Sixty Degrees North!

Finally… after waiting a whole lifetime… I crossed the sixty degree northerly latitude after a rip-roaring sail from Arholma Island to Ōregrund. I have turned the corner into the Gulf of Bothnia, steering North Nor’ West.

Victory! Approaching Ōregrund after a wonderful forty mile sail.

Victory! Approaching Ōregrund after a wonderful forty mile sail.

I celebrated by starting up ‘Horatio’ the generator, so I could put on my toaster for a delicious piece of toast and jam! What a moment… and to do it under sail, after all these years!

This was some of the best sailing I have ever done in 'Free'. She responded with great heart in beautiful surroundings.

This was some of the best sailing I have ever done in ‘Free’. She responded with great heart in beautiful surroundings.

Now I have left the Stockholm Archipelago behind and entered a different Sweden… More open to the sea and strangely, a new kind of light, very difficult to explain. I can tell the difference though.

Sailing from the open sea into the channel that runs up to Ōregrund, was quite challenging under sail with narrow gaps between the islands and a strange funnelling effect from the wind. Great care must be taken not to be over pressed with too much sail, for sudden strong gusts can catch out the unwary sailor. Passing too near to the shore can find one trying to claw away as the distance grows nearer. This is the classic ‘lee-shore’, that has haunted sailors for centuries, when the wind is blowing you on-shore while you are trying to steer off.

On a classic 'lee-shore'; however, I have good speed and can easily claw off the island. This is no situation for an inexperienced sailor!

On a classic ‘lee-shore’; however, I have good speed at nearly six knots, and can easily claw off the island. This is no situation for an inexperienced sailor!

Today was one of my most profound since arriving on the Swedish coast and I witnessed a magnificent eagle soaring above me. I only saw one other boat on passage, as the holiday season is now over. The solitude brings even more mystery and romance to the voyage and I feel the strains of history all around.

If old Njörd is merciful and the remainder of my voyage continues as planned, I should make my final destination of Borka Brygga by next weekend. This means that ‘Free’ shall be lifted out of the water for winter after two years in. Carro’s uncle Micke is expecting me and together we will prepare ‘Free’ for hibernation.

The beginning of the Gulf of Bothnia has a different feel to the rest of Sweden.

The beginning of the Gulf of Bothnia has a different feel to the rest of Sweden.

I know you have all been subjected to a lot of posts in a very short time and there is just one final piece to the jigsaw… the arrival in Borka Brygga. I apologise for this and have noticed my readership falling off quite a bit recently. I suppose it must be difficult keeping up in a world with so much razzmatazz and information. Alas, I no longer seem to fit into that world.

There have been moments when I just want to share this beauty… to commit it to poetry and photograph. But how can you? How can you qualify and quantify the divine?

Soon the posts will stop, as I go on Pilgrimage in Spain and leave the Saga behind me. Perhaps now, like a Buddhist Mandala made from sand, it shall just blow away…

I for one, am changed forever… Humbled by this Viking Realm, a necklace of a thousand islands, shimmering in the evening summer sun, like so many diamonds. It is a beauty that is almost too painful to bear, agony to hold too close to one’s heart. What can come after this? What else is there?

The modern world holds so little value to me, with its harsh, lonely cruelty, where no one belongs anywhere anymore. No doubt I will return to that again, but enriched by these special memories of when, once upon a time, I stood on the fringes of Valhalla and cried…


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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33 Responses to Sixty Degrees North!

  1. Lynda Hulme says:

    OK…………thats enough Poppy! This post has left me crying! How wonderfully descriptive your posts are and I am amazed that people have “dropped off” Perhaps its just the holiday season and they don’t have access to computers etc? Whatever the reason, they have missed some beautiful missives compiled by one beautiful lady and long may they continue. Where are you going on your pilgrimage in Spain? God Bless you sweetheart. Much love. Tony and Lynda xxxx

    • Viking Queen says:

      Now you’ve got me going Lynda! I’ve noticed the pattern over recent weeks, but that’s not the reason I do this. I have a need to share because it is all too much to absorb.
      Your words and support have always been wonderful and much appreciated. Maybe the events of my rather bleak ‘Dark night of the soul’ over winter in Holland had too much honesty, after all most people have their own issues. I tend towards the naive and am a little immature in the romantic department, seeing the natural world as a glorious battle of colours, history and theatre. Not everyone views it that way…
      Feelings are harder to confront than the raging sea and perhaps the numbing of so-called civilised life is the perfect anaesthetic.

      To the few fellow travellers in light I give my hand in friendship and open my heart, an invitation that is open for anyone who passes by.

      I want to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain.

      Bless you my friends.

  2. christian says:

    words wonderful as always feeling like we are with you but you cant see us as we are on board free with you following this path of wonderment as you explain and share your journey with us, what joy it gives to re read the past blogs and see bits missed perhaps another book.

    • Viking Queen says:

      Lovely sentiments as usual Chris… thank you. I wish I could ‘really’ share this. I feel almost greedy sometimes.
      Anchored off Björn island north of Oregrund. Just me and all the heavens… breathtaking.

      • christian says:

        but you are sharing it and making me look up places with names i have never heard of before, but sad to say i know i will never visit so this is the next best thing. some people would pay lots for this type peace and feeling of one with whats around them,

      • Viking Queen says:

        And yet I haven’t spent anything for nearly two weeks now… Oregrund was the first!
        And now I’m back in the wilds again at anchor.

        Glad you’re benefitting Chris.

  3. Michael Murphy says:

    So after the Pilgrimage NORTH, you will be following the INITIATION to the SOUTH…….

    Yours from the South


    El mundo es arena……..

  4. Judith Brenchley says:

    Dear Poppy,   I’ve been following your journey and your Saga with real excitement.  I only have my world atlas but so far I’ve found most places in it.  Your photos and your writing are all quite beautiful.  Until now I have known nothing about Sweden and its geography but the coast and the islands appear to be quite magical.    Poppy, I’ve just read your last missive about arriving at your destination.  I’ve enjoyed all of it and am sorry this is the last Saga for the time being.    I’ll write more later, about the new programme I’ve found for ME/CFS which may justbe working. I must also reread your missives as I’m sure you mentioned the pilgrimage in Spain.  Is this to Santiago de Compostela?  Who with? and why? and when?  I look forward to hearing from you,when you have time.    Love from Judith     


    • Viking Queen says:

      Hi Judith,
      Thanks for the lovely words… It isn’t the last missive, I was contemplating the possibility. Obviously Free will be out of the water for winter soon, but I will probably send the odd post to keep in touch with you all.
      Yes… it is the Santiago, but I will be alone as that is the usual way with me. Hopefully in mid September and why? Something to do with the light… it’s always the light.
      Please write an let me know your news including the ME/CFS news.
      Love from Poppy

  5. The light? It will be interesting to hear how you find it in Spain. I had thought it was a Scandinavian thing. And definitely you are a poet!

    • Viking Queen says:

      Ah Amanda.. you say kind things.. thank you.
      I meant that the light in Scandinavia has opened a portal into my spiritual life. The Camino is about endurance and hopefully it will fuse practical and spiritual.

      • Yes, now I see. And I totally get that. The light in Scandinavia, touches my soul as well. It is painful for me to go through the summers here where the light is too intense, and that is when I miss the northern light so much. It sounds like you are keen to see how far you can push the limits of your own body, now that Free has pushed here, and is in hibernation! Do you have some good walking boots? 🙂

  6. oops. * meant to say Free has pushed “hers”

    • Viking Queen says:

      Yes… I have the boots, bought last Winter in a short trip to England. I walked nearly ten miles everyday in London until they were worn in. I’m odd like that!
      You have a point… maybe it is Free’s turn to rest while her skipper pushes the limits.
      I really understand where you’re coming from with the light. Maybe it’s easier for me with the freezing, wet weather of my childhood!

      • I really think it is definitely easier to cope with cold rather than heat as one ages. And having had soooo much sun and heat, it is easy to enjoy the rain fog and low light. I don’t have to squint,get headaches and drink two gallons of liquid every day etc. I even notice the difference if I visit Tasmania, (island to the south of Oz), and then return to the north where I live. I almost feel blinded as I alight from the airplane. I guess that is why winters here are such a delight. The boots sounds so comfy now, you will have no blistering issues!!!

      • Viking Queen says:

        I presume you are a Queenslander? Or even from Darwin, maybe? We nearly emigrated to Mackay, when I was seven. (Mum, ill, couldn’t go.Dad even had a job lined up).

        I agree with you, though… The heat is hard work. I hated India when I was there, spending most of the time sitting in the shade. No, I’m a cold weather person. There’s nothing more comfy than my wood burner in Free. And now, it’s on most nights as you can feel Autumn in the air.

      • Queenslander, yes, but not by choice, and I lived my early life in Victoria. Fancy you nearly immigrating to Mackay! Mackay is a mining centre, still, and the heat is even worse there. India, I imagine, would be oppressive. The closest I got to India, was Nepal, but it was March and not so bad during that month. Bangkok on the other hand, was like living inside an oven on high heat.The seasons seem to turn so quickly, at times. Summer turns so Autumn fast in the north, just a few weeks makes such a difference, whilst here the mild winters, fast begin unbearable furnaces. Yet the change here from Summer to Autumn is long and protracted. Is it similarly slow to change from Winter to Spring in the north? The change has come a few weeks early here, so it doesn’t bode well for the coming summer. Even though the winter here is mild, the nights can be cool, and I must confess, I also have a wood fire burning at night time in winter. Beautiful to watch the flames over a glass of wine or hot chocolate in the evening. So cosy. Air conditioning in summer does not have the same effect!!!!

      • Viking Queen says:

        Nepal is high altitude which makes it bearable. I hate that cloying, sticky, windless heat that you get in India. The whole place was too much for me, added to which I am probably taller than everybody in the whole country, which means everybody stares the whole time.

        The winter can drag on for weeks nay months at times, especially in the Northeast of England. Usually Spring makes her appearance and then winter returns for a few weeks. It seems to happen in pulses. Sometimes Summer never even bothers to arrive! It just rains and remains mild and gloomy.

        I love my wood burner on ‘Free’, the spiritual heart of the boat. It has a glass door too, very cosy on a chilly night, and right now here in the north of Sweden, it is quite cool in the evening.

      • I could talk or more accurately, whinge (!) about the heat for hours, but I doubt you would want to hear that. I feel sure you know what I mean, and my energy levels are directly correlated to lower humidity and heat. So I must do as much as I can before summer hits and I turn into a sloth! How much longer before you leave Sweden?

      • Viking Queen says:

        I understand… You live in a frighteningly hot country and it must be a topical subject, like England and its weather. Atlantic weather changes every few minutes so it’s topical (not tropical!)
        I have a flight booked from Arlanda for Thursday so I’ve managed to put myself under a lot of pressure to prepare Free for winter. However I have so much to do before the Camino, there is no alternative. It will be quite an epic because i have to get to Hudiksvall from here and then a train down to Stockholm!

      • Topical – ah yes, now I understand why there is so much interest if it is so unpredictable. A bit like Melbourne’s weather. Four seasons in one day! You sound like you have a busy time ahead of you. Good luck with the trip and hope for the best weather to aid you!

      • Viking Queen says:

        Thank you!
        Being a sailor, I live breath and sleep weather, but it’s purely practical as it can be a life-taker.

      • And I assume you can read it as well, or maybe better than a meterologist.

      • Viking Queen says:

        I tend to ‘read’ the synoptic charts myself. My success rate is about 75% I would say, which is pretty good in real terms, but then I was raised by the sea and have sailing genes going back centuries! I have to say that

        a Norwegian weather site is the best I have come across. They tend to get it correct mostly but the timing can be suspect!

      • Were your forefathers sailors or fisherman, perhaps?

      • Viking Queen says:

        They were definitely. It’s recorded back to 1745. That’s as far back as I could go.

      • Oh, that is exciting. Did they stay in the same area? My Danish family can be traced back to 1620, and they stayed in the same area until mid 18th century before immigrating to Australia down the track….

      • Viking Queen says:

        It’s a little complicated… They were itinerant Irish who settled in South Shields at the mouth of the Tyne in the Northeast of England.

      • Viking Queen says:

        Oh yes… and of course there’s the gut feeling. Sometimes you can ‘feel’ something is coming even contrary to the forecasts and synoptic charts.

      • I also trust my gut feelings. And my so called “barometer legs”, that can predict rain up to three days away.

      • Viking Queen says:

        It’s useful isn’t it?

      • Yes but sometimes the rain is too far away from my local area, and it makes one look a bit foolish.

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