Sister's Journal

Date: 20.May.1999
Location: Vastervik, Sweden
Position: 57 degrees 46 minutes North, 16 degrees 39 minutes East
The east coast of Sweden
It's been more than a week since our last report. We spent a couple of days in Ronne on Bornholm being warm and still. Then, Friday, 14.May we sailed (we sailed!) and motored around the north end of Bornholm to Allinge on the NE coast of Bornholm. Andy had read about a fabric store there so we made a point of stopping. We had an awesome lunch, Andy actually bought some fabric and, around 17:30 we took off for Christianso.
Christianso, Denmark, 55d 19m N, 15d 11m E, is the easternmost "point" of Denmark. It is a tiny island which a rich history. We found it in the fog. Incidentally, Sister traveling through fog is an interesting phenomenon. We have all manner of devices and systems going to protect us from the big bad ships. The radar antenna spins and radiates, the radar reflector reflects, our automated foghorn bellows (one long blast, two short blasts every two minutes .... it means "Sailboat under sail ... please don't destroy") 6 eyes, including Bob's somewhat limited function units, constantly scanning the surrounding fog bank and 6 ears tuned to big ship foghorn frequency. A little electronic domain radiating and reflecting all manner of energy, moving through the fog at 7 knots.
Back to Christianso (say Chreestyanser ... sort of). It is the largest of a group of islands called Ertholmene. We're not sure how large it is but it takes about 30 minutes to walk around the perimeter or Christianso.
The boat harbor is the channel between the two large islands. The channel has a foot bridge over it. The footbridge separates in the middle and, powered by some 8 men, swings out of the way for the ferry that brings visitors form Bornholm for three hours daily. The islands, and everything on them are considered a museum. People who live there agree not to change anything. The islands are also bird sanctuaries and birders make up the bulk of the visitors. No cats or dogs are allowed on the islands, in fact the only mammals that live there are some hedgehogs and, believe it or not, a couple hundred people. Some of the residents are fisherman. There is a viable fishery based there as well as a well known herring pickler. Some residents are artists. In fact artists come there explicitly to work in the unique light that exists. There's a school for the young kids, I think the older ones go to Bornholm daily. Finally, there's Ole the harbor master. Ole be cool. He's about the only Dane we've met who speaks less English than we speak Danish ... and that ain't much.
Christianso has been a base for Danish government supported pirates, a Danish navy base, and a prison. There are buildings that were built in the 17th century that are still there and still in use. There are old barracks/cell blocks that have been converted to apartments. There are stone fences everywhere and stone houses, a number of which were built in little cubby holes in the rock to protect them from the wind. They make their own power, enjoy running water from their cisterns, satellite TV, solitude and, believe me, no smog.
Most of all Christianso has birds. In every nook and cranny there was a mother Eider duck sitting on chicks or eggs. They have no natural enemies except the seagulls so every group of babies is managed by several adults to fend off the ravaging gulls. Inevitably, if infrequently, the gulls score. We saw them make off with duck eggs and even a baby duck.
On the down side, Christianso was the first port we've visited that didn't have a great bakery. They did have a restaurant and we, of course, had dinner there. You wouldn't believe that you could get such great food in such a seemingly forsaken place.
We spent a couple cold and very windy days exploring Christianso and Frederickso fairly thoroughly.

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