Photos: Oliver Dupont-Delestraint
The first few questions that come to mind when leaving for a multi-day expedition are always more or less the same. Have we made the right choices? Have we forgotten anything? Will the unexpected have a happy ending? What about the weather forecast?
We’re leaving the dock in the early afternoon, on our brand new boat, for a week of coastal navigation in the Stockholm Archipelago. The Lite XP impresses by its versatility and provides equally great performances in sailing and rowing.
Anne and I are not experienced sailors. While Anne has no sailing experience, mine is limited to 20 sea trips. This journey is an adventure for us, especially with changes in wind direction and velocity often reaching twenty knots. To be safe, we’re starting with a reef in the mainsail. Even with the reef, are speed averages 5 knots or better.
Anne and I take turns steering and navigating. This boat is incredibly straightforward and easy to use with its Catboat style rigging. No shrouds or stays, no boom, and a fully battened mainsail make for a very simple cockpit with few strings to pull.
With thousands of tiny islands, the hardest part of our trip is not to get lost in the Archipelago. The map is not enough, and as novices, we’re grateful to have Navionics on board.
Getting close to Huraso, we decide to furl the sail, due to heavy wind, to finish our navigation rowing towards an isolated, yet charming dock.
With no wind, the boat can reach speeds of 3 knots!
As a rower, I have to say that getting to the dock rowing is way easier than sailing or using an engine.
As we arrive in Langvik Harbour, people waiting for the Ferry are clapping and cheering for us. It is not common to see a rowing boat in this area since the disappearance of Viking Ships.
On our first day, we traveled 17,3 mn, and it was exactly what we planned to do for our first navigation on the LiteXP. We felt quite happy and victorious about it. It was quite a stress relief!
Our night program in the middle of this incredible Swedish nature: Sea swimming, setting up our tent and preparing food on the dock.
The following days are filled with small pleasures of life and the discovery of small paradise islands. We’re sailing in between those islands looking for the best spot to have lunch, the best rock to dive, and the best bay to nap in the shades of a tree. Before sailing again towards a coastal area sheltered from the wind to spend the night, and leave the next morning for one of the 22,000 islands of the Archipelago.
With the rudder raised, the LiteXP only draws 15cm of water. We can go everywhere while enjoying the wildlife.
Evenings are exceptional thanks to the Northern sun and its spectacular and colorful sunsets. We let our mind wander and stock up on memories of the pale yellow and soft lights only seen in this area. There is nothing else to do, and it is just perfect!
Sleeping on board of the LiteXP is also a real pleasure; the gentle rocking motion of the sea puts us to sleep quickly. It feels good. Our tent protects the cockpit which we use as our living room and bedroom. It is also convenient to protect our stuff from the elements. Nights are so delightful we prefer staying on board versus pitching a tent on land.
Every day we’re traveling around 20mn in 4 or 5 hours. The boat is light and we quickly reach over 4 knots, even when there’s only a slight wind.
We’re going down South, close to Moja and then Haro, because the wind will blow South in 3 days time and we’ll push us towards Ljusterô ; the city where we started our journey.
Days after days, our confidence is growing. The boat is easy to steer. Its stability is reassuring. However, as soon as the wind reaches 15 knots, we are forced to take a reef in our main sail. It’s a matter of loosening the main sheet and zipping up part of the sail; fast and easy.
Wednesday night, the wind changed direction, and our anchorage became quite involved. Instead of going around the island, we fixed the two launching wheels on both sides of the cockpit. Anne guided me, and I pulled the boat on the beach in just a few minutes. It wasn’t a sailor move but using the trick of the foldable wheels to pull the boat on the sand is quite safe.
As planned, during the last two days, we mostly ran downwind at around 6 to 8 knots. We’re heading North towards Hastede, our starting point on Ljustero Island. We’re having fun racing other sailing boats way bigger than ours.
On Saturday, we’re back to the dock where we first launched. We’re a bit sad at this point. We’re putting this beautiful boat back on the trailer without any help, just the two of us by hand and without any strain.
The LightXP is the equivalent of the California but without any engine. A boat designed to go trekking anywhere. A boat where one could see without been seen (just a few claps sometimes).
With minimal experience in sailing, we reached our goal and completed the 150nm trip we planned, with winds often reaching over 15 knots.
This boat allowed us to feel like experienced sailors, but unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet.
This initial trip on the LiteXP hull number one will forever stay in our minds. It was a unique and unforgettable experience.