While living in the university town of Uppsala I have built up a sizeable dislike of master students. This can be a problem, as there are thousands of them. They flock to Uppsala like mosquitos to stagnant water, all with the same belief that their unique ideas will change Earth for the better.
Master students are easy to identify as they all look the same. Not in a racist kind of way, but rather a xenophobic kind of way, as they’re mostly foreign pricks. They dress prepared for any conceivable weather condition. Always the same khaki traveller pants with a zip around the knee, in case the sun makes an appearance, giving their pale, hairy legs some light. This is true for both sexes. A light all-weather jacket, usually baby blue of an expensive outdoor brand. Their shoes are brown and orange cross-trainers, as though they’re always on their way to meet up with a hiking group. And, of course, their trusty backpack carrying a BPA-free water bottle, complete with carabiner which serves no bloody purpose.
For important, busy, intelligent, planet-saving, better-than-you people, master students spend extreme amounts of time at cafés with like-minded arseholes. Perhaps it’s a part of their brilliance which the rest of us are unable to grasp. If you find yourself seated at a table within earshot of them, ie anywhere in the café, then prepare for enlightenment.
The Swedes refer to a bay that is well protected from the wind as a nature harbour. Stockholm’s archipelago is full of them. One can either anchor and take the dinghy to shore, or moor right up to the rocks. We opted for the latter, as our toddler needs direct access to land.
The clever lads in the small boat are a floating bakery outlet. They motor to different anchorages every morning, selling loaves of bread and sweet buns. Of course, I waved them over.
Napoleon Bay is well protected from the northerly wind, but the following morning the wind swung and we started to drag anchor. Plan B was just around the corner in the form of the “wash basin.”
Sometimes plan B turns out to be the better option. The bay was smaller with fewer people, easier access to land and the island wasn’t a steep mountain protruding from the sea. The flatter ground was more child friendly. When there are fewer people around, one tends more to speak with the neighbours. Ours offered to lend us his Weber.
The tiny pebble beach supplied us with hours of entertainment and cooling off. The weather prediction promised temperatures of over 30 degrees, so we decided to stay put during the heat wave. It was the right thing to do. The weather delivered as promised and we were surrounded by the cool Baltic water.
We spent two days in a marina, hiding from stormy weather and stocking up for the trip ahead. Being safely moored in a well protected marina gave us our first real opportunity to take it easy. Central Stockholm isn’t exactly the capital of adventure, but sailing with a toddler requires occasional visits to civilisation. Once the wind had stopped throwing a tantrum we cast off and aimed south.
The trip from central Stockholm, south towards Artipelag doesn’t allow for much sailing as the channel is very narrow. On either side of the valley are homes which belong to the wealthy elite. Outside of their waterside mansions are parked their yachts, which cost the same as a small village. I like to tell myself that they’re probably all miserable, drowning their sorrows in expensive French champagne every morning with their Corn Flakes, while their wives flirt with the private yoga teacher.
As technology does, our camera went on strike during the passage through this beautiful valley. Hence, the lack of pics.
As we sail further into the Baltic the water temperature plummets. It brings a different meaning to taking my breath away.
Artipelag is gold for sailors like us. It doesn’t cost anything to moor at their dock. The catch is that they have a modern art centre and restaurant. They’re not shy to charge their patrons. I caved in and took a loan to purchase coffee and a cinnamon bun. Art, however, is about as appealing as rotten fish and I held tightly onto my wallet when walking past that kiosk.
When people ask us where we sailed from they are generally surprised at the answer. “That’s a far way.” It really isn’t. Or maybe we’re the weird ones.
By the time we arrived in central Stockholm it was late and we were tired. We had also missed the cut-off time to open the bridge over the sluice. So we made the best of it by stocking up with supplies and chatting to posh Stockholmers.
The area is stunning, with parks, restaurants, street food and activities for any kind of person. There are outdoor gyms, skate parks, play parks, boat clubs, kayak clubs and anything else to keep people out of trouble. As an African I am amazed that people mostly do stay out of trouble. The fact that the massive play park has toys and bicycles for all kids to play with, and they don’t get stolen is amazing. Under a bridge is the skate park without hobos, druggies or faeces on the ground.
Hammarby sluice is the border between sweet Mälaren and salty Baltic water. Björn woke up from his nap just as we were entering. As soon as we motored to the other side we could smell the salt in the air.
Fjäderholmarna is a very pretty island in central Stockholm. It’s proximity to town can make it crowded at times. The restaurants, bars and cafés charge airport prices, but the ice cream was worth it. The restaurant with its private marina, however, is out of my league.
The pebble beach faces the main passage the ferries use. Different ferries create different sized bow waves. A certain type of high-speed ferry creates a goddamn tsunami. Children on the beach begin screaming and are left terrified a good deal afterwards. I may start a petition to create a sandbank for the waves to break a bit further out. They would actually be surfable.
This pirate ship fires canons. Loud canons that scare anyone within a 5km radius.
From Sigtuna to Rosersberg really is just around the corner, but we were taught a good lesson in how quickly the weather can change. We cast off wearing shorts and T-shirts for the little trip.
Maja and Björn went inside to stay dry while I wished for a bimini. My wish was never granted so I settled for a gay pride umbrella.
The wind quickly folded my umbrella like a cheap plastic toy and threw fist-sized raindrops at us. I never had the opportunity to check the GPS, but I’m pretty sure we went over 6 knots, which would be a record for this boat.
The squall disappeared as quickly as it arrived and we were given safe passage into Rosersberg Bay.
The main attraction in Rosersberg is the pompous castle, built by some pompous prick in the year pompous twenty three. That’s as far I read the information board. The gardens are immaculate and peasants are permitted to admire their pompousness, given they don’t defecate on the lawn.
The building is massive, but it doesn’t look like a castle. I’d ask for a refund.
After being kept awake by a group of raucous teenagers we decided to sail on. The wind has been good to us by blowing us towards the archipelago, and we’d hate to turn down the invitation.
We could make it into the archipelago quicker, but Björn would audibly protest against such a lengthly trip. Besides, this way we get to stop and see islands which we would never have even noticed.
On Thursday we rushed, packed and rushed some more to prep the boat and cast off from our home marina. First stop, Säby Klint. It’s only 3NM from home, but it feels good to get going.
Björn already recognises Säby Klint. He knows where to find the little playground, but most importantly the beach.
After one night on Säby Klint we made use of the northerly wind to make way towards the archipelago. Motoring against the wind is boring and makes a sailor sulk. Next stop, Sigtuna.
The boat becomes a very small space with an active toddler onboard. A tub of water and some toys in the cockpit keep him occupied for a few minutes. He wears a life jacket and is harnessed to the railing when not strapped in his chair.
Our primary motivation for coming to Sigtuna is the best pizzeria in Sweden. Without this restaurant we would sail straight passed the town.
Raise the maypole, grab the schnapps, put flowers in your hair and eat pickled fish. It’s midsommar!
This is the best time of year to be in Sweden. The sun doesn’t go down and Swede’s forget about their social phobia for a short while. Schnapps may play a role. Nevertheless, now is a good time to be Swedish. The feeling of community in the sailing club is wonderful. Everyone is welcome and everyone does their part.
One couple had the duty of organising a pirate treasure hunt for the kids. They dressed up as pirates and had a whole story and adventure organised, along with treasure. The amount of effort that went into this activity alone was admirable.
The kids followed the pirates around the island, finding clues towards the treasure and bumping into snoring monsters.
Maja took Björn along for the whole adventure. He’s too young to understand the concept, but he loved the activity and being around other kids. Maja, on the other hand, was engaged to the fullest. She insisted that she tagged along “for Björn’s sake.”
Eventually the kids found the hidden treasure, which was shared equally, as Swedes do. Björn bagged a very cool boat. The temperature reached 30 degrees and it was high time to test his vessel.
It just wouldn’t be midsommar without the pagan tradition of dancing around a fertility symbol.
Because we’re island hopping short distances, we have the luxury of flexibility. The original plan was to celebrate midsummer at our home marina ESK. But Säby Klint is beautiful, comfortable and convenient. So instead of prepping the boat to sail three nautical miles, we’ll just stay put.
The island is tiny, and the beach is just seconds from the boat. Björn refuses to wear the hats we bought for him, but he will happily keep mommy’s cap.
When we arrived yesterday, there were two boats in the marina. This afternoon the mooring spots began to fill up and people assumed positions in the sun. Tomorrow is midsummer eve and the Swedes will celebrate like pagan savages.
The weather has been kind to us and there is always a shady spot for dinner by the water.
Two nights per island is our rule of thumb. It gives us enough time to relax and explore the island before preparing the boat for another voyage. Today, our voyage wasn’t even two nautical miles, but it still takes prep.
A sailor must always have a hat. Björn rebels against this rule with all his will.
There can never be a rush when leaving a mooring spot. We slowly get ready and take things as they come. Having solid expectations about when to set sail will only lead to frustration and stress onboard. Björn’s mood and the weather determine most things. In a way, it’s relaxing to not be in control and let go.
Björn’s favourite word right now is “bada”. It means to bathe in Swedish. He would probably spend meal times in the water if we allowed him. We encourage him to “bada” as much as possible. It keeps him happy, active and clean.