Monday, August 20, 2007

Sailing in 15.6 knots

This past Saturday I was out sailing Hobie Cat in the Stockholm archipelago with my friend Anders, his girl-friend Carina and our mutual salsa friend Johan. It was a wonderful day with beautiful weather to start with, then cloudy and finally a little rainy. But who cares when you’re getting soaking wet anyhow while having so much fun?! It was a very windy day, great for sailing a catamaran. We were all happy since we enjoy speed. We clocked 15.6 knots at one point which is quite fast!

I don’t have much experience of sailing but with people like Johan and Anders, who clearly know what they’re doing and telling me what to do, it all worked out rather well. Besides, I didn’t have to do much but to hang in a harness out over the water on the sides of the Hobie Cat, used as balancing weight on the side of the sail from where the wind came. Wet, windy and fantastic fun! I think I had a smile on my face the whole day.

We were out about 6 hours, starting by Lidingö, sailing to Stora Värtan but turning around when we found that there was hardly any wind, and then sailed east-bound on Askrikefjärden (the Askrike Bay) in the direction of Waxholm. We anchored by an island close to Hasseludden to have picnic lunch. We rather carelessly tied the Hobie Cat by a public landing stage and used another pole by a private landing stage to keep the catamaran from pulling its moors in the wind. This however cut off the access to the private landing docks and we got a scolding from an impatient, arrogant and rather rude woman with a German accent (from then on named “the Achtung Bitch” by us) who came to the island with her motorboat only a few minutes after our landing and immediately complained about our unauthorized use of the pole on their private landing stage, which she found totally unacceptable. She had no sympathy for the fact that we at that very moment were diving after Anders’s digital camera which he had accidentally dropped in the 2-2.5 meter deep water while tying the moors. I was with Anders the last time he lost an, at the time brand new, digital camera during off-pist heliskiing in Kittelfjäll last year… That particular camera was never to be found, but luckily this one was. Johan is a travel guide on adventure trips and a seasoned diver, so he found the camera on the bottom of the sea after only three dives. Anders drew a loud sigh of relief (luckily it was also a water-proof camera down to 6 meters, so all his images and video clips were saved).

You’ll find a selection of my photos as well as some taken by Anders below.
View the rest of my photos on Flickr>>
View Anders’s photos on Flickr>>

Carina & Anders


Johan, Carina & AK

Me hanging in harness

The Hobie Cat - Landing for picnic lunch

Johan & I

Just got showered!
Carina & I

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sail-salsa 2007 at Vindalsö

Last week I spent a few days in the Stockholm archipelago with 35-40 salsa friends on the annual “Sail-salsa”, which I have been to three times now. Unfortunately I ended up missing the first 1.5 days of this activity, following my Puerto Rico trip, due to bad weather conditions resulting in delays and a missed flight from New York. Once I got out to the island Vindalsö I was pretty tired and jetlagged but nonetheless happy to be there. Niklas and Annika of Djungelsalsa every year organize this combined sailing and dancing trip. Vindalsö is normally used by sea scouts. It is not too far from the popular Sandhamn and the closest stop for commercial boats from Stockholm City or the Stavsnäs Vinterhamn (winter harbor) is Idholmen.

Nicke & Annika

All participants at the annual sail-salsa are divided into teams for various activities, including helping to prepare lunch and dinner every day and competing in occasional group activities. Apparently last year’s participants had given feedback to Niklas and Annika that they wanted fewer scheduled, joint activities, giving more freedom for spontaneous activities or pure relaxation. There were however some yoga, meditation, tango and Friskis & Svettis workout lessons given, but apart from that people were free to go sailing or sunbathing and reading a book, singing karaoke or other activities as they pleased. Previous years we’ve had treasure hunts and I kind of missed them; they were always great fun and allowed you to bond with your team mates.

There is a house on the island with bunk-beds and those who register early for the sail-salsa get one, the others have to sleep on the floor or camp in tents. I was lucky enough to get a bunk-bed so I got some decent sleep. But unless you bring ear-plugs you may have a hard time sleeping because boy, some guys really snore!

There is a sauna on the island. We usually heat up there after a night of salsa dancing on the outdoor dance arena and then dive into the sea from a landing stage outside the sauna. The water was extremely cold this year – there hasn’t been much of a summer weather warming up the sea – so most people came up again faster than they hit the water!

You’ll find a selection of my photos from Vindalsö below. More photos are available in my photo album on Flickr>>

Boathouse and kitchen

Dance floor - when the scouts are using the island, this is just a roofed gathering place where they take their meals at some simple wooden tables and benches

Karin W meditating

Anders K – check out his photos from the sail-salsa here>>

Another Anders practicing Iaido on the beach

Kia & Micke

Veronica, Karin & Håkan W sing karaoke

Left: Anders K, Jackie & Eva prepare dinner. Right: Håkan

Left: Dinner on the beach. Right: Chef Anneli

Michael Lowry, an American from Texas who has been living in Sweden for a while now – he is by the way a great photographer! See more photos from the sail-salsa on his blog. I have taken the liberty of ‘borrowing’ a few photos from Michael below (where noted in parenthesis)…

Me (photo by Michael Lowry)


Percy & Veronica

Me & Johan Hast

Salsa dancing
Every night after dinner and sunset, we started dancing salsa on the outdoor wooden floor. There were also occasional swing (lindyhop), tango and disco tunes spreading in the night. There were always a bunch of people who kept dancing till 2 or 3 am, including myself.

Karin W & AK

Michael & Fanta

Fanta & Johan

Rock ring contest
One of the nights Niklas organized a ‘rock ring’ contest – you remember those plastic rings that you tried to ‘rock’ around your hips when you were a kid? Veronica certainly remembered – she was the Queen of Rock Ring and completely demolished the rest of us.

African theme
One of the nights every year has a special theme. Last year it was native Indians and this year it was an African theme. Fanta from French Guinea gave us a lesson in African dance on the beach, which gave me a nice muscle ache in my abdomen, back and thighs which I haven’t felt in a while... Fanta is apparently a famous dancer in her country and her parents (passed away a couple of years ago) and brother famous musicians. She was kind enough to braid my hair before the evening activity and I got to practice my French a little bit.

African dance with Fanta from Guinea (four photos above by Michael Lowry)

Left: Annika & Håkan W. Right: Veronica, Eva, Jackie

Left: Andrew & Elin. Right: Mark, Percy & Niklas

We were divided into two tribes for the evening activity and even fought a war with bows and arrows in the woods, pretending to be African Masai and Zulu warriors fighting each other in a live roll-play. This was great fun but I am still suffering from bruises here and there from the arrows that hit me – Håkan Wirén and Johan Hast are too good bow-men, I’m afraid… I was supposed to be a ‘War Amazon’ in my tribe and leading eight other female bow-shooters, which I failed miserably at since I and several of the others were hit and ‘died’ several times.

Håkan and I at war… (three photos above by Michael Lowry)
Left: Camp fire. Right: Veronica & Jackie

AK & Fanta dancing late-night salsa after African activities

Jackie, Karin & Veronica

After a few days of fun activities, it was time to clean up, empty latrines, sort trash, pack and leave the archipelago. It’s been fun and I already long for next summer!