An outcast of the Islands…

Just when I thought it couldn’t get more beautiful…

Another heavenly anchorage off the island of Huvudskär. A free buoy this time so a perfect night's sleep ahead!

Another heavenly anchorage off the island of Huvudskär. A free buoy this time, so a perfect night’s sleep ahead!

I am writing from a tiny group of islands on the edge of the Stockholm Archipelago of which, Huvudskär is the largest. It is now the beginning of my third day and I am weather-bound, waiting for a front to blow itself out as it passes over towards the Åland Islands, north east of here.

For two days now I have been exploring the small islands of this group with my little ‘Walker Bay 8’ sailing tender. Carro and Danny will remember how much time I would spend sailing it in the harbour of Het Yacht in Amsterdam. A combination of sailing (no rough stuff!) and deep sleep was just what I needed and Huvudskär obliged fully!

Having fun exploring the little islands.

Having fun exploring the little islands.

Valdemarsvik delighted me as a free harbour! Yes, the town is running a promotion to encourage tourism, and the postponement of mooring fees has got to be a plus. I now find myself having gone more than two weeks without paying a Kroner, pure medicine for the financial disasters that have plagued my steady but slow progress north towards Borka Brygga.

After Valdemarsvik, my course changed from North by East to East North East and involved sailing to the seaward side of the Skägårds of Ōstergötland and the outer Stockholm Archipelago.

Under sail amongst the islands of the Ōstergötland Skärgård, very tricky indeed!

Under sail amongst the islands of the Ōstergötland Skärgård, very tricky indeed!

As aforementioned, the winds are out at sea and I needed them to cover miles under sail; however, I always come inshore in the evenings and have tasted some wonderful island anchorages from Oxelösund to my present location, including the islands of Kattilö, Hasselöbergö, and Nåttarö.

Swedish humour? A solitary chamber pot marks one of the hundreds of tiny islands!

Swedish humour? A solitary chamber pot marks one of the hundreds of tiny islands!

As I watch the huge brooding clouds building from the South West and the cold front approaches, I am planning for the final stage of my passage to reach Orrön Island, the home of Axel and Claire. Axel and Mark arrived on the island a week ago… a magnificent, courageous voyage in the tiny ‘hobbycat’. This is one invitation I cannot refuse!

I wait as the front moves across the island, before leaving for Orrön

I wait as the front moves across the island, before leaving for Orrön

It is a little chilly at present but then I have to be reminded that my latitude here is level with that of Orkney, so I can hardly complain! I did sneak on my wood-burner last night though and cook my evening meal so. There is something wonderfully elemental about the cheery warmth of the fire’s glow, even though it was stale bread I was toasting!

Island magic... Dawn's enchanting light greats a weary sailor.

Island magic… Dawn’s enchanting light greats a weary sailor.

On the subject of latitude, it will not be far now until I reach a real goal in my life… sixty degrees north. I know this is hardly Captain Scott or Roald Amundsen territory, but it matters to me, as it has been a dream of mine since sitting at my desk at St.Gregory’s RC Primary school in South Shields, daydreaming and reading my atlas, instead of paying attention to my teacher, who was trying to make me into a model citizen! Oh dear… look what happened!

One for the girls (and boys?) These two gorgeous Swedish Coastguards stopped for a nice long chat in the anchorage at Huvudskär.

One for the girls (and boys?) These two gorgeous Swedish Coastguards stopped for a nice long chat in the anchorage at Huvudskär.

Soon I will be ‘turning the corner’ after Stockholm and steering North Nor’ West, past the Åland Islands and into the exotic Gulf of Bothnia, which stretches right up to Lapland and Finland. So few British sailors ever go this far north, but that is not the reason why I am doing this…

Ever since the days of my magic atlas and watching the ships coming into the Tyne, I have dreamed of this strange piece of water. It smacks of mystery, of strange creatures, trolls, faeries, reindeer… ah the list is endless! As a child I could shut my eyes and smell the forests of Northern Finland, smelling the Stockholm tar of the Sailing ships. I can remember stories of my Great Uncle Charlie, a ships carpenter, who sailed up in those parts as a sixteen-year old boy… Oh my, what romance is this?

Can I reach those mystical shores alone, with ‘Free’?


About Viking Queen

I am a sailor and I live on my boat 'Free'. I have no home but originate from Tyneside. I have no allegiance, just a desire to do no harm and live with courage and an open heart.
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22 Responses to An outcast of the Islands…

  1. Lynda and tony smith says:

    You’re at it again woman! Spinning mysterious tales of enchantment! Stop it! You are making me so envious. Fair winds and safe sailing sweetheart. All our love Tony and Lynda xxx

    • Viking Queen says:

      It’s never too late Lynda! There’s a boat up here with your name on it!

      I spent last night at Axel and Claire’s on Orrö Island. Needless to say it is heaven on earth, as I knew it would be. I’ll send photos after I leave, but tonight there’s some big knees-up on the island involving copious amounts of booze and viking warriors… Do I feel another man coming on? Hmmm… All I know is that they’ve all been awaiting me. I dread to think what that means!

  2. What an exciting time you are having up there with all those Vikings and island-hopping!

    • Viking Queen says:

      Yes… sometimes a little too exciting watching for those nasty little rocks under the surface! So far so good! I have just witnessed the Swedish ‘Crayfish evening’ party at Axel and Clare’s home on Orrö… More of that later, but wow…!

  3. Carole Walker says:

    What a brave and wonderful trip you are having . I am so enjoying your blog and wait with anticipation for the next instalment. Keep well you brave girl. Love Caro

  4. christian says:

    love the loo with the view, did you check it out – did it flush. great photo’s as always. hope you enjoyed the crayfish,singing and didn’t drink too much but had a great time

  5. Viking Queen says:

    Yes it was lovely, a real Swedish tradition and I was made to feel very welcome. I even did a turn on my tin whistle! The loo was great fun but I wouldn’t dare get too close due to rocks.

  6. rollinwithcarro says:


    • Viking Queen says:

      Thanks Carro. As you know it is hard to describe such beauty… But you have been there… you ‘know’ it. If i can convey just a little of how it is, then it has been worth it.

  7. Whitt88 says:

    Carro is right, you do it in an unpretentious, melodic, lilting sort of way that lets readers escape into their own memories because of the similarities to yours. Haunting illustrations, dreamy prose, from an outcast to the sea…..

    • Viking Queen says:

      Thank you! Your writing is also very evocative. ‘Dreamy prose’… I like that. I was always ‘accused’ of being ‘dreamy’ when I was a child, poring over atlases instead of allowing myself to be prepared for the ‘machine’ of modern existence. It was worth it after all!

      • Whitt88 says:

        So the atlases became charts, the machine turned into wind, and a worthy existence materialized. What? It sounds so easy, there must be a snag. Oh yes, it’s an accomplishment difficult to achieve, following in Conrad’s wake.

      • Viking Queen says:

        Yes! I remember watching ‘Lord Jim’ with Peter O’Toole, before i was able to read Conrad, and was heavily influenced by the dilemma of abandoning the human cargo for safety. That has left a strong imprint on the way i live my life… taking ultimate responsibility for your own actions and their consequences. You are correct it wasn’t easy, but as i’m sure you’ll agree, negativity wears you out and the ‘can do’ is far more inspirational for one who seeks freedom from the ‘Brave new (soma induced) world’.

      • Whitt88 says:

        Education is all about giving us those ‘can do’ skills you mention. You studied, so you earned your freedom. You know how it is aboard, with limited shelf space. All your favorite authors waiting for your attention. Conrad was especially interesting because English was not his native language. And you, Poppy?

      • Viking Queen says:

        I am in awe of Conrad. I remember being surprised to learn that he was Polish! Me, only English I’m afraid!

  8. Whitt88 says:

    Those childhood lessons imprint deeply. You absorbed them, and then tested yourself in real life. You are one of those Vikings from whom we can learn a lot. I’m going to treat myself to carefully reading your voyage chronologically, but I’ll spare you the nuisance of replying. You’ve done a lot of work already. Thank you for the Saga.

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