‘When the boat comes in’

“Dance ti’ thy daddy, sing ti’ thy mammy,
Dance ti’ thy daddy, ti’ thy mammy sing;
Thou shall hev a fishy on a little dishy,
Thou shall hev a fishy when the boat comes in.”

Traditional Geordie folk song.

I have a term of my own to describe a passage that is comfortable, relaxing, and sheer pleasure: Paradise Sailing. This is when the wind is gently consistent without any gusts, the sea has a lazy swell, just enough to remind you that you are flirting with the water element, and the sky an endless, sun-kissed blue. The sun warms the skin as you potter about, making tea and light snacks while the boat sails herself…

The bliss of' paradise sailing'.

The bliss of’ paradise sailing’.


These moments are very rare, but for me provided the icing on a summer of magnificent sailing, in all weathers, punctuated by a series of challenging technical problems and angelic intervention when all seemed lost. It was a tale of two summers: one of low pressure and the other of high. The former, challenging and often breath-taking forays into the art of sailing an old motor-sailer in rocky, shallow channels amidst gusting, temperamental strong breezes, with pin-point navigation; the latter, gentle and lazy ‘paradise sailing’ along the southern stretch of the Jungfrukusten, from Gävle, back to Borka.

Leaving Gävle... farewell to Roger and Jussi.

Leaving Gävle… farewell to Roger and Jussi.

Sandwiched between these climatic episodes the almost metaphysical intervention of angels, Roger Lundqvist and his friend Jussi Kahti in Gävle. I’ll never forget them for they remind me of the true bond of sailing folk, who live for their passion and go the extra mile to help, no matter what the cost.

The time must come to return to your home ground wherever that may be, and for me, that is Borka and the special friends I have made there. A part of me is sailing on forever, into that space where time has no meaning and every moment is beautifully focussed on the teasing interplay of the elemental realm; however, I am also a practical, experienced sailor that is only too aware of the cruel nature of the Gulf of Bothnia during the oncoming winter. To abuse one’s good fortune is the height of poor seamanship, and yet one can be seduced into moments of recklessness just by the raw emotion of life under sail.

Anchoring in Marsund, near Axmar on the Jungfrukusten.

Anchoring in Sundsmars, near Axmar on the Jungfrukusten.

Winding my way northward through the Jungfrukusten Skärgård, into the bright blue skies of late summer with that ever faithful light sou’easterly breeze on my starboard quarter, I rested on tranquil anchorages in Trödjefjärden and Sundsmars, near Axmar, until arriving back at Söderhamn. It was here that I wanted to modify my fuel system by adding extra sediment traps directly after the fuel tanks before the water separator.

Free is the only boat in the town moorings.

Free is the only boat in the town moorings.

Without wishing to dwell too much on the technicalities of marine engineering, I need to emphasise the importance of avoiding the effects of impurities in the form of sediment and water. This can stop your engine dead, leaving one in dire, life-threatening danger. The more protection one can install, the better, for old boats have metal fuel tanks which get shaken up in rough weather, thus allowing all manner of impurities to enter the filters. Should a filter become blocked then the engine is naturally starved of fuel.

Åkeströms Mekomarine. The guys who went the 'extra mile' with great service.

Åkeströms Mekomarine. The guys who went the ‘extra mile’ with great service.

I knew this was going to be expensive and that Söderhamn was the only town in this part of Sweden that had a proper marine workshop. Åkerstöms Mekomarine, is only a few hundred metres away from the town moorings and it was a little presumptuous to assume that they would just do the work straight away. I know that in Britain, one must wait for weeks sometime before anyone will work on an emergency problem; my own experience has been thus. So when Tommy and Michel turned up one hour later to start work, I was amazed. The following day the whole job was finished, despite the fact that the parts I had were non-metric. Tommy went the extra mile to locate the offending articles and arrived exactly when he said he would. When I arrived at the workshop to pay the bill, I was amazed to learn that they had knocked off thirty per cent of the price. Incredible, and a huge thank you to the wonderful Åkerstöms Mekomarine, a proper old-fashioned type of company, catering not just for the wealthy but also for budget sailors such as myself.

Ann Caroline Breig, a talented local artist who is running the moorings during the summer.

Ann Caroline Breig, a talented local artist who is running the moorings during the summer.

After a few days, it was time to leave Söderhamn and the town moorings, where I met the delightful Caroline, a talented local artist who was managing the pier for the summer months. Typically for the north of Sweden, she made my stay a real pleasure and we had coffee together while she showed me some of the wonderful work from her website.

The final gift from Father Njörd was a stiff sou’westerly breeze that enable me to sail from the river in Söderhamn all the way back to Enångers fjärden and Borka, without the engine. Well-reefed for the first half due to the gusting nature of the powerful seventeen knot, breeze, I was eventually able to shake out all my sail to run on a close reach at a healthy five and a half knots, remaining thus while passing between the islands of Sörön and Vitön. This was truly a gift from the Gods and I couldn’t help wondering if they were rewarding me for all my resilience under sail!

‘You’ve done your bit, now we shall do ours.’

Words cannot capture how I feel while sailing through the islands into Enånger Fjärden.

Words cannot capture how I feel while sailing through the islands into Enånger Fjärden.

And so they did…

The majestic sunset ahead was complemented with a full moon in Free’s wake as we glided between the islands into the Enångers fjärden. Oh, if only it could have gone on forever. Maybe my romantic nature will be my demise, one day; however, seamanship called and I gently hove-to just before the lateral buoys, motoring the last few miles into Borka as the darkness bathed the surrounding hills with their pine-scented garnish.

Sailing under the full moon is a pure gift from the Gods.

Sailing under the full moon is a pure gift from the Gods.

So Free has come full circle, with a return to Borka. I was welcomed by Eva and Mats, who were waiting in the dark as I weaved my way alongside, taking my mooring ropes for me. My special friends then invited me to their house for sandwiches and coffee which was well appreciated after the thirty mile passage from Söderhamn.

There is a reason for returning this side of September and they are three fold: firstly, Eva’s birthday on the twenty ninth of August, secondly for Lysskväll (light evening) where the local people celebrate the end of Summer by showering the harbour in candle light, and thirdly the visit of my old friend Christian from London.

So the boat has indeed come in, and this Geordie for one, shall reflect on a life lived with the heart and those wonderful folk who have graced my presence during a most challenging passage; a thrilling fusion of perfect sailing and mind-baffling technical problems.

‘May the Gods bless you one and all’


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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28 Responses to ‘When the boat comes in’

  1. stswan2014 says:

    I really enjoyed this blog. This one definitely showed your poetic side and was a pleasure to read. Glad you are back home safe and sound with a great sail behind you.

    • Viking Queen says:

      Thank you for your kind words! Yes, I thought that this may be the last for a while so why not wax lyrical! Fair winds my friends.

  2. Hariod Brawn says:

    Beautifully written Poppy, and quite enchanting with it. May the Gods continue to bless you too.

  3. Wonderful. Any views of meteors, Northern Lights in those clear, clear skies? Or too exhausted at the end of the day?

  4. christian says:

    See u soon . Hope eva had a lovely birthday alarm clock set. Wonderful blog so full of details and pictures

  5. Monica and Roger says:

    Hej gumman. Jag tror vi missade dig precis idag (söndag) när vi kom ifrån Hölick.
    Hoppas på bättre tur nästa gång vi kommer till Borka! Kram från oss på Katarina

  6. Liz Poole says:

    What a lovely way to finish the summer season. I’ve finished your super book, fascinating, I look forward to discussing it in November on board Roly, All good things, Liz x

  7. Lovely ‘wind-up’ to the Summer in Scandinavia, Poppy!. Idyllic, calming and re-energizing, at least that is how it seemed to this reader. Mind you, I appreciate it is not easy all of the time!

    • Viking Queen says:

      It was lovely, Amanda… very special AND not easy! Such is life 😉I wouldn’t want it any other way! I think i have become a better sailor and hopefully a better person. Certainly the gods sent beautiful people into my life and for that I am eternally grateful.

      • It sure sounds like you had some special people come your way this year. Every adventure you take is amazing and it is privilege for me to read about it from my corn of the world. Thanks so much for all the updates, Poppy. What are your plans over winter?

      • Viking Queen says:

        You’re more than welcome, Amanda! I think I’ll just drift south somewhere… See what happens and go with the flow.

  8. Roger Lundqvist says:

    I believe you needed that paradise sailing as you called it after all the technical problems you had, I can imagine how you enjoyed it, and you are well worth it.
    Hope ve had some more warm weather before winter.

  9. Viking Queen says:

    Thanks Roger! Without your help it would never have happened. I’m very grateful.

  10. Rosemarie Nitschke says:

    Hey Poppy, so good to read of your safe and glorious return to your home harbour in Borka. Fair winds, blues skies and wonderful, helpful strangers who become new friends. The gods are truly with you! I thought so much about you this week, as I visited Mercedes in Bolsterlang in the mountains. She sends you her love.

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