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On a cool morning in August, we walked out to a quiet, empty boat dock in Stockholm harbor. We didn’t really know what to expect, except that we would be spending the day fishing and sailing through the Swedish Archipelago. There were twelve of us that eventually wandered in ones and twos to the meeting point. Still no boats to be seen.
Finally, a small 28 foot fishing boat motored in and tied up at the dock. Fish and Relax was here. One look at the small boat and another at the group of travel writers, cameras and gear in hand, and I knew we wouldn’t all fit aboard. There must be another boat coming.
Sure enough, amidst the quiet grumbling and worry by the other tour group members (how could we all possibly fit on that little boat?), another boat came gliding through Stockholm’s water.
This was the beautifully sleek sailing yacht from Out Sailing. There was a slight sigh from the group. All would be well, and a slow rustling and jostling ensued as some of the group began edging toward the sailboat’s mooring point.
I didn’t worry, though. Let them take the sailboat first. Every good fisherman knows you have to get up early in the morning for the best fishing. And in the land of the midnight sun, 8:00 A.M was already too late.
Still, we would have a better chance now than later. Sure enough, the group was divided in two smaller groups as half of us climbed aboard each boat. Catch and Relax’s boat was, in fact, comfortable and relaxing and we enjoyed the ride as we motored out into the waters of the archipelago. Looking back towards the port I noticed the sailboat, also motoring along as the day’s wind had not picked up yet.
After about 40 minutes of easy cruising past well manicured cottages and summer homes, we eventually came to our first fishing spot. The fish finder showed a small cluster of fish off towards the reeds on the shoreline so we cut the motor and slowly drifted along with the current, casting and reeling. Somewhere nearby a loon began calling and the wind rustled the reeds.
The peace and tranquility of this place was sublime. This is what fishing is all about. Getting out into nature, connecting with the world around us, and just enjoying life.
Then suddenly, the fishing rod jerks heavily toward the water! Hold tight! Pull back quickly to set the hook! Too slowly, and despite the burst of adrenaline, the fish is gone. At this point, it’s easy to give up, but now we know there are fish in the waters so patiently we go on.
Finally, another jerk, and a yank on the rod. This one’s not going anywhere! I slowly and carefully reeled him in to the boat. A quick picture, check the weight, and then quickly let him slip and slide back into the water and back into his deep dark hole to nurse his wounds and wonder, what was that!
It was late in the morning, so I was surprised to have as much fish activity as we did, but it was a fantastic morning. You really can’t beat being out on the water in a comfortable, dry boat with a fishing rod in your hands.
Yet somehow, the idea of sailing in the afternoon was taking over. There hadn’t been any wind all morning, but now a slow breeze was picking up. Maybe we would have some wind to fill our sails after the switch.
After a few hours of fishing, we set a course for a tiny little wooded cove where we would rendezvous with our sailing compadres. We found them and regaled them with fish tales about the one we caught, but even more about the ones that got away. They were all a little quiet and cold.
There hadn’t been much wind that morning so they had spent most of the time motoring around the islands of the archipelago admiring the beautiful scenery. A little adventure on the fishing boat was just what they wanted. We all sat aboard the yacht drinking tea and coffee and enjoying the tasty little cinnamon rolls ubiquitously famous in a Swedish Fika (aka coffee break).
However, soon it was time to part ways again and continue the adventure. Talking with the sailing boat captain and owner of Out Sailing, we found that there had been little wind but he was hopeful for the afternoon.
Let the Wind Take You Away!
Just as we were settling into the comfortable seats and sipping one last cup of tea from the Fika, the wind lifted and the boat came to life. It wasn’t much at first. Just enough to keep us moving steadily along the narrow channels, emerald green islands rising up on either side. Still, it was fun!
We were slipping through the water quietly, slowly picking up speed. The next thing we knew it was time to unfurl the main sail and boy did we pick up speed. I won’t lie, there is some hard work to sailing. Hauling on ropes, wrestling the sail into place, but modern technology has made this much easier than in the days of wooden ships teeming with sailors.
The time passed too quickly, it seemed to pick up its pace along with the wind. We had the spinnaker out, filled with a steady wind that sailors love. I was on the wheel guiding the living vessel under the not so careful guidance of the skipper.
I think he thought I knew what I was doing. Or he knew that no matter what the boat wouldn’t capsize. There was a safety feature that would automatically turn the boat into the wind if I tried to take it too hard.
We had her heeled over at a very steep angle at one point. I was gripping the wheel hard, trying with all of my effort to maintain the direction the captain had ordered, when suddenly, just when I thought we were surely going over, up the boat turned, into the wind despite my efforts to turn her back.
It was a learning experience and I knew from that point what too far was and would take it up to that point and then back off just a little. What a thrilling ride!
It was over all to soon as we had been making our way all the while to Vaxholm where we had a date with a fine dining lunch buffet. We pulled in the sails and motored the last few meters into port. After this beautiful day of sailing and fishing, I don’t know about the others in my group, but somehow I felt transformed, part of the sea life that pervades Sweden’s 10,000 island archipelago.