Klintholm Scenes

Pipistrelle’s first two outings of the season took us 30 nm ENE from Fehmarn to Gedser in Denmark where we anchored in more or less the same spot as we did last September.  A leisurely day, we motored all the way in warm sunshine and had a quiet night before setting off early next morning in a fresh breeze.  The next destination was Klintholm on the Danish island of Møn which has now become something of a favourite, because we spent some time here on two occasions in 2018.

This 35nm run was mostly under sail, with the wind picking up nicely to a NE 18kn off Klintholm marina.  Main and genoa safely down and furled, warps and fenders at the ready, we found a berth alongside.   Judging by the weather forecast we would be in the marina until the following Tuesday, so five nights in total before we could head towards Rügen, our next destination.

Having paid our dues, we sought out the local well stocked but small supermarket we remembered from last year, only to discover the building had gone.  Apparently, a fire had destroyed it in late September and it wouldn’t be replaced.  Instead a minimarket has opened for buying essentials.

Inevitably after launch there was still a long ‘to-do’ list of tasks below decks, and the variety of lashing rain, cool temperatures and strong winds played in our favour.  Greenpeace ‘Beluga’ paid a long visit to the marina; fog was a feature after a fairly warm day, as was the appearance of a periscope and conning tower just off the entrance one evening!  Interest was high, cameras came out and the craft came into the marina, revealing itself as a small submarine escorted by ribs, part of the Greenpeace entourage.  A heron was standing by too!

The public bus service from Klintholm is excellent.  This time, we decided to visit Stege, about 15 km away, on the Saturday afternoon and have a look round as it’s the main town on the island.   Dating back to the 12th century, it was an important herring port with town gates and of course a church.  The herring trade has long since died off, a sugar factory in operation for 100 years till the 80’s has closed and these days Stege relies heavily on tourism.

Pleased we had made the effort to go, we caught the bus back, looked again at the weather and it still appeared that Tuesday was the day to slip the lines.  However, on Sunday morning, all had changed and the window had moved to sailing that day, or being stuck for days, a risk we could not afford to take.   So we made the snap decision to go, and within an hour we were ready, forfeiting 2 days in the marina but also the opportunity to meet Andreas and Susanne again on Ma Brummi, who were we thought leaving Fehmarn that morning. As they say ‘Time and tide wait for no man’.

Sad though it was not to see our friends, the decision was good.  We had a great sail under genoa, arriving in Rügen early evening.  Looking at the forecast for the next few days, we would have been in Klintholm until Thursday earliest, cutting it all a bit fine to join the CA (Cruising Association) Rügen Rally we had signed up for.

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Recommissioning 2019

Having left Heathrow on the ‘redeye’ to Hamburg on 16th May, we collected our hire car for what turned into a wet drive to Fehmarn to be reunited with Pipistrelle and move into the apartment owned by our lovely landlords (see All Stops to Fehmarn – September 2018) where we would stay while we were doing the recommissioning work.

Exhausted when we arrived in Burgstaaken, we had an early night and went to the yard the following morning.   Once the covers were off in the shed, the serious work began to prepare Pipistrelle for the sailing season – in principle the reverse of the decommissioning procedure last September with a few additions.

Laying up in an albeit unheated shed paid dividends.  The teak deck needed no treatment in contrast to last year when we spent 6 weeks cleaning it after launch, there were no rust marks on the stainless steel.  And down below it was refreshing to see there was no build up of humidity, so no mould or damp.

Polishing the topsides went smoothly, largely thanks to the loan of electric polishers by Andreas, as did the antifouling, apart from applying primer to some areas before rolling on the black.  Though extremely tiring, that was the relatively easy part.

The mast had been removed for the first time for 10 years, giving us the opportunity of seeing it in the horizontal and finding some areas in need of TLC in the form of priming and painting.  Refitting 3 sets of spreaders and accompanying stays, D1’s and D2’s was done at this stage.

After 10 days, Pipistrelle was moved out of the shed in good weather to be thoroughly hosed down before launch.  The new calorifier (water heater) was installed the same day.

Red Letter Day – 28th May – Launch

As Pipistrelle disappeared out of the yard, down the lane on her trailer towed by a tractor, closely followed by the mast balanced on a trolley, we followed to the dock to antifoul to the underside of the keel and generally be on hand for launch.  After the boat, it was the turn of the mast to be craned into position, a complex manoeuvre, handled with care by yard employees with the help of Andreas, Susanne and Bob all pulling strings (literally).

With the stays attached to the turnbuckles and loosely tensioned, we moved Pipistrelle a little way down the harbour to do some tensioning, attach the boom and put the sails back on board.  These had been in winter storage off site.

 

Over the next couple of days, we took Pipistrelle to the marina at Burgtiefe and the below decks ‘workshop’ was gradually transformed into living space again.  Thankfully we were still staying at the flat and moved on board again on 31st May.

A week in the marina followed, with a few cosy evenings and the rig being expertly tensioned by a professional company from Heiligenhafen about 30 km away.  We reprovisioned, handed back the hire car, said various goodbyes and waved ‘Aufwiedersehen’ to Fehmarn.

Naturally, all the hard work was punctuated by a certain amount of relaxed socialising with German and English friends – German because Elaine speaks the language fluently having lived in the country for 14 years some time ago, English because Fehmarn is a favourite place for British yachts to overwinter and the Cruising Association has a thriving Baltic Section.

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Homeward Bound – September 2018

Having left Pipistrelle wrapped up for the winter in Burgstaaken, and unable to resist a brief interlude before flying home, we decided to stop off on route to Hamburg airport at the Hanseatic city of Lübeck where we spent the next two nights.  Our hotel was within walking distance of the Heiligen-Geist-Hospital, the St. Jakobi church and the 500 year old Schiffergesellschaft, now a restaurant but formerly a guild and seafarers’ refuge.

Naturally we had dinner one evening amongst seafaring memorabilia …

Declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1987 the old city is situated on an island enclosed by the River Trave and has countless historic buildings in Gothic brick dating back to its halcyon days as the capital of the medieval Hanseatic League.  It is also known for its three famous sons – Thomas Mann, the author; Willi Brandt, erstwhile Bundeskanzler,  and Günter Grass, the author, who died there.

To see the most of the city we took a hop-on-hop-off bus and took in the Marienkirche, the Buddenbrooks house and museum on which Thomas Mann based his novel, the famous Holstentor city gate, and the Cathedral to name a few.

After a flight from Hamburg to Heathrow, we finally arrived back in Poole on 25th September, already reminiscing about the fantastic summer we had spent sailing in the Baltic.

We will return!

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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.

https://www.fehmarn24.de/fehmarn/einmal-ganze-welt-gesegelt-10304365.html

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 DroneforcePhotography.com 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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