Baltic Circle '11

Voyage Plan for Season 2011, the Baltic Circle

  • Posted on: 24 April 2011
  • By: Eve

During this winter we’ve had a possibility to follow up at close range the building of Nauticat Suwena. Now it is time to move on and enjoy cruising her. The hand over will be on 20th of May and shortly afterwards we will start the summer 2011 cruising. Setting us up aboard Suwena it feels this time like we are really moving our home. All our stuff need to be packed and transported to Turku, 600 km away.

On the last visit to boat yard she was in a test pool and we got a nice feeling how she swayed beautifully in the wind. Now we are even more impatiently waiting for a summer. The stories about building Suwena can be found under the Nauticat 441 tag.
Suwena in the boat  yard's test pool
Nauticat provides yacht familiarization training for all clients. The briefing lasts for a few days. After that our summer voyage can start. For this summer we have planned a route where we can experience new places and sail in a different conditions from archipelago to open sea. Our target for next summer is to go around the northern Baltic Sea. The plan is to lengthen the open sea legs gradually and at the same time learn the handling of the new boat.

Turku will be the starting point and from there we will cross the Kihti to Åland archipelago. From Mariehamn we will go towards the Sweden. Our target is to explore the Stockholm archipelago. The visit to Sweden will culminate with midsummer party in Visby in Gotland island. We'll also see what kind of Hoburg's visit ceremony we will have when passing the southern tip of the Gotland. After all the Old Hoburg has the command of the Baltic Sea under the watchful eye of the King Neptune and he does not look at landlubbers passing his territory with the good eye.

The bigger challenge than the visit of Hoburg is the crossing of the Baltic Sea from Gotland to Lithuania. We can pass Gotland either from the north or south or we can wait suitable crossing time on the east coast of the Gotland. Despite of how we do it we will have the passage of over 24 hours. During this winter we have been preparing ourselves on how to manage our first overnighter at sea. With the sailboat crossing the sea is not always straight line because we need to consider also the wind and the sea currents.

In Lithuania we will first go to their only harbor city Klaipeda. From there we will continue to Curonian lagoon. Curonian lagoon is on the west coast of Lithuania, separated from Baltic Sea by 98 kilometers long Curonian spit. Curonian spit is more like an sand dune and Curonian lagoon is the biggest lagoon in Baltic Sea. This sounds like an adventure that we must experience.

From Lithuania we'll continue to Latvia where we will stop at least in Liepaja, Ventspils and Riga. The stop in Riga will be a little longer as we think the biggest metropolis in Baltic states will offer a plenty of things to see and experience.

Then it will be already time to move to familiar waters from our 2009 voyage. Saaremaa island was one of our favorites and we plan to visit there again. Afterwards it is time to seek out some new places in Estonia. E.g. last time we had no time for Hiiumaa island. The visit to Estonia will finish in Tallinn.

After Tallinn it is a short leg to Helsinki putting five Baltic Sea countries behind us. The plans for the rest of the season are still open. By that time we'll be anyhow full of new experiences cruising with Suwena.

In water and ready to go

  • Posted on: 23 May 2011
  • By: Eve

And then arrived the long awaited morning of the 19th of May when we flyed from Oulu to Turku. We were really overexcited. The night before, both of us saw fuzzy dreams about our new yacht. Suwena was waiting for us in Nauticat berth in Hirvisalo docks. It felt really wonderful to turn the key first time in Suwena's door lock and step aboard. First moments we were only smiling.
Suwena at the Nauticat's dock
After that we have been busy with various chores. Five days have passed like flying. We have went through every system on our yacht. We made a comprehensive check list as we did it for our first boat. The difference now is that the list is 10 pages long as we have much more points to verify. Going through all devices and rig has the benefit that during this process we also learn how everything works.

Several people from the boatyard have introduced the yacht functions to us. For example Andrus and Kaj Gustafsson spent two hours only in engine room, going through engine, generator, batteries and other devices and their service schedule.
Andrus checking the engine room
We have tried to use every day one gadget at a time so we can ask any rising questions face to face. Of course we know that Nauticat always supports theirs customers after the yacht delivery. But somehow it feels more easy to clear all questions immediately.

The yacht is thoroughly tested in boat yard before the hand over. We had a funny incident when I quickly put our Thursday grocery shopping into the refrigerator. Andrus asked if the fridge is on? I answered that it feels cold and put the food into the refrigerator. In the evening we went to eat something and all our foods were fully frozen. The fridge can also be used as a freezer and during the testing somebody in boatyard left the thermostat at -30 degrees. It takes less to deep freeze anything. We left the fridge and foods to warm up ror a night, ate some bread slices only and went to sleep.
Suwena's kitchen appliances
On Friday and Saturday we also went sailing. On Friday it felt magnificent to shut down the engine for a first time and move forward with the wind power only. On Saturday I was on short spin inside when Andrus shut the engine again. It is difficult to say which was more puzzling, first time when the silence descended on Friday or the frightening on Saturday that something was wrong. Maybe it is possible to become accustomed to turning off the engine and everything still works :-)

We started the sailing career of Suwena in capricious winds of Airisto. Patrik Gustafsson from Nauticat trained us to sail Suwena. Wind strength changed all the time. We tried all points of sail from close-hauled beating to running and we had a plenty of opportunities to practice tacking and jibing. However we got the best speed during the broad reaching.
Eve is sailing in Airisto
Andrus in helm of the brand new Suwena
Andrus at the mast
Harbour manoeuvres will require some new practice. Suwena's loaded weight comes near to 20 metric tons and her handling is different from our previous boat. Andrus commented that the inertia of this mass can really be noticed. During the acceleration and deceleration it takes a moment before the boat responds to controls. Also the yacht is almost 5 meters longer and I must be fast to get from bow to stern during the mooring. In addition there are steps both up and down on a side deck. This is the appeal of the boating that there are many new situations and own skills can always be perfected even more.

Out yacht is ready for the most part. She only needs some last minute adjustments. For example tomorrow we will get a bimini and some devices will receive the final adjustments. Few more days for bunkering the boat and we can go towards Åland and Sweden

Suwena's Maiden Voyage 26.5.2011

  • Posted on: 28 May 2011
  • By: Eve

Seven days passed quickly in Hiervensalo docks as we thoroughly explored the yacht and familiarized ourselves with all parts. We found that the check list we have made for our reference beforehand was really useful. We divided the check list into sections according to yacht areas from the bow to the stern. In addition there are divisions for the deck, rig, engine room and electrics. Into each section we wrote checking points and sales contract options related to this area. The list was at the same time yacht check-list and a base for our basic training. Kaj Gustafsson guided us through functions of many devices and theirs service points. Patrik Gustafsson introduced us to the rig and other deck hardware. If there was any defect then Tuula Gustafsson organized the fixing immediately.
Kaj and Tuula Gustafsson with Eve are making  last minute passarelle adjustments
There were some shortcomings. For example the rig was once assembled in test pool. For transportation it was de-rigged and assembled again in water. During the check we found that the pulleys for running backstays and spare halyard in mizzen mast for dinghy lifting were missing. Also there were no electrical wiring diagrams until these were delivered just before our departure on Thursday. Andrus was really satisfied with the electrical schematics of the boat because it contains all connections. He thinks that it is really a rarity to have a full schematics in pleasure vessels. It is our joy however that Suwena has the full electrical documentation.

At the same time with a fixing of shortcomings the yard was implementing our last minute wishes. For example we asked for additional shelf for our laptops in one of the cabinets. Another thing we noticed during the mooring exercise that the bow boarding ladder was too long for our crew and Nauticat promptly shortened this to correct length. When assembling the storm bunk into the dinette we noticed that the beds middle part was a wrong kind and already on next day we received the correct one. These are only the examples about how smoothly and flexibly all shortcomings and last minute changes were made in agreed schedule.

In the middle of this fuss we had time to go sailing and practice yacht mooring. Catching a buoy is more challenging to us now that our deck is much higher compared to our previous boat. Due to my blindness I need to find the buoy ring by the hand first before I can fix the mooring hook. Catching the buoy is easiest to do on the side deck where the side gate can be opened while the lower railing can be kept closed for safety. Over there I can bend over the railing with both hands free for catching the bouy.

Everything was ready and we were able to leave on our lucky day the Thursday.

We would like to deliver through our blog the huge and warm thanks to everybody who has participated to make our lovely yacht Suwena. Your professional handwork will sail with us into many new anchorages.
Suwena and Peku in Nauticat dock
On Thursday we finalized the bunkering and made her ready for the sea. We have new items to remember before going to sea. In addition to previously known things like closing all windows, hatches and cupboard doors we now must close also the valves on sink drains. We cast off Suwena's mooring lines at 16:10 and left towards the Nauvo island with just two of us as a crew.

We hoisted the sails immediately after leaving the river Aurajoki. It felt magnificent to sail with mainsail and genny towards the Nauvo. We had 7 m/s of wind and sailed with 5-6 knots speed. Southern wind was to our liking and we maintained the same tack throughout all of Airisto.
Eve collecting the fenders
Maiden Voyage
In the southern part of Airisto the wind decreased and the sun came out. In light wind our speed was only few knots but we were so happy about our new yacht that we just enjoyed every peaceful moment at sea.
Suwena in Nauvo

Nauvo, Verkan and Sottunga 26.5. - 29.5.

  • Posted on: 30 May 2011
  • By: Eve

We continued from Nauvo to Verkan in Korpoo on Friday. Nauvo's harbour opened at 3pm on Friday but we were eager to get going forward.

The weather was half cloudy and the wind blew 11 – 13 m/s with the 16 m/s gusts. In the beginning we were sailing with the wind behind us and later we did some reaching. She sailed very beautifully. Even we have the three years experience from motorboating and 3000 nautical miles under our keel this is the first season with the sailboat. Therefore we were really happy for the trip from Nauvo to Verkan went well with the sails, we only motored for three nautical miles. There was a lot of wind and we reefed the genoa to be smaller, the mainsail was fully out.
Eve trimming genoa
Suwena in Verkan marina
Houseboat from Åland in Verkan
We have electric genoa winches and they are very useful when trimming the sails especially when rolling the jenny out or tacking. We quickly noticed however that small trim changes are easier to do with manually. When inserting the winch handle into our electric winch it releases the electric motor and the winch can be used manually like any other. It is a little bit harder to put the winch handle into place because the electric motor handle pushes back. Anyway we had an annoying incident by losing the important food preparation tool when the winch handle was not fully fixed. It took couple of hops on a deck and plunged into the sea. We still have a two hand and an 8 inch handles so I'm sure we can tender the chicken with them as well. Andrus found last winter an interesting recipe from the deepness of the internet and we have been waiting for new Suwena to prepare this dish. Maybe it was the plot of a chicken to lose the handle :-)

Winch Handle Chicken


  • chicken breasts 1 per sailor
  • italian bread crumbs
  • 1 or more eggs
  • flour
  • meat rub
  • olive oil

Place a chicken breast in a Zip Lock bag. Put bagged chicken on deck and beat flat (3/8 inch thick) with the side of a winch handle. Repeat with other breasts. Rub flattened chicken with olive oil and dust with flour. Dip in egg wash and cover with bread crumbs. Sprinkle with meat rub. Grill both sides of the chicken on a medium hot grill until done.

We spent two days in Verkan and as we had no proper winch handle any more we went to the restaurant Buffalo for the world famous 15 spices ribs. They were really delicious and most boaters in archipelago come to eat them.
Famous ribs of restaurant Buffalo in Verkan
The season was starting in Verkan. On Friday there were only a few boats but on Saturday Andrus counted almost 20 boats. This place will be very busy once the summer really starts.

On Sunday we waited for the wind to decrease as told in the weather forecast so the crossing of Kihti sea would have less waves. This was not what happened. We started nicely with the sails. But the wind increased to 16 m/s and the waves grew to one and a half meters at best. And of course it was raining. We decided to lower the sails and start the Englishman. We went inside waiting for the wind to ease up and the rain to end. She had absolutely no problems and experienced sailors would have sailed in this weather for sure. We decided to be careful as we are only just getting to know her. On our previous Suwena we would not go to open sea in the wind above 10 m/s so also the environmental conditions were new to us. The sailings into Nauvo and Verkan went previously nicely because even if there was a strong wind there was no waves. On Kihti we had even more wind and in addition the waves almost two meters tall. Suwena received a real sea test as the splashes from waves went over the deck.
Blowing on sea of Kihti
As we neared the Åland islands the wind decreased and the rain stopped as well. We started sailing again. This time we raised only the jenny and we had a nice ride of 6 knots.

We arrived to Sottunga harbour at 6pm. After arrival the first task was of course to rise the courtesy flag of Åland.
Sottunga harbour in Åland

Sottunga 29.5. - 31.5.

  • Posted on: 1 June 2011
  • By: Eve

On Sunday evening we arrived into the island of Sottunga in Åland archipelago. Sottunga is the smallest municipality in Finland and probably in EU as well. There are just above 110 inhabitants. People in Sottunga are really friendly. Brits from neighbour yacht Goodwill were surprised when locals stopped the car just to talk with them. We noticed the same on our bike trip on Monday. We really felt welcome over there.
Sottunga's harbour
Suwena in Sottunga
We noticed that Sottunga municipality has arranged the habitant services very well. Despite its size there are for example a shop, a post office, a bank, a health center and even an emergency helicopter pad. We cycled the island it was again nice to admire well kept courtyards. We noticed that the people of Åland keep their islands in good condition already when we visited Jurmo island two years ago.

We also were positively surprised about bicycle park in the harbour where anybody can lend a bike to go to visit the shop three kilometers away. We dug out our own foldable tandem from inside the Suwena and went for the island tour.
Boat storage houses in Sottunga
Summer season starts in guest harbour only at 1st of June and the dock was not ready yet. Therefore we moored at the old ship dock. During the night we had quite a lot of swell due to the wind changing direction and us being on outer side. Suwena however swung nicely and we got a good sleep.
We found an interesting historical tidbit from municipality's own web page that is a worthwhile reading.
Sottunga's harbour is prepared for summer
On Tuesday it was a time to move forward. As we got her ready to go a barge carrying a cottage moored just behind us. It took us some time to figure out how to leave without the barge's sharp edged bow ramp damaging our pilothouse or bimini. When the wind is 10 m/s straight from the side the side thrusters do not have enough force to move the boat directly against the wind. We decided to use the bow spring. The captain engaged the forward gear and Suwena's stern got away from the dock. Then he applied a full throttle backwards and we were successfully out, turning towards the Degerby island.

Degerby in Föglö 31.5. - 1.6.

  • Posted on: 7 June 2011
  • By: Eve

On the leg from Sottunga to Degerby we sailed comfortably all the way. At first we had a downwind and sailed her a wing on wing for the first time. We sheeted the mainsail to the right and genoa to the left. Second half of the trip was already familiar close reach.

In Degerby we approached the guest harbour and started to ponder if there is enough depth for our yacht. Suwena’s draft is 1.9 meters. In the middle of summer when there are other yachts in the harbour the water depth can be guessed according to the size and type of other boats. This harbour had no signs of depth and somehow it looked too shallow. Now in the beginning of summer water was so clear that we could see the bottom and our doubts only increased. We know there would be enough water for us on the dock of the restaurant Seagram and we moored over there instead of guest harbour.
Suwena in Degerby
We were again so early in season that the guest harbour was not open yet. Restaurant Seagram guest harbour will open on 1st of June.

We were so interested in official marina that we walked over there to explore it more closely. Of course the only septic pump out station in Degerby was located there as well and Suwena was in time to use one soon. We made a joke on pump out dock that one of us could jump into water and test how much water comes above the head to evaluate if there is deep enough for Suwena. Well the water is still cold and we skipped the test. Instead we walked to nearby restaurant Mat & Cafe to ask about the piers. The answer was what we already were thinking about. The water is only 1.5 meters deep near the pump out station. It would have been much easier with some kind of markings on the docks.

The official Degerby guest harbour looked otherwise also little strange because the floating guest docks are just behind the pump out station. We also found very weird water post where a visiting yacht can use the water for 4 minutes at a time with one euro. This price is ridiculous! We were glad our 620 liter water tank was full. The water post was also on a pump out dock so Suwena was not in danger to be robbed by water tanking.
Water station in Degerby
In both of the Åland's archipelago harbours we did not see any other Finnish flagged boats. Sottunga had one yacht from UK and couple from Sweden, in Degerby on other hand was a crew from Swizerland on a Baltic Sea tour.

In Degerby the sun was shining for the first time this year so warmly that we decided also the get the first ice creams cones, ahh so delicious.
Degerby center
On Wednesday it was time to turn Suwena's bow towards Ålands main island and Mariehamn's West harbour.
Skarven travelling from Degerby to Åland's main isalnd

Mariehamn 1.6. - 5.6.

  • Posted on: 9 June 2011
  • By: Eve

Already last winter when we considered options for this summer cruise we thought about the stop fe days in Mariehamn. Now our wishes become true and we arrived to summery Mariehamn West harbour on Wednesday afternoon. We moored Suwena bow to buoy and her stern was made fast to the dock.

Just as we finished mooring her we were drawn into action as the local yacht club's Wednesday sailing competition started in the harbour. Andrus climbed to the roof of the salon where it was a perfect place to sit in sun and follow the competition. As the evening came the harbour started to fill with yachts. At last we are in a marina with some life. Most of the boats were from Sweden, few from Finland, couple from Germany and one from Poland.
Wednesday sailing competition of ASS
Western harbour is famous for its fabulous Viking themed pavilion. In addition to especial design it had a good restaurant and we got an excellent made sturgeon. We were amused that the menu said the sturgeon being from the Varkaus in northern Finland. As we are ourselves from northern Finland we think that Varkaus is in eastern Finland. It must be that the Finland looks different if viewed from Åland.
Mariehamn's West harbour
On Thursday we had a service day for both the Suwena and the crew. Last items were sorted and placed into cabinets. Already in our previous Suwena we arranged our stuff into handy plastic containers with covers. We bought from Turku some more containers that fit Suwena's cupboards and sort-out time was now in Mariehamn. The containers are stackable so different kinds of food, clothes and other stuff can be located into the cabinets in kitchen and cabins. It was also time to do our first bigger laundry and sunshine dried the laundry hanging on front deck almost instantly.
Laundry day
On Thursday night we woke up and wondered if there is a problem with our heater as we heard a lot of noise. The problem was not in our heater but instead a regatta from Sweden arrived and they made a lot of noise with their propellers. In the morning the marina looked different as there were almost twenty new yachts.

On Friday we explored the Mariehamn by foot and on Saturday we had an idea to go exploring the Åland's main island by bus as Åland has free bus transportation. It was our mistake for checking the timetable only on Friday afternoon. We found out that our plan will not work out because on weekends the buses go really rarely. So we decided to rent a car and that we later found out was an excellent decision.
Eve in Mariehamn's East harbour
The car had also other uses beside the sightseeing. We needed to bunker the boat with foods for one week. Also we managed to buy some more wine than usually when hand carrying only. After we were happy to pay the alcohol tax to our homeland and not to Sweden.

Åland is part of the Finand but it is the autonomous region. It is also exempt from EU's VAT rules. Shipping companies take advantages of this by having ferries to stop in Åland. This way the cruise travellers can enjoy the tax free shopping. Both the Visking Line and Eckerö Line offered free fill-up cruises to Kapellskär for boaters. Free tickets for half a day cruise were available in harbour office but we decided to use our time for exploring the Åland instead.
Red ships arriving in Mariehamn
Our Åland sightseeing trip were really interesting because of meeting with Saara. She has moved from her home in northern Finland to Åland and she is also the authorized Åland guide. We heard many details about the life on the island.

On a way to Kastelholm castle we stopped in Uffe på berget view tower and the view to landscape was magnificent. Åland main island's coast is full of lagoons, straits, sounds and canals filled with sea water. Ålands main island is 45 kilometres wide and 50 kilometres long. The island is fully populated and farms are located between villages in regular intervals. We enjoyed our round trip around the island. Especially the beautifully cared for houses and courtyards were nice. The people in Åland really take care of their own and are hard-working.
View from Uffe på berget view tower
The next stop was in Sund the medieval castle of Kastelholm. Its heyday was on 15th and 16th centuries. Even thou the castle is nowadays restored it still is in a ruins. Only the few rooms have been fully restored.
Castle of Kastelholm
With the guide the castle awakened with interesting stories about dungeon, witch hunt and Erik's prison time alive. Without Saaras colorful stories the experience would have been quite boring.
Saara and Eve
The medieval Åland people or should I say Swedish revealed to be more penny-pinching that Finnish. The medieval soldier’s daily ration in Kastelholm was only 2,6 liters of beer and 1 - 1.5 breads per day. In Olavinlinna castle correspondingly the ration was 5 liters on every weekday and 7 liters on weekend days with the addition of firewater. Could it be that Finns got their reputation already in medieval times.

Our trip continued to the ruins of Bomarsund. From this castle only a few pieces of walls are left. The most impressing was Saaras story about the parties in Djevulsberget. The Russians have only started to build a defence tower on a devils mountain when they started to have parties at night time over there. The story tells that Russians casted spells over the local people. One of the officers danced the feet off from the local priest's wife. What might be the truth? The party was always during the night time. This tradition is still living. Night time secret dance parties are still arranged by locals and outsiders are not informed beforehand. Unfortunately during our visit we were not able to join the dancing but maybe next time we can fit in.
Ruins of Bomarsund
Inspired by soldier's daily beer ration we tried to get into excursion on modern beer making. Stallhagen brewery makes over ten different beers. Unfortunally during the daytime there are no tours to inside the brewery. Only the bar was open and we bought back some beer for tasting on Suwena.

It was really nice to spend a day with Saara as it has been many years we’ve seen each others. She is also an excellent guide and makes our trip much more richer than we would have ever done by ourselves. Thank you very much Saara!

Before leaving the Mariehamn there was still one more place to visit. As boaters the steel framed four mast barque Pommern was a must experience. She is sail cargo ship, built in 1903 and her last voyage was on 1939. Pommern sailed on grain route from Australia to Europe. It is unbelivalbe but they had a photographer on board. The photos with stories are presented on ship. Our furling sails are no match for Pommern's square sails. The sailors life must have been tough to go to trim the sails by climbing the spars in any possible weather. The helm is so big that two or four sailors were tied to it and steered the boat together. The photo collection about Pommern's sailing in storms and waves hitting over the deck is immense seeing.
Pommern in Mariehamn
Deck of the sailing ship Pommern
Eve at Pommern's helm
Pommern's upper cargo deck
Pommern's men were brave sailors as they returned from Australia through southern Pacific Ocean that is famous for high winds and storms. No wonder the boys danced happily when they were back in harbour.

After the culture day it was time to prepare for the next leg. On Sunday we had a crossing of the Åland Sea ahaed. We hoped that the weather forecast would hold and we could sail over the Åland Sea. We think that this would be a good practice for future crossing of the Baltic sea.

Across the Sea of Åland 5.6.

  • Posted on: 9 June 2011
  • By: Eve

On Sunday we woke up full of energy to go towards the Sweden and new challenges. We prepared Suwena for sea. One task of preparations was to add a shackle to our stern anchor so we can put a rope on it. We know that in Sweden are fewer harbours with buoys and stern anchor with a bow to dock is a normal way of mooring.

After everything was ready it was time to turn our bow towards Sweden and Arholma. We raised mainsail, genoa and mizzen sail shortly after leaving the harbour. Sails were powered nicely until the wind started to decrease. When our speed dropped below four knots we decided to raise the gennaker for the first time. Gennaker bag was put on deck and made fast to the railing. With Patrik's advices in our memory we put the manset??? around the rolled up genoa and changed gennakers sheets to genoa winches. Andrus raised the gennaker sock by using the halyard and then we opened her up. This was a really beautiful moment.
Gennaker raised at the Sea of Åland
Just as we were about to cross the shipping line the wind stopped almost completely and our speed dropped below two knots. We were in no hurry but according to AIS we were on a collision path with three ships. We did not want to be disturb the commercial traffic so it was time to put the sock back around the gennaker and move to horsepower. Just as the three ships passed us we saw another one doing only six knots coming from the right. Andrus calculated that with a little speeding up we pass on hew bow with a 1.5 nautical mile clearance. After a while another ship appeared on the horizon passing the slow one on the right. Of course now that our speed was a little faster we would be on a way of the new ship. According to Colregs a motor vessel coming from the right has a right of way so we changed our course and passed both of the ships from stern.

The wind did not pick up so we continued with Perkins until the Arholma and packed the genakker away.

In Arholma we went to the Österhamn a la the east harbour that is recommended to be more beautiful. We moored with the stern anchor and in our crew this meant that at first the captain carried the 20 kilogram anchor from anchor locker in the bow to the aft deck. We discussed about fixing the stern anchor to the aft railing during the last winter but somehow we forgot about it. Andrus thought that if another boat would make a wave while he is carring an anchor on our deck it could be that our salon windows will need refitting afterwards. I managed to lower the anchor and rushed to the bow. We were lucky that there was another boater taking our bow lines because our bow ladder is still too long. I would have not dared to jump more than one meter with lines in my hands even if I trust the captain gives a jump command at a right moment. Then Suwena was moored and the Sea of Åland was behind us.

We started cooking the evening food and when I opened a refrigerator the really bad smell puffed out. Our fridge smelled like a dead animal. No can do, take out all food containers one by one smell which one has gone bad. The best before dates were all ok but all the food we did buy the last evening in Mariehamn Sparhallen smelled terrible. Even if we washed the packages it did not help Sparhallen food. Everything else was good after wash up but I needed to clean also the fridge few times before the smell was gone. I felt very sorry to throw so much food away.

Afterwards I cleaned also the kitchen table and raised the hatch for a small freezer to clean its edges. It can not be true. The hatch was warm inside. Its either myself who have by accident turned to freezer off while loading it or the topmost ice cream package has hit the switch in sea waves. In any case we had four 1 liter packages of ice cream, several packs of frozen vegetables and meat all melt. On the bottom of the freezer was a thick layer of metl ice cream. I was really angry as I just finished full clean-up of the fridge. So the project continued into the late evening. At least we know now how much stuff can be loaded into the freezer.
Suwena's smaller freezer

In Stockholm Archipelago 5.6. – 9.6.

  • Posted on: 15 June 2011
  • By: Eve

On a way to Stockholm we stopped on the islands of Arholma, Vätö and Furusund.

Arholma is the scenic island in the north-eastern part of the Stockholm archipelago. It is 5 kilometres long and 2 kilometres wide. At a time even a Danish king Valdemar stopped in Arholma on his way to Estonia via the Åland islands. Today it is a popular summerhouse destination. During the winter Arholma has about 70 inhabitants but on summer its population grows tenfold by summerhouse residents.
Österhamn in Arholma
Suwena in Österhamn of the Arholma island
The island has a quiet feeling because there was no cars. Local people were moving around by ATVs, bicycles or by just plain old walking. We made a nice walking trip from the Österhamn to the other side of the island. There was another harbour with a ship connection to the mainland. The harbour also hosted a small shop and a dance pavilion built in 40's. The most amazing thing we found was however the outhouse toilet of the dance pavilion that had a washing basin with real flower decorations and fabric hand towels. Unbelievable.
World's most beautiful outhouse toilet
Arholma is really idyllic island that is worth stopping. We were lucky that the depth in Kapellskär guest harbour was not enough for Suwena and we chose Arholma as the first stop in Sweden. From all the harbours in Arholma we recommend the Österhamn because it is really well protected and absolutely beautiful.

From Arholma we continued to the island of Vätö. The Vätö is generally not counted as part of the Stockholm archipelago because it is located just north of the archipelagos limit. Eve's relatives waited us for a visit and thus a small deviation from our route to Stockholm was justified.

Vätö is also a summerhouse island. The quantity of summerhouses is much bigger compared to Arholma because there is a bridge connection to the mainland. Also our relatives have a cosy summerhouse on the Vätö island.

In Vätö we had a new challenge because the Kilholmen harbour is ment for smaller boats. Also the mooring buys on the bay were private. We made a quick decision to anchor out.
Suwena anchored in front of Vätö
The Rocna descended smoothly with the assistance of the anchor winch. However we had to lift the anchor again because we felt that it did not hold and lower it to the new spot. After the Suwena was properly anchored and swung nicely we lowered the dinghy and drove to the docks to meet our relatives. We spent a nice evening in Etri's and Olle's summerhouse and enjoyed the excellent food. I have been there last time when I was 6 years old. So it was really nice to meet them and spend an evening together.
Etri and Olle
The next night however was rather restless. Suwena was on same spot when we returned but during the night the wind shifted and the anchor dragged. It did not help, we needed to put the clothes on and go out to move the boat. The bottom was treacherous, it was hard rock with some silt on top of it. The bay was about 6 meters deep so we could not get any closer the shore because of our swing radius in anchor. If we would move the boat too much outer then the depth would increase quickly to 20 meters and we would be on the fairway where anchoring is not allowed. In good conditions the amount of anchor chain to use is 3-5 times the water depth so we started to run out of the options. After the restless night we were very tired in the morning.

We planned to spend few days with Etri but there was no good place for the boat and had to make a decision to continue to Furusund.

We raised the anchor several times during the night and each time the chain brought some silt and mud onto the deck. In the morning the foredeck looked terrible. Fortunately Suwena has a seawater pump outlet in the anchor locker. I used the hose to flush the chain at the same time as Andrus raised the anchor. Finally I flushed the anchor itself and we could see the silt falling back to the sea. After the anchor was up it was easy to give a full deck the wash-down with the seawater while we had no worry about using up all our fresh water. Of course the water in the bay was very clean.

In Furusund we did a side mooring and next night we slept well.
Furusund guest harbour
Interesting neighbour, the Opilio yacht will plane while doing 8 knots

Furusund was again the new experience because it is very different compared to Arholma or Vätö islands. Furusund become famous as spa resort in 1880s when the jeweller of the king, Christian Hammer bought complete island and built there a fashionable spa resort and villas with beach boulevard. People travelled there to take mud bath, sulphurous water treatments and health bringing footbaths.

Astrid Lindgren, one of the most famous Swedish writers spent several summers in Furusund. No wonder it felt like we walk in the Pippi Longstocking story. We waited all the time when the door of the beautiful villa will open with Annika and Tommi rushing out for playing.

The fairytale feeling was breached when by the rubbish pizza from the restaurant near the ferry harbour to Yxlan. I must say that this was the worst pizza ever what we have eaten. At least we did not gain any weight because the bottom was inedible but the toppings were not good as well. You can't always win!

It was nice to spend some time on board Suwena and follow the busy ferry traffic. Swedish ships or if looked from here the Finnish ships passed like a clock to Stockholm and back. It was funny to notice that when the ship passed out our laptops offered to use their's WLAN connection.
Viking Line passing Furusund
Furusund was a good resting place before the congested Stockholm waters. On Thursday Suwena's voyage continued from Furusund to Vaxholm.

From Vaxholm to Stockholm 9.6. - 12.6.

  • Posted on: 16 June 2011
  • By: Eve

Starting from 16th century onwards Vaxholm has been a part of the Stockholm’s defence so we decided to stop there for a few days to explore the gatekeeper.

According to the harbour book Vaxholm marina has stern buoys so we prepared the bowlines and aft buoy line. Suddenly we were however in a new situation because in harbour the buoys have been changed into med mooring lines. Luckily we have been exploring the med mooring techniques last time in Barcelona in May. Then we pondered about when would be the Suwena's first time to moor in Mediterranean style and of course we thought that it would be in distant future and more close to Mediterranean Sea. This was not what happened.

The unlucky part was that we had a side wind and in harbour was an unpleasant swell from passing ships. I made the port side line fast and started to pull out the med mooring line. Everything happened so quickly that we had no time to bring out rubber gloves we have acquired for handling the slimy mooring lines. Fortunately the harbour has just been renovated and the lines were still clean without any slime.

Vaxholm marina is meant for maximum 12 meter yachts but we decided to take the risk. In the end the med mooring line were too upright after I pulled it with all of my force up. The wind pushed us badly sideways. Even if Andrus used stern thruster to drive the stern left my hand-power was barely enough to tighten the line. After sweaty pulling I got the med mooring line tight enough.

In med mooring, every boat has its own mooring line. The line is made fast to the bottom of the harbour and the other end is fixed to the dock. The line is picked up from the dock and made fast to the stern cleat. The rest of the mooring line is let back to the bottom of the water. The bow is then fixed with regular bowlines to the dock.
Vaxholm fortress
No wonder the marina is not recommended for yachts over 12 meters. The harbour basin is so small that there would not be enough space for manoeuvring if there would be large boats just on opposite side of each other. It might be quite a hassle in July during the high season when the marina is full of yachts and everybody tries not to hit the others.

We liked a lot about the atmosphere in Vaxholm. It felt like a nice summer city and many other thought likewise. On the beach road was several restaurants where the ferries brought tourists from Stockholm.
Vaxholm's beach view
Andrus enjoying the afternoon in Vaxholm
Vaxholm's fortress can be accessed by a ferry trip lasting just a few minutes. The ferry makes a round tour around the fortress island and then its possible to wander on the island with own pace. We started the exploration by climbing the 130 steps to the top of the guard tower. From up there was a magnificient view over the Stockholm Archipelago. The boat traffic was unimaginable. Continuous strip of boats started to go towards the archipelago on Friday afternoon and the queue continued until Saturday afternoon. Andrus counted that with the one sight he can see a total of 45 boats underway and this was just a moment in the middle of Saturday afternoon.
Weekend's rush-hour in Vaxholm
We skipped the Vaxholm museum and went for a walk around the island. We saw many people coming to the island for just having a picnic. Sparkling wine bottles were popping and people enjoyed lunch with their friends. Our picnic provisions were on Suwena so we focused on growing hunger by spending time in fresh air.
Eve enjoying dinner in Suwena's cockpit in Vaxholm
Close by the harbour is also a grocery store and we bunkered Suwena again in Vaxholm. We suspected that there might not be any food stores close to Wasahamn in Stockholm. And the best was that the store in Vaxholm was very well stocked and we were again able to fill our freezer. Most important we found some delicious ice creams and sorbets. The previous freezer meltdown did not feel bad any more. A couple days later Andrus was displeased that we only bought one package of blueberry ice cream :-)

On Sunday we got visitors. Our friends Anders, Lotta and their sun Gustav arrived from Stockholm. After having some snacks and exchanging the latest news the five person crew cast off the lines and turned toward Stockholm's Wasahamn. All our guests were experienced sailors and we got many good tips for trimming the sails from them. Suwena sailed very well beating the wind tightly. Our speed was between the 5.5 and 6 knots while the wind angle was up to 30 degrees. We tacked often until on the entrance fairway to Stockholm the wind started to shift rapidly and we moved to use the horsepower.
Anders tightening the leech line
Lotta, Anders and Gustav sailing the Suwena
While we approached the Wasahamn Anders called the harbour master if there is a suitable place for Suwena. The maximum length allowed inside the inner harbour was 44 feet. We moored Suwena first to the outside dock where swell from passing ships was really bad. Andrus and Anders went walking to see if there would be any place suitable for Suwena. There were only a few stern buoys far enough. In the end we got a really good spot next to the harbour office as we planned to stay in Stockholm several days.
Tight entrance to Wasahamn harbour