For weeks we kept pushing the launch of Mariposa back: boat works, finding a new home and moving took priority.
Finally, we only just got our little sailing boat into the water a week after we had planned to actually set off on our journey across the Baltic Sea .
The days of frantic preparations and boat works had blurred into one. The kids, in the meantime, had a wonderful time around the boatyard.
I’d got my days totally confused: I was convinced it was a Thursday, whereas it was Friday when Mariposa finally splashed in.
It was windy and rather hair-raising to watch her fly above other boats and the jetty.
Her mast went on a couple of hours later, when the wind had reduced from the gusty 12 knots to 6 knots. This part was rather straightforward, especially with the help of the yard owner, the knowledgeable Kjell. (I’d checked the mast and made sure all the lines were running freely a couple of weeks earlier.)
Looking at the different ropes, known as halyards, hanging from the mast, it was less obvious what to do. We procrastinated, asking the previous owner for help…he was otherwise disposed. (So much for his promise of going out for the first sail with us and making sure we got to know the boat when we were vacillating on buying her!) From random pictures I took when looking at the boat we pieces it together, but getting the sails on was a bit more tricky. With a massive sort-out still needed inside, we put off this task till it was absolutely necessary.
The day came on Monday, when our mooring spot was needed for other boats. We spent half a day on a big tidy up, securing everything so things wouldn’t go flying when we went sailing.
Our plan was to sail to Norrköping, Sweden’s version of Manchester, as they have a marina and the town is easy for any last minute supplies. This was some 15 nm away. However, the wind wasn’t with us, so we changed our mind to go the opposite direction to Nävekvarn, a harbour we’d checked out a couple of weeks before by car. Not as convenient to get to but an easy sail.
With winds of 12-15 knots from the West we were looking at a 2-2.5 hour sail. We hanked on the headsail as a self-tacking sail, as we originally throught we’d be tacking up (zig-zagging to go towards the direction the wind blows from) the fjord to Norrköping. In our excitement and nervousness to get away we forgot to change to a better downwind sailing set up.
As we motored away from our mooring all was going fine. We intended to put on the mainsail when we had a bit of sea room, but when we got out to clear waters and hoisted the foresail, I decided it was enough and we were better off learning the lines with just the jib.
This sail on the self-tacking rail was not the most efficient, twisting and spilling wind. Yet we still saw 6.5 knot speed and had a lovely sail. Angelina even came up with a boat song. We were at the entrance of Nävekvarn within an hour and half. We talked about all the ways we could celebrate our first sail on Mariposa…my goodness were we tempting Neptune!
As we switched on the engine and turned into the wind to furl the foresail things started to go crazy. The furling, which rolls the sail neatly up wouldn’t work and the sail got tangled in all sorts of weird ways.
Just as we were getting somewhere with furling a loud alarm went off: the engine was overheating!
SHIT! The temperature was over boiling point!
We quickly switched off and after a minute of pause I realised we were in a narrow channel with no way of propulsion and the winds were pushing us to the rocks nearby.
The foresail needed to go back out, which it did, with some further complications.
And then we began a comfortable 2 hours of tacking up wind, zig-zagging, drawing hearts -according to Hugo- on the map that was recording our track.
It was beautiful!
In the meantime, Antoine opened the engine compartment and made several phone calls to the old owner, the Swedish rescue service and a friend.
With the extra air the engine cooled and we switched it on again. The water was pumping out at the back, so part of the cooling was working…but the gauge showed the temperature climb quickly.
We switched off and contemplated options.
It was then, after we’d had the fun of tacking, getting a feel for the boat on different angles of sail, did we remember why we both fell in love with sailing: the ability to harness the wind. We remembered that both Antoine and I had learned to sail and had our first adventures on boats with no engines. We had aced getting out of harbours and back to our moorings without engines in our youth. Why shouldn’t we be able to do it now?
We grabbed binoculars and sussed out where we could moor. It seemed we could pull alongside the pontoon. I briefed kids and Antoine on the mooring plan and we sailed in. Last minute we had a wobble and switched on the engine but left it in neutral, watching the temperature gauge like a hawk.
As we approached the dock we dropped the sail- Angelina on the halyard, Hugo pulling it on deck-, we didn’t bother trying to furl it this time, Antoine jumped on the dock with mooring lines, Hugo put out the fenders and Angelina passed the mooring lines to shore. Meanwhile, Max was staying out of our way below deck minding Alice, our dog.
It all went like clockwork. I was super proud crew!
Just as we’d tied off, out popped a head from the boat across the dock and suggested we moor next to him, as it was a lot more protected. It wasn’t far so we thought we’d risk motoring around with the engine. This was mooring between finger pontoons. As we hadn’t discussed the plans to moor there in such detail this manoeuvre wasn’t totally smooth, but was ace considering it was our second time only with our boat.
… As for all the rewards we’d thought of a few hours earlier… well, the kids popped out to the playground, while I rustled up a quick egg and noodle soup.
Then it was bedtime for all of us. We were exhausted!
Mariposa rocked us to sleep very nicely!
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