After a few lovely days in Kalmar, it was finally time to start the journey back home. Sadly, this would also be the last sailing trip on our dear boat together with the whole family, Charlotte, the children, and our ship’s dog.
s/y Charlotte: Sold
Earlier in the spring, we had sold the boat to a couple of warmhearted sailors from Denmark. Regarding the actual handover to her new owners, however, we had agreed to do that only after our summer vacation sailing, and this point of time was now getting closer.
The logistics of it all were a bit funny.
We had agreed that I would deliver the boat to somewhere on the island of Öland. That is, exactly to the place where we were now leaving from!
For a few moments, we had thought about just leaving the boat in Kalmar, and getting ourselves and our stuff home by train and ferry. After some consideration, however, it just seemed less complicated to travel by our own boat.
The plan then, in all its simplicity, was to sail from Kalmar straight to Turku. Once there, empty the boat of all our belongings. And after that, I would, only me myself and I, solo sail the boat back to Sweden.
The forthcoming two hundred and fifty or so miles of solo sailing felt quite exciting. Heading out for our last family trip, exciting as well, but, frankly, also a bit uprooting and sad.
We left Kalmar early in the morning and— in spite of our best efforts not to sail upwind this season— with a few knots of light wind hitting us straight on the nose.
I assume that between mainland Sweden and Öland, the wind gets funneled in there as well, and so it’s likely to sail either quite downwind or quite upwind when going through.
The weather was nice, anyway, so we weren’t complaining!
Passed by a Hanse
After a few hours of lovely sailing, we saw our fellow Hanse 531 from Kalmar appear on the AIS. They had headed out as well, and with a bigger boat, they were gaining on us quickly.
I filmed a short video of them approaching us and sent it over to them on WhatsApp (we had exchanged numbers).
“Nice! Thank you!” they message back.
And then they returned the favor and sent over a video of us (after having passed us). Cool! Thank you!
We had toyed with the idea of sailing nonstop directly from Kalmar to Turku. The forecasted winds weren’t really in support of that idea, though. Towards the night and the day after, the wind strength would increase significantly, and the wind would, unfortunately, not turn in our favor, but continue insisting on blowing us back to where we were coming from.
So, after having tacked against it for about fifty-three miles and twelve hours, we circled into a small (and slightly unprotected) anchorage next to Stora Kättelsö to wait for the wind to turn.
We’re Off Again!
Two nights later, and the wind had turned to where it was supposed to be— gently pushing us towards Finland.
“Are we going to Turku?” Little L asked.
She had asked this same question every now and then during our whole trip. “Yes!” I answered. “We’re going home now!”
It would be our longest sail without stopping, and a befitting last trip with the boat for us all, I thought to myself.
Sailing and Motoring
Our first eight hours out on the sea went smoothly.
At times, the wind was coming from just the right angle, and with the code zero up, our speed over ground was only a bit below the true wind speed. (Woohoo!)
The wind wasn’t very constant though, and in between the nice reaching periods, we had to use the engine to maintain morale and good spirits during the early parts of our (longest) sail (ever!)
At about half-past four in the afternoon the wind died down completely.
We were already far from the shore with no land in sight, and it was getting quite hot.
I felt a large smile entering my face. “Hey, I have an idea!” I said. “Let’s just stop here and swim in the sea!”
O look at me with slight disbelief in his eyes. “But… here’s nothing?” he said.
“Yes, exactly!” I replied, pulled back the engine lever to idle, and then turned it off.
The Infinity Pool
“This is absolutely amazing!” Charlotte giggled. “It’s like over a hundred meters deep, and I’m just swimming here!”
From Sunset to Sunrise
At sunset, with still about two hundred miles left to go, we had cleared Gotland. Sort of. At least half of it, since we were north of its northernmost part, but still on the wrong longitudinal side of it.
Then, after a few hours of fifteen-minute napping for me, the sun had circled around to the rising side of the universe, and we had (sort of) reached Gotska Sandön.
A Day of Motoring
For most of the second day, we had light winds from too deep angles, so we were mostly motoring.
It was (by our standards) also quite hot. We had stubbornly refused to get the bimini option for our Hanse 388, so O and the other children had to construct an alternative solution.
Our Second Night
At our second (and equally beautiful!) sunset, we had now passed the halfway mark and were much closer to our final destination than where we started from.
Also, to our great joy, after the sunset, the wind turned to the beam, and we could roll out the code zero and start sailing again!
It was a bit later into the night and Charlotte was testing out her iPhone’s astrophotography features. “Just look at all those beautiful stars,” she exclaimed.
They were. So many of them, and so very beautiful.
It was actually a somewhat spiritual experience. Being out there on the wide-open sea, us two tiny spectators, under this vast, but oddly warm and comforting astronomical dome.
The sleep deprivation added to the feeling, as well, I thought. My twenty-minute naps had worked quite well (as I didn’t feel very tired), but still, it was a very different kind of sleeping than doing it unstressed in a moored boat.
Just before sunrise, we crossed over the border to the territorial waters of Finland. We were back!
Well, back inside our borders, but still more than twelve hours from home.
Gliding Graciously Forward
Once we had passed the southernmost (inhabited) island of Utö, the last part of our journey would lead us through the Archipelago Sea. This is usually considered to be one of the most beautiful sailing areas in Finland. And indeed it was! This time as well.
We didn’t have very much wind, but it was coming from a great direction, so armed with the code zero, we were able to make decent progress. (At times even more than wind speed!)
It had taken us about sixty hours to sail the two hundred and sixty-six miles from Sweden to our home in Turku.
Now, as we could see our home harbor approaching, this trip, our longest trip ever, was coming to its end.
Our last docking maneuver went nicely, and then we were there. No marching band to greet us with fanfares and pompous salutations. Just a very understated everyday arrival.
“Should we stay and help with the cleaning?” J and O asked, quite sincerely.
“It’s ok,” I replied. “You’ve done enough so just grab your stuff and walk home.”
The children left Charlotte and I stayed to carry the rest of our things ashore. We had done most of the packing and cleaning during the last hours of the trip, so there wasn’t that much left to do.
“I’ll go and fetch the car,” I said to her, and walked away towards the gates.
And about an hour or so later we had everything cleared out, and we were all back at our apartment.
Later in the evening, I strolled down to the harbor again.
I don’t particularly like goodbyes, but after we had arrived, everything had just happened too quickly. We had all just hurriedly walked away without a proper farewell to our beloved floating companion.
It was dark now. As I walked out on the pier, I could only see the silhouette of her against the backdrop of harbor lights.
I put my hand to my lips and blew a kiss to her. And to all the adventures she had played her part in creating, together with us.
“Thank you,” I said, quietly. “And goodnight.”