Thursday, August 24, 2006

Meet the Bratt Pack

They're all Bratts... I mean that in the nicest way possible. Donald Bratt, Ingegerd Bratt, Alexander "the know it all" Bratt, Ingrid Bratt, and Martin "Snegil" Bratt (possibly to coolest Bratt on the planet). Just so you know Snegil means slug or snail and there is a story behind the name he earned. We'll get to that later... So, it's day two in Sweden and I'm a little slow after Lars' 40th birthday party. Bjorn, Elizabeth and I go shopping in Uddavela for the Johansson/Bratt family reunion. Bjorn and Elizabeth weren't sure why I would want to go shopping with them, they thought it would be boring, but I'm geting into all things Swedish in a hurry and what better way than to see how they shop... and what they shop for. I brought my camera, but I felt weird taking pictures in the supermarket. First of all, no alcohol in the supermarket. You have to go to the special government run store for that and they tax the hell out if it making it so expensive it's better to take a ferry to Denmark, load up and go back across the channel... Cassandra and I saw loads of people doing this in Helsingborg/Helsingor later in our trip. The story goes like this: In the 1860's about the same time there was a potato famine in Ireland there was a simular famine in Sweden. Half the population left for the U.S. and the other half stayed and got drunk. Really, really, really drunk all the time to the point of complete and total self destruction if the government didn't get involved. So they regulated everything and although the threat is no longer present, it was such a good money maker they just kept the rules in place. Succesful business people returned to Sweden with money and the economy and contry recovered. I discovered that the honor system is alive and well. Bjorn was buying potatos and even though they were still covered in dirt (which adds to cost... think about, dirt weighs something) you put your potatos is a bag, weigh them, get a sticker that tells you how much they cost with a bar code for the check out person who isn't there because you do that yourself also. No one is stopping you from holding the bag to reduce the weight when you get your cost sticker, but no one cheats this. It didn't even occur to Bjorn to do this until I mentioned it... Kind of suprized me in retrospect after the extra drinks we worked the system for in Marstrand (more on that later). The apples seemed very high up for anyone to reach and that made no sense to me, there was 4 isles dedicated to candy and it is very different from ours. I like Kex, but not Plopps... sounds gross doesn't it? By far the greatest invention of convenience food was food in a tube. And there are several kinds. You can get ham and cheese in a tube, shrimp and cheese in a tube cheese and cheese in a tube... and the list goes on. All you need is bread or a cracker and you are good to go.
After shopping for food and box wine... yes, box wine. It's good, really. We were driving back to the marina, took a detour, looked out on the water and saw Donald and the rest of the Bratts sailing into the area. We phoned them and got them to wave at us. We drove back to the marina, met them at the dock, said our hellos, but almost immediately through up my sails to see how they would look and put the American flag on the stern.

This is Alexander... yes, the hair is real. Real big! Grow that fro, bro! I would if I could.
This is Ingrid and Martin at dinner with the slow chef... pretty sweet view of Orust behind us
Martin "Snegil" Bratt - Quite possibly the coolest Bratt on the planet and awesome crab catcher. He gets his nickname from our walk to dinner with the slow chef. He kept falling behind... he was busy picking and eating wild raspberries so much that we often had to stop and wait for him. I had just learned the name for slug or snail and I just started calling him Snegil. He started responding to it, so the name stuck.
Elizabeth, Alexandra, Igegerd and Ingrid helping out with Segaskola duties.

I owe a tremendous gratitude to the Bratt family for all they did for me.. let me recap:

I get an email sent to the whole folkboat fleet from Donald asking if anyone would like to sail his boat in the Swedish International Championship in Marstrand and I jumped on the opportunity. For those who have been to my apartments over the last 14 years you know I have that framed poster of Marstrand. I had such a great time the last time and only other time I had been to Europe, I didn't hesitate for a moment. Of course I'd like to race there again!

Then the deal got sweeter and sweeter... I get to race a proven fast folkboat with the owner and his regular crew. Local boat, local knowledge and all I have to do is bring my sails and drive? No brainer.

There was also how welcome and taken care of I felt by both Donald and Bjorn and their families. I am forever greatful for how special this trip was for me.


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