It is that time again… The whole year consists of three terrifying moments: Going back in the water, sailing and coming out! Terrifying but also life affirming, beset with problem solving and wonderful memories of a life lived to the full with no regrets. The Viking Way.
The weather presented me with a beautiful, calm, still day in which to lower Free’s mast in a trouble-free and relaxed manner. This was done a few days before Bengt was due to arrive from the nearby town of Iggesund with a crane big enough to lift Free, now weighing a staggering thirteen tons with the addition of full fuel and water tanks. Once again some the helpful members of Borka Brygga boat club joined me to share the bigger crane which would have cost me dearly, had Bengt come just to lift out Free. Obviously, the more boats on the day, the cheaper would be the cost; however, the other members paid more than they would have with the smaller crane. This gesture was well appreciated and so typical of the hospitality that I have received since arriving here last year. Thank you, gentlemen!
There is obviously a lot more to lifting out a boat than meets the eye. Firstly, the slings from the crane need to be in the correct place so that she is balanced when eventually being placed on the keel blocks on dry land. Secondly, the crane must carry the boat some distance, so this is crucial. In Free’s case she has a rubber rubbing strake around her hull which can easily be damaged without special chocks for protection.
Once this had been completed, Free was ready for the tense moment of truth when the powerful crane began to lift her high above the land. Up, up she went into the clear blue sky thanks to the skilled manipulation of Bengt, who has a lot of experience with this type of operation; nevertheless my tummy was turning anxious somersaults! Thanks to Håkan for the excellent photographs! At this point Eva’s husband Mats helped me keep Free from moving in the air as Bengt slowly crawled over the terrain towards her winter resting place where Micke was waiting with his tools and wood to complete the cradle.
Now it was time for Micke Van Ewijk to weave his magic with hammer and nail! During the previous week we had moved last year’s wood from his house to Free’s resting place at Borka Brygga boat club. My dear friend Eva helped me move the larger pieces in her wonderful wagon ‘Bessie’! Goodness only knows what I would have done without her help. A big thank you, Eva!
Micke used the same technique as last year to build Free’s cradle. At first glance it seems that the whole affair is much too fragile and small for such a large heavy boat; however, most of the weight is taken by the keel blocks which can be seen directly to Micke’s right in the above photograph. The rest of the structure acts to support her. The skill comes in the boat being laid exactly level on the blocks.
And now? Well, I shall be living on board until the end of October before returning to England. In the meantime my good friend Michael will visit from Lille in France, giving us a chance to visit Stockholm in a few weeks time. Now I have time to reflect on a wonderful summer with special gratitude for all the help and friendship offered throughout, from both sides of the Gulf of Bothnia. I have wood aplenty from Eva and Mats, who are but a hundred metres from my resting place; so a cosy fire every evening and good company for coffee! Borka has slowly become the closest place to home I have had since my childhood and the tranquility and gentle pace suits me well, girding me for the inevitable return to ‘the world’ next month. The gratitude I feel for this life is immense. There are no words, just the silence and the soft breeze that mutes the calling of the birds across the fjord. The moon casts its light on the water and the whole universe rests in my heart.