I was excited by our next destination – Ystad. This is the home of Henning Mankells detective, Wallander. I don’t like the Kenneth Branagh version, it is far too faithful to the book version. No, I like the Swedish TV adaptation which is more like a Scandi – Z Cars where they all drive Volvos and not Ford Zephyrs!
Passing Sweden’s most southerly point
We had an excellent 31 nm sail from Gislovs Lage, tacking our way up the coast passing the lighthouse on the Kullagrund reef which also marks Sweden’s most southerly point. Entry into Ystad was straightforward following a leading line of 036 degrees into the inner harbour where we moored to our first ever boom. These are low level metal booms with a float on the end, so not really big enough to take your weight and with small hoops for your lines that are almost impossible to reach and not as easy as UK style cleats which you can slip a rope over! However, I had the ultimate weapon in our locker. 18 months ago I had bought a yellow plastic stick with a hook on it and a string that you were supposed to spear all sorts of quayside mooring hardware and it would cleverly loop a line round to hold you nice and secure. Needless so say it had been a totally useless piece of junk that never worked. Its bright yellow colour only served to remind me of my folly every time I caught sight of it and it was rather too expensive just to throw it away. It did fall over the side one day but instead of having the decency to sink without trace it just gracefully bobbed to the surface and floated back to me!
This time it actually worked, spearing the loop and allowing our mooring line to go through and back on to the boat!
Grace secured to our first boom!
Ystad was a bit of a disappointment for a Wallander fan. There was no mention of it at all in the tourist office guides, no murder trail, no site of Wallander’s last arrest, nothing! What it did have was the oldest school in Sweden, The Latin House dating from the mid 1500s and rather a fine church which every night a watchman dressed in a big blue cloak and carrying a horn climbs the bell tower and emits a series of what can only be described as thunderous farts to indicate that all is well! Apparently this has been happening everyday since the 1600s (one has to assume that all has been well in Ystad since then).
The Latin House
Ystad’s gem of a church
In the next leg we set a new record for the distance sailed in a day, 42 nm to Simrisham. It was characterised by miserable gear failure; with the fridge failing again, so no cold wine and the gas bottle regulator leaking and letting a new gas bottle empty, so no hot food.
As usual we had been monitoring VHF channel 16 and during the day several dramas unfolded! The first was a helicopter and lifeboat rescue of someone with a heart attack on a cruise ship and the other was a warship which was trying to avoid a collision! Not all that successfully by the siren sounds we could clearly hear in the background!
We passed Kaseborg, the point where we started to turn north, we could see on the headland and silhouetted against the skyline that there was an imposing Viking stone ring in the shape of a longship. It felt quite atmospheric, just as it must have done 1000 years ago.
Viking longship standing stones
The sail into Simrisham was superb, with Grace on a beam reach almost all the way from Ystad. It is her fastest point of sailing and we stormed across the bay and into the harbour. Simrisham is a rather bleak and windswept sort of place. Once through the outer wall, yachts turn sharply to starboard into a big basin and moor to booms. Simrisham marked a significant point in our journey as from now on we sail north up Sweden’s east coast towards the Stockholm archipelago.
That night as we studied the weather forecast and where we might end up. It became clear that the weather was going to deteriorate over the next few days. We would need to take our opportunity to get to Ahus or Solvesborg while the weather held if we were to get Alan back to a convenient railway station for his flight home from Copenhagen and the start of the test match!
An added complication was that Ravelunda bay was closed for a week for military live firing exercises and we would have sail well offshore to be out of the prohibited areas if we were to get away from Simrishamn.
Alan steering us towards Solvesborg
Close hauled, with a rising westerly wind and reefing progressively, we crossed deep into the bay and started to feel the full force of the wind and the surprisingly big waves. Ahead of us was bright sunshine but behind us, the dark tumbling cumulus clouds showed that the weather front was catching us up. With Force 5 winds, pocket handkerchief sails, Grace was flying across the waves at 5 knots. The sky around us darkened and the wind speed started to build, first 20 knots, then 25 knots, Force 6 and a ‘yachtsman’s gale’ and then on to 28 knots, Force 7. The pitching and rolling was now becoming a bit unpleasant as Grace came off the waves and her bows dug into the troughs. We could turn towards Ahus but that would mean sailing directly into the waves with the corresponding increase in strain on us and the gear! We could run towards Karlsham or Ronneby, it would be more comfortable and we had seen other yachts make that choice but it would have meant many more hours in the gale. Continuing to Solvesborg was still the best option, although there would be a long and twisting leg into the yacht haven. Once in the river mouth we should be sheltered and out of the wind.
Grace dug in and slogged her through the waves and within 2 hours we had reached the buoyed channel that marked the deep water approach and we started to feel the benefit of the approaching land as the wind fell to 18 to 22 knots. A large ship, laden with wooden pit props was making its way out and that showed our turn point into the estuary. Past the ship dock we followed a series of leading lines down the well buoyed but thankfully sheltered channel, enjoying the now smooth water to moor between two booms.
The ship showed us the way in! And made a good windbreak too!
Grace snug in her berth
Kettle on, waterproofs off and huge ice creams bought from the ice cream ship (yes it really is a floating ship, Swedes love their ice cream and sailing, so the ideal combination!) when we paid our harbour dues. We were given extra large portions to make up for the confusion over how to pay – apparently we were the first people who actually wanted to pay!
Ice cream all round!
Relaxing we watched impressed as a blue German yacht sailed up the channel on its genoa, these must be hardcore sailors who never use the engine to manoeuvre into their berth. This will be impressive……..surely they won’t sail all the way? Suddenly there was a flurry activity on the foredeck, sheets flying and genoa flapping. They will slow down won’t they?…..No! The boat crashes into the berth next to us, its bows lifting up on to the pontoon itself and bending its thick metal frame.
We took the mooring lines of two relieved people. Their engine had failed. In the gales and their genoa had jammed and they were unable to reef it! Seems like they had quite a ride! Within hours, they had packed up their belongings, locked the boat and were on the train home! I suspect it would be sometime before they would return!
Solvesborg, other than having a handy train station so Alan could return to Copenhagen Airport also had an interesting fountain in the town square of a couple fondling (apparently Ask and Embla from Norse mythology), what must be the smallest tourist information centre in Sweden, ‘pussplats’ signs where you can kiss, Europe’s longest cycle bridge and the interesting 12th century St Nicholas church and monastery, now a museum.
Ask and Embla
The smallest tourist centre?
Europe’s longest cycle bridge!
Rhune stones at the church