I had expected the long trip to the Svenska Högarna to take at least two nights, but we had skimmed across in just three hours. Having had a good look around the main island again after passing a peaceful night tucked in the sheltered little harbour, it seemed a shame to waste the SW breeze and not reach back towards Svartlöga. The main routes are either North or West into the main channels, and this is the way that all the other yachts went. The disadvantages for us would be much further than a direct NW route and would also involve a beat for at least part of the journey.
Why were we hesitating to take the direct route? Well, that would be because of the several island groups with their associated skerries in between! We have been using Navionics on the ipad as our main navigation aid and I had noticed how accurate the charts were; once can zoom in to a scale of a hundred feet and pick an accurate course through the rocks. The best advice the local sailors ha e given me on this trip was “stay in the white parts of the chart” and this works well, as it’s very unlikely to encounter an uncharted rock in those bits.
So, the strategy we decided on was to sail right through the island groups in our path, altering course as needed to avoid the rocks. This strategy worked a treat, and we seldom dropped below 5kts, even though we had only staysail and main all through the islands. Being on a reach, it was easy to harden up or bear away when required and so shape a course to thread through the numerous rocks and shoals.
The journey first covered the 5nm of open sea to the first island group, Fredlarna, and we wove our way between the islands. These small and rather remote islands nevertheless had a smattering of summer houses and a sheltered little harbour. After a brief anchor stop for lunch, we passed away from the northern end of this group and were soon passing through the In-Fredel group. So far, this was along a recommended track, but after In-Fredel, the track turned North. We maintained our reach and had an exciting high-speed reach through the Ängskär group.
Once we were clear of this last group of islands, we unfurled the Yankee and I pointed Aurora’s bowsprit directly towards the harbour. We made fantastic time again, covering the 17.5nm in a little over four hours.