I waited and waited, but still the low pressure persisted…
Having found another island anchorage away from Grisslehamn, which also happens to be the shortest route to the Åland Islands, I waited out two days of savage northerlies plus a huge amount of rain (come back Scotland, all is forgiven!). There are tricks to living off the anchor, including using the rainwater to advantage, by siphoning it from my tender ‘baby’, through a clean pair of tights! (I thought I’d find a use for them again, one day, seeing as skirts are a distant memory!) Having been unable to take water in Grisslehamn, I am running very low, so a day of torrential rain came as a gift!
I finally sailed on the tail end of a gale the twenty-six nautical miles necessary to reach the outmost Island, Ekerö. All was grand until fifteen miles out when the breeze fell off and I was left in a sickening swell leaving poor old Free careering about all over the place with her boom slamming and banging in nerve-jangling fashion. Here in Scandinavia they call it ‘old sea’, the effect of the previous wind, and the Åland Sea has a huge fetch when big northerlies blow, almost the length of the whole of the northern Gulf of Bothnia; thus, the waves are big and steep. Free sailed her heart out, but no sooner had she reached five knots than a huge wave would hammer her and pull her back to three. It was bloody murder. With weary resignation on went Polly and the final ten miles were completed under engine.
With the light fading I decided to approach a sheltered fjord, Husfjärden, on the island of Mellanön, (60° 14.9’N, 19°30.6’E) which promised to be a possible anchorage as the chart indicated mud on the bottom. Both mud and clay are my ticket to freedom as my lovely new Fortress anchor has a great affinity to them both; stones and sand are not so good. Well Husfjärden had a wonderful muddy bottom as promised, but the wind had the last laugh by backing to south and blowing strongly into the fjord for the next day and night!
I have heard much about the islands being very rocky and difficult to navigate; they are typically Finnish in that way. My previous year’s sailing on the north east coast of Finland certainly tested my mettle, and it took all of my experience to navigate that coast. It is one thing to do this with a highly efficient, ‘top of the range’ sailing yacht and a competent crew, where tired eyes can take a break and windward performance is a cinch, but single-handed with an old motor-sailer is quite a different story. No matter how well I sail her, Free will never be the Cutty Sark! I know this is going to be tough!
This afternoon I moved a mile into the little harbour of Käringsund and cheekily anchored a couple of hundred metres off. Since arriving in the Islands I have noticed that my Internet provider Telia has lost its coverage. Käringsund doesn’t even have a kiosk, just an expensive restaurant, so it’s just as well I didn’t pay for a night there. A lovely lady in the restaurant informed me that Mariehamn, the ‘capital’ of the Åland Islands will be the only place I’ll be able to rectify the problem. Until then I’ll have to return to my gut instinct for the weather and hope I can sail the ten or so miles to yon capital without an almighty struggle!
A special thank you to the guys in the restaurant for allowing me to use their Internet, so you can all receive this update. Many of you enjoy this crazy woman’s Saga, so it makes so worthwhile to keep that tenuous link. It may be a while before I can acknowledge any comments, but please keep them coming!
So it’s ‘Hej då as they say up here and Ha det bra!