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Sunday, 24 June 2018

Vastervik - Nynashamn (24 June 2018)


We left Vastervik under an overcast sky heading SE out of the Sound directly into a fresh breeze. But after about 45 minutes we turned towards the N and were able to get the sails out and silence the engine. In fact we sailed for over five hours sometimes in open sea but more often between islands and rocks searching for buoys, cardinals or lighthouses to identify the course
Light marking rocks on port side of channel



Some of the channels were very wide, others as little as 15m so careful navigation was essential.
Another lighthouse in the distance and a sailing boat coming towards us.
Swedish tall ship passes by.
Around 1400 we turned off the main channel to head towards the island of Boko. This unspoilt island has a very sheltered bay and after looking at a few possibilities we dropped the anchor about 40m from the rocky E shore. It was a delightful spot with herons stalking the waters edge and later fish jumping for flies as we went into the evening.

Anchored off Boko
One other sailing boat came into the bay and they anchored on the opposite side about 700m away. A work boat also visited to collect what appeared to be a forestry worker and his tools.
Work boat hurries through.
Thursday morning was brighter and we weighed anchor and headed out of a different entrance. This was only about 15m wide between the rocky edges and around 3 to 4m deep so we were rather tentative! This was a morning of light winds and we then headed E and then N into a 8nm fjord leading to Valdemarsvik.
Through the 15m wide shallow channel
Summer house with grandstand position half way along the Channel!
This is quite a diversion from the usual S-N route as the town is at the head of the fjord; but the scenery is very attractive, some of the passage being open and some quite narrow but throughout a mixture of steep rocks, forests and summer houses!
Steep rocks line the fjord
Approaching Valdemarsik
Valdemarsvik itself is an ordinary small town but with plenty of cafes and a waterfront which is being improved.
Old Volvo outside a cafe
There were also some attractive wooden boats which were clearly maintained to high standards.
Highly varnished sailing boats
Restored traditional boat
Friday morning was sunny and we headed back down the fjord with a light and fickle wind. But we were sailing again. It was a little slow at times but delightful listening to the birdsong as we meandered our way back past Boko and resumed our northerly heading.

Close to more rocks ....

....and more guarded by a lighthouse
In fact we only went a further 10nm N this time to the island of Hasko. Here was a nature reserve and another well protected bay but this time more popular with about a dozen boats by the end of the day. This time we put out a stern anchor and tied to a jetty. We could see hundreds of small fish in the water around the jetty.
The bay on Hasko
Here was a small kiosk that sold smoked fish from the small scale processor on the island so naturally we bought some; salmon and herring (packed that day). Delicious!
We enjoyed a walk along part of the island and were quite startled when we disturbed a deer hidden in bracken feet away. The deer bolted!

Moss and lichen abound, may be wet here in the winter




Some of the farming equipment had seen better days
The fish were jumping for flies here too in the evening; huge numbers, water being disturbed everywhere!
We slipped our mooring just before 0900 on Saturday and resumed heading N on a sunny, still morning.
A modern summer house
We were only travelling about 17nm to the town of Arkosund. This is very much a holiday village providing ferries and other services to the numerous islands in the archipelago. The large marina was relatively quiet so rather than having to moor bow to the quay all boats were laying alongside.
The marina charges were expensive, around £25 a night; but then I thought that is by Swedish standards! At this time of the year we would probably have to pay £35-£40 for a marina mooring in the Solent! In addition the price included (unlike in the Solent) free use of washing machines and tumble driers so with a freshening breeze it was laundry time!
I had been watching the forecast for the coming days and had noticed the risk of some unsettled weather. Now the forecast was showing strong gusty winds from Monday afternoon until Thursday morning. Generally I only rely on predictions for two or three days ahead so I was a little concerned that if the unsettled weather continued it would make our plans to be at Nynashamn by the following Saturday more difficult. Also we wanted to be in a secure harbour if the weather deteriorated, not on an island in the archipelago which would probably be much more exposed. So we decided to miss out one planned port thinking that we could call there on our return down the coast.
Instead early on Sunday morning, with a fresh E breeze, we headed NNE towards the small island of Oja. We soon had the sails up and made good speed averaging around 6kn for our 35nm passage. We were aiming for a small harbour on the NW coast and when we arrived there was just one other boat, from Finland, tied up. Again it was a case of grabbing a buoy as you passed, holding that at the stern and then mooring bows to the quay. As it happened just two more sailing boats joined us there later, both Swedes. A water taxi arrived shortly after us and a small group of people with many possessions came ashore. One guy was in a wheelchair and ended up being lifted on to a trailer for his onward journey to his home.

The NE harbour on Oja
Local transport
This island is about 5km long and 400m wide. It was settled in the sixteenth century around the lighthouse and the pilot station. Today most of the 20 inhabitants apparently earn a living by working for the ferry company or the National Maritime Administration which has a large, modern and very ugly coastguard tower. There is only one "road" (a shingle track really) that runs N-S and we cycled about 3.5km down this to the main settlement of Landsort. Landsort has an even smaller harbour but there is still a pilot boat based there as well as the ferry.

Landsort harbour
Beyond this, on the S cliffs, is the lighthouse, said to be Sweden's oldest built in 1669.
Lighthouse, electrified 1938 and automated 1963
Immediately around the lighthouse is Batteri Landsort, a major WW2 defensive gun emplacement and look out built to ensure Sweden's neutrality in the war. Apparently it saw very little action. There is the opportunity to peek inside the main lookout post where there is an explanation of the operations. It continued in use until the 1990s and the end of the cold war. Apparently much of the installation is buried in the rocks, with the entrances now sealed off.
Gun turret above the rock

Coastguard tower on left, together with local houses
The defence installation seems rather incongruous compared to the rest of the island, including the Bird Observatory.
Apparently during the autumn migration large numbers of birds pass through Oja with tens of thousands of wild ducks, wading birds and smaller birds passing every day. Of course some stay as residents. In the evening we noticed a bird we had not seen before in the harbour, perhaps building a nest in the reeds.
A Slavonian grebe?
Plenty of bird life including geese
Although the harbour was relatively sheltered from the wind some swell worked its way in during the night and the next morning it was a little more bumpy. So soon after breakfast we cast off and resumed our journey. Once again we had to begin by threading our way through channels and between rocks and islands but after about half an hour we cleared the last tight gap and set the genoa as we had a brisk SE F4/5 behind us for the 11nm to Nynashamn.

Nynashamn and the harbour
Nynashamn is only a small town with a modern town centre. But it is perhaps the southern most point in the Stockholm archipelago and has good communications with the city including a train service. We were leaving Whileaway here at the end of this leg but for now the priority was to sit out the strong winds which had already began to build during the afternoon.
One of the ferries and tourist boats

After a windy night we enjoyed a morning walk towards the south passing a local folk museum where we had coffee and glanced at a few buildings and old photographs.





Ludde's cottage, said to be the oldest house in Nynashamn
Old skis leaning against another house


Whilst there was a lull in the winds that afternoon the forecast for the next day was not good so we were staying put.
The next morning we got the bikes out and cycled further south through a nature reserve between two coasts. It was delightfully unspoilt with some beautiful coastal landscape.

Coast in the nature reserve
That evening the sky was spectacular as a succession of dark clouds rolled through.
Threatening clouds





The following day's forecast was for a quiet morning followed by a fresh SW wind in the afternoon becoming a NE near gale (as the Swedish Met Office described it) overnight and into the next day. This was Midsummer Eve, a big festival in Sweden. We decided to head for the island of Uto about 12nm away. This had two harbours and we would aim for the SW one to give us protection from the stronger NE wind. When we got there, about noon, the wind was still light. We had to moor bows to a jetty using a stern anchor to hold us off. On the first approach the anchor failed to bed in and came up with copious seaweed around it. Another try, from further out, seemed to do the trick and we had lunch. In the next hour the wind strengthened considerably and it was clear that the anchor was not holding. So we cast off and went round for another try. This too proved unsuccessful and it was clear that there was considerable weed growth. Those other much lighter boats, mainly cabin cruisers, that were tied up were using different sorts of anchors than our usually reliable one. So reluctantly, especially with stronger winds coming, we decided to go back to Nynashamn.
That night and the next day brought very wet and windy weather so we were glad to be safely tied up. We now only had three days before our return flight, so after spending a day sorting out the boat, laundry etc, we decided to get a bus to the town of Sodertalje. We had hoped to call there on Whileaway but were conscious that it was up a long fjord off our direct route. So a shorter cross country journey by bus seemed a good solution.
The old wharf and waterfront
Sodertalje is one of Sweden's oldest cities dating from the ninth century. However its fortunes have fluctuated over the years and fires, wars and plague almost eradicated it in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Most of the centre is twentieth century and little seems to remain of earlier times. It is the home to major manufacturers, vehicle maker Scania and pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneka amongst them. The canal providing access to Lake Malaren begins here and there was a steady stream of ships heading through the tight single lock.
Gas tanker edges its way into the lock
One ship of particular interest was the SS Ejdern, the world's oldest coal fired propeller driven steamer with original engine. She was built in Gothenburg in 1880 and still undertakes passenger trips each summer.
SS Ejdern
So that concluded our second leg of 2018. We shall return to Whileaway in August to explore the Stockholm archipelago and then return south.





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