Thursday, 30 July 2015

A Taste of Sweden - Views from the Cockpit

Sailing is a frustrating business!  Conditions are rarely favourable and it is frequently impossible to actually go anywhere in the boat at all, even in Summer, as the sea is too rough for any but the most intrepid (not me then!) or foolhardy.  Either the wind is in the wrong direction, or there is too much or it, or too little, or the tide is against us - although this doesn't apply in the Baltic - or it is tipping down with rain, but every now and then (a bit like Goldilocks) everything is just right and you have a perfect moment, actually lots of perfect moments out on the water, seeing the world from a very different perspective and often almost completely alone.  Compensation for dawn starts, unpleasant, crowded airports, snaking queues and tortuous journeys to be there! 

Boatyard at Oxelosund where we began our holiday 
The last two gorgeous Baltic summers of cockpit living, the sun shining almost every day, the weather lovely and hot and firmly stuck in the 'Baltic High' had not prepared us for this difficult and extreme summer.  It started well enough and the first few days were hot and sunny but the weather quickly deteriorated.  Every day could be both hot and sunny and cold and very wet indeed at any one time and weather forecasts proved to be extremely unreliable.


Our holiday home - moored at Rastaholm, Lake Malaren
Living in a very confined space when torrential rain is drumming down (and trickling down the mast which runs through the cabin), despite our best efforts to seal it, and dripping gently through the window onto my berth where I sleep with a towel and a bowl beside me to catch the drips) with nowhere to dry any of our wet clothes, unable to go anywhere until conditions improve, is not the best fun - we are after all camping on the water.  Then there is the loo situation! Facilities are often pretty basic and can be downright unpleasant and inadequate and forget privacy!  

We arrived on one island in the Archipelago, successfully moored onto the rocks and were directed to the facilities which turned out to be a compost toilet, a 10 minute walk away through a swamp.  What they didn't tell us was that no-one actually walks there, they all dinghy there, but we naively set off along a very overgrown path, slipping on wet rocks, sinking into bogs and under attack from ecstatic midges.  I was badly bitten on my face and hands, the only exposed parts of me, and pretty traumatised.  We left shortly afterwards to find a more civilised spot with an easy walk to the facilities and no midges.  Mosquitoes though are a perennial problem on the water, particularly the lakes.

Another low was the day we motored across Lake Malaren to Strangnas - a charming  lakeside town -starting out in glorious sunshine, anchoring in a quiet bay for my speciality boat lunch of feta cheese and couscous salad only for the skies to turn ominously black by 4pm leaving us motoring through torrential rain, thunder and lightning for two hours before arriving soaked in harbour to find it was full on a wet Wednesday!  Luckily they managed to squeeze us in eventually  - we are quite small and that can be an advantage - and we had a memorable outdoor supper with new friends Eva and Pieter under canvas at the crowded harbour restaurant, the rain still tipping down in sheets and running through the streets like a river, still dressed for warmth in our foul weather gear.  The glamour of it all!


Strangnas, the morning after the storm
But there were some very special moments too, some beautiful remote bays to anchor in, some stunning skies and sunsets, delicious meals sometimes with live music, chance encounters with charming and friendly Swedes and some very pretty towns to moor up in and visit too.  I could easily fill the boat with gorgeous Swedish design and love browsing around the antique and interiors shops, stopping for a cup of invariably excellent coffee or ice cream and a delicious lunch of fresh fish and salad before admiring the lovely Lutheran churches found in every town.


Anchored at Sackholmen, Stockholm Archipelago


Sunset at Sackholmen - Archipelago

Rastaholm in a rare sunny moment...


Slandokalve, Lake Malaren

Gripsholm Castle, Mariefred, Lake Malaren

Nacka Strand, Stockholm at Sunset

15 comments:

  1. What an adventure! A soggy adventure to be sure, but the good moments are more vibrant and memorable in contrast to those soggy lows it would seem. We have these beautiful fresh water Great Lakes All around us, but I am not much of a sailor. I admire your fortitude!

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    1. It was and now the more extreme moments are fading, I am starting to miss it all. We have to live in the moment on the boat, and although there are many uncomfortable and occasionally scary moments, there are some wonderful ones too.

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  2. I always thought it romantic to sail around from port to port, but as you said, it has its negatives. Despite all the difficulties you have been having this summer, these are adventures that you will remember fondly in the years to come (except for the walk to the potty).

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    1. People do. Think it is romantic. And occasionally it is the dream but my goodness you have to put in some slog to achieve those moments! It certainly was memorable.

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  3. Being moored up in a remote bay, seeing those stunning sunsets will be evenings you'll especially remember, I'm sure. Gripsholm Castle looks magical despite the ominous storm clouds overhead.

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    1. That is the dream Linda and what I continue to do this for, summer after summer. Gripsholm Castle was one of the highlights - that was indeed our view from the cockpit as the marina is directly opposite. Even better it is home to the Swedish National Portrait Collection, so we managed some culture too!

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  4. This kind of travel obviously demands stalwart spirits, but it seems to reward them as well, judging by your gorgeous photos!

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    1. I guess it is the difference between being a traveller and being a tourist. I married a traveller and am happy to join him on the journey. It certainly is an interesting one!

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  5. I've never yearned to own a sailing boat as I tend to get sea sick, but reading this post I remembered how wonderful it was to travel on a Thames sailing barge along the Essex coast starting at 5 AM one summer morning, and see places looking so intriguing in the middle distance - not too far away - over the rolling waves. A wonderful peaceful way to travel.

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  6. I've never yearned to own a sailing boat as I tend to get sea sick, but reading this post I remembered how wonderful it was to travel on a Thames sailing barge along the Essex coast starting at 5 AM one summer morning, and see places looking so intriguing in the middle distance - not too far away - over the rolling waves. A wonderful peaceful way to travel.

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    1. The best cure for sea sickness, I find, is spending a night on the boat before setting off as the rocking movement becomes the norm then. Not always practical, I agree! Sounds like you had a wonderful trip on the barge - glad you enjoyed it. And you are right, there is nothing quite like being on the water for that wow moment. It is the dream.

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  7. Wel I think you are pretty intrepid. Thanks for showing us the lowlights as well as the highlights. Your lovely view from the cockpit is all the better for being real.

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    1. Total wimp Lucille! My new husband is the intrepid one and totally unphased by pretty much anything that life throws at him. I thought I'd do a warts and all blog this year as we had such an extreme time out there. Glad I went though.

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  8. your images do great justice to the beautiful scenery. I'm sorry that the weather was not always so great and I know all about the killer mosquitoes as my husband drove through Sweden many years ago to visit his sister who lives in Norway and was so badly bitten everywhere that she hardly recognised him when she opened the door.
    I see there is more to read about your adventure ....

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    1. I have a little point and shoot camera and am keen to upgrade it soon to improve my photos, but I do love to have the camera to hand when that great shot is suddenly there in front of you. There are some stunning sights in Sweden and seeing it from the water is very special!

      The mossies are lethal and I have a big allergic reaction - huge red weals puff up on my poor skin causing rather a lot of acute discomfort - perhaps your husband has the same problem. My husband is virtually immune to them and can't understand what the problem is,,,

      More to come and thanks for dropping by.

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