Bornholm to Kalmar
27 June 2017 | Kalmar, Sweden
Barbara/Sunny and warm
In our last blog entry, I left you contemplating the rising sun during our overnight passage from Møn to the island of Bornholm. As we approached the island the air became misty, and we didn't actually see the entrance until we were quite close; don't worry, we have excellent electronic navigation and so there was never any doubt about where we were. [Tech note from Craig: our nav instruments include paper charts, electronic charts on both the pc and plotter at the helm, AIS (a transponder that sends out out position to boats in the vicinity and more importantly allows us to see them) and radar to see small boats and natural objects.]
We entered the main harbor of Rønne and set out to explore what the various mooring options were. There was a small enclosure for yachts, but we did not spot it until we were already settled. We looked at the north basin, where some ferries land, and then we looked at the south basin, which was obviously a fishing terminal. We didn't look at the separate yacht harbor a mile to the north, because it appeared to be all "boxes" (see previous blog entry) which made for difficult docking. (We later learned that some of their docks have been converted to floats - previously unseen by us in the Baltic, still exceedingly rare, and which we would have vastly preferred!)
Never mind, we settled on the fishing harbor and tied up to a quay there. The quay was concrete, equipped with giant but ancient rusty mooring rings and old tires alongside. Sequoia's sides are now showing some evidence of tire schmutz, deposited there before we could get a dark-colored bumper in between the boat and the tire.
We met the owner/restorer of a 101 year old Danish sailboat named Rønne, which was just across the quay from us. He told us this boat was built and used in Bornholm and he has been restoring it over the last two years. He works as a restorer for the local maritime museum ("just over there...") which he said we ought to visit.
We had only a day and a half on the island of Bornholm, and plenty of sights to see. The harbor seems to have at least 3 different ferry lines landing there, and apparently they disgorge hordes of tourists, starting about the first of July. There are beaches at the south end of the island, cliffs at the north, historic sites, plenty of bike trails and lots of mostly-empty restaurants. Just a bit more than a week before the first of July the tourists had not yet arrived. We decided to rent a car and take advantage of the 18 hours of daylight and the relative absence of tourists. We visited the tourist office and got some recommendations, and decided to drive to Svaneke, across the island (about ½ hours drive) for dinner.
We parked by Svaneke's small harbor and had a look at how the boats were moored. The harbor had been carved out of the granite rock at some time in the past. There were actually three different mooring basins - the inner one mostly for local, smaller boats, the middle one for visiting boats and an outer one for larger boats. We talked to a couple of the different boat owners in the middle basin. The mooring method there was this: Nose up to the wall, and tie the bow onto the wall. Then, grab the harbor line hanging there on the wall and pull it up from the bottom. The other end of that line is tied to an anchor in of the middle of the mooring basin. Needless to say it's covered with very smelly seaweed and who knows what else. Pull that line to the back of your boat, pull it tight, and attach it to your boat. Eeewww! Now go wash your hands!
Svaneke is one of those towns which is determined to be historically accurate. People there cannot make changes to the outside of their houses without permission. It's a charming place, full of very expensive restaurants, art galleries and gift shops. We looked at the posted menus for a couple of the different big restaurants, blanched at the prices and kept walking. We finally found a burger bar in the basement of a big waterfront hotel, and were able to order inexpensively priced dinners there. I made the mistake of ordering a "guacamole burger" and it came slathered in pale green stuff that tasted like mayonnaise. The burgers were, after a few bites, fork-and-knife meals. If I ignored the fact that it was sold as "guacamole" the burger was actually quite delicious.
Neither of us have any proficiency whatsoever in Danish. Usually that's not a problem, because most Danes speak English quite well. The proprietor of the burger establishment, however, did not. One of the other patrons came over to help us with the ordering process. While we were waiting for our dinners to come, we got into conversation with him and his wife. They had retired to Bornholm a few months ago from Copenhagen, and had plenty of opinions about retirement and European politics. He described at some length his view of the difference between Danes and Swedes, and it seemed to come down to a difference in bargaining styles. Danes, he thought were hard bargainers, while Swedes insisted on price stability. The fellow must have been in some business that was involved in such negotiations.
As we were paying for our food at the end of dinner, we noticed a Golden Retriever waiting politely just outside the door. We spotted the dog's owner and complimented her on her beautiful, well-behaved dog. She spoke English well, and wanted to know how we felt about Trump and the future of the country. It turned out she was a pastor at several of the historic churches on Bornholm, and once we were done with the political discussion, she started to tell us about some of her churches. One of them is a round church which has inside a stone covered with Viking runes. I asked her why some of the churches on Bornholm were round - she explained that they were built to be multi-purpose: churches, fortresses (complete with arrow slits) and grain storage. Life was uncertain on Bornholm in past centuries and the people looked to their churches for security.
The dog was continuing to wait patiently, and the pastor's take-out dinner was getting cold so we said good-bye. She was a fascinating person and we could have spent all evening with her. I regretted that we didn't find out which church with Viking runes was hers. The next day we came upon a round church, and walked around it. But it was locked up tight, being after 5 pm. Another reason to come back to Bornholm.
After dinner in Svaneke, we walked through the town to the north, past the expensive restaurants. There was a herring smoking establishment, with five chimneys and lots of tables waiting for tourists. There were big cannons trained out to sea, waiting to defend against invaders in past centuries. There were art galleries and gift shops, all closed now, as the day drew to a close. We drove back to Sequoia, into the setting sun.
The next day was laundry day, particularly important now that we had a rental car to haul the big bags. There was only one laundromat on the island. All the washers, dryers, centrifuges and mangles(!) were connected to a master console covered with buttons, coin slots and complex instructions in Danish. We tried to decipher it and then called on another customer to help us. She spoke no English, but another much younger customer heard our efforts and came over to help. We loaded four machines, and promptly discovered (after putting money in the master console) that one of the machines was broken. There were various other technical glitches. The man at the other end of the laundromat's telephone number said we ought to come around at 8 am the next morning for our refund; he couldn't get there any sooner. We'd be sailing by that time the next morning, so we wrote it off as tourist tax.
The laundry done, we went to a cafe and had smørrebrød sandwiches for the second day in a row (they had been that good the day before). We got into an interesting discussion with the proprietor about economic conditions on Bornholm. As with many of the tourist places we are visiting, they must make their entire year's income in 3 months. Weather conditions can be very harsh in the winter. Most of the young people leave the island for college education, and many don't come back. The island is losing general population and increasing the number of elderly and retired people. People in the ages of 30-40 don't see good opportunities to make a living or further their education. We talked about all that, but could offer no solutions.
We timed our afternoon expedition to get the rental car back before the end of the day. Our plan was to see Hammershuset Slot Castle at the north end of the island. It was a good day not to be sailing because the wind was really whistling around the high promontory where the castle was set. There is no admission fee for the castle ruins, and they are just starting on a major restoration. In one previous restoration many of the walls were rebuilt out of red brick, instead of the original granite stone. It's a large castle, and it's easy to imagine what it might have been like to live there. Signs described the life there, and the historic twists, turns and wars that swirled around the place. A group of pre-teen children followed around a mentor, listening (we presume) to descriptions of life there. Evidently this was part of a "Viking camp" or some such thing which takes place at the site for young people each summer.
We ended the afternoon with a visit to a round church, and then hurried to get the car back to the rental agency. Bornholm seems to roll up its sidewalks at 5 pm. No one is on the streets and most of the shops are closed. We had talked about eating at the Sydhavn (south harbor) Grill, which appeared to be a sort of diner catering to fishers and harbor workers. There were no cars there when we approached, and we feared it was closed. But as we approached we could see people inside, and we were very glad to find some good food that wasn't at sky-high tourist prices. I had a very interesting dish called "Kabob" which turned out to be a huge plate of french fries covered with little bits of seasoned beef and drizzled all over with peppery mayonnaise. Very strange, but tasty. In the diner with us were various dock workers and an athletically dressed couple who (by the logos on their shirts) have a business running bike trips for tourists.
We headed back to the boat and prepared for our sail the next day to Karlskrona. In the morning the wind was relatively calm (at least compared to the previous day) and we had an easy (but long) sail to Karlskrona. We sailed in past old naval forts, the naval museum with its historic ships and finally a huge coast guard ship docked right next to the City Marina. We easily tied up to a long dock, and were soon greeted by our friends Solveig and Lennart Olsson, who live in Karlskrona. Their son, Henrik, was an exchange student who spent a year with us back in about 1992, and we have enjoyed a growing friendship with Henrik's parents. (We'll see Henrik and his family later this summer).
This was the weekend of Midsommarfest, a traditional Swedish celebration of the longest day of the year. We were introduced to the Swedish custom of "fika", which is a morning coffee-and-pastry get together. The first day we had fika with Solveig, Lennart and son Niclas with his family. Delicious food, and a sunny, friendly time on the deck. The second day, fika at the home of Solveig's brother, Christer and his wife, GunBritt, who offered us good advice about sailing and Sweden and the various destinations we might visit in the weeks ahead. The third day we tried to put on a fika of our own on the boat. We don't have quite such nice tableware as do the Olssons in their lovely home, but a good time was had by all. We visited the Naval Museum one day, and did an excursion to Kristianopel (flowers, cottages, shops, seaside) the next. Altogether a relaxing and delightful interlude in our sailing summer.
This morning we left Karlskrona for Kalmar. Strong winds were predicted, but they were supposed to taper off during the day. That didn't happen, and we had somewhat of a wild ride all the way here. We had the main rigged with 3 reefs, and the staysail reefed to about half size. (For non-sailors, that means we made the sails much smaller than normal). Even with reduced sail, the boat was pushed to hull speed. We expected the wind to lessen as we entered the harbor here in Kalmar, but that turned out not to be the case either. A big gust happened just as we were approaching the dock and it was a somewhat rough landing. We're a bit exhausted tonight, but we'll need to assess whether there was any damage in the morning.