Great/Terrible Sailing

Charlotte and the children sailing s/y Charlotte, a Hanse 531

After more than a week in Visby (yes, we loved the place!) the weather had settled enough for us to bid farewell and head out to seek new adventures. “To Kalmar!” the children were willing us, the night before our early departure, and that did sound like a great idea.

Pre-planning. Roughly about 100 nautical miles from Visby to Kalmar, meaning the trip would be 100 / 5.0 = about 20 hours of sailing.

Difficult Exit

Untying and wriggling ourselves out of our mooring was not, unfortunately, completely uncomplicated.

We had our bow tied to the shore and a couple of stern buoys tightly secured to the port and starboard aft cleats. There was a bit of crosswind pushing us to starboard, and as the aft buoys were very close to each other, at least one of them would surely dive under the boat and (in the worst case) hit something. (Thinking rudder, propeller, thrusters.)

Thankfully, all went well. With the aid of the mooring line on port and a boathook on starboard, we wriggled ourselves out. The downwind buoy probably left a scratch mark or two when it went under the hull, but it didn’t hit anything important. Phew!

(The mooring guide over here mentions the Nordic mooring system, but I would encourage them to add a few notes about how frustratingly tricky it can be to squeeze in, and untangle yourself out, when there’s a crowd and not much space between the buoys!)

Against the Wind

Once outside the harbor basins of Visby, it was apparent that the wind was blowing from almost exactly where we wanted to go, so getting over toward Öland and the mainland would be an upwind affair.

Our boat was sailing nicely, though, and with the true wind speed in the low teens (between ten and fourteen), we were progressing steadily.

For Charlotte and O, however, the sudden change in surroundings, from a dormant mooring in Visby to bouncing up and down the waves against the wind — was not overly appreciated.

“You’re feeling seasick?” I asked, seeing them struggle out through the companionway and into the cockpit.

O stared right past me, with blank eyes, and didn’t say anything. Charlotte nodded, looking a bit pale and not very amused. “Well, a bit, not very much,” she said, putting a bit of brave onto her pale face.

More Wind

A short while later the wind suddenly increased to eighteen-twenty knots, and the heeling and the bouncing increased as well.

“This is great sailing!” I shouted, looking at the boat speed increasing and feeling her effortlessly shrugging off the additional wind while plowing through the waves.

“No, this is horrible!” Charlotte shouted back, and looked at me with a displeased expression on her face.

A Big Hand

About six hours later we were closing in on mainland Sweden and ready to make our first tack.

The wind had kept with us in the fifteen-twenty knot range, but before our first tack, and before letting go of us, it gave us a proper and firm send off handshake.

“Whoa!” I said, mostly to myself, but half-aloud also to the others, as I felt a big gust grabbing hold of us. From our fifteen knots of average wind, we were now getting double that, still with full sails up.

Our boat behaved well, though. Giving way to the added pressure, it gently kneeled to starboard, until the railing was covered by water. Then, as the rudder lost its grip, it broached. Quite gracefully, that too, I thought.

Compared to broaching with our previous boat, the 531 was so much heavier and stiffer that it felt, in fact, like everything was happening in slow motion.

A couple of hours earlier. TWS somewhere at 18-19 knots. The lower shrouds needs to be tightened a bit, it seems.

In Good Waters

A few hours later we had tacked ourselves in between the Swedish mainland and Öland. The wind had retreated a bit, so also the feelings of seasickness, and everyone was smiling (or at least half-smiling) again.

The wind kept fading, and when our boat speed dropped below three knots, I started the engine. Rather quickly we had gone from slightly too much wind to slightly too little wind.

There was new wind on its way, I knew, from having looked at the forecasts, but as this was a (long) daysail, it felt better to keep moving towards our destination while waiting for it.

Some moments of calm.

The Bridge

We had been sailing again for a couple of hours when we arrived at the Öland Bridge, a bit after midnight.

It always feels nice to actually sail the last miles of a trip, so I was happy that we could. The children were all awake as well, excited to see the massive bridge structure growing in size ahead of us. And they were also nervously waiting to see whether we would fit under it.

“But this boat has a much taller mast”, little L said, with a hint of uncertainty in her voice. “Are you sure it won’t hit the bridge?”

“Absolutely sure!” I replied.

What did preoccupy me a bit, however, was that there seemed to be a slight current running across our track. While we were, indeed, heading into the tight channel beneath the bridge, we were actually on a path toward hitting one of its concrete pillars.

I steered a bit to port and once again we were sailing towards the center of the underpass, although a bit unintuitively (especially in the dark) not really heading there.

We squeezed through, right in the middle! In reality, it was somewhat darker, but the iPhone is doing a good job of increasing the light.


The darkness had really set in when we rounded up against the wind to roll in the mainsail, just in front of the harbor entrance.

Then, the fenders out and a slow drive towards the inner harbor to find a place for us. Which we did, without drama.

Click here to see the whole trip

All in all, we had sailed 114 nautical miles with an average speed of 5.9 knots. The whole trip took 19 hours and 20 minutes, so despite sailing upwind for a while, we reached our destination a bit earlier than we had expected.

It was time to get some well-deserved sleep (the children were, in fact, already sleeping), so good night, Kalmar, and see you in the morning!


When we woke up in the morning, a spot had opened up right in front of the Bryggan restaurant (where we were the year before), so we moved the boat there.

All ready and set to spend a few days in lovely Kalmar!

In the morning. Charlotte + s/y Charlotte + the shadow of me.

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