Thursday, May 10, 2007

2004 Summer Cruise

Finally my summer vacation had
arrived and my wife and I were preparing for our summer cruise. This
year we would be out sailing for two weeks, the longest consecutive
time so far. The last two years we spend eight days on the boat and when we
were on our way home, we both felt that we would like to try being out
longer next time. So we tried.

My wife had to work Friday, so we decided to use Saturday as
provisioning day and set out on Sunday morning. This was not a very
decision though...more about that later.

With provisions for a 14 day cruise the boat sat quite low in the water
when we set out on Sunday at about 1000. However, earlier cruises had
taught us that the extra ballast only improves the boat's ability to go
to weather, provided that it all is stuffed in right (Trim somewhat low
in the bow to compensate two people in the cockpit.)

We did carry food for two weeks although we planned to stop at some
places where there are restaurants and shops to get more fresh things.
Mostly we carried canned food and fresh food that can live well in the
somewhat cooler bilges (potatoes, paprika, carrots, pasta,
oranges (to make fresh juice in the mornings), onions etc.. We also had
a small cooling bag which holds cold a few days. There we carried some
stuff we would eat during the first few days, i e sausages and cheese.).

Our plan was to get as far away from the city as possible the first,
day, and then sail slowly north, as far as we would get, as we did not
have been sailing up there before.

Winds were about 10 knots from the south-southwest which suited us
well. Forecasts also told us that these southerlies would prevail some
more days.

This little lighthouse marks kind of the boundary of normal daysailing
range. We now would not see it again for two weeks. This felt great!

To get a bit away from the city one has to sail one of two ways. Of
course, also every powerboat going out over the week-end has to do
This is why it is not so good to start or finish a cruise on a Sunday.
(There is another reason, to be told later....).

After passing the famous Vaxholm castle (where the Swedish fleet waited
doing nothing in 1717 while Russian warships burned the outer parts of
the archipelago), we turned into Lindalssundet, also called the highway
to the archipelago. Now we really learned this thing about powerboats
and Sundays. It got very bumpy... But finally we made it through and
into more open water.

I did, of course, forget to take a picture of the castle, as I have
seen it so often. I know you haven't, so I promise I will sail there
soon again and take a picture. However I photographed some nice houses
along Lindalssundet.

At 1800 we hade reached out first nightstop. This was actually the
whole cruise's longest leg, but we really wanted to get away from
town.... We stayed at a nice little cove, actually it's a sound, as
there is an island blocking the southern entry of the cove. This makes
it very sheltered although there is heavy boat traffic in the lane
of it. But almost no swells reaches in. There were a few other boats
there, among them a big German sailing yacht that had anchored in the
middle. Everybody else was mooring bow to land and anchor aft, as we
usually do it here.

We were so hungry after the long sailing day that we skipped any
advanced cooking projects and had pasta....

The next day it was overcast, and later on we would get some rain. We
decided to leave anyway, as we wanted to put some distance between us
and the city (and the powerboats...).

Winds were still from the south and about 10 knots. We sailed for five
hours until arriving at the next stop. Around lunchtime, we had some
instant noodles (the kind that comes in a cup and you only pour hot
water over it which we had pre-prepared in a thermos).

We passed a funny little island with a lot of Cormorants in dead trees
on it...

Finally we arrived at Träskö, where we stayed the night. Most
of the time it was drizzling.

This is the anchorage at Träskö in the evening. Quite a few
boats here, too.

Tuesday brought better weather and winds still from the south at the
usual 10-12 knots. We happily continued north, with the wind, not
knowing what would happen in a few days. So far we always listened the
the forecast on the radion two times a day. I did not yet bother to
check medium range forecasts via WAP, which I soon should learn is a
good idea....

We now sailed in much more open water, at least to the east.

After four hours we arrived at Själbottna. Here I took this
season's first bath.

The water was a bit cold, but it felt good. I liked this little cove
which is not so sheltered to te east, but works in all other winds.

Now the weather forecast changed. They talked about the wind veering
into the north and increasing to about 20 knots in the evening. We
decided to make an early start and sail to Blidö. This would mean
tacking up all the way through Blidö sound, but I thought that it
would be easier there to get shelter if the wind increased further.
decision I would not have made if I had checked the medium term
now, as it already would have told me that the wind would stay in the
north (it stayed there almost a week!) and that there would be a small
craft varning for winds of up to 28 knots the day after. However, we
still were headed north, as was our plan and so we did the tacking.
After seven hours we got to Blidö. Here we at least could have a
shower, eat at a restaurant and buy some fresh food. We also, I
could stay here an extra day if the wind was trying to build to a gale.

Blidö visitor's pontoon in the evening. Here I finally checked the
medium range forecast.

Having learned that the wind was to stay in the north at least three more days (this being the
WAP-forecast's time range) and the fact that the next day would give us
winds up to 28 knots and the day after not much less, we had a problem.
Additonally the night at Blidö was not at all quiet with swell from
passing boats and roaring kids from the village half of the night. So
when the next morning's forecast talked about the 28 knots of wind
being delayed to the next day, it for now being around 20-24 knots, we
decided to leave anyway. We would, however, change our plans and not try
to fight against this wind to get further north. There are almost no
anchorages there than can offer protection from northerlies. Instead we
would fly south with the wind and eventually be heading east towards
the outer parts of the archipelago.

So at 1030 I put a reef in the main and hoisted the small jib and off
we went. It was a bit scary in the beginning, but we soon learned that
the boat handled it very well and that there was almost no powerboats to
be seen! We also hit a new speed record of 6.1 knots and that with a
reef in and the small jib...

The sailing was too exciting, so we forgot to take any pictures. In the
afternoon, we arrived at the very sheltered anchorage at Finnhamn
(called The Paradise). There were already a lot of boats here waiting
for better weather.

We did not get a very good spot, not wanting to anchor out with all the
others, but with a spring line to shore and an extra anchor out aft, the
first night everything worked well. It turned out that the strong winds
stayed for one more day, so we stayed too, resting.

The next day we also got some rain.

On Saturday winsd finally got weaker. It was still blowing from the
north though, so we stayed with the plan to go east to the outer parts
of the archipelago. We picked a small island called Tistronskäret
as a starting point for the eventual jump across open water to

This was perfect sailing. A beam reach over quite open water in perfect

And here were almost no other boats! Below is the view from the other
side of the little island (facing north...)

The one bad thing with having the open sea to the east and north is
that I never will be able to take these beautiful sunset pics....this is
the closest I can get. This is my wife looking at the sea.

The weather was to stay quite stable with northerly winds, so we
decided to sail to Björkskär the next day.

With a few days of half a gale from the north, there was quite some
swell left, but of course nothing an Alacrity even would blink at.... In
fact we sailed out with full main and genoa, but had to take down the
genoa after an hour or so, as the wind increased. I did not bother to
put up the jib as we still made 5 knots with main alone.

Landfall at Björkskär. It's really not that far out, but it
is open water sailing, the same as it would be to sail to Finland or
Estonia, only that would take much longer...

The entrance to the anchorage at Björkskär. There is only one
house on the whole island. But there is a small harbour which of course,
an Alacrity can use. Here of all places we were approached by a guy who
recognized our boat and told us that he was sailing here with an
Alacrity 30 years ago. He also took his wife along and they came aboard
Discovery and got this special look in their eyes remembering former
days of simpler sailing. They once sailed their Alacrity over the
Baltic to Åland and found it easily done. They even had to tack
the whole way back, which took them 15 hours...

Discovery at Björkskär. There was a lot of wildlife here,
frogs, the usual mosquitoes and an amazingly great amount of swallows!
They even sat on our spreaders and docklines!

We sailed back the next day as the forecast talked about a rain front
coming in. But we did not catch any rain at all. And the sea was much

There is no fresh water to be had on Björkskär and we were
now somewhat low on supplies. So we decided to head back to
civilisation. This time it would be the small fishing port of Möja.

The island of Möja is one
of the biggest in the outer archipelago. There are three fishing
villages on the island's eastern coast. The good thing about Möja
is that the local people have resisted the transformation into a
tourism-only-island. Here people live all year round and there are still
some active fishermen.

The harbour at Möja is very small and we were lucky to get a spot
in the inner part which is most sheltered. However it got very crowded.
Here we bought some supplies and had a good meal at the restaurant.
(This time it was really good food. I had been somewhat disappointed
with the food at Blidö and Finnhamn).

Our plan was to leave the next day and sail on to some less crowded
place. But this plan did not work. The high pressure centre everybody
was talking about for weeks finally was about to hit Scandinavia (we had
had a very rainy and quite unusually cold summer this far), and with it
there was a lot of moist, warm air coming over a cold Baltic Sea.

We got fog. if you look very carefully you can actually see a sail in
the middle of it. The whole day boats were coming into this tiny harbour
to wait for better visibility. There where everywhere, anochored out,
tied to private docks and to each other.

Here maybe a note is apropriate to our Canadian friends. Well I know,
you always sail in this kind of weather. And yes, maybe I am squeamish
about this visibility thing.....

However the fog lifted in the early afternoon. We decided to stay the
nigh anyway and sail the next day.

With the high pressure being here, now we got it very hot, and very
light winds. This would unfortunately stay until the end of the trip. So
we planned to sail homeward slowly. At first this worked great. We found
an anchorage at Lådna that was almost empty. After a day's
sailing in light air and bright sunshine we swam quite a lot and
afterwards we agreed that this was one of the best anchorages we found.
We will certainly remember this one.

On our way there we saw this nice little boat.

The next moring we really wanted to stay another day, but the winds
being so light, we were afraid we would not make it home in time so we
proceeded to Gällnö. We still had some wind, so we made the
whole trip under sail alone.

Om our way we discovered some cows on the beach. How did they get there?

At Gällnö we got in the middle of some kind of open wooden
boat meeting. They only stayed for a late lunch though. Gällnö
once again is poweboat country. Here poweboaters can easily drive from
town to take a swim and get home in time for the evening news.

At Gällnö there are quite a lot of dragonflies. And some
curious duck like birds.

This one is sitting on the tiller.

Now the less successful part of the trip begins. Our plan was to stay
two more nights out, first at the marina at Grinda, where we would eat
at the restaurant and then at Vaxholm, a small town from where we knew
we would make it home in one day whatever the circumstances. But we did
not think of it being Friday night. Last year we had stayed at Grinda
and liked it very much, but then it was not at week-end. This was
horrible. There were so many powerboats from town creating swell in the
harbour, leaving and arriving at all times during the night and dragging
half drunk girls from the pub to their boat's to "complete the task".
We had one such incident in the boat moored next to us, and we heared
every word. It was like a TV show. Of course, we did not get any sleep
at all.

And the next day we did not get any wind. We motorsailed quite a lot as
it was impossible to wait for wind in the horrible powerboat swell. When
we approached Vaxholm the wind picked up but we were so tired that we
decided to put into the marina anyway. This, too was a mistake. We
should have continued all the way home in the light evening breeze,
because the next day, there was even lesser wind and we had to motorsail
almost all the way back home. However, now I do know that the Honda 2hp
4-stroke works perfectly well indeed.

I did actually take a picture of the Vaxholm castle, but it's at

Despite the last two days this was a very successful cruise. We now
know that we can live onboard Discovery for two whole weeks without any
problems at all. Even when it was raining, we could live inside the boat
or under the makeskift cockpit tent. We also sailed all the time,
except the last two days. At many occasions we sailed out of the
anchorage not using the outboard at all, and at one time we sailed in
half a gale and got a new speed record.

My wife now has been sailing in moderate open sea swells and liked it.
Actutally she liked the open parts best.

We have also learned a few things. Mostly not to leave and come back on
a week-end if this could be avoided, and to use the wind that is during
high pressure periods. In fact, the day after we arrived home there
would have been a perfect wind to sail home from Vaxholm. But being so
near home, and so tired after the sleepless night at Grinda, we wanted
to get home and did not bother to wait another day for better wind. Also
my mother in law who had lived at our place to take care of the cat was

Finally here is a map of the trip.

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