KALMAR

Day 83  Friday, 23rd August 2019

We’re staying in Kalmar for another night as the wind forecasts gusts up to 24 knots on the nose.  We pay at the Guest Harbour/Tourist Office and then walk towards the Kalmar Slott.

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Then we head off to Gamla Stan, the old town, which was destroyed by fire in 1647.  The city fathers built a fortified city, with streets on a grid, where the cathedral and museum we went to yesterday are situated.

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This from the County Museum

We find lovely wooden summer houses built by the residents of Kalmar town in the 18th and 19th centuries.

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Next we head to the Kalmar Konstmuseum, in the park by the castle.

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It’s an art museum with a difference: temporary exhibitions are key.  And it’s free today!   The exhibition on the top floor is all about ‘Smalands’, the old county in which Kalmar is situated.  The entrance is through a painting, ‘Summer Idyll’, by Lotte Laserstein (1898 – 1993).  She was Jewish so her opportunity to escape Berlin came in an exhibition of her art at Galerie Moderne in Stockholm in 1937.  A sham marriage made Swedish citizenship possible.  Lotte settled in Kalmar in the 1950’s and became a portrait painter.

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I love these wedding clothes and christening robes, and the embroidery with a squirrel.

 

And this picture of a little girl scaring away the birds!

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Down to the next floor we find an exhibition called ‘The Opening’, around an archive of glass negatives from Swedish missions in the then Belgian Congo 1890 – 1930.  It portrays the long and arduous journey made by the porters on narrow caravan trails carrying both equipment and sometimes the missionaries themselves, to distant mission sites.

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Freddy Tsimba is from the Democratic Republic of Congo and he is a sculptor.  His work seems to be made of spoons and forks.

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Next door to the museum is a restaurant, ‘Park Hermina’, with a bargain offer of lunch at £9 (109SEK), moules frites with soup and a coffee,  or soup and a salad (and coffee) for  £7.50 (89 SEK).  It’s a popular place so we go in.  Malcolm can’t finish his mussels – he’s never had such a big plate of mussels in his life!  The waitress finds out where they’re from – turns out they’re from Denmark. 

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After lunch we walk round the ramparts of Kalmar Slott and it’s free.  We had a guided tour in English last year but we didn’t walk round the ramparts.  There’s lots of information about the bastions on the four corners and cannons pointing out to sea, but I won’t bore you with that!  We see no white horses so the forecast for gusts is wrong.

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Go back to the boat and chill for the rest of the afternoon, me sunbathing on deck.  Many swallows are on the genoa sheets of the big German yacht parked alongside – they must be gathering to go south.  We pop to the Coop for the heavy stuff with the skipper.  I write a blog about yesterday.  Malcolm fills up the water tank – all under the eyes of the hotel guests who are eating their dinner on the balcony about 2 metres away from us!

We eat outside – it’s getting warmer (like the UK for the Bank Holiday weekend) – chicken wrapped in bacon, new potatoes and salad with fruit for dessert, and watch another episode of Series 7.

Going to Kristianopel tomorrow and we’re going to be in Utklippan on Sunday night and you can see us on the webcam.  Google ‘Webbkameror.se’ and press ‘Start’, then ‘City’ and choose and press ‘Utklippan’ from the list (it’s in alphabetical order).  It’s a strange little harbour on a rocky island and we’re using it as a jumping off point for the Danish island of Bornholm.  We’ll be there between 12 and 1 pm and there for the afternoon and early evening, leaving early on Monday morning for Bornholm.

 

KALMAR

Day 82  Thursday, 22nd August 2019

Malcolm bought me Series 7 – the final series – of ‘Mad Men’ on Amazon and had it delivered to the Harbour Office in Kalmar where I picked it up last night. 

Malcolm is tackling the engine this morning, including changing the fuel filters, which involves emptying our big locker to get at the primary filter, draining the bottom of the fuel tank to test for contamination, and then going to the fuel jetty to replenish our extra fuel cans.  During this I only wrote the blog for the last 2 days and go shopping at the nearby Coop – so I have lots of energy and Malcolm is quite fatigued!

We have lunch on board and walk round to the Harbour Office as Malcolm has some diesel in a bottle and some oily rags and filters which he needs to get rid of. 

Then to the Kalmar Lansmuseum (the County Museum) which Jonathan recommended.  They stayed in Kalmar for a couple of nights, driving all the way to Tyreso near Stockholm last year. 

The highlight of the museum are finds from the 17th century flagship ‘Kronan’.   This is a model of the ship.

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The ship exploded and sank just before a naval battle in 1676 off the eastern corner of Oland, with the loss of 800 men.  It was rediscovered in 1980, and over 30,000 wonderfully preserved items have been excavated so far, including a spectacular gold hoard, many pieces of glass and musical instruments. 

 

We watch a film at the end of the visit about the divers who come every summer to the wreck of the Kronan.  They’ve only excavated about 8% of the wreck so far – so much more to come.  We are scared that they might lock us in the museum as the only announcement was in Swedish and the museum shuts at 4pm – a ‘Night in the Museum’ to remember! 

After we go across Stortorget where the Cathedral is situated but shuts at 3.30pm and the Town Hall, which I take a photo of and some schoolboys wander across on their way home from school.

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We’re on our way to the System Bolaget which is near the Cathedral, but find an Ahlens (the Swedish John Lewis) which Morag recommended and we both go in (!).  A small tray in melamine costs more than 230 SEK (so I can’t bring myself to buy one for £20) so I buy dishcloths with the same Swedish horses on! 

After the System Bolaget where we buy wine boxes and stagger back to the boat, passing the same little mermaid I took a photo of last year, and walking on the ramparts again.

I go back to the Coop for the ingredients of Thai Green Chicken Curry and start watching Series 7 of ‘Mad Men’ – we’re really hooked now to see the series through!

BYXELKROK TO KALMAR

Day 81  Wednesday, 21st August 2019

We set off at 8am – some of the other boats have gone, our Swedish/American neighbours are just casting off.  We pass Bla Jungfrun, a small island shrouded in mystery, between Oland and the mainland.  It’s now a nature reserve.  Legend has it that witches gather here on Maundy Thursday, before Easter.  There are daily ferry tours from Byxelkrok to Bla Jungfrun during the summer season.

Our neighbours, who have both Swedish and US passports, leave before us and this is their boat against Bla Jungfrun.

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Borgholm Castle looms on the horizon.  We stayed 2 nights at Borgholm last year and visited the castle.  The castle dates back to the 12th century and has been called Scandinavia’s most beautiful castle ruins but it’s not at all like our ruined and very picturesque Yorkshire abbeys!  The castle deteriorated when it burned down in 1806.  Abba and Bob Dylan have used it as a concert venue.

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Borgholm Slott

Malcolm thinks he’s seen ‘Pommern’, which we went aboard in Mariehamn, approaching us!  It’s the ‘Vega Gamleby’, a 31 m sailing ship, going north with all sails flying. 

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‘Vega Gamleby’ sailing north

We’re heading south and the wind is from the south so we can’t sail, but people are tacking across the Kalmar Sund – they must know it really well, where the shallows and the cardinal bouys are situated.  But eventually the wind shifts to the SW and we can sail for an hour until we go to our next waypoint before the bridge – wind on the nose again!  We’ve already got our oily bottoms on and have to out our kagouls over the top as it starts to rain. 

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The bridge from Kalmar to Oland

We arrive in Kalmar at 5pm.

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Kalmar

Go to the Harbour Office in the Tourist Information centre – a long way round the marina as we’re moored under the hotel which is less busy than the other end, which has a road with buses and a train station.  The girl tells me that the toilet and showers nearer to us are shut as it’s now the low season (everyone’s gone back to work, she tells me) – the only ones open are next to the Tourist Information Centre!

We go to ‘Grona Stugen’, recommended in my Lonely Planet guide, as ‘this gem of a restaurant serves up dishes that are gorgeous on the plate and even better to eat! The food is very beautiful to look at (and delicious) as you can see from the photos below.  We both have Fish Stew as a main.

BYXELKROK

Day 80  Tuesday, 20th August 2019

We stayed in this small harbour as the forecast was for very strong southerly winds and we couldn’t face going into the waves for 8 hours all the way to Kalmar.  So instead I catch up with washing the sheets and towels.  I have to ask the Harbour Master to show me how the huge washing machines work – and then I can’t post 10 SEK in the slot for the tumble dryer – he must be very fed up with me!  The laundry should last us through to Fehmarn!

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The Harbour Master (on the left) who has a cycle rental business on the side

We spoke to the next yacht: they’re are both Swedes but have lived in the USA for 30 years, so that’s why they’re flying a USA flag!  They lived in New York when the husband was working and have retired to Florida.  The come over every summer to sail in their yacht and visit friends and family. Her brother lives in Byxelkrok as his wife comes from here. They leave their boat during the winter in Farjestaden (the biggest town in Oland with 6,000 inhabitants), just over the bridge from Kalmar, and then hire a car to visit friends in Gothenburg. 

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We’re alongside the concrete pier – the Swedish Americans in front of us

We didn’t go for the intended walk as it rains on and off in the afternoon – so a very lazy day.  We walk round the harbour before lunch to take a photo of our boat.  Byxelkrok is extending the piers over a 3 year period, starting this year.

Byxelkrok doesn’t have a lot to offer.  The ferry from Oskarshamn comes in about 11 am and leaves at 5 pm and the visitors wander up and down the former fishing huts – full of tacky souvenirs, restaurants, bars and icecream sellers.  Most of them are closed as it’s the end of the season.

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The former fishing huts
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Love these piggies at the end of the concrete pier!

VASTERVIK TO BYXELKROK (on the island of Oland)  (31 miles)

Day 79 Monday, 19th August 2019

We leave at 7.30 am and the ferry ‘Gotlandia’ leaves at the same time – we seem to be very blighted by ferries!  The ferry is going to Visby on the island of Gotland where we went to the Medieval Festival last year.

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Gotlandia going to Visby

And it’s farewell to the Bla Kusten archipelago.  The pilot book talks of the joys and skills of skargard sailing, ‘which can be safe and relaxing provided one obeys the rules’.  We’ve obeyed the rules to the letter and didn’t find it at all relaxing!  You could almost touch the rocks on either side and the depth is 34 m between the rocks!  It’s been an amazing experience for us through the Finnish and Swedish archipelagos – from Helsinki to Hanko, Hanko to Mariehamn (the densest archipelago in the world!) Mariehamn to the Stockholm Archipelago, then Lake Malaren, going down the Sodertalge Canal, then the Blu Kusten archipelago.  But we’re happy to be leaving so many rocks, rocky islands and narrow passages between rocky islets and the chance to do some sailing! 

The photos below are the last rocky islands of the Blu Kusten archipelago that we’re going through. 

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We put up the sails just after we leave the last island and have to put a reef in the mainsail and a reef in the genoa as it’s blowing up to 18 knots.  Crashing through the waves – not like the North Sea or the Atlantic, it’s a much shorter chop in the Baltic – we can only go below to look at the chart plotter.  We’ve had strong southerly winds when we were in Stockholm and through the canal and then the archipelago so we were sheltered,  but coming out to the open sea means we’ve had to battle with the waves.

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Quite heeled over!

However we arrive at 1.30 pm, so in time for lunch!  (I have to feed Malcolm a Snickers bar to give him an energy boost as it’s his lunchtime at 1 o’clock!)  We’re mooring on the concrete quay – last year it was more crowded and our new Danish friend took the bow lines and we had to take a stern buoy.  It’s only a week later than last year but the holidays are over now.  We have open sandwiches on the table in the cockpit at 2.30 pm. 

Oland is the long skinny island between Gotland and the mainland.  Byxelkrok is near the top of the island on the western side.  

We go to pay the harbourmaster, and I go to the supermarket to buy stamps and post birthday cards to our two granddaughters, Orlagh and Megan, and our son-in-law, Barry.  Nice to look round the supermarket in a leisurely fashion on my own!  I buy the ingredients for Broccoli Lemon Chicken for tonight’s supper.  

We’ve done 1500 miles today since setting off from Fehmarn!

FYRUDDEN TO VASTERVIK (36 miles)

Day 79  Sunday, 18th August 201920190817_190751

Yesterday we ate in the restaurant next to the marina and I took this photo from the balcony.   No longer ‘Billy No-Mates’!

We had to be there by 6 pm as the restaurant was closing at 7pm on a Saturday night.  We are so out of season!  I had an enormous pile of shrimps on toast, with a tasty dressing with dill, as a starter and my main was smoked fish (like salmon but not, the waitress told me!) with a sauce made from yellow berries (?), roasted vegetables and new potatoes.  Malcolm had three sorts of herring, all different, and new potatoes as a starter, followed by a main of delicious steak, gravy and roasted vegetables.  All very typically Swedish!   

This morning we left at 8 am and wend our way through many narrow passages.

Lots of holiday homes – remember Sweden has a higher number than most countries – but we can’t see any people.  They fly a flag when they’re in residence.  Love this mermaid holding a life ring in the photo below!

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We see a white tailed eagle swooping down over the sea.  It dives on a bird in the water, the bird takes flight and the eagle pounces and grasps it in its talons – but then the eagle drops the bird and comes back looking for it.  We are so excited that we lose track of where we are, just for a minute, but soon get back on course and head to our next waypoint. 

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The white tailed eagle
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The eagle with its prey

We see the eagle just off the ‘fjord’ to Loftahammer, where we went last year on the way to Stockholm.  Last year we sailed outside the skargard and I felt envious of all the yachts going through the islands.  But now we’re leaving the archipelago tomorrow, and we’re exhausted by following the route through the islands.  We haven’t been able to sail as concentration is key, and what little wind there is, is on the nose.  Hoping to SAIL across to Byxelkrok on the island of Oland tomorrow! 

We got to the  WSSW Yacht Club marina and only had to take a very narrow berth, 3.2m, with booms out either side.  It was the only one with a green sticker and not a red one.  We are a very snug fit!  And you have to pay cash here too, 200 Swedish Krona, so I ask some members in the clubhouse about paying as we’ve only got 2 x 500 SWK notes.  They say we can go to the restaurant to change our note, but the one near the marina is closed and the other one is long way into town.  A couple from the Yacht Club invite us to jump in the car and walk back – but then tell us that we can pay in Euros, on the way to the restaurant owned by Bjorn of Abba fame!  (His daughter runs the restaurant, hotel and apartments. They both come from Vastervik where we are.)  They take us back to the marina – very kind of them.   

We might be playing Abba tonight!

ARKOSUND TO FYRUDDEN (21 miles)

Day 77  Friday,  16th August 2019

We leave Arkosund at 9 am and pursue another journey through small islands and rocks, heading southwards.  Wind is on the nose again! 

Just to show you what the Bla Kusten archipelago looks like I’m showing you a photo of the chart.  Malcolm has put a wiggly line on the marked channel that we’re following, and I’ve put a red arrow to show where we are.

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There’s lots of heather out on the rocks – I’m sure it must over on the North York Moors. 

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We think this is an eagle – maybe a sea eagle or a white-tailed eagle – but we can’t see the white tail feathers.  It’s a huge bird in a nature reserve, some of which are protected areas for nesting birds. 

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The next thing we see is a two-masted barque.

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Two kayakers hail us from the water and ask us what the island is behind them?  They have a waterproof 2-sided map but they’re on the ‘join’.  We give them our chart to peruse and point to Fyrudden which is quite close.  The man says the girl is a better map reader so he passes the chart to the girl – we’re watching a fortune gliding away (the charts cost £65 per pack and only cover a small area – you can see why above)!   However they come from Bristol, where we met at University, which we manage to tell them in a very few words.  They hand the chart back to us – the skipper wants to sell them as a whole pack!

We later see the company ‘Do the North’ in Fyrudden, doing a pick-up of the kayakers with similar maps.  I think they must wild camp on islands along the way, with food included, and their bags carried in a van. 

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Billy-No-Mates again!

We reach Fyrudden by 1 pm.  We have a boom mooring, facing the pontoon.

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In the afternoon Malcolm goes for fuel and sets up more waypoints.  A German offers to move his yacht further along if we would like to moor alongside the tyres.  I do the laundry (it’s free here) and blog.  We have showers and get dressed up to go to the restaurant – but it’s closed!  So we have to eat on board –  the rest of the Spaghetti sauce, with potatoes and salad – and watch another episode of ‘Mad Men’.  Don’t know what we’ll do when Series 6 has ended …..

We’re having a rest day tomorrow (Saturday) as bad weather is coming in (very strong winds from the south and rain) – just like the UK!  So I’ll recommence the Blog on Sunday. 

 

TROSA TO ARKOSUND (39 miles)

Day 76  Thursday, 15th August 2019

We set off from Trosa at 8 am as it’s going to be a long day going through the skargard (archipelago).  Weaving a tortuous way through the many islands, islets and rocks, with several narrow channels, Malcolm is steering from waypoint to waypoint, in a zig-zag fashion.  I’m putting the red arrow on the real charts to know where we are (recommended in the Baltic pilot book!) and watching us on the chart plotter and telling Malcolm what’s coming up, like red and green buoys, small lighthouses and cardinals.

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These houses are in the narrowest part of the channel and there’s a ship going through the channel too.

In a particularly narrow zig-zag channel a yacht comes sailing towards us.  We can’t believe he’s actually sailing but he is – and we have to cling to the right-hand side of the channel and pass him port to port.  

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The red and green poles show just how wide the channel is!

This is a yacht tying to the rocks with a stern anchor out of the back.  We couldn’t do this – me having to land on slippery, sloping rock face, jumping from the bow, and finding a ring or tree to tie to!!  And we are grandparents and quite old!   

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Yacht tying to rocks

We find ourselves crossing the shipping lanes to Oxelosund and take a photo for memory’s sake.  We went to the marina opposite the iron works last year before we went to the idyllic anchorage of Harstena – which is the photograph we’ve used this year for the Blog.

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Oxelosund

There were two yachts in Trosa flying the Red ensign, and one passes us – the 7th British yacht we’ve seen since we set off from Fehmarn in mid-May. 

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We went to the marina in Arkosund last year on the way up to Stockholm to meet up with the family. Two blonde boat boys in a dinghy met us and showed us a place in the very crowded marina and gave us a lazy line (another form of mooring, go bows to and take the lazy line to the stern).  I swam from the rocks.  It was July and now it’s mid-August and the season is over.  We moor along the pontoon as there’s plenty of space – we were bows to in the corner behind us last year .  The girl in the Marina Office says they’re closing on Saturday and says it’s a very short season from Midsummer through July to the first week in August.   Malcolm, who gets Google News, says it’s Autumn already in the north of Sweden.

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A hotelier comes up to our boat and offers us a 10% discount to eat at his hotel this evening.  We eat on board in spite of his offer and take a walk round to the rocks.  The swimming platform has disappeared! Love these houses in Arkosund – very turn of the century. 

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The marina looks quite empty

Another factoid:

In 1938 Sweden granted two weeks paid vacation to all Swedish employees.  Before that only the rich and famous took holidays.  Today Sweden is one of the countries in the world that has the greatest number of holiday homes and the greatest number of leisure boats in relationship to the number of inhabitants.  

 

TROSA

Day 75 Wednesday, 14th August 2019

Trosa is a very pretty town with wooden houses, three bridges and full of flowers.  It has a small river/stream going through the centre with boats lining both sides. Love this fishing boat and the boat clearing weed from the river!

We head off to the Trosa Marin (chandlery) over the first bridge (which seems much nearer than last night when we wandered down the river from the restaurant!).  We at last experience success with the fuel pump gaskets – they’re very tiny, only 14mm – but we hope they’ll cure the stuttering of the engine. 

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The first bridge – ‘Villabron’

Wander through the town up Vastra Langgaten (must mean ‘long street’ – my Swedish is coming on a treat!) and encounter many tourists heading over bridge number 2, ‘Torgbron’, the Square Bridge, the oldest bridge in Trosa.  The ‘tourists’ look they might be a local walking group.

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The second bridge,Torgbron, with ‘Radstugan’, the Town Hall over the bridge

The Radstugan (Town Hall) is in the background: now it houses the Tourist Office and the Library.  It was only built in 1985 based on 1725 second version.  The first Town Hall was built in 1711 but the Russian invaders burned it down in 1719.  Those pesky Russians!  But they stabled their horses in the Church so they didn’t set fire to that. 

In the Middle Ages, Trosa town was situated just south of the Church by the brook, but the land elevation forced the townspeople to move closer to the coast, since they were all mainly fishermen.  The church was built of stone in the 13th century and the tower was erected in the 15th century.

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The Trosa Township Church

 The tower was meant to act as a defence tower when Erik of Pommern (Pomerania) raided the town in 1445 – was this same Erik whose castle we visited in early June in Darlowo, Poland?  It is the very same Erik, who had a very beautiful young lover, Cecilia, when he returned to Pomerania after being King of Denmark.  We saw many pirate ships too along the Polish coast – and that’s based on Erik’s piratical raids on Scandinavia – including Trosa!

This is the museum, which is closed today, and a café and handicrafts shop. 

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The Museum on the left – love these red Swedish houses!

Trosa’s glory days were at the beginning of the 1900’s when bathing society summer visitors  came to the popular seaside resort of Trosa.  The summer began with a presentation ball which usually lasted all night.  Originally Trosa had been a fishing port,  fishermen swapped herring for more lucrative tourists,  but now plays host to the yachts and cruisers of the summer visitors.  For centuries the fishermen relocated far out to the islands with their families during the summer to fish.  They didn’t return until the autumn with their salted and dried fish.  This kind of fishing ceased in the 1860’s. 

After this we do our grocery shopping at the Coop in town and wend our way back to the boat.  We have to cross over this little bridge.

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The Bridge of Sighs

And this is the Bridge of Sighs:  the bridge got its name from the parting lovers as the steamboat left with the summer guests each autumn.  

 

 

SODERTALJE TO TROSA  (26 miles)

Day 74  Tuesday, 13th August 2019

Sodertalje is very industrial.

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We see a car depot. The car transporter, which we saw stuck on a rock outside Loftahammer in July last year, was intending to come here.  The huge ship got stuck on a rock as the captain was looking for a wifi signal! 

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Ships go past in all the narrowest passages.  And a yellow ferry shuttles across our path.

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We’ve both got shorts on today but it’s rather cold for shorts.  We have our fleeces on too – might need a Cup o’soup to warm us up.   Industry is soon replaced by fir trees and rocky islands.  The cormorants are a crowd on this rock.

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We’re motoring into the wind – it’s mostly wind on the nose from the south.  The wind winds up to to 24 knots and it’s much choppier here with white horses once you get to the more open sea. Now we turn west and are sheltered from the gusts by Hano Island.  It’s getting very shallow as we approach Trosa – even the Guest Harbour has a depth of only 2 metres – but there’s mud and silt on the bottom so no probs.  Our depth meter measures 1.5 m in our berth at the end of a very long pontoon.

We have showers first and then yummy pizzas at the marina’s own restaurant, Kolsvinet.

Two factoids to share with you:

Did you know that Finland has 50% of the world’s navigational marks, Sweden has 40% and the rest of the world shares 10%?

Did you know that the Finnish waters between the western Aland islands and Hanko are said to be the densest archipelago in the world? And we’ve been to the islands of Vano, Uto, Kokar, Degerby and Mariehamn, on the biggest Aland island!