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.
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!
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…
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 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?