It isn’t just sailing up here in beautiful Sweden, you know? There are many folk who wander the highways and byways in those luxurious motor homes or RVs (recreational vehicles as the Americans call them); not only Sweden but the whole of Scandinavia. They cruise from the Danish Islands, across to Skåne in Wallander’s southern Sweden, driving up the mighty E4, a route that takes these high rollers all the way to Lapland and then south, through the lakes of stunning Finland, to Helsinki.
While pottering around on Free and preparing her for sea, I passed two people, birdwatching on the jetty just outside the restaurant building in the Boat Club. This in itself was not unusual, but when I heard English being spoken in a homely Cheshire accent, the kettle had to go on!
Enter stage left, Shirley and Kenneth, intrepid motor-homers from fair England! It is so rare to meet British folk this far north and in the next few days they told me of their wayfaring adventures throughout Scandinavia in particular, and Europe in general. This was a real eye-opener to me and it was lovely to be invited into their mobile paradise for a wee drinky-poo.
How lovely to see English folk venturing so far north, off the usual southerly migration track to the sweltering sun of southern Europe. Sweden has so much to offer with the freshness of nature and friendly, hospitable people (But sshh, don’t tell everyone! Why ruin such a good thing?)
Well, after a farewell to these wayfarers, it was time to continue the work of preparing Free for sea, including raising her mast and solving various minor (I hope) mechanical problems in the marine engineering domain. Of course it can’t all be work and no play, especially for this lazy old Viking!
My good friend Eva continues to be a bastion of support for me. Her, Mats and son Mikael, this amazing family of inventors, provide me with wood for the nippy evenings, and access to places further away such as Hudiksvall. Life would have been very difficult without their help and they feel like family to me. Eva is also very knowledgable about wildlife and Swedish culture in general, so off we went on our bicycles into the backwoods, which she informs me, have bears in them (eek!) Thankfully they tend to avoid human contact, especially if one makes a lot of noise.
Pottering about the local environment on my trusty old bicycle, Gretel, is the perfect therapy for marine problems and as long as Free remains alongside the jetty, I feel relaxed and on top of things. However, sailing is by nature a fickle beast and can force a degree of focus that transcends all of what passes for normal in modern life. Certainly, these Borka moments are sweeter due to my previous experience and the almighty ‘shitfight’ it took to reach here from the North Sea.
These last two seafaring years have been the most challenging since the Red Sea, Cindik, affair. Maybe it is time to relax a little more since achieving my lifetime’s goal of reaching the top of the Gulf of Bothnia. Certainly there is the Jungfrukusten (Maiden’s Coast) locally from The High Coast down to Gävle, which has more than enough for a slow, local potter without the sheer distances I normally cover.
Until the moment of departure it is impossible to know for sure, and that my dear friends, is the way it should be.