Tag Archives: Sweden

Hobbit Holes for Wet and Windy Weather

There was some windy weather expected and whilst our anchorage would afford us protection, we decided that we would rather be in a harbour so that we can easily get off the boat and catch up on some admin task such as laundry – which always take longer on the boat. So Gräddö was ideal, only 6 nm away so sailing slowly was allowed. Then came the conundrum. All the entries on Capt’s Mate (an app that gives people views on the harbour) had all said go on the inside of the guest pontoon to get out of the way of the wash of local speed boats that enter the harbour but that would mean that we would have our stern into the gale. I wasn’t keen as it would be much better to be head to wind. Whilst the harbour was sheltered, it would mean we were hanging off a buoy with the full weight of our boat plus windage on whatever stone was used to anchor the buoy. We arrived and you could see the boats on the outside of the pontoon wildly bucking and snatching at their bow lines. Bows crashing down close to the pontoon. Very uncomfortable – so decision made and I resolved the dilemma by three lines – 2 to our buoy and a rope to the neighbouring buoy which had another boat attached to it and also decided to reduce our windage – by taking down the spray hood and putting on our winter cover – our hobbit hole. We weren’t going to go anywhere. The windy weather came and went without drama.

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The Hobbit hole – getting ready for the windy and wet weather

It is quite normal for 2 boats to be on a mooring buoy here – but our neighbour who wasn’t Swedish informed me with bags of confidence that the rule here was one boat per buoy. As I pointed out to him the buoy on the other side of him had 2 boats on and if he was concerned he should but another line on the free buoy next to him. Mr Rules as it turned out was a 2 week holiday in a club boat – so had little knowledge of local custom. It was only after they left did I see the sign that they were parked next to which said max 3 boats per buoy….. what a shame I hadn’t been able to point that out at the time!

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What could possibly go wrong?

This was the first time we had been on the mainland – as opposed to an island for nearly a month. As water is rationed on islands, boat washing is a no no and Carra was looking a bit grubby. So Mags decided to wash the decks and provide entertainment to the marina – act 1 – hose parts company from tap when she turns it on – Mags gets soaked. Act 2 the spray nozzle separates from the hose and flies over the side and is declared Man Over Board. Thankfully they float – so Act 3 was fishing to catch said nozzle. Once retrieved, we rewarded ourselves for the many tasks ticked off with some cakes – It is always good for morale when the marina is next to a cake shop!

FejanNext stop was Fejan, a former Cholera quarantine island. In the 19th Century, the disease killed 60 million people in Europe and in order to prevent it spreading to Sweden, the very smart Swedes set up quarantine stations where ships arriving from infected areas had to spend 48 hours – which is the incubation period. Fejan was one such island, the buildings are still there including the Doctors House – a very ornate wooden building – which was also known as Congo – as it was originally destined to be a chapel in the Congo. The morgue and autopsy room are now a beautiful restaurant – but sadly shut up during the weekdays as the season closes as soon as the schools go back. IMG_20190813_123826One of the other reasons for coming here was that it had a pontoon – which meant that I could polish one side of the hull – one task on our annual maintenance task list – which is easier at pontoon height than it is when she is out of the water.
We had 2 lovely chilled days in 2 anchorages – one new one and one favourite. The peace of being in a secure anchorage which is more like a lake when the only sign of it being windy are the tops of the trees rustling in the breeze. I have just been told that is too romantic an image – they were whipping around in the gale – either way there wasn’t a ripple on the water.

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Sjalbottna – one of our favourite anchorages near our Marina

dsc01650.jpgWe left the anchorage and had an entertaining time dodging the ferries that use this fairway into Stockholm. We headed off to Vaxholm to fill up with fuel before heading back to our home Marina. As we store the sails on the boat –we need to ensure they are dry. With no rain forecast, sun and a gentle wind it was the ideal day to take off the sails. We had just tied up a Vaxholm and started filling and the rain came from nowhere – short and sharp but enough to soak the sails and then back to bright sunshine all within 30 minutes. So we then had to spend the next 1:30hrs sailing up and down the fjord by our marina drying our sails…..IMG_20190815_174532

Good bye to Finland…..for now

As thunderstorms were forecast for the next few days – missing out on Gullskrona did give us time in hand, if we needed to miss a day. I had been looking at the weather forecast as to when we might cross back to Sweden. A passage of only 30 miles but it is in open sea and needs the right wind – plus the weather window closed on the 10th as after that there was a period of very strong SWs for over a week.

In the morning, I was expecting to see black skies given the forecast of thunderstorms but we awoke to bright skies without any signs of cumulus nimbus clouds the towering clouds that are needed for thunder. So we decided to go and we had a lovely sail with a gentle F3 wind; we were leaving Turku Archipelago and arriving at Lappo on the outer edges of the Aland Islands.

As I took down the Finnish courtesy flag, I felt quite sad. We left Finland 3 years ago but having the boat has meant that we have still had our home here. Even though the language is impossible, we love the fact that we still remember a lot of the vocabulary and can surprise Finns by the fact that we can still speak some Finnish – though I am not sure “I drive a blue car” and “I live in Espoo” is the most scintillating conversation. As we are moving Carra to Denmark next year, we know that this is the final goodbye to living in Finland – from now on we will just be visitors. Up went the Aland Islands Flag.

Now was about getting the right weather to cross, so we missed out Seglinge and had a cracking 30nm sail to Degerby – I was even allowed to do some tacking – as they were quite long tacks.

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Spot the ferry in the right hand picture – in a very narrow channel

DSC01586I was about to put the engine on then saw the yacht up ahead – so decided I would see if I could pass it and then put the engine on – otherwise it would be cheating. Thankfully they had someone inept on the helm and so I was able to pass them easily – so on went the engine for the final wiggle to Degerby. A wiggle that large ferries (think cross channel ferry size) do daily down narrow channels.

We had been to Degerby before, 5 years ago in a charter boat – and I had forgotten how attractive it is with its colour houses – they must have been rebels here as they had colours other than red!

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Rod 2Our final stop is one our favourite harbour Rodhamn with its lovely red rock and heather in full bloom – isolated but very secure; that has been a harbour for many hundreds of years. IMG_20190808_160347Sadly we left too early to get the freshly baked rolls that they deliver to your boat – though don’t worry we had made up for it with their home made cakes the day before.

We had both sails up as we sailed … well ghosted out of the harbour. The perfect spot to say goodbye to sailing in Finland …….for now!

The early start meant that we would get the best of the NWs allowing us to sail in relatively light winds. At 60 degrees to the wind we were romping along at 6.5 knots. A large black cloud loomed over head and the wind built – we were doing 7.5 knots with all three sails up. It was either going to get very wind or very wet or both. We put 2 reefs but thankfully we missed the rain.

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Leaving Finland behind. Note to sailors – yes I did move the lazy sheet….

A speedy crossing saw us arrive at Arholma anchorage before 1pm and watch a flotilla of yachts coming in having crossed from Finland. The most impressive of which was a yacht with teenagers onboard and a young skipper and they sailed on to the wooden bow to and dropped the stern anchor and all with no engine. It is a lovely anchorage surrounded by wooden boat sheds and lots of reeds! We were back in Sweden so up went the Swedish courtesy flag.

Tall Ships and All that Jazz

The water was oily still with not a breath of wind. But given that we had to drive in a convoluted pattern of straight lines to get into the harbour it didn’t matter as you

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Watch tower over looking the entrance

couldn’t have sailed anyway. Another narrow shallow passage ensued and we picked up a stern buoy. It wasn’t in the inner harbour where we had hoped to go, as there was a boat in the only space we could go into. Akko and Ada our Dutch friends had sent us a mail to say they had got into the inner harbour – which at 2m deep and they draw the same as us 1.9m though the bottom is mud.
Once tied up the heavens opened and it continued to rain for the next 12 hours. The moisture in the cabin was very high, with condensation forming on the port holes and it was very chilly – what happened to summer?
The next morning there was a dire forecast of more rain but a gap in the rain made us poke our heads out of the hatch to see that the space in the inner harbour was now free. So we dropped lines and headed off…… we need 1.9m to float. We started at 3m down a narrow channel and as we got to the pontoon, the water was quickly evaporating and we were down to 2.3m, 2.1m – all the time I had in my mind White Haze did it, so can we….. tied up with 15 cm to spare. Whilst there are no tides here, the water level does vary…. and can go 0.5m either way. But there is a 2 day water level forecast so I would keep an eye on that. But we certainly wouldn’t be filling up our water tanks here!
DSC01314The inner harbour was very sheltered, closer to the loos plus we were surrounded by 3 Tall Ships – trading vessels from the age of sail. Very Onedin Line. 2 were still active ships – but had a summer use as a restaurants and the other was a permanent restaurant. We had a delicious meal on Katarina. She had last carried cargo in the 1950s; below decks the tables were close to the hull in the bow- very atmospheric – the wood oozing the salty, tarry, smell of days of old.
raumaWe explored Rauma, the old town has 600 full fine pastel coloured old wooden buildings, reflecting its trading past with some fine merchant houses. Wandering off the main street there was an intimate feel about the town, with the winding cobbled street and wooden houses, each displaying its name plate.

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Left: Wally Dogs    Right: Gossip Mirrors so that you could see who was in the street

Many houses belonged to sailors and had 2 wally dogs in the window – facing inwards displaying that the master was at home, outwards – he was a sea. What nefarious activities went on when the dogs were facing outwards – doesn’t take much imagination.

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Lace from Rauma was traded around northern Europe. It was a cottage industry where the work was done by the poorer men and women of the town. Very intricate patterns created with many bobbins and pins – painstaking detail.

 
Jazz

 

Just up the coast is Pori, home of the Pori Jazz Festival, and it was on – Finland’s largest outdoor music festival. So we decided to take the bus up to visit. The town was heaving with people, the sun was shining and the cafes spilt onto the streets. We walked to the jazz park, one stage, the free one, was playing a jazz set. But the 3 others were ticketed and playing Finnish heavy metal, very loudly – not our cup of tea. Later in the evening Stray Cats and Toto would be playing. Toto was my old boss from Nokia’s favourite group – they used to make an appearance frequently on team days out. We ate in town – a jazz band struck up in the nearby restaurant. Sadly the last bus back meant that we left at 7:30pm but we realised the best part of the festival is not the ticketed arena but the vibe of summer cafes, live music in the town that makes for a great atmosphere.

Now all we had to get out of our berth!  Since we arrived the water level had gone done 10 cm… so only 5cm to spare – what could possible go wrong! Well for a start I should have reversed out exactly the way we came in … but didn’t .. I backed out and turned ….and felt us touch the bottom – but it was mud. The back of the keel acted as a pivot on the mud and with a bit of oomph from the engine we were able to drive her off. Thankfully it was too early for an audience. Back out into the channel, 3.2m on the way in had felt shallow – now it felt positively deep. The beauty of perspective!

We returned to the lighthouse island Kylma-pihlaja, which was much busier than on our last visit and it would set up well for our next destination.

Toasted Marshmallows, Crayfish and a Bonkers Museum

We had received an email from friends that we had met on a rally last year that they were going to be in Ulvöhamn. Whilst Ulvöhamn is one of the must see places in the High Coast, its attractions can be done in 2 hours; so not the place to sit out a day of windy weather. So it made sense just to pop in for lunch. Robert and Helen from Trenelly invited us onboard for a lovely lunch. Followed by showing Elaine the “sights” and it was back to Saku’s boat Duo for tea and cakes. It was fun catching up with them all and about 4pm we had a gentle drift to Norrfallsviken.

socialThe next day you could hear the waves crashing on the nearby shore and the wind whistling in the trees but we were all tucked up with not enough wind to turn Bertie, our wind generator. He is called Bertie after a Scottish phase Birling Bertie – Birling being Scots for spinning. Bertie is a bit of a drama queen and can make a light wind sound gale force strength. But even he was silent.

DSC01013Once the fresh rolls had been delivered to the boat, we were ready for our hike. We were keen to show Elaine the cobble beaches – so we decided to repeat the walk we had done previously – but it is amazing how much quicker it was without carrying a bike! The hut and fire pit we picked for lunch had dramatic views over the headland but little in the way of vegetation, so it was just as well we had collected some wood en-route. We had improved our BBQ offering – these were no ordinary bacon butties, these were…….. M&S smoky BBQ cooked bacon on fresh baked seeded bread rolls and smashed avocado – all very Hampshire darling. Followed by toasted marshmallows on sticks whittled by Mags.

img_20190708_153633.jpgWe had a leisurely start hoping that the sea would have calmed down from the previous days windy weather. Sadly it hadn’t, thus the deep swell and light wind from behind us meant that it was a lumpy and uncomfortable trip. It wasn’t til we were protected by land could we actually sail. Haggvik was tucked up behind an island and had more in common with a small boating lake and as a result it was very protected.

DSC01072It was a real suntrap – perfect for a cold beer and chilled wine whilst watching the wildlife. Slovenia Grebes kept us entertained – parents and 2 young riding on their mother’s back. Definitely a case of ugly duckling turning into beautiful swan, as the 2 babies looked more like ugly baby dinosaurs.

 

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Haggvik – you can just see Carra nestled in front of the island in the centre

Not only was Haggvik in a lovely setting – plus it was a bargain – free washing machine in the price of the harbour dues…. That meant a dobe evening. Close by we visited the most eclectic well actual totally bonkers Museum that I have ever been too – Mannaminne. It has everything from a woolly mammoth, old ships, trains, cars, farm equipment, computers, telephones, building from across Scandinavia and that is only a tiny portion of what they had…..you name it – they had it – todays junk tomorrows museum piece came to mind.

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We had a lively sail out of the fjord, the scenery here resembling the Norwegian fjords, then out into the open sea which was very tame compared to the previous day. Gybing downwind through the skerries and islands which is always fun and gives you a sense of achievement when you don’t need to put the engine on. We tucked into the small old fishing harbour of Lövvik for the night.

IMG_20190710_131805For Elaine’s last sail we had a great wind and sailed between the islands. We looked into Lustholmen, where I thought we might stop for lunch – but holiday time on a club island meant it was packed; so we headed off to Härnösand where we would be dropping Elaine off.

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High Coast Bridge – Swedish Equivalent of the Golden Gate Bridge

The guest harbour was in the centre of town and seemed to be the drinking spot for the local drunks. The reception committee thought nothing of urinating next to the buildings in front of us. It couldn’t be a greater contrast to the little harbours we had seen for the last few weeks. Härnösand had been slightly oversold by the Rough Guide – or may be we had been put off by the reception committee. But the grand square – was very ordinary with a couple of nice buildings. There were some nice wooden building in pastel colours – but the best bit was a fab little deli. Clutching our garlic mayonnaise and strong cheddar we headed back to boat. However, one redeeming feature, it did have a very good Restaurant and Elaine treated us to a lovely Dinner. Mags and Elaine sharing a traditional Crayfish Dinner complete with silly hat and bib.

Celebrities and the Photo Shoot

Elaine arrived late in the evening, after a day travelling, to be told that we would be leaving at 0630 and it was likely to be raining – she took it very well. On the positive side, the plan would give us the best chance of getting into Trysunda but no guarantees. We left on time but the drizzle and the low claggy cloud kept the coast line a secret. At least, we were able to sail and as we rounded the headland and glimpsed into the harbour, we had fingers and toes crossed that there would be a space – given that it had been packed 2 days earlier we weren’t sure…..

Well it was practically deserted – there was a beautiful British yacht nudged into the harbour lifting its anchor as we arrived. It could have taken a direct route out but they motored towards us to say hello – as it drew closer I recognised it and it’s famous Skipper – well famous in sailing circles Tom Cunliffe. We chatted for a short while then they headed off south. It was good of him to come over.

DSC00974DSC00963Slowly the weather cleared and sun and blue sky were seen. One advantage of being tied up by 10 o’clock was we had ample time to explore the island and it gave us a chance to revisit our favourite stone beach with its big silky smooth rounded cobbles and big grey rocks – shaped by the sea into perfect seats and warmed by the sun. DSC05046A place for contemplation and just being.

Trysunda was our favourite harbour of the trip and we thought we could do a bit Carra photo shoot here with Elaine as our human drone. We would do circuits of the harbour while she took pictures from a nearby hill. Much to the amusement of the locals from their docks we did loops, sail out sail in. Once over we went bows into the staging just close enough for Elaine to hop on to the bow ladder and reverse quickly. Photo shoot in the can, we left…

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Swimming 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle – 63 Degrees North

Mjalton as an anchorage had caught my eye, a natural anchorage which is a perfect circular inlet. There was little to go on – the chart said less than 3m but I had read that it was 3m deep. There was narrow entrance and as we approached there were strong gusts of 25 knots and I bottled it. I didn’t fancy having to reverse quickly through a narrow gap if I didn’t like it in there. So we set course for Trysunda ….again. With the wind just off close hauled and 2 reefs in the main, we romped along at 7 knots. Just as we arrived, 3 boats left and we managed to pick up a buoy. With other boats already there it is a lot easier to handle cross winds as your bow has no where to go and you can nose in gently to check the depth. With 2.7m by the keel but less than 1m under the bow – we were safely in.

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Trysunda is a an old picture perfect fishing village and consequently it is a magnet for boats. Last week when we tried before we were the only boat here – but now there were 2 boats on every buoy. You moor in the Baltic with your bows onto the wooden staging and your stern clipped onto a buoy at the back. Throughout the day more boats arrived – there was an evasion of Finnish boats that had come across the Gulf of Bothnia. Just when you thought it was full – they squeezed a few more in. The principle being if there is a gap wide enough to stick you bow into – you can force your way in.

The was an informative little fishing museum in a boat house describing the fishing fleet and life on the island. Originally it had been 3 islands with three sounds – hence the name Trysunda. But the sounds have been long since filled in with the land rising and it is estimated there will be no harbour in 1000 years time – but then with global warming – who knows they might be back to 3 sounds. There was a sweet little white wooden 17th Century chapel with the coolest key hanging up on the outside. Inside painting adorned the walls.

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The next day we climbed the hill and went to the north beach – to our surprise we found a stunning sandy beach. We walked on to the next beach which was a total contrast. It was stones – but not your normal stones. Imagine smooth rounded pebbles – normally they would be a couple of 2-3cm centimes long. But these were 20-60cm – very tactile and then some massive lumps of rock – complete smoothed by the sea but made up of lots of crystals and warmed by the sun. It was a magical beach.

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rocksOne of the pleasures of being in Scandinavia – I am not exaggerating when I say that since we came over in mid May I can count on 2 hands the amount of litter that I have seen and picked up and no plastic in the sea. So these beaches were pristine with only driftwood on their shores. Beaches and pretty red houses – this was a very special place – no wonder it is busy in the holiday period.

 

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Left – Mags standing on the bottom – it is that shallow

Good paths meant it was a great island to go for a run on – so off I pootled. Though I was less convinced by Mags choice of activity – Swimming – a sentiment shared with our boat neighbours who normal will go for a quick dip whenever they can – but not here. Just 200 miles south of the Arctic circle and only 11C…… Even the sea kayaker who she chatted to her mid swim thought a 2mm wetsuit was a little thin.

dsc00852-1.jpgToo soon it was time to leave this little gem of a harbour, as we need to go to Örnsköldslvik to replenish the supplies and to pick up Elaine. Having thought we could sail there was not enough wind when it was in the right direction and then going up the long fjord, it was against us and had strengthened. So it was a boring motor.

ovikThe town is dominated by 2 massive ski jumps, the bottom of one is crossed by a bridge – not exactly conducive to wanting to jump further! Going for a run here, I cut through the graveyard. It was very different to a British one – which even the nature of the name “grave yard” is not very uplifting. But in Sweden they are called Church gardens and flowers and greenery abound, with each stone having a little garden growing permanently. They even provided sets of gardening tools to tend to the garden. Sadly I fear in the UK these would be nicked….map

This is as far north as we will go on this trip – 63 Degrees 17 N.

 

Hiking and Prehistoric Times

With some windy weather expected, we decided we needed to find a good place to moor and Docksta provided just that. Plus it is right next to a national park so there would be plenty to do for the next few days of northerlies. I had looked at the harbour and there was one spot I was keen to get which meant that we would be well protected and could leave the boat there. So an early start meant that we could got the pick of the places. It is still quiet up here – during the week more than 2 boats in a harbour and it is positively crowded. White Haze followed us in in – I am sure they must think we are stalking them. We did beat a large German boat in – a rather satisfactory beach towel victory moment.

IMG_20190701_155111We were greet by an incredibly friendly and helpful harbour master Tommaso and his wife Anna and it was a surprise to hear their Italian accents. Tommaso was speaking at full tilt and by the time we had put the 2nd rope ( of 4) on ashore he had given us a map of all the hiking routes, told us the best routes to go on and given us the brief on the facilities!
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The following day with Mags dosed up on ibufofen for her dodgy knees, we set of along part of the High Coast trail in the Skuleskogen National Park. We walked though ancient pine forests with rare plants and lichens, past Bronze age burial chambers, saw cobble fields (beaches) at 200 m above sea level and walked

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Bronze age Burial Chamber

DSC00679across bare rock with knurled pine trees growing in the most unlikely of locations. Steep climbs rewarded with great views of the islands below.

DSC00661ravineArriving at a beautiful lake with a little red bothy for the trail hikers and a couple of fire pits, it was the perfect lunch stop. Our route returned through the Slattdalen Ravine – created over 1.5 billion years ago with steer granite walls and rocky floor.
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IMG_20190628_094940Continuing on the High Coast Trail the next day, we past a suspended seat with different positions as demonstrated by Mags– which is part of a series of architectural installations along the trail.

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Skulebergets on the right

From there we climbed Skulebergets, which has the worlds highest shore line at 286m above sea level and it has a cobble field at this height – meaning that it over 8000 years old. When you see the sea way down below it is incredible to see how much it has risen.

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The metal sign is where the sea level was 8000 years ago

I am pleased to say that Mags knees held up and she managed both days without limping!

We decided to hire a car to explore the area and visit some prehistoric rock paintings. There is a reoccurring theme with the coast of Sweden – trees and vast swaths of them. Thinking there might be a little variation in scenery we headed inland – as we are all treed out. But no – the vista of trees didn’t change.

carvingWe took a guided tour round some of the 2600 carvings which are believed to be between 6000 -1500 BC. Their proximity to the roaring water of the hydroelectric dam is a dramatic situation for these unique carvings.

They depict elk, people, salmon, bears and boats. Believed to be carved with quartz, they are painted in modern times as they would be impossible to see otherwise. It is debateable whether this is the right thing to do but it does make it easier for the untrained eye.

We discovered the Fjallraven Outlet store – lots of cool outdoors kit though an alarming number of people wearing socks and sandals. There was a danger of spending serious money here and blowing the sailing budget – but as a friend said we could always park the boat and continue by dinghy!

On the roof of the harbour clubhouse, there was a nest with 2 seagull chicks that were only 3 days old – cute feathery brown balls.. The only problem being to go to the loo you had to pass close by with both parents on guard duty. In other harbours, we have had to negotiate artic terns that attack you with their beaks but the seagull just swoop at you – harmless you think but when they really don’t like where you are – they deploy the ultimate deterrent with the bombing accuracy of the dambuster bombs – father seagul scored a direct hit all over me.

We invited Ada and Akko and a British couple Helen and David over for drinks and enjoyed more tales of daring do around Patagonia and other exotic boat locations. Carra’s high seas Hummus was made for the occasion.

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