The boats were as individual as those who came to sail them in mid-August that year. The matron of the group was Klara, built by Arne’s father. The plans for her had been drawn by a Swedish naval architect in the 1930s to the lines of the traditional inshore fishing boat, the blekingsekan: 17ft overall, with jib, mizzen and spritsail main. We found her to be a sweet old girl who inspired confidence and sailed much better than expected.
At the other end of the scale was the Apple 16, Vips! (Swedish for Presto!), a modern epoxy-plywood lugsail yawl, with her spars sheathed in carbon fibre. She arrived fresh from a Finland raid with her Australian builder-skipper Peter Lord, an Uppsala University professor who has lived in Sweden for twenty years.
There are hundreds of islands of all sizes in the group and many submerged reefs and exposed rocks between them. Most of them are steep-to, which means that landing simply entails dropping a stern anchor on the approach then jumping ashore and tying a bow line around a convenient tree.
Kallhamn (‘Cold Harbour’) is a popular destination for yachts, but opposite the crowded anchorage across a narrow neck of land is a secluded beach that is ideal for smaller boats.
Camping was always easy, with dead pine branches on hand to give instant cooking fires and victuals readily available in the bigger waterside settlements like Arkösund.
A favourite local product was yellow split-pea soup, sold in plastic skins so that it resembled haggis. It was on special offer in the local Co-ops, half price, so we bought a tankful.
All too soon we were enjoying the end of cruise dinner at Arne’s sailing club. The nicest keepsake he gave us was a copy each of the local newspaper, Södermanlands Nyheter, which had a full page about our exploits with colour photographs. We had been interviewed earlier in the week by their young reporter Nina Svanberg (to whom we gave our undivided attention). Her only inaccuracy was the reason she gave for our being there – to escape the vicious tides of the UK!