Saturday, February 10, 2007

Archive: Summer Cruise 2007

(July 22 - Aug 12)
Includes also: "Baltic Bilge Keel meeting"
by Jens Kuhn

I will say it at once: this year's summer cruise was like the best and the
worst at the same time. The best because I had a lot of fun and because
I was living on the boat for three continuous weeks - the first record
of three (more about that later). The worst, because we
encountered probably the worst weather yet, at least during the first
two weeks. The third week was OK temperature wise, but there was almost
no wind instead.

But I will start from the beginning. On July 22 my wife and I set out
for our annual cruise. The boat was loaded with food, wine and water
for two weeks and the weather forecast was terrible. Well, the very day
of departure was OK but the next days would bring rain and gales from
the north. However, we decided to start anyway, as if we had waited we
would have been forced to wait so long so we would become crazy all

So we sailed in mostly light winds and glorious sunshine to Vaxholm. If
you usually read my reports, you know that place already. We do not
really like it. The marina is very busy and the waters around are
choppy and full of motorboats and we usually feel the vacation does not
start until we are past it.

There is, though, one good thing about that place. It is great to wait
out rain and gales. It has restaurants a plenty and the harbour is,
once inside, very safe. So we tucked up there and had a good dinner.
The next day, we had breakfast at a café and watched the rain.
We also did some shopping: a new hurricane lamp as the old one had
stopped burning properly and some real fancy new Helly Hansen rain gear
for my wife (I had bought some cheapy stuff for her before we set off,
but when she put it on for the first time we discovered several holes
in it!

And we visited the castle! I have written about it several times and
posted some pics but this time we actually went over to it and had a
look. There is a museum inside covering Swedish coastal defenses over
time and while not extremely good, it kept us out of the rain.

This is the view from the castle over the approaches. The museum also
had a lot of modern stuff about post-war coastal defence positions
buried deep down under the rocks. From there the crew could overview
the archipelago and fire guns and missiles.

It's a bit like in a submarine, but under the rocks.

The next day most of the rain had gone and anyway, my wife had her new
Hellies, so we set off. We sailed to one of our favorite anchorages at
Gällnö. Usually it is quite full, but surprisingly this time
there was only one other boat. Later another sailboat arrived, but this
is still extremely little for late July. The truth it did not really
feel like July, especially the nights were very cold.

The next day the other boats left and we were alone for a few hours.
Unfortunately the peace was dramatically disturbed when a group of no
less than five motorboats cruising in company arrived in the afternoon.

In Vaxholm we also had purchased a big piece of meat, so we could have
a proper barbeque. It took two of those disposable barbeque sets to
cook it!

The next day we were off again. We felt that we would have to go to a
new place this time so we headed for a little anchorage in
Träsköfjärden which according to the pilot book was
perfect for shallow draft boats. The wind was good and the sun was out
and we enjoyed our sail. Suddenly we heard a conversation on the
VHF between two sailing vessels one of which was a Russian sailing
frigate about to take part in the Tall Ship Race. We then realised that
she was headed towards us in the same area so we directly plotted a
course to intercept. Unfortunately she was not under sail, but a beauty

We resumed our original course and arrived at the designated anchorage
shortly after lunch. However, when we peered inside it revealed itself
being full of small motorboats with lots of children running around on
the rocks. This was not what we wanted so we carried on past it. Now we
had to find another place to stop for the night. I decided to try for
Hälsingeholmarna, a group of islands I had been thinking about
before, but never went there as it is not protected from all winds and
also it is very shallow. This time however the wind was forecast to
stay in the south west for days, albeit blowing like hell.

Hälsingeholmarna proved to be the perfect spot! Sure we had to try
for about half an hour to find the probably only place deep enough to
let us moor to the rocks, but once there it proved to be perfect. It
was dead calm inside during the next three days, although a short walk
to the other side revealed a totally different view. The waves were
high and creaming and the few boats out had reefs in and did not look
too comfortable.

It is perhaps easy to understand why my wife declared this to be her
new favorite spot. It had all. It was quiet (one motorboat during the
first night, a kajaker, and another sailboat further out in the deeper
water was all we saw during our stay). The view was great with even a
small patch of open horizon to be seen.

The weather though, was, well, neither fish nor fowl. One day it rained
for about half an hour every two hours. Still we timed our meals so we
could eat them in the cockpit in the sun. On the other side of the
island it was blowing a gale, but in here we had a nice time. We stayed
here for four nights. In fact, I could have stayed longer, enjoying the
remoteness and lack of people, but the wind was now forecast to be
blowing from the north and from there there would be no protection. So
we left, and having been alone for so many days we decided to go to
Möja, to get some supplies and have a good meal at the pub.

The sail to Möja was an utterly eventless but tedious beat in
light winds. And when we arrived we discovered the pub was closed (How
can they close on a Monday in holiday times?). This was a near crisis,
but we resolved it by buying some hamburgers at the shop and put them
on the barbeque. I did not take any pics in Möja as there are some
in one of the other cruise reports. It is a very charming fishing

We had breakfast at the café (extremeley expensive, but hey, we
did save the pub money the day before). After breakfast we had to
decide if we would stay another day or not. There was a near gale again
and many boats decided to stay in and wait for it to blow over.
However, this time it was from the North East, and we would not have to
tack into it. So we decided to give it a try, put in a reef in the main
and headed out. At first it was a glorious ride, but once out on the
open fjord it got quite bumpy. We had two options, one long ride all
the way down to Nämdö or to stop after about a quarter of the
distance at Hasslö. After that there would be not many good
harbours until we got down to Nämdö. We decided for
Hasslö to be on the safe side.

Hasslö was another nice spot. There were only two other boats, one
of which a nice old wooden workboat. One side of the anchorage
was uninhabited woodland but on the opposite side were nice little
summer houses. Unfortunately neither of us thought about taking any
pictures of those.

The next day the forecast was for winds from the Southeast. This was
not at all perfect as it would mean a beat almost all the way down to
Nämdö. Anyway we decided to go. Normally we do try to avoid
long upwind passages but this time we had to make our way south in
order to get to Härsö to meet Nigel who was going to sail his
boat Super Anne over from Latvia. According to the forecast the wind
would be strong, but not too strong. So we started out nicely with full
main and small jib and everything worked just fine. The sun was shining
and the wind was almost a trifle too weak. We passed this nice wooden
boat on the way.

However the further south we came the more the wind increased. As did
the waves. Once out in the open Nämdöfjärden we had a
quite bumpy ride taking spray over the bows more often than not. It was
still a glorious ride, the boat almost felt like it did enjoy it for
once. Heavily loaded for cruising as we were I did not even feel the
need for a reef. Still after some more hours of this my wife showed
signs of getting a bit tired of the motion and the heeling. She did not
say anything though, just went below and rested with a book for a

All the time I was thinking the wind had mostly to do with that dark
cloud that now had gathered over us and would soon weaken again. But it
did not. I now think it was the typical thing of the sea breeze
increasing the forecast winds from the same direction. This can happen
sometimes when the wind is from the south and especially in the
afternoon the wind can easily reach 20 knots without the forecast even
mentioning it as without the sea breeze to add it would be only 12
knots or so.

Anyway, when we neared our destination my wife finally got fed up for
good, so I doused the sailes and motored the last two miles into the
anchorage. Which was crap. It was blowing right through and was full of
boats anyway. We tried three different spots until we found one good
enough for the night but still we did bump onto the rocks sometimes
when powerboat swell got through. Now, in the beginning I promised
three records, and you may have realised that this was the second one.
We did not know it then, but several days later at Härsö a
fellow boater from my club told me he had been out that day in about
the same area and had measured 28 knots of wind. And in that we where
happily (sort of) tacking without even a reef in. The Alacrity really
is a safe boat.

So we did not like that anchorage at Nämdö, and the next day
we got up early and left at 0930, probably the earlest departure during
the cruise (no that's not the third record!). The wind was quite strong
and still from the south and we put up the main only with a reef in and
headed for Munkö, a few miles directly to the north of
Nämdö. With only this little sail area we still made more
than 4 knots. Munkö (meaning monk island), despite being quite
crowded was a relief compared to Nämdö. It was sheltered, we
got a perfect spot and arriving there after only one hour's ride, came
in there exactly as everybody else left. We settled for a day of rest
as I did not get too much sleep the night before, going up several
times to adjust mooring lines and haul the boat further away from the

Sunset at Munkö. After that night the weather changed
dramatically. Summer finally arrived with warmth and light winds. In
fact, we did not have a good breeze since. It was now Thursday and
Nigel was due to arrive at Härsö on Monday. Also my wife
would leave me then and be replaced by a friend as crew. The plan was
to arrive at Härsö on Sunday at the latest in order to get
some rest before the last week of the cruise. As my wife wanted to go
to some more seaside pub before the end of the cruise we decided to try
for Rödgrund, a small island in the middle of a big fjord. It has
a very small harbour with a restaurant and a bed and breakfast place.

We started with a light wind from the south and had a quiet beat about
half the distance to Rödgrund. Then the wind died away never to
return that day (nothing in the forecast about that!). I waited
drifting for about an hour or so, then fired up the Honda and pottered
away to Rödgrund. Arriving there we were told that we could get a
meal but could not stay over night as they were all booked for the
night and there was no space in the harbour.

The little dock at Rödgrund. At first we were a bit disappointed
but then we realised we would not have wanted to stay over night anyway
if there was a big party going on at the pub which was very near the
dock. So we had a couple of hamburgers with fries and then set of
again. Now where to? There were a few places between Rödgrund and
Härsö but in those light winds we would not be able to sail
to any of those. And the new forecast did not promise any wind the next
day either. To Härsö it was 6.5 nautical miles, about two
hours at most economic speed with the Honda. So we filled the tank, put
on our raingear (it was a steady drizzle by now) and played the
motorboat for a while. At 3.3 knots we arrived at Härsö
before dinner using less than a litre of petrol! I had thought I would
have to refill the tank halfway out, but that proved unnecessary. I did
fill it shorty before entering Härsö though as I did not
fancy having the engine quit on me in the middle of entering the
anchorage. Härsö is my club's summer place so there would be
known people around.

At Härsö we rested for the week-end. On Saturday the weather
was glorious for everything but sailing. Bright sumshine, finally
warmth even at night and not a sign of any wind. We could even take a
swim without freezing to death.

Here the first part of the cruise had come to an end. On Monday morning
I motored to Trinntorp right over the bay where there is a bus stop.
There I took farewell of my wife and collected Björn, my new crew
for a few days.

The Baltic Bilgies cruise

After having stowed Björn and his belongings into the boat, together with some
more supplies bought at the little shop at Trinntorp, I realised that
there was blowing a little breeze. We could give the engine a rest and
sail the way back to Härsö in order to arrive there at about
the same time as Nigel with his Super Anne who by now had entered the
archipelago and only had some more miles to go. And he had a following
wind while we had to tack. We hauled the boat off the dock using the
kedge, set sail and sailed away without even using the engine,
hopefully making some impression on the people at the nearby beach.

Arriving at Härsö again we immediately saw Super Anne moored
to the dock. Nigel was standing ready to take our lines. Here they are,
two boats and four keels.

Nigel and his Latvian crew Edgar relvealed themselves being throughout
enjoyable company (by immediately presenting me with a bottle of
whisky...) and we finished the afternoon off by drinking Latvian beer
(in a 1.5l PET bottle!). My new crew Björn who is from Northern
Sweden had been promised we would fire up the sauna so after another
hour or so resting, this was the next task.

This is the sauna. Unfortunately Nigel and Edgar did not join us in the sauna. After their long trip crossing the Baltic they were really quite tired and needed to rest. After the sauna we had a barbeque with fresh hamburgers from Trinntorp and some chicken which Nigel had brought over. We had some more beers and chatted away for a few hours. Then we got a call from Tommy, another Brit who had brought his dinghy in the car over to the mainland side to take it over to Härsö and say hello. Unfortunately he discovered a hole in the inflatable so could not make it. A pity! We discussed some alternatives but did not find an attractive one and anyway we had probably drunk too much to go to sea by then anyway. And Nigel was almost falling asleep right on the bench where he was seated.

So we all went to sleep. I was determined to make an early start the next day, as Nigel only would be here for a couple of days and I wanted him to see a few anchorages and islands before he left again. As the wind was very light we already had decided to attempt a 20 miles' tow job right up into the northern part of the archipelago, which is the part I like the most and has the nicest anchorages. However, when I got up the next day, I realised there would be no early start and I could as well have stayed in bed. Fog. In the beginning we could not even see the island on the other side. However, the sun soon burned the fog away and we left Härsö and started up north.

The tow job went perfect. In fact it went much better than I had thought. We towed mostly at a little more than 5 knots and it felt very comfortable even when we encountered swell. Before we set off we had given Nigel a series of waypoints he had entered into his GPS. Due to a misunderstanding between me taking them out of the chart (in decimals) and Björn writing them down (in minutes and seconds) most of them were quite some way off so after discovering this I reverted to giving Nigel courses via the VHF. In fact, I felt like an admiral giving the fleet orders for course changes "Due West, if you please"! I was a great feeling.

Shortly we entered the traffic lane though, and Nigel could just follow
the blue line on his plotter for a while. So the fun stopped for me. We
boiled some water and had coffee and cakes instead. What Nigel and
Edgar had in their glasses up front I do not know, but someway I doubt
it was coffee...

After a 12 miles or so we entered into a bigger stretch of water named
Kanholmsfjärden. Our course was now due north and the wind was
from the Northwest, so it was time to cast off the tow and try some

At first I started with main and the little hankerchief-jib (Nigels
term). Nigel had warned me that his boat was awfully slow so I thought
that would probably be enough. It wasn't really, at least in this light
wind, so after a while I took the jib down again and pulled up the
genny. The result was positive.

We sailed for two hours or so, then it was time to move between the
islands again. The wind would drop and again be dead ahead. By now we
were quite hungry so we were eager to reach our first destination, the
little village of Norra Stavsudda. So we resumed the tow. Again we were
doing the navigation from Discovery while Nigel and Edgar were mostly
occupied with watching girls in rowboats through powerful binoculars.

After a very good piece of beef and a beer at the pub at Norra
Stavsudda we were off for Lådna, about three miles away, where we
would stay the night. As it was not far, sunny and there was a little
breeze we decided to sail all the way. Again I marveled at being the
faster boat for once (never happens otherwise) so I lead the way, Nigel
trustfully following. According to my log we arrived at Lådna
1915, tied up to a rock and settled down.

Now, if he had been fascinated by all the rocks at Härsö already, Edgar now became really crazy. He would just jump around from rock to rock, patting them with his hands and stating "fantastic!". He even collected some smaller ones to bring back to Latvia. I guess Nigel
must be glad to have Edgar for crew, he was really enthusiastic about
the boat and even voluntarily jumped into the water to try to clean the
topsides (unsuccessfully though).

The next morning was bringing light winds and overcast skies. Soon
enough we would get even some rain showers. We decided to sail quite a
short distance to Gällnö, the same place I was almost alone
in with my wife earlier this summer. After Nigels comment "make it
interesting", we decided to take the narrow inside passage. With a
following wind it was still possible to sail.

The previous day Nigel had tried to get some diesel at Norra Stavsudda
but for some reason the fuel dock closed at 1700 so we missed that.
Instead he filled up at the Shell station at Lådna while
Björn and I were tacking back and forth outside wondering why this
would take so much time. Later we got the answer from Nigel, who first
had to find the owner of a motorboat which was moored in front of the
diesel pump. He finally found the culprit at the pub. Anyway that Shell
station is probably to be avoided, as it very well could have sold bad
diesel to Nigel. I guess he will comment this in his own report later.

Once filled up, we continued our sail, now in the rain. When we finally
got to Gällnö the place was full of boats. The better weather
had definitely woken up the lightweather boaters. Still we found a rock
quite far in which I had moored to before and which proved to have
water deep enough even for Super Anne.

Arriving already at 1300 we had a lazy afternoon swimming and talking.
Then we took the 2 km walk to the village of Gällnö where
there is a café and a shop. I then continued with Björn to
the ferry dock on the other side of the island, as he was needed at
work the day after and was taking the evening ferry back to town.

Back at the anchorage we had dinner and then met for some wine and
another chat. The next day Nigel would leave, so we spent some time
putting waypoints into his GPS leading him out of the archipelago.

The next morning they left. I found Nigel good company and easy to
cruise with and already miss Super Annes big diesel clouds and the
sound of the Perkins. We don't have those here. Anyway I think he will
be back and then I'll try to find some really small and tricky
anchorages for him. There might even be a decent breeze.

Now single handed I spent another day att Gällnö, enjoying
the warm weather, taking a swim and reading my book. I got some other
company though.

On Friday it rained heavily during the morning and the boat now wrongly
trimmed without crew took in some rainwater through the port cockpit
locker which I had to bail out. I now had to decide when and how to get
home. I decided to try it in two legs in order to arrive sunday evening
as the wind was forecast to veer into the west on monday which would
have forced me on a long beat the last bit home. It went all without
any problems. I left Gällnö under sail for 20 meters (just
showing I could do it), but then the wind died and I motored for anther
few cables until I was properly out of the anchorage. Then I sailed in
light following winds all the way to Getfoten near Waxholm. That took
me 6 hours and I was quite tired once I got there. The sailing was not
tiring in itself, but there was a lot of wash from powerboats and in
light winds this is quite stressful as the boom always swings around in
the swells and needs to be held fast.

The sunset at Getfoten was very nice though. Next morning I started for
the last leg home, which took me another five hours, mostly light
following winds, making never more than three knots, except for the
last two hours when the sea breeze had gotten up and I hade a nice beat
at 4 knots or more.

Finally at home after three weeks on the boat. You wonder what the
third record was? Know what? I don't remember anymore.

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