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It’s Good To Be The Captain!

Posted: Thu, Jul 17, 2014


Location: Stockholm Archipelago
Author: John Ishmael “The Gardner”

Not everybody gets to be a Captain. Some days, it is not much fun to be Captain. Today was a great day to be a Captain aboard Andromeda.

AQ rarely has 0500hr starts. But today, we did, kinda. In order to get off the dock by 5AM, means you have to get up at 0430. And that is just painful, so I elected to get up at five and do a quick departure. We have a long way, ~150nm, to go today.

Peter, the gentleman he is, came over to say goodbye and cast off our lines. Such a pleasure to see him again. He will be missed. Three of the four flowers made the 0500 deck call to help with fenders and lines. Sunflower, Bluebonnet and Desert Rose sleepily handled the soggy lines and fenders.

The sunrise is early here but what most people don’t understand that while sunrise might happen at 445AM, there is the soft glow of sun at 330, as the sun ever so slowly rises. And for about an hour, a butterscotch sky illuminates evergreen hills circling small islands throughout this archipelago. We steamed south through the sound from Vaxholm and to the small channel which heads south to the Baltic Sea. Stockholm is not a coastal city. Instead, it is nestled deep within a myriad of inlets and islands. It will take us about 3-4hr to reach the sea from here, along a convoluted course in around rocks and islands. Quite an elaborate ferry system exist here, as travel is most efficiently done by boat. Ferry service includes the smallest of islands, even those inhabited by only a few homes. One may simply walk out to the ferry landing and wave down a passing vessel to get a ride. Similarly, mail service is done the same way. Mail bags are hung upon metal post at the ferry landing. As the ferry approaches, the mailman walks to the bow with a long stick to collect or deposit a mail bag.

The rather complex islands surrounding Stockholm contributed to the security and stability of the city. An invading force by sea was vulnerable as it approached the city through this hazardous maze.

For the navigators, it is challenging and rewarding, picking your way through the maze. Focus is difficult as the splendor beauty of the area is distraction. The subtle light playing upon glass water through narrow channels makes for elaborate mornings. The Swans with little ducklings made for an idyllic morning. At the Braggon Channel, where only 8 meters wide is a challenge for the beamy Andromeda. From the perspective of the pilot house, high above the water, I can see through the windows of the cottage below, a family enjoying a quiet breakfast. They waved and I passed quietly with my 50ton vessel only 12ft away. I think I could smell their toast!

As we exited the archipelago, the broad Baltic lay ahead, calm and quiet. Now with only 120 nautical miles to go, the challenging navigating was over. We now struck a straight line to the north end of land and the small fishing village of Bda. This passage, while not all that fun, is important as keeping a keen eye for small craft and large ships. As a means of recompense, Tulip, who had missed the 5 AM deck call, came up to the bridge and stood watch so I could get a little lunch and quick nap.

It was about 11PM when we arrived Bda. I was very tired. The survey team from MMT had arranged for dockage in Bda. It is a small village with a very small harbor, shallow water and a tight entrance. I have learned to err on the side of caution when it comes to maneuvering in tricky situations when I am tired. So, I elected to anchor in the bay. After a long day at sea, we were all exhausted. Without the help of Toberlone, ice cream, frozen pizza and all of the flowers, we would not have made it. Especially tulip.

Early the next morning we would go into the harbor. It was then, upon seeing the harbor, glad I was to of anchored offshore.

Yes, it was a good day to be captain, Cheers!
Cpt. Johnathan S. Ishmael ( The Gardner )

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