Landfall in Sweden (Redux)

In lieu of my recent arrival to Sweden today (I flew overnight from Newark-Oslo-Stockholm, and am going on one hour of sleep and four cups of strong Swedish coffee), I wanted to re-post this blog from two years ago when Arcturus made her first arrival in Sweden. It was an emotional moment for Mia and I (especially Mia), and it seems simultaneously like yesterday and ages ago.

Arcturus has spent all of last winter hauled out in Öregrund - we'll launch her next week, and get back to living aboard for the remainder of the summer here in Scandinavia. No plans yet on where we're headed, but stay tuned. I'll be writing about it. In the meantime, enjoy this revisited post...scroll down for the photo gallery.

If you missed Part 1, click here.

If you missed Part 2, click here.

If you missed Part 3, click here.

Originally written in August 2012

August 11th, my last evening watch before we’d make landfall in Marstrand. I had one more dawn watch – 0500-0900 – the following morning. We were less than 100 miles from Marstrand.

It was easily the nicest day of the passage – blue sky, bright sunshine and shorts-and-t-shirt warm. A welcome reward after the ‘eventful’ night before.

On the evening of the tenth, I had predicted that the wind would die with the sunset and it did, in the middle of Mia’s watch (she has a knack for making the wind die). But before it did, it had kicked up a feisty sea. I was asleep on the starboard settee and the boat was sailing on a broad reach, the genoa on starboard and no mainsail. Earlier in the day a big wave slewed the stern round hard enough to disengage the windvane paddle (cleverly, Yves had designed a breakaway feature into the paddle for just such scenarios, or if the paddle were ever to hit a log or a turtle or something. Rather than break the paddle, it simply pops loose from it’s mount, and is held to the boat by bungee cord and an emergency piece of lashing line that normally just hangs loose when the vane is engaged). I hung off the transom to reattach it (see photo above).

When the wind eased off, the sea remained. Mia was sitting on the galley countertop and watched as a wave larger than the rest crested over the port stern quarter, filled the cockpit and cascaded down the companionway. I woke up with the boat pinned down to starboard and the splash having doused my sleeping bag. The water reached all the way to my head, which was facing forwards, and about amidships. It was nice out otherwise, so all we could do was laugh about it. I discovered later that the bilge under the engine was overflowing – the cowl vent over the lazarette had been open to the wave, the water filling that locker and the bilge.

An hour later Mia woke me again to furl the sails and start the engine when the wind finally gave up for good. The next eight hours and two watches were spent gripping the tiller and steering through sleepy eyes. The wind returned the next morning, around nine, and we started sailing again, fast, wing-on-wing, a welcome respite from duty at the helm. The windvane cannot steer when the boat is motoring until we get a tiller pilot to adapt it, so for the time being, we have to hand-steer when motoring. Otherwise, good old Sune the Driver has the helm in the lightest of breezes, so long as we ca keep moving. 

Mia had made some extraordinary almond-apple-cinnamon muffin/cookie things earlier that day. They were supposed to have been muffins, but without a proper muffin pan, they became more like cookies. The smell had woken me from my afternoon nap. I ate all four of mine (they were big, too) in on go.

And then we made landfall. All of a sudden Mia announced that she could see Sweden, and our ultimate goal was in sight. The weather cooperated, sort of. It was beautiful outside, crystal clear and warm, but the sea was flat and there was no wind to speak of. Knowing we’d make it in by nightfall no matter how slow we sailed, we were content to tack the remaining few miles, making only a knot or knot-and-a-half. There was no sign of the wind on the water – it was glassy – but there must have been some air aloft, because we kept moving. Had there been any sea at all we’d have gone nowhere.

About two miles offshore, we stopped the boat (actually, the wind died altogether and the boat kind of stopped on it’s own accord), and we took bucket showers, our first seawater baths since leaving Ireland, and our first washing since leaving Scotland, five days earlier. You can never fully appreciate a shower until you go several days without one. Standing on deck in the warm sunshine, completely naked, and dousing your body with icy buckets of North Sea water is one of life's ultimate refreshing experiences. After the shock of the first bucket, the next few are simply invigorating. The sense of cleanliness one gets after air-drying in the sun, shaving and putting on clean clothes is euphoric.

So we sailed the rest of the way into Marstrand, clean and fresh, physically and mentally, arriving at the crowded guest harbor late in the afternoon and finding a place among the holidaymakers at the marked

Gästhamn, with its friendly blue-and-yellow sign welcoming our arrival.

It took us three or four passes by the dock before we realized how everyone was tied up – bow-to on the floating pontoon, with fixed lines that hold the stern away from the dock, kind of like Med-mooring but without an anchor – and we took our place next to a big motoryacht and went ashore.

And with those first footsteps, we had made it to Sweden.