Once we left Kalmar and passed under the huge bridge, which connects the island of Oland to the Swedish mainland, we were into new territory (for us). Kalmarsund opens out again north of Kalmar, and the coast starts to take on more of an archipelago character with islands and channels leading behind them, demanding attentive navigation on detailed charts. We ended the day at Oskarshamn and tied up on a town quay which had been nicely lined with timber to make it more yacht- friendly. The town is a working kind of place with a car ferry and ship building industry. We stayed a few days, enjoyed the market, strolled through the beautiful park in the town centre, and were entertained by a small car show with an emphasis on eco vehicles, which set up on the quay. We also managed to pick up a few electrical bits that we needed for the boat. There was no chandlery, but the local motorbike and lawn-mower shop had what we needed.
Our next intended stop was Visby, on the Swedish holiday island of Gotland but we were warned by the harbour master that a 100+ boat 2-handed race from Stockholm would be in Visby that night. So we elected to travel a little further north to Vastervik before leaving for Visby.
Vastervik sits at the head of a wide sound protected from the open sea by a number of islands and skerries. As we threaded our way in through the rocks a big seal stuck his head up to have a look at us. The harbourmaster told us he had just purchased the mooring rights and was in the process of making a number of improvements to the marina. He was very enthusiastic about the town, and I felt bad about leaving again without seeing it, but we had to head east the following morning.
At 04:00 were on our way again, astonished when we got up at 03:30 to find it was already broad daylight! Out through the rocks again and set a course for Visby, on the island of Gotland, some 50 miles east. We had a great sail, with the boat travelling at 6kts all the way. When we got to Visby the last of the big race fleet was just leaving, and the visitor’s area of the port was quite empty . The stern buoys are set out very close to the pontoons, and packed in back-to back with little more than a boat length between rows . It looks like a tricky place to manoeuvre on a windy day when the moorings are all being used. Fortunately, although we had a fresh breeze for our arrival, there was plenty of space around us.
Visby is everything the guidebooks say. There are ancient streets with the usual tourist shops inside a medieval town wall. We had several enjoyable days. One highlight was the university library cafe which served liquorice ice cream. We also met up with friends from the Cruising Association who had arrived a few days before.
From Visby we motored north on a windless day to the little harbour of Lickershamn. This is in a national park type area. We put on our walking shoes and explored the edge of the bay in beautiful surroundings. The forest comes down to the waters edge, and the shore is lined with rocks and marginal plants. For us, used to the wave-battered shingle of the sussex coast, it looked more like the shore of a lake than the edge of the sea.We were able to buy some smoked fish and prawns from the harbour office at Lickershamn. Smoked on-site, they made a welcome change from pre-packed curry and chilli con carne.
The following day we set off for Farosund on the top of Gotland. The harbour is really a fishing port, but we only saw evidence of one small boat working while we were there. In early June, the place was still shut for the winter, with no access to the toilet and shower block so we had to make our ablutions on board. While we were there we took the opportunity to get the bikes out and rode over to a nearby nature reserve. Back on board we carried out some minor maintenance tasks. Including finally curing our extremely squeaky cabin floorboards by lubricating their edges with candle wax. This simple improvement pleased us no-end!We shared the harbour with 3 other Brit boats, all heading for the Baltic States. We all left a different times, depending on individual interpretation of the weather situation. We were the last to leave, (least brave!) but still encountered F6 gusts and quite steep waves at the mouth of the sound. Our next destination is Ventspils in Latvia, on the other side of the Baltic. One of the longest legs we plan to do this year.