Sailboat update – out with the old and in with the new (to us at least).

The past few weeks have been pretty busy in the boat department. Will decided he didn’t want to fix up the Wildfire dinghy, so he listed it on Facebook for free and it was picked up a week later by some new sailors looking for a project and cheap way to get on the water. It seems fitting that we got it for free, so it was fair to give it up for free.

In the place of the Wildfire, we bought a Blue Jay from one of the other members at Pettipaug. The boat came named as “Cookie Monster” and has a paint job to match. The boat is in beautiful shape and the sails, though old, are from a good/fast batch by Kevin Farrar and are currently sitting at the sail loft to be measured so he can duplicate them. We have to decide if we will keep her as “Cookie Monster” or repaint her an rename her. Izzy wants her to be called “Alessandra” after Alessandra Mele, her current favorite singer. I’ll see how much work I want to do on painting this winter. The simplest thing to do would just to refinish the woodwork and keep the paint job for next year. But a Blue Jay isn’t that big so wouldn’t be too difficult or expensive to repaint if we go that route.

The new sailboat at home sporting a pretty good “Cookie Monster” paint job.

Mystic Seaport

Yesterday, Izzy met her friend Evelyn at the Mystic Seaport. Evelyn and her mom were going to the seaport for the Fire Fighter Festival and to see the fire boat use their water cannons. The Izzy and Evelyn haven’t been able to see each other in over a month, and Izzy has been really missing her friend. We arrived around noon, and enjoyed three hours walking around in the hot/humid weather.

Picture of Izzy taken by Evelyn.
Mystic Seaport
Lighthouse, Mystic Seaport
Reflections, Mystic Seaport

Sweden, Part 2.

I’m entering my second week here in Sweden. We have settled into the annex/guesthouse at Susanna’s parent’s house in Sävsjöström, Sweden.

On Saturday we took a pretty easy day and enjoyed the nice weather. In the morning, Susanna, Izzy and I did the short loop down the lake to the cabin and back up the road.Susanna’s mom, Charlotte, and I took a longer (5km) walk through the woods in the afternoon, passing an old tar-production pit on the walk. That afternoon we went to Susanna’s sister’s house for dinner, and for me to setup Minecraft for Isabella’s cousin on the laptop. This will hopefully allow them to play and talk online when we return to the US.

Sunday we went to an Allsång (sing-along) in Åseda to watch Susanna’s uncle, Johan, sing. An Allsång is a concert where the audience members are encouraged to sing along with the songs, and although I didn’t recognize any of the Swedish songs, there were a few in English that I had heard before. It was a fun afternoon and Susanna’s extended family was there. We finished the evening with dinner at a Thai restaurant in town and took Izzy’s cousins (Olle and Ebbe) back with us to spend the night.

Allsång at Åseda Folkets Park

Olle and Ebbe stayed with us on Monday. Susanna’s parents watched all three grandchildren for the day, so Susanna and I had the chance to go out together for some sightseeing. We visited the oldest fully wooden church in Sweden, Granhults Kyrka, and had lunch back in Åseda at a very nice cafe, Linas Butik & Café. We then went home and enjoyed a quiet (as quiet as possible with 3 kids) afternoon.

Granhults Kyrka

Dan and I took a walk around his property before dinner. We have always taken a walk though his woods when I’m here. Some day I’ll be able to easily tell the difference between the tall (pine tree) and gran (fir tree), but not today. We walked through woods with 100-year old trees and woods that he and Rebecka planted not too many years ago. He pointed out possible building sites with a view of the lake, and we talked about Susanna and I possibly buying a plot of land for a summer home from him. I think we have agreed on a spot across the road from his house and up the hill a bit, and will look at 3-4 hectares. This is part of Susanna and my plan for my retirement – a move to Sweden after Izzy finishes 8th grade in the US. We shall see about the land – there is still a bunch of years before I can retire and we need to think about it for a year or two before we buy land.

Enjoying a coffee along the lake in the morning before Izzy and Susanna get up.

Today, Susanna, Izzy and Susanna’s mom took the train to Stockholm. They are going to a music festival tomorrow. Izzy’s favorite artist, Alessandra Mele, is playing. Izzy is fanatical about Alessandra, who represented Norway in the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest with the song, “Queen of Kings.” Everyone in our household has heard that song way too many times.

I took the day to drive to Kalmar and walk around the town at my own pace and take pictures. The weather was partially overcast which made for great lighting for pictures. I returned home mid-afternoon and enjoyed a ride down the lake and back with Dan on his boat.

Kalmar Slott
Kalmar Slott
Kalmar Slott
Kalmar Slott
Sunset along the lake

Sweden, Part 1

I’ve been in Sweden for a little over a week, and am almost half-way through my vacation here. Until yesterday, the weather wasn’t very pleasant (cold and rainy – I left summer in Connecticut for this weather?). But yesterday afternoon the rain stopped, the sun came out for the first time in a while, and it warmed up enough I didn’t need a sweater.

The first few days I spent in Stockholm. Susanna reserved a room at the Haymarket by Scandic hotel for last weekend. It was to celebrate our 10-year anniversary, and to go see Håkan Hellström play a concert at Stockholms stadion. I’m not a big fan of the music, but he puts on a good show and the venue was pretty cool (built for the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm). I had more fun that I had expected and would be willing to go again (just don’t tell that to Susanna).

View of Stockholms stadshus (city hall) from Gamla Stan (old town).
View of Stockholms stadshus (city hall) from Gamla Stan (old town).

Despite the weather, we had a great weekend. The rain held off for the concert and we enjoyed good food and visiting Susanna’s sisters. We spend on day taking a boat tour of the Stockholm Archipelago and several hours walking around the city.

Enjoying a boat tour of the Stockholm Archipelago
S:ta Clara kyrka (St. Clara’s Church), Stockholm
S:ta Clara kyrka (St. Clara’s Church), Stockholm

On Monday, Susanna and I headed south to Alvesta. Her dad met us at the train station and took us to Växjö to pick up our rental car and then to meet her mom to pick up Izzy from her first day at 4H Camp. We have been spending the week at Susanna’s parent’s house in Sävsjöström on lake Alstern.

Izzy was signed up for summer camp for the whole week. On Tuesday Susanna and I looked at neighborhoods in Växjö before picking up Izzy from camp. We are planning on moving out here after I retire and before Izzy goes to high school, so we are starting to talk about what that would look like. Right now we are leaning towards a small two bedroom apartment in the city and a small vacation home here in the country if we can make the two places work.

By Wednesday, Izzy was tired. It was raining in the morning, so she asked to stay at home. I took her into Växjö to walk around at the mall and do some shopping, though she is saving her money for next week (she is going to a concert in Sweden with Susanna and Susanna’s mom). However, Thursday morning she was rested and enjoyed the last two days at camp (the improving weather helped as well), and has made a friend at the camp. We will see if she keeps in touch after this week.

On Thursday and Friday, I helped Susanna’s dad and uncle install windows in a house in Älmhult, and today I can barely move. I’m not used to so much physical work, but I enjoyed doing something different. We even had lunch at the IKEA Museum in Älmhult, which is as much of the museum that I have any desire to see.

If the weather had been nicer this week, I would have probably picked up a paddle board and spend time exploring the lake. Maybe next time!

Lake Alstern, Sävsjöström, Sweden.

A Sunday Morning Sail

The oppressive humidity and heat was pushed away last night. The cooler weather trailed behind a line of thunderstorms that passed through around bedtime. The high today was in the mid-seventies. It would have been a perfect day to try to catch up on projects around the house. But what is the fun of that when Long Island Sound beckons.

I was invited to join Kevin Farrar (of Farrar Sails – where Will works) to join him sailing on a customer’s boat out of Westbrook. They were doing sea trials on with a new mainsail that he had recently built for the boat. The day started uneventful as we motored out from the marina. However, the engine stopped and wouldn’t restart once we were in the sound. We completed a shake-down cruise with the new sail and then headed back to the marina. Getting a tow was going to be pricey, so we opted to sail all the way up the channel to his slip. Luckily the wind was in our favor. If we had waited another 15-20 minutes the wind would have picked up in a direction that would have pushed us off the dock, making the return much more difficult.

We returned in time for me to be home for a late lunch (and then start house chores).

The view from the cockpit as we sail into Long Island Sound

Re-visiting Mystic Seaport

Today, Elsa and Susanna went to New York City for the day, so it left Izzy and me to find something to do on this hot and humid day. This morning we visited Mystic Seaport. It has been a while since Izzy and I visited Mystic Seaport and it isn’t her favorite place. However, Connecticut is offering free entry to a bunch of museums for kids with an accompanying adult, so we decided to make it a morning.

We walked around a bit, and Izzy wanted to watch one of the short shows that the museum staff puts on. She volunteered to go up on stage and help out, and even volunteered me to join her for part of it. This afternoon we will go see Elemental at the movies.

Izzy on stage at Mystic Seaport.
Steering the Charles W. Morgan at the Mystic Seaport
Hiding in a barrel at the cooperage at the Mystic Seaport.

Two more days on the water.

Yesterday, Ben, Izzy and I went to Long Pond in Ledyard to get out of the heat. Izzy spent most of the time swimming!

Ben and Izzy hanging out on Long Pond.

This morning, Will, Elsa (who is visiting us for part of the summer), Izzy and I took two boards and Hoagie and headed to Amos Lake in Preston. Another lake that was perfect for swimming. On the way out we saw a small eastern painted turtle heading to the water. After a quick picture, Will returned helped it on its journey to the lake edge.

Will paddling on Amos Lake, with Izzy and Elsa in the background.
Izzy checking out the eastern painted turtle.

Paddling Long Pond

The afternoon temperatures in Connecticut crept into the lower 90s today. The heat with little breeze and high humidity made for an overall unpleasant day to be outside. At least outside not in the water. We loaded up the car and took the paddle boards to Long Pond. Susanna, Izzy and Hoagie joined me for the afternoon.

The lake was surprisingly warm, with little traffic and an empty launch and parking lot. It was probably the nicest lake we have visited since getting the boards. Then again, we haven’t had the boards for a full season yet.

We all enjoyed the swim, or at least all the humans enjoyed the swim. Hoagie’s dip wasn’t voluntary, but was needed to cool him off.

Hoagie, Me, Isabella.

Hoagie (and a few of Izzy’s toys that came along for the trip).
Izzy swimming in the distance.

More boating time (sailing, swimming, and paddle boarding)

Last week Will and I got the Blue Jay ready for the water. The last part needed was the gooseneck, which I picked up from Kevin on Friday (after picking up Izzy from camp).

Yesterday, the whole family made the drive to Pettipaug after lunch. We towed the new sailboat down.We setup the paddle boards and Will setup the boat. Will decided to start it easy on the first day out on the new boat. He only rigged the mainstail, and went out by himself for an hour or two.

Will heading out on the Blue Jay sailboat we are using for the summer.

While Will was out testing out the new boat, the rest of us rotated through the the two paddle boards. Will’s board is huge, and a real pain to paddle, but it is a good swimming platform for Izzy. I spent most of the afternoon just sitting on the big board in shallow water while Izzy swam around and played in the mud and Hoagie paced around on the board while Ben and Susanna took turns on the smaller board.

Izzy, Hoagie and I enjoying the water south of the Pettipaug docks.

We started packing up late afternoon. I watched a pair of sailors pull out a MC Scow using the lift, which seemed like a much easier way than trying to get up the ramp at low tide. We don’t have a harness to lift the Blue Jay, so I asked one of the MC Scow crew if we could use their harness. He said it wouldn’t work, but helped me find a harness for the Blue Jay in one of the sheds on site and helped us lift the boat. That wound up being much much easier than loading the trailer on the ramp. Will is going to try to get a harness made this week at work.

We are planning on taking the Wildfire dinghy home and fixing the crack in the hull, but part of me wonders if the lift would handle that boat and make using it reasonable. Oh well, that will have to wait until next season. Hopefully the weather will support towing the Wildfire home this week.

The kids all playing on the water. Ben trying to stand up on the paddle board, Izzy swimming at the boat launch, and Will rigging up the Blue Jay.

I know Izzy had a great day swimming in the water (you can read her version on her blog), and the rest of us had a good time on the water. I’m not sure how Hoagie feels about the paddle boards though and he doesn’t yet enjoy swimming.

Summer, Sailing and a new boat (at least for this season)

I’m tying to get outside and on the water more this summer. Last summer we were able to get Will’s boat in the water a few times, but launching and retrieving in one day was a lot of work. It is a Wildfire dinghy with a removable keel and requires two people to step the mast. With a weight of over 600-lbs it is a lot of work to launch and retrieve, however the removable keel makes it a good boat for Long Island Sound.

Over the winter we jointed the Pettipaug Yacht Club, which is on the Connecticut river a few miles upstream from Long Island Sound. The idea was to leave his boat rigged and launch from there. The only problem is most of the river is too shallow in that area for his boat. The keel does come up, but it is a pretty labor intensive process – the weights must be removed from the keel before it can be lifted. We can launch and retrieve at the yacht club, but we have to be careful with tides and watch the shallow water. But it was significantly easier to not have to fully rig and take down his boat each time.

Getting ready to sail at Pettipaug with Izzy.

We got the boat out twice already this year. The first time was Will, me and Hoagie. We decided that Hoagie is not a sailing dog just yet, and much more of a paddle boarding dog. Last weekend we went out with Izzy. We had problems with the gooseneck (the makeshift rig I made broke) and getting the mainsail fully raised. However the biggest problem happened when we were retrieving the boat. We must have bounced the boat too much trying to get it on the trailer and put a crack in it. Not impossible to fix, just another pain.

This summer, Will started working full-time as a sailmaker apprentice at Farrar Sails in New London. The loft owner and lead sail designer/maker, Kevin, had a spare Bluejay dinghy that he wasn’t using (he has two Bluejays and multiple other boats in various states of repair). He said we could use it for the summer (and if we liked it we could talk to him about buying it). Last week Will and Kevin cleaned and rigged up the boat. This morning Will and I (with some help) swapped the boats around, got the Bluejay on the proper trailer and towed it home. It is much easier to manage than his boat. We have to get a new gooseneck for this boat, and adjust where the rudder attaches to the boat, but other than that it is in good shape. We plan to drop it off at Pettipaug next weekend and take his boat back home for repairs.

The Bluejay dinghy we have for this summer.