Crossing the Gulf of Bothnia
The day didn’t start so well – with a bank of fog so thick we couldn’t see the Pommern or the boats on the next pontoon. So much for an early departure. Those who had set off early, had returned to port.
Finally around 0900 the fog lifted and we went to refuel at the self service pontoon. What a location, right behind the stern of the Pommern. With an extra 12 gallons on board, Suzanne steered us out and across the Gulf of Bothnia.
What’s it like? It’s a bit like crossing the channel. A traffic separation scheme to cross at 90 degrees and a stream of large ferries in both directions. Andrew went back for some sleep, tired after our late night and our continual days of sailing. We need a rest! Thankfully Stockholm is our next destination and we should have a day or two there.
The engine started to warm slightly, only 5 degrees more than usual, so Andrew altered the belt and turned off the external regulator. We kept a close watch on the temperature gauge for the rest of the journey.
With a southerly wind we were able to sail, and it was a reasonably swift passage across the Gulf. As our phones pinged to let us know we’d now arrived in Sweden, Andrew lowered the Aland flag and raised the Swedish one. Our clocks also went back an hour.
As early evening approached, and we started to weave through the Swedish islands the rain started to pour. The weather forecast was also for high winds, so we decided to go into a marina rather than to anchor.
We turned into Sandhamn Yacht Club, a sister club of the one we are to stay in Stockholm. A large substantial club house and busy pontoons, meant we had to search for a berth. Eventually we saw a blonde youth in a red uniform beckoning us to a spot.
And here it was again – another new way of berthing – a lazy line. This entails a line tied to a heavy weight, that leads back from the pontoon. The youth raised the line and Suzanne grabbed it with a boat hook, leading it back to Andrew to tie off on a stern cleat. Bow lines were thrown to the youth – and all was going well, until a look of horror indicated we’d done something wrong. We couldn’t work out what he was saying at first – and then Andrew realised – our lazy line had somehow also dragged up the water pipe for the club! Needless to say we were moved onto another berth – with a racing yacht one side and motorboat the other – and party boat on the opposite side of the pontoon.
Clearly this marina was party central – we’ve not seen marina information before where it says you’ll be fined 2 weeks berthing fees if you are noisy after 11pm. Lots of the boats were blasting out music while they could!
The rain was still coming down, but given the late night cooking debacle in Mariehamn, Suzanne insisted we ate out. We wandered into the nearest open eatery and had a veggie burger and crisps with sour cream and fish roe, 2 beers and a chocolate pudding – which came to a cool £70! Making those the most expensive burger and crisps we’ve ever had! Tasty though…
We walked back in a howling wind to find the boat beating its bow agains the pontoon. Andrew tightened the lazy line and Andrew tried to fend off the bow and put a fender down – helped by a crew member from the racing yacht. They turned out to be Finnish and they had just won the racing regatta at the club.
We went to bed, but were woken at 2 in the morning to hear the sound of frantic winching. The wind was throwing us around, and Andrew went out to investigate. Basically our boat was on top of the power boat, which was pushing it onto the pontoon. Rather too close and personal for the skipper of the other boat, who became Andrew’s cheer leader as he battled with the lines and winches.
Further tightening of the lazy line ensued, until a 30 cm gap appeared between the boats. The racing yacht was also struggling to stay off the pontoon. The storm was raging by this point and the noise of the ropes on masts and flags on boats was intense. There were 30 knots of winding rushing through the marina.
We woke to a different world. There was a huge gap between us and the powerboat – the water was calm and it looked as if nothing had happened the night before.
We were underway for 10 hours, making 67 nautical miles, we sailed for 2, motor sailed for 7 and moored for 1, using around 4 gallons of fuel.
You can hear about this leg of our journey, on our podcast ‘2 in a boat’ – check out episode 30 – Stormin Stockholm