Sunday 12 – Tuesday 14 August
After a quick scramble to refill the depleted fridge, our next visitors came onboard after lunch, and we were soon away to follow the Easternmost route out of Stockholm and South towards Saltsjöbaden and the Baggensstäket. These friends have considerable sailing experience, albeit mostly in dinghies, and spent a weekend with us in the Western Solent some three years ago, when our current lifestyle was still but a twinkle in our eyes.
Enjoying the beautiful scenery in spite of the light, intermittent drizzle as we motored steadily down the gorge, beneath high level power lines at 32m, and a stone arch bridge at the narrowest part of the gorge, only 30m above our heads, we then found ourselves in a very narrow and shallow stretch of water, on a blind bend. Inevitably, as we reached the mid-point of this channel, a yacht rounded the bend coming towards us – towing another on a long line. Her skipper seemed unimpressed that we had not employed our VHF radio to make ourselves aware of his presence, and neither were we prepared (or able) to move across any further to ‘our’ side, as our top spreaders were already brushing the overhanging tree branches. We escaped unscathed, and were no sooner clear when a large passenger ferry came steaming past us into the passage – what could have ensued had we been five minutes later in there doesn’t bear thinking about.
South of Saltsjöbaden, we found ourselves once again in more familiar ‘skärgård’ (Swedish archipelago) territory, and found a gorgeous anchorage tucked well into a long inlet just South of Ägnö, 15M from the city. It was a popular spot, with a small secret bay just beyond the main cluster of boats, and Mate couldn’t resist attempting to tuck in there for a little privacy. However, it soon became clear why no-one else had picked it: surrounded as it was by rocky woodland, the sea bed was very weedy and there was no room at all to swing at anchor if the wind should change. Making the most of our lifting centreboard, we nudged instead deep into the edge of the main area, only then realising we had been attempting to hide from two new yachts eligible for the Alu Club, both red-trimmed Ovni, both flying the red duster – three red aluminium boats in the same place at the same time…spooky. One of their skippers commented that it was something of a British invasion, as a Swedish-flagged charter vessel was also crewed by Brits on holiday.
We enjoyed a peaceful evening, with supper in the saloon for the first time in months. It didn’t seem to dampen enthusiasm for a beetroot and goats’ cheese tart with toasted hazelnuts, courgettes and new potatoes, followed by now practised raspberry frangipane tartlets.
Monday morning dawned drier and brighter, and we set off close hauled under full main and genoa, for a respectable passage of 37M Southwest, including some respectable top speeds between weaving through yet more of these delightful islands. Here they are much more sparsely populated, and with far less ostentatious dwellings than near Stockholm, but all the more attractive with rocky outcrops and dense woodland, low lying in the sparkling sea.
As these guests have sailing experience, we had agreed in advance that we would sail the next couple of legs towards our next main destination, Copenhagen, delivering them to a town with a train back to Stockholm for their flights home, at the end of our time together. Their second night with us was again at anchor, just out of sight of a busy port and ferry terminal, tucked into a peaceful bay on the island of Bedarön, just East of Nynäshamn. Due to another slight malfunction in the galley department, the planned menu didn’t quite work out, but nonetheless a repeat of the Rendang curry and mango/passionfruit/coconut mousse seemed to be well received.
On Tuesday morning we made another early start for a passage of the same length as yesterday, into Nyköping (pronounced like knee-sherping, so nicknamed ‘no shopping’), where it turned out the anticipated trains were not running, but a bus service was available. The sailing to this port took two and a half days; the return bus ride one and a half hours… Our guests were able to enjoy a little more of the local scenery, and experience some particularly intense pilotage through rock-strewn lagoons of very shallow water, before the final long motor up a channel in a spreading lake bordered by reeds, reminiscent of the English Norfolk Broads. This last stretch was enhanced by our first sighting this season of a pair of cranes (feathered – like huge herons), and possibly our last of a sea eagle.
Nyköping harbour hosts the national rowing centre, with a training lake laid out in buoyed lanes just like the Olympic site at Dorney, near Windsor. Our arrival increased the number of British yachts to three, of a total of only about a dozen in the pleasant marina, as it was the end of the season and the harbour office was already opening on ‘Winter Hours’. The facilities are clean, well-maintained and include a free sauna and spacious laundry room, and the young lady behind the desk was charming and friendly.
On their last night with us, our generous guests kindly treated us to a tasty supper (maybe they’d had enough of the random chaos of l’Escale’s galley?) in a nearby hostelry – the only one still open this late in the year!