We had a very good sail from Åland to Sweden. Winds were very light at 7 – 10 knots, but because the seas were so flat, we were able to make progress at 5 – 6 knots most of the way – and the boat speed brought us into a close hauled position (though true wind was actually behind the beam).
Shortly after the Finnish customs left us, I noticed another boat heading in roughly the same direction – we have a race! – and one that we were not doing very well at… He was about a mile off our port side but edging slightly closer and after a couple of hours had moved right in front of us – just a 100 yards or so. His was a smaller lighter Swedish boat – but he was getting everything out of her. I took up position right behind him, on the same course and studied his sail configuration! He had his mainsail trimmed rather differently to Toodle-oo! and it was obviously working better for him – so we ended up mimicking his sail shape and then started catching up! We passed him doing .2-.3 knots faster – by virtue no doubt of having larger sail area and we both made our way to Sweden in fine style – him now on the starboard side and dropping back then gaining as wind gusts allowed.
We reached the islands – there are tens of thousands of them – and various rocks jutting out all over the place. We’d selected one particular island and as we rounded up to take down sails, our Swedish companion did the same – we’re headed to the same spot. This is good news as we figure he has local knowledge and we’d be able to follow him into the anchorage.
We’ve developed a new and necessary routine – I have the Chart plotter in front of me while Laurie watches the charts on the iPad. Ostensibly, they are the same charts (Navionics) but in reality the presentation and actual content differs quite a lot. As we were threading our way between a couple of very tight rocks, Laurie points out a rock shown on the iPad, but not on my chart plotter. As I looked up to identify if I could see anything, I watched the Swedish boat pile straight into it while doing about 6 knots. Instant stop! Looks like everything was OK – some screaming kids and no doubt some hurt pride. Unfortunately it rather put paid to a possible social evening as we later saw them gingerly motoring to a rock side anchorage a mile or so away.
We’ve been too chicken to try the Swedish mooring technique of setting a stern anchor and driving up to a rock bow first, jumping off and attaching two lines to whatever is available. Our boat is rather high at the bow and with a non-walkthrough pulpit (upgrade is being considered) – and besides, Laurie refuses!!! Can’t say I’m too thrilled about the idea anyway – we have a perfectly good dingy to get us to and from land. This night we therefore anchored out in a well-protected bay all to ourselves so we went skinny dipping – swimming around the boat in the near salt free 78F water and had a wonderful evening.
The following morning we set off for Stockholm – still some 75 miles away along a tortuous route amongst the islands. It was a very hot and almost windless day – so ended up being rather noisy. We ended up anchored at another island about 15 miles outside of the city – along with a host of fellow anchorers – no skinny dipping tonight! Had a fun time watching a group of 5 or 6 teenagers jumping off a small cliff into the water – except one couldn’t. It ended up that the whole anchorage was watching and egging him on – and when he finally took the plunge the whole place erupted!
Tomorrow we head to Stockholm proper – and our first OCC event – on its last scheduled day!