It’s been a while, a long while since we’ve posted and I realise we are miles behind on last year’s voyages! In short, we completed a brief circumnavigation of the Baltic (Stockholm Archipelago –> Gotland –> Estonia –> Helsinki Archipelago –> Stockholm again). I hope we will be able to post some photos and stories soon as there were many memories created and some absolutely beautiful weather (alongside THE worst passage Hal has done so far!!).
Now however, to 2019: we started the season later this year, albeit still a month before almost anyone else in the Archipelago! We were joined by Admiral D and pro helmsman K for a few days over the May bank holiday weekend. They arrived full of excitement despite the torrential downpour in Stockholm when they landed – so bad that they spent an entire day riding buses around the city to see the sites and avoid the rain! Fortunately it justified K bringing her wellies! Captain Haddock had everything ready to go when Fran arrived on Monday post very busy night shift!
We set off right away to our current favourite Archipelago restaurant, Smådalarö Gård. On the slightly pricier side and through a narrow passage to reach the marina, we had a very enjoyable meal and put together our plans for sailing Hal South again, all the way to Copenhagen. Turns out these plans were incredibly optimistic but overall everyone did brilliantly!! Admiral D managed his 60 mile offshore sail, Pro Helmsman K demonstrated a natural ability for passage sailing and we managed to get almost halfway down the East coast of Sweden… Yes I realise we were hoping to be in Copenhagen by now but the weather can’t be helped!!
After our delicious dinner and a much-needed sleep by Fran especially, we set off to reach the southern tip of the Stockholm Archipelago. It was a beautiful day and we managed a bit of sailing through the islands. After consulting 101 Rocks to Tie Up Against, we found a beautiful spot on a little peninsula called Bokholmen. It was tucked away up a narrow passage just NE of Toro, providing brilliant shelter. There were a few tics but lots of care and light coloured clothing seemed to keep us safe.
This was meant to be our starting point for a long passage, 24 hours down past the entrance to the Gota Canal, past the Blå Kusten (Blue Coast) right the way to Borgholm on Oland. Up at the crack of dawn, Admiral D and Captain Haddock took us through the last scattering of islands and out into a strong Southerly with 4-foot swell – not enough to send us sideways but more than enough to slow us to a turtle-like crawl and leave everyone feeling incredibly uncomfortable. It didn’t take long before we decided to make the most of the sunshine and head back for lunch! Here was our zigzag route through the islands… The little house at the top was the previous night’s mooring.
We found a very narrow passage to get Captain H’s heart rate up slightly! While I didn’t think much of it, we were chatting with some friends a few days later and apparently Dragot’s Canal is infamous!! We reassured our friends that it is in fact 2m deep throughout and wide enough to miss the trees and the steep sides! Here’s the video of us peddling slowly through the gap…
After a bit of hunting for a sheltered rock to tie up against, we had a relaxing lunch and short nap / walk to make up for the early start…
Re-energised we thought we’d try again following the inside passages through the islands. Half motoring, half sailing again we made our way about 30 miles further south to a little spot called Svårdsklova, which had a stunning restaurant and more importantly, warm showers!
Pro helmsman K showed us her skills navigating through the islands. Not helped by the fact that red and green buoys swap sides depending on whether we were coming or going!
Parked up outside the restaurant… This took a couple of attempts, firstly because despite our best efforts Hal doesn’t fit between the booms (skinny finger pontoons). Then we went for a dramatic turn around to stop the wind (which subsequently settled beautifully) from blowing into the main saloon…
After a delicious meal, warm showers and good night’s sleep, we headed off again through the swell. Despite not making it as far as we would’ve liked, it was lovely to have had the opportunity to see some of the Northern Tjust Archipelago, as this area is known. We had a day cruising entirely through the islands and then a morning making our way South where we popped out just South of Oxelösund. Our plan was to head South (as always) and see how far we could comfortable sail. It was a glorious day! We were predominantly motor-sailing but after Västervik (our first potential stopping-point, the wind came round and we actually managed a brilliant sail! As it was a long day we ran a watch system so that everyone stayed energised and around 21:00 we were quietly pottering into Oskarshamn. 63 miles covered on our final day together against all odds of weather and wind and swell!
We even managed to get the sextant out for a bit of fun!!
Mostly though everyone was working hard..
We said goodbye to the Admiral and Pro Helmsman the following morning outside a fairground in Oskarshamn, where they caught the bus / train to Copenhagen to fly home.
All in all a successful week!
All the guidebooks talk about this area being a paradise for bird watchers. We have identified a grand total of 1 bird species so far, the Black Headed Gull. Although we heard a woodpecker while wondering through the national park next to Borgholm and Captain H heard a cuckoo chiming one morning. Anyway, more of that to come… For now we are sitting enjoying a quiet coffee and pastry trying to muster the energy to head back out into the bouncy southerlies without our lovely crew…