Sunday, 31 July 2016

Markermeer and Amsterdam

This morning bought a light northerly wind so we left Enkhuizen and went through the lock into the southern part of the Ijsselmeer, known as the Markermeer.  When we first visited Holland the Ijsselmeer was one huge inland lake, an enclosed arm of the sea.  However it seems they had trouble when there were strong northerly or southerly winds in that the water was driven to one one end, leaving hardly any at the other end. Now the lake is divided by a dyke across the middle with locks through it.

Sadly after a few hours our favourable wind petered out so we ended up motoring.
Marken lighthouse

The first picture shows the picturesque lighthouse at Marken, a few miles from Amsterdam.

Bonita's elderly engine has been given plenty of use on this trip and can usually get us along at about 4 knots in smooth water. As we were approaching the lock into the canal that runs to Amsterdam however we noticed a serious reduction in power. We launched the dinghy to investigate this, and with the engine turned off it is possible to reach over the side from the dinghy and feel the propeller. We found that the prop was completely choked with a huge mass of long stringy Markermeer weed. The photo shows a small part of the weed  that I removed.  After this the engine worked fine and normal service was restored.

Lesson from this no 1 : a great advantage of a propeller mounted to one side of the boat ( quarter mounted) is that it is easy to reach if anything gets tangled up in it. I have previously cleared a length of rope caught on the propeller by reaching down from the dinghy.
Markermeer weed
Lesson no 2: a great disadvantage of a quarter mounted propeller is that it is less well protected by the keel and is more likely to get tangled like this on weed or other floating rubbish.

This excitement over, we locked into the North Sea canal and moored up in a marina in Amsterdam. Here Calismarde's crew was strengthened by the arrival of William and Lucy, but sadly Ellen had to go home. She is going home by bus which will take hours and sounds hardly preferable to crossing the North Sea in a small boat.

There is much discussion of the weather forecasts and the prospects for heading westwards in the next day or two.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Ijsselmeer and Enkhuizen

There was only about 5 feet of water at our island last night -enough for Bonita but Calismarde needs 6 feet. Fortunately the bottom is soft mud. However the day started with Bonita towing Calismarde off the mud and into deeper water. We then locked out of the canal system at Lemmer and into the Ijsselmere. We all felt relieved to have a rest from innumerable locks and bridges

We had a brisk and at times wet sail into a squally SW wind, and by mid afternoon we entered the harbour at Enkhuizen. We didn't have time to look round Enkhuizen when we last came and today we were sorry that we got here too late to see the museum, which had been recommended to us.
Enkhuizen church spire

This is an ancient trading port and in the 17th century was important in the Dutch  East Indies trade. There are many fine buildings from this time. Its importance subsequently declined as ocean going ships got bigger and the harbour silted up, and it lost its trade to Amsterdam.

Church interior
Most of the Dutch coastline is flat and featureless and many coastal towns had churches with large and distinctive spires as an aid to navigation to guide sailors at sea. Sometimes the height and grandeur of the spire seems to be out of all proportion to the size of the church below. The photo shows the very fine spire on the 16th century church at Enkhuizen. The bells in the spire seem to be in constant activity. The second photo shows the inside of the church with the ceiling of the nave planked like the hull of a boat.

Traditional Dutch boats at Enkhuizen
We saw many traditional Dutch boats out sailing today, some of them very large boats. Many are about the size of a Thames sailing barge or larger, and many are over 100 years old. There are far more dutch barges under sail than there are active  Thames barges in the UK and its encouraging that the skills involved in maintaining and sailing these old boats are being handed down.

Friday, 29 July 2016


We had another day spent in the canals today but plenty of incidents. In the late morning we passed through the canals around the ancient town of Leeuwarden. These seemed to be even more challenging than the canals round Groningen. There are lots of bridges in quick succession, which means that a group of assorted boats of all shapes and sizes gets confined into a short stretch of the canal while waiting for the next bridge to open. Even those with quite manoeverable boats can find this difficult, especially if there is any crosswind. My tactic on Bonita is to tie up temporally to any moored boat alongside the canal untill the the other boats have stopped jostling for position. We have met some quite interesting people who live on  houseboats  like this, and they are mostly very understanding.
Poor Bonita is begining to look a bit travelworn after her long cruise, and several people have asked me if she is made of iron. I think this must be due to the rust stains on the topsides.

During our journey along the north Holland canals we have seen many lifting bridges sometimes of unusual design. There are obviously many opportunities for creative engineers in this country. The Dutch are renowned for their marine engineering skills. The attached photo shows an example of a lifting bridge where the section of roadway is raised obliquely by a lifting mechanism installed to one side of the road.

This evening we are moored at a small island in a lake a couple of miles north of Lemmer. The island is a desert island (in the traditional meaning of having no-one living on it, rather than the cartoonist's interpretation consisting of sand and a few palm trees). The girls made supper on Calismarde. At Lemmer we rejoin the open waters of the IJsselmeer.
Canals are OK and give an interesting insight into how some people live, but they are hard work. Sailing boats do much better in more open water.

Thursday, 28 July 2016


My crew today were Dave and Martha, who is on loan from Calismarde.

We spent the whole day motoring through North Holland on the 'fixed mast' route. There are only a relatively few canal routes where all the bridges open and so are suitable for boats with masts that cannot be lowered.  Our course today included negotiating the complex of multiple bridges in Groningen that caused D and myself so much trouble a few weeks ago. Fortunately today this was achieved without loss of paint. This was probably because the canal was less crowded today rather than any improvement in our skills.
Apart from Groningen which is a large city, much of our route was through peaceful farmland.

For a lot of today we had a brisk SW headwind with heavy rain showers. This made us feel much better about the decision we made yesterday to take the canal route rather than going in the open sea outside the Dutch Frisian islands. If we had spent the night in Borkum we would probably have stayed in port today.

We got as far as Dokkum before we came to a bridge which had closed for the night. I had never heard of Dokkum before but it is like many Dutch canal-side towns. Much of it is ornate, tidy, well laid out and well preserved. We spoke to a couple of local residents who were keen to point out its points of special interest. It has some fine old buildings: the town hall (Stadthuis) dates from 1610.

The Stadthuis
We had supper in a restaurant by one of the residential canals. Motoring old boats down canals is surprisingly tiring and we have today negotiated many locks and opening bridges. We do however get a later start tomorrow as the bridge in front of us doesn't open until 9am.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

In the Eemskanaal

We woke in Norderney at first light - about 4.30am - to catch the tide. The tides in the seegatts between the islands are quite strong and getting them right for both the departure and arrival is a major factor in planning any trip, almost regardless of the wind. As it turned out we had fairly light winds today.

Our initial plan was to stop at Borkum, the most westerly of the German Frisian islands, and a journey of about 40 miles. However the forecast for the next few days is for persistent light to moderate unfavourable winds.

We have several weather forecasts available on the Internet that we routinely look at, and as they don't necessarily agree the natural temptation is to believe the one that tells you what you want to hear. Perhaps it would be wiser to pay most attention to the one that tells you what you don't want to hear. However today they all agreed that the winds out at sea were not going to be good for heading westwards. We therefore decided it would be better to go inland by canal. So we sailed past Borkum, took the fair tide up the river Ems and entered the canal system of North Holland at Delfzijl.

Was this the right decision? With a reasonable breeze it's easier and more satisfactory to make progress by keeping out in the open sea. Canals can be slow and the bridges and locks are demanding for the crew, but you can be sure to be able keep moving regardless of the weather.

So tonight finds us back in Holland, peacefully moored up for the night in the Eemskanaal, which runs from Delfzijl to Groningen.

Nordeney Past & Present

We spent the day in Norderney and we're expecting Dave on the last ferry this evening to rejoin the crew. The harbour was so full we had to move the boats several times to make space for other yachts coming and going.

Walking around Norderney there is the feeling that somehow the events of twentieth century Germany have almost passed it by. You are encouraged to see the old seaside resort beneath the surface of the modern tourist centre.
There are streets named after the Kaiser and Bismarck for example. We saw two preserved bathing machines: these used to be wheeled down the beach so that their occupants could undress and enter the sea with a degree of privacy. Old photos show rows of these lined up at the water's edge. Lots of resorts used to have these in Victorian times but I don't recall seeing an example on display before.
In many places throughout the town there are posters showing what the view looked like from the same spot around a hundred years ago. Often there hasn't been a lot of change.
The second photo shows the impressive Conversationshaus. I imagined at first that this was some kind of local parliament building, but it turns out to contain the tourist information office and a coffee shop. The third photo shows that the building has changed little since 1900, even if the fashion in holidaymakers clothes has.

We now have crew and have stocked up on water, food and fuel so are ready to go tomorrow if we get a suitable wind.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Rest day in Nordeney

Today was spent in Norderney. The thick fog persisted all night and lasted till early afternoon, when it was replaced by bright sunshine so we looked round the town. Norderney was a fashionable German seaside resort around the 1900s and still retains the flavour of that era with many elegant hotels, public buildings and open spaces. The town was busy today with lots of holidaymakers. This should be just about peak season and it must be much quieter for much of the year.
The buoyed channel where we came in last night runs close to the sea front and can be clearly seen from the promenade. The beaches here must be fairly wild during the winter gales and there is a raised sea wall to protect the town from flooding. The picture shows D on the sea wall. This has been neatly constructed in stepped form on several levels and faced with different materials so that it gives a much gentler and less obtrusive appearance than is sometimes seen with sea defences. A major concrete structure would be would be quite out of keeping with the character of the town.

Today sadly D had to go home as she is back at work tomorrow. She left on the ferry after lunch and got a train to Hamburg airport so she should be back home tonight.
Getting Bonita back may take some time longer. However we are expecting Dave to come back tomorrow to help us get going.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Nordeney in the fog

We got up at 5am to leave Cuxhaven shortly after high water. Leaving the harbour was considerably easier than entering it last night across the full spring ebb tide. The first picture shows D and Ellen with the famous Kugelbake (Ball Beacon) seamark off Cuxhaven.
D, Ellen and Kugelbake before the fog descended

Shortly after this photo was taken a thick fog came down which reduced visibility to a few hundred yards. The fog lasted all day. There was very little wind so the whole day was spent motoring in fog, a trip of around 60 miles.  Fortunately the only shapes that came looming up in the fog were the ones we were expecting to see, but keeping a constant lookout and a high level of vigilance gets tiring.

We saw no land until we were very close to Norderney, and we crossed the shallow water over the bar about an hour before low water. This is not generally recommended as things can go badly wrong if there is any kind of swell over the bar or if you stray from the marked channel. Luckily today the sea was quite calm and everything worked out OK.

Off Norderney harbour we saw some people waving at us from a German yacht. The waving seemed to be more enthusiastic than the usual greeting so we went over to investigate. It turned out that they had anchored as their engine had broken down. Geoff got a line aboard and towed them into harbour with Calismarde.
Calismarde to the rescue

This evening there continues to be thick fog in the harbour so we are glad not to be still at sea. The harbour is much more crowded than we were here a few weeks ago although there may be a mass exodus of weekend visitors tomorrow.

Norderney has a special significance for D since she was last here as an 18 year old on a camping trip.It was while she was here that she got a telegram telling her that she had got a place at medical school.
Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin & Nordeney in the same picture...


We spent much of today motoring through the Kiel canal. It is 66 km from Rendsburg where we spent last night to the locks at Brunsbüttel on the river Elbe.  For much of the time the canal runs through flat countryside but this is difficult to see as the canal is lined with mature trees that are probably as old as the canal.
The bridges over the canal all have a clearance of 40m so can allow quite large ships to pass. The two bridges pictured are obviously old but are in regular use. The plates are riveted together rather than being welded: perhaps they are part of the engineering masterpiece that so impressed people when the canal was opened in 1895.
We didn't stay in Brunsbüttel, but locked straight out into the Elbe at about 6pm. There was a fair tide running down to Cuxhaven. Elbe tides are fairly formidable and can sweep past the narrow entrance to the yacht harbour at 4 knots or more. Getting into the harbour with this sort of cross-current provides a great deal of excitement and a profound sense of relief once in port.
So Bonita is once again floating in tidal salty waters. No doubt this has provided an unpleasant shock to any fresh water marine life that may have taken up residence during our time in the Baltic. We also have to unearth the tide tables and plan our sailing around times of high and low water again.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

The Nord-Ostsee-Kanal

We have had a mixed day with some good progress. We woke up in Heiligenhafen to find the wind was still Easterly so we left at 7am. At first we had thunderstorms with heavy rain but then it cleared up to a hot sunny day. We were making a steady 5 - 6 knots with a good fair wind. We got into Kiel fjord about 2pm but then had to wait about an hour for the lock to open. 
D in front of one of the 19th century lighthouses at the entrance to the Kiel canal.

Eventually they filled the large lock with two huge ships and a gaggle of yachts. This is always a bit worrying as any backwash from the propellers or bow thrusters can be dangerous to small craft. Even with the engines ticking over in neutral there seems to be turbulence in the water astern. However it all seemed to be carefully managed and the yachts left first without trouble. 

The canal is maintained at roughly the same level as the Baltic so there hardly seems to be any change in water level going through the lock at the Kiel end.

Yachts cannot transit the canal after dark, so we got to Rendsburg about 30km along the canal and stopped there for the night and recuperation.

So the boats have now left the Baltic. We have stowed away our fat folders of Baltic charts and should soon be back in tidal waters. 

Wednesday, 20 July 2016


This evening Bonita is back in German waters. We sadly said goodbye to Dave and Julie at Gedser and borrowed Ellen from Calismarde. We  set out on a hot sunny day with light fair winds which died away so we motored much of the way. We did however get a moderate easterly wind in the late afternoon.

The first picture shows the eastern end of Fehmarn island off the German coast. We sailed between the island and the mainland and were surprised to find we had about a knot of fair current.

Heiligenhafen is a town on the mainland opposite the island. There is a huge marina here with about a thousand berths. This week is also festival week in Heiligenhafen, with plenty of entertainments ashore. One of the fishing docks, usually banned to sailing yachts,is given over to the festival. There were historic boats moored up and people were sailing yachts in and out at great speed in a confined space.

German crowds and towns do feel different from Danish or Swedish ones although it is difficult to pinpoint quite why this. The Germans certainly seem to smoke more in public however.

We are hoping the easterly winds might continue for at least a few more days.


We left Klintholm after buying some genuine Danish pastries for breakfast. Today we had light westerly winds but were able to sail close hauled to Gedser. This is a town at the most southerly point of Denmark, on the island of Falster. There are ferries running from here to Germany. The yacht harbour is a mile or so from the ferry port, and is separated from the port by a nature reserve which apparently is the home to a rare breed of toad. We visited the reserve but saw no toads.

Having an excellent crew of three we decided, when we came into the harbour, to attempt to get Bonita into a box berth, looping long ropes over posts as we headed towards the pontoon. It all went reasonably well which may be because we are getting better at this sort of thing, or maybe perhaps because there was very little crosswind to upset the manoeuvre.

We thought the prices in the local restaurant seemed a bit steep with the pound in its weakened state,  so Julie cooked a fine supper with both crews (8 people) on board Bonita to the amusement of people on nearby, but less crowded, boats.
Bonita and Calismarde successfully in the box berths. Calismarde's crew are (L-R)  Ellen, Megan, Martha and Geoff

Sadly Dave and Julie have to leave tomorrow- we came here partly because we thought a ferry port would have good rail links for them, but then discovered that the train service had been discontinued in 2009. However they should be able to get to Copenhagen somehow from here tomorrow.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Klintholm Havn

After a month in Swedish waters we left this morning. The wind was still westerly, but a SW course took us to Klintholm on the Danish island of Møn. The harbour is much busier than it was when we last came but eventually we squeezed into a corner in the inner harbour. With D, Dave and Julie as crew there are plenty of hands to put out fenders and tie up mooring lines which is a good thing.

I actually spent very little time sailing the boat today; more important was mending the gas stove which disintegrated in a pile of rust while cooking breakfast.  It probably needs replacement but it is easier to mend it than manage without for maybe another month till we get back.

We still have a long way to go home but feel that with the Danish flag in the rigging we are beginning to make progress.

Crew change in Wallander country

On Calismarde Jane left this morning, and Megan and Ellen arrived this evening. On Bonita our crew has been strengthened by Dee arriving this evening.

Southern Sweden is Wallander country, featured in the well known detective stories by Henning Mankell. Kurt Wallander was based at Ystad a short distance from here. I sadly have never read or seen any of these stories but Dave, Julie and Martha are all enthusiasts and took the bus to Ystad to appreciate the Wallander experience. 
Martha with Wallander memorabilia

Geoff and I stayed on the boats in Gislövs läge tidying up and preparing for the new arrivals.
The wind is still in the west but a bit calmer than the last few days so we hope to be on our way tomorrow with our reinforced crew.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Gislövs läge

Several of the harbours in southern Sweden are affected by a fragrance said to be due to rotting seaweed. No doubt the absence of tidal flow is part of the cause, but we did not notice the same unfortunate problem in the archipelago. Maybe it's a different type of seaweed. Abbakas, for all its reputation as the home of a wide variety of roses, does seem to be particularly affected by this.

We left this morning on a brisk SW wind and after a few hours tacking to windward we arrived at Gislövs läge. This is a small yachting harbour a couple of miles from Trelleborg which is a major ferry port. This was our furthest East point in my 1973 trip in the 15ft Asphodel. The local paper at that time interviewed us and ran an article asking if this was the smallest boat ever to come from England.

The harbour seemed much more crowded than I remember it then. Indeed it was virtually full today and as we came in with a strong wind behind us it was difficult to see somewhere suitable to stop. As the picture shows, we tied up fairly unceremoniously at the fishing boat quay and no one has told us we can't stay here.

This used to be an old fishing port and there is a floating museum of the traditional inshore fishing boats known as snipa boats. The oldest dates from 1915. These are all kept afloat and in working condition which is the best way to preserve old wooden boats.

We are here for a crew change for both boats so tomorrow will probably be spent tidying up.

Kåseberga to Abbekås

We filled up with diesel and delicacies from the local delicatessen (no general store) and left the little harbour at Kåseberga. At first we had light head winds but after a couple of hours this increased to quite strong adverse winds so progress became slow, wet and frustrating. We put into the small port of Abbekås, a few miles west of Ystad. A bit disappointing not to have got further but still, around 20 miles in the right direction. We have had westerly winds for ages now and a few days of almost anything else would be quite welcome.

Abbekås is a small harbour with a tight turn in through a very narrow entrance which required a bit of skill with rope, boat hook and fenders as we bought up. There are times when the helmsman feels he has very little control over events as they unfold and is very grateful to have a good crew on the foredeck.

Most small places like to give tourists some reason why they are different from other small places and a bit special. It seems that Abbekås is distinguished as it has more different types of wild roses than anywhere else in Sweden.

As is often the case there are no other British boats in the harbour. We have found the Swedes are often not familiar with the red ensign as the maritime flag of the UK. Even other yachtsmen have asked us what it means. Some have assumed it means we must have come from New Zealand, Australia or Canada. They must have thought that would be quite a long trip for a boat like Bonita. We do our best to explain. In Kalmar we were next to a large yacht flying the blue ensign which added to the confusion further.

This evening the westerly wind is whistling in the rigging, but we hope to make another step in a homeward direction tomorrow.

Friday, 15 July 2016


We woke to find a clear day with a light NW wind so we left Hano without delay to head south. Space in the harbour was so tight that we reversed Bonita out through the harbour entrance. There was some scepticism as to whether this manoeuvre would work out as planned but in the event it went OK.

The NW wind faded away so we motored for most of the day but made good progress in a calm sea. We had hoped to get to Ystad on the south coast of Sweden, but a westerly breeze sprang up so we tied up for the night at Kåseberga a few miles to the east.

The first picture shows this diminutive harbour: Bonita and Calismarde are tied up at the fuel berth, partially hidden by the shed at the bottom right. Not much seemed to be happening here and the simultaneous arrival of two unmanoeuvrable English boats with their crews shouting to each other about where and how to moor up could not have gone unnoticed.

The geology here is quite different from that further north among the islands. Here there are sandy hills with gentle slopes and large trees growing. Only a few miles further north the scenery is of rocky outcrops, ground smooth by the action of the glaciers and stunted trees clinging on with their roots in the crevices in the rocks.

We climbed the hill behind the harbour and at the top is an ellipse of standing stones known as the Ales Stones. It is rather like an elongated version of Stonehenge with smaller stones and it seems fairly certain that it was used for astronomical prediction.  Little is known about who built it and why, but apparently it has been dated to 500 - 1000AD. Stonehenge is  a lot older than this and the Ales Stones seems to be a very primitive structure for that time.

The picture shows Geoff and Jane among the stones. 

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Hanö 2 - with video!

We left Karlskrona at 8 and motored a few miles through the islands before getting out to the open sea. This is effectively the southern end of the Swedish archipelago, which contains many thousands of islands and stretches up to Finland. The bits of the archipelago we saw are fun and very pretty but the tortuous narrow rock strewn channels can cause many anxious moments for those used to more open waters. We asked in a local boatyard how often they get asked to repair yachts that have hit the rocks: "all the time.." was the reply.

We were relieved that it does seem that Calismarde's engine has now been fixed and it gave no trouble today.
The wind was a bit west of south but that was just enough for us to get to the lovely island of Hanö sailing close hauled. Dave and Julie were looking after Bonita while I did odd jobs and sat around. The video clip below shows us as we were approaching Hanö.

We were here a few weeks ago but the little harbour today was almost completely full with visiting yachts We rafted up four boats out from the wall with scarcely enough space for the ferry to get by. The small amount of empty space in the picture gets almost entirely used up when the ferry turns round in the harbour. The captain of the ferryboat must often think how much simpler the world would be if there were no yachts or amateur sailors.
Hanö Harbour

We swam in the sea and looked around some of the island before having supper on the boats while watching the sun set. Hanö is very pretty but it's small and not somewhere you would wish to spend a long time.  The track below shows our trip up and down the East side of Sweden over the last 15 days:
Bonita's Track 26 June - 11 July

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Some progress....

We are now getting quite familiar with Karlskrona while dealing with Calismarde's engine problems.

Yesterday's diesel engineers did not reappear but we got another one today who seemed more confident. He removed the injectors and took them back to his workshop. There he found one was working at reduced pressure and he adjusted it by adding an extra internal spacer. The engine does seem to be running better now but we are keen to see how it goes in a proper test tomorrow.

We had thought the injectors could be the trouble but I don't see how we could have diagnosed and cured it with the simple tools we have on the boat. We are grateful that we were able to find someone who could sort out the problem.

These two pictures show contrasting boats of similar age. The first is the Swedish submarine Hajan from 1904. She is preserved in the Maritime museum and must be one of the oldest submarines in existence anywhere.

The second is of the Danish galeass Mester of 1903. She arrived in the harbour today. Boats like this were common small trading boats in the Baltic at the time.

The submarine Hajan was a revolutionary design and has come to rest in a museum - no one would consider taking her to sea even if it were possible. The galeass Mester is a traditional wooden boat, is well cared for and is in regular active use.

We hope we will be able to move on tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

♫ How do you solve a problem like...♫

There was a tremendous thunderstorm last night with about 1 1/4 inches of rain which was effective at indicating where work was still needed to eliminate the last of the deck leaks.

This morning Geoff and I worked on Calismarde's engine problem, trying to find out how air is getting into the fuel supply. This  included stripping down and cleaning all the injectors. This afternoon we got in a couple of mechanics. They went over all the work we had done and then decided that it was indeed a difficult problem. They went home but promised to be back first thing tomorrow. We remain hopeful, trusting that somehow diesel mechanics have an intrinsic understanding of the problems that afflict engines that we don't.

I looked around the excellent Maritime museum at Karlskrona. There are many exhibits going back to the early days of the Swedish navy, in the sixteen century, but also plenty dealing with the twentieth century. Although Sweden was neutral in both World Wars, it was very much an armed neutrality with many real threats. Sweden was also in the front line in the cold war due to the proximity to the Russian naval bases.
The first picture from the museum is of part of their fine collection of figureheads from 19th century warships.

The second picture is of some original Whitehead torpedoes from the 1880s and '90s. There is a little known connection here with the musical von Trapp family and the problematic Maria.

Observant fans of the Sound of Music may have noticed that the von Trapps lived at a rather higher standard than might be expected of the family of a retired naval officer.  Georg von Trapp's first wife and the mother of his 7 children was Agatha Whitehead, the granddaughter of Robert Whitehead, the British born inventor of the torpedo. Agatha married with a significant dowry having inherited the proceeds of the sale Robert Whitehead's torpedo manufacturing company. Agatha died of scarlet fever in 1922.  Captain von Trapp subsequently married the penniless Maria, and lost his first wife's money through unwise investment.  The family was then reduced  to singing and travelling musical entertainment to make ends meet.

We haven't actually lost much sailing time due to our engine difficulties yet, as there have been brisk SW winds that would make it hard to make much progress. We remain hopeful that the mechanical problems can be solved tomorrow.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Sunday in Karlskrona

I am sorry to say that during our stay in Sweden we have learnt hardly any words of Swedish. This of course is because almost all Swedes speak excellent English - as is the case in so many Northern European countries. Quite often when you ask 'do you speak English?' the answer in perfect pronounciation is "of course...". There are lots of visiting German yachtsmen  and you hear them talking to the Swedes in English.

Its very common in to see foreign owned yachts with English names. Sometimes though the names are not quite what a native English speaker might have chosen. Examples we have seen recently have been a Swedish yacht called 'Make Me Smile'  and another called  'White Spirit'.

We are still in Karlskrona due to Calismarde's engine trouble. Despite several hours work this has defied the skills of our two untrained amateur diesel engineers today. We very much hope to find a proper engineer who can fix it tomorrow.

In trying to get the engine sorted we can of course be grateful that we are in a mainland town and not on one of the remote islands we have visited on this trip. The picture was taken by Dave and shows a small part of the small boat display in the excellent Maritime Museum here. Many of the boats on display are a lot younger than Bonita.
Small boats in Maritime Museum

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Windward to Karlskrona

We woke up this morning to find that the forecast NW wind had arrived.; so without delay we set to sea. The  entrance to the miniscule harbour at Kristianopel is so small that we had some difficulty in getting Bonita out. But with Dave and Julie on either end of the boat this was achieved without loss of paint.
It was a bright sunny day and we had plans for a big trip. Sadly after a couple of hours both the forecast and the wind swung round to the SW. We therefore settled on coming to Karlskrona: still a useful 30 miles in the right direction, but rather less than we had hoped for. The best part of the day's sail was the last few miles, running with a brisk SW wind behind us as we came in through the rocky outer islands surrounding the port.
When we last visited Karlskrona it was engulfed in midsummer festivities; today we found it a quieter, more restrained and more attractive town.
Supper in the town square, Karlskrona
Its tempting to feel we have to push on, but in reality  when on a prolonged cruise there is really little point in trying to make long passages tacking against the wind. It makes more sense to wait for reasonable weather when you get so much more progress for less effort and less wear and tear on boat and crew.
Ex sail training ship Jarramas (built 1900) in Karlskrona

Saturday, 9 July 2016


We left Kalmar this morning after the delivery of fresh bread rolls to the local shop. One of the advantages of sailing where there are no tides is that you can leave port when it suits you, rather than having the structure of the whole day determined by the times of high and low water. 
We had a brisk sail into head winds and this evening we are in the miniscule (and very nearly full)  harbour at Kristianopel (population 81) at the southern end of the Kalmar Sound.

Kristianopel is really no more than a village, but it is officially a town. It has a fine church of a size quite disproportionate to the local population even if they all decided to go to church at once. It turns out that Kristianopel was indeed once a large fortified town, but in the seventeen century the town was attacked and the church was the only building not destroyed.

We have been interested to learn something of the local history, since there is hardly any Scandinavian history taught in British schools after the time of the Vikings. Everywhere we have been in Sweden we have found frequent reminders of the effects of the prolonged conflicts between the Baltic states in the seventeenth century.

It is going to take us a long time to get home unless we get a few days of fair winds, but tomorrow's forecast does seem more hopeful.

Friday, 8 July 2016

The Kronan

We spent the day in Kalmar doing odd jobs on the boats and trying to sort out Calismarde's engine which seems to be suffering from air in the fuel.

We visited the local museum and there learnt a little about the Kronan. There do seem to be many wrecks around these coasts. The Kronan was a very large Swedish warship - about 120 guns- that foundered in 1676.  She was going into battle (with the Danes) when she was capsized by a squall. The magazines exploded and she quickly sank in around 25 m of water taking most of her crew with her. She was found by divers about 30 years ago and many items that have been recovered are on display.
Some of  the crew's hats

Its interesting that the intermediate salinity of the Baltic has led to the survival of many fragile objects that are not usually found in old shipwrecks. The iron has rusted away but some delicate objects such as items of clothing have been recovered in reasonable condition.

We saw a violin that had been recovered from the wreck (the oldest violin in Sweden). There is a collection of hats- the broad brimmed hat would have been worn by a superior person - perhaps an officer. There were no standardised naval uniforms in those days. We saw a set of fine clothes that probably belonged to the admiral who went down with his ship. There were many small personal items such as purses, pocket watches and knitted stockings.

The Kronan's carvings have spent 350 years under water
We learnt that there were no women on a warship, but those men who did 'women's work' - such as washing - apparently used to wear women's clothes on board including carrying handbags. This does sound a bit unlikely to us but it seems there is evidence that it is true.

In the evening we were joined by Dave and Julie Patuck who have come via Copenhagen for a few days Baltic sailing.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Kalmar Sound

This morning there was a brisk northerly wind with rain squalls. We left Borgholm at about 8 and had a quick run south down Kalmar Sound. Bonita was doing 5 to 6 knots with just the headsails and mizzen so there seemed little point in putting the effort into getting the mainsail up.

I was surprised to find a strong current running under the bridge joining Öland to the mainland, which must be just about the narrowest point of the sound. There are no tides in the Baltic so this must just have been due to the effect of wind pressure.  It didn't take us long to get to Kalmar.

We have come back here partly to pick up Dave and Julie, who arrive from Copenhagen  tomorrow evening. We are also here because Calismarde has problems with the fuel supply to her engine. We hope to get this fixed tomorrow morning.

It was a wet and blustery afternoon in Kalmar. We found one other British ship in port - the tall ship 'Eye of the Wind'.  She was originally built for trading in the Baltic. Built in Germany in 1911, and had a varied career, including a period trading under motor alone.  She was rerigged as a square- rigger about 40 years ago in our home port of Faversham. She now seems to be mostly used for adventure training.
The Eye of the Wind

Wednesday, 6 July 2016


We left Figeholm this morning in fine weather and after a few miles of weaving through rock strewn channels we emerged into the open sea. At first we were close hauled in a light wind. We passed a couple of tall ships going north through Kalmar Sound. The first picture is of the very elegant 25 metre long yacht Gratia, built in 1900 by Camper & Nicholson, and now in Swedish ownership.

In the afternoon the wind shifted ahead and strengthened so we ended up motor-sailing into port.  We got into Borgholm in the early evening. This is a spa town on the island of Öland and is a busy tourist resort.

Martha and the remains of Borgholm castle

The skyline is dominated by the substantial remains of Borgholm castle which can be seen from miles away. The construction of the castle may well have been ordered by King Canute but it was definitely destroyed by a fire in 1806.

Our route south so far