Sunday, 6 May 2001

Gåsholmen in a blow

When you stand on the shore and look out across the water it all seems so calm.  I suppose the simple reason for that is that it is.  Rastaholm gives good shelter from wind s from the north, so the first stretch at least seemed flat even though the flags overhead show a good breeze even here.
Having spent the night on the boat anticipating a sail we want to put our noses out of the harbour.  We are reluctant to test the wind offshore so instead a short trip to test how the outboard is running (after having sorted out the slow running problems last time).
Good news… the engine starts and runs really well.
..and the weather in the bay looks ok too so sailing looks on after all.
The local forecast was for winds up to 5m/s (10kn), but with a general forecast for 7m/s.   The genny stays in the bag, and we opt for the jib & main.  With the sails up and the wind in the north west we set off on a reach for Björkö (birch island), with the intention of sailing around the island.   Clearing the shelter into the channel between Ekerö and Björkö it’s clear we made the right choice of sails.  It is blowing a fresh force 4 and we are soon doing 8 knots (if we can believe the log). 
In half an hour we are off in more sheltered water off the south end of Björkö, but it is clear with the wind in the north that passage through narrow Björkösundet to the north west of the island will be very hard work.  A change of plan then, and we head west to Gåsholmen (goose island) a short distance ahead. 
Bearing away south  behind it is a rush.  The boat surges as the sails fill on the reach and we are on nine knots before we turn off the reach onto a run.  A new record! (editorial note: the log it turns out overreads by 10-15% for speeds over 2 knots)
With the boat on a run the jib gets willful.  Blanketed by the main it flaps and has a tendency for it to twist and the batten to get stuck behind the forestay – and I am wary of gybing as the wind moves around between the islands, and the gusts come through.  So we keep to a broad reach to keep the jib full. (Still doing seven knots)
The new course takes us near to Kurön, the next island west.  Happily sailing along we are…. “Look, a bottle in the water”, “and another, and some little buoys”.  Oh yes, a line of net markers right across our path – well they’re probably pot marks but we swing to windward at short notice to clear the end.
Next landmark is Pingst (whitsun) – a rocky knoll with a few trees on – first stop on the way back and already quite close.  We wear round rather than gybe and head down into Södra Björkfjärden now getting little shelter from Björkö to the north.  It is not a bad reach, but gets progressively more uncomfortable as we head up and turn east to pass Midsommaren (midsummer) and head back towards Rastaholm.
There are several other boats around – most heading towards the channel back to Stockholm.  Some are sailing, but others are motoring, or have just a jib.  One particular one dead astern is bearing down on us keeled over at an alarming angle.  A bit bigger than us it seems happy to set the sails and plow the course.
Mata Hari too heels far over when the sails are full on the wind.  Once or twice I get it wrong and and she heels alarmingly.  The speed has dropped to 4 to 6 knots depending how much I pinch or am happy to heel.

We stick with it, finding it a little hard going and eventually reach more sheltered waters in the approach to Rasta.  Phew…  Good practice at any rate!