11 August 2008

Sailing in the Baltic Sea

August 11, 2008

Two sailors can’t leave the sea for too long…after one month living on land, we were starting to get landsick. Let’s get back on the water! Luckily, Hans’ sister Sofia and her boyfriend Patrik have a sailboat that they generously let us borrow for a two-week sail. We sailed around the Stockholm archipelago for a few days before heading south to the island of Gotland in the southern Baltic Sea. Hans’ friend Peter was getting married on August 2 and we planned to sail to the wedding.

The trip was a great success: the sailing was fun and varied, the weather was, generally, quite nice, and it was great to be back on the water again. It was also a lot of fun to sail and live on a different boat. Våga is also a 27-foot boat so we invariably had many conversations about the differences between Våga and Whisper and also came up with quite a few ideas for improvements and additions to Whisper. Våga is a really fast boat and the tiller is extremely responsive. She is fast compared to Whisper mainly due to the fact that Whisper is loaded down with all our stuff and usually a lot of water and diesel, but she’s also fast and responsive because she has a fin keel, transom-hung rudder, and a 165% genoa.

After sailing for two weeks in cooler weather and water than we’re accustomed to, it’s nice to be back in Stockholm at Hans’ parents’ apartment, luxuriating in hot baths, eating good food and watching the Olympics.

A nice dinner aboard with Patrik and Sofia.

Våga at anchor near Bullando, just outside of Stockholm. The preferred method of anchoring in the archipelago is to drop a stern anchor and tie the boat up to the rocks. Sitting on the rocks watching the sunset is a great way to spend an evening, but it took us quite a few nights to get the hang of where and when to drop the anchor. We're definitely still beginners at this method of anchoring. Needless to say, rocks don't bend or budge, so if the anchor were to drag it would be a little more serious than dragging across a harbor and perhaps hitting another boat!

At anchor off Bjorkskar, in the north-eastern part of the Stockholm archipelago. Våga is the boat in the foreground with the black mast.

Bjorkskar definitely owes its popularity in large part to the fantastic wood-burning sauna open to all. We spent at least an hour jumping between the sweaty sauna and the cold water of the Baltic Sea.

Boats at anchor at Bjorkskar.

During the sail between Bjorkskar and Huvudskar we passed an island designated as a protected area for seals and, lo and behold, a group of seals were sunning themselves on the rocks!

The picturesque island village of Huvudskar, a remote outpost of the Stockholm archipelago.

Bird poop! Blueberries are growing all over Sweden right now and apparently they are a favorite food of the birds!

Skipper Hans en route to Gotska Sandon, just north of Gotland. The weather was warm, sunny and we had a beautiful off-the-wind sail south.

A street in the medieval town of Visby on Gotland. The town is surrounded by a very intact wall and most of the houses in the town are from the 16, 17th and 18th centuries.

The wall surrounding Visby from the peasant side of the city.

Hans' pals from northern Sweden: Simon, his girlfriend Kerstin, and Johan, relaxing in Gotland.

Kristen takes the helm for an easy sail on her birthday. 29 and holding!

Fishermens' huts at Katthamarsvik.

Katthamarsvik gård, the stately home where Peter and Frida had their champagne toasts for their wedding reception. The dinner and party was held at an old barn down the road.

Peter and Frida fending off the onslaught of rice and bubbles after the wedding!

Hans and Johan strike their best GQ poses.

Kristen and Hans all dressed up for the wedding. boy those sailors sure clean up nice! The dress and suit are actually Karin and Roger's (Hans' parents) from the 70s! Perfect fits and still stylish!

The gang from Holmsund.

Hans plays DJ.

No sailing trip is complete without waiting for weather. We hoped to leave Gotland on the Monday after the wedding in order to spend more time sailing around Stockholm, however a low pressure system off Denmark had different plans for us. The "worst summer storm in modern history" centered itself directly over Gotland and hammered us with 40+ knot winds, lots of rain and nasty seas. We waited at a marina, snug, warm and developing serious cases of cabin fever!

A rainbow after a lull in the rain.

Hans staves off boredom with a game of Yahtzee. Unfortunately, it looks like he caught a pretty bad case of cabin fever! (or he's just fiercely competitive!)

Classic images from Gotland.

The wind was still blowing when we left Gotland, but it was from the south pushing us north, so we put up the genoa, donned our foul weather gear and had a fast fast sail back to mainland Sweden.

We found a great anchorage in a protected bay and a nice rock to relax on after 12+ hours of sailing.

Typical woods found on the islands in the archipelago.

Another rainy day with strong winds. Despite the rain, the sailing was fun since we were once again in protected waters with no waves, just speed.

And, despite the rain and cold, this person obviously thought it was a perfect day to go kite surfing. I'll wait until the Caribbean!

No sailing?!

Hans hangs on to a mooring line in the Sodertalje Canal.

On Saturday, our last day of sailing, Roger and Karin joined us for the sail from Sodertalje back to Våga's home port of Enkoping. The weather was varied to say the least: some wind, no wind, sun, wind again, rain, rain rain. But we still had fun.

Hans, showing off his seamanship.