Solo

s/y Charlotte, Hanse 388, final sail

We, the family with our dog, were all safely back in Turku. I, however, had one big task ahead of me. Sailing our boat singled-handedly back to Sweden, and to her new owners.

The Route

The weather wasn’t totally cooperating. I had hoped to be able to sail from Turku directly to Öland (in Sweden), but the forecasts offered up to thirty-five knots of wind during a part of the passage. Too much for my kind of solo sailing.

So, instead of drawing a straight line, I sketched in a few legs with some overnight stops. First, going west to the Åland archipelago, and from there down south towards Öland.

Day 1 – Farewell!

I’m off!
And away!

I’m a slightly sentimental person, and of course it felt quite emotional to cast off for the last time.

Some tears and a few miles later, though, it was better to focus on the present than on the past, and — by god! — it was wonderful to be out sailing again!

Day 1 – Continued

Light winds, going upwind, and not very quickly. Maybe just anchor, eat lunch, sleep and continue tomorrow.
No, wait. Good sailing vibes after all! Let’s continue all the way to Åland!
More wind, with max wind speed 9.61 m/s.

Day 2 – Hop South

My favorite Åland anchorage had notoriously bad mobile coverage, and I wanted to get moving forward, so in the few hours before the strong wind was predicted, I had just enough time to sail south to Kökar.

Day 3 – Do and Undo

It was a scary night, with winds gusting up to more than I thought the anchor would hold. After the fourth or fifth time of waking up and running to the companionway to check how close the nearby rocks were, they eventually didn’t seem to come much closer. They were too close, yes, for a good night’s sleep, but we were okay.

In the morning I checked the forecasts, and the winds were tricky, again. After the forty-plus knots nightly winds, there would be a calmer window during most of the day, but full force winds again, later in the evening.

It didn’t seem like a good idea to sail directly to Öland. But I wanted to go forward, anywhere. Maybe just sail away from Kökar and try to get to the inner archipelago of Sweden, before the next wave of strong winds would arrive.

The plan.

I pulled the anchor, motored out from the Kökar archipelago, and set sails.

At first, everything went well. But then, after just a couple of hours out sailing, all the wind died down.

The waves were coming from the south, and with almost no wind driving us forward, it was excruciating.

I was looking at the ETA to the Swedish archipelago getting further and further away. Much further than it was supposed to go, if we wanted to get there before the next band of strong winds.

And then, to underline the misfortune, I saw something really strange floating in the sea, right in front of us to our starboard side.

As it got closer, I realized what it was. A dead seal, floating on the water, badly scarred and severely decomposed.

I took a hint, and turned right back. Maybe this wasn’t a good day to cross the Sea of Åland.

Day 4 – Yippee Kai Yay

I woke up to a bright new morning and everything felt right. It was time to leave for the long and final sail, not through the Swedish archipelago, but directly down to Öland.

After leaving Kökar, the sailing felt great! And the wind kept increasing to make it even better!

Without Charlotte and the children aboard, I didn’t feel that anxious anymore. Going through ten knots, fifteen knots, twenty knots of wind, with full sails and steadily increasing waves, it just felt oddly relaxing.

The wind increased to about thirty knots, eventually. Sitting on the windward bench behind the wheel, I got one of the few videos where the waves actually looked like waves. Cool!

Day 5 – Avoiding Lightning

During the (spectacularly beautiful!) night, I had passed Gotska Sandön and was getting close to Gotland.

The wind had decreased, so the sailing wasn’t that intense and adventurous anymore. Rather, it was getting a bit annoying, since the wind was all over the place. Rolling out the code zero, rolling it in again, and unrolling the jib. No wait— rolling the jib back in and rolling out the code zero.

All fine and dandy (and a good workout, I thought!), but then I heard the sound that no sailor really likes to hear. The sound of thunder, somewhere far away in the distance, but surely and inevitably approaching.

I looked at the radar and saw the approaching thunder area. With the good wind I had, however, I thought that for once, maybe I’d just try to outrun it instead of getting caught in the middle.

And I did! As I sailed to the west, the thunder area slowly dissipated, and when it looked thin and weak enough, I turned to the south again. (Not very confidently, though, but optimistically nervous.)

I got through the front!

And safely into my next night of solo sailing.

Sleeping setup.

Day 6 – Kårehamn

After another spectacular night (the stars, amazing!), it was wonderful to experience dawn next to the windmills of Kårehamn.

And just a few more miles after that, and I had arrived at Kårehamn, that place where I would hand our boat over to her new owners.

For me, sailing has always been about experiencing the wonderful world we are living in, and learning to know the beautiful whole, that we are just a small part of.

With this project, I think we succeeded in doing that. I am immensely happy for all the feelings and insights we all— Charlotte, the children, and I— have been gifted during our sailing adventures. And there will be more to come.

Meanwhile, cheers, to s/y Charlotte’s new owners! Fair winds and following seas ❤️

s/y Charlotte in Kårehamn, just before her handover. Farewell!

4 comments

  1. Such a sad day 🥲 I’ll miss your posts about Hanse, but I’m sure I’ll also follow your other sailing adventures 🙂

  2. Congratulations on what sounds like a memorable final sail. I had a similar 4 day delivery trip with Ningaloo, managing a short hop across the channel to France in between lockdowns on my way from the Solent to Burnham in Essex.
    Some sadness but a fantastic opportunity for me to share my final sail with friends and justified by the happiness on the faces of the new owners once I arrived.
    I wish you, Charlotte and all the kids all the best for 2022 and look forward to hearing about your next sailing adventures.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *