Rhone – The monster river

As the strong mistral winds blew for 4 days, we stayed put in a small town of Aramon in south France.

Celebrating France Independence Day with the locals and just floating there outside the city gave us an opportunity to observe the lifes of the locals. And we noticed something strange…

There’s no local boats here. Nearly nobody fishes. We see no families on picnic at the river. There’s no riverside promenad or restaurants. It has been +30 – +40c for days and we’ve seen nobody swim in the river – not even dogs. There’s no beaches or public piers here. There’s very little traffic on the river, just a random tourist-hotel boat or a long river cargo ship.  Continue reading

Sailing destination: Utklippan, Sweden

An island in the middle of nowhere with ice cream and a cup of coffee to remember

utklippan_flygfoto_webbkamerorseUtklippan (N55’57.3; E015’42.2) is the first island you come across if you sail northeast from Bornholm, Denmark. It is a tiny island with a guest harbour, a café/restaurant and a lighthouse outside of Karlskrona, Sweden. We sailed to Utklippan from Hammerhavne, Bornholm on the 4th of July 2014. The leg of 58 nautical miles took 10h 30 minutes. After being at the open sea for hours, you can barely see the lighthouse in the horizon less then an hour before you arrive. The feeling an hour before arriving was strange: you knew you are almost there (we are there, right…?) but still you could not see your destination. (Image: www.webbkameror.se)

Utklippan_segel-filmedeBe careful when approaching the island! There’s shallow water and rocks in all directions. You can enter the harbour either from the west or the east side but note that the first basin is not deep enough for a sailboat to cross and you have to motor through the guest harbour basin to get to the other side. I wondered for a while why everyone motored through the small basin but luckily the captain had his eyes open… We arrived from the west and left safely from the east entrance the next day. (Image:www.segel-filme.de)

DSCN0157Since the island is so conveniently located for those who plan to sail north along the Swedish coastline, the guest harbour can be quite crowded during the peak summer season. When we arrived at 9.10pm, there were 28 boats in the harbour – which is not considered crowded. Someone later told us that in some accession the guest harbour basin had been so crowded that you could cross the basin by jumping from one boat to another. We were welcomed by the harbourmaster in his motorboat right when we arrived and chose to side-parked to a Swedish boat at the end of the basin. The harbour fee for a night was 160 SEK (17 EUR) and included no water, no electricity, nothing.

DSCN0167Sailors are early birds! When we woke up after 9am the next day, the guest harbour was nearly empty. There were only 3 other boats left and we heard no one leave! Luckily, we had chosen by accident to side-park to the only boat in the basin that did not plan to leave that day. Saku floated us to a new position along the basin first thing in the morning. In early afternoon new boats that had sailed overnight started to arrive.

DSCN0170Utklippan actually is 3 separate islands. Luckily the guest harbour had dinghies to borrow because we didn’t have one at this stage. If you don’t have a dinghy of your own, choose carefully your location in the basin because the smallest island (south corner of the basin) did not have dinghies available.


With the dinghy, we visited the island with the lighthouse and the café. We wondered around the sleek rocks carefully avoiding the areas taken over by nesting birds.




The lighthouse island is very small with only the lighthouse (no entry unfortunately), a café/restaurant, a guest house where you can rent a room and the harbormaster’s residence.



The café was a really nice surprise with ice cream for Anton (ice cream is a scarce resource at sea!) and good selection of sea maps for Saku and myself to browse. The view from a window was like a painting. (The image does not do justice to the view. You have to go and see it yourself.)


The coffee was table served from beautiful, old porselain which felt very luxurious considering the isolation and organic nature of the island. For a moment, sitting in the old house that reminded us of our own home, it felt like time was standing still. I’ll remember this cup of coffee for a long time.


How does is look in Utklippan right now? See yourself from a webcam.


Sailing destination: Bornholm, Denmark

All the years we have travelled to Skåne to visit Saku’s mother, we’ve always dreamed of visiting the island of Bornholm. And now we finally did with our own sailboat!

To Bornholm from Sweden

DSCN0045With the right westerly or south-westerly winds, the west cost of Bornholm is 8-10 hour away from Sweden. We sailed to Rønne (“capital” of Bornholm) from Smygehamn (the southern most point of Sweden). The leg was 48 nautical miles and it took 9h 25 minutes. The westerly winds that had continued for days had raised the wave height in the open sea to an unpleased level and the tailwind was about 10m/s. Just before we arrived to Rønne, Anton decided to go from the cockpit to the salon because “there’s skiing slopes everywhere” – as he put it.

Rønne, capital of Bornholm

DSCN0052The Rønne harbour was full when we arrived on July 1st just after 6pm. After some spinning in the spacious harbour (no issues there), we tried an empty spot that was too narrow for us and we were stuck between the harbour pillars for a moment… :( We ended being side-parked as the 4th boat from the pier but moved to a better spot the next morning.


DSCN0050The Rønne guest harbor was just another harbor with no special atmosphere but the small harbor for the fishing boats was adorable and had a fish shop. The harbor also had professional looking bicycle rental shops.




DSCN0037Sandy beaches north from Rønne are a walking distance or a bike ride away from the guest harbor.





DSCN0034The town itself was picturesque with the old colorful and well-restored houses.





kuvaThe foldable bicycle we have was very useful in Rønne and both Saku and I did an evening sightseeing tour with it. Surprisingly the town was very quiet and everything was closed already very early in the evening. If I will sail to Bornholm again, I will either skip Rønne or visit it with public transportation for a day from another harbour.

Hammerhavn and Sandvig

DSCN0128Hammerhavn (picture) and Sandvig at the north end of Bornholm were one of the best bits of our entire journey from Germany to Finland.





The Hammerhavn harbour is a tiny lagoon like pool with very narrow entrance.






With the high waves, strong wind and me seasick as hell, entering the Hammerhavn harbour pool felt like the waves just tossed us in. Sandvig harbour would have been just around the corner on the east side of the island and more sheltered but turned out that the Hammerhavn harbour actually was the nicer one.


DSCN0131The harbour had new, modern facilities including a common room with huge glass windows towards the sea and a fireplace. The showers had skylights that you could open and shower under the blue sky – luxury! (See Cubo Arkitekter’s for more details.) The harbour free was 170 DKK/night (23EUR) and there were only 3 other boats there during our stay.

DSCN0080From the Hammerhavn harbour, we took a 10 km circular walking track to the north peak of Bornholm and visited the small town of Sandvig on they way. The track started right from the harbour.




DSCN0087This was a very nice walk with altering terrain, rocks and cliffs with scenic views and a lighthouse.





DSCN0108Sandvig was quieter than expected with only couple of cafes and small grocery store. Don’t plan to stack provisions here for a longer journey.




DSCN0130The next morning, before we headed to Utklippan, Sweden, we had a breakfast run to the castle ruins overlooking the Hammerhavn harbour.






DSCN0144The castle was definitely worth a visit.





Next time: East coast

When we were in Bornholm, the east coast would have been more sheltered from the prevailing winds and waves. We considered visiting the harbour of Gudjhem on the east coast and Christiansö island on our way north but decided to leave them for some other time.