Sunday, August 29, 2010

Into the Archipelago

La2-demis-stockholm-archipelago

The ‘Archipelago’ is a wedge-shaped bay, filled with islands, lying between Stockholm (pink, at the left of the map) and the Baltic Sea on the east side of Sweden.  Consisting of over 20,000 islands and shielded from tides and waves, it’s home to a lot of vacation cottages, nature refuges, and some of the best sailing around.  It reminds me of the San Juan islands of Washington state, the lakes of northern Minnesota, or coastal areas off Maine: tall evergreens, rounded granite, winding waterways, and beautiful quiet sunsets.  The Swedish sailors leave the water around the middle of August, leaving weeks of good weather and empty moorages.

We chartered a 37 foot Bavaria cruiser, well-outfitted, good gadgets, and roomy.  It has some peculiarities (port windows that open the wrong way and let rain and spray in) and is a bit broad across the beam, but it’s responsive and stable.  The folks at Boat Charter Stockholm are wonderful, they have things ready, the orientation is quick, and they are generous about letting the boat out early and returning late.  Charter costs are about half the rate of Turkey or Greece, and we were able to get a good four days out on the water for 1000 euro, about the cost of budget hotels and meals over comparable period.

10 A sailing holiday is an active holiday: there’s always lots to do.  I enjoy navigating, handling lines and sails, and cooking. Our mooring skills got better each night; the Swedish park with the front tied and the rear anchored, so everyone has a role when we pull in and out.  Even so, we hooked someone’s stern line on our keel pulling into a crosswind – 24 no damage done, but embarrassing as our victim is a captain on Norwegian Cruise Lines.

At ground level, the Archipelago is a maze of islands, threaded with shallows in unlikely places.  All are well marked on maps and in the channels, but we’re always checking charts, finding poles, and watching the wind.  There’s a temptation to over-rely on the electronics, sort of a souped-up TomTom.  But, I still like a chart and compass and do the main coursework watching the land and the water.

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Disclaimer: I paid my own way for this trip, and any remarks about the charter or the boat are my own opinions.

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