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.