I wanted to try to keep a running blog like our last big trip, but just haven’t found the time.
Right now we’re in Karlsvik, a popular anchorage here. We’ve got the bow tied up to a rock wall that runs up to probably 10 meters, it’s lovely and barren.
Our intention was to make it to at least one fjord on the southern coast of Norway, but given the time we have left, we think we’re going to settle for touching Norwegian soil, about 50 nautical miles away from us right now.
Here’s a brief recap of the trip so far:
Day 1 – Helsingør. Finally finished a multitude of chores (like getting the life raft installed, adding a second battery & charging rig) and took off for Helsingør for an easy day. It was easy, and lovely, and we made it to the fish fry before closing for some good grub.
Day 2 – Falkenberg, autopilot. The boat came with a “tiller pilot”, and given there was no wind whatsoever, we decided to give it a try. A robot drove the boat while we chatted and tanned on the 51 miles to Falkenberg.
Day 3 – Gale, Varberg. Forecasts the day before had been terrible, but this morning gales expected on Anholt were gone from the forecast, and things looked fair enough. Falkenberg has a great little harbor up the river there, which means it’s quite shielded from the sea conditions. When we got to the sea, the wind was 7-9 m/s, seas churned up a bit, but it looked like we could handle it. The wind was southerly, so we could run up the coast, so the seas shouldn’t be a big deal either.
Well, as we headed out further, the wind grew from 7-9, to 9-11, to 11-13m/s. Lars was in a huff at this point, and I went below to make sure he couldn’t get to the forepeak, his favorite place for being sick. While below, a friendly voice came over the VHF, “All ships, all ships, gale warning.” We felt properly screwed. We were several miles outside a small fishing harbor that didn’t have a good approach and not much refuge if we got in safely, or we could continue on to Varberg as planned. Varberg it was.
Everything had already been locked down and doused, we had maybe 1/3 of our jib out, which we reefed some more. The wind indeed arrived, gusting to 15m/s, then steady at 15. At this point the Garmin GWS10 anemometer decided to scare us silly and blink out. Wind direction, great, wind speed? 0.0 m/s. Conditions got even worse, and we had quite a bit of streaking on the water as well as spray blowing off the tops. There were only “white caps”. My guess is we hit 17m/s, or Beau 7, maybe 8. The waves were coming in sets, approximately 4 meters high, but they never seemed to put us quite off balance enough to be the major worry (Catie forced herself to watch one approach and pass, it was a sight. As our stern rose up, it looked like a 6 foot wall of water was about to jump in our cockpit, but instead just lifted us further). Our major worry was only how bad it might get. We were maybe 9 miles from Varberg and making 4-7 knots depending on the wave action. We were both clipped in on harnesses, and the cat was safely below. The height of the blow lasted maybe 30 minutes, and we were surprisingly acclimated. 13m/s felt reassuringly manageable. Varberg arrived, we sailed through the harbor entrance and made our way to the inner harbor, lovely, and right in the center of town.
We had a drink, an another, and savored the little taste we had of what the sea can really provide.
Day 4 – Goteborg/Landegdrag, seasick. The southerly winds continued, 7-9 m/s, but chopped up seas along with the good wind. We left Varberg, looking good, except for the movement, which was absolutely terrible. We made a fatal mistake- and forgot to lock the cat out of the forepeak. Upon realizing the mistake I rushed below to find the cat post vomit and mid-diarrhea in our bed. Yep. I had to get all the sheets out, get the duvet covers off, only to find the poop had permeated through the cover to one of the duvets. Great start to the day. I start throwing the sheets into the sea, clean up below, and voila, between the smell and the tossing motion, I am sick. Catherine is at the helm, and I am useless. I spend the next 3 hours in a huddle, freezing with a cold sweat. I try to move below so I can be warm, and am gripped by the most intense vomiting I think I’ve ever experienced sober. I couldn’t have stopped to save my life. I managed to get below, pop a sickness pill, and thankfully wander off into sleep. Catherine sailed us almost the entire way to Goteborg, 41 nm, in 3+ meter seas, and I couldn’t lift a finger to help. Good confidence building. We entered the archipelago, Swedish land of milk and honey.
Day 5 – Day off. A work day- in one of the quarter berths this entire trip lay 6 sheets of 3cm thick styrofoam sheets 1.5 meters long, along with a plastic Ikea storage container, and a new Isotherm Compact Classic 2006 compressor. It was a long and rather painful work day, but without damaging any existing part of the boat, we now have an efficient cold storage locker on board!
Day 6 – Djupsundsholmarna. Finished wiring the fridge up permanently, and off we went to Djupsundsholmarna. We picked it for it’s good protection from southerly winds. The sail was beautiful and easy, the anchoring attempt comical, confused, yet mostly unnoticed by the neighbors. We grilled some steaks (I over-cooked them), and grilled some marshmallows. Got in touch with Sasha on leave from Juba, and planned to meet him at Stenungsund the next day.
Day 7 – Stenungsund. It turns out, jelly fish sting. When you retrieve an anchor chain with your bare hands, it can get a bit uncomfortable. We sailed up to Stenungsund, strange little town. Mooring is to buoys on the stern, we’re getting the hang of how they do things up here.
Day 8 – Mollosund. Sasha is here, all the way from Juba! Nice to have a friend on board, even if he’s British. We celebrate our independence day with Pabst in bottles for lunch, exchange a few jabs, then head out. After sailing through the channels back towards the sea, we were making our way up the channel near Mollosund and couldn’t resist turning in. Heavenly. Of course, I’m dancing like a maniac trying to get a stern anchor ready, when a friendly Norwegian explains the system. There are mooring lines tied to the quay which lead to anchors already in place. It’s easy, just pull up, grab the line from the bow, cleat it to your stern, and you’re pretty much done. It’s hot out, and sunny. We swim through the jelly fish, and have more fish for dinner. It feels unreal up here.
Day 9 – Gullholmen and Lille Bjornholmen. More tight sailing, we find a Norwegian aground, but Swedish rescue has already been dispatched. Doubtful we could pull him off the rocks with our 9HP anyway. We stop at Gullholmen for lunch, the oldest fishing village on Sweden’s west coast. The harbor runs right through the center of the village, which old fishing shacks now vacation homes line. Again, it’s sunny and beautiful, so we head for an anchorage, Lille Bjornholmen. This is our first go setting anchors into the rocks ourselves, but after nearly going deaf, we figure it out enough to set three anchors that feel secure. We swim. We grill up hot dogs and sausages, belated 4th of July grill. We stay up until 1 in the morning, and it is still light out. I even sleep soundly despite having hammered the anchors into granite myself.
Day 10 – Bjornholmen to Henan. The IW-Varvet, builder of the IW 31, was based in Henan, on Orust, the island we have been circumnavigating. We bring Sasha here because there’s good transportation back to Goteborg/Copenhagen, but also because it’s nice to bring a boat to its birthplace. The boat is home, we take a long walk out of town searching for the old IW Varvet buildings (our friend Sebastian, who’s in the middle of an IW re-fit, had some thoughts as to possible locations), but there’s not many people around, and we come up empty. I hadn’t checked the old sales brochure before leaving to get better clues, maybe we were standing right where the boat was built and didn’t realize. Sasha is gone, it was great having him.
Day 11 – Henan to Karlsvik. Leaving Henan took us through the same route we kayaked with Catie’s parents a few years ago. Amazing area to kayak, confusingly shallow, tight, and narrow place to sail through. We made it fine, and headed back towards the sea. After Lyskil the rocks get rockier, more red. We have overcast skies, some drizzle, which makes the place more intimidating than it probably ought to be. We run-through our approach to the tie-ups once, the depth is good, 2.2m, and we launch the 16kg anchor and 10m of 10mm chain from the bow this time. I think we finally figured out how to set a stern anchor without looking like morons. There is a mass of jelly fish. We can’t use the head, the inlet is clogged by them, and I’m nervous about starting the engine again in the morning.
It’s 10:24, time to set off.