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Old 14-06-2014, 04:42   #16
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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
A Baltic cruising day.

I’m not actually just cruising; I’m working this summer in Finland. I love my work, so for me this is a really pleasant combination – sail, work, sail, meanwhile live on the boat. I don’t have a really rigid schedule and don’t really have to be in Finland all the time, but it’s useful to be nearby.

Yesterday one investor of mine was supposed to come with his teenage son and spend the weekend sailing, but he didn’t show up. So I slipped the lines anyway and took off, to nowhere in particular, with no ambitions to go far or do anything special. I was in Kotka and decided just to motor over to Hamina, 10 miles as the crow flies and 20 according to the pilot book (after all the rock-dodging). I was expecting light wind on the nose and didn’t fancy slow tacking while dodging rocks, so planned on motoring. But in the event the wind had some South in it, so I sailed – very slowly. 8 knots of wind and 4 knots of boat speed, then 7 knots of wind and 3 knots of boat speed, but I couldn’t make myself put on the motor, it was so gorgeous.

The beauty of this coast is hard to describe – it is a crazy moonscape of rocks and skerries. The rocks extend for miles from the mainland. The depth sounder gets a workout as you can be in 30 meters of water which turns into 3 meters in a second, then back to 30. The charts are not exact, and over significant areas you are on your own with your depth sounder. My Finnish crewman, during the trip from Kiel, told me not to worry too much – it’s true that there’s not enough hydrography to match the fantastic complexity of the bottom, but real hazards which could rip your keel off are mostly noted.

Since I was sailing so slowly, in glassy calm waters and wan evening sunshine, I decided to make myself some dinner and consider this a “dinner cruise”. So that’s what I did, watching the beautiful landscape go by, nothing but rocks, skerries, and trees, no sign of civilization at all but for the occasional giant paper mill.

On the horizon to the North there were angry black clouds, but since the gentle wind was from SE, and the sky was clear to the SE, I didn’t think much of it. But soon after finishing dinner, the wind backed suddenly to N and freshened. I realized I was going to get a drenching, so I took in sails and started motoring. So I motored past the huge tank farm and the large commercial port of Hamina, and up the river to the old port. Just as I reached this beautiful spot, the clouds opened – literally, one cable from the quay. Damn! And I couldn’t tie up to the quay –the only spot free turned out to be the pump-out station, with a yellow line showing you can’t berth there. So I circled around, now soaked to the skin, and got ready to head back out to the anchorage I had chosen for backup, when I see a woman waving to me from a wooden pier on the little island just across from the historic quay of Hamina. Wearing nothing but a towel. She said in good English: You can tie up here! She was moving a rowboat from the end of the pier, and took my lines. She said something like “Sorry for my appearance; but I’m a Finnish girl – I was in sauna”. So I got the boat secured to the little pier, with space for maybe six boats, with only three there (all ancient Swans), and gratefully plugged into the electrical pedestal. This is some kind of yacht club, and the club building is a beautiful, old wooden building with a kind of turret. I go up to the club, and am nearly eaten alive by two dogs. The owner comes out and looks at my strangely – like, what do you want? I tell him that I would like to pay for my berth. He replies: “This is not a commercial harbor. This is a club, open only to member and our friends. We don’t take money for berthing. Welcome to Finland; please use our showers, toilets, electricity. The sauna is over there and it’s already hot. You are our guest.”

How nice! And the lady in the towel turned out to be the owner of the gorgeous Swan 47 opposite. She and he husband came over for gin & tonics and sat up with me until the early hours talking about the sea. They are real hard-core sailors; they came down to sleep on the boat over the weekend because “I can’t sleep properly on land.” They had been across the Atlantic 20 years ago on their previous boat, a Beneteau First 32, to the Caribbean then to Florida, then back to Finland via Bermuda, Azores, England, etc. They bought their present boat in the Mediterranean, and sailed it all the way (!) to Finland in 15 days, against the wind most of the way.

Now I’m going to put my dinghy down and go across to explore the town.

How I am enjoying Baltic cruising. I think this is just about as good as it gets!
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Old 14-06-2014, 04:55   #17
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

great commentary,how is the fishing,have you tried dropping a mackrel rig over the side?
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Old 14-06-2014, 10:40   #18
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

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My boat in front of the atmospheric Hamina Sailing Club (which is an ancient Russian dacha on a little island in the harbor).
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Old 14-06-2014, 10:44   #19
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

Scenes from Hamina:

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Old 14-06-2014, 11:52   #20
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

More Hamina:

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Old 14-06-2014, 12:09   #21
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

Great read, thanks Dockhead!
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Old 01-08-2014, 06:54   #22
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

Here's one (of many) good source on pretty spots in Finland: http://www.edge.me.uk/105%20Rocks.pdf
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Old 01-08-2014, 11:26   #23
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

Thanks for great info and excellent pics Dockhead!

I'm such a warm weather person, that I wonder if it'd be a little too cool for me. But - I guess in the July timeframe (now) it registers in the seventies for a daily high? Probably sixties at night? Sounds like a place where you can be very close to the big city (if you need access for medical facilities, etc) - and at the same time far enough removed to "get away from it all"

Six hundred miles by about 100 miles of enclosed sea, no tides, no swell ... sounds very interesting. Looks like the "20,000" islands are bunched up in the middle, waiting for the adventurer, yet not really very far from Stockholm. You mention that only a couple people made great praises for the area, thus sparking your interest. Recently, I've seen relatively frequent remarks about Baltic sailing. Many of them right here on CF.

Which side of Copenhagen did you enter through?
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Old 02-08-2014, 06:41   #24
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

I've just gotten back from sailing the swedish archipelago for a month, so I'm going to add my impressions to Dockhead's. First I should note that I live in Copenhagen, so I sail the Baltic all the time. But I don't get to the Archipelago very often so I think my comments are valid.

We certainly have had the weather with us. Nearly 30 days of sunshine and 15 knot winds - with that kind of weather almost any place is wonderful to sail. Our original plan was to sail Copenhagen- Helsinki in one go, then work our way back through Estonia, Latvia and Lituania.

The best laid plans of mice and men..............

The prevailing winds in the Baltic are from the southwest/west. Rarely do we get winds from the east/northeast for any length of time.

Like a racehorse breaking from the gate, we charged out of the Falsterbo Canal a month ago and ran into 15 knots winds from the east. Which meant we had to beat hard up on the wind. 4 hours of sailing a port tack towards Poland, then the staboard tack that just let us clear Sandhammen, the corner of Sweden. This meant we could stay on this starboard tack for most of the next day.

Would that it were so, the wind moved to the northeast and we then had to start tacking again, which we did for the next day and half. Finally after 2 1/2 days of sailing close-hauled, the last 18 hours on a starboard tack with 2 reefs in the main and two reefs in the genua (winds were 20-25 knots, waves were running 2-3 meters), we decided we were on holiday, not in an endurance contest and called it quits, making harbour in Visby on Gotland.

As Dockhead has noted, the waves in the Baltic have a short length and are fairly steep, so even 2-3 meter waves means you're taking a pounding. The front deck is constantly running in water.

Having made the decision to scratch the Finland/Baltic States trip, we sailed back over to the Swedish Archipelago. We wanted to go to the Archipelago south of Stockholm (20,000+ islands) but were unable to buy paper charts for that area. I had paper charts for the areas further south.

We made a try at sailing the islands without paper charts, but after a day of near heart attacks and deep frustration, we bailed out and went south to the area where we had charts.

It is not possible to sail the archipelago without paper charts - I defy anyone to do it, even with a large scale plotter like my Furuno 12 inch. You just can't get an overview.

Dockhead says it is like a mze and I agree. You can be sailing a channel and see a beautiful cove that you would love to anchor in - but you'll need to sail 5-6 nm around other islands to get to channel that is deep enough for your boat.

The locals sail in and out between the islands, ignoring the marked channels. I can only say don't even attempt that if you have your keel dear.

We anchored in some of lovliest coves imaginable - all alone. I did have to admit defeat in one cove. Our 25 kilo bruce simply wouldn't bite. We tried 5 times with no result. The sea grass was simply too thick for the Bruce to get down to the mud.

But with literally millions of possible anchoring sites it was no problem to just sail to the next cove and anchor there. One very popular method of exploring these island is to drop a stern anchor and then sail the bow right up against the cliff, step off, drive a piton into the cliff, tie off the bows and - there you are - anchored for the night.

That does require that you have a good sized stern anchor. For my boat that would mean 25 kilos. While I can haul a 25 kilo anchor up with just muscle power - if you do this often, then it is a great idea to mount an anchor winch in the stern, which many Finns and Swedes do.

We did also stay in various marinas, and I can beat Dockheads prices. I read in a harbour pilot that it was possible to stay at a sailing clubs private harbour, providing you called first reached and agreement. What the hell - so I called.

The harbourmaster asked for our size and told us we were welcome. When we arrived he was standing at the end of the pier and asked how did we want to lie? stern to the sun, bows to the wind? Then please use that berth over there. He made his way over to take our lines and help us in.
I got my wallet and wanted to pay, but he said he would come back later. In the meantime, we were welcome to use the showers, toilets, grills, sauna, hook up the electricity and fill our tanks with water. Noting the boat needed washing - he also said we should just wash our boat and use their water.

Later he did come back and apologetically asked for 10 euros for the berth (we sail a 40 footer)! 10 euros? I truly thought he was joking, but he wasn't.

The facilities were all first rate - clean as a whistle and very modern.

Rounding this off - I'm in complete agreement with Dockhead - The Baltic is a cruisers playground. We bathed off the back end of the boat every day. The water you tank is clean, potable and tastes good, Food and alcohol are more expensive that most other places, but the marinas are cheap.
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Old 05-04-2015, 09:23   #25
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

Dockhead and others, thank you for posting such good and useful information about the Baltic. Probably like most of you I plan our sailing out several years. I think we will probably leave the Med in two years time and at that point have a choice to turn South and return to the Caribbean or North. North has been winning the war in my mind over the last few months. But it is a minimum three year commitment to do so and will bring in sailing issues which I've never experienced.


The main ones I see right now are tides, cold weather, and marinas/towns that are not suited to a large beam catamaran. Maybe my boat is not suited to this area in general. I also have to watch my VAT status more closely because it appears the only place that resets the 18 months is Norway.

It looks like the tidal range in Bergen is 5' and from what Dockhead said, in the Baltic it is minimal. Are there other areas where the tides are greater? I've seen a lot of photo's of boat sitting high and dry and wonder if that will be a problem.

For cold weather, we do have heat pumps on board which work, though I've never used them. I'd have to run a generator all the time though or be plugged in to shore power. Do you need heat at night? I also notice that every picture I see of sailors has them outfitted in full foul weather gear regardless of the sea state. Do you always need to wear warm clothes, can you swim much?

Do you all see many catamarans in this area? Would there be problems with berthing and hauling out for the winter? Is it expensive to haul in this area? What area would be the best for me to investigate for winter storage?

I've ordered the Norwegian Cruising Guide and plan on reading that thoroughly but any advice you all can pass on would be appreciated.
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Old 05-04-2015, 12:43   #26
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Palarran View Post
Dockhead and others, thank you for posting such good and useful information about the Baltic. Probably like most of you I plan our sailing out several years. I think we will probably leave the Med in two years time and at that point have a choice to turn South and return to the Caribbean or North. North has been winning the war in my mind over the last few months. But it is a minimum three year commitment to do so and will bring in sailing issues which I've never experienced.


The main ones I see right now are tides, cold weather, and marinas/towns that are not suited to a large beam catamaran. Maybe my boat is not suited to this area in general. I also have to watch my VAT status more closely because it appears the only place that resets the 18 months is Norway.

It looks like the tidal range in Bergen is 5' and from what Dockhead said, in the Baltic it is minimal. Are there other areas where the tides are greater? I've seen a lot of photo's of boat sitting high and dry and wonder if that will be a problem.

For cold weather, we do have heat pumps on board which work, though I've never used them. I'd have to run a generator all the time though or be plugged in to shore power. Do you need heat at night? I also notice that every picture I see of sailors has them outfitted in full foul weather gear regardless of the sea state. Do you always need to wear warm clothes, can you swim much?

Do you all see many catamarans in this area? Would there be problems with berthing and hauling out for the winter? Is it expensive to haul in this area? What area would be the best for me to investigate for winter storage?

I've ordered the Norwegian Cruising Guide and plan on reading that thoroughly but any advice you all can pass on would be appreciated.
Hi Palarran,

PM me with your e-mail and I can send you some detailed information on cruising the Baltic. There are no tides to speak of here (30 centimeters) and as Dockhead and I have noted over several hundred thousand islands to cruise and anchor at.

The summers up here are relatively short, but the good news is that it is light almost 24 hours per day. yes we do have our foulies on hand virtually all the time, but last year was an excellent summer and vinni and I cruised the swedish archipelago for a month and I only wore short pants and a polo the entire time (except a couple of evenings when we went into town at nicer restaurants where I put on a pair of white ducks.

It is possible to spend the winter on your boat - heating is necessary. If you're wintering on the boat you'll want to do it in either Denmark or Germany (gulf stream keeps the temp mostly above zero), again I can help you find some good places, kiel comes to mind - or cowes in the UK where Dockhead lives on his boat the entire year.

Widebeam cats are not prevalent in the Bltic, although most marinas do have spots for them, so I wouldn't worry all that much about that.

As Dockhead has noted - a number of his sailing buddies who have cruised the entire world have said -"there is no place like the Baltic anywhere - it is the world's premier cruising ground"

I freely admit to being biased (after all I am danish) but they are correct.

the food is excellent, marineas are cheap (internationally compared), the natives are good-looking and extremely friendly, you can drink the water everywhere and anchoring out is a national right so there is no charge for this anywhere.

sail on up and enjoy. If you are so inclined, you can sail around the northern part of scotland - even beth and evans have noted that northern scotland is very special and they never made it into the Baltic
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Old 05-04-2015, 12:59   #27
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

It is (almost) always fun to read what people from other part of the world writes about your own home area. I believe that’s the same about what I write.

In the Baltic there are long periods during the summer that have a temperature over 24 °C, there could even be periods that have over 28 °C. During the night it comes down to 18 °C.
Up in the sea of Botnia, they have almost the same temperature.
Most of the summer my sailing clothes are shorts and a T-shirt. But I was born here.
During the beginning of May and in the end of September, it is good to have some extra heat under the night.

The water is mostly over 20 °C and it happens it comes up to 24 °C.

There aren’t many catamarans in the Baltic. Many times you can find one or two place in the harbour to berthing but there aren’t many. In Sweden you are allowed to berth everywhere out in the nature as long you don’t disturb they who may live in the area. And on those places it’s an advantage to have a catamaran that often have a more shallow draft.

In the Great Lakes in US and Canada they talk about the thousand islands, but in the area around Stockholm over to Finland I thing there is thousand times more.

I do not have much experience from Finland, but I know that its note allowed berth everywhere.

It you come up to the north of Baltic, around N 60°, and north of that you will not se many boots.

There area many other countries around the Baltic. I have been in Germany many times, and in Poland twice. They have beautiful sand beach and long distance between the harbours (30 M). I know that the other countries on the east side of the Baltic also have sandy beaches, but I haven’t been there. The most of theme are in the EU, so there isn’t any problem with papers to sail over there.

There are long distances I Baltic. From the southern part of Sweden up to the northern part of the bay of Botnia there is 800 M.

From Rügen to Trelleborg there is 50 M.
From Gotland in to the main land there is 50 M.


Many things are different in Norway.

The temperature in the air is some degree lower and in the water I several degrees lower. But I did measure 22 °C in the water in Farsund last summer.

In the southern part, up to Stavanger, they have very little tidewater.
Further north in Norway the tidal range is higher.
When you come up to Narvik (N 68°), they have several meters of tidewater.

About berthing in harbours or out in the nature, it’s the same as in Sweden.

They have several very well protected harbours inside the island and in the fjords, but it is also a coast of the north Atlantic.

You are allowed to stay two years in Norway without paying Norwegian VAT.

The Norwegian Pilot Guide is at the moment free to download from
The Norwegian Pilot Guide – Sailing Directions | Kartverket


One summer we where two who sails over to Shetland. During the night we hade tree hours watches.
19 to 22 evening watch.
22 to 01 sun set watch.
01 to 04 sun rise watch.
04 to 07 morning watch.


The languishes isn’t any problem. If you understand Norwegian, you will understand Swedish and maybe Danish. But I was to say that “everyone” understand English.
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Old 05-04-2015, 14:12   #28
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

Quote:
Originally Posted by Palarran View Post
Dockhead and others, thank you for posting such good and useful information about the Baltic. Probably like most of you I plan our sailing out several years. I think we will probably leave the Med in two years time and at that point have a choice to turn South and return to the Caribbean or North. North has been winning the war in my mind over the last few months. But it is a minimum three year commitment to do so and will bring in sailing issues which I've never experienced.


The main ones I see right now are tides, cold weather, and marinas/towns that are not suited to a large beam catamaran. Maybe my boat is not suited to this area in general. I also have to watch my VAT status more closely because it appears the only place that resets the 18 months is Norway.

It looks like the tidal range in Bergen is 5' and from what Dockhead said, in the Baltic it is minimal. Are there other areas where the tides are greater? I've seen a lot of photo's of boat sitting high and dry and wonder if that will be a problem.

For cold weather, we do have heat pumps on board which work, though I've never used them. I'd have to run a generator all the time though or be plugged in to shore power. Do you need heat at night? I also notice that every picture I see of sailors has them outfitted in full foul weather gear regardless of the sea state. Do you always need to wear warm clothes, can you swim much?

Do you all see many catamarans in this area? Would there be problems with berthing and hauling out for the winter? Is it expensive to haul in this area? What area would be the best for me to investigate for winter storage?

I've ordered the Norwegian Cruising Guide and plan on reading that thoroughly but any advice you all can pass on would be appreciated.
Charter in the Carib in the winter, but for sure take your own boat North, would be my advice. It be be a crime to leave Europe without cruising the European Atlantic coasts, and the Baltic, in my opinion.

Galatia, the Spanish rias, South and North Brittany, the UK South Coast, are all utterly magical places. There are strong tides and hard weather in these places - will make a man out of you. Once you master sailing in the English Channel, you can sail anywhere.

Then on to the Baltic for summer, but I described that in the beginning ofthis thread.

To reset the VAT clock, you can sail to Norway if you're in the East, or to Russia in the East or central part of the Baltic (Kaliningrad). In the English Channel, you've got the Channel Islands for that.

Winter storage (even indoors) is cheap and good in Sweden. Or, you can do what I do, which is to sail back to the UK South coast where you can sail year round. UK South coast marinas are the most expensive in Europe, but there are huge discounts in winter. Some people like to overwinter in St Katherines Dock, in the center of London. Or Brittany.

Concerning berthing a huge cat - you will have problems, but they are not insurmountable. You will have to use commercial harbours pretty often, or anchor out, I reckon. I had problems myself - there are almost no sailboats over 50' in the Baltic, and even fewer cats. But you can anchor anywhere, so it's not that big a deal. In a whole summer in the Baltic, I only shared an anchorage once with another boat. There are literally millions of islands. There is no such thing as a guide to anchorages -- the idea is absurd.

I guess the best way to describe the Baltic in two words is that it is an absolutely unique combination of total unspoiled wilderness, with high civilization. There's all the infrastructure you could ever want - when you want it. And when you don't, you can be completely alone with the wildest nature. There's no crime, and no one looks at you with envy or malice as a "rich foreign yachtsman". And on top of that, since there are 10 countries on its shores, there is an incredible variety of things to see and do.
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Old 05-04-2015, 14:24   #29
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

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Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
Charter in the Carib in the winter, but for sure take your own boat North, would be my advice. It be be a crime to leave Europe without cruising the European Atlantic coasts, and the Baltic, in my opinion.

Galatia, the Spanish rias, South and North Brittany, the UK South Coast, are all utterly magical places. There are strong tides and hard weather in these places - will make a man out of you. Once you master sailing in the English Channel, you can sail anywhere.

Then on to the Baltic for summer, but I described that in the beginning ofthis thread.

To reset the VAT clock, you can sail to Norway if you're in the East, or to Russia in the East or central part of the Baltic (Kaliningrad). In the English Channel, you've got the Channel Islands for that.

Winter storage (even indoors) is cheap and good in Sweden. Or, you can do what I do, which is to sail back to the UK South coast where you can sail year round. UK South coast marinas are the most expensive in Europe, but there are huge discounts in winter. Some people like to overwinter in St Katherines Dock, in the center of London. Or Brittany.

Concerning berthing a huge cat - you will have problems, but they are not insurmountable. You will have to use commercial harbours pretty often, or anchor out, I reckon. I had problems myself - there are almost no sailboats over 50' in the Baltic, and even fewer cats. But you can anchor anywhere, so it's not that big a deal. In a whole summer in the Baltic, I only shared an anchorage once with another boat. There are literally millions of islands. There is no such thing as a guide to anchorages -- the idea is absurd.

I guess the best way to describe the Baltic in two words is that it is an absolutely unique combination of total unspoiled wilderness, with high civilization. There's all the infrastructure you could ever want - when you want it. And when you don't, you can be completely alone with the wildest nature. There's no crime, and no one looks at you with envy or malice as a "rich foreign yachtsman". And on top of that, since there are 10 countries on its shores, there is an incredible variety of things to see and do.
Dockhead - lets be fair, I believe that authoritive count I once saw said there are just over 4 million islands in the Baltic. I mean we don't want to mislead anyone
Sheeeeit - they might run out of island to anchor by.................................
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Re: Impressions of the Baltic

And, you can even cruise the several very large lakes in Sweden. Some day, I hope to go there in my own multihull, though I am slightly too beamy (24 feet) for the entrance of the Gota Canal, which takes you, via canals, locks and lakes all the way to Stockholm. I'll have to enter from Stockholm and exit from there as well. But it will be worth it.
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