Up and away! We had been in Kårehamn for what seemed like ages, but now, finally, the weather had changed for the better, allowing us to scoot off towards our next destination: happy Denmark and the island of Bornholm.
Although the really strong winds had subsided, there was still a substantial amount of weather left. And, as usual, the wind was coming from exactly where we wanted to go. Or in other words, a rough ride and potentially more (very much unwanted) seasickness for some of our susceptible crew members.
We all wanted to go, though. And since the weather was forecast to change, I scribbled down (in my mind) a plan (or play) in three acts to both minimize the discomfort, as well as provide us with a good enough chance to reach our desired Danish destination.
- Leave Kårehamn early in the morning. It’s psychologically easier to just ‘get going’ instead of waiting some more. Due to the suboptimal wind conditions, however, don’t go very far, but anchor somewhere close and wait for the weather to change.
- With better wind and a nicer sea state, continue sailing to the southernmost tip of Öland, and make another stop there. Going past the tip of the island would make us exposed to the offshore swell, so better to wait for a while and get a good night’s sleep before leaving our shelter.
- The following morning, sail for about twenty-four hours, in as straight a line as possible, from Öland to Bornholm.
The first two legs of the plan seemed to go wonderfully! We had a decent amount of wind, somewhat conflicting and confused waves, and a heeling boat— but no seasickness!
“So you’re feeling all right?” I asked Charlotte, a bit bewildered of the fact that she seemed like she actually did.
“Yes, I’m all good!” she said, smilingly. “And wow, the waves are quite big,” she continued.
How strange, I thought to myself. And felt very happy and relieved, obviously.
Rolling at Anchor
After a joyful day of sailing, we reached the end of our second leg and dropped the anchor a short distance from Långe Jan, the legendary lighthouse standing on the south cape of Öland.
“So wasn’t this quite fantastic?” I said to Charlotte. “I mean that you didn’t get any motion sickness at all? Even though we had quite a lot going on?”
She was looking at the horizon and on the gentle swell that was rocking our anchored boat delicately to the left and to the right, and to the left and to the right…
“Yes, well, uh,” she started. “But now after we anchored, and with those waves moving us all the time, I started to feel a bit bad just now,” she said.
We laughed, both, a bit. It wasn’t funny, but in a way it was. The quicker, sportier motions during the day hadn’t caused anything, but the slowly wallowing waves at anchor, they did the trick.
We went to bed. Charlotte was still feeling queasy, and I, a bit disheartened.
We were a long way from home and heading even farther away. Going sailing together was supposed to be fun for us all, but being constantly afraid of seasickness, and actually being seasick, was pretty far from that.
The sail over to Bornholm started out beautifully.
Nice weather, warm and sunny. So warm that Charlotte dared to remove all her layers of clothing and enjoy a few hours of bikini sun tanning sailing. For us Nordic sailors, this is something we usually get to experience when reading sailing magazines and looking at sailboat manufacturers’ marketing pictures. So, it was deeply and dearly appreciated, by us all.
And, despite my somewhat bleak thoughts from the yesterday, everyone did have a good time and— even better— nobody got seasick! It was really calm, luckily, so we motorsailed a lot, and that certainly made it easier.
Later in the afternoon, the wind died down, the weather turned soothingly gray, and we got some light rain showers.
It was very beautiful, though, and once again remembered why I love sailing so much. (And, yes, still, nobody was seasick! Did I remember to mention that enough times!)
Just as the sun was setting, the landscape all around us launched into its finale, prepping for the last high and powerful ending note to make the audience burst out with resounding applauds.
The clouds to the east, they parted and yielded the floor to the sun, letting it radiate in its full strength and color. The clouds to the west, on the other side, they gathered towards the back of the scene, to form the perfect canvas for the celestial painter and the show’s spectacular ending.
I think we took about a hundred pictures of it, Charlotte and I together, but I’m sure none of them can convey the feeling of what it was really like, to be actually in the live audience of it all.
We rounded the northern tip of Bornholm in the dark of night, at about 2:30 am.
It had started to rain again, and I was alone out in the cockpit, trying my best to cope with the cold and wet. Truthfully, it wasn’t very enjoyable. But that’s one aspect of sailing, I believe, getting through some of the not-so-good to then more appreciate the a-lot-better.
And then, an hour later, appeared the first small sliver of sunlight on the. horizon behind us. You know it’s going to be dark and cold for a few hours more, but that first sign of light is strangely reassuring. After night comes day, after dark comes light, after fears come hope.
A short while later we sailed into Nørrekås marina. I went down to wake up Charlotte to come and help me, and a few moments later we were well secured and happily arrived.
Moments Before Sleep
I paid the harbor fee and went to our cabin to get a few hours of sleep before waking up for the first time in a new country.
In the back of my mind, I was replaying our last sail, and our whole trip starting from Finland. It was quite an accomplishment for us, I thought, to have reached a place this far from our home. One rescue dog, four children, and two adults, and now all of a sudden (by our standards) far away in Denmark.
But. Were we having fun doing it? Was sailing really something for us, or would we be better of doing something else? Was the balance between the not-so-good and the a-lot-better tilted too much in the wrong direction?
Between the worrying thoughts and falling asleep, I think I realized that the heaviest weight on the scales was seasickness. Without it, everything seemed lovely. With it, not so much.
“Good medicine, we need good medicine, whatever that is, to cure it,” I thought to myself, and then I allowed myself to fall asleep with a somewhat self-made but also reassuring and renewed faith in the ingenuity of modern medical science.