Sunday, August 23, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
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.
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.
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.
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. And Gällnö - Hästholmen - Getfoten - Home.
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.
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...).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
That story will be told in the third part, but before, as usual some Google-tracks. First Långskär - Söderarm - Blidö. And Blidö - Själbottna - Södra Ingmarsö - Stora Kalholmen. To Part III
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.