That ‘Island feeling’. (60° 30′ N, 18° 4’ E)

Time to slow it all down…

After a few days in Norrsundet it was time to run the gauntlet. The often tricky and rarely uneventful Gävle Bight lived up to its name with a stiff nor ‘westerly breeze blowing offshore, propelling Free at an average of five and a half knots southeast towards Björn Island. With a reefed main and just a jib sail out, the waves mercilessly assaulted Free’s starboard quarter making steering quite awkward. Sometimes in these situations, the autopilot cannot handle the waves, a serious problem for a single-hander, making manual helming the order of the day.

Passing Björn Island after crossing the Gävle Bight.

Passing Björn Island after crossing the Gävle Bight.

However, as usual, this game little boat excelled herself, allowing me the time to shorten and trim sails thus achieving the maximum results for a safe, if wild crossing of the aforementioned stretch of Bothnian Sea.

Björn Island, that sentinel guarding the southward end of the Gävle Bight, is no stranger to me, having waited on a Svenska Kryssarklubben buoy for a break in rough weather two years ago during my first voyage north from Amsterdam. It is a forbidding little wind lashed, rocky island, with a vital lighthouse, a boon to all mariners. I couldn’t resist a thrilling shiver as I rounded it once again like a rather scary, good friend!

Free is finally anchored in the Ängskärsund.

Free is finally anchored in the Ängskärsund.

As the day’s breeze finally ebbed away, I found myself entering the eerily silent Ängskärsund bay where I dropped my new Fortress anchor, which held immediately with great relish! On one side of the bay lies the Ängskärsklubb boat club, but I wanted this evening to be a silent affair, part of my alchemical rejuvenation. It is still work in progress, but I can feel the trembling of what I call ‘that island feeling’, the eternity that lies among the thousands of Scandinavian islands; or the ‘Skärgård effect’, the fusion of the elements where modern life just seems to become irrelevant as time melts away.

A moment of contemplation. Time has gone for now.

A moment of contemplation. Time has gone for now.

The healing process is underway, for sure; I am in my natural element where the wind sings and the honesty of it all is plain to see. There is no deceit among the islands, the sea won’t abide it.

At this point I should apologise for rambling on like some crazy latter-day mystic; if there was a better way to describe this life, I’d use it. Somehow all unnecessary parts are stripped away to a place where one just cannot hide. I wish I could feel this on land, how wonderful that would be… how complete. Alas, I cannot. I have a lot to learn and that’s a fact.

The low pressure over Scandinavia continues to cast a shadow over the Swedish summer. If I’m completely honest, I find it remarkably exhilarating, with chances to sail close reefed in powerful winds that test one’s seamanship to the absolute limit. There are very few boats game enough to venture out, especially in the present wild northerly winds; however if you have the nerve, good miles can be sailed. At present I am rarely using the engine except to leave and arrive in harbour.

It takes a little nerve to sail in low pressure conditions.

It takes a little nerve to sail in low pressure conditions.

The question is, what next?

As you know, my aim was to reach the Åland Islands, but in these conditions that may be unwise, as one is exposed to a huge fetch (the distance winds can effect the size of waves) which for northerly winds is the length of the whole Gulf of Bothnia. A landfall in an unfamiliar, rock-strewn sailing ground would I believe, be foolhardy at present. Having shared the company of a very hospitable German sailor these past two evenings at anchor, I am warming to the idea of postponing my original plan and heading down to the inner lakes behind Stockholm, which he informs me are unusual and relatively quiet this time of year as the locals have left for the outer islands for their holidays. It has been a while since I have been ‘inshore’ on rivers and small lakes and it may be a viable alternative until there is a marked change in the weather.

Åland isn’t going away… It will still be there, come mid August or even next year. As they say:

It isn’t the destination that is important but the the journey itself.


About Viking Queen

I am a sailor and I live on my boat 'Free'. I have no home but originate from Tyneside. I have no allegiance, just a desire to do no harm and live with courage and an open heart.
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10 Responses to That ‘Island feeling’. (60° 30′ N, 18° 4’ E)

  1. As usual a very interesting picture of your sailing! Hope the southerly course proves interesting
    as ever. Safe landings wherever.
    Love, Ruth

  2. Thomas Hympendahl says:

    Have a try with the Mälaren, but don’t forget your motor and your new fortress. Sometimes the wind is a Little scary, when he doesn’t knows what side is the best to blow and if he should blow. Good luck,
    a German sailor

  3. Rosemarie Nitschke says:

    Love the atmospheric photos which do match the description of your feelings and your whereabouts! Good to know that all is well and that you are at home on free!
    Now I know how fast five knots is (after my sailing sojourn on Lake Ontario!).
    Love, Rose

  4. Viking Queen says:

    Thanks Rose. Slowly getting back into the void. Glad you did a trick on the helm, more women should. Enjoy Canada.

  5. Mandy says:

    Your voice resonates with my own, though I find that freedom and space in the Australian outback; perhaps in a solitary camp by a river where it is night and the stars blaze; where the campfire softly crackles, a mug is laced with rum, and bed is a swag spread on an old stretcher bed.

  6. Stirring, inspiring and not a little scary.Wonderful writing.

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