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The Southern Archipelago


Date: Saturday 26th July to Friday 1st August

Distance : 83 miles.

Weather : Mostly light winds, and bright sunshine.

North of Oskarshamn the coast really starts the break up into beautiful rocky islands. There is a major route (well, major for this area) which runs mostly north-south in and out of the coastal islands all the way to Landsort and on to the Stockholm archipelago. Its strange to see a wealth of water in all directions and this long string of sails purposely sailing in a single line.

The biker cavalcadeWe left Alfred and Hilkka (and Smilla the dog) in Idö and made for Vastervik and civilisation - despite their warnings. Vastervik turned out to be everything they said it wasn't - something of a disapointment. The town was absolutely heaving with people, rather a shock after the quiet of the islands. The town was also full of motorbikes. Apparently there was a huge biker rally taking place at nearby Gransö castle, and the day was spent listening to the bikers zooming up and down. The event culminated in a biker cavalcade on the Sunday - with apparently over 500 bikes. I didn't count them but it took 15 minutes for them to go past.

The entrance to LoftahammaThe weather looked to take a turn for the worse on Monday so rather than sit in the islands (we're a little cautious with Pat's leg in plaster), we went to Loftahammar. This is a yachting centre at the head of a five-mile long fjiord. Loftahammar itself lies in a pool accessed by the tiniest of channels - the red and green bouys are only just wider than the boat! The place however, was blissfully quieter than Vastervik, and we laid there while the rain went over.

We then set off in earnest to find some more harbours, and joined the great North Route... We poked our nose into Batsviken, and popped into Fyrudden, which Alfred had warned us wasn't much (right there too). We eventually spent the night - alone - in a small pool behind Kättilö.

It's strange, but we just come into harbours and put the hook down. Many locals do much theLocals tied to a rock in Gubo Kupa same, but there is always someone who makes a performance of it. One joined us in Kättilö, tied up to the rocks, then changed his mind and tried to anchor in the pool, tried it twice then gave up and left - odd.

In Fyrudden, Pat bought a 'solar shower'. (In essence a black bag you fill with water). It works! The fun of showering on deck is hugely increased by the knowledge that you don't have to clean the shower out afterwards - just chuck a bucket of water on the deck!

StrysoIn the morning - so still you can see your reflections on the water - we went round to have a look at Gubbö Kupa, from where you are supposed to be able to get a fine view across the archipelago. We toyed with going to Harstena (the mecca which everyone goes to), but decided to give it a miss - it was going to be busy, and we like the quiet spots. Instead,  after lunch we had a slow sail north towards Arko. We eventually stopped in a pool in Strysö -  (again accompanied by a local who tried three locations, gave up and went away)

We've realised that the beauty of these islands is enhanced by travelling North - the light is, behind you and is just something else. Everywhere you look, there is a boat nudged into a rock, but it never feels crowded.

From Strysö we made for Oxelösund. We knew it wouldn't be pretty (It's proudest possesion is its steelworks, and the town has all the architectural merit of Stevenage), but it had power and water and food!  Although we are largely self sufficient, I need mains electricity to charge my camera batteries.Cheers!

I'm amazed by this boat. A full days sailing and a night at anchor uses about 10% of the battery capacity, easily put back by an hour of motoring. It also has two water tanks and we don't even bother to fill the second!

Oh, and we now posess a talking bottle opener....


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