We spent the last few weeks cruising down the west coast of Sweden south of Goteborg. Starting with a few nights at the GKSS (Royal Gothenburg Yacht Club) marina, just outside the city. This sounds very posh, but they let anyone into their visitor’s moorings, even scruffy people like us! It’s a beautiful facility, and reflects the huge enthusiasm for sailing in Sweden, it’s particularly good that so many young people are sailing from there in keel boats and dinghies – I sometimes feel that sailing in the UK is becoming an old people’s pursuit, so this was great to see. GKSS is also well served for trams into the centre of Goteborg, which we had a day’s sightseeing around.
The Kattegat coast South of Goteborg soon changes from rocky archipelago to a low wooded landscape. It’s probably a less-cruised area then the east coast, or the west coast north towards Norway, but we found some decent places to stop. Many of the harbours are timber export or grain ports, so have commercial quays for ships as well as guest harbour areas for yachts. We were still enjoying incredibly favourable weather at this point, Scandinavia seemed to be under the influence of a never-ending high pressure system! The pilot books warn of this coast being a dangerous lee-shore under strong south westerlies, with only a few safe harbour approaches. But we were lucky not to have to worry about this during our time there.
On our way down the Kattegat we visited Lerkil, Varberg, Falkenberg, Halmstad, and Gilleleje (Denmark). The four Swedish ports are all pleasant towns with green parks, shops, and a decent place to park your boat. But dare I say it, they are not particularly interesting. Maybe we’ve been a bit spoilt by the endless amazing scenery on the east coast, and our recent big-city sojourn to Goteborg. Anyway, we were grateful for the weather and the opportunity to visit this part of the coast. A diversion to Gilleleje on the Danish side proved to be a different experience. It didn’t start well. The harbour was absolutely crammed, and we had difficulty finding somewhere to moor. But once this was sorted, we found our selves in a pretty, bustling old town with quaint thatched houses, busy cafe’s, harbourside fish shops and restaurants. Definitely a port worth visiting, albeit with a shallow, difficult entrance in on-shore winds.
From the Kattegat we eventually passed through the narrows at Helsingborg and into the Øresund heading towards the iconic bridge (as in the TV series “The Bridge”). By now we were getting fresher southerly winds, which drove a surprisingly strong current running at around 3-4 knots through the narrows. At times our progress was slowed to only a couple of knots over the ground.
We stopped at Helsingborg on the Swedish side of the narrows, having heard by email from some CA friends that the marina on the Danish side was very full. (A Danish holiday week). The following day we took the 20min ferry ride across to the Danish side to see the lovely old town of Helsingor and the famous Elsinore Castle where Shakespeare set Hamlet. There were actors enacting scenes from the play as we walked through, it was very enjoyable, as was the whole visit including the rather creepy cellars.
After our experience in Gilleleje, and in view of the continued good weather, I wondered if the three small harbours on the tiny Swedish island of Ven in the middle of the Sound, reputed to be worth visiting, would be full. So we adopted the tactic of arriving early, just as boats from the previous night were leaving. We tried first the smallest of the three, Norreborg. Which is barely big enough to turn the boat around in. To our surprise, there was a box mooring big enough for us, and the very helpful, and extremely hands-on harbour master assured us we could use it for as long as we wanted. This was the nicest stop we have made so far this year. A beautiful island to explore by bicycle. The island is famous as the site where Tycho Bray, the pioneer Danish Astronomer, built two observatories in the 1500’s
A word about Harbourmasters in Sweden. In many ports you just don’t see them. You select a berth that’s either got a green tag on it, or marked for visitors, tie-up, and pay at a machine as you would in a car park. Where you do see them, they are often kids doing summer jobs who don’t necessarily know anything about boats, but are just there to take your money and give you the code number for the toilets. However, one or two harbours have “proper” Harbourmasters who really act like ambassadors for the town. They direct you to a mooring, give you a tourist map, and tell you about their town. That first impression often makes a lot of difference to how you view the place.
Whilst on Ven, we started making plans to leave the boat somewhere for a couple of weeks, while Jane flew to the US for a long-planned holiday with her sister’s family. After a bit of Googling, I came across Dockspot. I’d seen adverts for their berth-booking service before, but never used it. It was exactly what we were looking for, I was able to pre-book a berth in Malmo Docken Marina two weeks ahead of time, meaning that we could continue cruising, safe in the knowledge that we had somewhere pre-booked, where we could just turn-up a couple of days before Jane’s flight.
A good service, and just what you need in these circumstances. We have no association with them other than being happy customers.
After leaving Ven, we visited Landskrona and Lomma, before arriving in Malmo’s Docken Marina. Landskrona is an interesting town with ancient fortifications and earthworks. Also, a lot of municipal sculpture around the place. Lomma is a small and pretty harbour close to Malmo. The moorings are administered by the local Yacht Club, and it has one of those ambassador-like Harbourmasters mentioned above. It’s not mentioned in any of the pilot books and cruising guides that we have on-board, but it’s quite a little gem.
And so this year’s cruise reaches it’s half-way point just before mid-summer in Malmo.