From Finland to the Kiel Canal
Clive Britten recalls a summer yacht delivery from Åland to Kiel.
The early Baltic summer had been unsettled, with the occasional sunny day. We were sailing Eventually, a brand new Nordbaelt 50, on her maiden voyage home from Tallinn to Ramsholt. Family and friends had already booked flights to join the boat, and we needed to be in Stockholm in two days’ time.
We left Mariehamn on Åland in the far south-west of Finland on an overcast day, in 25 knots of wind, bound for Rödlöga in the outer Stockholm Archipelago, a passage of 25 miles. We put in a reef and enjoyed an exhilarating sail at 10 knots.
We entered the skärgård (skerries) north of Tjärven, but as the harbour at Rödlöga is very exposed, we carried on to find more sheltered waters. At midday, we came across the small harbour of Furusund and moored bows to, with views across the channel to the island of Yxlan.
After a leisurely morning, we left for Sandhamn in the outer skärgård. We rounded the northern tip of Yxlan and weaved our way through this enchanting landscape of rocks and wooded islands. The archipelago is beautiful, but more sheltered and manicured than the wilds of Finland.
Sandhamn is the ocean racing base of the Royal Swedish Yacht Club and was busy with visiting yachts. The next morning was bright and cold and we motor-sailed from Sandhamn, bound for Saltsjöbaden, where crew were joining us. The channel to the south of Ingarö, with its steep granite cliffs, was our first taste of a Nordic fjord. From there we motorsailed on to Napoleonviken on Ägnö where we moored Nordic style, bow to the rocks, and enjoyed a memorable barbecue picnic ashore.
We left early for Gotland, 80 miles away across open sea. Stockholm Week was in full swing and Visby was rocking; the marina had been transformed into a giant outdoor disco. We spent a day exploring the medieval city of Visby, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Leaving Visby after lunch, we overnighted in Byxelkrok on the north-east corner of Öland, before making for Kalmar, on the mainland. We were keen to visit Christiansø, a tiny jewel of a Danish island northeast of Bornholm, but knew that the harbour was very small. We decided to sail overnight for an early arrival, to boost our chance of getting a mooring. We left Kalmar at 1800, weaving between the offshore wind turbines on both sides. As we came south and the light faded, we picked up the Utlängan and Utklippan lights to starboard. There was enough darkness to enjoy the shooting stars and enough light to see the horizon.
Christiansø is dominated by its 17th Century fort and redoubtable walls, with cannons still in place. We left Christiansø, bound for Ystad on the Swedish mainland. The sun shone, the wind was favourable and we were making good speed, so we continued west, eventually putting into Gislövs Läge.
The next day we made for Klintholm, passing the impressive chalk cliffs of Møn, before a long passage to Kiel, in warm sunshine, where we arrived just before the storm rolled in the next day.
The Grand Hotel at Saltsjöbaden, one of many historical buildings to visit
Kalmar castle in Sweden faces the island of Öland
Eventually at sea, making good speed despite light winds