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.
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.
After 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. At 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 wanted 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!
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.
Both 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.
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+.