It is a long run in from the sea to Stockholm – more than 50 Nm. At 0100hrs we decided it was time to moor up for a good sleep and so we pulled into a little Marina off the main channel called Torpaviken and found a berth for the night. The next day we showered and fueled up and were ready to make the final run into Stockholm. There were many different types of boats on the waterways but we have noticed that the Scandinavians have a great love of the old classical boats whether it be varnished wooden cutters or traditional yachts with lugged rigging. They all wave when they see the black Kiwi flag and cannot believe we are so far from home.
Well eventually we arrived by the old city of Stockholm but only to find that there were 3 bridges in front of us that were not lifting bridges and were impassable with our air draft of 18 metres!
Bugger! It was 1930hrs on Friday 11 July and we were not about to backtrack at that time to find an alternate route around the island in search of the Marina. There were many floating hotels moored along the quayside and a nice vacant space at the end that had Roaring Meg written all over it! So we made ourselves at home with just 500 metres to walk across the bridge to be in the heart of the old city. It was the weekend and nobody asked us to move on and so there we stayed 200 metres from the Hilton Hotel. “All ashore whose going ashore” and there was no dessention. We tried the local brew and decided where we were going to watch the final of the World Cup which began at 2100 hrs local time the following night. Mike had found internet access within 100 metres of Meg. No showers but then only dirty people wash! We can shower aboard Meg as the motor will heat about 20 litres within 15 minutes and that is enough for three frugal bilge rats.
On the Saturday we went to Durgarten Island to see the “Vasa” an old square rigged man of war that was built for the King of Sweden in 1628 and is regarded as the best preserved old wreck in the world. They lifted her after 333 years and because she had sunk within 20 minutes of having been launched on her maiden voyage she is 98% original.
Also the brackish water of the Baltic and the mud meant that the wood worm that normally destroys old wrecks was held at bay. The reason that she sank was because the stability curves were extremely bad. Four stories high, with sixty four canons aboard on two gun decks, weighing 1.5 tonnes each and only 120 tonnes of rock ballast in the bilges was just the beginning. Apparently the King just kept loading her up with all kinds of extra embellishments and the shipbuilders were too scared to reign him in.
He was not aboard for the launch but those who were decided to fire a salvo to mark the occasion and so with the gun ports still open she caught two great gusts of wind and heeled over until the gun ports were under water and it was ,’good night nurse’! She was designed to carry 450 fighting men and for the launch many had their wives aboard and so there was a lot of lives lost. At this point in time Stockholm had only 15,000 residents. A must see if you find yourself in Stockholm. The city itself is very European with a lot of classic architecture which leans towards the domes of Mother Russia. Lots of great walks and cycle paths. The old city is very quaint with lots of small specialty shops and narrow streets. It was recommended that we go to an Argentinian cafe/bar to watch the final of the soccer World Cup which was called ‘Cantina Real’ – a 15 minute walk. The downstairs bar was packed out. All locals and a great atmosphere but unfortunately our hosts were not the victors. Like most of the places we have been it would be nice to stay longer and explore more but what do you do with 100 days – cover a small area in depth or an overview of 14 countries!
We had breakfast with our neighbour ‘The Red Boat’ a floating hotel that has been there since 1973 and is loaded to the gunnels with nautical antiques. Thomas the manager took good care of us and offered free showers on the house plus good internet access. On Monday afternoon we prepared for sea once more. This time we needed to circumnavigate the island in order to find our way out of the Northern channel. We arrived at the first lifting bridge with all the signs in Swedish on a lighted board. Non comprendo! However another yachtsman (Bendt) tied up alongside and was able to interpret. Next bridge opening would be at 1830hrs which meant that we had a 3 hour wait. We swapped a few lies over a cup of coffee and the time passed quickly. Through the gap we went and out into some open water. Another yacht came up alongside and the man on the tiller shouted out, “do you Kiwis know Angus Edmonds from Copenhagen?” Unbelievable that here was Flower and Maria best friends of Angus. Flower (bloke) had done his outdoor education at Aoraki Polytechnic in Timaru. He knew that we were in the Stockholm area but that was all. We went through a lock for SEK 160 and we were free to go. We called into a Marina on the way ‘out of Dallas’ and topped up our water tanks (2x 200 litres) and finally set off at 2100hrs. On the way out through the channel we spotted a sculpture and water feature that was quite striking so we steered Meg over for a closer look. Once the buildings disappeared in the background leaving just the skyline it made a great photo. The water depth was not sufficient to sail ‘through the rainbow’ but it was discussed! Next stop, Helsinki.