This was a very special trip for me. Around 20 years ago I sailed a similar route with my father on his 1972 Hallberg Rassy 31 foot sloop. “Pada Rae” (to keep afloat) is solid, full keeled, Swedish-built boat that is almost impossible to turn. It has no GPS, no depth finder, and no navigation equipment. With just paper charts, a set of decent binoculars and my dads unwaviring enthusiasm, we sucesifully navigated the rocky Swedish coast and had a blast.
At that time we sailed from Åmål, my mothers home town on Lake Vänern, and passed through a large canal that connects Lake Vänern via a series of locks to the coastal city of Gothenberg. We then headed north up Sweden’s west coast towards Norway. It was a formative time in my life and inspired this homecoming.
Now I return to Sweden’s “Bohuslän Coast” with my pregnant wife and great friends to celebrate my 40th birthday! We are joined by the Kratz family, including Maya (2 years old) and Noah (2 months old).
I could not ask for anything more as I push up and over the hill!
Day one: Check in and enjoy a night on the boat, City Marina, Gothenburg
Day two: City Marina,Gothenburg —>Åstol Island
Day three Åstol Island —> Gullholmen
Day four: Extra night on beautiful Gullholmen (planned to sail north to Hunebostrand but the weather was uncooperative)
Day five: Gullhomen —> Käringön Island
Day six: Käringön Island —> Marstrand Island
Day seven: Marstrand —> City Marina Gothenburg, night on the boat and boat check out in AM
For this adventure, we chartered a new 2017 Bavaria 37 foot sloop. We chartered through “Nautilus Yachting” based out of England, who more or less connected us with a local Swedish boat charter company “Sweden Yacht Charters”. They were excellent. Easy to work with and available for any questions leading up the the sail. Our boat was ready on time and in excellent shape.
When preparing for our week out sailing, I found very little information on the cruising grounds. In the Caribbean and Croatia, I was able to purchase pilot books prior to the sail in order to get a feel for the anchorages, harbors and local conditions. Local knowledge is key and it was unfortunate that no such recourse is available. To get around this inconvenience, I made a few calls to the Harbor Masters at each port to get an idea of the proper procedure for using their guest harbors and to check availability. I also found a decent iPhone app which had links to outstanding satellite views of the harbors so I could familiarize myself with the area prior to sailing into the marinas. I guess I’m not as adventurous as my father, but we had some important cargo onboard so I wanted to be prepared.
When calling Marstrand’s Harbor Master, I came to discover there was the biggest boat show in Northern Europe on the Island precisely on the same day we planned to stay the night. We simply adjusted out schedule a bit and sailed our first leg up to Åstol then enjoyed Marstrand when heading back down the coast.
City Marina,Gotengerg —>Åstol Island 8-27-17
During our first leg, we enjoyed a consistent 15 kt wind out of the North-NW, we set a reef in the main to keep the the boat flat and comfortable for the crew. We kept Maya, our two year old crew member, tethered to the deck to keep her safe while underway. The coast is extremely rocky, many hazards are unmarked. We all kept a keen eye on our position as we tacked through the narrow channel. Navigation was a full time job while underway. Lots of Rocks…lots.
After a fanatic first day familiarizing ourselves with our new boat, enjoying sights of Sweden’s coast, and realizing that or 2 year old on board- Maya loved sailing.
We easily secured the boat in Åstols Guest Harbor. What a place! The harbor is nearly completely protected from winds. It has become my favorite island besides Anegada!
A magical place!
30.6 nm Sailed
Åstol Island —> Gullholmen 8-28-17
Getting an early start, we continued north to beautiful Gullholmen. Winds were westerly and light, 8-14 knots and seas were gentle. Given the favorable conditions, we decided to head out to sea after negotiating multiple islands east of Åstol.
It is noteworthy that this area can get wild, it lacks the protection from the open ocean that Denmark and Norway provide. A strong westerly swell can make things unpleasant. However, conditions were ideal and we enjoyed a comfortable sail north, winds were consistently off our port beam. I placed 2 reefs in our main to keep the boat flat (one for each baby on board!). We averaged 5 to 6 knots under sail despite the reefs in the main.
Dropping our sails outside Käringön, we motored through the well marked, narrow passage to Gullholmen. Overall it was a wonderful sail, lots of navigation, open water sailing, ending with motoring between many islands as we approached Orust.
We entered Gullhomen and secured “Jenny” in the Guest Harbor for two nights, allowing time to relax and enjoy this fantastic town.
19.5 nm sailed
Gullholmen —> Käringön Island 8-30-17
We decided to spend an extra night in Gullholmen. For one, we needed and extra day to explore and enjoy this wonderful place. Second, an aggressive low pressure system off the western coast of Norway kicked up the winds, forecasted to ocasionaly gust over 30 knots up Swedens Coast. We were quite cozy and secure in Gullholmen’s well protected harbor so we decided not to venture further north.
Looking back it was a good choice, we enjoyed our time on the island and the extra night gave the young one time to play and run off the boat. As the low pressure ventured further north, winds settled down, eventually shifted westerly as we set sail south towards the island of Käringön.
As we departed, winds died down to just 8-11 knots. Swells however were significant at 3-5 feet so we did experience significant rocking and rolling, likely from the low that passed to the north west. It was a bit uncomfortable at times for the crew, particularly when attending to small children below deck. Fortunately, our sail was short, just 10 nm south.
Overall we enjoyed a lovely sail south. While keeping a close look out for exposed rocks, we managed our way back into protected waters and secured Jenny in Käringön’s guest harbor.
We were amazed by the beauty of this island, unbelievable!
9.8 nm sailed
Käringön Island —> Marstrand Island 8/31/17
Today was a day to enjoy the wonders of Sweden’s west coast. Deciding to stay clear of developing westerly swells, we motored through well protected channels and made our way south from Käringön to Marstrand.
We passed alongside many charming harbors, costal towns, and small fishing villages as we maneuvered Jenny through the archipelago. We took a few mental notes of some fine places tie up during future endeavors.
We entered Marstrand, secured our boat Jenny, and enjoyed an exciting night of celebration!
Distance motored 18.2 nm
Marstrand —> City Marina Gothenburg 9-1-17
Perfect sailing conditions to finish off our week! Consistent 20 knot winds out of the west and lots of sun as we pointed jenny back to her home port in Gothenburg.
Sailing south, we stayed on a single starboard tack as we proceed down the coast. Daniel managed the helm with precision as we kept a keen lookout for exposed rocks and small islands. It really was a fantastic sail. We averaged 8 knots and had a blast! What a way to finish off our week.
23 nm sailed
Signing off until next time!