Hot Rocks and Grey Docs

Either we have been exceptionally lucky , or summer in the Swedish skerries is one of the better kept secrets in the sailing world. For the last week we have been blessed with gentle anticyclonic weather. The sun gets up at about 3 am, so that by the time we emerge, the air is warm , the solar panels have topped up the batteries , and Festina is lying to the gentle NW night breeze.

Our day begins with admiring the scenery , marvelling at the bird life ( we have seen our first cuckoos – two of them!) and then a leisurely breakfast. This is not entirely laziness, as we want to go north , and at precisely 1100 local time the NW wind dies , to be replaced by a gentle  SE sea breeze which wafts us on our way under main alone with minimal effort . At sea , 4.5 knots seems very slow , but here it is perfect  as the scenery slides by at precisely the correct rate for us to take everything in  and more importantly to  make sure we slalom round the correct side of the myriad buoys and lighthouses. Sometimes a lead will be straight for a mile or two , so we unwind the jib to make sure we keep ahead of a chasing Swede , and furl it up again for the next wiggly bit .

We are beginning to get the hang of the Scandinavian method of mooring bows to a rock. By tea time we have chosen our stopping place . The ideal is a W facing rock that has nicely warmed up  and is sheltered from the breeze. Next you drop an anchor over the stern and nudge your way towards the shore. Lynda brings the boat to a stop inches from the rock , I step ashore with a couple of  bow lines and hey presto we have our supper barbecue spot ; a hot rock bathed in the evening sun. Sunset is about 9 a clock , and dusk 2  hours later , but by and large it pays to be inside by sundown as that’s when the mossies appear. Sometimes we haul off and anchor in the middle of the pool for the night, away from the beasties. One particular spot was so beautiful we spent 3 nights there ,  leaving  Festina at anchor whilst we explored the surrounding  islands  in the canoe

The Scandinavian moor doesn’t always go smoothly. Our second attempt was looking good until we gently ran aground just as I was stepping off , so instead of stepping onto a rock , I stepped up to my waist in water! Naturally I thought Lynda had hauled on the stern anchor a fraction too early. She hotly denied it, but added that unless I was very nice to her in future she now knew how to get her own back! You will not be surprised to hear that   I am on my best behaviour.

From Germany and sweden

There are quite a lot of British boats around, a very large percentage of whom seemed to be retired quacks like me. It makes you wonder who is looking after the NHS in our absence. We have teamed up with a couple on the beautiful Oyster which we helped get off the sands at the mouth of the Elbe ( it seems an age ago now). They trained and qualified about the same time as us – like us  did all sorts of crazy stuff in old boats in their youth and have a done an Atlantic circuit since stopping work – so we sit and swap tall tales once the sun is down.

Our last night in the southern archipelago  was spent in Harstena ,  a picturesque old fishing community in the outer islands that we had visited with Jaap 35 years ago. The harbour was tiny, much smaller than I remember it. Partly this is always the way with memories, but also the whole of northern Scandinavia is rising at a rapid rate, so it probably is considerably shallower than  on our last visit. On that occasion we had quite a merry time, but this time round  the place was almost deserted . Apparently the season kicks off with a  huge party on midsummers day , so we will have to make sure we are somewhere appropriate in a weeks time .

The final day of the good weather was spent dribbling the 50 odd miles north  from Harstena  to the Stockholm archipelago , under spinnaker the whole way . We are now lying to 2 anchors in 25 knots of wind and intermittent rain!  It looks like being a rowdy few days , but there appear to be plenty of good anchorages so we are looking forward to some  more Skerry adventures before heading in through the islands to Stockholm itself.

Leave a Reply