The balmy, sun-soaked days of Bavaria are over, along with the beer, cakes and domestic comfort. Now it’s back to the ‘lah-di-dah’, as the late, great Jake Thackray would have sung! The third year of sailing in Scandinavia is approaching rapidly, with Free’s immersion into the cold, brackish sea of the Gulf of Bothnia, imminent.
Swedish folk have told me that the spring has been benevolent thus far; it is far colder than Bavaria, for sure, but still possesses that fresh, dry, bracing weather that I like so much, including the evening, cosmic dance of the Gods that entertains me while sitting in Free high above the ground on her cradle.
The whole year stretches ahead with nothing definite planned as yet. A loose objective to sail south by east towards the Åland Islands, that divide Sweden and Finland in a necklace of many, governed by Helsinki and yet uniquely Swedish in language and nature. That mysterious collection of countries known as the Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, await further progress, should financial, mechanical, electrical and aeolian issues be favourable; however, I know better than to make definite plans when sailing the high seas; it just isn’t viable. The elements are deliciously free of structure, security, and the ‘shoulds and shouldn’ts’ of society; woe to the person who forgets…
And so the tasks begin again. Firstly, a check that nothing nasty had encroached during the winter e.g. water and ice damage. The only event worthy of mention was the presence of mice droppings, which considering how far north Free is, was small beer. Who can blame our rodent brethren for lodging for a short while? My small supply of black-eye peas was invaded, but they did leave my basmati rice alone, which was kind of them, don’t you think?
Free is due back in the water on Saturday, May the ninth, and once again I have been fortunate, as Bengt, the crane guy, will use the biggest available to lift all of the boats, thus saving me having to hire it in a solo capacity, a very expensive enterprise indeed. I appreciate the way that the Borka boat club members work together in such a cooperative way, a great lesson in a world of excessive individualism. No one here has ever left me to struggle on my own.
So it’s back to the water after a whirlwind winter, that has spanned from Liverpool to Bavaria and a wonderful collection of interesting and kind folk, who have welcomed me and shared their amazing stories. We are all on a path to somewhere, even if it is a mystery; but life is a gift and a golden chance to experience all that we can, before our days are through; I begin my ninth year at sea with the total lack of security that leaves a lust for whatever the future may bring. What storms, what lovers, what experiences? The craziness of the chaotic beauty of it all! My friends… I invite you to step bravely!