The Blue Coast

From Figeholm for about 120 nm up to the Stockholm Archipelago is the area called ‘The Blue Coast’. It is a mass of narrow waterways between small islands and natural harbours that we spent the next month or so exploring, popping into the occasional marina every two or three days to restock with fresh milk for tea and to fill the water tank!

Passages through the Blue Coast

Sailing through the islands!

This is a whole new kind of sailing, large scale charts are essential to show the passages and rocks and probably the most important item, a supply of post-it note arrows to mark exactly where you are! Sailing is usually just on the genoa making gybing and tacking easy as well as keeping our speed to around 2.5 knots – plenty fast enough when you are weaving your way around the tiny channels and avoiding ferries and motor boats at the same time. Tearing along at 5 knots, all sails flying through a 10 m wide gap with a another yacht coming towards you requires strong nerves! But sail almost everywhere we certainly did, moaning at those people who motored past!

Keeping an exact position is essential!

So our first call was Bradholm, an old logging station, but we soon made a rapid exit when we saw the partially sunken pontoons with rotten and broken posts sticking out of the water to catch the unwary!

Swinging off a buoy at Kintemala

We moved onto Kintemala and spent two days swinging off a buoy and riding out 30 knots winds that were scooping down the fjord. The only thing to watch was the series of naked Swedes jumping into the ice cold water from the floating sauna moored off the shore.

Floating sauna!

Now with a strong northerly wind set in we motored up through the islands towards Vastervik, stopping for lunch in a secluded bay at Stora Kuggan for lunch. Vastervik is the only large town before Stockholm and is famous for being either Bennie or Bjorn from ABBA’s home town. Anyway which ever one it is he has built a lovely waterside hotel and upgraded the waterfront.

Anchored at Stora Kuggan for lunch!

Andreas, the harbour master was very helpful and as we wanted to stay for 10 days while we returned home, he put us on a berth where he could see Grace from his own boat. However it was a virtually unusable berth in about 1.6 m of water and surrounded by rocks! Getting out will be fun!

Vastervik waterfront and marina

Vastervik St Pauls

Hiring bikes from the shop – after hiring bikes across Scandinavia I made the fundamental error of not picking the bikes myself. I thought I had nothing to worry about as there was a rack of shiny bikes outside. They were obviously only for show as from round the back, the owner bought out two of the most ratty and rusty bits of junk that could be called bikes. She assured us they were here best and most popular bikes. In fact, they were so popular that we should pay extra for insurance!

Swedish roads. Disappearing into dust!

Wobbling off, our vague plan was to reach Almvik and a cafe and an old brickworks museum. It all started well, a nice smooth cycle path along the edge of the Gambly Fjord. This then became a dirt track all getting less good then a set of no entry signs and barriers. Not to worry, this is Sweden and we have the right to roam. After a further mile the track finally disappeared. Suddenly there was a rustling from the bushes to our left as a large animal disappeared into the dense undergrowth. We decided to follow the telegraph poles, this was rapidly turning into a tick infested swamp. I knew I should not have worn shorts! Eventually with the help of google maps we made it back to civilisation and all a bit saddle sore.

Back to civilisation!

The Almvik brickworks was founded in the 1650’s, finally stopping production in 1979. The most fascinating thing was the huge wooden drying shed, which had 3 floors. A man cutting grass had worked on the water powered brick extruding machine and was full of stories from the days when they filled the drying shed three times a year with 1.5 million bricks at a time. The kiln itself was a chamber one, which was fed by wood chips from the local forests.

Almvik brickworks

Water powered brick extruder

Massive wooden drying shed

Chamber kiln

Wood chips feed the kiln!

For our return journey we decided to take the easy route back! Our first was a lovely swimming spot of the Fjord. Our idea was to pick up an ice cream on the way back. It was 18 km home and despite the Swedes love of ice cream there was nothing, not one ice cream shop! We even stopped at a very unconvincing Bronze Age crematorium in the hope of finding an ice cream!

A rather unconvincing Bronze Age crematorium!

However, all was not lost and once back in Vastervik, saddle sore, insect bitten, muscles aching and bruised we made up for it all with a Bennie or Bjorn from ABBA special ice cream!

A Bennie or Bjorn from ABBA special!

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