Submarines, statues and the islands…..and a new fridge! Karlskrona, Torhamn, Kristianopolis and beyond.

Once out of Hano and free of the ‘bin’ boat we set a course for Aspo, with a F4 from the south west we sped along on a board reach, we had left the bad weather earlier in the week and were enjoying a swift sail with Grace flying along at over 5 knots. The wind was gusting 15 knots and we reefed both the genoa and the main without any loss of speed as we surfed across the bay on the deep swell. We were soon on the ‘A’ approach to the Karlskrona fjord on a bearing 012 degrees. This takes you through the large barrage that runs across the entrance between the islands of Aspo and Tjurko that was built in the 1600’s and re-inforced regularly ever since. It is still the home of the Swedish Navy and there are plenty of warnings in the pilot books to look out for the 70 knot patrol boats that can suddenly appear! There is a fine looking stone fortress on the Aspo side, behind which lies a small marina.

The fortress at Aspo guarding the barrage across the Fjord to Karlskrona.

By now the wind had built up to 20 knots, and the narrow entrance to Aspo marina would not have been practical because of the strong wind and cross currents. We went onto Karlskrona, the wind only dropping until we were almost in to the Gasthamn! We had planned on a few days stay as our fridge had broken down and needed a replacement which I had ordered from the Chandlery in the marina. I was sceptical as to whether they would actually order it as the only details they took were ‘the English people from Grace’. At 0900 next morning I was at their door as they opened and sure enough there was a fridge unit with a label on it saying ‘English Grace’!

The fridge failed last year on day 2 of our trip and had to be changed in Dunkirk so it was particularly annoying to have to replace it yet again. However watching Pierre ‘the fridge expert’ install (bodge?) it last time and with the benefit of YouTube I felt confident that I could not do any worse! And later that day after an hour, a couple of skinned knuckles and bruised elbow we did indeed have a fully working fridge and cold milk for our tea! The only consolation was that with the weakness of the Kroner it was not quite such eye watering expensive as last time! But we clearly had spent plenty by the time we were ready to leave the shop that the owner came out and gave us a lift back to the boat with all our purchases, some of which have actually been rather good!

Finally a useful purchase! A boarding ladder that does not break under my weight!

Karlskrona ferry to the islands.

Karlskrona has been the base of the Swedish navy since 1650’s. It is one of the best and most complete example of a navy base from the 17th century. The maritime museum is simply breathtaking, especially the gallery of the figureheads and submarines……we spent many happy hours playing with the boats. The figureheads were amazing works of art and as for the submarines, they had the first Swedish submarine, number 1 and a Holland design dating back to 1907, this is similar to the one that sank off Rhos on Sea and then a much more modern hunter killer submarine from about 1990. The Swedes always have had quite a large submarine fleet and are very conscious of their Russian neighbours. They seem to have spent quite a lot of effort trying to hunt their submarines in Swedish waters with quite a bit of success! Oh and the SEK115 Sunday lunchtime buffet is a treat!

The wonderful maritime museum.

Plenty of boats to play on!

The beautiful figurehead gallery.

The first Swedish submarine built in 1907 was still in service in 1923!

The last generation of hunter killer submarines.

View through the torpedo tube!

The winds remaining brisk, as amply demonstrated by my 3 failed attempts to tie up to the fuel pontoon we decided to take the ‘inland’ route through the archipelago as this would be more sheltered with either Torhamn or Sandhamn as our next stop. But first we tried to get fuel at Karlskrona but after 3 attempts in the gusty conditions to get onto the fuel pontoon we gave up and set off for Torhamn. With just the genoa we sailed under the OstGjarden high level bridge.

Under the high level bridge and the start of the islands.

Then suddenly the real islands begin with a vengeance! This was our first exposure to ‘island sailing’ and it is terrifying, the channels are just a few metres wider than the boat, with rocks emerging everywhere. In places the depth is only 2 m and we draw 1.6 m and the water levels here are about 20 cm lower than usual! So it is going to tight!

The route through the islands to Torhamn

It was with some relief that we arrived at Torhamn. It is a tiny harbour and our threat to raft against a large Halberg Rassey had them scrambling to help squeeze us in against the harbour wall. It is amazing how readily people are to help you when they think you might tie up to them!

Approaching Torhamn, with marquee and large screen tv for the World Cup!

It was easy to see that Sweden were playing football that night!

Sweden was playing football that night and even on this isolated peninsula the cafe had a marquee and large tv screen! However we huddled in the cockpit surrounded by mozzie coils burning to fight off the amazing clouds of midges. We had originally set off to see some stone age cave paintings but had to retreat for safety of the boat to get away from the tsunami of midges that greeted us!

Next morning, as we left a large 50 foot German yacht came in and promptly tried to tie up to yesterday’s Halberg Rassey! Their relief was palpable when we started our engine and made preparations to leave! We were now heading North up Sweden’s east coast. Again strong winds made the journey to Kristianopolis quick but not very pleasant! Grace was plunging through the swell so much so that as I cut the bread for our lunchtime sandwiches my feet, chopping board and bread were all in the air every time she fell in to a wave trough! As we approached the harbour mouth, unsurprisingly the genoa furler jammed and we could not get the genoa in! This necessitated a very unpleasant trip to the pitching bows to try to secure it from flapping and to bring it under some sort of control! Then suddenly we were in the harbour, moored bows too in perfect calm and peace!

Out of the wind in Kristianopol.

Repairing the genoa after it jammed.

Kristianopolis was originally built by Christian 3rd of Denmark and fortified with an impressive set of walls. When the area was ceded back to Sweden in the late 16th century in one of the many treaties the Danes and Swedes signed and then tore up, the Swedes promptly flattened the entire town except for the church. The church has an impressive tree painted alter and some interesting Royal graffiti!

Tree painted alter.

The remains of the walls now encompass a holiday camp! Continuing bad weather forecasts meant that we were keen to move onto Kalmar where we could wait for the weather to improve. Our first stop on the way would be Bergvara at the start of the Kalmar Sund, and then by leaving very early in the morning we planned to race up to Kalmar before the storms hit later that day.

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