Winter storage. The Swedes have a word for it and that word is Vinterförvaring. In this part of the world boats have to be lifted out of the water, the engine and water systems must be winterized and the vessel should be covered or, depending on your concern about the effects of the long, cold Scandinavian winter, they can be moved into storage barns, some heated, some not.
The issue of where to store Arcturus for the winter had been on my mind ever since I took possession of her at the beginning of June. But with so many other challenges to distract me, I decided to delay giving the matter any attention until much closer to my departure date. In hindsight, this was a mistake.
There was one particularly helpful Swedish chap, Gunnar Sundqvist, who moored next to me at Wasahamnen during one of my repeated visits. He was very curious about the boat and when I told him I’d be headed up to Norrtalje for the winter he strongly recommend I use Rosättra Batvarv (boatyard) about 20km north of the town. He gave me their phone number and even told me I could use his name for a reference. Trouble was, by the time I had left the boat at Wasahamnen one final time on July 26th and driven to our friend’s country house near Rimbo for a few days R&R on terra firma, those folks had left for their summer vacation. No answer on the phone and no answer to emails. I even drove up there. The boatyard is about half an hour’s drive outside Norrtalje at the end of a windy and deserted road framed by a thick Swedish pine forest. The place was deserted. It had plenty of sheds with perhaps half a dozen boats already in situ for the winter. But it had a creepy, post apocalyptic feel to it. Peering through the office I saw papers on the floor and dust on the desk. It looked like it hadn’t been used for a while. I half expected to see Rick Grimes and a herd of walkers emerge from the trees….
I drove back to Rimbo to research my options and ask my Swedish host for his advice. The Grepen Marine Batvarv in Oregrund recommended by Mia would have been my first choice, but it was a long 2-3 day sail from Stockholm and my son had come down with a nasty case of strep throat, delaying my departure and forcing me to find somewhere a little closer. Which is how I found Ramsmora Boat Yard on the southern side of the island of Ljusterö, about half a day’s sail from Stockholm. They were more expensive than Grepen Marine (almost twice as much, in the end), but they were efficient, they had room for me, and best of all, they weren’t away on vacation…
Which is why Tuesday, August 4th found me bidding a final farewell to the wonderful gasthamn at Wasahamnen and motoring east then north east down the busy main channel that links Stockholm with the archipelago and the Baltic. At Granholmen, (about 8nm away) I turned north and passed the historic fortress of Vaxholm, then threaded the needle between several small islands until I cleared Scarpo. This is the route of the large ferries heading to both Riga and St. Petersburg so it requires plenty of attention and given some of the narrow passes involved, I kept the engine on and the sails down.
Approaching Grinda about 5nm later, I carefully negotiated a tight pass between two menacing-looking rocks with perhaps ten feet of clearance either side. That done, I found myself at the southern end of the island of Ljusterö, looking for an inlet which heads north towards the town of Storström. Three miles up this inlet on the port side, nestled between the requisite Swedish forest and a smattering of country houses is Ramsmora Batvarv, a very well equipped facility with five piers, a manual crane, a boat lift, and a well-equipped club house, for want of a better word, with kitchen, showers and even a small crèche for the kids.
Wednesday was spent meticulously photographing, disconnecting and cataloguing everything. The boat yard manager Daniel was incredibly professional in helping me de-mast the mizzen and main, which were then de-rigged and put away for the winter. Her diesel tank was filled to the brim with fuel and a little fuel stabilizer, and her bilges were pumped dry.
Thursday saw Arcturus lifted out of the water and carried to her winter spot near the edge of the parking/storage lot. I then changed the oil, ran a 50/50 water/antifreeze mix through her cooling system and similarly winterized the water tanks and the head. My last job was completed Friday morning, and her aluminum frame was then reconstructed and her cover installed.
But this flurry of activity was punctuated with plenty of time for reflection. Seeing my boat lifted from the water and given a power washing before she was taken to her storage place was incredibly bittersweet for me. I felt pangs of longing I remembered from my lovelorn teenage years when separated from some girlfriend or other. I felt gratitude for the way Arcturus had taken care of me and my friends during this quite wonderful summer, and concern that I prepare her thoroughly for the bitter winter ahead. The boatyard crew were always gone by 6pm, so I had plenty of time each evening to ponder all that had gone before during the previous sixty days. I was melancholy, contemplative, philosophical. But also very satisfied with the way the summer had gone. And more than a little proud of myself….
And that corner of the Ramsmora boat yard is where Arcturus now sits in repose. Her head tucked under her wing for the winter. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere but, in true Swedish fashion, she is also just 25 paces from a bus stop from where I took a bus back to the mainland and all the way to Norrtalje on the afternoon of Friday, August 5th. And it’s there I’ll see her again, in June of 2017. I’ll miss her. In the meantime I’ll just have to console myself with stealthy visits to Google Earth to see the boatyard. And to check my iphone for the temperature on Ljusterö come the dark days of winter. And plan for next year’s adventure.
Honestly, I can hardly wait…..