I'm writing from the newly organized nav station on Isbjorn, our S&S Swan 48. We're stern-to at the dock in Marstrand, the center of sailing on Sweden's west coast. Next weekend in fact is the RC44 Cup, a creation of Russell Coutts that, according to the event website, "links the world's most highly rated sailors with heavy profiles from the international business community. The RC44 is sealed by an 8-man squad consisting of 50% professionals and 50% amateurs." The last time we were here in early July, the M32 World Championships were just wrapping up. Swedes seem to love the racing, and the course is lined on three sides by rocky cliffs thronged with spectators. In the summertime, these same cliffs are used for swimming - the water's only in the mid-60's, but that doesn't stop anyone.
We're back in Marstrand, but we're supposed to be in Stockholm! Isbjorn made landfall here in July after crossing the North Sea from Shetland. (I'm not going to write about the Scotland trip just yet, but suffice it to say it was seriously an adventure of a lifetime. And getting to Fair Isle & Shetland, two places very high on my cruising bucket list, and until now elusive, felt extremely satisfying). Anyhow, my dad and some sailing friends from the Chesapeake, Tom & Darlene, joined us here in Marstrand for what was supposed to be a fun delivery/cruise around the bottom of Sweden and up into the Baltic and to Stockholm, where our next trip with crew would begin and see us sail further north and to Finland, where we'd visit the Nautor yard in Jakobstad. That plan got scuttled almost immediately - on our second day on the boat, we had a gnarly beat against a strong southerly wind and a wickedly short, steep chop. Neither Mia nor myself were in any mental state to do that kind of sailing - this was meant to be a 'vacation' after all - so we turned around. At the same moment, Isbjorn submarined her bow and green water sluiced all the way into the cockpit, confirming our decision was the right one!
So we spent two weeks cruising the west coast instead, an area of the country we missed on Arcturus when we first sailed her across five years ago. We did 15 or 20 mile days, sleeping in late in the mornings, drinking wine in the evenings and truly enjoying ourselves rather than push-push-pushing. We took my dad & our friends up to Mia's family's house by train, leaving the boat in Stenungsund for a couple of days, Mia & I returning last night and motorboating down to Marstrand last night.
Instead of going to Finland, the next crew will join us here in Marstrand for a mission to Stockholm. Weirdly, we're arriving here on almost the exact same weather pattern we had when we got here before - a strong low approaching from the west, with rain initially, and LOTS of wind forecast for the next few days from the west. I'm hoping to get out of here on Sunday on a westerly wind to shoot us around Skåne on a favorable breeze before it shifts back into the S. But there might be TOO much breeze - the local forecasts are calling for 16-23 meters/second in the afternoon on Sunday, which translates to 31-44 knots (!). Yikes. Just getting out of the damn harbor in that kind of breeze would be tricky, considering we're surrounded by small rocks and islets on all sides. So we shall see.
At any rate, I'm fully mentally prepared again for another big adventure, weather be damned. That little vacation sail with our friends was exactly the relaxing trip we needed after banging out over 5,500 miles since departing the BVI in May. We've got a mission now with the next crew - get Isbjorn to Stockholm! I like missions.