But enough distraction, back to boating matters. Found Primetime still snugged up in her winter shed but horror of horrors, rather than finding nicely charged batteries, we found totally discharged and fried batteries!! No explanation of how this could have happened but no choice but to spend a small fortune on replacing all four with new AGM batteries - at Danish prices, ouch. Otherwise the boat was looking good and what a joy it was to find her much as we had left her in late August, no green algae, no mould, wonderful, we love being in a shed! Quick polish and touch up on the keel and by Wednesday we were back in the water.
Friday 25th May
The following day we awoke to yet another perfect day. Raised anchor from very gloopy bottom, ages to clean chain etc. but underway by 08.00 and clear of AlsFjord by 08.45. Good course towards Lyø making 7kts but with 0.6kt adverse current. However, later we made slow progress tacking directly upwind but weather fabulous and wind 14-18 Kts E. Eventually made it to Drejø where we dropped anchor in 2.7m in the huge southern bay of Skovens Vig. Fabulous sunset.
Saturday 26th May
This may be the last of our perfect summer days. We profited from it by dinghying ashore early and walking the entire island, 18,000 steps 9.1M. Enchanting, and we even found some “aero-campers”, French and German, who were flying an old bi-plane, accompanied by something more modern, hopping from island to island and camping on each. Island dotted with summer cabins all very Hygge. Old harbour charming, but really only room for small motor boats, main harbour excellent. Comprehensive village shop
Sunday 27th May
Up by 07.00 but as anticipated today is 100% cloud cover and quite chilly. Anchor up by 08.15. Sand mixed with a good measure of gloopy clay, well dug in. Managed to sail the tortuous channel towards Marstal and then peeled off to port, heading north for Rudkøbing. Arrived by 12.00. Plenty of space but boxes narrow, squeezed in with a bit of welly but then pinged through only to crunch our bow ladder on the quay and a lifebuoy holder on the post. Embarrassing. Calmed down over lunch, and I settled in to re-wire AIS to the PC so that it gets both its GPS and AIS feeds from the Digital Yacht Transponder. That done walked around town. Charming but quite run-down. Hans Christian Oersted, pioneer of electromagnetism was born here and is omnipresent, statues, streets, cultural centre etc. Showers included in our 180 Kr so we took full advantage of them. Evening spent route planning and on a work call to UK
Monday 28th May
Took our lifebuoy holder to a great metal work shop with TIG welder in commercial harbour area. Fixed in a trice and the old welder refused any money. Talked to German owners of a classic one-off Contest 44 which arrived last night. New decks last winter in Fehmarn - expensive!
Shopping in town and then caught the 913 bus the 12km out to Tranaeker Slot. Fairy tale red castle, closed to public but surrounded by a sculpture park, TICKON, created in 1993. All the sculptures were designed to merge back into the landscape as they rot and indeed some have already been reduced to piles of twigs. Picnicked and then bus back.
Tuesday 29th May
Up by 06.30. Hazy day with E F3-4 becoming 4-5, forecast. Left berth by 08.30. Tacked in towards Svendborg channel and then in nice flat water beat N to top of Langeland, making it into the Støere Baelt by 12.30. Lots of US, British and Danish warships on VHF, exercising I surmise. Bright sun but as we headed across to Skaelskør wind got up and we found ourselves beating into 24-27kts. A bit over-canvassed but we were making 7.2kts at 32-33 degrees off the wind! Finally reefed and then we were headed, and had to motor last 5 miles into Skaelskør. A bit heart in mouth winding our way in as channel dropped to 2.7m in places. Arrived by 16.00 only to find that as this is a “residents’ port” there were almost no spare berths, one in marina and one on hammerhead which we gratefully took. There is an anchorage in 2.5m just outside the harbour entrance, which would be the fall-back. In high summer the residents go travelling and there is more space, or so the harbour-master told us. Four night deal for 535 Kr inc power and 4 showers.
Wednesday 30th May
Back to perfect summer weather, 25° C, though wind continues at 20+ knots, so we set off to walk the 3 km or so to Borreby castle. Beautiful and tranquil, we were lucky enough to get to see the private family chapel. Briefly talked to the matriarch of the family, who have owned the estate since 1783. She now lives in what she called “the retirement home” a gorgeous 17th c long-house in the courtyard. Her son and his family now occupy the main house. Walked back past the Harboe brewery and bought some of their product in the Super Brugsen in town. Later used to accompany our evening nibbles.
Thursday May 31st
Another beautiful sunshiny day, henceforth to be known as BSD, though again with strong winds. Stayed put and I did a management meeting by Skype. Worked really well as I sat on the deck of the sailor’s club, one eye on spreadsheets the other on the weather. In afternoon walked to the International Ceramic Centre. Incredibly Skaelskør has a world famous ceramics facility where ceramicists come to study and share ideas. Fantastic facilities, which we were shown by Ben Clements, an intern from Colorado. We were lucky to see their annual “shoebox show”. Pieces sent in from across the world that must all fit into a carton roughly the size of a shoebox. The garden too is a striking outdoor sculpture park. A complete surprise in this tiny town.
Friday June 1st
Woke to silence, wind had died and after a quick shower we slipped lines at 08.30. Tried to sail off berth but not quite enough wind to give us way, so motored 200 metres away from potential entanglements and then ghosted down channel for an hour. Swans everywhere and overtaken by several rowing fours. Managed to sail as far as Vejrø. Took a look at this private island but no other boats there and it all looked very sterile and “exclusive” so we sailed on to Femø. What a good call. Delightful small harbour with friendly family feel, island shop is on the quay so all needs catered for. Ferry dock right opposite moorings, also boxes are very very short as we found, needing to quickly rig mid-ship rather than aft lines. Walked to beautiful peaceful church in middle of country, built to serve several islands which had lost too many people drowned going to mainland for christenings, weddings etc. Beautiful 16th c ceiling paintings. Continued on to Nørreby, twin village to Sørreby. Each has maybe 20 to 30 houses and the obligatory sculpture park. Back to harbour to pay our 165 Kr and help others making a hash of mooring in cross wind.
Saturday 2nd June
Yup another BSD. In fact forecast to be hottest for this day in Denmark for over a 100 years. The contrast with last year is remarkable - worst summer for 35+ years. No wind to speak of and thermometer says 30 degrees. Lots of early activity as people head off and then the harbour slips back into a somnolent silence broken only by the buzzing of flies and chirping of birds. By 16.30 just about cool enough for our daily walk, today Sørreby and then back along the beach, skinny dipping on the way and then scrambling over rocks for last few hundred metres to get back to harbour. Only 6000 steps but felt like more. Encountered several of the painted benches which are a sort of signature theme for the island. Lots of kids playing in harbour, give them a dinghy and an outboard and they never trouble their parents from dawn ‘til dusk. Ferry ploughs back and forth every two hours. All a totally different world to home.
Sunday 3rd June
Up by 05.30. Woke to a changed world. Wind has gone around to W F3 and there is 100% cloud cover. Left our box by 07.30 and made a long leg south to avoid extensive shallows around Femø. Slow but steady downwind progress at 3-4 kts towards the Storstrøm bridge (26m clearance) which we reached by 12.30. Very little boat traffic about, though we were passed by two merchant ships just after the bridge. After about an hour we sailed under the altogether more dramatic Farø bridge to Falster and by 14.00 we were abeam of Stubbekøping, which we had pencilled as a potential overnight stop, decent harbour and good anchorage. However, cloud had gone, sun was out and we were enjoying our sail and decided to keep going to Klintholm. Cut the corner out of the Gronsund and beam reached virtually to harbour wall at Klintholm arriving by 18.30. Found a space in a rather rickety box but with a view of the sunset. Plenty of space, also quite a few alongside berths for larger vessels. Paid 170 Kr per night at the automat. Lovely place but harbour still undergoing modernisation, no water on the pontoons for example, though promised for later this year.
Tuesday 5th June
As forecast, wind has veered N to NE F3-4. Slipped lines by 07.30. BSD. Tacked close-in towards Møns Klint and rounded by 09.30. Bore away towards Rødvig in light wind and sloppy sea. Slight delay when boom vang came adrift, split pin had fallen out. Sea soon flattened out and enabled us to sail right into Rødvig harbour entrance, arriving by 14.00. Found a space in an ample box with a view of the sunset. No sign of any harbour staff or functioning office, so paid 195 Kr per night at the automat. Lovely place but harbour management feels a bit lackadaisical. Showers are public and cost 5 Kr. There is a train to Stege and on to Copenhagen also Super Brugsen close to harbour. Bought fresh fish at very good price from boat in fiskerhavn .
Wednesday 6th June
Woken by groaning, straining mooring lines and howling rigging, wind now beam on to our box, a bit uncomfortable. Looked over harbour wall and instantly decided to stay another day! This turned out to be a very good idea as we walked the 3km to the Stevnsfort Cold War Museum where we spent 3 fascinating hours, toured the underground complex and saw 1980’s monitoring stations etc. Very sobering and evocative and extremely well curated. Learned a lot. Walked back via the abandoned lime quarry and its spectacular roundhouse, now used for concerts etc. Back at boat by 15.00
Arrived at Dockan Marina in the heart of Malmö by 14.00, very close to Santiago Calatrava’s famous Turning Torso building, tallest in Scandinavia. Great marina within easy reach of everything, including huge ICA Maxi hypermarket. Reasonably priced at 250 SEK per night including free bikes. Very helpful staff. Lots to look at. Highly recommended.
Saturday 9th & Sunday 10th June
Idyllic weather, spent the day exploring Malmö. Graduation time in Sweden so truckfuls of students cruising the city with pounding music and lots of tooting, great fun. The city is a fascinating mix of the ultra modern, decaying industrial, maritime heritage and 19th c bourgeois. It is completely reinventing itself as a tech hub with massive re-building and all the, still relatively new, dock basins being converted to leisure use. Cycle paths everywhere and we cycled off to check-out the Limhamm and Lagunen marinas. Limhamm huge with very good chandlery and all services, masses of boats stored ashore here over winter, very chilled atmosphere with views of “The Bridge” from the “beach” in front of the restaurant. Lagunen more local, still large but fewer visitor spaces and no chandlery or restaurant. About 20 minutes cycle from town centre. The historic centre is also very attractive with lots of design shops, stunning new library, and an excellent modern art gallery, the Moderna Museet, which has a good café for a very reasonable lunch. City has a very cool vibe. We really liked it.
Tuesday 12th June
Up at 06.30 to a cold grey day. Forced ourselves to leave our snug quarters in Dockan. Wind WNW F4 occ 5. Off our berth by 07.30 with five layers on! Slow progress beating NNW against 0.6 - 1kt of stream. All going well, if slowly, until we tacked and leech tape ripped off genoa leaving leech line to wrap around spreaders and torn tape to wind itself around furler! Got sail in and started calling sailmakers. Morten Ullmann from UK Sails called me back and said he could do a repair if we put into Rungsted. Arrived Rungsted by 13.30 and after I went up mast to unwrap tape we got sail down ready to be picked up. Morten arrived promptly at 17.00 and promised to return sail by 13.00 tomorrow. Very impressive. Rest of day unwinding and contemplating the bill to come. However, sun had re-appeared and wind dropped to a zephyr. Wandered along the boardwalk of this huge marina, which is end to end “Fine Dining”. Tuesday is regatta night for the Kongelig Dansk Yachtklub and we had a grandstand view, probably 50 boats out on water and most sailed back into marina and tacked to their berths - impressive. Everyone very friendly.
The following day weather back on form with a BSD and gentle winds, though a big storm is threatened for the weekend. Morning spent walking up to bank to extract Kronor to pay for sail repairs and strolling back through the lovely gardens of Karen Bliksen’s house. (She wrote Out of Africa). Morten arrived as promised at 13.00 with beautifully repaired sail. 1940 kr, about £230. Tremendous service at a very reasonable price, particularly for Denmark. I took an evening stroll all the way round outer breakwater, 2km. This is a biggggg marina!
Thursday 14th June
Woke to a rather grey day with wind W F2-3. Lines slipped by 07.45 and headed over to Sweden. Ghosted across the Øresund and spent a while dodging freighters and ferries off Helsingborg but made it into the large dock basin, which is now the guest harbour, by 11.30. All boom moorings were too small and lightweight so had to go alongside. Just tied up as the wind kicked up to 20Kts. Expensive at 300SEK for a spot miles from the facilities, which are very limited. Purported chandlery no longer exists, nor sailmaker. Went to PostNord to try to collect the Delius Klasing charts I had ordered. Told it was far too soon, things take 7 days to come from Germany (all of 150 miles by road) bizarre. Rang Klasing who said they could not track any orders because their IT had been broken for a week!!
A bit fed up we decided to take the ferry back to Helsingor in Denmark to look at the castle, the Elsinor of Hamlet fame. Ferry excellent, very smart, they run every 20 mins and cost 90 SEK each return (£8.00). We walked around Kronborg Slot, as the castle is officially known. A very impressive pile, which dominates the narrow strait and threatened dire consequences for any vessel trying to evade the Danish passage tax. One tower is now a lighthouse, which is rather less threatening. Inspected Helsingor Marina, pleasant but no visitor spaces at this time of year. Good call to have gone to Helsingborg. Had smorebrod and beer supper on the way back to ferry, very tasty and reasonable. Bought duty free, or at least very cheap, beer and wine on the 20 minute return crossing. Back on board by 20.30
Friday 15th & Saturday 16th June
Bright day with E F4. Perfect for continuing north. Off berth by 07.00. Making good boat-speed NNW but 1.5kts of adverse current. About 08.00 genoa collapsed and fell into water. Quickly got sail back aboard. Snap-shackle on the halyard had failed. Motor sailed back into the lee of the Danish coast and anchored. Proceeded up mast to recover halyard and make substitute snap shackle out of two normal shackles. Hauled sail back up and checked furling, all seemed OK so we set off again by 09.30. Wind now F4-5 so good speed northwards towards Halmstad. Beautiful sunny day and current reducing as we got clear of the straits. 13.30, passed between the anchorage at Halland Väder and Torekov. Can see this would be perfect in westerlies. Continued good progress and we sailed right up the Nissan River into the centre of Halmstad. Inauspicious industrialised entry gives way to a lovely town with wide river and lots of alongside and boom mooring space. We went alongside old quay next to restored 1922 dock crane and were secured by 16.00. Completely protected haven in all winds. There is also a train station so could be a good place to leave boat/change crew.
Tuesday, howling ever more strident, regularly gusting 30-33kts, though bright sun. We decided to explore the castle and its museum. Best known for Bocksten Man who was murdered sometime around 1300 and then buried in a bog with stakes through his heart and other vital organs. All his clothing and hair perfectly preserved and used to create an eerie reconstruction. There was also a lovely modern art gallery and a further gallery devoted to the Varberg group of impressionist influenced painters. We wanted to own some, they were delicious.
Next day cold, grey, wet and very windy continues. Nonetheless we decided to walk along the coast path to the old sanatorium complex, once the largest in Scandinavia, which has become a luxury spa/hotel. We glimpsed an aged guest emerge from the beach front spa, cross our path and plunge into the grey sea. Brave. Returned across the rocky flatlands just inland, got soaked and decided to enjoy another bargain lunch in town at Blå Därren - Kungsgatan 28 - and dry out. Returned to boat pinned to quay by wind now gusting 38-40 kts. Got chatting to Robert Hellman, a swede who owns a Regina of Vindo 43 called Amore, and is embarking on a circumnavigation. Invited him for drinks. He proved very helpful and has given us his Båtsportkort charts for the SW coast. Very generous. He is also going to call people he knows at Langedrag in Goteborg to see if they can sort out a berth for Primetime while we return to London next week.
Slept badly as wind continued in mid to high thirties and we are certainly going nowhere. Lunched aboard Amore. Great news, Robert has sorted our berth, he also gave us his 2018 Swedish cruising club permit for buoys, the “Bojflagga”, so we have free use of them for this year. We reciprocated by giving him our CA cruising guide and suggesting a route and good stopping places for his journey down to Spain. Very amicable all round. His Regina is absolutely gorgeous, first time we have had serious boat envy!
Friday, wind stronger than forecast, still 20 kts + so we will stay yet another day hoping that tomorrow’s forecast of 14-18kts proves correct. Went provisioning first thing. Market square full of vendors selling floral headdresses to wear for today’s mid-summer solstice. Then, decided to walk around to the other marina at Getterön on N side of harbour. Proved further than we thought, 10 miles 20,000 steps, but we needed the exercise. Getterön a bit characterless, but fuel and pump-out available. And certainly, as our walk proved, very cut off from town. We were hoping for mid-summer celebrations but Sweden, unlike Denmark, treats the solstice as a family event, so no bonfires etc, though there was much watching of the World-Cup in summer regalia. We ate the required “Abba” brand Matjes pickled herring for supper as recommended by a lady in the supermarket. Delicious, we will lay in stocks.
Saturday 23rd June
At last the weather has settled and we were up by 04.45 and heading out of Varberg by 06.00 on glassy water, meeting our old friend, the Grenaa ferry, on its way in. Our new friend Robert was already well gone by that hour, looking at his AIS later, we saw he reached Gilleleje near Helsingor, an 80 mile run. Our first few hours were slow going because we were close-hauled in light winds and with a sloppy sea left over from gales. We were caught up by two englishmen motorsailing their Swallow Boats, Bay Raider, Gladys. They had come from Roskilde and were also heading for the Malö anchorages. By 09.00 we were able to tack north and profit from both a wind-shift and the wind strengthening to F4. Made excellent progress towards the anchorages behind Malö island. Chose the smaller, Skalla Hamn as it was pretty much empty and had a more intimate feel. Dropped anchor in 6M well sheltered from all directions but due south. A little bit of paradise. Lunched, lazed and then dinghied ashore, where we again met the crew of Gladys. Lots of very prosperous houses tucked behind the rocks at the head of the creek. Back on boat checked my bearings and found we had dragged, not much but enough to justify re-anchoring. Supper and early to bed, out like lights.
By 11.30 we had arrived at Kungsö and dropped anchor in 5M about a cable off the idyllic sandy beach taking care to avoid the two rocky shallow patches to the N. Bottom a bit weedy but eventually our trusty Delta bit. Lunch, lazing and then dinghy ashore to explore. Very special island with remarkable rock strata everywhere. Climbed to highest point and surveyed the archipelago, then scrambled down and swam. Cruising simply does not get much better. This already justifies our move north.
Tuesday 26th June
No longer my birthday but my traditional “birthday week” continues with its numerous special privileges, including tea in bed at 06.15. Glorious day with hardly a breath of wind, rowed ashore to dry toilets and recycling in a hut by the beach, all very Swedish, By 08.30 we were in the dinghy again rowing over to Vrångö, the adjacent island about 0.5 m away. Beached in cove and found path to main, very picturesque, town. Lots of visitor spaces. Outer harbour to starboard as you enter, either lazy line (max probably 12M) or alongside, no limit. Very sheltered spaces in newly modernised inner harbour with stern buoys, shore power, water etc. Showers, wc, pump-out on quay. Good small supermarket also on quay together with restaurant and various fish sheds selling direct to public. Lots of well maintained walking trails and a ferry to Goteborg from the E side of the island. Easy to spend a few days here. Lovely place, though already filling with large Norwegian motor yachts. B rowed us back, picking her way through a gap in rocks to short-cut into “our” bay.
Wednesday 27th June
Falling into a routine. Up at 06.30, row ashore for loo and garbage disposal, then hauled anchor which came up clean as a whistle. Reached under genny through the islands to our next anchorage off Styrsö near the tiny harbour of Halsvik. Contrary to forecast it was blowing 15-17 kts, rather than 8-10 but we were lucky enough to pick up an SXK buoy. By 14.00 all felt much calmer and more as forecast. We dinghied up the bay to Halsvik. Lots of kids frolicking. Then walked across the island to Sandvik to inspect the recently upgraded harbour. Plenty of visitor space at this time of year even for larger boats alongside or on stern anchors. Real surprise was a four berth 8 pump fuel berth newly installed and looking very efficient, will stop there later I think. Tangen was our next stop just along the coast, More a locals marina for sub 35ft boats and the ferry stop. Small ICA supermarket and a café. All very pretty and sleepy in the pattern that we are becoming familiar with for these islands. Walked back to Halsvik past very luxurious housing development being hewn out of the rock. Back on boat lots of bird life to watch and B spotted both a Barnacle Goose and a Greylag. Water now glassy. Supper, bed.
Original photo copyright David Rivett