Jul 28, 2013

Back in Åland

On Wednesday morning, we continued from Furusund to Mariehamn after spending six days in the Stockholm Archipelago. The winds have kept blowing from the north for an extraordinarily long period for this time of the year, so we have been waiting for a good weather for crossing the Sea of Åland. On Wednesday, we started early and got a good N-NW wind for the crossing. The sea state was easier than we expected, despite the northerly gale a day before.

A lot of traffic at the sea after many days of strong winds. 

We arrived in Mariehamn in the afternoon, and had good time to clean the boat, to relax and have a sauna, before catching a night ferry to Turku. We had to leave Dolphin Dance to Mariehamn for four days, since I had to get back to work for the weekend.

On Sunday, we came back to Åland and continued with a short leg to Rödhamn, located about 9 nm south of Mariehamn. This excellent natural harbour has been known by seafarers for hundreds of years. Today Rödhamn is a club harbour for sailing club ÅSS. Fortunately for non-members, there are also plenty of berths for guest boats on the northeast side of the island.

The island of Rödhamn is very beautiful. Unfortunately, the weather was grey and misty on Sunday.

Jul 24, 2013

In Stockholm archipelago

We arrived in Stockholm Archipelago on early Thursday morning. On Friday the winds turned northerly and were forecasted to stay there and increase in strength during the following five or six days. Thus, we decided to take a relaxed schedule and make short legs in the archipelago. On Saturday, we made a detour to Stockholm and stayed at the Wasahamn guest harbour, as we had done a year earlier. Also, my father joined the crew on Sunday, so Stockholm was a good port for him to hop on board.

Friday evening at Gällnö, Hemfladden

This year our visit to Stockholm was a brief one, since we continued already in the Sunday evening to a beautiful and popular wild anchorage called Säck. It is a beautiful and sheltered lagoon, so despite the strong winds, the anchorage was rather calm.

The following day we continued to the nearby Paradiset, which we had visited also last year. Also this time, it was fully packed with boats.

For Tuesday, we continued with a 14 nm motoring leg to Furusund. The wind was very strong (about 10-16 m/s or 20-30 knots) and we were motoring straight into the wind along the narrow fairway, so at some points we had to use high RPMs to get the boat moving at all.

When writing this, we are moored in the fully packed Furusund, where we found one of the last berths, although we arrived already at 2.30 pm. Our berth is at the far end of the pontoon, which is the worst place regarding the swell, that comes from large passenger ferries to/from

Tomorrow the wind should ease a bit, so we are starting early in the morning to head for Sea of Åland and Mariehamn.

Sailing past Vaxholm

Stockholm ahead!

The mainsail shackle was twisted due to the strong gusts when approaching Stockholm


 Visited the interesting Wasa museum on Sunday 

Leaving Stockholm 

Some sail to Stockholm with bigger boats than the others... 

 Wild anchorage called "Säck" 

Jul 22, 2013

Gotska Sandön – Finnskär – Bullandö

The leg from Gotska Sandön to Finnskär in outer Stockholm Archipelago was one of the best this season in terms of sailing: we got a good southwesterly wind for the evening and night so we could sail almost the whole 51 nm leg with a gennaker. We raised the anchor at 5 o’clock in the afternoon and arrived in Finnskär around 2.30 am. There were about thirty boats mooring in this popular wild anchorage, so we decided to anchor in the middle of the bay.

After about 7 hours' sleep at the calm anchorage, which felt luxurious after the rough night at Gotska, we continued to Bullandö for provisioning. Bullandö is the largest marina in Stockholm Archipelago with about 1400 berths. There are also berths for 30 guest boats on the pier next to the restaurant.

We were pleased to find out, that Bullandö marina has great new shower and sauna facilities, which were perhaps the finest that we have seen in any guest marina so far. This was also the first sauna since leaving Nynäshamn two weeks ago.

 Leaving Finnskär. In the morning we could see where we had arrived in the night.

 Arriving in Bullandö

Bullandö guest harbour

Jul 19, 2013

Gotska Sandön – a paradise island in the middle of the Baltic Sea

On Tuesday, we continued to Gotska Sandön, which is the most isolated island in the Baltic Sea. It is located about 20 nm north of its closest neighbour Fårö, but otherwise it is basically in the middle of the Baltic Sea about 50 nm southwest of Stockholm Archipelago. A few years ago I sailed past Gotska Sandön, the name of which is familiar to most from the radio marine weather forecasts/observations. The long sand beaches on the island looked very tempting and there were many boats anchoring in the lee of the island. However, I did not have enough time nor the inflatable dinghy to be able to see the island.

Thus for this year, Gotska Sandön was one of the places that we wanted to visit, if weather conditions permit. The island is uninhabited and has no harbour, so one has to anchor on that side of the island which gives the best protection from the wind and the waves. The sand bottom around the island gives a good grip for anchor, but the problem is the constant swell that rounds the island. The wind was from the south as we arrived in the evening, but fresh westerly breeze was forecasted for the night between Tuesday and Wednesday and it was forecasted to veer to north during the following day. This kind of unsettled wind conditions are the most difficult for anchoring on Gotska Sandön. Our boat neighbour on Lauterhorn had just arrived from Gotska, and they had had to change the anchorage multiple times during the night!

We decided to drop the hook on the east side of the island (on the French Bay), which was more exposed during the evening but hopefully would give a better protection from the westerly winds during the night. What we did not expect was that there was fairly large northeasterly swell remaining although the winds had been westerly for two days – the swell was probably coming from further north. The cross-swell created an uncomfortable rolling on the anchorage, especially when the boat turned so that the swell came from aside. I guess that I fell in sleep only around 4.30 in the morning...

Four boats were anchoring on the northeastern side of the island (Källahamn)

However, we spent the following day on the island and this pretty much made us forget the miserable night. It almost felt like coming to a tropical island when rowing the dinghy to the deserted sand beach. The warm and sunny weather did not do bad either! We walked along the kilometers' long sand beaches which basically round the island. The island is 9 kilometers long and 6 kilometers wide, so walking to the other side would have taken a bit too long. We could not find paths going through the lush pine forrest to the middle part of the island either. The lighthouse and the camp site, where one can rent cottages, are located on the other side of the island. Also the tour boat coming from Fårö and Nynäshamn lands on the northern side of the island.

In the afternoon, the wind turned to southwest so we decided to take the advantage of the favourable winds and head towards the Stockholm archipelago.

Kyrkudden, the eastern tip of the island 

 Sand dunes at Källahamn

 A paradise also for birdwatchers and photographers. These two fellows were so tame, 
that even my rather small objective was enough for bird photography.

A lot of driftwoods on the beach

Dinghy is almost a must to see the Gotska Sandön. Another option is to swim ashore.

On the beach (via Minna's Instagram)

Jul 18, 2013

At Lauterhorn – back on Fårö

On Sunday morning we continued with a short 22 nm leg from Lickershamn to Lauterhorn on Fårö. The wind was light during the day, but picked up in the afternoon so we got a nice northerly wind for the last 1,5 hours. We had visited Fårö by car just a week earlier, but wanted to still come back and spend more time on this amazing island. Furthermore, the location of the Lauterhorn harbour is great when heading north from Gotland.

We arrived around 3 pm in the afternoon and could see already from the sea that this popular (and the only) guest harbour on Fårö was full of masts. We were a bit worried if there is a berth for us, but managed to find one from the third row. Actually, there were many boats arriving after us and about five or six late-comers had to anchor out in the bay. Someone had calculated that there were 55 boats staying in this small harbour, although our harbour guide says that there are places for only 25 guest boats.

In the evening, we rented bicycles and cycled to see the Gamle hamn rauks located about five kilometers away from the harbour. This place is amazingly beautiful and it also has the famous 'Coffeepot' rauk, which is probably the most photographed sea-stack on Fårö.

On Monday, the westerly wind increased and was howling in the rigging so we decided to spend one more day on the island. We walked to see the nearby Digerhuvud rauks, located only about a kilometer from the harbour. For a photographer, Fårö is an absolute paradise!

p.s. We are now already back in the Stockholm Archipelago. Internet connections have been pretty much non-existent lately so we are lacking behind with the blog. Post about exotic Gotska Sandön island following shortly.

Gamle hamn rauks

The famous Coffeepot rauk (aka the Dog or the St. Olof's gate)

Digerhuvud rauks