Kalmar was a necessary port of call and the first major Swedish town to purchase some important items. Apart from the horror of a marina fee that is actually more expensive than England – The MDL empire that has bought up many of the cheaper harbours so they can charge stupid money for the same facility (let’s not start on that… No red mist right now!) – over two hundred Swedish Kroner per night (approximately twenty one pounds British), I was able to acquire a valuable guide to anchorages all the way up the Eastern Swedish Coast.An example of the hundreds of Islands on the Swedish East Coast. This chart indicates the need to be very careful!
There are simply hundreds of tiny islands from Oskarshamn to Stockholm. Many of these have beautiful free anchorages but need very careful navigation to avoid the rocks that lurk just below the surface. No doubt… this is no place for novices!A crucial guide for any sailor trying to live outside of the comfort zone.
The masterpiece is a guide called ‘Naturhamnar på Ostkusten’ (Nature harbours of the East Coat), and highlights many of the most beautiful but difficult nature harbours. And… they are all free. I hope to keep to as many as possible, except of course, when I need to resupply.
One of the positive aspects of visiting Kalmar, once the capital of Sweden, and an original Viking city, was meeting Mats and Leila from Norrköping. They tied up alongside me and we became instant friends. We sailed from Kalmar across to Borgholm on the west coast of Öland, the huge long island that lies to the east of the Swedish Mainland. They were really kind, waiting for me inside the harbour breakwater, and helping me tie up, bow first, with a stern buoy; a real nightmare for a single-hander!Leila and Mats, my new friends that I met in Kalmar. Here we are having a picnic on the beautiful Island of Ōland.
The following day they invited me to walk with them up to an old castle and we had a picnic in the sunshine. I have a feeling we will be friends for a long time to come.
As I write this missive, I lie at anchor to the south of Oskharshamn after a real test yesterday crossing from Öland in a big choppy sea until sheltering behind an inner island chain that should allow me some protection from the infernal nor’ nor easterly winds, which have me sailing very tightly close-hauled as close to the wind as is possible for an old motorsailer. ‘Free’ has a huge heart but she can’t perform like the flashy pedigree pure sailing boats that most folk have these days.‘Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…’ Leila’s beautiful photograph of ‘Free’ leaving Borgolm Harbour on Ōland, to do battle once again.
I have to sail her like an old commercial vessel, slowly and safely, without straining her running gear and standing rigging, which one can do with hours of very close sailing. I long for some sympathetic wind so I can sail on the reach, with the wind coming from the side. The price of diesel means I am even more inclined to wait at anchor for the wind to have a less north in it, so this means it is going to take me a very long time to reach my destination at Micke’s place of Borka Brygga, north of Stockholm.
Unfortunately, the game has become even more convoluted of late, as I am now experiencing some electrical problems. For some reason my alternator is not charging up the batteries while the engine is running. Well, not completely, anyway. After an hour on the engine, the charging stops…
Now that is not such a huge problem, when the sun and wind are charging via solar panels and wind turbine respectively, but as I approached the anchorage last evening, there was no wind or sun and I barely had enough power to lower the anchor, which I had to do by hand, eventually. Fortunately I do have ‘Horatio’, my old Hyundai petrol generator, which is an independent power source… so the batteries can be topped up in an emergency.Meet ‘Horatio’, my trusty old Hyundai petrol generator, pressed back into service due to the latest technical difficulties. Here I am at anchor south of Oskarshamn.
Alas, the life of a Viking adventurer is never smooth! Whether it involves pitting one’s wits against the northerly winds, to eek out as much sailing as possible, or to do battle with the infernal ‘electrickery’ that seems so problematic to many old boats.
Life goes on, as they say…