All Stops to Fehmarn – September 2018

Country Hopping Part 2 – Sweden–Denmark–Germany

Ystad (Sweden), Klintholm and Gedser (both Denmark), Fehmarn (Germany)

For the 36 nm passage from Allinge on Bornholm to Ystad back in Sweden, the wind conveniently backed to the east so we had a great sail, even poling out for most of the time (above photos courtesy of Andreas Martens, Ma Brummi).

Unimpressed as we were when we first stopped in Ystad briefly in June (see Into the Baltic), this time we had a decent alongside berth in the marina, staying a couple of nights to explore the town and using up our remaining Swedish Kroner, mainly in a fascinating chandlery nearby.

In ‘Wallander’ territory we discovered typical Swedish architecture and were pleasantly surprised by the old medieval town with its cobbled streets and charming buildings.

After a fairly uneventful 56 nm daysail, but which did involve negotiating an oil rig section being towed to the mothership, we put in to Klintholm on the island of Møn in Denmark, which again we had visited on the passage north (see The Return – May 2018).  A couple days there with walks along the sandy beach, a delicious fish meal ashore at the Hyttefadet restaurant and it was time to set sail again.

Heading south to Gedser 31 nm away, our last stop in Denmark, we anchored for 2 nights prior to sailing to Fehmarn.  In good weather and no wind we took the opportunity of removing the headsail in preparation for winter storage.  Susanne and Andreas on Ma Brummi had berthed in the small marina so we dinghied in to meet them on board for our last evening.

The final leg of the season was a good sail of 28 nm to the island of Fehmarn, off the north coast of Germany in Schleswig Holstein, and linked by a bridge to the mainland.  Burgtiefe is a large marina in a basin to the south of the island, and just to the north is the area of Burgstaaken, with its old fish dock, now used to haul boats for winter storage.  This is fairly big business, with 2 or 3 family firms competing with each other, and a number of large sheds used for boat storage. We chose Weilandt.  After removing sails, running rigging and making general preparations, we took Pipistrelle the short distance to Burgstaaken where we went alongside, positioning her so the standing rigging could be freed, the boom lowered and the mast craned out by Weilandt staff.  This was not without problems, as it was the first time for 10 years.  Then the yacht was lifted, also by crane.  Once we had removed all the rigging, both Pipistrelle and the mast were stored in a shed, and then covered with light tarpaulins for protection against bird and spider droppings.

Decommissioning was all quite exhausting for a number of reasons, though made much more pleasant by staying in a very comfortable apartment a short distance away, where we were made very welcome by ‘Familie Sievert’, Conni and Gerd.  Having told them about our circumnavigation, Gerd even organised for us to be interviewed by a journalist and an article subsequently appeared in the regional newspaper, the Fehmarnsches Tageblatt which covers news in Fehmarn and Heiligenhafen.

We left Burgstaaken on the afternoon of the 23rd September, having had a thoroughly enjoyable summer in the Baltic, where we had sailed a surprising distance of 1,540 nm!

In fact, 2018 in the Baltic has to be one of the highlights of our 10 years’ cruising!





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Bornholm via Hanö and Simrishamn – August 2018

Country Hopping Part 1 – Sweden-Denmark-Sweden

From Utklippan we had an enjoyable sail to Hanö, which we had visited earlier in the season on the way north (see Into The Baltic).  There to take our lines as we came alongside, was a delightful German couple who we got to know in Kalmar, Andreas and Susanne on a Dehler called Ma Brummi.  In fact we sailed in company almost as far as Fehmarn.

Hanö was parched from the hot dry summer, but we still enjoyed our walks to the lighthouse, watching the many deer grazing in the national park, though the grass was almost non-existent, so the small trees and shrubs were their fodder.  The island and marina have to be amongst the most charming in the Baltic.

To ring the changes, and the weather not being suitable to sail onwards, one day we caught the small passenger ferry that runs a frequent service to and from Nogersund on the mainland.  As with so many of the small Baltic islands, one of the delights of Hanö is that there are no cars!  The tiny shop in the harbour sells ice creams but not a lot more, so locals and holiday makers have to fetch and carry everything by ferry.  Pushcarts or wheelbarrows are tidily parked at the harbour and used as transport!  Hiking with Andreas and Susanne as far as Hällevik and its small marina was fun and the fish lunch back at Restaurang Skutan, in Nogersund, delicious.

From Hanö we had planned to sail due south direct to Bornholm, but uncomfortable seas soon persuaded us to bear away, and seek shelter in Simrishamn, on the Swedish mainland.  End of August and getting chilly.  Was this heralding the end of summer?

Simrishamn is a fairly large town, with a huge marina and a complicated automated mooring payment system.  Not a lot to offer us, but we were introduced to the excellent fish market and restaurant, where we enjoyed another superb canteen-style lunch.  Here on the shelves were expensive tins of fermented herring or ‘Surströmming’, a Scandinavian delicacy we decided we could live without due to its foul smell and acidic taste we understand.

The wind soon veered to the north west, providing an excellent breeze for the 23nm passage across the shipping lanes to Allinge, on the north east tip of Bornholm.  The island is Danish, and this particular marina has a small inner harbour with lock gates that are shut in the event of strong northeasterly winds.  Too big to manoeuvre in the inner section, we lay alongside the larger outer harbour.

Bornholm is very different from the other islands we have visited.  It lies strategically between Sweden and Germany, has been fought over for centuries, and with its mild climate is a popular summer tourist destination.  There are a number of marinas, small harbours and anchorages.  Where we were was very lush, almost as if the continuous sunshine and high temperatures had bypassed the north of the island.  We enjoyed a long circular walk from Allinge on the east to the small harbour of Hammerhavn on the west which was originally constructed to ship the granite which was quarried locally and is now a marina.    On route at Madsebakke, we found rock carvings or petroglyphs with Norse symbols dating back to the Bronze Age before visiting Hammerhus Castle ruins.  Hammerhus was reportedly one of the largest medieval fortresses in northern Europe.

We had planned to stay on for an additional day or two to explore more of pretty Bornholm, but changed our minds on looking at the latest forecast, taking into consideration our berth lying along the outer wall.  Later we discovered that the gates had to be closed the day after we left.  All yachts in the outer harbour fled, those in the inner harbour were trapped for days.



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Utklippan – August 2018

Having made a 04.00 start from just south of Kalmar, where we had left the marina to anchor the previous evening, we sailed south until mid-morning when the wind died.  Then it was decision time.   Whether to go west around to Karlskrona, continue to Hanö, or to opt for our third choice – the tiny Utklippan islands.  Meaning ‘Outer Cliffs’, they lie 10 miles south east of Karlskrona in the Skerries, and are accessible only by boat, in calm conditions.   Having seen them in the distance on our way north in June and the forecast being favourable, this time we decided to explore.  There are two rocky islands, the northern one used to be a fishing boat harbour, and on the southern island is a lighthouse and fortress, built between 1840 and 1870. Automated in 1972, the traditional main light was deactivated in 2008 leaving only the former passing light in service.

There are two entrances to the small harbour, one on the east and the other on the west.  These are narrow, but taken slowly even on Pipistrelle it was fine, as was the 3m depth.

It is a place to unwind and relax, with alongside berths, but it does get very busy during the holidays in July, with boats rafted together, BBQ’s ashore and singing late into the evenings.  When we arrived, only one other yacht was there, though it quickly filled in the afternoon.  We found the islands such a delight and peaceful, we stayed for two nights,  enjoying sundowners ‘ashore’ on a picnic bench with glorious sunsets.

Now a nature reserve, with a great seal colony, swans and cormorants, there are also rare toads which appear at dusk as well as black snakes, predators of the toads.  The snake we saw is about 4ft long, and according to Olaf, the harbour master, they are captured and returned to the mainland before the winter each year, so as to help protect the toads, but they then manage to swim the 8nm back to the islands, where they live beneath the rocks.

We used our dinghy to get from the berth on the north island to the lighthouse and blockhouses on the south.  Otherwise we could have made use of one of the three rowing boats available, which most other visitors did.  As the door was unlocked and Bob had never been inside a lighthouse before, he decided to climb the spiral staircase and finally appeared at the top, while Elaine waited on terra firma below!  He was rewarded with superb panoramas of the islands with the Swedish mainland in the background.

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Retreat to Gotland – August 2018

Our stay in Hanko Marina, where Chris Nelson left us, was somewhat marred by strong winds, and as a result our reserved berth was still occupied on our arrival, and we finished up on a T berth exposed to the wind and choppy water.  The marina manager understood and did his best to assist, offering to move us.  In the end we decided to stay where we were, and the following morning were helped off the berth by one of their tenders. (see Turku and the Finnish Archipelago).

Our passage to Gotland started well with a good breeze, but as forecast it eased, and we finished up motoring overnight, almost as far as our landfall the next day.  Unusually for us, this was our first, and only overnight passage this year!

We motor sailed through heavy blue-green algae that totally changed the colour of the sea, and necessitated cleaning the engine water filter on arrival at the island of Fårö.  Baltic Sea oxygen levels are at a ‘1,500-year low due to human activity’. Nutrient run-off from agriculture and urban sewage are likely to be to blame, scientists say.

Gotland is the largest island in the Baltic, and lies off the south east coast of Sweden.  It is renowned for its geology, with sea stacks in the north, chalk cliffs on the west side, and white sand beaches on the east coast.  Gotland’s reef layers are an anomaly to the granite and glaciated hills of the rest of Sweden and Norway.

Our landfall was at Lauterhorn on the north coast of the island of Fårö, where there is a bay protected from the south easterly winds, and we were able to anchor just off these iconic sea stacks, called raukarna, in the Langhammars Nature Reserve.  These are the remnants of Silurian coral reefs, that date back to a period of 443 to 416 million years ago.  The remains of the reefs captured in these sea stacks contain a snapshot of a totally different era, as the shallow waters at that time were home to sponges and corals, and these were the main builders of Gotland’s reefs.

From Fårö we headed south to Slite, the home of a huge cement factory which is fed by local limestone quarries, and then to Vitviken Bay where we anchored to meet up with Bob’s daughter Chrissy and family, who were due to stay for a week in a cabin at the Aminne holiday camp.  The arrangement worked well, with the marina at Slite available for provisioning and escaping to in bad weather, and the bay where we anchored giving protection from all winds from the SW to NW.  We were able to leave the dinghy on the sandy beach, which was great for the grandchildren.

There is also a good bus service from Slite to Visby, which we took advantage of on one of our last days before we headed south.  Once a strategic part of the Hanseatic League of traders, Visby is an amazing city with 12 historic churches, most of which are in ruins but date back to the 12th and 13th centuries.  The city also has an encircling wall, complete with a tower prison called the Kaiser Tower, which was active from the 1680s to 1800s.

The cathedral is also a special and outstanding building from an architectural point of view, and was originally a church for German traders, its construction was financed by a fee charged to every German trader visiting Visby.  It was completed circa 1190, though many changes have been made over the years, together with a renovation in the 1980s.

A botanical garden dating back to the 1850s is very close to the cathedral, which with its Sundial, Oval, Gazebo, rose garden and its own ruin is well worth a visit.

Visby is also famous for its medieval week in August, which we missed, but it is a very popular time to be there.

We sailed south from Slite and Gotland, anchoring overnight in the large bay of Burgsviken on the south west coast before heading to the north of the island of Oland and sheltering for two nights from strong southerlies in the abandoned harbour of Grankulla (Nabbelund).   From there we continued south to return to Kalmar. (see Into The Baltic)

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Turku and the Finnish Archipelago – July 2018

With its medieval fortress and cathedral, Turku is an interesting city in southwest Finland at the mouth of the River Aura.  Having reserved a berth large enough for Pipistrelle beforehand, we moored in the city marina – bows-to again as in Stockholm (see Stockholm out to Impress), but this time with our own boarding ladder!

Apart from the usual, incredibly boring but essential housekeeping, we very much enjoyed taking time out to go sightseeing on foot, a concert in the cathedral and some delicious meals ashore.

 13th century Turku Castle

The 700 year old Cathedral, restored in the early 19th century after a fire

Around the Naval and Maritime Museum

We even used the dinghy one evening to reach a restaurant with a return trip at ‘dusk’ – 11.30pm!  River Aura by night …

We even managed to meet friends from Reading who had arrived by ferry (MS Viking Grace – see below) to holiday at their nearby summerhouse.  And a convivial couple of hours it was.

Always aware of other shipping, especially ferry traffic plying the busy routes between islands, we were intrigued by one extremely strange looking vessel equipped with what looked like a periscope.   In fact the MS Viking Grace is fitted with a rotor sail, allowing combined use of LNG (liquified natural gas) and wind power. This new technology saves up to 20% on fuel in favourable wind conditions.  The rotor cylinder is 24m high and 4m wide and receives power from the airflow to turn it.

We also welcomed the arrival of Chris Nelson who joined us for a week.  We have known Chris since meeting him on the ARC 2009, and he has sailed with us on a number of occasions since.  Apart from being a keen and extremely competent sailor, Chris is now into drone photography in a big way, is licensed and insured, and he brought one with him that folds neatly into a backpack for ease of travelling!

On the afternoon Chris arrived we sailed from Turku, and anchored some 15nm away in a delightful quiet anchorage at Sjalo where we had spent a couple of days on our way to Turku.  This was our first experience of having a drone on board, and Chris was keen to demonstrate take-off and landing procedures, first from the foredeck then from the bathing platform.

Typical of so many, drone shot of our anchorage at Sjalo 

We were on a timeline, as Chris was leaving us at Hanko, six days later, so we left the next morning, with the aim of learning to operate the drone successfully while underway, but not before having the full moon rising above the top of the mast!

Pointing at the moon …

More conventional images

Anchored on the island of Hamnholmen …

… and at Mossabrantarna

Unfortunately the weather deteriorated, and flying the drone became impossible, but Chris did get some great footage of Pipistrelle underway and we are very grateful to him for his enthusiasm and expertise.

Whilst we had been blessed with amazing weather, we were now to experience strong winds. We had a difficult time in the marina at Hanko, being pinned to a finger pontoon by 30kn on the beam, an experience that demonstrated the importance of a bow thruster, but thanks to the marina manager, we were towed off the pontoon early the next morning, with reduced mooring fees! 

Important note: all drone photographs are copyright and may not be copied or reproduced in any way without the explicit permission of the owner.







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Autonomous Åland Islands – July 2018

It’s now early May 2019, and with this year’s summer sailing almost upon us, it’s high time the blog came out of hibernation to continue the story of our fantastic summer cruise last year in the Baltic.  Better late than never!

Our track from the Skerries of Stockholm, via the Åland Islands and through the Finnish archipelago

Our track from the Skerries of Stockholm, via the Åland Islands and through the Finnish archipelago

To recap, in our last blog ‘The Skerries of Sweden‘ we wrote that we had to make a 34nm passage from Idöfladen northeast to the beautiful Åland Islands.  Pronounced ‘ah-luh nd’ there are over 6000 very small islands and skerries in this fascinating group, some inhabited some not.   Originally Swedish, they form a region of Finland, but have had autonomous status since 1921.  With their own flag and government, Swedish is the official language and Euro the currency.  Geographically they also mark the ‘boundary’ between the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia.

Our first anchorage was at the picturesque harbour of Rödhamn, which, nestling between 4 islands provided perfect shelter.   There is even a small cafe where breakfast rolls can be ordered for next day delivery to your yacht!  As we were anchored, collection was by dinghy …. the package even comes with the weather forecast!

Originally the main island had a lighthouse to warn shipping of dangers, and a fishing community established itself, coupled with seal hunting during the winter.  Today there is a small museum showing how the communications and fishermen worked.

A few miles to the north we checked in to the marina Mariehamn West, on the major ferry route between Stockholm, Finland and Estonia, where we reprovisioned, caught up on inevitable laundry, and enjoyed numerous saunas in the marina facilities.  We even met another UK cruiser on a very small classic yacht called ‘Corybant’ who happened to know Overlord and the Offshore Cruising Club; not only that, but friends from Liphook, one of whom had sailed with him in the past.  As we have found so often, the world is small!

From Mariehamn West we day-hopped for 10 days through the stunning archipelago to Turku, in Finland and found this area of the Baltic exceeded all expectations.  Many of the islands are uninhabited, and choosing our passages involved closely studying the paper charts together with the recommended tracks, then creating our own route on Navionics.  Whilst underway we could check online with an App called Sailmate enabling us to refer to the local charts electronically.

Spending night after night in the most beautiful quiet anchorages was extremely relaxing, and being at the high latitude of 60° to 61° north in midsummer, it was only dark for about 3 hours from midnight until 0300.  We were grateful for our sunlight blocking cabin curtains!  Almost every day we were swimming in water temperatures of 25C, and air temperatures in excess of 30C!  Now into July, continuous sunshine and relatively calm seas were making for a perfect summer.

The wildlife was remarkable too, and so different from elsewhere in Europe thanks to the low salinity levels in the Baltic.  We saw mute swans and cygnets in various stages of development on almost every island.  Ducks, cormorants, Canada geese and the barnacle goose, as well as white tailed eagles and osprey.  The list was endless.


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The Skerries of Sweden

From Stockholm we sailed out towards the end of June to enjoy some of the islands in the archipelago, or skärgärden which means ‘garden of skerries’ in Swedish.  As we meandered through the maze of narrow channels past numerous of the thousands of islands that make up the area, we were treated to the sights of many beautiful summer houses on rocky shores, landing stages, saunas, beaches, cattle grazing on the water’s edge and the long sun-drenched days of a Scandinavian summer.  Sunset at around 23.00 and it never getting totally dark at this time of year, with dawn at around 03.00 took a bit of getting used to.  Such a dramatic change from the 12 hours of daylight and darkness in the tropics, where enjoying a sun-downer definitely meant having a drink at 18.00 watching the sun set.  Here it was open to interpretation!

Photos of not-so-modest summer houses in the archipelago.  The banner with the yellow and blue colours of Sweden flies when the owner is in residence – perhaps for just two or three months a year!

Deciding which islands to explore was difficult enough and sailing even short distances demanded concentration – paper and electronic charts plus a good look out being absolutely essential!

Just about 10 nm or a couple of hours from Stockholm lies Vaxholm – a busy little place with ferry traffic coming and going in what appeared to be all directions taking holidaymakers and those with summer houses on more remote islands to their destinations.  Some of the islands are so small, they are only accessible by small boat.  We put in to the friendly marina, having previously made a telephone reservation for an alongside berth (as mentioned earlier, in Scandinavia the VHF is seldom used apart from commercial shipping).

Just to the east on its own island is the imposing 16th century fortress of Vaxholm.   Accessible only by small ferry the fort was built to protect Stockholm, and notably repelled naval attacks by Denmark and Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Moving on from there our favourite spots were Gällnö and Ladnaon.  Anchoring in such idyllic rural settings after just a few hours at sea was such a novelty for us, as was taking the dinghy ashore and walking for an hour or so.

We continued east to Sandhamn or the Cowes of Sweden on the island of Sandön which is home to the Royal Swedish Yacht Club (KSSS) and host to many regattas.  In fact the marina was so busy, we anchored off at the peaceful and nearby island of Björkö and used the dinghy to get to Sandhamn.  At the time Sandhamn was celebrating the finish of the annual Round Gotland Race.  Organised by the KSSS it starts in the centre of Stockholm, goes offshore into the Baltic, round the island of Gotland and ends in a fanfare at Sandhamn.  Crowded though it was we stayed for a couple of days and enjoyed a superb meal at the Sandhamns Värdshus which dates back to 1672 and looks out over the marina and surrounding islands.

From there we sailed and weaved our way the 40 nm for a night at anchor at Idöfladen, the jumping off point for our passage (all 34 nm of it) northeast to the Åland Islands.

To see exactly where we are, click on Pipistrelle’s Journey and Where Are We Now?

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Stockholm out to Impress

Being in the Navishamn Marina was the ideal location to go sightseeing.  Public transport in the form of tram, bus and ferry served us extremely well, especially as a tram stop was just outside the marina.  Otherwise we walked a lot!  And after Midsummer the weather certainly improved.   Here are a few highlights from our week in this enchanting city.

Vasa Museum

The royal battleship Vasa sank in Stockholm harbour at the start of her maiden voyage in 1628 and over time her exact location was forgotten.  333 years later in the 1950’s she was discovered, salvaged and beautifully restored over several decades.  She is housed in a museum especially built around her and completed in 1990.  Very busy in the summer months, we were strongly advised to get there early to be able to admire her in her full glory ahead of the crowds.  At 226 feet long, the wooden ship itself along with artefacts and cargo was preserved over centuries thanks to the brackish water of the Baltic Sea.

Here are photographs showing how she would have looked originally, how she was raised and looks now, as well as some of the hundreds of intricate wooden sculptures.

Waldemarsudde Art Museum

This was just a short walk from the marina and set in woodland.  Once the residence of a royal prince, himself a landscape artist, we visited both the apartments and a fascinating exhibition of works by a Swedish artist Sigrid Hjerten who we, being British, had never heard of.  But in the company of Anna-Maria Lemby and her sister, we enjoyed learning more about her and how her art evolved with the phases of her life.

Drottningholm Palace

We were very fortunate to have been taken to the Royal Palace by Lars and his wife Stina who we had met in Utö.  They kindly collected us in their car to drive the 7 miles west of Stockholm to visit the palace set on ‘Drottningholm’, which means ‘Queen’s Island’, with its own baroque Court Theatre and Chinese Pavilion.  The palace itself is the residence of King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia and family who moved there from the city some years ago to enjoy the tranquillity of the island.  Dating from the 17th century, it is said to be one of Europe’s most attractive palaces, and supposedly inspired by Versailles, but with some English touches.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with a tour of all three buildings and a walk around the palace grounds.  This was followed by a late lunch in the Östermalms Market Hall, an indoor market with various small cafés, fishmongers and butchers selling gourmet products.


Around the Gamla Stan

On a beautifully warm day wandering through the Kungstradgarden Park with its many outdoor cafes and tree-lined avenue, we came to the Jakobs Church and Opera House before walking across the bridge to the old town of Stockholm or the ‘Gamla Stan’.  The Royal Palace, the King’s official residence dominates and though not nearly as attractive as the Drottningholm Palace was built at around the same time.

Of course there was the ABBA museum as well, but though photographed from the outside, we didn’t visit, nor did we try any of the rides in the nearby Tivoli amusement park!

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Midsummer in Stockholm

Given that the weather until now had been sunny and dry, we were very much looking forward to celebrating Midsummer, a Swedish (and Finnish) tradition, celebrated extensively in both countries on the Saturday falling closest to 24th June.

But our arrival at Navishamn Marina in Stockholm was damp and complicated by the challenge of having to moor ‘bows-to’ while picking up a stern buoy, which we have previously and studiously avoided, for various reasons.  One, we prefer anchoring where possible; two, we try to go ‘alongside’ if we do go into a marina deep enough for us; three, we do not have a bow-thruster and Pipistrelle is heavy to manoeuvre.   Another ‘first’ to chalk up then.  Shore assistance magically appeared, warps were handed over, and Pipistrelle secured.  However, getting off from the bow, on to the pontoon and back on again proved a stretch too far, and a neighbouring boat lent us a special bow boarding ladder, widely used throughout Scandinavia.  Needless to say, we now have one of our own – photo to follow.   The owners of said ladder, Cathy and Jacques from Switzerland on a yacht called Freja, promptly invited us on board for a glass of wine – we obviously looked as though we needed one!   A convivial time followed on their immaculate Discovery 55, and we discovered surprising and unsurprising coincidences.  Unsurprisingly, they, like we, know the original owners of Discovery Yachts in Southampton (see A Morning with Discovery Yachts).  But astoundingly, they are great friends with Lars and Anna-Maria Lemby’s daughter who we had met briefly earlier in the week (see previous blog)!

Enough preamble!

Midsummer’s Eve itself dawned cold and wet, but cleared early afternoon so we took advantage of the window of opportunity and walked the short distance to the Skansen Open Air Museum, the recommended location in Stockholm to enjoy festivities.

Here, as in all towns and villages throughout the land, the famous Midsummer Pole (the English equivalent is our Maypole) decorated with flowers and leaves would be today’s main attraction.  Either to dance and sing traditional songs, or just to spectate, crowds gathered round the tall pole which had been raised earlier.

Opened in 1891 by Artur Hazelius, Skansen is the largest museum of its kind in the world with houses, farm buildings, churches and towers from the whole of Sweden rebuilt on the site, a hill overlooking Stockholm.

Coming Soon … ‘Stockholm out to Impress

To see exactly where we are click on Pipistrelle’s Journey and Where Are We Now?

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Into The Baltic

Eventually the weather relented.  We enjoyed a northwesterly wind to take us the 60 nm from Klintholm to Ystad, on the  south coast of Sweden, famous for the Kurt Wallander mysteries.

Thus in early June began our cruise of the Baltic.  We have sailed on the West Coast four times now and thoroughly enjoyed it but never had the opportunity to sail the east coast towards Stockholm, its archipelagos, or venture further east.  As Bob says, the Baltic is ‘unfinished business’ and 2018 is the year to explore!

After one night in Ystad we continued towards Karlskrona, via the delightfully welcoming small marina on the island of Hanö, where we had reserved a berth by telephone.  VHF is used very little in Scandinavia we’ve found.

Interesting for us is that between 1810 and 1812 the Royal Navy used Hanö as its base during its operations in the Baltic.  Here we found the English Seaman’s Graveyard.  In 1972 the Royal Navy constructed a big wooden cross on the site.  Still today British warships visit the island occasionally to pay tribute to the fifteen sailors’ graves.

Karlskrona has a rich history.  Stockholm is ice bound during the winter, so being further south and well protected, Karlskrona became the prime naval port in the 17th century, and has an excellent museum telling the story.  Sweden was also a dominant power in the Baltic from the 16th century onwards, with major battles being fought against other Baltic countries.  The Kungsholm Fortress, with its own circular harbour, and Drottningskärs Citadel have guarded the entrance to the city for centuries.

Our next stop was Kalmar, a major port on the mainland with a large marina and the island of Öland to the east.

An imposing castle protecting the harbour in the 17th and 18th centuries has been extremely well preserved.  This and the city were well worth the visit.

The next anchorage at Kiddeh island came highly recommended by another English cruiser.  For the first time the Navionics chart on our Android Tablet differed from the Navionics chart on his iPhone, to the extent that soundings in the narrow entrance were not shown on the Tablet.  Navionics provided some help by email, but it did not solve the problem, but we successfully navigated the entrance in 3m of water. Not a big margin for error as we draw 2.2m!  But what a stunning spot, especially after the busy marina of Kalmar.

We continued sailing almost every day in favourable winds from the south, stopping in idyllic, protected anchorages, with good holding in mud.  That is, until we stopped just short of Nynäshamn, in Valsviken Bay, where a Navionics user had left a mark on the chart inside the 3m contour stating there was an unmarked sea cable going from the shore, straight out to sea.  So we carefully anchored some way clear of where we thought the cable might be, but come the morning and weighing anchor, there was the cable!  We managed to get a rope around it and then clear the anchor, releasing the cable.  In Sweden we have now read many reports of others who have also caught unmarked sea cables in their anchors.

Nynäshamn was a pleasant marina break where we lay alongside on a visitors’ pontoon, with the southerly wind pushing us off, and making our departure easy.  Again we found enjoyable walks to the south along the coastline.

Having missed the CA rally which had started in Nynashamn, we decided to visit the different islands anyway.  Our first stop was Utö, anchoring in a delightful position between a beautiful church and the small local ferry terminal.  Using the dinghy to visit the village further up the channel, we walked to the windmill built by a Dutchman in 1791 from where the views over islands in the Stockholm archipelago are magnificent on a clear day.  We also walked to the south coast, and admired the beautiful inlets, even in the cold northerly wind!  We were incredibly fortunate to meet Lars Goran Karlsson, whose family has a summer house on the island, and had moored his Omega 42 yacht close to us.  He was following in our wake to Stockholm to take part in the AF Offshore Race the following weekend from Stockholm, around Gotland and back to Sandhamn.

We had been in touch with another Lars, Lars Lemby, a longstanding member of the Offshore Cruising Club (Overlord).  He lives just behind the Laennersta Baatklub on the outskirts of Stockholm and was leaving on the 23rd June to join John Porter on White Eagle in Oban.  So we cut short exploration of other islands and spent a very pleasant 24 hours with him and his wife Anna-Maria, having berthed Pipistrelle on the hammerhead at the Boat Club.  Our next stop was the Navishamnen Marina in Stockholm, from where we were able to spend a week exploring Stockholm over Midsummer.

PS. We’re still well behind the pace at the time of writing, so catch up on our whereabouts by clicking on Pipistrelle’s Journey and Where Are We Now?

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