The Season Begins Now

Andrew Dick and Barbara by the river in Soderkopping Barbara, Andrew and Dick had expected to join us when we were well into the Baltic, but the various delays we had suffered meant that we still had another day to run on the Gota Canal. This took us through the village of Soderkoping. There are more ‘Koping’s in this part of Norway than there are ‘Chipping’s in the Cotswolds. There is NyKoping (New Koping), NorKoping (North Kopping), Linkopping (Lyn's Koping?). and Soderkoping (guess!). Incidentally 'k'in Swedish is, as I am sure you know, pronounced ‘sh’ so Kopcentrum is not ‘Police Headquarters’, as we thought, but ‘Shopping Centre’.

We ended that first day in Mem at the end of the Canal where there is a Youth Hostel. In the evening the youth came down to see us and performed a creditable rendering of ‘Rule Britannia’ in our honour.

And so to sea. We tasted it and it was not salty. The ‘Blue Coast’ is an archipelago of brilliant little islands. Each is covered with a medley of trees – white barked silver birch, red spruces, deciduous trees newly clothed in virgin green, tall dark evergreens, flowering trees, curly trees, march tress and rock trees. We wove through the islands under full sail doing 6 to seven knots in placid water to the delightful anchorage of Harstena. Harstena provided a tricky little entrance with less than the charted depth. But once inside we were entirely secluded in our own little world, taking cocktails in the cockpit (where else?) and enjoying fine dining below.

But paradise is never forever. The next morning it was raining and blowing, so we had a morning reading before setting off for the Pub. The Pub was about 14 miles away and required a brisk sail up wind, but was an excellent find when we got there. The owner was a whisky enthusiast with a fine selection of Scotch and Irish whiskies, but what intrigued us was the Welsh and Swedish collections. We sampled some with the owner and it was surprisingly good – particularly so when our proffered payment was refused!

The shower is not in the shed - its behind the fence

The wind turned to the south as our course turned to the North, so we made good time to Arkosund, mooring up beneath the fine ancient yacht club. We were just settling down to our evening repast (buttered asparagus and brown bread starter) when our ears were assailed by a sharp gunshot nearby. Leaping to the defence of our vessel we discovered the committee of the venerable yacht club assembled before their flag staff and beside a smoking gun. They were singing the Swedish national anthem. Declining to respond with the second verse of our own anthem for fear of creating an international incident,we returned to our meal and they to theirs. We were approaching the coffee and liqueurs stage when another gunshot grabbed our attention. Once more the company was assembled, and once more the national anthem was sung – although this time a little unsteadily. An official came to tell us the meaning of all this. ‘The season starts now!” he said, and collected our mooring fee. A little more expensive than the Pub the night before for rather less facilities. True, the estimable establishment did offer showers, but not as we know them. These were outside and did not even tempt Barbara into making their close acquaintance.

The wind was getting stronger and swinging around to the North. As it was forecast to be force 7 by the afternoon we left our ‘bows to’ mooring while we still could and made for a harbour with more appropriate shelter. We found this at Navekvarn. A stream ran down through the village from lakes in the hills above. In former times this had enabled a canon making industry to develop. At the top was an iron foundry, next down was copper smelting, then a water wheel provided power to drill the out the cannons cast in the foundry above, then some brass fittings were added and the finished product shipped out from the harbour. At various points along the stream services where provided such as bakeries and distilleries. True 'vertical' integration.

The crew examine the ancient tecniques for canan making

Near the top of the hill a householder had restored a really really old tractor and had proudly displayed in in his garden enclosed within a massive glass case. This picture is especially dedicated to Robin's grandson Isaac.

An ancient tractor - somewhat obscured by reflections on the glass behind which it is stored

The stream that powers it all

The wind was still strong the next morning, but had swung back to the south, so we had a fast 20 nm sail to Nykopping, just 5 miles from Ryanair’s version of Stockholm. A fine square rigger was sailing out as we arrived. Getting the sails up

There we said our farewells to Barbara and Andrew and, after a short pause, welcomed David on board.

Best wishes from us all