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Note: This was originally from my hand-written journal, written on 20 August. I copied it to the computer, changed it to the past tense and edited/added a few things here and there...

The south coast of Sweden, the beginnings of the Baltic, proved slow conditions for our little boat. We’d decided long ago not to motor – fuel is nearly four times the price in Sweden as it is back in the USA – and we enjoy the challenge of sailing everywhere rather than giving in to the diesel. Plus, the diesel isn’t exactly reliable, so it’s not really a choice.

Just as I thought we might be able to lay the point of land east of Ystad – after confirming that the shooting range just offshore of the town was quiet until noon – the wind shifted firmly into the east and has us sailing on starboard tack due north, directly into town. I tacked, and we hobby-horsed along on port in choppy seas and light easterly headwinds, not exactly ideal conditions for our 24-foot waterline.

Mia woke me up earlier that morning. A squall was blowing through and the wind got right up into the 20s, the boat hard pressed under full working sails (the white ones). I’d forgotten what it was like to heel. Mia handed the main entirely and retired to her bunk. Gradually I began to set more sail as the wind eased off. First two reefs hoisted in the mainsail, then right the way up about thirty minutes later. Then we needed more wind.

I almost wrote that the conditions were ‘miserable.’ They’re not actually. Yes, we’re making miserable progress – that’s a given sailing this boat to windward – but it was actually quite nice outside. I was dressed in shorts and a long-sleeve shirt, the sun was shining and while

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hobby-horsed a bit, the motion was okay. We weren’t really going anywhere. But then so what? I’ve really gotten better at the patience game (this sentence originally read ‘good at the patience’ game, but maybe I’m not quite there yet). We would get to Visby when we got there, and I was content in the moment. It was soon time for breakfast, and that always makes me feel good.

In the past twenty-four hours since leaving the canal, we’ve been sailing on every point of sail, on both tacks. When the wind came up, it didn’t stay up. Initially we sailed close-hauled with full sail. Then when the squall came, we carried on under genoa and mizzen for a while, until that wasn’t enough. Then I hoisted two reefs in the mainsail. Then the full main. Then I took two reefs again when the wind increased later in the day, before nightfall. Then we were becalmed.

-

By the next day we were off the island of

Öland

, and making our way north again. We’d passed the southernmost point of our journey since arriving in Ireland last year when we finally tacked round Ystad. But it was still agonizing progress. The Baltic Sea so far was unimpressing me. Strong wind, then no wind. Endless leftover seas, from everywhere. Dampness in the air. I was so tired the night before that I decided (not for the first time), that

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would be a daysailer from now on, that I would get a nice warm, dry house and be a full-time writer. Enough with the sea. But then again it’s always like that when I am tired, no matter what boat I’m on.

It had got to the point then that the suitability of my clothing (we hadn’t done laundry since Inverness, in Scotland) is determined solely by how damp it was.

Matt Rutherford showed Mia and I a trick – written on a napkin in a bar in Annapolis – of how to get the mainsail to stop smacking in light or no wind. Simply tie a line onto one of the reef points and run it to a shroud. It works.

The barometer was slowly sinking since we left Malm

ö

– 20 millibars every hour – which I hoped was a sign of a fresh westerly. We were only 80 miles from Visby. We wouldn’t need it for long, just something to get us there.

I badly needed a shower. The boat badly needed a thorough scrubbing as well, inside and out, and a re-organizing. What a relief it’s going to be unloading all this stuff in Enk

öping

. We carrying with us stuff that was never meant to stay on the boat, but that we wanted to have in Sweden. The Sailrite sewing machine for one. The old galley table, which I plan on turning into a new, smaller galley table. The winter cover (which is enormous). The sun cover that drapes over the boom (and really came in handy on those 100º days in Annapolis). Several hardbound books that will eventually make up a large part of the library Mia and I want to have in our house one day. Thirty gallons of water in jugs that we had along for emergency rations offshore last year. The outboard bracket and the outboard, after that plan was scuttled. Five headsails, including an enormous spinnaker, and a light-air drifter, plus a mizzen staysail, all occupying the portside cockpit locker. So one can imagine the space restrictions. We haven’t used the vee-berth in over a year (it’s full of stuff). Our small interior is currently limited to the main cabin and the galley, or about a 10x4-foot space. Cozy.

Mia was tired on her watch. She only got about an hour-and-a-half off. We had rigged the small jib on the pole, and then ate dinner during my watch.

We decided – with Clint’s input – to keep the brass tea kettle that last year got damaged on the crossing. Not really damaged – the handle came undone from the base, probably due to the moisture, and I glued it back on with 5200. The kettle was a gift from my mom and dad for our wedding. It’s modeled in an old-fashioned style after what they used to use on sailing ships. The wooden handle has a brass plaque on it with

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inscribed on the top. I spoke to the guy who they bought it from at the boat show last year, and who gladly said they’d replace it. But since Mom died, I kind of want to keep it. She picked it out, it was in her hands. Plus, it has character now. It’s crossed an ocean (and looks like it has). So we’ll keep it.

Gotland used to be near the equator (no really). The remains of ancient coral reefs ring the island like the barrier reefs in the Pacific, shelving close to shore and dropping abruptly. They’re listed as hazards to navigation in the cruising guide. What’s more, the whole of Sweden’s landmass is rising from the sea, the result, apparently, of its being relieved of the immense pressure of ice from the last Ice Age.

Russia and China are HUGE.

Where does all the dust on the boat come from? The top edges of everything are covered in a fine layer of grey, black and white specks. What then, do the inside of my lungs look like?

There was an awfully annoying northeast swell rolling in off the starboard bow, possibly the cause of my ramblings that night. The wind was south-southwest, off the post quarter, so we sort of bucked the swell, heading into it. The wasn’t enough wind to really push the boat through it, so it just rolled incessantly. It’s always something you know.

Try and sing this one through fast:

There’s a hole, there’s a hole, there’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a hole, there’s a hole, there’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a hole, there’s a hole, there’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a hole, there’s a hole, there’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a wart on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a wart on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a hole, there’s a hole, there’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a hair on the wart on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a hair on the wart on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a hole, there’s a hole, there’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a fly on the hair on the wart on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a fly on the hair on the wart on the frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

There’s a hole, there’s a hole, there’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.

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