2015 we had got some nylon fishing twine round the prop – was it a repeat?

We decided to take a more sheltered route that the others to enable us to make slightly better progress and past the delightful town of Dalero – lots of different coloured wooden houses nestled into a hillside. But soon we were back in open water trying to motor into a Force 5, our speed sank to 3.2knots directly into. Had we not been on a rally we would have diverted into another harbour. So we rolled out the yankee with a couple of reefs and sailed. Cracking along at 7.5 knots was great only it was 45 degrees to the direction we wanted to go in.

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After a long 12 hour sail we got in at about 8pm to Sandhamn. There was a welcoming committee who directed us to our space. It wasn’t the best place but we tied up. Having put out extra lines we tidied the boat and went to eat. But I felt quite low – after a long days tiring days sail, fed up with all the equipment failures and in a pretty rubbish position which would be exposed to the wind the next day. There was one element I could change – so we moved and it was worth the effort as I felt much happier and could rest easy.

Mending a boat is part of normal cruising life but I had thought owning a boat from new would mean that once the teething troubles were sorted them there would trouble free for some time. So far the pieces of equipment that have failed:

• Air X Breeze The wind generator – failed after 1 year

• Offshore Systems fuel gauge sensor, water gauge sensor, holding tank sensor

• Raymarine – GPS failed knocking out all the electrics . GPS replaced

• Gas regulator – 3 years

• Propeller – replaced after 1 year

• Selden – reefing lines incorrectly threaded and halyard crossed

Thankfully all have been done under warranty but each comes with the effort of solving it and getting replacement part – and don’t get me started on the heads ( the toilet) that is a work in progress.

The windy weather kicked in and I was very pleased we had moved although we were away from the other Rally boats we were in a very sheltered spot. We were keen to see if there was anything wrapped around the prop. Attaching the gopro ( waterproof camera) on a stick we were able to see under the boat and have a look. There didn’t appear to be anything on the prop. On speaking to Rustler they suggested rotating the blades to see if they could rotate freely. This meant Mags putting on the wet suit and diving under water. I attached a line under the boat so that she could pull herself down to the prop. Thankfully the water was very clear – but it was 14C. There is a reason I bought the wetsuit to fit Mags. Everything seemed fine.

By then most of the day had gone and it was time for some more socialising – we had nvited the crews of Celtic Warrior (Derek and Julie), Blue Orchid (Paul and Gwenneth), Gilliat ( Christine and Martin), Galtea of London ( Douglas) onboard for drinks which was fun to get to know some more people and hear about their adventures so far. Later we joined the crews of Gilliat and Blue Orchid for an enjoyable meal in the Vardhus bar.

Douglas (Galatea of London) is a talented artist and always captures his environment with a watercolour sketch – we now have a picture of Carra at Sandhman – how special is that! He keeps encouraging me to take up my watercolours…

douglas 1)

Prior to leaving the next day I was hoisted up our Rally leader’s mast as he had lost a halyard up it. Job done we were off. Robert on Trenelly had a similar prop and he suggested once out on the water putting it into full throttle forward then neutral then in reverse to see if it would clear anything that was trapped under the blade. I did this the first time and then repeated it but noticed that now in neutral she was idling at 1900 revs but the engine was not doing 1900 revs. This highlighted the issue – the rev counter was misreading. So I ignored the rev counter – used engine noise to select the revs as opposed to the rev counter and we were back to normal cruising speed of 5.5knots under engine. So our rev counter was misreading – another thing to add to the list. I think over the cruise this year it was been getting progressively worse and putting it up to high revs just forced the issue and it then became obvious. That is a real positive about the Rally – you can take the advantage of those with more engineering experience to give you different strategies to try to solve issues.

With a short passage to our anchorage and it was a fine sunny day, wind on the nose (as per normal) so we had plenty to time to tack. We got out all three sails and had a cracking sail. Rallies aren’t races….. but when you have several boats setting off at the same time everyone tweaks the sails to go just a little bit faster. Paul and Gwenneth ( Blue Orchid) had a cracking good sail and a good tactical decision to hug one side of the fjord saw them over take us – but it did allow me to take some really good shots of them sailing amongst the rocks.

Gallno was a scheduled anchorage with a small entrance it gave the appearance of being in a lake once in. As will all the islands of the inner archipelago – it is a low lying Island that is densely wooded but importantly with a good dose of reeds at the edges which is always a good sign when you are anchoring. The weather was colder than it had been for a while – typical as we had a BBQ planned for that evening. We moored near to Galetea and Douglas invited me over to plaint with him. This has to be one of the hightlights of the trip. He is a very good teacher and it was a very relaxing hour I spent with him. He taught me to really look at the colours and not to worry about the detail. But I still have much to learn.

About 6 we gave him a lift to the BBQ which was on a small island in the middle of the anchorage, which was thankfully sheltered from the wind. Followed by drinks with Derek and Julie (Celtic Warrior).

There was a loose organisation around the rally with no skippers briefing everyone would try and find out when everyone was leaving – which appeared to be about 9 am. We had decided we would leave at 8 as we wanted to get into Vaxholm early and clearly so did everyone else. As we left at 8 – so did all bar one other boat! So much for 9am.

The rocks always provide interesting tacks – once again it was head to wind and we were now back in home waters as it was close to our marina. We hade a brilliant sail with Blue Orchid – this time we were able to even the score. But we weren’t racing of course!

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Mags picked up the lazy lines with our Boat Show gadget which had a trial place on the boat until it proved its worth. Mags has decided it can stay.


Vaxholm is a lovely old town overlooked by the Castle but has a very bouncy harbour due to the wash from a large number of yellow car ferries that plough their way to Rindo and back every 15 mins. We had drinks onboard with Trenelly’s crew ( Helen, Robert and Steve) after which we were invited onboard Gilliat for an evening meal and we took along a Princess cake in the shape of the Swedish Flag. Martin and Christine were great company and the social aspects are a real bonus of the rally. They have had an issue of charging on their boat so they are going to stay in our Marina berth after the Rally whilst they go home and let Marcus our friendly NZ electronics/ electrics expert in the marina fix it.

DSC05856Despite being close to Vaxholm and sailing past the Castle many times we have never actually visited it. But it was part of the Rally activities – so we boarded the little ferry across to the Island. The island fortress was one of the principal old naval defences of Stockholm. As you might expect it is made of thick stone – but surprisingly refined inside. The castle was used at the time of the Russian invasion in 17th and 18th Centuries. That night all the Rally had drinks onboard Duo our Finnish Boat ( Merja, Saku, Kirsti and Heppo) – Kirsti starting the evening off with a song about the Rally.

The next day the Rally which headed off to Stockholm. We had already decided not to join them with but to go back to the marina to get ready for the trip to Finland – but we would join them in the evening. Arriving back at our marina at mid day gave me the chance dedicate some time to the heads – which has begun to be a feature of the cruise. Firstly I replaced the pump and next I wanted to place an inspection hatch in an area of pipe work that you cant access to see if there were any clues as to the issue. That job alone took about 3 hours as I needed to remove the toilet bowl as well and by a new saw. Frustratingly after half a days work the loo is still isn’t working as it should.

Sunday we had a lunch invite to Goran and Lena’s summer Cottage which is on the waters edge overlooking Vaxholm. It had previously belonged to Lena’s parents and was an idyllic spot. We also met their son Jacob and his wife Eva and their 3 month old baby Olivia. It was a baking hot day, so eating lunch by the waters edge over looking the busy harbour was a perfect way to spend a relaxing Sunday afternoon and Lena and Goran are great company.

Later that evening we went into Stockholm to join the rally for drinks on Celtic Warrior.

Monday we spent provisioning the boat and following a conversation with Paul from Blue Orchid I took the valves out of the vented loops and blocked one with clingfilm to see what happened. Success the heads worked perfectly…. But the vents shouldnt be blocked but at least it means there is no blockage in any of the pipes.

We joined the Rally for the last night and had a meal out. Mags did a speech to thank Nicholas and we gave him a present to thank him for organising the Rally. We then retired for drink on Blue Orchid before leaving. It was sad saying goodbye to everyone as for a just over a week we had become good friends.

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Exercise Viking 2018 and a Milk Crisis

We set off early for the Baltic ( early in Baltic time is 0730) and no sooner were we out of the busy harbour all 3 sails were set and with a light north easterly wind we were managing to cruise along at 8 knots. It was the perfect weather for a long passage – calm seas, 12-15 knots of wind from just forward of the beam and blue skies -topped off with bacon butties – it was perfect sailing.WP_20180525_08_01_36_Pro

We saw the Swedish Navy in stealth mode as we have been sailing in the middle of their big Exercise Viking 2018. About 4pm we dropped anchor in a delightful bay of Stora Alo.

DSC05712After breakfast we went for a walk around Island. We tied up the dinghy to a rock and went to investigate the red wooden information hut which even had a library inside. The small island is a nature reserve and still has a working farm with animals – which allows you to see how farms would have been in the archipelago in former times.

Back on board we upped anchor and had the sails up straight away for another cracking sail through rocks, well till the wind died. DSC05766At one point we were shadowed by a minesweeper that was about 200m astern of us and it shadowed our every move and maintained our speed for about 30 mins….. it felt like a slow motion car chase at 5 knots. We then lost them by turning down the equivalent of a pedestrian alley that led to the entrance to our anchorage which was about 10 m wide and 2.9m deep ( we are 4m wide and 1.9m deep). Once into Kupa Klint it deepened and we were nicely sheltered by the 30m cliff ( tall for here) that bounded the anchorage on one side, the other side being a series of small skerries. The anchorage was very still and you could hear and see the fish jumping all around. As evening fell the wind died completely in the distant archipelago and it was as if the islands were sitting on a mirror. With the sun setting the rocks glow pink and it is what makes evenings so special here.

Our normal morning routine of a cup of tea in bed didn’t go well. We had managed to buy a white liquid that wasn’t milk – but turned our tea into the French dish of Isles Flotant – with white blobby bits floating on the surface. So out came the emergency marvel powder. But as avid tea drinkers you can only cope with that for so long. So our planned anchorage was scrapped in favour of a place with a shop that was to be Arkosund. There was more wind today which built as the day progressed so we had a somewhat lively sail. 8.5 knots into a deep narrow gap between rocks was a bit too exciting and so we took the opportunity to reef ( make the sail smaller) the yankee (sail at the front) as soon as we were in the lee of an island. Arriving at Arkosund there was a strong cross wind so we had fun tying up and finally the milk crisis was over and calm was restored on Carra.


With an even stronger wind the next day in the direction we WP_20180528_11_35_13_Prowanted to go, it meant that we had decided to stay put for the day. Giving me the chance to try and resolve a problem we had with the heads ( the toilet). So I spent much of the day with marigolds on fixing the pump. Having replaced the valve gasket, I reassembled the pump and performed the banana test. A simulation test – which it passed but the proof is in the pudding or the aftermath of the pudding!

One Thousand Miles in a Car

Our plan had always been to drive the car out to Sweden, so throughout the winter we had bought things for the boat under the knowledge that we could take them over in the car. The flaw in the plan began to dawn as we moved everything into the sitting room…. As it appeared to be more than a cars worth. Mags rose to the packing challenge and every square inch was used – including packing kit around the spare wheel.

So with wheel arches greatly diminished we set off on an 1000 mile journey via the channel tunnel and a ferry from Kiel to Gotenborg.


Stopping overnight in Herford, Germany where I had been posted for 15 months in 1987. I had forgotten that the old town was so beautiful and was relieved to see that the Mess was looking in good order despite being handed back to the Stadt in 2015.


After a long drive, we were back at the boat. Thankfully the car had managed the journey despite being fully laden.

The next week was spent getting the boat back in the water, putting the mast back and sails on. We had a couple of big maintenance tasks to do – change the gas regulator and a water sensor.

WP_20180426_007Both of which had failed and were being replaced. It gives you a great sense of satisfaction when you manage to complete task unaided. We were due to get the radar reflector and wind generator fitted. But frustratingly both items were supplied with some missing components – so they are still on the to do list. We did manage to get part of the wind generator up – it just lacks blades. This was another item that had failed and was being replaced under warranty. The physical mounting of the generator should have been straight forward – it sits on a pole and we were replacing it with the same unit except them appear to have reduced the pole diameter. So it was a very tight fit – which took a frustrating hour.

We invited some local friends Goran and Lena over for drinks on board. It was a good deadline to get the boat looking less like a tip and more like a home. We had a lovely evening with them and we will catch up with them in June.

Snug as a Bug in a Shed

16th – 22nd September

WP_20150916_026Mags 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. WP_20150916_027Thankfully 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 hadWP_20150918_008 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.

WP_20150918_010Next 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.

WP_20150920_09_31_35_ProCarra 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.

WP_20150921_17_03_13_ProVery 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.

WP_20150921_007The 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…WP_20150921_008

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+.