Expert on board: How to moor a boat to rocks
Chris Beeson demonstrates a useful skill for adventurous cruisers
If you’ve never sailed in the Swedish or Finnish archipelagoes, start making plans for next summer. These unique cruising grounds must be on every sailor’s bucket list.
Each has thousands of islands, some forested and populated with summer houses, roads, bridges and ferries buzzing in and out, some with nothing more than flat granite, a sauna, a bin and a loo. The islands to weather cut down the fetch so there’s hardly ever any sea running and, regardless of the conditions, you will always be able to find a sheltered spot to stop for lunch or overnight. The strangest thing is that, despite a very real feeling of being in the wilderness, none of them is more than a daysail away from a city. It is a sensational place to go sailing and, if you’re prudent enough with your pilotage to avoid the many mostly-charted rocks, you will have an experience like no other. Ask anyone who’s sailed there.
The summer sailing season isn’t a long one, June to September, but the long ‘white nights’ let you wring the most out of every day. Winds tend to be light and variable during the season but you won’t have to wait too long for a decent sailing breeze as the weather here is dictated, like ours, by the Azores High.
Many of the larger islands have marinas or harbours if you need supplies or electricity, or to pump out your holding tank (you can’t discharge overboard) but the real treat about sailing here is finding a quiet, sheltered little spot that you can call your own. To enjoy this tranquility though, you will need to master the peculiarly Baltic technique of mooring to rocks. It’s not exclusively Baltic – it’s used in parts of Ireland and the Med, and can be useful anywhere without a significant tidal range or strong currents – but up here it’s de rigueur.
Like box berthing, which we looked at in the August issue, it’s not exactly difficult (with two or more people on board) but you need to understand the technique and you can learn a lot by seeing how the locals do it. Of course you need to practise it too, and you’re likely to mess it up a couple of times. Fortunately this is a very low-speed manoeuvre so the chances of seriously damaging anything are much reduced.
‘You can learn a lot by seeing how the locals do it’