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Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Karlskrona - Vastervik (12 June 2018)

We returned to Whileaway on Saturday 2 June flying from Heathrow to Copenhagen and then being able to get a direct train which just over three hours later delivered us to Karlskrona. We now had just over three weeks for our next cruise exploring the E coast of Sweden towards Stockholm.

Of  course the first tasks were to get Whileaway ready and reprovision. But on a very warm Sunday, temperatures reaching around 26C, we had time for lunch at the Maritime Museum and a walk around some of the fortifications.
Karlskrona's excellent Maritime Museum
View from city wall

Town centre street
We left early on Monday and had a fresh SW breeze.Karlskrona is at the head of an archipelago with dozens of islands. The main channel out of Karlskrona heads S to the sea and is relatively straightforward. But we had opted for a rather circuitous easterly route which can only be used by smaller craft as the stated minimum depth of water is only 2.3m. In addition you pass under a bridge between islands with a minimum clearance of 18m and have to follow some very narrow channels marked to ensure the minimum depth and avoid numerous rocks. Careful navigation required but when we emerged into the open sea we had saved 15nm compared to going around the S coast. We were then heading NE with a pleasant W to SW wind behind us so made good time to Kristianopel, arriving just before 1300 in a very quiet harbour.

Quiet harbour at Kristianopel
Kristianopel is on a small peninsula and was originally a fortified town built by the Danish King Christian IV gaining charter status in 1600. At the Peace of Roskilde in 1658 it became Swedish although the Danes unsuccessfully tried to take it back by force about 20 years later! It is a very small quiet place now with a big holiday camping site.
Attractive homes in Kristianopel
We had only intended to stay a day but the forecast for Tuesday was of "near gale" with very strong N wind. So rather than battle into the wind we stayed put and did some boat maintenance. In addition we cycled about 9km N along the coast to Bromesbo. Now the border between two Swedish regions before the 17th century it was the border between Denmark and Sweden. Bromesbo was where peace between Denmark and Sweden was declared in 1645, the negotiations being held on an inlet guarded by a wooden fort. This was a Danish fort although it had been captured in 1436 by a Swedish rebel hero, Engelbreki. Today the historic fort is found along a little used footpath towards the coast and is surrounded by woods and countryside.

The former border between Sweden and Denmark!
Returning to Kristianopel we found preparations well advanced for the conclusion of an Orienteering race for which we had a grandstand view. According to the organisers this included many of the leading orienteers in Sweden. It was all part of the holiday preparations for the next day, 6 June, is Sweden National Day.
Orienteering event finish on the quay
On that day we headed 29 nm N again to the town of Kalmar. Approaching the town the Kalmar Slott (castle) is readily identifiable.
Kalmar Slott
Kalmar Slott was originally built in 1200 to prevent attacks on this important trading post. It was here that the Kalmar Union was formed in 1397 binding the Scandinavian kingdoms for 130 years. The Renaissance Castle has been restored and we took advantage of a tour (in English) of the apartments.
There was also an exhibition of Leonardo de Vinci's work, particularly his many mechanical devices. This was fascinating and it was clear to see ideas that were later to become important inventions (such as a tank and a machine gun).
Part of the Leonardo de Vinci exhibition
We also strolled around the old city with its Italian Baroque Cathedral, very austere buildings around the main square as well as more attractive buildings.
Town square "austere" buildings
Unfortunately the day we left for Kalmar our Heads (toilet) system malfunctioned. I started tackling the job myself but quickly realised that this was going to require considerable effort from two contortionists to replace a 5m pipe that was very inaccessible in places. So Eugene from Kalmar Marine came to assist - although it still took the two of us 5 hours to resolve the problem!
It was not until lunch time on Friday that we left Kalmar, this time a short three hour sail NE to Borgholm on the large island of Oland. On the approach we passed another Slott - but this one is in a  ruined state.

Borgholm Slott
Borgholm is very much a tourist town and was clearly developed on a grid system in the first half of the twentieth century. 
View across Borgholm to Kalmar Sound

Adding character to Borgholm
On Saturday we again headed N, this time back towards the mainland to Figeholm. Although brisk S winds had been forecast, until nearly 1300 the wind didn't get above about 5kn and was from the NE so we had to motor under the warm sun. We then could sail as the wind had backed to the S and we arrived after a passage of 33nm in the delightful harbour of this large village after threading our way through numerous rocks and islands in the approach.

Quiet and sheltered Figeholm harbour
Although a small harbour the facilities are good and the scenery beautiful. On Sunday afternoon we cycled a little way along the coast to a community of mainly summer houses in a wooded environment. What is noticeable is how much of this part of Sweden is natural and unspoilt. Also bird life and insects are everywhere (and in the latter case, biting us)!
Pink granite on the sea shore.
Monday began grey and overcast but with a forecast promising improvements later. This was to prove the most detailed navigational exercise thus far! We left Figeholm by the route that we had arrived but once in open sea headed NE for about 12nm. Then we arrived off the Tjust Skargard (archipelago) and began following narrow channels between numerous islands and rocks.
Rocks and trees close by
We focused on identifying port and starboard channel buoys, cardinals and in quite a few places small white lighthouses on rocks or islands.
Sailing through the archipelago
The passage through the archipelago was around 25nm with the final part opening up as we entered the more open area around Vastervik. We found a berth in the very quiet WSSW sailing club harbour. It was a windy and cloudy evening with some rain, a slow moving low pressure system in the southern Baltic being responsible. On Tuesday we walked around the old town centre nicely located on the fjord.
Old fisherman's cottages
Vastervik was another place that suffered numerous attacks by the Danes over the years. The last attack was in 1677 and the town and the castle were destroyed. Once rebuilt it became a major port. There are two major churches, the newest from the early twentieth century being least attractive! St Gertrude's was built in the early seventeenth century and is now only used for weddings and other events but is more interesting.
Painted ceiling in St Gertrude's
Votive Ship, 300+ years old, one of the oldest in Sweden
Vastervik looks to be a thriving town with some unattractive relatively modern buildings but plenty of traditional wooden houses and commercial buildings.
Roses in bloom throughout the town
Vastervik from across the fjord
We will be continuing to head N over the rest of this leg, hoping that the good weather stays with us.

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