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.

Lowering the mast again. The beautiful weather played its part in a trouble free operation.

Lowering the mast again. The beautiful weather played its part in a trouble-free operation.

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!

Micke and I are putting in the chocks to avoid the sling from the crane mutilating them.

Micke and I are putting in the chocks to avoid the sling mutilating the rubbing strake (under my right foot).

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.

The crane eases Free out of the water to check that she is balanced. This means that the slings need to be in exactly the correct position.

The crane checks that Free is balanced. The slings need to be in exactly the correct position under her keel.

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.

'Walking the boat'. Mats and I Keep Free from swaying about on the journey to the cradle.

‘Walking the boat’. Mats and I Keep Free from swaying about on the journey to 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 weaves his magic! Let the work commence!

Micke weaves his magic! Let the work commence!

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.

Game over! Micke and I stand by as Free sits in her winter abode.

Game over! Micke and I stand by as Free sits in her winter abode.

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.


About Viking Queen

I am a sailor, and I live on my boat 'Free'. I have no allegiance, just a desire to do no harm and live with courage and an open heart. We have so little time in this precious life but what we do should define us, and our reputation is all that we leave behind.
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15 Responses to Out…

  1. Viki Moore says:

    Must have been nervewracking to see her up so high! Our haulout operates a bit differently here – we have a cradle on wheels with a tractor to pull the boats up a ramp. So glad she is tucked up safe and sound for the winter. 🙂

    • Viking Queen says:

      It’s only like this away from the big towns. Borka only has a small club and is quite remote. I would need to have a steel one made at a huge expense(only worth it if you live permanently in one place). As usual everything runs on money and if you have it… great; if not, then it’s done like this! Also there are no tides here so you can’t float her into such an appliance, like in England, and I suspect, NZ? From what I have seen in the bigger places, it is always a large crane, maintained by the club (Big money again) that sits adjacent to a large mooring space. There is a small crane in the picture, but that is to remove and replace masts. No need for me to use that as I can lower my own. There’s bound to be some stress when the first winter storms arrive. It’s in the lap of the Gods now!!!

  2. Christian says:

    glad all gone well and free is safe and sound take care x

  3. cornishtim says:

    ” and the whole Universe rests in my heart”………….always thought you had a BIG heart Viking! Lovely line . Can I pinch it for a song?

  4. laila lyckeskär says:

    Nice to see Free in Sweden one more time, Velkomm to Norrköping if you like and have a loolk at over “new boat”….it is de same but Mats have done a lot with her ….Charidybis is white and blue now.

  5. Viking Queen says:

    Lovely to read of your new boat Leila! You are a little too far south for me to visit at the present time. Next year I want to visit Estonia, but maybe the Blå Kusten in 2016? Enjoy your sailing!

  6. What a production to pull her out of the water.. but how fortunate you are to have that community of friends to help out and buoy your spirits 😉

  7. So much involved in this little operation. Marine life is another world to mine! And I am so happy that you have found a altruistic community to settle in, however temporarily that may be for. Borka and its people sound so sweet.

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