A Tight Fit
17 July 2018 | Motala
Still very hot
Yarona is at the back of the photo, with a small yacht about to squeeze down the side of us. Once in the first lock of the morning, you generally keep with the same group for the day, so we hope for a calm and friendly bunch who know what their doing! Jane took this shot; her job is to slip our lines over the rings ashore, before she finds some shade to hide in.
Barrie went for a run along the canal early yesterday morning. It took him twenty minutes to reach the next marina; it took us three hours in Yarona, and eight locks! At one stage we were looking down onto a large lake to starboard, quite surreal. Despite setting off before 8am, we were given permission to exceed the 5mph speed limit so as to reach Motala for the last railway bridge opening at 6pm.
This is quite a large town on lake Vättern, the first of the large lakes, at 90m above sea level. We had a unanimous vote for a day off!
Yarona’s going Up in the World
15 July 2018 | Berg
Yarona has almost certainly never been as high. We are tied up in the basin at Berg, at the top of this flight of seven locks. Jane and Jimmy joined us two days ago. Barrie and I were on our own for the first two locks at the entrance to the Gota Canal, and were very glad of their arrival- it's hard work, especially in 85 degrees!
The Gota Canal has a short summer season and is manned by students, who must be selected for their calm nature and diplomacy. We came up the staircase with another yacht and two motor boats, and it was a bit of a tight fit. As with many things in life, once we had a system worked out, it got easier. 22 locks done, 36 to go. That gets us to the huge Lake Vänern in the centre of Sweden.
Tarn Hows on Steroids
11 July 2018 | Lilla Rimmö
Hot and Sunny
Leaving the anchorage was easy this morning; we followed our inward track,stored on the chart plotter. Then it was just a case of following one of the 'leads' north. These are suggested routes shown by a line on the chart, a solid line for the major routes, the A roads, and a dotted line for the B roads. Ours today felt like the M1! Half the population of Stockholm seemed to be heading south. The Route was well buoyed, there wasn't enough wind to sail, and the only minor challenge was choosing the correct route.
The islands are low granite and covered in mixed woodland, with a few summer cottages glimpsed through the trees. The landscape reminded us very much of Tarn Hows, and we motored through it for fifteen miles. This isn't Yarona's natural environment; the best boat for round here is either about 32' or a kayak!
We left the hordes behind once we turned west towards the entrance to the Göta Canal. We've anchored just off the lead, and plan an early start tomorrow for the remaining ten miles to Mem, and the first lock. Hopefully we will be the only boat at anchor here tonight.
Anchored in the Archipelago
10 July 2018 | Lilla Kalvholmen
The deisel leak is better, but not cured, and our friends Jane and Jimmy are bring out a new injector pump when they join us on Friday. This was half the price of one from Volvo Penta in Sweden. So we are glad to be sailing again, and are heading north to our rendevous at the start of the Göta Canal.
Yesterday we decided to head out to sea rather than wind our way close to the coast between the islands. We didn't have rocks to worry about, but we did suffer the notorious Baltic short chop as the wind increased from the north east. Apparently the chop is steeper in fresher water. We felt like a pair of nodding dogs on the back shelf of a car. After three hours of this, we were glad to tuck into the islands for a peaceful anchorage. The entrance was narrow but deep; 20 metres under the keel with low isolated rocks just feet away. We crawled in at tick-over speed, and anchored in 10 metres. The smaller boats drop a stern anchor and tie their bow to bolts in the rock face. We are much happier to be swinging free, and will launch the dinghy this afternoon to explore ashore.
04 July 2018 | Västervik
The engine has developed a small deisel leak from the injector pump. Not desperate, and Barrie thinks it is just a matter of replacing some O-Rings. So yesterday we headed back across the sound to the nearest Volvo Penta service centre in Västervik. The wind was still from the north but had reduced to a respectable F4, and we had a fast tippy-tippy sail until it faded completely mid-afternoon.
The town looks very pleasant and the weather is much improved, so although this wasn't on our agenda, things could be worse. The engineer is coming down later this morning, so Barrie has passed the time constructively by baking a cake.
We hope to be away and anchored in an isolated bay out in the archipelago before Saturday's match!
01 July 2018 | Visby
Bright and Breezy. Cold north wind.
Today is the first day of Almedal Week, and its on our doorstep! To quote from the website: ‘Almedalsveckan is Sweden’s, perhaps even the world’s, largest open political venue. Through democracy and openness, the week aims to give everyone who wants to debate social issues the opportunity to do so’. Statistics: 8 days, one for each political party; 40,000 visitors; 4,062 official events; 2,500+ unofficial events.
And this is in a town that feels like Whitby. There were three yachts on the breakwater when we arrived on Thursday, and now there are over thirty, many with owners and crew who are ‘working’, including our neighbours. It feels like a party to which we haven’t been invited! But we plan to wander over to the town later.
Windy in Visby
29 June 2018 | Visby
Cold and Windy
As expected, we're probably here for a few days looking at the forecast. The irony is we motored across yesterday as there wasn't enough wind to sail. We left the anchorage at 6am, and the wind started to blow about 20 minutes before we arrived. We were met at the entrance to the harbour by a member of the marina staff in a rib, and he directed us to take a stern buoy onto the breakwater as the marina basin was full. We have a Lithuanian yacht next to us, the first we've seen- I had to look up their ensign on my App. The wind turned north overnight and reached gale force, waking us both up. The shelter isn't bad but it's got rather choppy!
Visby is lovely, a Hanseatic League city and a UNESCO world heritage site. It's the first hilly place we've been to in Sweden, and this morning we enjoyed a three mile walk around the walls.
Back at anchor
27 June 2018
Öland is very long, very narrow, very flat, and rather boring. The main thing it has going for it is a wealth of Viking remains from 10,000 years ago, including these burial mounds on a stretch of limestone by the shore.
Yesterday the harbourmaster came down to the port, to extract dues from us and about ten mobile homes. So once we arrived back from our cycle to town, we filled up with water and left and motored out half a mile to anchor in the huge bay, just to one side of the dredged entrance channel. Tomorrow we are leaving early for a long passage to Visby on Gotland. It sounds a much more interesting place which is as well. We could be there a while, as the forecast is for very strong wind for a few days.
Tied up- eventually
25 June 2018 | Grankullaviken, Öland
The photo is of last night's beautiful sunset. We were in a pleasant anchorage between rocky islets at the start of the east coast archipelago, and planned to stay a while. But our weak data signal died completely- maybe overwhelmed by the Sweden-Germany match? This morning we therefore decided to move about four miles to an anchorage closer to a small town. Call us shallow, but peace and isolation has its limits!
We were nudging our way in when the depth dropped off suddenly and the rocks got too close, and seemed to be in a slightly different place to where they were shown on our chart. So we lost our nerve and beat a hasty retreat. We decided instead to blast 15 miles across the sound to Öland. Sailing as close to the wind as we could manage took us to a small marina, but the only suitable alongside berth was taken up by a huge motor yacht. Again, another quick reverse was called for. We headed north, reading up on our options on the way.
But third time lucky. We are in an abandoned ferry port at the northern tip of the island, tied bows-to the dock and held off by a stern bouy- the pick up manoeuvre went much better this time. There's a shower block nearby for a mobile home site but we don't have the entrance code, and there's no self-service payment machine so it appears to be free! We may stay a couple of nights.
22 June 2018 | Kalmar, still
The replacement rudder sensor arrived at the local chandlery yesterday, and Barrie spent the day installing it. Hopefully we can now return to lazy sailing, letting the autohelm do most of the work. We have also discovered my problems with berthing here were because the gear selector cable had snapped as I approached the pontoon too fast and slammed the boat into reverse, so replacing that was Barrie's job for today. Our mantra when things break is now 'but at least it didn't happen in Cuba!' There is a free sauna in this marina, and Barrie has a regular 16.30 slot booked, his reward for a hard day's work.
Yesterday was wet, windy and cold, the worst day we've had since leaving Ipswich, so being delayed here was no big deal. Today is a national holiday in Sweden, the closest Friday to midsummer- they call it Midsummer Eve, and for many it is the start of their long summer break. Any parties must be going on in back gardens, because it's a ghost town here.
Tomorrow we continue north and plan to have some chill-out time in a few anchorages. I nearly posted a photo of the new rudder sensor, but these babies visited us today, and are much cuter.
Not another castle...
20 June 2018 | Kalmar
Bright and Windy
We're still in Kalmar waiting for the wind to die down. A few brave boats left yesterday but we had a good excuse to stay- I had an appointment with the dentist. After half an hour in her chair I feel a lot better and can chew again.
Today I dragged Barrie away from boat jobs, and he agreed that Kalmar Slott was well worth the visit. These Skandi Renaissance castles are quite different to our gloomy British equivalent, with pale interiors and beautiful marquetry. I knew nothing of Nordic history, but I'm beginning to recognise the key players now. We had lunch in a very pleasant restaurant in the castle gardens, where I made the basic error of ordering two glasses of house white without seeing the price. It was very pleasant, but cost more than the set lunch! Never again.
17 June 2018 | Kalmar
We had a really fast sail today up the sound between Öland and the mainland. Three yachts left the marina within ten minutes of us. Despite denying ever sailing competitively, we probably left it longer than usual before we reefed the headsail! We were all heading for Kalmar, quite a large town with a beautiful castle that we plan to look round tomorrow.
Unfortunately the wind was still blowing hard when we entered the marina, and was beam on when made our first ever attempt at berthing bows too, picking up a buoy on the way in. It did not go well. I failed to get Barrie close enough to the buoy, and was blown sideways onto our neighbouring boat. Everyone was very kind, and nothing was hurt other than my pride. There’s a special hook used round here to make this manoever easier, so it’s on the shopping list for tomorrow.
An Easy Day
16 June 2018 | Sandhamn
By mid-morning we were the only yacht left in the basin. We only had twelve miles to go to our destination on the mainland so had plenty of time to explore. The first step was borrowing the harbour rowboat to get across to the other part of the island. We tied up next to the powerful rib belonging to a group of divers, who were staying in the few buildings originally built for the lighthouse keeper. It was a long climb to the top of the lighthouse, but worth it for the view. The lighthouse is one of only a handful in the world to have been fortified. We met the harbourmaster, who confirmed it was very rare to have such a flat calm sea.
Our exit was much easier than our arrival, and we motored for two hours with almost no wind, and are now in a sleepy fishing harbour on the mainland. There is one quay for the fishing fleet, and the other is the 'gasthamn' for visiting yachts. There is a large German yacht tied behind us, and the owner knows Sweden well and has given us a very useful list of his favourite anchorages as we head North. Never take recommendations on anchorages from a smaller boat! A British yacht arrived quite late and we invited John and Suzanne for a drink. They have owned their boat over 40 years and kept her in the Baltic for the past 12 years. They also gave us plenty of tips on where to go.
A Tight Entry
15 June 2018 | Utklippan
We are in a wild and interesting harbour, a small basin excavated from a scattering of rocks ten miles south of the Swedish mainland. The basin was originally built as a shelter for pilot boats, but is now used just by yachts on passage. Tomorrow morning we plan to climb up the lighthouse for the view- we're too tired tonight. The double entrance was both very narrow and shallow, with just half a metre under the keel and a sharp turn to negotiate around this concrete bollard. Barrie had to get the fenders and lines prepared outside the harbour whilst I held station in quite a big swell- not ideal! But all was peace and calm once in, and we are one of just eight boats here for the night.
We have sailed 60 miles today, our longest passage for a while. The autohelm is behaving some of the time after Barrie's improvised repair. then decides to spin us 90° off track, so it's back to hand helming until it starts to behave again after a few hours - most odd.
The Hated Castle
13 June 2018
We cycled north today to Hammershus, the site of the largest ruined castle in Northern Europe. Again, a delightful quite hilly route along the coast and through beech woods, mainly off-road. The site of the castle was spectacular, high on a granite outcrop overlooking the sea. Also impressive was the new visitor centre, which only opened in March. It’s an architectural wonder, built into a ravine with a terrace looking out at the ruins. The state-of-the-art interpretation centre told the tale of the castle. The Church forced the local people to build it, then they were governed strictly and taxed heavily by various rulers as it passed between Church and State until it was abandoned in the mid 1700’s.
Sauna by the Sea
12 June 2018 | Hasle
We had a fast sail to Bornholm with the wind behind us. It's the first time we've had a rolly downwind sail since our passage to the Azores about this time last year. Barrie was feeling a bit green when we arrived, and was pleased to find a free public sauna in the harbour. He shared it with an 83 year old local, who has a swim and sauna every day unless the harbour is frozen over!
Bornholm is a rocky island at a strategic position in the Baltic. It has changed hands many times, but for the past few hundred years has belonged to Denmark. We are tied up in a fishing harbour on the north-west coast. There's plenty of room for visiting yachts in the various basins, and it looked a better option than the proper marinas. I got a telling off from the harbour master this evening because we were still flying the Swedish courtesy flag.
The Ale’s Stones
11 June 2018 | Ales Stenar, Kåsaberga
We are so glad we have the folding bikes with us. We can go months when they never get taken out from under our bunk, but this summer they remain out on the aft deck, and are our main source of exercise and freedom to explore. The cycle paths in Sweden are as good as those in Denmark. When occasionally they run alongside a main road, barriers ensure our safety.
Today we pedalled 15 miles there and back to see Ales Stenar, stones set out in the form of a Viking Ship’s hull. They work as a calendar, with the sun at both the summer and winter solstice lying its shadow across the central stone on each side. The setting was spectacular, on the highest point of a cliff. It was a mile’s walk from the village car park, so everyone had to earn the view and it wasn’t too busy.
09 June 2018 | Ystad
Teak decks are lovely, and Yarona’s look great for her age. But they do take work to look so good. Barrie has spent most of today cleaning them and now he’s replacing some plugs. I’ve been polishing stainless steel, another essential if rather tedious job.
We are in the marina in Ystad, and (unlike in most of the Wallander series) the sun is shining. This weather is amazing and shows no sign of ending! We Took the easiest option when we arrived - an alongside berth at the entrance. Not the most sheltered, but a good spot to drop the dinghy and get these jobs done. The town is lovely with medieval streets and half-timbered buildings, and we hope to explore tomorrow. But the autohelm still needs fixing....
Welcome to Sweden!
07 June 2018 | Falsterbo
Yesterday’s forecast was for F4 on the beam, but we woke to F5 on the nose, so decided to stay put. Today we had a lively sail across the Sound. The autohelm has stopped working- rudder sensor error message- so we had to hand helm for four hours. It was a fast but not the most relaxing of sails- cargo ships and a ferry to dodge, some shallow patches and a huge wind farm to sail around. The buoyage is excellent which helps.
We are in a marina at the entrance to a canal that gives a short cut across a sandy peninsula at the south-west corner of Sweden. We managed a cycle ride on an old railway track this afternoon, but it wasn’t very interesting.
The road bridge across the canal opens on the hour, so we plan to make the 09.00 opening in the morning, after Barrie has had a rummage under the aft bunk to try to sort out the autohelm. He wasn’t in the mood tonight!
Send in the Clowns
05 June 2018
A lovely three mile cycle ride north on a track through the sand dunes took us to Arken, a Modern art gallery at Ishoj. The stark concrete architecture suited its setting. We really liked this rather disturbing installation of 45 clowns.
We could easily stay her longer, but tomorrow.... Sweden!