Tag Archives: Sweden

Heading South with Jo

DSC053239th – 17th May – I had been keen to visit Trosa – but with a channel that was too shallow for us and the only anchorage being in the wrong direction, we needed to go bus. A beautiful wooden vilDSC05330lage that is built around a fast flowing river.

Mags summed it up well “It was a sleepy village that was just being to emerge from its winter slumber” so not much was open but we did manage to find a delicious buffet for lunch and was packed with locals and you could see why.

By mid day we were back at the boat and Jo arrived safely that evening carrying several items that we had forgotten and various spares that we needed. Plus some Bacon – yum Bacon Butties.

With no tides and we had a leisurely start, the initial route was narrow but it was thankfully a quiet day for the canal. As soon as the water opened up we were able to hoist our sails and sailed to our anchorage at Fifang. Everywhere we have sailed has been deserted so it was surprising to see 2 other boats in this anchorage but in typical Swedish fashion they were hanging off the rocks.

The Island of Oja was our next destination which was only 7nm away which would give DSC05360us time to explore the island. We set off and we were quite content tacking at a leisurely pace to the harbour till Mags spotted that it had about 10 masts in there already – so rather than tack again and take another hour to arrive it was engine on to grab a spot. Which we thankfully managed to get the 3rd last space at 1pm! Despite the rest of the archipelago being empty – Oja was clearly a top destination but given that it was a bank holiday and stunning weather we shouldn’t have surprised. We were able to hire a bike for Jo and cycled the 3.5km south to the village centre through woods that were carpeted with white wood anemones as far as the eye could see. A typical quaint village full of red houses built around the rocks – which still has 20 permanent residents. We cycled up to the Landsort Lighthouse and then back to a café and rewarded ourselves after an arduous passage (not) a beer overlooking the village.

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The next morning, we were able to sail for about an hour before the drift elicited that look from Mags – followed by the seemingly innocent question of what time are we planning to arrive. This is her very unsubtle way of asking why we haven’t we got the engine on yet. Admittedly 1.9knots wasnt going to get us there any time soon so on went the engine and we soon arrived at a very secluded anchorage of Ringson. After lunch we got the dinghy out and went for an explore. Ringson is a totally sheltered and tranquil natural harbour – bounded by reeds trees and smooth granite rocks that turn a wonderful pink in the evening light. One item Jo had brought out was the central hub for Bertie our wind generator. Jo and I spent the afternoon reattaching the blades and ensuring there was the exact measurement between each tip. A tedious job as it involved readjusting the blades many times. I as just glad that Jo was there to help as I am Mags would have got bored after about the 2nd attempt. Success – Bertie is now burling ( Scottish for spinning) beautifully and a great deal quieter with no vibration than previously – our efforts were rewarded with a cold beer.

After a short motor our of Ringson we are able to sail winding our way through the rocks. However just as we are about to have lunch the wind died and we drifted at 0.5 knots. I manage to negotiate keeping the sails up till aDSC05381fter lunch so that we can eat it in the peace and quiet. The wind then filled in and we were able to have a cracking sail tacking amongst the rock till we couldn’t quite make it safely past one rock under sail. But by that point we were so close to Arkosund we were going to motor soon anyway. The harbour was empty so we were just getting ready to come alongside when Jo decided to try walking on air only she thought it was solid and fell badly twisting her ankle painfully. So we headed back out to sea. Got the ice pack out of the fridge and had her ankle elevated as Mags and I brought the boat in. Safely tied up we considered amputation but decided it would make too much mess – so applied more ice till Jo was squeaking that it was too cold. Judging by the swelling it was definitely sprained. I strapped it up – later refined my technique with the help of YouTube! She decided a shower was medicinal and so hobbled to the showers.

The next day Jo stayed on the boat to rest her ankle while we went for an explore round the attractive village. A series of Islands had been connected by walkways that led to a wooden staging which edged the harbour. You could see that in the height of summer this would be packed but as it was early in the season it was still very empty, another “sleeply little village”. But thankfully the shop was open and we could get some more beer ( medicinal of course) and some other bits and pieces.

We managed to sail for a couple of hours to the island of Harstena – I had wanted to moor in the shallow harbour which was closest to the village to prevent Jo having a long walk. But we tried twice and couldn’t get it to hold. We had anchored there before but harstena 3near the spot that we had anchored there were submerged rocks that are now marked but weren’t before – one of which we had found on leaving so it rather put me off getting to close in. Also the harbour was more exposed than I wanted to that wind direction. So we motored to a much more sheltered harbour with a rather skinny entrance and found a lovely spot.

Next morning Jo felt up to walking into the village – however we rather underestimated the distance and I am not sure she was expecting a 25 min hike. But she coped admirably and hobbled along. Harstena is a beautiful community built around the waters edge, lots of red houses, beautiful white apple blossom and little purple violas everywhere. But it lacked vibrancy as it was off season so it meant you had to imagine the commHarstena 2unity – yes I am afraid another sleeply village but this one was still to wake from its winter slumber.

Back on the boat we set off to our next anchorage – which was only a couple of hours away at Stora Asko. The location was perfect for going against the rock. So we nudged in gingerly to check the bottom was deep enough then Jo dropped the stern anchor and Mags leapt off onto the rocks and knocked in the stoneDSC05443 hooks to small little crevices to tie the ropes to.

Tied up safely with a whole 25cm under the keel we had Dinner in the cockpit. The wind died and all the reflections made it a magical spot in the evening sun. The final treat was a beautiful sunset – the Archipelago at its best.

The fun of mooring on rock is the challenge of getting off with everyone on board. As you have to hold the boat , knock out stone hooks and get back on board. So there was Plan A, B and C hatched and the later being picking Mags up in a Dinghy. Plan D – Mags sDSC05466wimming was rejected by the mutinous crew. But having 3 onboard makes such a difference and we got Mags off the rocks with plan A and we were soon on our way to Vastervik. We attempted to sail but there really was no wind and so we had a long old motor. We arrived at the Gasthamn and were met by a friendly harbour master – a first this season. Another first was that the facilitiess included a swimming pool but as it wasn’t heated yet – there was no chance of me getting in. Once showered we had a wander round town sussing out where the bus stop was. Jo by this stage was hobbling less but the bruising was beginning to come out.

It was a much larger town, some nice old wooden buildings. But clearly a town that was alive and kicking. Whilst their summer guests were not yet evident you could tell this would be a fun summer place to chill out. We were then treated to a delicious meal by Jo. The restaurant was small but the food was fantastic. A lovely way to finish a great week with Jo.meal

The next day, we said goodbye to Jo and went off to the Supermarket to reprovision. After that it was an admin day laundry and boat jobs. Later in the day we were joined on the pontoon by Blue Orchid and it turns out they are on the same Rally as us – so we invited Paul and Gynneth onboard for drinks.

Palaces and Castles of Lake Malaren

2nd- 8th May – All togged up in thermals, we cast off our lines and embarked on our big adventure. The YWP_20180502_13_32_52_Pro__highresankee (the big front sail) was unfurled and we wafted gently away from the Marina. We managed to sail for an hour before needing to motor as we were going directly into the wind plus we had a date with some bridges. Our destination was an inland fresh water lake which is accessed through a canal through the centre of Stockholm but it is crossed by 3 bridges and a lock that need to open to allow us passage through. With the last bridge opening at 15:30, it meant that we had to be at the first bridge at 14:30. We arrived 30 mins early which afforded us enough time to take a spin around Gamla Stad (Old town) which is the heart of Stockholm. This is the first of our 6 Baltic Capitals that we will be visiting on our cruise. Soon we were into the canal system – passing through a city in Carra was a slightly surreal experience. Busy central city life seems at odd with being on a boat. Once through the lock we were into Lake Malaren – which is Sweden’s third largest lake spanning 120km from east to west and the reaches 64m depth in some places.DSC05242

Having spent a lot of planning time looking at bridge heights – I had missed an overhead cable. It was only 15m clearance and we need 19m, this caused us to double back and go around the other side of an island where the cable clearance is 33m. Our anchorage for the night was a sheltered bay with the Swedish Royal’s Drottingham Palace as a backdrop. The wind died, the clouds disappeared and the water revealed stunning reflections.

An 8am start was essential if we were to miss the rain in the afternoon that was forecast. Anchor up and we set off passing many forested low lying islands – despite our eyes telling us we were in the middle of nowhere, there was a distant hum of traffic reminding us we were very close to a capital city as Stockholm’s citizens commuted into work. With sun shining we were hoping the forecasted rain was wrong. As we made our way west we lost the hum and the water opened up to the largest part of the lake. Apart from theDSC05257 odd commercial vessel we were the only people out cruising. We arrived at our next anchorage about 30 mins too late as the rain had started. Our anchorage for the night was a sheltered bay is over looked by the Baroque Malsakers Castle. It was still shut for the winter – which is common here until June.

The next day we were off to Stragnas – which involved 2 bridge openings which went without hitch and we arrived at an attractive old town which was dominated by a large church and an old windmill. The Gasthamn had a washing machine which allowed us to get some washing done. After that we went for a stroll round the old part of town full of cobbled streets and colourful buildings.

The following day we had to back track along through the 2 bridges to Mariefred. Which is a beautiful town overlooked by Grisholm Castle – which is one of the Swedish Royal Families CasWP_20180505_17_25_14_Protles. We were met on the quay by a former work colleague of mine Heribert and his 20 month old son Gabriel. We tied up and invited them on board. Later on in the evening Heribert, Inga and Gabriel came onboard for pre dinner drinks. A winch and winch handle being a very good child entertainment centre.

Heribert had booked a table for Dinner at the local Restaurant with some very good friends of theirs Cynthia and Ulf Jonstromer and their sons Adam and Philip. What a fascinating evening, meeting a remarkable family. Ulf and Cynthia were both entrepreneurs and one amongst many of their achievements was setting up the local school which now has 600 pupils and is regarded as one of the top 10 schools in Sweden. Its success appears have been adopting the Finnish teaching system and using his cultural philosophy of BrainHeart which is at the core of his business success. A chance remark to Adam about playing the piano revealed that he was actually highly accomplished solo pianist who has performed for the Swedish Royal Family, won many European music awards and had recently played Gerswins Raspody in Blue – which is my favourite, in front of 700 people. Not bad seeing that he was only 15! After he and his brother had gone, Ulf showed me a YouTube clip of his playing and it was spine tinglingly brilliant. What a talented young man. It was easy to feel totally in awe of this family but they were very warm and welcoming. Returning to Carra the view of the reflection of Castle was breath-taking.DSC05270

The next morning we ate a delicious brunch with Heribert and Gabriel in the same restaurant and then explored the Royal Palace from the outside. Later in the afternoon Heribert invited us over DSC05289to see their house which stands in the grounds of Ulf and Cynthia’s Castle. We also went to see the Orangery which they are having converted now that Gabriel is on the scene. Ulf and Cynthia invited us for tea on their terrace, which has a beautiful view of the Royal Castle and the Lake as far as the eye can see. DescendiDSC05291ng from the terrace are 2 grand stone staircases leading down to the waters edge and a jetty. Cynthia insisted that next time we come we moor Carra there. I was keen to know the depth, though I needn’t worry as she replied “ the King of Sweden used to moor his sailing vessels there”.

All too soon it was time to leave this memorable little town and with the wind behind us we soon had the sail out and engine off and enjoyed the tranquillity of the sail to Rastaholm. A convenient location for entering the canal the day.

DSC05317We felt that we had got this bridge opening and lock business sorted – so we were expecting a very routine passage. But little did we know this lock out of the lake is the route that all the large commercial vessels use. As required, we contacted the bridge who informed us it was a busy day. En- route there was a yacht that we had passed that was well and truly aground on a rock, we called over a rib and he went and rescued them. We arrived on time for the bridge opening and waited and waited. The bridge then told us as soon as the bridge opened to go througDSC05318h on red as there was another vessel coming that was 18m wide. As the bridge opened, we ended up reversing as a very large vessel appeared much sooner than expected and there definitely wasn’t room for the both of us. As soon as the tanker passed we went under but just as we arrived at the bridge the light went red, and the bridge closing process started. Throttle down and we made a speedy passage under the bridge before it closed. We arrived at the lock and went onto the waiting pontoon as several tankers went through in both directions. Finally ourselves and 3 other leisure boats got passage through the lock and out of the lake.

We moored alongside at Sodertalje – time to stock up on food and pick up Jo who was arriving the next evening.

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.

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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.

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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+.

Andy and Sharon Come Sailing

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It was lovely to have friends Andy and Sharon join us from Finland and spend the weekend with us. Our first guests onboard and great to see that finally summer had arrived in the Baltic – teeshirt and shorts weather + plus enough wind to sail. The picture at the top of the page, Andy took and is the view from our boat in the marina at sunrise.

Our destination for the weekend was a little natural harbour called Ladau. We had just anchored when we noticed a man waving us away from a house – resisting the temptation to wave back – we moved the anchor to appease this unfriendly native. We were much further than the 200m required by law but we would rather have peace and quiet. Mags and Sharon went swimming off the boat a tropical 21C – though still not hot enough for me.

It was a lovely evening just chatting and laughing in the warmth of the WP_20150808_19_38_17_Proevening sun. Some young kids of one of the neighbouring boats kept us entertained. First catching a fish, followed by a drunk father trying to kill it and filet it. Then the enterprising kids did a tour of all the boats proudly displaying their wares in a plastic bag. We even got the sales pitch in English – but it was an old couple that took pity on them and parted with some kroner.

The next morning was glorious but not a puff of wind as we set off. Fuel stops are few and far between in the archipelago and fortunately there was one close by and we were able to top up the tanks. Our gauge still showed full – yet we were able to fill up with 130 litres! We are still trying to solve the fuel tank gauge problem but I think we are going to have to replace the sender. There was still no wind and we motored back – taking it in turns to helm – as it was just too hot standing in the sun for any length of time.

Dinner Guests and Thick Fog

25th July

We wanted to ensure we secured a place in Malma Kvarn, which is a lovely traditional harbour lined with little red houses. We were meeting Adam and Lynne, who we had met a few years ago at a talk about our trip round Britain. Adam had noticed we were in the Baltic, so had emailed and we had agreed to meet up. Getting up early meant that we actual got the best of the day – a great sail in full sun.  However, within about an hour of arriving it was pouring with rain. We had invited Adam and Lynne on board for Dinner and we had a lovely evening, great company + a present of British teabags – they clearly knew how to impress Mags!

26th July

As we had to catch a flight in the evening and we had a 5 hour sail ahead of us– we had a 7 am start, which is obscenely early in the Baltic. Up on deck you couldn’t see more than 200m – thick pea souper…. fog. The Swedish forecast was again spectacularly missing this vital piece of info. We set off with Mags glued to the radar and fog horn in hand. Rocky passages take on a whole new meaning in the fog. The scary bridge wasn’t so scary this time around mainly as we couldn’t really see it! After about 3 hours of motoring it finally cleared and we wound our way back through islands. We came across a pair of white tailed sea eagles fishing – you cant miss them with the size of their enormous wing span and their white tail feathers.

Dizzy Comes to Visit

15th-16th Aug With the boat being built in Falmouth and my mother living in Suffolk, the 2 had never crossed paths. I was very keen for my mother to see Carra. So when she came to Finland it was the ideal time to have a surprise visit to see Carra in Sweden. I knew it wasn’t an option to go sailing. My father had spent 3 years building a 17ft wooden sailing boat to discover my mother hated sailing. She did take secret sailing lessons on her own to see if she could conquer the fear of the wind and sailing… to find she couldn’t.

WP_20150815_15_31_18_ProWhilst a trip out on Carra wasn’t an option, we did take the safer more stable option of a ferry ride into Stockholm, which is an hour long trip and we could let her see some of the beauty of the archipelago. We wandered through the narrow cobbled streets of the old quarter, having lunch just off the market square. As luck would have it as we left we bumped into the changing of the guard. The best way to get a view of the city with a relatively short time is by bus – so we had a guided tour round the very grand Royal City. WP_20150815_18_30_56_Pro

Next came the main point of the visit. She was thrilled to see Carra and I was so pleased that she could, as sailing and Carra are so much part of what we enjoy doing. We had a meal on board but too soon it was time to take her back to her hotel. We stayed on board whilst my mother stayed in a lovely old hotel over looking Vaxholm Harbour.

WP_20150816_11_38_38_ProVaxholm is an old traditional harbour town with wooden buildings. It is located at an important strategic seaway hence it has a massive Castle built on a near by island. Vaxholm is a relatively small town yet apparently is built over 70 islands. WP_20150816_11_20_02_ProWe had an enjoyable meander round the streets before it was time to head back to Finland.

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