Jul 30, 2014

Archipelago retreat in Simskäla

After a one-night provision stop in Mariehamn, we continued towards northern Åland, which we definitely wanted to visit before the end of the trip. The wind was forecasted to veer to north on Sunday, so we chose an inland route through the round Lumparn bay and spent the Saturday night on an anchorage in the northern part of Lumparn. We had sailed this same route two weeks earlier to the opposite direction and stayed then one night at the cosy Kastelholm guest harbour. The lunch at nearby Smakbyn restaurant was so tasty and reasonably priced, that we wanted to definitely come back.

After the lunch we continued to northeastern Åland. The northerly wind increased towards the evening, so we started looking for suitable anchorages or harbours from the area. However, the new Åland harbour guide, which we had purchased from Mariehamn, did not give too many options for that area. Fortunately, Mr. Google found an article by boating magazine Vene about Simskäla, which should have a visitor's berth, accessible also with a small sailboat. However, the problem was that waters near Simskäla were not charted – only the rocks appeared to be on the chart, but the depth markings were missing.

We decided to give it a go, and motored very slowly the last mile. I think that our echo sounder did not show depths below 2,4 meters on the way, but the waters near the visitor quay were quite shallow. Dolphin Dance draws 1,6 meters, but the echo sounder was showing about 1,5 meters near the quay. Still we were somehow able to proceed forward and reach the quay. The evening in Simskäla was totally calm and quiet. Despite the high season, there were no other boats in the harbour. The time seemed to have stopped beating and the quietness of northern Åland felt magical.

Minna planning the route to Simskäla

Visitor quay is offered by Stormskärs Värdshus & Konferens

Simskäla is best known as the home island of Anni Blomqvist – 
the author of famous Stormskärs Maja books.

On the following day we bought delicious whitefish from a local fisherman. 

Jul 25, 2014

In outer Stockholm archipelago

On Wednesday 16th of July, we continued north from busy Sandhamn. This time, unlike in three previous years, we decided to take the outer archipelago route towards northeast. We actually ended up sailing half of the distance outside the official waterways. However, there were many Swedish boats sailing the same waters so we decided that the charts from the area are accurate enough. 

It took us two relaxed sailing days to get from Sandhamn to the mouth of Åland Sea in perfect downwind conditions. In the first night we overnighted in a wild anchorage called Hamnskär (59° 31.0'N; 19°11.4' E), located about one nautical mile northeast from Kallskär. Our Arholma–Landsort harbour book proved to be once again invaluable in finding those great natural harbours. However, also this time we ended up mooring in a bay, which was not mentioned in the book, but nevertheless, this book definitely helps to find the main areas where to look for suitable natural harbours. The ones that are mentioned in the book can be very crowded in July. 

View towards Kallskär

We spent the second night in one of the outermost islands just next to the Åland Sea. Our first option was an anchorage on an island called Himmelskär, but we ended up hitting an underwater rock when looking for a place to drop the anchor. Fortunately our speed was very low (about 1 – 2 knots), so it did not cause us any big problems. Nevertheless, hitting a keel in a rock seldom feels (or sounds) particularly good. This grounding probably could have been avoided since normally when entering an unknown anchorage, one of us is monitoring in the bow for rocks. However, this time we had some hassle with dropping the mainsail and tidying the cockpit. Also the anchorage was clearly charted in the harbour book and the same rocks were shown in the plotter chart and they seemed to be in safe distance. The depth sounder was showing over 3 meters of depth so I decided to motor a bit forward just to check if there is enough swing room for bow anchoring... and then bang. The rock must have had a very steep edge as the depth sounder did not give any indication about the shallow water. I was bashing myself for sometime over this incident which might have been avoided with a bit more caution, although I have kind of accepted the fact, that when one frequently uses wild anchorages, keel may get hits from time to time.

Himmelskär was clearly too cramped place for using the bow anchor, so we decided to anchor in the lee of one of the nearby islands. The following day we had a good sail across the Åland Sea to Mariehamn. 

 Approaching Hamnskär – this is how we should have done it also in Himmelskär. 

Himmelskär – low-flying island located next to the Åland Sea

Jul 21, 2014

Sunny summer day in Sandhamn

From Saltsjöbaden we continued to Sandhamn, where we arrived around six o' clock in the evening, but this popular harbour was already full. Our Arholma – Landsort harbour book showed many natural harbours in the neighbourhood, so we picked one called Vildgrytan, located about two miles west from Sandhamn. 

Next morning we were early and got a berth from the harbour.  

Before this visit, I had visited this island only once. During that visit, Sandhamn was really the first big Swedish guest harbour that I visited, but it was still pre-season so that time we did not really experience the place the same way as this time, when the harbour is fully packed and passenger boats are constantly bringing tourists from Stockholm and other places. 

We ate really good lunch at Värdshus and loved the blueberry and apple pies, seglarbullar and especially the bread from Sandhamns bageriet. We totally recommend visiting that bakery!

Jul 16, 2014

Waxholm - Stockholm Wasahamnen - Saltsjöbaden

After arriving in Stockholm archipelago we have had a real holiday: first one day at Waxholm and then three at Stockholm Wasahamnen. We had some visitors over at the boat in Stockholm and additionally, Antti's parents came to sail with us for a couple of days. With them, we visited Saltsjöbaden and Sandhamn. Here some photos from this journey. Now we are at Sandhamn and will post more photos later, since there is so much to be photographed in this lovely island!

Towards Stockholm - a lot of traffic in the archipelago 

Stockholm by night

A narrow route towards Saltsjöbaden

Saltsjöbaden and Grand Hotell

Jul 9, 2014

Arrived in Stockholm archipelago: Inre Hamnskär and Fjärdskär

On Monday, after a short provision stop at Mariehamn, we decided to take an advantage of the rare easterly winds and head west towards Sweden. We had a good downwind almost all the way across the Åland Sea; the wind only faded away a couple of miles before arriving to the Stockholm Archipelago. As it was also getting late, we started looking for suitable anchorages from outer islands. Our Arholma-Landsort harbour book told that there would be many. However, the anchorage should provide shelter from easterly winds and also from the swell from the ships since the shipping lane was located quite closely.

The first anchorage that we checked was called Inre Hamnskär. We read from the harbour book that the main natural harbour there was open to the east, so it probably wasn't suitable this time, but we decided to have a look of the other possible anchorages around this island. However, we eventually ended up dropping the hook on the bay of a small skerry, located on the east side of the Inre Hamnskär. The anchor gripped on the first time and the bay was mirror calm through the night. The anchorage also had a beautiful view towards the setting sun, so we thanked once more those easterly winds.

Late dinner after the crossing

On Tuesday, the easterly winds continued and we kept on downwind sailing through Stockholm archipelago in the very hot weather and sunshine. After Blidösundet we decided to anchor next to a small island called Fjärdskär. The evening was very warm, even after the sunset one could sit with a t-shirt, which is not that typical at these altitudes.
/Antti & Minna