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.
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…
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!
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.
Despite 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.