Carrying on from our last post we were in Nykoping and had enjoyed a fantastic sail in from the archipelago and were most excited about refilling our English gas bottles. I feel in all that excitement I may have neglected Nykoping a little as it has a lot going for it, although it is hard to beat filling those gas bottles.
We enjoyed two nights in the marina and anchored our last night in the estuary outside the channel (with the marina in site, saving those Krona $$).
Nykoping in the day was an important shipping and trade centre as location wise it was a major cross road/junction in Sweden, we learnt this during our free tours! Yes free, and two of them. The first tour was of the Castle (or what’s left of the castle) and the second was a free city walking tour. Any way back to the story about trade and shipping with the land rising, (or water disappearing) it is no longer a commercial port as the channel into the city is both a long way in/out as well as being very narrow and quite shallow. Road transport is much easier these days.
There are some great historical buildings that remain despite the city fire (seems every city, castle and church in Europe has had a fire) and some very pretty street scenes with a mixture of well redeveloped waterfront and historically retained buildings along town river.
We were also lucky enough to be in town for the weekend of the Swedish Beach Volleyball tournament (in the town square not at the beach). We watched a couple of great games both days including a well fought our Womens Final.
“Badger” also arrived home to Nykoping whilst we were there, these are our new English friends Kirstin and Roger whom we met in Stockholm and told us about the place (and the gas), so was great to share a sundowner drink with them before leaving.
So we left Nykoping happy – full of gas as well as water & boat diesel.
One hours sailing and a whole lot of motoring with a dash of motoring sailing towards the end brought us the 27 nautical miles to Riso.
This was just an overnight anchoring spot, so we didn’t go to shore however enjoyed a tranquil evening in a lovely protected bay with a couple of other boats, one of them bringing a smile to our faces as it was named Odin. Why the smile, well Odin was one of Phil’s ship mates (aged 4 at the time) on Midnight Sun during the sailing adventure from Tasmania to Alaska.
An uneventful short journey under motor (damn wind seems to always be on our nose) the 14 nautical miles to Harstena.
Having left Riso fairly early we arrived before lunch and was the 4th yacht on anchor (we assume some of the others had been there overnight). Come nightfall there were at least 12 on anchor but a big bay with plenty of room.
We noticed as we approached Harstena the water came alive with thousands and thousands of Jelly Fish. The small kind with the purple heart in the middle, we couldn’t find a patch of water without them they were absolutely everywhere.
The dingy was launched to go ashore and explore – no way was I swimming with those little stingers in the water.
We had read in the guides about the pond of red water lilies which we found but there were only a few in flower on the far side, but agree that they were very pretty.
We walked across the island from the bay to the settlement. It is a summer settlement only with no-one residing on the island in the winter months. The summer homes very sweet and very well maintained (different from the kind of standard you see in Australia for shacks).
We were in for a full day on the water so a 5:30am alarm got us out of bed and lifting anchor just before 6am slowly and quietly weaving our way out past all the other sleeping boats in the bay.
Gotland was just shy of 60 nautical miles away so potentially a 12 hour day, being so early there was zero wind and hardly a ripple on the water so we started out under engine. I was dreading it . . . the noise of the engine for 12 + hours (being fuel conservative, we go slower under engine) it would drive anyone insane, so when the wind started to develop mid morning so did my smile. By 10:30am we had the main sail and head sail up with 10 knots of wind 40 degrees off starboard – we cut the engine … bliss!!
It had also been quite some time since we had been out with a complete 360 degree view of water on the horizon – no land in site!
By 11:15 we were doing over 6 knots speed over ground and climbing, the wind was strengthening. We soon made up for our slow start at times cracking over 7.5 knots SOG and by 15:30 in the afternoon we actually had to put a reef in the main (reduce the size of the sail) as it was blowing over 22 knots of wind.
We sailed into the bay, packed up our sails and were secured to the pontoon (via stern buoy) just a wee bit over 11 hours after leaving anchor. A good days sailing.
We were in Visby on the island of Gotland. Gotland has a land area 176 km long by 52 km wide, 800 km of coastline with a population of 57,391.
Our first priority was to check out the city walls that we had heard so much about, so we did – first walking the outside circumference and then the inside. It is in amazing condition and very humbling to see, touch and feel something built so long ago – the Gunpowder tower being built in 1150 and the remainder built in the 1200s WOW. The wall is 3.44 km long and very much still standing, with a lot of it forming back yard fences in private homes. It is 11m high and has 27 turrets (originally 29).
We also visited the Visby Cathedral built 1225 and still in use today. The botanical gardens which although not overly formal in regards to structure and layout were very beautiful (sometimes natural is best). We also saw the whipping post (luckily we had both been behaving so were just tourists not invited guests).
As well as Fishermans Alley, which is featured on many of the city’s postcards due to the famous climbing roses which were planted in the early 1940’s resulting in Visby being named the “City of Roses and Ruins” (having many many church ruins – there were 96 churches on the island in viking times). Whilst we did see roses they were not at their absolute best – still pretty however.
The Gotland flag features a Sheep and it is definitely the islands mascot, it was everywhere, all the concrete bollards were shaped into sheep even a lot further south in the small harbour of Klintehamn where we overnighted after leaving Visby (20 nautical miles south under motor in the late afternoon – zero wind).
From Gotland it was west to Öland (another island) and this time we had favourable winds to take us the 40 nautical miles. We hoisted the sails whilst in the harbour at Klintehamn as it has a large basin for ships which come to ship out logs and wood chips and managed to sail out of the buoyed channel.
Half an hour after throwing the lines off the wall we were doing over 6 knots under the main and genona with F4 winds from the south. We averaged 6.5 – 7 knots over the journey despite the wind changing for an hour meaning a couple of tacks to stay in the wind under sail (but taking us further from our destination).
It wasn’t a smooth journey we had a small but very annoying swell on the side of the boat making it a little lumpy, and I was looking forward to arriving in the harbour however little was I to know that the harbour was more exposed than we predicted (from the S/W) and that strong winds would blow continually for the for the next three days and nights meaning the boat didn’t settle at all, we continued to get jerked around on the lines when tied up alongside the wall. I will confess to sending a message to my sister along the lines of “FFS this damn boat hasn’t stopped rocking and rolling for days….”
Coming into the harbour we spotted a floating sauna off the beach, and I can certainly say we didn’t see anyone using it in the time we were there – it wouldn’t have been the most comfortable sauna experience in the swell and wind!
The next morning we awoke to see a yacht in the harbour flying an Aussie flag 🙂 registered in Cairns QLD most exciting. Bert and Gisela had snuck in just before midnight the night before and it was great to meet them and share a few drinks, tales, and Swedish tasting plates and sympathise with each other over the wind, the bouncing around and the totally unreliable weather forecasts over the next couple of days.
There we were four Australian citizens; myself Tasmanian born and bred, Phil born in UK grew up in Victoria, Bert born and raised in Sweden (travelled the world in the merchant Navy), Gisela born in Germany, grew up in South Africa. To go a step further with the mix Bert and Gisela met and married in South Africa their first child was born in Botswana and their second in Papua New Guinnea – so a family of 4 with 4 different passports and nationalities I can only imagine the logistics of that, with led to them eventually settling in Australia and all four of them became residents (many, many years ago). What a wonderful world we live in and we are all proud to call Australia home – even with our French and Swedish yachts respectively.
Our second day on Öland saw us get the bikes out and assembled and off we set to explore the norther end of the island. The entire island is one giant piece of limestone rock. The island is long and skinny (140km long and about 8km wide in most places) and has 25,000 permanent residents, this figure increases dramatically during the summer months.
Speaking of summer, the last two weeks we have noticed that the Swedish summer vacation time seems to be over, lucky the weather hasn’t gone and we are still enjoying lovely days, but what was recently full harbours and boats everywhere has suddenly become very quiet (and lovely) with only a very few Swedish boats still to be seen on the water. There are a few German and Holland boats still out (most whom we know know and see every couple of days and we mostly travelling a similar route) but the Swedish schools have gone back and it seems so have the people, back to work.
On our way north we stopped for Phil to pick berries (a favourite pass time of his), the blueberries are just coming on now as well as the native lingonberries, the blackberries however are still a week or two off being ready to pick.
We parked the bikes once we arrived at Trollskogen Nature Reserve and completed the 5km walking trail through the native forest and along the shore line. Whilst we didn’t spot any Trolls we are sure they exist, some of the tree’s were so tangled into the most amazing shapes.
You wouldn’t believe it after days of constant motion tied up in the harbour we left Byxelkrok at 06:30 and had to motor in flat calm seas the 30 nautical miles south to Borgholm. We did get a little assistance from the sails (probably about a 1-2 knots) so we can call it motor-sailing.
We arrived at lunch time to an empty harbour, it must hold at least a few hundred boats but we were the second boat in and come night time there were only 5 in total, we all came along side rather than having to use the stern buoys. Can’t understand it with the stunning weather why everyone has packed up and gone home – but I am certainly not complaining, especially after recently hearing from the Cyclones who are on their way home to UK that in Amsterdam marina (we were there earlier in the year) they were rafting 4-5 deep and also rafting along the sterns of boats in pontoon berths, the marina would have been at 250% capacity – over full.
Coming down the west coast of Öland you can’t miss Borgholm due to the “Castle on the Hill”. Someone should tell Ed Sheran about it, as I have seen his castle on the hill in England and this one is much bigger!
The former palace is HUGE, and magnificent even as a ruin. The Royal Summer Cottage is also nearby and still used by the Royal Family – furthermore the water in front of the cottage has an exclusion zone which we had to adjust course for to clear around when we left the following day.
The marina here is associated with the adjoining hotel and we were able to use their facilities during our overnight visit, this included the use of a gigantic swimming pool which I thoroughly enjoyed all to myself for nearly two hours in the afternoon – just wonderful.
Down Wind Sailing – Love It
That uncomfortable swell is a distant memory, how can anyone think that any kind of transportation or travel beats sailing – its magical . . . well today it is anyway.
The only down side was it was a short journey only 17 nautical miles, so around 4 hours as winds were ever so gentle we were only just doing 4 knots but oh what a lovely 4 knots it was, smooth, the sun was shining, it was peacefully quiet, main sail out at 90 degrees to port and the gennaker (light wind sail) down the starboard side. This is sailing . . . it was very tempting to not actually stop at Kalmar and carry on another 30 n.miles to our next destination but no we stopped as planned as we had been told the Kalmar Castle was a must see/visit.
Kalmar is actually back on the mainland of Sweden but is linked to Öland via a 6km bridge, it is one of the longest bridges in Europe, it is supported by 156 pillars and has characteristic hump at the Western end where is rises to give shipping a 36 m clearance under the bridge – that’s us thanks!
Around 1180 a defence tower was built on the site where Kalmar Castle now stands, the intention was to protect the area from pirate attacks and other enemies. During the rein of King Magnus additional towers and a ring wall were built on the site and it eventually became a castle. For several hundred years the castle was a mighty fortress, strategically it was very important as it was situated close to the Denmark border.
Accordingly to what we have read about the castle it’s most significant event was during the medieval period when Queen Margaret formed the Kalmar Union inside the castle walls with representatives from Denmark, Sweden and Norway, the idea was that a single monarch and a common foreign policy would bring the three kingdoms closer together.
We also visited the Kalmar Cathedral which differs from many churches as it doesn’t have a bell tower or dome, from the outside it looks more like the town hall or government building, but inside it is most definitely a church. Complete with HUGE organ which was playing very gothic type music during our visit. Phil is again taken by the plaques, or personal coats of arms hanging in the church, these are from people whom have passed and are sign of wealth to have it on the wall in the church (no doubt the church being a benefactor of some money for this privilege), some in Kalmar dated back to 1773.
We went off the bed accompanied by the music from the nearby bar, which wasn’t all that unpleasant until about 11 o’clock when it went from bar music to disco dance music and was turned up to full volume, whom may I ask goes to a disco on a Tuesday night?? Who ever they were had a great night and partied hard until 02:30am.
We were really hoping the wind was still out there the same as the day before to get us 30 nautical miles further south to Kristianopel, but no it had weakened despite having the main sail up and gennaker (light wind sail) it was collapsed most of the journey and the motor did the work. On the bright side however the sun is still shining.
Phil took a walk out and about this small village however I took advantage of the free washing machine and did some domestic duties. It was a quick visit arriving around 3pm and departing at 7am the following morning.
Two small islands 12 nautical miles from the coast of the mainland and 23 nautical miles south of Kristianopel which we again completed by motor-sailing.
The islands are almost completely barron and are very popular with sea birds and seals. A lighthouse was built on the island in 1840 and the island became home to the lighthouse keeper and families until the lighthouse was made autonomous in 1972 and the islands were no longer habited.
It is now set up for yachts and day trippers from the mainland, and the local ornithological society ring up to one thousand birds a day here in season. The yacht basin in on the North island and the Lighthouse on the South island, there are two impressive breakwaters one on each island creating a pool in the middle access to the sheltered basin however it means you actually need to dingy between the islands as they are not joined – we were please to learn that there are small row boat provided for this, meaning we didn’t have to launch our own.
The wind that has been non existent (or directly on the nose) and forcing us to use the motor for the last few days is now expected to blow and blow hard from the direction we want to sail, it’s expected to blow overnight and all the following day so we are bunkering down here for a day off. A day off may sound luxurious (whom to you, are on a long holiday) but I have to say this sailing business can be very exhausting. We are both feeling quite fatigued, days and days in the sun and wind, constant concentration navigating strange waters with thousands of rocks, physically demanding raising sails etc and the list could go on. Basically we are tired, most of sailors have been out on the water for the months June and July having a great time but now packed up back home, we however set out in the first week of March and haven’t stopped longer than 3 nights anywhere. I have done the calculations and since leaving the UK we have sailed 93 out of the last 170 days. A day off sounds great, and it is actually really nice for that day to be her at Utklippan where there is literally nothing to do – bliss. I will however attempt to finish this blog and get it up for you to read. Also thinking for both your benefit (as well as my own) more frequent but shorter posts might be in order!