After leaving the lively disco beat of Visby, WIDAGO was treated to a quiet night at anchor on the Swedish island of Gotska Sandon. A national park, there are a handful of rustic cabins for rent during the summer holidays. In the winter, just two park rangers at time manage the station in two week intervals.
One of our ongoing challenges stems from being “uni-lingual”, or as we like say, American. This makes reading the signs on beaches quite challenging, especially ones that prohibit entry due to protection of the seal sanctuary. Lucky for us, Ahab was quite adept at translating hand gestures and body language of the local. We had anchored our catamaran with the rest of the ARC Baltic Fleet, and gone ashore at the Ranger station, upon which we enjoyed an invigorating hike to the village, small historical museum, lighthouse, and church. The afternoon held the promise of venturing to see the seals and their sanctuary which we thought was accessible by dinghy. Again, back to our lack of local linguistics, we failed to decipher the signage for sanctuary limits and drove the dinghy into protected waters. Thinking that the locals were overly friendly, shouting and waving, we cheered, smiled, and waved back. Miscommunication….this happens….often. Luckily, prior to running over any little baby (or adult for that matter) seals, we recognized our errant wandering into the actual sanctuary, and quickly flipped a 180, heading to the beach. So we figured that we just couldn’t motor the dinghy that close, but walking along the shoreline to witness the sunbathing beauties just offshore would be fine. Again, we couldn’t/didn’t read the signage, but were briskly informed by a local wildlife watcher that we must get off the beach and remain behind the viewing platform. Whoopsies. Thankfully, no seals were injured, physically, emotionally, or otherwise due to our complete lack of animal watching etiquette. We however manage to snap a few great pictures….and the sunset wasn’t too shabby either.