Weird enough, I awoke early today again. Grey sky, quite chilly. North-Northwesterly light breeze predicted.
So, time to follow the birds and continue south. The grey skies cleared almost completely during the day, but the wind was very light and came from West. Thus, back to the tacking business. Long-short , long-short the course line mostly 220 degrees. I thought of different ports for the night, when the wind died completely in the late afternoon. A new forecast warned about a front passage with heavy rain and near gale force winds from Southwest. Not exactly my dream scenario of a pleasent sail.
Much to my convenience, it ocurred to me right then, that I really needed to provision soon enough and that I hadn´t made a blog entry since Dave left.
Nynäshamn has a guest harbour with some 300 berths and just a couple of hundred meters to the town centre with it's shops and other tempting features of the civilization. Tempting? Yup, after a couple of weeks among the remote islands, a wifi, a piece of fresh meet and some fruit can be VERY tempting.
This harbour is a lively place. Huge ferrries to Gotland and Poland. Minor feriries and passenger ships to some of the larger islands nearby. The yacht harbour was f course less lively. Just a handful of sailing boats, among them a Rassy 35 flying the german flag.
Despite the traffic and the wake it creates I slept like a baby during the night.
Mostly sat in front of my laptop, getting updated on 'the real world' including tonnes of e-mails.
I did restock on food also, and I can proudly present that today's dinner consisted of a fresh crab fish from Donegal, Ireland and tomorrow I will enjoy lamb chops. Ehrr, yes I did have a couple of Guinness together with the crab. A superb contrast to the menu of the last few weeks .
A decision was anonymously taken to stay put here until tomorrow. Haven't seen much of the near gale winds today, just an occassional shower really, although the clouds move by at at very fast pace... and the near gale is now predicted to come from North to Northeast during the night, and continue for most part of tomorrow. Hence it seems lie a brilliant idea to sale south tomorrow. Röde Orm loves a strong to hard breeze and I consider it refreshing too.
- a bunch of them - here:
This harbour was very unpleasant to spend the night in. The swell and wake from passing vessels managed to create a standing wave behind the docks in the basin, causing the yachts to roll violently and to move up and down along the dockside. At 5.30 in the morning the ferry left harbour. Unable was I to get back to sleep after that, and decided to get ready for an early start. Said goodby to Nina and Hans for the second time and sailed south to Rödskär. Northerly wind increasing during the day to near gale force in the afternoon. Then slowly decreasing during the night, veering towards West in the morning. This forecast sounded like music to my ears, and I decided to perform the jump back to Sweden. 20 miles to Rödhamn, arrived at 3pm, and then 70 miles mostly South to Sandhamn. Sandhamn is the home of the Royal Sailing Society in Stockholm and the place where many regattas start from, among them Gotland Runt(circumnavigating the island of Gotland) Since I am without crew for the moment, the route via ?-zel, and Latvia and then to the eastern coast of Gotland was left to another year. The route along the swedish coast with it's many archipelagos and nice spots to spend the 'bad weather' days is a much more enjoyable option.
Röde Orm and I left Rödskär at 6 pm. I prepared some food for the next 24 hours, and hoisted the radar reflector again and hanked the trysail to it's track at the mast. Just in case.
This overnighter came out to be one of the most enjoyable I have ever made. I left Rödskär on course 230 degrees, a broad reach with jib and reefed main in winds of 22-30 knots. Helmer steered perfectly all the way to Sandhamn and the boat speed was 6-7knots until just after midninght, when the wind slowly decreased. I had the whole route programmed in the gps, and changed course 4 times during the night, including two gibes. The sunset was all dressed in red, the moon rised slowly after and the sky was clear and starry all night. There was quite a lot of commercial shipping though, since my route lay along the edge of the shipping lane most of the way. In the latter stages of the night, when the boat speed fell to 4 knots I hoisted the jib again. I took it down at sunset, since it was blanketed behind the reefed main anyway. A while later I shook the reef out and sailed close-hauled the last hour, due to the veering wind. Arrived at Lökholmen (Sandhamn) at 8am and fell asleep for a couple of hours.
Warm and sunny, the most of the day was spent just enjoying being completely on my own here. In July, there's difficult finding a free space to moor your boat here and now desoleted and quiet. A wonderful day, could be the last one this summer, wam enough to allow me to relax in the sun for a couple of hours. The chores of today consisted of washing a couple of t-shirts and underwear and to move the boat a little more than a mile to a natural harbour. A crusing sailor's life is hard, remember? ;-) Anchored in a protected 'hole' between some islands, under the interesting name of Vildgrytan (Savage Pot) Needless to mention, I hit the bunk early and slept like a dead oxe.
Lazy morning. Overcast sky. Stayed in bed looong this morning, reading and listening to weather forecasts. SW light breeze veering to NW during night. No hurry then. It seems as Niklas (my nav teacher colleage) will be coming to crew for me in a week or more. I decide to enjoy the solitude until then just slowly cruising south from one sweet spot to the next. But with a steady, favorable breeze I will take some longer jumps.
Yesterday,when grabbing a beer from under the florboard in the forecabin, I noticed that there was milk powder all over the not-so-deep bilge in that area. Thus, the chore today, was to clean this little mess up. I can here proudly announce that so I did.
The sail to Jurmo worked out fine. First 8-10 miles South running and reaching to a 18-25 knot breeze. Beautiful! Then I experienced one of those fabulous squalls again. It all started with a rainfall of tropical magnitude, then a gust of storm force winds came howling through the rigging of Röde Orm. I never had the time to take the mainsail down, just let go the sheet to luff the sail. We did some amazing 9 knots for a while and there was sea spray allover the place. After about twenty minutes it ended as suddenly as it hit. I hardly had the time to catch my breath before the wind piped up again, this time from a clear blue sky. I realized that this gale was to go on for a few hours, and quickly got the main down and lashed it to the boom. Now the real ride came about. Winds of 35-40 knots kept Röde Orm moving at 7 knots with her jib and mizzen only! The seas grew quickly to around two meters and there was spray allover again. A fantastic sail nevertheless. Röde Orm rides so smoothly on the waves, even close-hauled as the last 3-4 miles to Jurmo. At arrival I could round up into the wind on the leeward side of Huvudskär, a smaller island just North of Jurmo. Heaved to on the mizzen only while I sorted out the jib, and arranged docking lines before entering the harbour. This is a fantastic feature of a ketch-rigged boat, being able to literay 'park' flying only the mizzen sail. Nina and Hans took some really great pic's of Röde Orm approaching Jurmo (among them the one above) and met me at the dock.
We had dinner together and relaxed in the sauna with a couple of beers later on.
The Northwestern wind kept blowing, gusting at gale force all day. We explored the island walking and spent the remains of the day just talking and hanging around. Jurmo is very beautiful, seven people live here around the year. The island is an outpost to the south within the ?.bo Archipelago, and is very low, and trees are sparse here. Geologically interesting, the island is mostly 'constructed' from rocks and gravel that the inland ice left here at the edge of it during a temprary stop in it's withdrawal from the area.
Sunny. Northwesterly winds 14-22 knots predicted today, and we all felt it was time to move on. After breakfast, the wind died out though, and then came back from Southeast. We were fast to respond to this opportunity, and both Röde Orm and Zappolina left Jurmo heading 300 degrees towards Houtskär, approximately 35 miles to Northeast. A lovely day sail, mostly in following wind. An hour or two before arrival, we experienced one more of those mandatory(?) thunderstorms. All three of us had dinner together at a restaurant right at the waterfront.
The first day of this first autumn month really showed us it's force by sending us yet another squall early in the morning. After this the day was mostly sunny though with just an occassional shower.
Since the amounts of edible perishables were now virtually none on our ships we spent a couple of hours in the morning at the nearby store. Here we met an interesting character who lived on his power boat in the harbour we moored. He had been doing so for the last five years all over Europe, but was now to settle down here in Houtskär. The boat was originally built in northern Norway where it was used for whale safaris. After two years, they needed larger vessels for the 'whale spotting' and thus the boat found a new use as a crusing boat and floating home. Once again I was given evidence of how small the boating community in fact is. The man mentioned above had met Arne with his home built concrete ketch last year. I met Arne at Pite Rönnskär as told here before.
A museum telling the story of the people living here in the old days, and showing some beautiful examples of the wooden boats of the past, kept us busy during the afternoon together with a look at the church built in the early 18th century.
In the evening we all had dinner together in Röde Orm's cabin. Nina surprised us with a 'crème caramel' made from some ready-to-bake mix. Tasted great.
The met's office is warning about another gale to hit from the Southwest during the night and foremost tomorrow. It seems as we will get stuck here just a little while longer.
Well, have I told you this before? The night was quite calm -given that we are at a sheltered spot - but this morning they still claim that we will experience wind speeds up to 35 knots during the day.
I spent the morning programming different routes back home on my laptop. All in all I have got approximately 450 miles to go. Mostly in a direction of 190-220 degrees. Now this doesn't sound too hard, but given that the prevailing wind this time of year is Southwesterly, and that the gales and neargales usually follows one another, it could be difficult within a few weeks. I don't reckon I will be able to sail more than one day out of three at most. Anyway, as soon as the wind is favorable, I must take the opportunity to sail as much as I possibly can. The first step on the way is to move to a SW outpost of the ?.land Archipelago 50 miles away, where I can wait for the right wind to come. Yes, Southwest, exactly head on winds right now...
Southwest 13-20 knots predicted for today and it came true. Zappolina were to head Northeast to the island of Vårdö, passing Kumlinge Island on the way. I had my mind set on tacking my way to SW over Skiftet, a larger open sea stretch between all these islands. But after a second look at the chart, I decided to make them company yet another day. It simply made more sense to make 'one long tack´ to Vårdö and then another long tack south to Rödhamn, a good place to leave ?.land from. Otherwise I would have to shorttack all day and probably tomorrow too. Hence the two Laurin kosterboats left Houtskär together.
We weren´t going together for so long though. Motoring our way through the narrow strait between Houtskär and the next island, it seems as my friends on Zappolina studied the charts a bit more carefully than I did. A little while later on, when I had a glance over my shoulder to see them following in Röde Orm's wake, they had made a BB turn to go along another route more to the south. When checking the chart, it immediately came clear to me that they made a 'winning' tactical move there. Nina and Hans would be able to hoist sails a lot sooner than me, plus, they would gain height to the wind, allowing them to make a loooong tack while I would have to shorttack further on. Well, sometimes you make your decisions, or others make them for you, so I decided to stick to the original plan and see what would happen.
After a few hours, Zappolina was almost at the horizon in front of me. A tiny white sail, passing Kumlinge and then going for some shorttacking among a few islands and reefs on the passage west to Vårdö. Here I saw a possibility to play them a practical joke. While they were barely noticeable, tacking northwest, I fired up the engine (needed to tp off the batteries anyway, right ;-/ )and for an hour I mtorsailed at a much mre favorable course. As I was later told from Zappolina's crew, since the wind had piped up a bit, they were astonished how fast I could sail with my main only. LoL. A while later I hoisted the jib when I had an island between the two of us, and came out from behind that island sooome distance ahead of them. I guess their faces were looong for a while, until they figured out my, ehrr, tactical move.
To get to the port on the west side of Vårdö, one has to pass under a road bridge that is only 7,5 meters high. Imposible for us. Since Sanna and I came this same route just after midsummer, I should really remember...
Anyhow, both of us found ourselves with looong faces at this obstacle. Plans obviously needed to be quickly revised. Thus we decided to stay for the night at the ferry/fishing harbour at Hummelvik at the Eastern side of Vårdö.
We had a kinda' pot-luck dinner together before going to sleep that night.
I had a faboulous hangover, didn´t wake up until 11 am actually. Anyway, after a couple of aspirins
and a triple espresso, life kinda' returned to my poor body. Made it to town, where Dave took the bus to ?.bo while I did some provisioning. Back at the boat I made an oil change in the engine compartment. Not the funniest task to perform on a day like this. Sitting head down in the cramped engine department in a hot day getting oil all over up to my elbows... well,now it's done and it feels good not having to consider this chore for another 100 hours of motoring. Next summer that is. I decided not to leave the dock today, mostly due to my condition. Went to town in the evening to have a steak with french fries. Not my favorite dish normally, but after several weeks on 'boat diet' and with this hangover it felt as the right thing to do. After sailing with crew for the latest four weeks, I must admit that it is a weird feeling to be on my own again.
At 'Captains's Makasiini' the bar/restaurant we were in yesterday (not too many to choose from here, remember?) I had the much sought after steak, and together with it, I was involved in a surrealistic conversation. A Finn in his early sixties came over to sit at my table. He had a kinda' cowboy hat with the text -'fantastic Thailand'- written on it. So what's so surrealistic about it, then?
Well, it soon was revealed to me that he knew approximately 4 words of english, 4 words of spanish, and about 3 words swedish. Nedless to say this fact severely limited our possibilities to enjoy a meaningful conversation(since I do not speak a word of finnish myself). Much to Seppo's credit though, he did not let this fact at all distract him from making a serious attempt to tell me his life story. If I got it right - 'would surprise me if so - he lived in spain since 11 years and was married to a Thai woman who were presently in Thailand to renew her visa. Anyway, I am deeply impressed that he had managed to pull away all this, given his, 'ehrr', limited knowledge of language.
Speaking of language, a few of you might have noticed that my written english has improved significantly during Dave's stay onboard. Yes, you got it right. Obviously I took advantage of having the opportunity to make him edit my texts. From today, however, I must rely on my own capabilities again.
Since there were no sailing yesterday, I opted to be an early bird today, and left the dock at 5.30am.
The forecast of last night promised a SW wind gusting to gale force, later in the afternoon veering to W or NW. Hence my tactic was to motor the first 6-8 miles at a course of approximately SW then turn to SE and eventually almost Eastward. This tactic came out quite nice. Since all today's sailing was to be within the ?.bo/Turku Archipelago I reckoned I would not have to deal with any large seas. When I took off in the early morning light, there were a very light Easterly breeze, probably the landbreeze from the night,slowly decreasing. All according to Murphy's Law, the gale force winds came exactly when I had a five mile stretch in the open sea, before turning port to 140 degrees. Needless to say, the wind was head on too. I was really content with the offshore oilskins(foulweather gear) originally for the Swedish participants in the VOR Race a few years ago, that a friend gave me before this trip. (Thank you Hans!) A superb, lightweight and durable goretex outfit that came on really handy now. The seastate was weird. The waves had a long stretch obviously and when they came in on the shallow water(5-10 meters) where I was, they soon grew to about 2,5 meters, very steep and only about 4-6 meters long. This gave me an extremely uncomfortable ride, with spray allover the place and green water regularly flushing the deck all the way to the companionway hatch. Anyway, I won't have to wash the decks for a couple of days now, and Röde Orm rode extremely well, as always, on the choppy seas. This little fight only lasted for a couple of hours though, then I couldturn to 145 degrees, and by then I was on the leeward side of a large island. Now I had the sailing experience of this trip! Close-hauled on the starboard track, with a nearly flat sea and gale force wind. Röde Orm healed to the rail and plowed her way through the water, on her hull speed for hours on end. There was absolutely nothing that could stop me from sailing on now. This was way too fun. Quite similar to dinghy sailing, but in a boat displacing almost 8 tonnes. I forgot all about my planned destination and just kept sailing at a course that let me go n enjoying the ride. At 2 pm I was completely exhausted, since I only had some fruit and water, and I could do with some decent food by now.
Thus I anchored in a bay for some lunch and a nap. When I set sail again, the wind had veered as predicted but also decreased to 15-20 knots. Too bad. Anyway a quite nice reach, but after the sailing I had this morning, it felt as though we hardly made any speed at all. A glance at the GPS told me otherwise though, 5-6 knots steady.
Anchored again in yet another sheltered bay at 8 pm and had a late dinner and a glass of red wine before a fell asleep, exhausted but completely happy.
Slept until 10. A quick swim helped me to really wake up, then breakfast and a double espresso gave me my strength back. Grey skies and showers, perhaps thunderstorms predicted for today. Thus I felt no hurry. Fully content with yesterday's sailing, I wouldn't mind reading and relaxing under decks for a few hours. I am planning to go to a small port at Nagu, a few miles from here, but since it is Sunday today , all the weekend sailors from the area are probably filling the harbour up. Later in the afternoon they will have been gone again to their home port.
After rowing the crew dog to shore in the inflatable, I took on the job to brush and clean all the teak trim on Röde Orm, expecting the predicted rain showers to help me with the final rinse. This tactic worked a treat, a sudden squall really washed the decks. A minor incident was that during the squall the anchor dragged. Obviously I must have been a bit sloppy (or too tired) yesterday not to asure myself that the anchor was properly set. I don't really know what made me react, but just as I was writing yesterday's entry, some unfamiliar sound made me take a look through the hatch. The stern of the boat was just a few meters away from the rocks on shore! I probably set a new inofficial world record getting into the oilskins, firing up the engine, and winding the anchor chain. All went fine, though, and as a reward for his fast action, the skipper was served yet another double espresso. Nothing much more worthy of a report happened today. The remains of the day was spent below decks, with a good book and an occasional cup of... you know what. ;-)
Finlands Met Office hit me with a storm warning this morning. Dead calm, sunny morning with my brekfast in the cockpit... The Finn's call for a full storm from windspeeds of 43 knots, in Sweden they do from 48 knots, but anyway... definitely a serious gale. Hence, after finishing my morning coffee, I studied the chart within a radius of 15 miles from my present position to see if there were any ports that I could tell from the chart only, they should be 'idiot-proof' stormholes. Since I could not find any, I decided to stay where I was. Very sheltered from all directions, but I had my doubts as to the holding power of the seafloor. When I winded the anchor up yesterday there were very little mud on it, suggesting that the bottom here is rocky. Hereafter I undertook a rowing excursion in the dinghy, to explore what was hidden on the other side of the island to my north. An even more sheltered 'lagoon', with a bouy that looked sturdy enough. Obviously it was private, but no one was in sight, and a Finnish storm warning must be taken seriously, so I moved Röde Orm over to the bouy, and kept the main anchor and it's chain ready, should the bouy show any tendencies to move.
Satisfied with these precautions, I enjoyed a formidable thunderstorm for an hour or so. Really strong wind for 20-30 minutes. The center of the squall passed a couple of miles away. And then guess what? Almost dead calm for the rest of the day...and the night too! Was this it? The Storm with capital S.
In the evening I got a phone call from Nina and Hans on Zappolina, (the Laurin 28 - smaller sistership) that we partied with near Stockholm in mid June. They were now cruising this part of the ?.bo archipelago, and had arrived Jurmo today. That's just 30 miles south of here, very close to the southern outpost, Finnish Utö, of the archipelago. If this predicted northerly severe gale, would decrease tomorrow, I will definetely make the sail down there to join them. According to them, Jurmo offered a very interesting and beautiful landscape, reminding of the mountains, even if that may sound weird.
The night was calm as I said already. I slept very well and felt a bit surprised that it was completely quiet when I awoke. Rowed the crew-dog ashore and did some exercise/work-out on the cliff. Then a swim, the personal hygiene scheme, right ;-) and breakfast. I just love these mornings! The forecast had now diminished to mere 18-30 knots Northwesterly, to be seen later during the day. They keep postponing it over and over again. I am getting a BIT tired of staying at the same spot now. Anyhow, it could have been a lot worse, this is a very NICE spot to be stuck at. Phoned Nina again, and we agreed that tomorrow I will have a go at the 30 miles South to Jurmo to meet her and Hans on this favorable wind.
Well, the wind didn't show up during all day. At 19pm it was still predicted, but now during the night. We´ll see about that, I sure hope I can leave in the morning.