After a week in the bustling city of Visby, and a nice sail over towards the mainland, it was time to enjoy the peaceful and rather secluded archipelago on the southeast coast of Sweden. And time to do what we all had been waiting to do since we left the Sand Island — jump into some refreshing water and swim!
We did try to find some good swimming places near Visby, but there weren’t really any. The shore was quite rocky, and while they had, in fact, a few long (and surprisingly popular!) swimming piers, the children didn’t like them that much. (“Where should we change our clothes?! We can’t do it here!” shouted both M and Little L in unison.)
To further spoil it, for the last few days of our stay, the water temperature dropped to about ten degrees! This was absolutely crazily cold for people who don’t want to get into it if it’s under twenty. (The sudden drop in sea temperature was, coincidentally, also one of the reasons for the substantial amount of fog we had experienced.)
Our Kråkelund anchorage, on the other hand, was great. And the children, they loved swimming in our newly found twenty-four-degree hot tub in the Baltic Sea.
None of the children were good swimmers, though.
Of the four, only J and O had just learned how to stay afloat and swim without any flotation aids, but it was still a bit shaky.
M was really close to getting there, but she was still doing most of her swimming with a life vest on. (And unfortunately also having some difficulties with it, getting small chafing wounds.)
Little L was the least comfortable with the water. Two summers ago, she had a scary incident when, to her big surprise, she slipped off of our floating flamingo toy and slid straight into the water. She did have a life vest on, but the quick plunge head-to-toe had likely left a few traumatic memories.
So, as J and O were the first to eagerly jump into the water, with M close behind, Little L mostly didn’t want to. Rather, she let herself stay behind, lingering on the bathing platform to play with the water from a short distance, from safely above.
“Would you like to try to go into the water?” Charlotte asked.
Little L had her eyes fixed on Charlotte, then opened her mouth to say something, but then closed it again. She looked at J, O, and M in the water, and then back at Charlotte. “Well, maybe,” she said, really slowly, with a small and quiet voice.
I went into the water first and positioned myself at the bottom of the swimming ladder to help her with her conquest.
“Ok, you can come now!” I said to her, trying to be as encouraging as I could. “The water is really warm and you’ll love it!”
She turned to climb the ladder facing forward, then took a few steps down into the water. “It’s too cold!” she shouted.
“No no, it just feels like that at first, and then it gets warmer,” I tried to reassure her.
She took a couple of steps more. And then, about ten minutes later, she was in the water. Gripping onto the ladder as tightly as she could, but all of her in the water!
Then, another ten minutes later, she was ready to let go of the ladder.
“I will hold on to you,” she said to me with a determined voice. “Don’t let go of me.”
She let go of the ladder. We drifted a bit away from the boat, and then cracked out a wide smile.
“Do you like it?” I asked.
“Yes!” she replied happily, and I felt her hands loosening her grip on me just a little, but not too much.
During our previous daysail from Gotland, the starboard primary winch had sounded a bit weird, and there was certainly something strange going on with it.
I had never opened any of the winches before, so I certainly didn’t want to do that while sailing (potentially losing small vital pieces into the shallow, but still prohibitively inaccessible depths of the Baltic Sea). Now, however, at anchor (and after some swimming!), I was eager to get it open to see where the weird sounds were coming from!
I opened the manual on my mobile phone and got started.
Getting it undone was easy. No tools were needed, and behold, the inner structures of a Lewmar EVO 40ST were revealed.
I carefully took the whole thing apart and brushed away any dirt I could find. Then, I made sure that all parts looked well lubricated, and started putting it back together.
To my big disappointment, once I had most of the parts attached, the squeaky sound was still there! And the rotational movement was still a bit bumpy and uneven.
Then I noticed the problem.
One of the two retaining collets had (for some reason) moved a bit out from its slot, and this had allowed the main shaft (or spindle as they call it) to tilt slightly down to one side. The winch was still working, kind of, but the main spindle was bumping both the walls and the floor of its tightly confined space.
I secured the collets, put together the rest of the winch, and voila! — it worked perfectly! As good as new, and the todo list of our (still quite new) sailboat was empty again.
“Won’t the children get bored when you’re anchored somewhere and they can’t get ashore?” a friend asked me.
Throughout our sailing vacations, I think we had (without giving it much thought!) developed an alternating pattern in choosing our sailing destinations, altering between sailing to really urban places, then into the wild, then to urban again.
A few days in a city, and then away from it all to somewhere nowhere, to spend a few days at anchor.
Then, the clothes are getting dirty, we’re running out of food, and drinks, and (oh no! start the engine! lift the anchor!) sweets! — and our next destination is again quickly set to the closest city in the general direction of where we are heading.
During our stays at anchor, the children didn’t seem to enjoy it any less than Charlotte and I did. They were reading, drawing, playing with (the few) toys they had with them, swimming, and — thanks to our Quicksilver dinghy — going for regular exploration missions around the boat or to the nearby shore. Sometimes by themselves (when there was no wind), but usually together with me.
Our Kråkelund anchorage was not much different from the others— in a good way. A small piece of beautiful archipelago heaven for us all to enjoy.
What I perhaps love the most about sailing, is getting closer to the slowly and steadfastly rumbling vibes of nature. Spending time at anchor, far and away from civilization, is, for me, a good way of trying to reach these vibes, and perhaps some deeper understanding about the beautiful planet we are living on.
But then again, there is ice cream. And I love ice cream as much as everyone else! Also, the freezer on our boat is rather small, so that’s obviously important too.