A Viking’s Return…

It has been one thousand eight hundred and forty seven nautical miles since leaving the coast of East Anglia, last August, and on a truly majestic late summer evening, I sailed into the beautiful little haven of Borka Brygga.

'A viking's return'. Tidying up the sails before my final approach to Borka Brygga

‘A viking’s return’. Tidying up the sails before my final approach to Borka Brygga.

The magnitude of this voyage has not really dawned on me yet, as I am still on sensual overload with the hours of sailing, and the impact of such raw elemental power and beauty; however this time I have surprised myself regarding the amount of determination needed to carry on, especially after the nightmare grounding off the Frisian Islands and in Helgoland harbour.

May was a month of disaster, populated by some of the most wonderful, kind folk I have ever met, helping to pull me out of the depths of despair as my dream seemed to be falling apart. My thoughts return to my German friends in Helgoland, Marco, Markus, Denis and Leon, who went more than the extra mile; plus Micke and Olly from Hamburg who were good company when I really needed it. The guys at Adolf Cornell’s in Brunsbüttel kept my dream alive by fixing defective gearbox at a really good price. Thank you to Jock and company at the British Kiel Yacht club who were angels too, for diving and removing the remains of the evil rope, that demonic remnant of Helgoland’s harbour. Without the aforementioned, I would not have even reached Sweden and I haven’t even mentioned Thomas Sörensen’s tender care for both of these two old ladies!

Time to contemplate on the sheer intensity of this long passage.

Time to contemplate on the sheer intensity of this long passage.

From the quaint Hanseatic towns of Eastern Germany, through the mysterious waters of Rügen Island and the Peenestrom, to the rarely visited and changing Poland, Free has carried me without complaint. North through the tempestuous Southern Baltic unto the Viking realm of Bornholm, Christiansö Island, Utklippan and the East Coast of Sweden, she has taken everything the sea can throw at her and come back for more. From the tricky, rocky inshore channels of the Stockholm Archipelago and into the open, windy Gulf of Bothnia, she has proved to me her credentials as a genuinely good sailing boat too…

The wind had died as I began my final approach up the fjord towards Borka Brygga. The magnificent sunset began its symphony once again and my senses were suffused by the intense aroma of pine from the forests all around…

Despite the awesome beauty of the approach, can you see the difficulty in picking up buoys and avoiding rocks in the setting sun?

Despite the awesome beauty of the approach, can you see the difficulty in picking up buoys and avoiding rocks in the setting sun?

The evening approaches can be problematic due to the sun setting into your eyes, and the need to carefully watch for lateral buoys and rocks breaking the surface. These can be obscured in the awesome light-show that reflects crazily off the surface. Straining my eyes on the jetty, I noticed the silhouette of a little girl waving to me and as I came nearer, realised it was Micke Vanewijk’s daughter Tova, trying to help me. Eventually with father and daughter’s help Free was tied up stern to the pontoon.

My steadfast little sailer is finally tethered to the jetty in Borka Brygga.

My steadfast little sailer is finally tethered to the jetty in Borka Brygga.

My timing was perfect, for I managed to outrun the impending Northwest gale that blew over early this morning. I knew it was coming and decided to leave Norrsundet one day early to use the last of a light Westerly breeze. It is a lovely feeling to outfox the weather!

It seems that a local journalist has found out about my exploits and is visiting me tomorrow from Hudiksvall to do a feature. Fame at last! Not really, but it is always lovely to meet new folk and leave a small imprint of your life. One can talk forever about why folk do things and words are easy to say, sure isn’t the world full of them? But for me, there is no motivation other than to be free and true to myself; and for the sheer delight in sailing a little boat in the huge rolling sea, under a massive sky, using all one’s wits and experience to work in harmony with the elements. For this I am truly grateful.

What other reason do you need?

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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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9 Responses to A Viking’s Return…

  1. Lucy says:

    Is that your journeys end? for now at least. You’re amazing Poppy, well done and congrats on getting so far. Thanks for keeping us posted, it looks sooo beautiful up there. Till the next missive, lotsa love and hugs xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    • Viking Queen says:

      Hey Lucy,
      Thanks for the kind words!
      It is the journey’s end this year re Free. She’s coming out of the water next week and then I’m away to fair England for a few weeks. Then it’s the Camino, hopefully. AND then finding somewhere to live for the winter!
      There’ll be a few little posts before that and then a Camino report.
      It is lovely here and the people are so friendly, polite and helpful. Take care Lucy xxxxxxx

    • Viking Queen says:

      Just in case you’re wondering… It’s way too cold to live on a boat this far north,(I’m level with the Faroes on latitude) unless it is specialised (An ice-breaker maybe?). This is the only way I figure being able to explore the far north of the Gulf of Bothnia, Finland and the Åland Islands next year (It’s pointless to try and do it all at once… there’s just too much. And you know how lazy and slow I am!). Everybody in Borka Brygga seemed to know I’m coming… it reminds me of that film ‘Local Hero’ a bit! Have to watch the emotions.

  2. Terrific feats all round,Poppy. You’ve made it happen,congrats!
    Looking forward to first hand accounts soon!
    Love,
    Ruth

    • Viking Queen says:

      I’ll buy the vegetarian sausages!!!

      Thanks for all your support and kind words, Ruth. Every little bit counts!

      Love, Poppy

  3. Congratulations Poppy, you are a legend! Extremely Well done! Though I joined in with your journey only recently, it has been almost as rewarding, for me, to read of your trials, tribulations, successes and magic moments, as I think it has been, for you, to experience them. Thank you for sharing this special journey with the world. I really am glad to be a “follower.” And now you are walking the Camino? I am planning a walking tour next year, not the Camino, but somewhere in Europe, so I will eagerly await your posts to pick up on some tips! Good luck. The sunset pick, by the way, is breathtaking, albeit with the danger of rocks lurking in the water. Regards, Amanda

  4. Viking Queen says:

    Thank you for your validation Amanda. It has been a privilege to share this magic with you and rewarding to realise that there are folk who do understand the value of consciousness. Please stay in touch, even if the posts are less frequent. It will be very difficult to send from the Camino as i’ll be computerless!

  5. christian says:

    give free a pat from me for getting you there and i hope she enjoy’s her rest for winter, she will be waiting for you in the spring to start again and hug to you for getting you both there safety. have to harden the feet up and getting the walking boots out. love the photo’s. keep us posted re newshound meeting.
    Cx

    • Viking Queen says:

      Will do Chris! But I’ve got to keep her hungry or she’ll get complacent! Yes I’ll arrive in fair England with nowt but my boots, rucksack and a few clothes (plus lap top and ipad.)
      Hoping to fly from Arlanda, Stockholm next Friday, but I’ve got to get to Hudiksvall, then Stockholm without being stuck there all night (huge hotel bill! no can do).
      AND THEN… find somewhere to stay when I arrive at least for a few days. It’s quite a challenge. My lovely friend Ruth has offered to put me up for a short while after the 31st August, bless her. So, ‘Bella Italia’ sometime after next weekend?

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