End of the sailing season

Today I had some help from another friendly Monsun owner to step down the mast off Isabell. Yesterday I removed the cables and radar dome from the mast, stripping it clean to be removed. Took down the sails as well, which was lucky. Today the wind was very strong, and blowing directly off the lake into the harbour. Quite a blow. But yesterday, as I worked the sails and stripped the mast, the weather was calm and beautiful.
The mast came off and Isabell raised about 20 cm from the water surface. I can see that this summers many miles has done a polishing job on the underwater hull. Alot of the red paint is missing.
On Tuesday, October 20th, Isabell is lifted onto the hard. And the sailing season has come to an end. Now the time starts to do some serious maintenance jobs. Another pleasant part of owning a boat. And the atmosphere at the boat club, in spite of COVID19 issues, is generous as always. Nonetheless, always a bit sad to come to this point of lifting Isabell on the hard.

Reached my home port Bullandö Marina

In the afternoon of Saturday, September 5th, I reached the berth in my home port. The strong winds from the SW the past few days have helped me sail home in only three days from my anchorage at Arkösund, where I ended up on Thursday. From there it was about a hundred miles home. I took the short route across open sea, directly to Landsort, and the SXK blue buoy at Läskär, north of the Öja island. 42 nautical miles in a days worth of sailing. The next day was rocky, as the sea swell rolled in along with me, into the Mysingen archipelago sea. Another day with 42 miles of sailing, passed Dalarö early, and sailed until darkness fell. Got to Munkön. From there it was only a little jump home. As I came past Stavsnäs, and into the bight that leads under the Djurö bridge, a lot of boats appeared on the water. After all the solitude this was quite a shock. It so happened that this was the day the Annual Nordic Boat Regatta was held. Funny, it was like falling back into the mid-summer business of the canals in The Netherlands. But I got into port without too much troubles. And this marks the end of this summers adventure. I am going to miss living on the boat. After 74 days of living on the boat, and moving about 1860 nautical miles during those days, life will be a bit different at home on land.

Concluded that this little boat has been a fine home, and I am so happy that everything on board worked as it was supposed to do. Only the normal wear and tear, and of course the little damage on the anchor roller from the collision in the harbour at Lemmer.

The east coast of Sweden between showers

Where am I now? I have reached 58°02.9’N 016°46.8’E Kvädö southern depth. Hiding out for the N wind and drying all the wet stuff.

Early yesterday morning I sailed out on the northern part of the Kalmarsund. Since it had been very windy on the Baltic Sea the past few days, a heavy long wave pattern was still running. But the weather was fair and I could sail a few hours with all the sails up. In the vicinity of Oskarshamn the wind died down to almost nothing (4-5 knots) and the heavy sea made going a bit uneasy. So I decided to follow the inside passage through the skerry coastal landscape. It has several beautiful spots, and as usual the water was empty. I hand-navigated most of the way, but progress was good. Saw a few sailboats near Västervik and passed two naval vessels going out to sea. Another two sailboats and a motor yacht in the vicinity of Loftahammar. That’s it. After Loftahammar it started to drizzle, and after a while came the heavy rain, buckets of it. I threw the anchor at a small cove near Kårö and ate, rested a bit and waited for the rain to get past me. Since the following days promised high northerly winds, I decided to use all of the daylight hours to motor northbound. That was a bit of a mistake. I did not get further than where I am now. Near the entrance to the town of Valdemarsvik. And it rained a whole lot more. So in this downpour and closing of darkness I found an anchorage that looked good on the charts, but visibility was too low to see for real. Early this morning I could actually see the surroundings, and I happened to pick a good spot. It gives good enough cover for the hard norhterly wind and has a beautiful natural setting.

So today I took the day off and while the sun is shining I dry out all the wet stuff. Time to download some more pictures to the computer and update my status. The wind situation is not in my advantage the coming days. Only about 120 miles to go, but it will take some time, if I want to enjoy the ride. Luckily, I am still on vacation. Best to enjoy the scenery along this ancient (from the Viking era and onwards) seafarers route through the skerries. The route is well marked and easy to follow, although at times very exposed to the open sea (wind and the sea waves).

Following the eastern coast to get home

Where am I now? At 57°N outside the Södra Cell paper mill perimeter at Påskallavik, hiding for the passing bad weather.

It seems that following the eastern coast will be my best option to stay out of the northern wind zone for the coming few days. I have made some progress through the Kalmarsund, while the weather has changed frequently. Using the wind blowing around the centers of heavy rainfall over the mainland, it has at times been possible to sail with the main reefed and keeping close to the wind. Got to test my heavy weather gear, it rained a lot. The coming few days are going to be drier, according to the weather forecasts.

It is empty on the sea. I am basically passing through the Kalmarsund all by myself it seems. Of course both the lousy weather and that the holiday season is over may have to do with this. Anyway, it will get more crowded once I get to the Stockholm archipelago. That will hopefully be in a few days. Only about 150 more nautical miles until I get home.

Today, as I motored into the hiding place here at Bokön, two eagles circled right above my head. I got so excited and distracted that I almost sailed onto a marker buoy. Fantastic to see these magnificent birds so close up. Otherwise I have spotted a few hundred cormorants, that seem to be everywhere, and one seal.

Depression train causes daily weather changes

Where am I now? In Möcklösund, Karlskrona archipelago.

From Ystad to Simrishamn I had decent sailing weather, winds changing due to heavy cloud formations over the sea southeast from where I was. Well in port at Simrishamn it rained heavily. The harbor was empty, and according to the people at the harbor office it has been a season with very few visiting boats. I bought some diesel and went shopping in town. The next day I sailed and motored across the Hanöbukten (Bay of Hanö), and had set course on the island of Utklippan. At a quarter past four in the afternoon the Utklippan lighthouse was visible. First part of the journey I had sailing wind, then the wind died and I motored a few hours. Afternoon, the wind gradually returned from the west. The sea waves came in from the northwest, and made it necessary to hand steer a lot of the time. As the wind picked up in the afternoon, the windvane kept course. Most of the time the sun was out and it felt warm. All alone on this part of the sea. I spotted three ships on the entire journey. Then, as I got closer to Utklippan, the wind picked up to 11 meter per second and the waves grew more than 2 m high. So when I finally got to Utklippan, breaking waves and the wind straight into the harbour entrance made me pass it by. I set for rounding Utlängan on the mainland side of Blekinge and steered for the entrance to the inside route from Långören to Karlskrona. Well behind land, the sea became calmer and I raced against the clock to find an anchorage before darkness fell. I anchored in a nice spot in leeward of land and went to sleep.

At 5 am I woke up, because the wind had changed direction and the anchor was dragging. Isabell hit bottom. So I got into foul weather gear, got the anchor up, which was fouled with sea weeds, hence the dragging. It had just become light enough to navigate these shallows visibly. I knew the area well from before, since I lived in this area for a few years a while ago. So I went for the safe inside inlet of Norrviken, where Kryssarklubben has a blue buoy. It is where I stayed today. Rains a lot and every time it rains the wind picks up from nothing to terrible, to die down to nothing afterward again. Now I am cleaning ship and resting a bit. The weather is going to be wet and changing winds for the coming week. I will just have to take it as it comes, and try to get myself to the north. I am glad nothing more serious happened when the anchor started dragging this morning. The parts of the coast are very shallow and stony. But with a beautiful natural scenery.

Back in Swedish waters

Where am I now? Ystad guest harbor on the Swedish southcoast.

Left Kiel on Tuesday morning. Very little wind, but from the right direction this time. As I am coasting along with all the sails up, I am hailed by the German military police on the VHF. They are having a military operation in the bight between Kiel and Fehmarn. So I am going to have to go a big circle around the area, marked as military training site on the charts. As I am making my way around I see several big naval vessels in the excercise area. They are dropping depth charges, training submarine defence, and it sounds like thunder in the distance. A grey and muggy day of sailing, past the Danish sea border and back into the Fehmarn sound. A few other boats keep me company. Have the radar on to find the buoy markers that I am supposed to keep on my starboard side. Works well. I get to Fehmarn bridge and check in at the same harbor where I was on the way south. The Burger See marina, all new and big, at Burgertiefe. Biked into the town of Burg and dis some shopping. Bought a new chartbook of the Danish waters. Thought that would be smartest, since I had sailed into a dangerous area on the way south. This time going north I could keep clear of the new wind park they are building out there.

On the early morning of Wednesday I motorsailed toward Denmark. Hardly any wind, sunny and still warm. Coming near the Danish coast several coast guard vessels are tracking me close by. I talked to one of the crews and asked if I could go into the Gedser harbour for the night. They needed to have a registration code and personbevis (proof of residence from the Swedish authorities) to go into the harbour. That, of course, I did not have. So I sailed on and anchored in the bight between the islands of Moen and Falster. A bit of a rolling experience, which meant that sleeping was not comfortable, but ok. In the early morning, when I pulled the anchor, the coast guard was there again, following me out. I am sure they had been monitoring me all the time.

So there was wind, first rather nice, and I could get a good bearing on the Swedish coast, all the sails up. After a few hours the wind picked up, and waves started to build up as well. I put a reef in the main and continued. Fast, it went. This is the first time someone set off the alarm on my VHF. I got scared shitless, until I understood what it was. A DSC emergency call. Listening to the Swedish and Danish rescue operators I understood that a Danish vessel was sinking somewhere in Danish waters. It was not close to where I was, so I listened and just sailed on. They where 6 people that had to be rescued. Good to know that rescue is close by when you are in deep shit.

I had to stay very close to the main route for the high speed ferries, and several of them passed real close by. Hailed one of the TT-line vessels, since it came straight at me from behind. But they had seen me and would pass on my port side. They were close enough so I could see folks on the bridge. Waved at them! On it went, the wind picked up even more, but I could maintain my course straight to the harbor of Smygehuk on the south coast of Sweden. Got there swiftly, with very little sail up. The last five miles I handsteered into port. There was a place to tie up in the otherwise deserted harbor.

It rained during the night and temperatures dropped to near 20 degrees C. In the morning I took it easy and looked around the place. Then, with drizzle and a very smooth and grey sea, I motorsailed to the town of Ystad. Coming out of the harbor the sea looked all yellow. First I thought it was silt from the harsh wind yesterday. But no, it was a very heavy growth of cyanobacterial algae. It continued all along the coast, like plowing through pea soup. The sea was empty. Halfway it started to rain again and visibilty was very low. Lights went on, as well as the radar. I found the port of Ystad without too much of an effort. Here, there was plenty of space. Almost deserted in this big marina. I am going to leave Isabell here until Monday. This weekend a near gale wind is going to pass through the area. So I decided to leave it for now, and take the train to visit friends and my son and his family in Malmö during the weekend. On Monday, if the weather allows it, I will continue my journey north. It is still rainy and grey. Nice to sit in the harbor and have a dry warm boat around me. It occurred to me how quickly the sea can alter appearance. From smooth and peaceful to wild and trecherous. Respect! It gave me a sense of security to feel that Isabell can handle the high waves and wind. And I got to practice heavy weather techniques.

Got through the Kiel Canal and the last sluice

Where am I now? At the waiting area next to the Holtenau sluices.

Yesterday I got into the Canal at Brunsbuttel after a long wait for the Alte schlusse. From there I was basically the only sailboat going to the Baltic. All other smaller boats went toward the Elbe. Some huge ships passed by, but most of the time I had the Canal to myself. It was hot both yesterday and today. The sunroof and extra sheet saved my life. I spent the night in the short canal at Giselau locks. Woke up to the hammering and sawing of the jetty repairs. Then I realized it was a Monday. Workday for some people.

Today I went out through the huge sluice at Holtenau all by myself. Made me feel kinda selfish. What excellent service, free of charge this time.

Now the wind is going to blow from the southwest. Still little wind tomorrow, but in my sails. Great! I am sailing home.

Back in the Elbe after surfing the tide

Where am I now? VC Cuxhaven marina

Yesterday was another beautiful sailing day. Sunny and warm, relatively steady wind from the northeast. It took me a good 13 hours to sail the 70 nautical miles from Norderney to Cuxhaven. Quite a few boats were on the passage. Not too many big ships while doing the river arm crossings. The Jade entrance had most traffic, just past Wangeroog island. Timed the tide right and kept on my preferred schedule. Coming up the Elbe from the fearful German Bight (bend) the current helped me along, clocking a 9 to 10 knots speed over ground. Still, it takes four hours to here.

Once you see the harbor entrance, prepare for a sideways motion and steer into the starboard wall. The current may make you miss the entrance. It is a bit like whitewater rafting. Fun to see yourself ripping past the buoys.

Once I got into port it was dark and I found a spot to press into. So this German neighbor tells me to move, because I am pressing on his boat. I tell him to stuff it. You don’t argue with a person filled to the brim with adrenaline from surfing the Elbe. My other German neighbors, a kind elderly couple, offered him to borrow some thinner fenders. He had mega fat fenders out. He would not change HIS boat or setting. So I just let it go. Went to sleep. All in all, progress is good.

Rolling along the North Sea coast

It is going well. Still warm and sunny, and the sea is not too rough. Wind is blowing from the east or northeast. Since there is so little wind,that is in my advantage, although the engine has to help at times. I covered IJmuiden to Borkum (140 nautical miles) in 29 hours. Night sailing made possible by enough wind to steer with the vane. A few other sailboats that kept out of the way, as did the numerous fishing trawlers. Getting to Borkum was a shock. Earlier I visited Norderley, where it was so nice. This place, Borkum, is the uggliest place I have visited so far. Large concrete buildings, and totally unplanned. The harbor is a hole in the shoreline. There is a cosier private harbor just west of the sea port, but it is shallow, and dries out at low tide. I met some more nice boat neighbors and that made it more pleasant to be there. This morning it rained and thundered a few hours, but before lunch it cleared. I set off with high tide and had the positive current with me the whole time. It turned out a great sailing day. Got to Norderney a good few hours earlier than expected. I got the bike out and filled a spare can with diesel at a nearby gas station. Just to be safe. So I am in Norderney again. No touristing this time. I catch the tidal wave early tomorrow and sail to the Elbe at Cuxhaven. Grateful for it going well.

Haarlem, North Sea kanaal and back on the North Sea

The past few days have been hot. Inside the boat it is above comfortable temperatures. Outside the sun is ruthless. Coming from Leiden I again passed the Kaag lake, and decided to hang out there on Sunday. Did some sailing, filled up the diesel tank and anchored in a windy place. Still it was so warm that I went swimming in the lake. The next morning I continued on my canal tour, basically alone. I have understood the reason why. Lots of problems with the bridges. The heat has expanded the decks of the bridges to the extent that they are not closing after being opened. They sprinkled water on them everywhere. Waiting times were long for a few bridges. But I got to Haarlem and moored in the middle of the old town. Beautiful. Then, today I continued along the river Spaarne to the North Sea Canal, much like the Kiel canal. It took me out to the North Sea at IJmuiden. Now I am in the Seaport Marina, and have prepared for the sea voyage. Early tomorrow I am heading out to sea and sailing north. Wind is blowing from the east, so that is good. Will see how far I get.