Sunday, December 27, 2009

More winter impressions

I got this request for some pictures of the boatyard and my boat in its sorry winter state. Unfortunately, on the way there I decided to make a video instead, being, as alway, terribly inspired by Dylan Winter. However, I did not know that the camera's lense makes you look quite like a rabbit if you put it too near. That never happend to Dylan. Anyway, it's too late now and I will have to go through with this.

Getting into the yard wasn't easy as the lock had frozen. Expecting this I carried a small can of anti-freeze spray, which got me in, but did not entirely clear the lock on the inside so I wouldn't have gotten the key in if the door had slammed shut.



And here is the after-pic.



I did get out without trouble so I could take some more pics from the other side of the inlet.



Sunday, December 20, 2009

Not sailing weather


I took a walk to the boatyard today. It was snowing a little and there was about half a foot of snow on the ground. It would probably have been easier if I'd had a pair of skis. After having removed about a ton of snow from the boat's cover I walked home and it started to snow really good.



After having made it to the subway station the adventure got a bit out of hand. First there was a big bang and a flash of lightning, then the train stopped in the tunnel. A voice came on the loudspeaker telling us that the train probably had lost a current collector shoe and wasn't allowed to continue until inspected. However, a few minutes later she told us she'd try to back the train to the previous station. This succeeded and I was once again out in the snow. Shortly after I was hit by a lump of snow or ice descending from a roof. It missed my head by inches and bumped off my shoulder.

It really is much safer at sea!

Ah, and don't do this to your boat.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Little Grace to Finland

A journey of the more unusual kind: David Appleby trailered his Alacrity "Little Grace" all th way from Coventry in the UK to Finland. He used a 1600 Ford Focus estate at max kerb weight, using a braked trailer and Bulldog stabiliser (the latter to reduce the risk of fishtailing). David writes:

"The car coped really well and the whole rig was very stable; having said that I stuck to a max of 80km/PH."

Here are some pictures.
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"In one of the photos you can just see the stabiliser that I think helped a
lot. Another detail that may interest others is an easily obtainable elastic
net that fitted very well over the cockpit which meant that I was able to
fill it (the cockpit) without having to worry that things would fly out,
such as the step ladder you can see.

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It was tempting to go faster and indeed the optimum speed for cruising
seemed to be 85-90 km ph but only on level and very smooth road surfaces.

The boat was loaded with a lot of my personal effects, as was the car, which
also carried two people and a Labrador. The heavy items were in the car, not
that the people or the dog are particularly heavy. Lighter, bulkier items
travelled in the boat. The car’s max tow weight is 1200 kg.

We set off at about 14:00 on Sunday and drove to Dover where we got the
ferry at around 10:15. When we arrived in Calais we drove through the early
morning to get away from the industrial/more built up areas. Stopped and
slept in the car from about 2am.

After breakfast we set off again once the rush hour traffic had died down.
The use of Tom Tom and sticking to the E roads made driving smoothly and
safely easier.

The only problem that occurred was when we got lost in a diversion and had
to stop quickly at traffic lights outside of Eindhoven. Stopping was not the
problem but the handbrake popped up and the retainer dropped into the
ratchet. Not knowing this we continued towing until the breaks overheated
and boat seemed to be getting heavier. Luckily we pulled into a service
station and reached a parking space at the same moment that the boat trailer
refused to move any further. After identifying the problem and anxiously
waiting until the beaks cooled down and proved that for certain that it was
not the bearings, which had been replaced the week before departure we set
off again. The retainer that had dropped into the ratchet was taped up so as
to prevent it causing another cardiac arrest.

The next stop in Germany was recreational and a chance to exercise the dog.
After a short stint the next stop was for a meal and sleep during the busy
traffic period in the evening. Driving through the night and luckily getting
through km after km of road works the next stop was at 3 am followed by a
short drive at 5am to the next services for more sleep then breakfast until
the rush hour was over.

We finally arrived in Rostock North Germany 10 hours early for the ferry we
were due to board at 00:00. This was as a result of choosing to stay on the
E roads and push on after the scare at Eindhoven rather than a more
leisurely approach, i.e. to give us time to deal with any problems, but
there were no more.

The crossing to Finland was 26 hours in a F10-11. At Helsinki at 8am there
was snow. The last leg at normal speeds is normally 1.5 hours. We arrived
home (my new home) at around 12.30 having stopped a couple of times. The
last few kms were on minor roads in the countryside that had settled snow on
them but not much. There was one minor but steep hill that was just a little
tricky and I had to get the revs right to avoid wheel spin but the car
managed the pull with enough grip.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Upcoming: 50th anniversary

Next year is the Alacrity's 50th anniversary as a class. Designed in 1960 the boat was built during many years and upgraded a few times. However, the basic lines have been the same all the way back since the first plywood version.

Now, I have been asked if I would be interested in editing an anniversary publication which would be printed and sold by a publisher in Ireland. I said, I might do it, but I would want to check with the crowd first. I don't think I will have the time or resources to write everything myself so I would want contributors. I also would want good pictures in high resolution.

While most of the basic facts, history and technical bits already are present on this site, some of it would have to be rewritten and polished up some. There are articles that could be used, but where permission would have to be obtained from the original authors. As this would be a somewhat commercial project, it would have to be done correctly.

I am not saying you'll get paid, but there is a chance of it, even if it might not be much.

So my questions simply are: 1. would you be interested in buying such a thing? 2. would you be interested in contributing to the project. Please answer in the comments below.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A new Alacrity blog: Sea Witch


Andrew French has just started a blog about his new Alacrity. I am sure he will have lots of adventures with her. Keep us posted, Andy!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A survey of "Limpan"

No, not a boat survey, it's an island. In fact it's the nearest uninhabited one from my club, and despite having sailed past it lots of times I never had been ashore there. I had anchored in its lee a few times and seen other boats moor at the rocks, so I knew it was possible.

This week-end a friend and I decided to give it a try. There was quite a blow, with very gusty winds from the west, so we started with the small jib and a reef in the main. This worked quite well and with the wind mostly on the beam we made it to Limpan in record time.

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When we came closer we saw that there was another boat already there, trying to find a spot to moor. So, we would not have the privilege of our own island - oh well. We did, however, find a nice spot to moor, out of sight of the other boat.

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The island itself makes quite a good lee, despite the wind howling past it on both sides. On this picture the border of the lee can clearly be seen, where the water is darker the wind is blowing.

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We had a little picnic and then made a thorough examination of the island. It's probably less than half a kilometer long and at most about 100m wide, so the survey was done quickly. A good thing was that there is almost no undervegetation, so it was very easily accessible.

View towards the island from its southern point.
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And the narrow sound between it and the next little island to the north.

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The northern one might be worth a visit as well, but it's not as easy to get to as the beach is very shallow at most places. We saw two kajakers however who went ashore there later.

Survey finished, we set off back home. As we had the wind dead against us in the beginning, we did use the engine for a while. Yes, I know, but I am not getting any younger, either.

Finally a video I shot on the island. It turned out in some Blair Witch Project style, which wasn't really the intention, but you can see a little of the island anyway...



Altoghether, a nice day trip and perhaps the last landfall on unexplored land of the season.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Afternoon sail

The weather has been glorious here this last week and is supposed to stay that way through the week-end. Of course, I have to work the whole week-end, so there will be no sailing for me. But I did sneak out of the office at 3 pm today just to get a few hours on the boat anyway. There was not too much wind, but enough to sail around the nearest island.

I took a short video when passing through the narrow sound north of it. Someone there has bought himself an old military vessel, I'm not really sure what kind though.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

New shelf

There had always been unused space where the former owner had his stereo and switchboard. As I have removed those the space had been empty. Now I have made a new shelf where the stereo once had been. I used half an old washboard I had kept as a reserve, and ten screws. Easy job...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summer cruise 2009 - Part III

(If you have missed the earlier parts you may want to start reading from Part I)

The day my father arrived I sailed the boat to Finnhamn, only a short distance from where I was moored. It still took quite some time, in blazing sunshine and with almost no wind. When I finally was moored up I had to take a swim at once.

I was moored at Idholmen a 20 minutes walk from the ferry landing, but my Dad likes walking in the forest so I thought it wouldn't be a problem. Shortly after I arrived, a big Bavaria 36 moored closely next to me. But this is to be expected here, where it is quite deep everywhere and there is a shop and a restaurant as well. Still, the crew was nice and offered me a whiskey for compensation, which I accepted, of course.

An hour and a half later I started to walk to the ferry landing. When I got half way there I realized that I had forgotten my wallet, so no beer at the pub while waiting for the ferry... Anyway, my Dad finally arrived on this slightly less ugly ferry.

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In real "Riddle of the Sands"-style he had not only a rucksack but a hard suitcase which may not have been the best choice of things one would like to carry through a forest - or onboard a boat. But we managed nonetheless.

I had offered my Dad two choices as for destination for the next day: a pittoresque fishing village with a pub or a deserted island with a view of the horizon. Knowing my Dad I was quite sure he would pick the fishing village. So we sailed to Möja.

Winds were very light and we managed to sail about halfway until they died down completely. We then motored the rest of the way, taking the shortcut through the Möjaström passage, which I had never done before. At the entrance to the channel someone was restoring this beautiful vessel.

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And here is a short clip from the passage.



At Möja we went to the restaurant in order to book a table for the evening, only to discover that it was closed for restauration until 2010. Instad we had a hamburger at a grill at the ferry landing. Later we discovered that the café which only used to sell breakfast and danish pastry now had expanded and even served food. So we went there again in the evening and had very nice steaks...

Before that, we visited the little church. I had never been inside before, despite having been to Möja several times earlier. It is really nice. From the roof hangs a big model ship. Unfortunately I only had the camera in my mobile phone at the time and the light inside was too bad. When I got back the next morning with the proper camera, the church was closed...Oh well, another time.

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Möja also has a new harbourmaster.

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The next day we sailed in a little more wind to Lådna. It's a place I have visited many times and it is always nice to come here and have a swim. My Dad enjoying the water.

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Afterwards he told me that this cruise was the best he had yet. Mainly, I think because of the much warmer weather (it did not rain even once!), but he also liked the food on board better. (Although I cannot remember the food having been worse last year...).

From Lådna we sailed on to Gällnö, another known place from my reports. On the last leg back to town it is a bit difficult to find new anchorages. This time, it being a week-end and very sunny and warm, the achorage was so crowded I did not find a suitable rock to moor at first. Instead I sailed the boat until the keels touched the mud and we could jump into the water and wade ashore. Coming back aboard wasn't as easy though...




We moved to a proper rock later.

Via a short hop to Hästholmen south of Grinda (which my Dad did not like at all as we were moored in shadow from trees most of the time), we sailed on to Getfoten. This time, however we took another route, through Lindalssundet. It's a shortcut, but usually much frequented by wash-making mobos, so I try to avoid it. This time it wasn't so bad and we could sail all the way through. Only the last part, through Vaxholm itself we had to motor against strong winds in an area with much traffic.

Shortly before entering Lindalssundet we met this survey vessel, moving some buoys.

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And this nice Dutch boat.

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At Getfoten we arrived at the same time as the garbage barge...no nice smell...

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And the boat next to us, a mobo from Uppsala with engine trouble had fixed a tow to a boatyard that would arrive at 0600 the next day.

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With rain (finally) in the forecast, I thought it was just as well for us to make an early start as well. And so we did, arriving at home just before it started to rain!

After all, this cruise was definitely one of the nicer ones. We did not have to sail in rain once. In the beginning, the winds were a little on the strong side, but as they were from the right direction we could sail anyway. The engine did us good service, and with the old Honda we might not have been able to make good the distace from Söderarm to Blidö in one day, so there is something to be said for a little more horsepower sometimes.

Still we did not use much more than six litres of petrol for the whole trip. As for improvements on the boat, I don't really think there were any this time, although I got a little better at reefing.

Finally the tracks for the last leg. First Finhamn - Möja - Lådna - Gällnö.

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And Gällnö - Hästholmen - Getfoten - Home.

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Summer cruise 2009 - Part II

After the horrors of Fejan nightlife, we needed two quiet days to rest. This was beautifully accomplished at Långskär, one of those coves that are far too shallow for big boats. Thus we were essentially alone, except for two other sailboats on the other side of the cove. Those were great entertainment though as they had cats onboard, two on each boat. The smaller boat had two white Turkish Van cats which were running around ashore all the time, and mewing like crazy. The other boat had two black cats, which were quite the opposite. Almost never ashore and not saying a word. Unfortunately I do not have fotage of the cats, nor the boats. In fact, I did take almost no photos on that island, too busy relaxing I guess. Here is one though.

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On Monday we had officially abandoned our plans to go to Åland. With still unstable weather and time running out we decided to sail into the Söderarm archipelago instead. This part of the Stockholm archipelago had been a prohibited military area for decades and only been open for leasure craft a few years. There are still some military installations, but almost no private houses and it is currently discussed to have the Archipelago foundation take charge of the whole area in order to prevent exploatation.

The downside of the area being relatively new to boaters revealed itself as we reached our anchorage. There were quite a few boats, and additionally no shore facilities at all. As we already had two garbage bags from our previous cove we felt a bit like a litter transport. Anyway, the place is well worth a visit.

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On the way there, one has once again to cross the ferry lane to Finland. But then there are no navigational marks anymore except to a few military ones which purpose one has to guess. The island we visited, Inra Hamnskär, lies exactly opposite the one with the main military installation, a tall mast with a radar dome on top (at least this is my guess of its purpose).

Inra Hamnskär itself is very nice with tons of this mossy stuff they sell at quite a price to model railway enthusiasts, who paint it and make fake bushes of it. (Yes, yes, I once did that as well...).

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Later, a British boat entered the anchorage anchoring in the middle of it. It had an interesting rig, with two unstayed masts, almost like a junk rig but not quite. Behind it the radar mast can be seen.

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From the highest point of the island the view is spectacular.

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The anchorage was even visited by a mink and I managed to catch it on video.



We stayed here two days, hoping in vain that there would be some east in the wind so we could get South without having to tack too much. But this was not to be. So we left anyway, with a SW wind more or less on the nose. In order to be able to get some southing in, we decided to sail straight through the islands, in an area with no navigational marks at all. I picked a course that would be reasonably easy to pilot, with most shallows being near visible islands or rocks. However, the wind did not really allow us to keep to that course.

Once through the worst of it without incident, we emerged in relatively open water, with quite a chop. But we could sail for some miles with the wind from at least a reasonable angle.



After an hour or so of this, however we had to turn more westerly and the wind came right on the nose. So in the end, we used the engine for about half the distance to Blidö. Still after five hours of sometimes quite wet sailing (in fact the motoring into the chop was really the wettest part), we enjoyed a meal at the restaurant at Blidö. When we finally got it. The staff was really unorganized and sloppy at the least.

We had been at Blidö before and while the restaurant has expanded its business a little, the food store had closed, which was a disappointment. There is a very nice old barge there, taking tourist out for day trips.

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The next day we left Blidö for another island we have visited on an earlier cruise, Själbottna. However, this time we moored in another cove, one that is referred to as more difficult to get into and also shallower that the other one. It was indeed shallow, but we found a perfect spot all the way in that was easily defended against bigger boats. In fact, while there were about five other boats the first night, the second there was none at all.

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As proof of the difficult pilotage into the cove, we clearly heard the bang of a fin keel hitting a rock once. But the boat was alright, except maybe some gelcoat work next winter... Oh, and the second night we had the place completely to our own. The island was completely overgrown by blueberries and I actually picked some which I had in my scrambled eggs the next morning.

By now the first two weeks were nearing an end and it was time to think of a place to change crew. After some checking of ferry timetables we decided to drop off my wife at Södra Ingmarsö.

The weather had now improved and it was warm and sunny with light winds. We still could sail all the way. This one was out as well.

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According to the pilot book there was a new marina there, only 400m from the ferry dock. And so it was, the marina was very nice, but the 400m were not by foot but right across the bay! As we do not carry a dinghy this was a bit of a problem until I discovered that the marina has rowing boats that can be borrowed for the purpose. Very smart indeed!

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In the marina. That evening we had a meal at the dockside restaurant. Not being a week-end it was nice and quiet and there was even some live jazz! The next morning my wife left on this quite ugly ferry.

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For my own part I sailed the same day to a quite little spot called Stora Kalholmen. It's a small cove where the water gets quite warm and I stayed there two days, swimming, relaxing and preparing the boat for the week with my father.

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That story will be told in the third part, but before, as usual some Google-tracks. First Långskär - Söderarm - Blidö.

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And Blidö - Själbottna - Södra Ingmarsö - Stora Kalholmen.

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To Part III

Summer cruise 2009 - Part I

(July 20 - Aug 11)

Finally another year of work, winter and cold had passed and Discovery set out for her annual summer cruise. The setup was similar to the one of last year: first two weeks together with my wife, then after a few days alone, my father would join me for another week. This year we set out North, vaguely having in mind that there was a Small Boat Club meeting planned on Åland. If we would get there, we also would be able to visit my wife's uncle who has a summer house there.

However, to say it at once, there never was a crossing to Åland, and no boat meeting either. For our own part, the weather in the beginning of the cruise was very unstable, with strong winds, albeit from the right direction. So we still made it farther North than ever before and would have been only a day sail from Åland. However, when the weather finally was right for the crossing we would not have been able to get back in time to meet my father.

We set out from our home port a day later than planned, even this due to bad weather. When we finally left, it had stopped raining, but the winds were in the 24 knots range. As they were from the Southwest we could use them though, for a fast ride of about 25 nautical miles, through the inside passage called Furusundsleden all the way up to Siaröfortet. This took us about six hours and we were sailing with jib alone in the beginning, later with the addition of a reefed mainsail.

During our ride up Furusundsleden we met some ferries, as this is the route out to to Finland for the biggies.



Our first stop, Siaröfortet is a place I have wanted to visit for quite some time. It is a small island that is basically an underground fort from the First World War. Its construction was started in 1916 and it was finished in 1928, by which time it was more or less outdated already. Still it was in use until 1939, right in time for the Second World War. Luckily Sweden was neutral during both wars, so the fort wasn't needed really.

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The fort is completely built under the rocks, using quite a lot of Alfred Nobel's dynamite, I guess. On top there are only two big gun turrets, some smaller ones and covered walkways for the crew.

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Under ground the crew had their quarters and command posts. There were even big searchlights that could be hoisted up from below and rolled around above on small railway tracks.

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While this is all very interesting, it is unfortunately practically a ruin. So much more could have been done to make it more living, with exhibitions and wax soldiers or maybe even real people in costumes. Or at least they could have turned on the heating. But I guess it would have been too expensive, after all there were not that many visitors.

The island has a small dock for boats that visit overnight. Unfortunately it is not very protected if there are strong winds from the SW. The chop in the harbour was horrendous. Still, at least there were moorings so we did not have to worry about the anchor dragging.

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The night was thus very rough and we did not sleep that well. As the winds were the same, or even stronger the next day, we decided to make a short but fast run to Ängsö, an island with a good natural harbour in this wind as well as a reputation for great nature.

Getting out of the harbour, however, was a bit of a challenge. After watching a big German boat only getting out by a daring dash backwards while leaving a crewmember with a long line marooned ashore (they picked him up later though), I thought about maybe warping the boat out instead. But then a guy apperad and offered to help, so I placed him in a strategic spot for fending off if we would not be able to make the turn qick enough and went for it, succeeding as well!

This is the German boat, sailing happily with only a partly rolled out genny.
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We arrived at Ängsö two and a half hours later. It's really a nice spot, with some traditional farm cottages and a great forest.

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The sign in the forest says that it's a bird protection zone, but I am quite sure it's a cover up. In fact, they are protecting vampires. Just have a look at these mossy trees! It's just like in "Twilight".

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Talking about vampires, this cruise was the worst yet as far as ticks are concerned. I got at least five, one of which between my toes!

We stayed at Ängsö another night in order to recover from the choppy night at Siarö. The anchorage was not very crowded, however it got close once when suddenly twelve black IF-boats sailed through. They chose another bay to anchor in though.

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With the wind still strong from the SW we left on Thursday in order to make another dash North. This time we sailed with reefed main and small jib, except for a few miles when we motored into a choppy headwind in order to save some time (and be more comfortable). After four hours we arrived at Lidö, the most northerly point of our cruises yet. According to the original plan we would wait here (or on islands near here) until the weather improved enough for the crossing to Åland. On the way to Lidö we saw this interesting catamaran, with an a-frame mast.

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In fact, the wind was not so bad for a crossing to Åland the day after we arrived at Lidö. Unfortunately there was a dense fog that did not lift before well after lunch and then it was too late for the crossing.

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Here it has almost lifted...

Instead, we decided to sail to Fejan, another place we wanted to visit for a long time. It has a restaurant, which wasn't a bad thing by this time either. What we did not consider, though, was that it was Friday. And Friday night at one of the archipelago pubs is nothing to recommend if you want a quiet night. When we arrived the dock was already full of boats, but an Alacrity has it's advantages. So we could moor on the inside of the dock.

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Fejan was used in former times to quarateen refugees from the Baltic countries. There are still some old, derelict and almost overgrown buildings.

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While taking a walk I found this interesting vessel.

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And an old ice cream lorry.

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As well as dinner.

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No, we did not have duck, but we ate at the restaurant and it was one of the better ones in the archipelago. At least until the loud music and all the rest of the Friday night life started. At about two in the morning I had to go up to prevent a leaving mobo from untying my docklines instead of his own. Twice!

So we did not get too much sleep here either. I the morning we had breakfast at the café and left for another quiet anchorage only a few miles away, Långskär.

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Before we move to part II, here are the Google Earth tracks, first for the leg from home to Siarö.

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And second from Siarö - Ängsö, Lidö, Fejan and Långskär.

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Go to part II.