It was a Sunday morning, the last day of our first week of sailing, and we were all ready and set to sail from Mariehamn to Sweden. Ahead of us, our second offshore passage, crossing the Sea of Åland.
Everyone Was Fine!
No more seasickness for anyone, dog included!
Not very much wind either, but we were sailing, going up the waves and down the waves, rocking from side to side, like sailboats do. What a relief that we were all enjoying it this time!
Crossing over was quite uneventful.
We had Viking Rosella passing by, going both directions, numerous times (it makes the crossing in about two and a half hours). We saw (on the AIS) Baltic Princess performing some kind of Man overboard exercise. And I cooked some food for us, a nice stew with meat and rice.
“Kikku makes bad food again!” M and little L shouted happily.
(The children have nicknamed me Kikku, derived from Miksu, derived from Mikael, my real name. J, fortunately, still calls me pappa, which is Swedish for dad.)
It had become one of our trip memes, that “Kikku makes bad food” and “Mom makes good food”. It was different than the food we ate at home, that’s for sure, but in my humble opinion it was quite good food anyway. And well, it was the only food we had, so my policy was to just serve it and ignore the complaints 🙃.
“I see Sweden!” I shouted. “There it is!”
Our crossing over was slowly coming to an end but we hadn’t really planned what to do once on the other side. I had checked all the harbours and anchorages in our beautiful harbour book, but since we didn’t really know how long the crossing would take, we hadn’t yet decided where to go.
We continued sailing and the outer islands of Sweden drew closer.
“Look, isn’t that a cool looking lighthouse?” Charlotte said, and pointed at an old-style, traditionally looking lighthouse on an island ahead of us.
I flipped through the harbour guide and oh, cool, the lighthouse island was actually in the book. They even allowed mooring there, at an old pier earlier used by the military.
We set course towards our impulsively selected destination. I think that’s valuable, by the way, to leave as much room as possible for instinctive decisions. Planning to ensure a safe journey, intuitive choices to make it an adventure.
The Bird Island
What wasn’t visible from afar, or mentioned in the harbour guide, was that the island had an overwhelmingly huge population of birds!
When mooring, we had birds flocking all around us. The old pier, for its part, was so soiled with bird droppings, that it was hard to find any room to put your feet down.
After we got the boat tied down and cleaned up, we went to check out the island. After just a short walk, avoiding dozens of nice birds, we stumbled upon some slightly aggressive ones as well. They were just protecting their offspring, like they do, but still it felt a bit scary to have birds approaching in attack formation and doing really close flybys over our heads.
The Lighthouse and The Cute Little Shop
The Söderarm lighthouse was quite impressive.
It was built in 1839 but decommissioned as an official lighthouse in 1999. Still, there was something majestic about it. A massive and peaceful pillar no longer guiding seafarers with light, but offering us some other sense of security. A long time ago I saw the Pillars of Ashoka in India. They were impressive, as well, in a similar way. The force is strong in these, I think!
Once we had seen the main attraction, we followed small signs pointing us first to a small museum (really interesting pictures and stories there!), and then to a small unmanned shop.
“So without a shopkeeper, how do they make sure nobody steals the stuff?” O asked.
“Well, they are offering their trust to us,” I said, “and just counting on us to think that it is such a valuable gift that we should take good care of it”.
Maybe not the best of explanations, but moral philosophy isn’t that easy a subject. (It’s nice to be trusted, though, thank you for that, absent shopkeeper!)
We bought ice-creams for the whole bunch and I bought a box of eggs, apparently created by local chicken right there on the island.
Our First Night in Sweden
It had been a nice day. A wonderful sail over, an interesting island, a cool lighthouse, and lots and lots of new bird friends (and some foes).
The birds were quite loud and noisy, though, and we were a bit afraid that their constant chattering would make it difficult for us to sleep.
Somewhat surprisingly, after going inside and closing the hatches, we found that our Hanse has good sound isolation! Who knew.
The first week of our sailing vacation was coming to an end, and we went to get some well deserved sleep.