HASSELOSUND (North of Smogen)
Tuesday-Wednesday, June 27-28
We left Fjallbacka for another rendezvous with the NAS Cruise occurring further south. But, the first priority was locating a spot on the way for laundry.
A small marina just north of Smogen, a town knowin for its revelry and summer traffic, offered a washing machine and dryer; and, once the new person at the office figured out how to turn on the power and the water, I was set to go. Two hours later sheets and clothes were dried and folded and we were free to walk to Smogen.
You could easily see why this harbor was a party place. Boats strung along the town’s quay had already begun their tribute to summertime with cocktails while onshore cafes and shops had filled with tourists.
Both Max and I enjoyed the experience but were glad to return to a quieter dock scene for the night…
and early start the next morning.
Wednesday-Tuesday, June 28-July 4
Navigating through narrow, but well-marked, channels
and passing past the ubiquitous red boat houses that edge the shorelines,
we ended up on the picturesque Island of Gullholmen.
This gem of a town (same name as the island) perches on the NE corner and offered a safe haven from the forecasted gusty winds headed our way. Thankfully we arrived just in time to grab a decent berth as more and more boats entered the marina in search for a place to wait out the winds. (By viewing the water past the line of boats you can see how being in a protected harbor means a lot calmer living aboard.)
Being on the cusp of the summer season we’ve been told to be in a marina by noon, if possible, in order to find an opening at a gjestehavn. Matter-of-fact we always have a back-up plan (a nearby anchorage or another town) in the event we can’t get into a marina.
The next evening we walked the few miles to Grindebacken where the NAS boats had anchored in preparation for their “Hat Party” event. We went hat-less but all the cruisers had either purchased bizaare wigs, found existing headgear, or created their own. Prizes were awarded with the Johnny Depp & Son Pirate outfits deservedly winning one.
Sharing a table with our friends from Maine, Doug & Dale and Paul & Marty,
we ate freshly caught shrimp, crayfish and crab (or steak for seafood-allergic Max) provided by a wonderful little cafe ashore.
The next morning the NAS Cruise left the anchorage while we remained for the next two nights at Gullholmen. And, so glad we did.
We explored the tangled web of small wooden houses on the tiny island connected by a bridge, checking out the oldest home
and relishing a huge ice cream dessert picked up along the way. I mean, how could one NOT smile when holding this mega-treat, even when the holder is looking a bit sea-worn…
Our Maine friends had told us of enjoying lunch at the HamnCafet.
It was the same restaurant we had stopped in the morning before where a nice young woman translated the menu for us. We decided to have lunch the next day with no idea what was in store!
The decor enhanced by one of the owner’s paintings created an ambiance worth just sitting in and absorbing.
After sitting down to eat while enjoying a beverage…
I asked the waitress what band was playing, and a man walked over with his phone, having Googled it for us (‘Sweet Remains’ for anyone interested). It turned out his sister (the painter mentioned above) and brother-in-law own the cafe and his two daughters are working there for the summer. It was during this conversation that the world became smaller, a heck of a lot smaller.
Richard’s daughter Sophia came over to have her father taste-test a new menu item (vegie burger, which was delicious by the way). She mentioned she’d been an exchange student in the States. We asked where and she replied ‘Virginia’ at the same place her dad had attended when he was in high school.
Thinking her year must have been spent in the DC area I was surprised when she said Virginia Beach, my home town. From there it got spooky for she not only had been with a family in Bay Colony (my old neighborhood) but the family had lived on the same street I grew up on!
I nearly fell off my chair. Even Max who knew the name ‘Lee Road’ was stunned.
Come to find out Richard had lived on a street perpendicular to my home.
Immediately I recalled walking down the street dragging my Patty Playpal by the neck (a ridiculously huge doll) to pick up Liza (Guy Thomson) to cut through the woods to where our friend Tracy (Anderson Bell) lived, while further on Ellen (Overman Sinclair)’s house stood.
And, Lisa, his other daughter, had been the one who smilingly translated the menu for us the day before…
Later that day we also met Monica, Richard’s partner, who parlayed her nursing career into one designing IT systems for healthcare organizations. And, get this, she’s currently working on a project in Rwanda using drones to pick up blood for testing and to deliver medicine back, in areas where roads don’t suffice. Fascinating research.
The next day we joined them for lunch outdoors and and met Richard’s American tenants, Al and Holly who live in Gothenberg but who are also Mainers, with a home in Jonesport.
Unbelievable. And, all because we asked what music was playing.
That night we ended up aboard a neighboring boat with two Beligians, Martine and Gui, who were out cruising for the summer. They had met when she took a scuba diving class and he was her instructor. Another wonderful evening sharing sailing information and just talking about life.
After three nights in the town of Gullholmen we decided to move JUANONA to the anchorage off of the village Hermano where we had had dinner with the NAS cruisers. With another two days of strong winds forecast, we knew the holding was good and we could take the dinghy to shore.
On Monday the winds died down enough where we knew we wouldn’t get soaked going ashore. We walked into town and checked out one of the many paths on the island. Before hopping back in the dinghy we stopped at Cafe Wintervallven for some libations.
Two women with a pup were talking on the steps, and I went over to ask about the dog. Well, one thing led to another and before you know it Max and I are walking with Nadia and her dog to meet her husband Bengt for a glass of wine and conversation back at their islandhome.
We had a wonderful hour discussing their work (he’s a film producer and she’s a scriptwriter), art, and politics, the latter a topic to which many of our conversations migrate.
Nadia and Bengt also told us about a movie filmed on Gullholmen featuring Michael Nyqvist. Nyqvist, a popular Swedish actor, had appeared in another movie–”As it is in heaven” as well as the “Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” series. Sadly he had recently died, which is one reason why we noticed the signed poster hanging in the cafe.
Walking back we stopped to take a selfie in front of the house featured in one of Nyqvist’s movies. A couple walking by asked if we wanted them to snap a photo for us.
That led to another hour or so of strollling with Mike and Nancy who are from the States but own a home here after living and working in Stockholm; he for Exxon and she, curating dance performances (she started the Dance Salad Festival in Houston).
And, they just happened to own a home in Maine at Ocean Point near Boothbay, withing 30 minutes from Orr’s.
They introduced us to the owner of the cafe (where I had met his wife when speaking with Nadia) and his friend. They were checking the boat they use for crabbing (the reason the seafood tasted so fresh at the NAS dinner).
By now the island was feeling like old home week, and what a unique experience that was!
I wish I had photos of everyone, but hopefully you can tell just how much we appreciated the folk we met. A wonderful small ball of a world indeed.
More special reunions ahead!