What it feels like

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I'm finally caught up to the present. Those last few posts were my efforts at purging some content from my hand-written journal, which had actually accumulated more material than I expected. It was interesting re-reading what I had written in real-time and then translating it into the past tense. Hopefully it was interesting to read.

I'm writing from Portugal. Mia and I flew down to Faro yesterday and took a two-hour bus ride to Lagos to meet Kinship, the Saga 43 we sailed across the Atlantic earlier this summer. The boat is heading back to the Caribbean with the ARC Rally in November, and we are helping Tim sail it down to Las Palmas to prepare for the start. I slept like a child in the pullman berth next to Mia last night, a cool breeze wafting down the hatch, ideal sleeping weather. We plan to leave on Saturday (it's Thursday now, and it's bad luck to leave on a Friday), and have a few odds and ends to prepare on the boat before then.

Arcturus is hauled out in Västerås, the town where Mia's older sister Frida lives with Micke and their two kids, Tilde and Emil. It's also where Mia's mom Annika works, and is only about a 30 minute car ride from the house in Dunderbo. We left Djurgården and the Vasa Marina in downtown Stockholm last week (our four-day stay included a visit from Volvo Ocean Race legend Magnus Olsson and his partner Vika, who cycled down to the boat for some coffee. I interviewed him for an upcoming Yachting World article on code sails for cruising boats. Stay tuned for the full transcript of that incredibly interesting interview, which I'll post here in conjunction with the release of the article).

Anyway, after discovering the cost of hauling out in Stockholm, we decided that the extra 60 miles and one passage through a lock into inland Lake Mälaren was worth the effort, so we set off through the city. Literally. Stockholm is a city built upon islands, in my mind the most beautiful city in the world, and the only city I could actually see myself living in. North of Södermalm is Hammarbykanalen - after passing beneath a drawbridge that marks the entrance to the city proper,  ('inside the tolls', as they say - the bridge has an automated system that charges your car a fee as you pass beneath it, in an effort to discourage traffic downtown. Apartment and housing costs skyrocket inside the tolls, as one might expect) you come to the lock into Mälaren. Mia used to have an apartment adjacent to the Globen Arena, the big indoor stadium in Stockholm where the NHL opened it's season not long ago and where we saw Coldplay for the first time, and I used to run along Hammarbykanalen. There are many old wooden and steel workboats along the canal, many of which are now used as liveaboard boats, and it's one of my favorite running spots in the city. It was surreal steering

Arcturus through the canal and seeing it for the first time from the water.

Once into Mälaren, the city receded behind us and we continued north and west, the first time our longitude started heading in the other direction since we left Annapolis. The scenery quickly changed from the rocky limestone islands of the archipelago to thickly forested areas. We had a fantastic close-quarters sail the entire way up to Enköping, the wind from the west and our course altering between a beam reach and close-hauled. We never had to tack, and made over 7 knots at times in the blustery wind and flat sea. I used to loathe sailing in tight quarters and longed to feel the swell of the ever-undulating open sea, but after nearly 8,000 ocean miles in the last 12 months, inland sailing felt new and fresh again, and a welcome relief. We soaked it up, the boat too, heeling to the wind and galloping along.

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Last summer Mia and I got married outside Enköping, in a small lodge overlooking Mälaren. It had been a little pipe dream of mine to have Arcturus anchored just off the shoreline that Mia and I could retreat to after the reception. Our Atlantic crossing plans got delayed a year, but we stuck to our wedding plans and slept on the floor of the neighbors small cottage back in Dunderbo, Mia's mom laying out a mattress for us and a little spread of champagne and brie that we could celebrate with. We were some of the first to leave the party and still didn't get home until around 2am, when it was by then very light outside that close to the Swedish midsummer.

I think Mia and I were both slightly overwhelmed and a little bit in disbelief that we actually, finally, had Arcturus that close to where we got married, that close to home. We anchored out off a small island about a mile or so from where the wedding party was. The moon was nearly full that night and the stars were out. One of the halyards woke me up banging in the middle of the night. I was angry at first, especially at Mia (she slept right through it), but when I went on deck to secure it, I was a bit taken aback by the beauty of the evening, and took a moment to enjoy it before going back to sleep. That was  last Wednesday, the last night we spent on the boat.

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The next morning we took the boat into Enköping's canal, right on up to the little cafe where we first met the nice folks on Lagom, which I wrote about in a Spinsheet article a few years ago, and where my mom, dad, sister and her boyfriend Kevin had some cocktails a few days before the wedding last summer. Mia's mom, dad, grandmother and a family friend Anne-Marie were there to greet us on the pier (and brought along a traditional Swedish breakfast buffet, which we gorged ourselves on), the first time anyone had actually been waiting for us on the dock since we arrived in Sweden. Mia had tears in her eyes and I was more than a little bit in disbelief that we actually had reached the place we'd been talking about for so many years. We tied up to the peir, only a 20 minute car ride from Dunderbo and the house I like so much out in the countryside, where I spent last winter with the neighbor out dog-sledding in the forest, and there we were on the boat. I jogged the last 10km or so back to the house, and can actually say that I made it from Annapolis all the way to Dunderbo under my own effort, on the boat and on foot, and that was a neat feeling.

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So Arcturus is now wrapped up for the winter, her rig taken down, the sails back at the house in Dunderbo (4-year-old Emil helped me wash them in the front yard, and we hung them up from the flag pole to dry. The spinnaker caught a little gust of wind and knocked over the kids' swingset and nearly took out a window when one of the metal rings in the clew blew into the house) and all of our stuff - there is a lot of it - stacked up in Mia's tiny bedroom.

We're content for the first time in a long time, the culmination of our plan that was three years in the making, and many more in thinking about it. For the first time in a while I'm content in the knowledge that I don't know what the future holds for us or our boat. But I have a good feeling it will be interesting.