The Skerries of Sweden

From Stockholm we sailed out towards the end of June to enjoy some of the islands in the archipelago, or skärgärden which means ‘garden of skerries’ in Swedish.  As we meandered through the maze of narrow channels past numerous of the thousands of islands that make up the area, we were treated to the sights of many beautiful summer houses on rocky shores, landing stages, saunas, beaches, cattle grazing on the water’s edge and the long sun-drenched days of a Scandinavian summer.  Sunset at around 23.00 and it never getting totally dark at this time of year, with dawn at around 03.00 took a bit of getting used to.  Such a dramatic change from the 12 hours of daylight and darkness in the tropics, where enjoying a sun-downer definitely meant having a drink at 18.00 watching the sun set.  Here it was open to interpretation!

Photos of not-so-modest summer houses in the archipelago.  The banner with the yellow and blue colours of Sweden flies when the owner is in residence – perhaps for just two or three months a year!

Deciding which islands to explore was difficult enough and sailing even short distances demanded concentration – paper and electronic charts plus a good look out being absolutely essential!

Just about 10 nm or a couple of hours from Stockholm lies Vaxholm – a busy little place with ferry traffic coming and going in what appeared to be all directions taking holidaymakers and those with summer houses on more remote islands to their destinations.  Some of the islands are so small, they are only accessible by small boat.  We put in to the friendly marina, having previously made a telephone reservation for an alongside berth (as mentioned earlier, in Scandinavia the VHF is seldom used apart from commercial shipping).

Just to the east on its own island is the imposing 16th century fortress of Vaxholm.   Accessible only by small ferry the fort was built to protect Stockholm, and notably repelled naval attacks by Denmark and Russia in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Moving on from there our favourite spots were Gällnö and Ladnaon.  Anchoring in such idyllic rural settings after just a few hours at sea was such a novelty for us, as was taking the dinghy ashore and walking for an hour or so.

We continued east to Sandhamn or the Cowes of Sweden on the island of Sandön which is home to the Royal Swedish Yacht Club (KSSS) and host to many regattas.  In fact the marina was so busy, we anchored off at the peaceful and nearby island of Björkö and used the dinghy to get to Sandhamn.  At the time Sandhamn was celebrating the finish of the annual Round Gotland Race.  Organised by the KSSS it starts in the centre of Stockholm, goes offshore into the Baltic, round the island of Gotland and ends in a fanfare at Sandhamn.  Crowded though it was we stayed for a couple of days and enjoyed a superb meal at the Sandhamns Värdshus which dates back to 1672 and looks out over the marina and surrounding islands.

From there we sailed and weaved our way the 40 nm for a night at anchor at Idöfladen, the jumping off point for our passage (all 34 nm of it) northeast to the Åland Islands.

To see exactly where we are, click on Pipistrelle’s Journey and Where Are We Now?

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Stockholm out to Impress

Being in the Navishamn Marina was the ideal location to go sightseeing.  Public transport in the form of tram, bus and ferry served us extremely well, especially as a tram stop was just outside the marina.  Otherwise we walked a lot!  And after Midsummer the weather certainly improved.   Here are a few highlights from our week in this enchanting city.

Vasa Museum

The royal battleship Vasa sank in Stockholm harbour at the start of her maiden voyage in 1628 and over time her exact location was forgotten.  333 years later in the 1950’s she was discovered, salvaged and beautifully restored over several decades.  She is housed in a museum especially built around her and completed in 1990.  Very busy in the summer months, we were strongly advised to get there early to be able to admire her in her full glory ahead of the crowds.  At 226 feet long, the wooden ship itself along with artefacts and cargo was preserved over centuries thanks to the brackish water of the Baltic Sea.

Here are photographs showing how she would have looked originally, how she was raised and looks now, as well as some of the hundreds of intricate wooden sculptures.

Waldemarsudde Art Museum

This was just a short walk from the marina and set in woodland.  Once the residence of a royal prince, himself a landscape artist, we visited both the apartments and a fascinating exhibition of works by a Swedish artist Sigrid Hjerten who we, being British, had never heard of.  But in the company of Anna-Maria Lemby and her sister, we enjoyed learning more about her and how her art evolved with the phases of her life.

Drottningholm Palace

We were very fortunate to have been taken to the Royal Palace by Lars and his wife Stina who we had met in Utö.  They kindly collected us in their car to drive the 7 miles west of Stockholm to visit the palace set on ‘Drottningholm’, which means ‘Queen’s Island’, with its own baroque Court Theatre and Chinese Pavilion.  The palace itself is the residence of King Carl Gustav and Queen Silvia and family who moved there from the city some years ago to enjoy the tranquillity of the island.  Dating from the 17th century, it is said to be one of Europe’s most attractive palaces, and supposedly inspired by Versailles, but with some English touches.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit with a tour of all three buildings and a walk around the palace grounds.  This was followed by a late lunch in the Östermalms Market Hall, an indoor market with various small cafés, fishmongers and butchers selling gourmet products.

 

Around the Gamla Stan

On a beautifully warm day wandering through the Kungstradgarden Park with its many outdoor cafes and tree-lined avenue, we came to the Jakobs Church and Opera House before walking across the bridge to the old town of Stockholm or the ‘Gamla Stan’.  The Royal Palace, the King’s official residence dominates and though not nearly as attractive as the Drottningholm Palace was built at around the same time.

Of course there was the ABBA museum as well, but though photographed from the outside, we didn’t visit, nor did we try any of the rides in the nearby Tivoli amusement park!

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Midsummer in Stockholm

Given that the weather until now had been sunny and dry, we were very much looking forward to celebrating Midsummer, a Swedish (and Finnish) tradition, celebrated extensively in both countries on the Saturday falling closest to 24th June.

But our arrival at Navishamn Marina in Stockholm was damp and complicated by the challenge of having to moor ‘bows-to’ while picking up a stern buoy, which we have previously and studiously avoided, for various reasons.  One, we prefer anchoring where possible; two, we try to go ‘alongside’ if we do go into a marina deep enough for us; three, we do not have a bow-thruster and Pipistrelle is heavy to manoeuvre.   Another ‘first’ to chalk up then.  Shore assistance magically appeared, warps were handed over, and Pipistrelle secured.  However, getting off from the bow, on to the pontoon and back on again proved a stretch too far, and a neighbouring boat lent us a special bow boarding ladder, widely used throughout Scandinavia.  Needless to say, we now have one of our own – photo to follow.   The owners of said ladder, Cathy and Jacques from Switzerland on a yacht called Freja, promptly invited us on board for a glass of wine – we obviously looked as though we needed one!   A convivial time followed on their immaculate Discovery 55, and we discovered surprising and unsurprising coincidences.  Unsurprisingly, they, like we, know the original owners of Discovery Yachts in Southampton (see A Morning with Discovery Yachts).  But astoundingly, they are great friends with Lars and Anna-Maria Lemby’s daughter who we had met briefly earlier in the week (see previous blog)!

Enough preamble!

Midsummer’s Eve itself dawned cold and wet, but cleared early afternoon so we took advantage of the window of opportunity and walked the short distance to the Skansen Open Air Museum, the recommended location in Stockholm to enjoy festivities.

Here, as in all towns and villages throughout the land, the famous Midsummer Pole (the English equivalent is our Maypole) decorated with flowers and leaves would be today’s main attraction.  Either to dance and sing traditional songs, or just to spectate, crowds gathered round the tall pole which had been raised earlier.

Opened in 1891 by Artur Hazelius, Skansen is the largest museum of its kind in the world with houses, farm buildings, churches and towers from the whole of Sweden rebuilt on the site, a hill overlooking Stockholm.

Coming Soon … ‘Stockholm out to Impress

To see exactly where we are click on Pipistrelle’s Journey and Where Are We Now?

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Into The Baltic

Eventually the weather relented.  We enjoyed a northwesterly wind to take us the 60 nm from Klintholm to Ystad, on the  south coast of Sweden, famous for the Kurt Wallander mysteries.

Thus in early June began our cruise of the Baltic.  We have sailed on the West Coast four times now and thoroughly enjoyed it but never had the opportunity to sail the east coast towards Stockholm, its archipelagos, or venture further east.  As Bob says, the Baltic is ‘unfinished business’ and 2018 is the year to explore!

After one night in Ystad we continued towards Karlskrona, via the delightfully welcoming small marina on the island of Hanö, where we had reserved a berth by telephone.  VHF is used very little in Scandinavia we’ve found.

Interesting for us is that between 1810 and 1812 the Royal Navy used Hanö as its base during its operations in the Baltic.  Here we found the English Seaman’s Graveyard.  In 1972 the Royal Navy constructed a big wooden cross on the site.  Still today British warships visit the island occasionally to pay tribute to the fifteen sailors’ graves.

Karlskrona has a rich history.  Stockholm is ice bound during the winter, so being further south and well protected, Karlskrona became the prime naval port in the 17th century, and has an excellent museum telling the story.  Sweden was also a dominant power in the Baltic from the 16th century onwards, with major battles being fought against other Baltic countries.  The Kungsholm Fortress, with its own circular harbour, and Drottningskärs Citadel have guarded the entrance to the city for centuries.

Our next stop was Kalmar, a major port on the mainland with a large marina and the island of Öland to the east.

An imposing castle protecting the harbour in the 17th and 18th centuries has been extremely well preserved.  This and the city were well worth the visit.

The next anchorage at Kiddeh island came highly recommended by another English cruiser.  For the first time the Navionics chart on our Android Tablet differed from the Navionics chart on his iPhone, to the extent that soundings in the narrow entrance were not shown on the Tablet.  Navionics provided some help by email, but it did not solve the problem, but we successfully navigated the entrance in 3m of water. Not a big margin for error as we draw 2.2m!  But what a stunning spot, especially after the busy marina of Kalmar.

We continued sailing almost every day in favourable winds from the south, stopping in idyllic, protected anchorages, with good holding in mud.  That is, until we stopped just short of Nynäshamn, in Valsviken Bay, where a Navionics user had left a mark on the chart inside the 3m contour stating there was an unmarked sea cable going from the shore, straight out to sea.  So we carefully anchored some way clear of where we thought the cable might be, but come the morning and weighing anchor, there was the cable!  We managed to get a rope around it and then clear the anchor, releasing the cable.  In Sweden we have now read many reports of others who have also caught unmarked sea cables in their anchors.

Nynäshamn was a pleasant marina break where we lay alongside on a visitors’ pontoon, with the southerly wind pushing us off, and making our departure easy.  Again we found enjoyable walks to the south along the coastline.

Having missed the CA rally which had started in Nynashamn, we decided to visit the different islands anyway.  Our first stop was Utö, anchoring in a delightful position between a beautiful church and the small local ferry terminal.  Using the dinghy to visit the village further up the channel, we walked to the windmill built by a Dutchman in 1791 from where the views over islands in the Stockholm archipelago are magnificent on a clear day.  We also walked to the south coast, and admired the beautiful inlets, even in the cold northerly wind!  We were incredibly fortunate to meet Lars Goran Karlsson, whose family has a summer house on the island, and had moored his Omega 42 yacht close to us.  He was following in our wake to Stockholm to take part in the AF Offshore Race the following weekend from Stockholm, around Gotland and back to Sandhamn.

We had been in touch with another Lars, Lars Lemby, a longstanding member of the Offshore Cruising Club (Overlord).  He lives just behind the Laennersta Baatklub on the outskirts of Stockholm and was leaving on the 23rd June to join John Porter on White Eagle in Oban.  So we cut short exploration of other islands and spent a very pleasant 24 hours with him and his wife Anna-Maria, having berthed Pipistrelle on the hammerhead at the Boat Club.  Our next stop was the Navishamnen Marina in Stockholm, from where we were able to spend a week exploring Stockholm over Midsummer.

PS. We’re still well behind the pace at the time of writing, so catch up on our whereabouts by clicking on Pipistrelle’s Journey and Where Are We Now?

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The Return – May 2018

A month on board has turned into two(ish), with the first of the promised blog updates here.  Baltic cruising is very different from our previous sailing experiences and extremely enjoyable so far in mostly unseasonably glorious weather.  In eight weeks it has rained little, unfortunately leaving the countryside parched.  None of the Scandinavians we have met can remember the months of May or June being so sunny and warm for a very long time.

To take up our story then …

We returned to Denmark on May 8th, to be reunited with Pipistrelle at Søholm Yacht Services, in the rural location of Nybøl Nor.  It was a relief to find her in much the same state as we had left her last October, though both the 24 & 12v battery chargers had been replaced during the winter.  They were 18 years old!  Having received quotes for both antifouling and polishing the topsides, Bob decided that for the first time since Portugal in 2009, we had better things to do with £2,000, and so spent 3 days working on the hull (he’s clearly cheap labour)!

Alternative accommodation and road transport were vital during that time.  Full use was made of the rental car we hired on arrival at Hamburg airport and of the impressive facilities at our Airbnb in Alnor, close to the boatyard in Søholm.

Pipistrelle was relaunched on 16th May, and with most of the recommissioning tasks complete, we finally left Søholm a week later to anchor in a sheltered spot a couple of miles away for one night.  This was mainly to fit the two headsails safely with Pipistrelle ‘head to wind’.  We also played logistics, with a dinghy ride back to Søholm for Elaine to collect the car and drive to nearby Marina Minde, await Bob turning up in same dinghy to go together back to Pipistrelle and sail her into the marina!  Here we made final preparations and having victualled for the umpteenth time in Flensburg, Germany, where everything is much cheaper than in Denmark, were ready to get some miles under the keel again.

We had joined the Cruising Association (CA), who were holding a Stockholm Rally at the beginning of June, and whilst we made good progress east through the islands of Denmark, anchoring three times overnight (at Bagenkop, Femø and Harbølle) our plans for sailing on to Ystad in southern Sweden went out of the window with the arrival of easterlies.  Instead of a hard beat for hours to achieve 60 nm, we put into Klintholm on the island of Møn, the last harbour going north before either turning NW towards Copenhagen, or NE towards Ystad.

There we stayed for what turned out to be ten days in its safe marina.   There are many places to visit nearby, together with enjoyable strolls along sandy beaches in any weather, a good way to relax after a day’s work on Pipistrelle (yes, always something to clean, polish, repair, renew!).

The Danish equivalent of the White Cliffs of Dover are the chalk cliffs of Møns Klint which stretch for 6km with up to 120m drop in places and offer pleasant walking through woodland with splendid views into the Baltic.  We chose a bright sunny day for our afternoon excursion by (expensive) public bus.

And finally, one spectacular Danish sunset at Klintholm.

Click on our Where Are We Now? and Pipistrelle’s Journey pages for more brief updates!

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Ahoy from Scandinavia!

We returned to Pipistrelle over a month ago now, and it’s so good to be afloat in 2018.

Click on our Where Are We Now? and Pipistrelle’s Journey pages for further updates!

The blog lives again with a full account of what’s been going on to follow soon.  Meanwhile, a few photos to whet the appetite.

 

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Destination Denmark

Having chosen to store Pipistrelle for the winter at a yard in Southern Denmark close to the German border at Flensburg, we began our cruise through the Danish islands.  The plan was to sail from Sweden and reach Søholm Yacht Services at Nybøl near Egernsund as quickly as possible, but with some stops on the way.  In fact it took us longer than we thought because of … yes, wind and weather!

Leaving Marstrand in Sweden on a cool damp morning, we sailed the 35 nm to Østerby on the island of Laesø which we had last visited on Overlord 14 years ago (that same trip mentioned in relation to Norway).  Unsurprisingly we didn’t recognise the marina, but do have vague recollections of going alongside the fishing harbour.  No matter!

By now we were used to paying our fee by credit card at the nearby machine.  Boat length and length of stay tapped in, a coloured ‘parking ticket’ appears, is taken back to the boat and displayed by being looped round the guardrail.  Scandinavian efficiency!

Next day which we knew was going to be dry, we hired bikes to explore the island and ended up cycling 26 km!  Not bad going, but it’s along cycle paths, all flat, and there was no wind.  We had a look around Hedvigs Hus – one of the unique dwellings dating back to the 1600s with its thick seaweed roof.  Why seaweed?  With no trees or straw on the island at the time, the inhabitants used their initiative, found seaweed and driftwood on the seashore and built their houses accordingly.  There are now under 20 left on the whole island.

Lunch was at the Laesø Caféen in Byrum where we tried the typical Danish fish dish of ‘Stjerneskud’, which was delicious.  Thus fortified, we had a look at the church dating from the 1200’s which was unfortunately closed, and then set off again to the Laesø Saltworks.

The island produced salt since 1008, but ceased in the 1800’s and it wasn’t until 1991 when a seething hut was reconstructed, and salt production began again.  It is possible in Laesø because a very salty brine is formed some 2 metres down in the sand, which has a salt concentration of 15% compared to 2-3% in the Kattegat. Our visit gave us the opportunity to see the liquid bubbling away in stainless steel tanks heated by wood burning ovens.  Interestingly the stainless has to be of the highest grade – 316 – the same quality used on Pipistrelle!  This is manufacturing on a small scale but it is gaining in popularity and becoming known as the ‘gourmet of salts’.  We were surprised to find a delegation from the Lion Saltworks Museum in Northwich, UK, having a serious meeting to learn how to emulate what has been done here, and begin making salt again in Cheshire.

After one more day on Laesø (when it rained), we set off to Grenå, where we stayed for one night and then sailed on to Ballen on the east of Samsø before heading to the small marina of Reersø which is on the west of the island of Zealand with Copenhagen on the east, overlooking the Great Belt.  This is one of the three Danish straits separating the main islands that make up the country.  We were met by our friends Lisbeth and Christian (their yacht is ‘Pura Vida’), which was just as well, as the marina is not designed for yachts of our size, but we managed to get alongside safely in a protected spot sheltered from the forecast strong winds.

Reersø used to be an island before the causeway was raised above sea level, and it is a delightful spot, with many old thatched cottages which reminded us of home, and walks along the coastline and across farmland.  We also had a very enjoyable evening of Danish ‘hygge’ at Christian and Lisbeth’s beautiful home, overlooking Reersø Bay.

We weathered the named storm ‘Aileen’ which caused damage in the UK, and at the first opportunity, set sail south down the Great Belt, as we were running out of time to get to Søholm.  Inevitably the forecast was not strictly accurate, and after a good start with sunshine and favourable current, we then had head winds, and found ourselves dodging supertankers and other shipping using the two channels available.  Power does not give way to sail here!

We finished up motoring for the last 10nm, and then had a heavy rainstorm so we stood off before making our entrance to Spodsbjerg Marina, on the island of Langeland.  Once inside we were able to tie up comfortably, in a position which would provide an easy exit.  This marina predominantly caters for leisure fishing boats, and a rally had been arranged for the weekend we were there.  The weather was not conducive to continuing south, so after getting ourselves organised, we enjoyed a walk along the coast and inland around the many fresh water lakes.

Having planned to make Bagenkop on the west of Langeland the next stop, we left Spodsbjerg, rounded the southern tip of the island in warm sunshine.  Along with lack of adverse wind and current, it was a no brainer to continuing west to Sønderborg, meaning a full day of sailing, but then only a short hop to Søholm.

We were able to moor alongside the quay in the Allsund Channel, have a look around the old town and 12th century castle and naturally buy final provisions to keep us going on arrival at Søholm, which is only 3 hours away.

The lifting bridge at Egernsund into the Nybøl Nor opens hourly each day from 08.30, so we left Sønderborg hoping to arrive in time for 12.30, but we knew it would be tight.  We arrived 10 minutes late, but the staff could see us from a distance, so delayed the opening for us to catch up with the other yachts going through!  How amazingly helpful!

The yard is only some 20 minutes from the bridge.  Søholm run a very professional operation, specialising in the storage of boats both inside their heated and unheated halls without masts, and outside with or without masts in place.  Mads Søholm was waiting to squeeze us into a slot on their waiting pontoon, and took our lines.

Almost immediately behind us we found the windfall yacht A.R., previously known as ‘Lively’ when the British owned her, and now renamed A.R.  In Michael Cudmore’s book, ‘The Windfall Yachts’, she is variously described as being 125 or 150 sq mtrs!  She is now in beautiful condition and owned by a German couple for the last 35 years.  She had her masts removed and is stored indoors.  We look forward to meeting the owners again when we return – the talk will obviously be of A.R., Overlord and Sea Scamp among others, all of them windfall yachts!  Here a few photos …

From then on, we were extremely busy preparing Pipistrelle for haul out.  We had opted for storage outside, with the mast in place.  For the first time we had to winterise the boat for sub zero temperatures, and rain that might freeze.  This not only meant replacing the fresh water in the generator and Yanmar with 50/50 antifreeze, but also the seawater cooling, together with the air conditioning, now used for heat, the watermaker using Glycerine, and the two heads, with the grey tank being totally emptied.  A lot to think about, together with canvas covers on deck. There was then the multitude of other jobs from organising car hire (from Flensburg), accommodation ashore (in nearby Gråsten), flights home (from Hamburg), eking out and eating all the remaining perishable food (anywhere), washing and drying machine loads of laundry (off site) and cleaning the interior.   We lifted at the end of the first week, when we moved off Pipistrelle, and throughout, we found the yard incredibly efficient, helpful and careful.  Our thanks are due to the team of Mads, Flemming, Susanne and Festus.

Pipistrelle is now resting in this tranquil spot until next May, when we will return to Denmark to take her on another journey!

 

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Pipistrelle in Sweden!

Making landfall in Västra Göteland in our own yacht towards the end of August was very special.  Our first cruise in the area was in 2003 (yes, the Overlord trip already referred to!).  Our friends Ingemar and Ann-Britt had invited us to sail with them on Lady Ann III on two separate occasions, and it was with them that we really discovered this marvellous sailing area with its granite rock formations and ever-changing scenery.

See our blogs from 2014 and 2016:

It’s Here! Summer Sun 1 – Sweden

Happy New Year 2017! (Interlude in Sweden 2016)

Hunnebostrand has much to offer in the summer season with plentiful marina berths of all sizes, as well as anchoring.  Off the boat, there is good hiking in many different directions.  As with Norway, our arrival at the end of August heralded end of summer so we saw the little shops and boutiques opening at the weekend only.  Ingemar and Ann-Britt’s summer house is nearby at Ulebergshamn, which for us was a dinghy ride away, and we were invited for the evening feasting on shrimps ordered and collected straight from the fisherman!  After more socialising with them and in and around the (private) marina where we had been fortunate enough to have been offered an unoccupied berth, we felt we had to move on southwards while the weather was still reasonable.

Leaving the nearby Sote Kanal behind us, which we had been through a couple of times before, so felt like old hands, we headed for Lysekil with its imposing church, an easy 17 nm sail away.  Again, thanks to our visit here last year, we knew the ropes and went straight into the less crowded and more protected Fisherman’s marina.  Next day, Sunday, along with many local sailors enjoying pleasant weekend weather, we threaded our way between the islands to the west of Orust before heading out to more open sea and approaching Marstrand from the northwest.  Compared to the last time we were here it was quiet and we were even able to go alongside in the marina where we stayed overnight.

Unfortunately by evening the weather had closed in.  It turned cool, damp and windy and we wanted to go out for a meal!  Eventually, we found the one and only restaurant that was open ‘Hamnkrogen’ – across the channel on the opposite island!  The frequent ferry service made access easy and we were there within 10 minutes!

After just a week in Sweden we slipped our lines, took down the Swedish courtesy flag and set sail for Denmark.

 

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Notes from Norway

An Overlord trip brought us to Norway in 2003 when we explored the Oslo Fjord, so in Kristiansand we decided that, not having sailed in this area before, and without any immediately pressing deadlines, we would spend a few days cruising up the east coast.  A good decision as it turned out, before heading across to Västra Göteland in Sweden which we know and love.

Strangely to us, the season here appears to end in August!  We arrived on the 22nd and already everything seemed closed down.  Few boats in the marina, office closed, no machine issuing tickets (the norm in Scandinavia) and all very quiet, so we had a free berth and power!

The next day in gloriously warm sunshine we slipped lines but had to motor to Revesand near Arendal where we anchored for the night.  Quite a pretty spot but again no one else around apart from a Wednesday evening racing fleet (worldwide that event!).  Fickle as ever, the weather changed … still no wind but rain!

Nonetheless we set off, taking the inshore route under a 25m bridge (our mast height is 22.5m), past an oil rig under maintenance, out to the open sea again before reaching the charming village of Lyngør nestled amongst a group of small islands and moored alongside the only pontoon.

A grey afternoon …

A grey afternoon, but we went to the only small grocery store which was open, to be served by a Portuguese student!  Walking around the village was interesting but the following day on the recommendation of a Norwegian sailing couple, we motored a whole mile to do something we’d never done before … mooring Scandinavian style, against a sheer rock face!!  It is difficult to get more idyllic than that, especially as the weather decided to show itself off at its best!

Again, on recommendation we headed North once more towards the island of Jumfroland or ‘the island of the Virgin’ in Norwegian.  Close to the mainland at Kragerø, it being the weekend and fine, it was busy.  We managed to go alongside on a sort of hammerhead and in fact stayed for two nights.  Paying at the ticket machine took some working out and once we were ‘official’ we set off on a walking expedition.  As the island is small and flat, it was easy terrain.

It is fascinating, as it was originally part of the seabed, and created as a glacial moraine, which then rose from the seabed.  Consequently sizeable areas are comprised of large round stones, which obviously do not support any vegetation, in contrast to some extremely fertile areas.  In the middle of the island there are two big lighthouses, one old, one new, that can be seen all round for a considerable distance.  We enjoyed our walks, the north eastern end comprised of solid rock and a pebbly shoreline, and the south western end having pleasant beaches.  The whole island protects the Kragerø archipelago which in itself is an ideal sailing ground with so many sheltered islands.  How often on our travels have we come across areas we would love to explore further, if we had known about them earlier and had built in considerable ‘buffer’ time.  This was one definitely of them, but unfortunately time was not on our side!

With a good weather window for the passage to Hunnebostrand, Sweden, we left the small marina to anchor in the lee of the island, making it easier for an early departure the next morning (ie fenders and mooring lines already safely stowed, just the anchor to weigh!).

The weather gods were with us, and we had an enjoyable if chilly 60 mile day sail with the wind on the beam, arriving late afternoon to continue our cruise in the land of the Vikings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unscheduled Landfall

Starting with our departure from Inverness Marina on Thursday 17th August, this turned out to be no ordinary passage.

With 80 nm ahead of us to reach the busy fishing port of Fraserburgh in a day sail, and slipping lines just before daybreak, we plugged the current through the narrows between the Chanonry Point Lighthouse to port and the fortress of Fort George to starboard.  Similar to the Devon coastline and so different from the Scottish west coast with its cuillins and munros, we sailed past Lossiemouth, Banff, Macduff, and finally to ‘FB’ where a hammerhead pontoon had been reserved for us in the small Marina amongst assorted fishing vessels.  Why Fraserbrough?  To take delivery of the boom vang that had been under repair in Falmouth (long story) and we’d had couriered to Scotland.  It was also a good way to break down the North Sea crossing.

The day started fine and ended dry but cool.  We had made good time though motor sailed most of the way.   Not so the following morning!  It rained solidly and blew the whole day.   A very bleak place in no sunshine even in August – hard to imagine in winter.  Going ashore for a few provisions involved donning full wet weather gear and boots!

As predicted Saturday dawned with not a cloud in the sky and a westerly wind.  The Fraserbrough world looked brighter.  Good time to leave on the 400nm passage to Sweden – 3 days at sea.

Day 1 was lovely sailing weather, but we stowed the mainsail, and sailed under genoa alone – sunshine, a puffin on the water, a pod of dolphins swimming with us for hours and a superb sunset.  We also spotted 5 floating wind turbines, that were not shown on Navionics, so passed the info on to Navionics, who have now updated their North Sea chart, and expressed their thanks.  However, the BP Forties Oilfield was shown – the brightly lit platforms an amazing sight at night!

Day 2 was grey, rainy and boisterous.  30kn winds, rolly, heavy seas with 3m swell and unpleasant outside.  Thankfully the Wauquiez pilot saloon came into its own again – with all round visibility we can run watches from below, only needing to venture into the cockpit to trim sails.  So we were ‘inside’ for Day 2, watching waves crashing over the deck and into the cockpit.

Day 3 though bright, brought with it little or no easing of breeze until the afternoon.  We could see the Norwegian coastline all day about 20nm to our north, with Kristiansand to port.  Towards evening the wind died and we relaxed a little with another glorious sunset to the west.  Now in the Skagerrak we looked forward to a pleasant last night at sea with about 100 nm to run.

An ominous dark sky developed.  In the distance, it lit up at regular intervals – sheet lightning followed by bright forks hitting the sea.  Call us paranoid, but having been subjected to three strikes, we were on our guard!  Radar on, we watched, changed course away from the lightning, then quickly decided our best and safest option was to motor back out to sea and run before the storm.  (Even our friends Ingemar and Ann-Britt could see it from their summer house on the hill in Ulebergshamn!)  After an hour, it had subsided, but on turning back onto our heading for Sweden, not only was the wind at 26kn, but was on the nose too and we were making 3.5kn at 2000 rpm!

Another discussion followed – again a ‘no brainer’ – to alter course with the wind on our beam for 40nm which would take us to ….

KRISTIANSAND, NORWAY!

So totally unscheduled, we arrived off Kristiansand at breakfast time to be met by Customs in a rib!  All very friendly, but they did come on board to check our passports, ship’s papers and to have a look around.  After a passage though, the interior below decks is never in a fit state to receive visitors!

We finally went alongside at the visitors’ marina in perfect weather to plan a short stay in The Land of the Midnight Sun.

 

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