Date: 15th to 28th August
Distance : 184 miles
Weather : Glorious.
You'll be pleased to know that this week's edition of the Swedish Restaurant Guide has better news, but more of that later.
We were astonished to cross the Lumpar (the meteorite crater which forms an inland sea in Åland) on a Saturday afternoon in August and see only 3 other boats. Things would change when we got back to Sweden. We laid over a day in Mariehamn, waiting for the south westerlies (on the nose) to migrate into north westerlies (nice). I took the opportunity to go down and check the prop anode, which seemed to be holding nicely.
As Pat says, one advantage of me being unsure about the engine means that we seem to be doing rather more sailing lately. We had a nice little trip down to Rødham, where we had a drink or two with Wandering Star, and the following day we set off back to Sweden.
We left early, with a dropping north westerly forecast, and something odd happened. To make our proper course, I seemed to have to track closer and closer to the wind. No matter what I tried, I couldn't lay the course, until Pat pointed out that I couldn't read the compass properly and was trying to sail 20 degrees in the wrong direction. Over thirty years of sailing and I still cant read the compass. Oh Dear.
As we arrived in Sweden the wind dropped, but after a pause, it picked up again as we turned the corner to go south. John Parker's spinnaker worked its magic and we held it most of the twenty miles down to Möja, beating most of the (rather too many, for a Wednesday afternoon) boats around.
Finding a quiet nature harbour for the night was more difficult than we expected. It seems that the good weather had attracted many Swedish boats to extend their holiday.
Next day (wind on the nose again) we hopped down to Bullando to sort out the car and talk to the Volvo man.
Bullando is like an accident and emergency centre for boats. There we over a dozen boats on the shore with various types of impact damage (missing rudders, split gelcoat etc) and in the short time we were there, two boats got towed in without engines .
Next day, we left (forgetting to fill up with water), and had a grand beat (yes, back on the nose) out through the archipelago to Melskären, part of the Bullerö group. Its probably the most beautiful spot we have stayed in. We liked it so much, we stayed for another day, and were joined by Sir Francis and Lady Ann for the weekend. We hadn't seen them, except briefly, for two months, so it was good to catch up.
Everyone was nervous the following night, as the wind threatened to go round and make our anchorage uncomfortable. In the end, despite some wave noise, the wind bypassed the awkward quarter and gave us a reasonable night.
We'd been to Utö twice previously, but never eaten in the Wärdshus, despite its reputation. This time, Pat was determined to get a decent meal in. We arrived in the southern harbour, and despite a flat calm, had to back out and reset the anchor three times. The first time it tripped on some weeds and the second time I laid out so much scope, people would run over it. The Swedes in the next boat just smiled benignly (mad English...)
The meal, you will be pleased to hear, was excellent. In fact, the Hot Crayfish was Michael-Winner-type Historic.
Having gorged on restaurant food, we decided to find a nature harbour for the next day and sailed down to Lindskär, behind Nynäshamn. Once again, a very pretty place, rather tricky to get into, but once inside, excellent shelter. The few Swedes who were there saw us coming and cleared out, leaving us alone, no more than 2 miles from Nynäshamn. I did think that the bloke who hammered through this tiny harbour in his motor boat was going a tad too fast though.
We slipped round to Nynäshamn in the morning and caught the train into Stockholm for some retail therapy.
We now had two days to get to Nyköping. We had a quiet sail (under Spinnaker again) from Landsort to Ringsoen, where we tied up with four Swedes in the only really sheltered spot in this huge natural harbour. We awoke to find ourselves almost alone (Swedes getting up early - whatever next?) and the weather looking nasty. The promised (and sailable) southerly turned out to be a squally, rainy (and unsailable) south westerly, so we motored over to Nyköping and the plane home.