As if it was
still summer, a high pressure zone decided to inflate on the Kattegat,
promising a series of 4 days with little or no wind. Not ideal when you
have to sail back somewhere... A few hours of easterly breeze are
expected this night though, and departure is set for 18:00.
wind is weak and from North at start and we are moving slowly at 40
degrees from the direct route. No worries, that's going to change. We
enjoy a quiet start on flat sea, watching the porpoises hunting in the
Calm sunset tonight, it's not yet 20:00...
night is beautiful, calm with a cloudless sky and rather warm. The wind
turns as planned, even a little more than expected, so that around
01:00 we decide to send up the big spinnaker. This is routine, we know
the drill. The spinnaker is hoisted at the top of the mast, there is
nothing left to do but pull up the snuffer so that the spinnaker
inflates. The snuffer is stuck a little, but it happens: it is usually
enough to pull hard... So we pull, a little harder. Harder and
harder... The spinnaker stays stuck in the snuffer – but the halyard
carabiner opens! And splash, one spinnaker in the water ...
recover the spinnaker quite easily (still not too windy luckily!) and
we manage to put it back together in some kind of order and into its
bag. On the other hand the halyard is still dangling open at the top of
the mast, taunting us. There are only 5 knots of wind, a flat sea, a
very clear night: we decide to go for it and climb up the mast to pull
it back. The climb is easy (the mast is short ...) and the halyard is
soon down without problem.
Ok, so what now? The wind has headed
a little but we send the big spinnaker back up regardless – to dry it a
little if for nothing else. To our surprise it goes up smoothly, never
better! Maybe it just needed a bath...
Approaching - once more - Sweden, with the asymmetrical spinnaker
0300 we switch for asymmetrical spinnaker, more adapted to our course
(almost abeam). There we go, a long and beautiful 6-hour run pushed by
the current and with a few gliding runs as the wind increases to force
4 in the early morning.
The weather forecast said it would blow
until 1100. At 1045 the spi is pitifully hanging down like wet laundry
and we have to turn on the engine for the last 3 miles. This is
only 3 miles though, and we are impressed by how accurate the forecast
are back to an archipelago with many possibilities of moorings: so
let’s find a beautiful rock where to tie up Saltimbanque’s bow.
Unfortunately, our habit of getting closer to rocks catches up with us
this time: we come a little bit too close during our approach and
scratch the keel. Nothing serious as we were going slowly ... just
dents in the paint. But this is the first time we hit ground with
Saltimbanque and we are sad.
Scalded by the failed mooring, we
resort to the safer option of the visitor buoy in the middle of the
bay. It is meant for members of the Swedish boating association - but
we are off-season and alone ...
Saltimbanque, alone in the bay...
We suppose these are mouflons
much needed nap later, we become aware that the landscape around us is
quite nice actually. Very different from the Baltic archipelagos,
higher and with much fewer trees. The island is teeming with life. Some
grazing mammals are the main features, which we will identify as
mouflons. Plenty of geese around too, but also heather in bloom, and on
the rocks of the seaside (o joy) periwinkles !!! We have really left
the Baltic Sea ... by contrast, we now realize how different that
ecosystem was from the open and salty seas which we are used to.
Mouflon, geese and stunning landscapes...
Periwinkles in the cockpit at what will be the last anchorage of the trip
4th September : Öckerö – Långedrag (20 NM)
Still no wind, let’s go and visit Gothenburg then. We will motor up all the way, in a flat calm.
again we are impressed by the differences with the Baltic Sea. There
are fishing pots everywhere, fishing boats, seals... Trawling a line
behind the boat is a guarantee of catching a mackerel for lunch (in 10
minutes tops). We’re busy watching the jellyfish when … black fins are
coming closer ... Porpoises! A school of them, dancing around the boat!
Purpoises dancing through the mirror of water...
Granite, heather in bloom and large marina in the neighbourhood of Gothenburg
are approaching Gothenburg now. The bays South of the channel are home
to a gigantic marina offering over 4 basins with more than 550 places.
The northernmost basin is open to visitors, who are welcome to take any
place marked with a small green sign (not red). It’s a dolphins mooring
system. 190 SEK (low season) to pay by app. Electricity is included,
and even sauna! There is also a visitor harbor in the city center, much
more expensive (310 SEK) it requires to go up the river facing the
current over 5 miles. We will take the tram!
is the second largest city in Sweden after Stockholm, known for its
commercial port and university. Few ancient monuments, the city has
developed in the 19th century and they chose the functional over the
artistic. Gothenburg is appreciated for its quality of life and its
atmosphere. In this gray morning of a September weekday, the atmosphere
was hard to perceive… we had to force ourselves a bit to do credit to
the center harbor and the opera.
Gothenburg harbour, the 4-mast-barque
"Viking", the building nicknamed "lipstick" and at the forefront, Evert
Taube, you remember? The troubadour of Stockholm !
Nice atmosphere in the old streets of Haga
museum is very well done however, full of interesting facts about the
region. When we come out, the sun is out, warming the outdoor cafes and
giving the whole city a more attractive appearance. Our steps lead us
from funny statues, to a botanical garden, a bastion standing on a
granite hill (it's hilly here!), to a lively neighborhood of old
typical houses (first floor in brick to comply with the anti-fire law,
then upper floors in wood to house the increasing working-class
population). We end the day with the maritime museum (of course, they
have boats…we are not to be changed now!)
6th September : Långedrag – Lysekil (43 NM)
weather is getting worse and worse. After days of flat calm, a series
of gales is announced from Friday, leaving us with no obvious weather
window to go home. We will have to fight to the end ...
day of dead calm then, but we must move forward. We motor along in the
familiar skjaergård towards our former home port in Lysekil.
Also plenty of birds in the Bohuslän, sprinkled on the rocks of the channels
Marstrand fortress, very conspicuous landmark of the skjaergård
easterly breeze allows us to sail for one hour South of Marstrand and
to catch our daily mackerel before lunch. Then we go turn the engine on
again. Finally a west-southwesterly breeze rises, perfect for our
asymmetric spinnaker (it's really the favorite sail of this
It falls at
the entrance to the Gulholmen channels and Junior resumes his work. The
channel is always so beautiful, especially in the bright light after a
storm in the afternoon.
Fishing village on our way to Lysekil
wind settles in the East again and we can sail, passing Grundsund then
Lysekil, these places so familiar. The granite is very pink, as in
Åland, but completely bare: no tree, no bush, hardly a little lichen.
Maybe as a result of former fishing villages installation: houses are
densely built together, concentrated on a few spots and not spread
throughout the archipelago like in Stockholm. We rediscover our good
old Bohuslan and we find it impressive, a little austere also in the
The easterly wind is
supposed to increase and we choose the northern port of Lysekil for
shelter. Great choice, there is the only shower for visiting yachts in
the city open in this season!
From now on
and until we reach our homeport in Oslo, our energy will be focused on
one goal: to identify weather windows that allow us to get home on time
and in one piece, playing hide and seek with the low pressures swiping
the coast in the next days. Easier to write than to do. What is an
acceptable weather window? Where is the limit? When sailing offshore it
is often possible to run away in front of the wind, pushed by the storm
for days if necessary. The challenge there is to manage to sleep, take
care of the equipment and know how to cope in case of problems. In
coastal navigation, there is always a rocky shore close by: it is
imperative to be able to luff, to pass over the waves and to follow a
precise course in order to avoid it. The slightest problem can
translate into a significant risk of being driven aground.
we watch the weather reports, nervously, we study the wind and the sea
in a state of increasing stress as time passes... The difficulty is not
really the sailing itself, as much as judging the level of acceptable
risk, and making the decision to leave – or not...
Friday, the wind is easterly, blowing force 7 offshore. It blows from
the shore and therefore the immediate surroundings of Lysekil are
relatively calm and the sea is flat. But what about a little further?
We could sail to Smögen, which is ill-sheltered from East, but then all
the next harbors are upwind. Unless we take the Sote channel, which
cuts through the granite islands north. Yes but it is oriented towards
the North-East, maybe the wind will be funnelled in, too strong for us
to motor against it? Our engine is only 10 CV...
weather window of a few hours, associated with the wind veering south
is forecast tonight. We decide to wait and spend the day watching the
sailboats at sea, wondering anxiously if it was the right decision...
On the bright side, the coast here is absolutely stunning and we enjoy walking around the typical huge pink rocks.
Weather interrogations from the pink baren granite of Lysekil
8th September : Lysekil – Fjällbacka (27 NM)
set at 0200, departure at 0300 to take the weather window identified
the day before. The wind seems very strong, but maybe because it has
veered south and so we are less protected.
We start with the
engine in a damp, cloudy, moonless night, in a word: dark! Skjaergårds
rocky islets are perfect for breaking the waves, but they are not very
well lit and in the darkness it is harder to navigate than usual.
wind is strong, about 25 knots. Laure is watching in the front, peering
into the dark to see if there are fishing pots to avoid - Camille is at
the helm. We have half a mile to sail upwind before joining a lit
channel and being able to bear away. It's blowing hard. We are wet, and
we are shaken by the surprisingly choppy and strong waves. It is
difficult to progress, the wind is more south-west than south and we
are dead into it. The engine is not strong enough, we are stuck on the
spot. A southwesterly wind will also be a problem afterwards because we
will be upwind instead of being abeam.
This will not work ... we
decide to turn around and return to the harbor. Let's go and sleep for
one hour, at 0600 it will be daylight at least...
Not only we have day light, but it's actually sunny ! It changes the world...
the day, all the passages between the rocks can be used and we can hope
to reach Smögen before the next gale arrives (35 knots, that's a force
8, expected from noon). So we set off with the front sail only, in a
wind still from the south-west, which seems however a little softer
than a few hours ago.
The good point of the strong wind is that
we sail fast, especially when the current also is with us. It is not
yet 0800 when we reach Smögen. We phone the gatekeeper of the Sote
Canal swing bridge to inquire about the conditions: the southwesterly
wind does not funnel in, it is safe to sail and the bridge will be open
for us. This convinces us to continue through the unknown channel.
There is still 4 hours before the next forecasted gale…
the Kungshamn High Bridge, this is a different world. The small passage
between the rocks and the narrow channel is extremely well protected,
to the point that we need to turn on the engine sometimes to help the
sails and make a reasonable speed. What a contrast with the open sea
that we see washed with white waves in the distance! We pass rocks,
then fields, then “hytte”, and 3 Swedish ladies bathing in the sea who
shout out "good day".
Once behind the swing bridge, we can
shelter in Hunnebostrand. But it is only 0900, another 3 hours of
manageable weather. The next port is 12M… it’s a bit tight but doable,
especially inside the skjaergård where we will be protected. So we
Entering the Sote canal
have to come back to explore this area of the Bohuslän properly, now we
are passing through in a whirlwind way... litterally !
once again we are amazed by the shelter provided by the rocky islands.
We motor-sail most of the route (engine+genoa), so as not to maintain a
good speed in the lee of the many islands. Clouds are gathering in the
south, the first squalls seem to be over Lysekil now...
to arrive in time, we don’t enjoy the beautiful scenery as much as we
should. We’ll have to come back! One last turn, we leave a big black
cloud to starboard and two seals to port: we enter into Fjällbacka
port - very picturesque - is extremely popular in summer (and
overpriced! In September it is more reasonable, but still 250 SEK!).
Off-season it's quiet! People are ignoring the stern buoys and just
moor alongside. We choose the best spot near the showers and as close
as possible to the huge granite cliff. 45 minutes later, the wind gusts
and the clouds break into a shower of hail! Actually, we can only
assume that the wind is blowing, because sheltered as we are by the
cliff, the water is flat as a mirror!
Fjällbacka off-season during a gale from the South-East
Pizza with a view over Saltimbanque
are torn between the relief of being safe and having progressed, and
again the stress of finding the next weather window. The constant
deluge is turning the cliff into a waterfall. Between two squalls we
sneak out to grab a pizza. September is rainy in Scandinavia!
new but intense and probably stormy gale is expected in the night,
after midnight. But the current gale is supposed to decrease before
1500. So in theory we have 9 hours of force 4 to 5 between the two
systems: we’ll have to take it, small steps…
In the morning we
have a coffee and a nice chat with friends from Oslo, visiting their
family cottage for the weekend. They will be back to the city in a
matter of hours, they have a car… for us it will be a bit more humid !
Humid we said ?
at 1430. The wind is firmly South and we sail downwind with genoa
alone, gliding between the rocky shores. Some passages are a little
less protected and give us a glimpse of the 2m high waves raging
outside. The swell is longer than in the Baltic Sea, it is not the
Atlantic yet but it is already more pleasant!
We stay inside and
between the rocks as much as possible. Very good choice: the wind is
still (around 20 knots, more in gusts…) but the sea is flat and we are
running fast! At regular intervals a curious seal comes out and shows
its pointy nose next to the boat, to see who are these weirdos still on
the water at this time of the year.
Nope ! Actually we'll have a bright sun ! Laure even had to use her "nose-hat" :oD
the skjaergård, we pass inside the Koster Islands, where there is over
200m sea depth. The current reaches over 1 knot here, it helps! The
wind was supposed to decrease at 2000. But we have the impression that
it increases rather, and we take in a little of the genoa.
more than 5.5 knots average, we reach Vikerhavn by daylight. We have
the genoa up and furled quite a bit. A big catamaran comes in just
before us, to take shelter behind the stone jetty of this small harbour.
run into the basin, pushed by the wind and waves. We only have to turn
around and motor upwind for 20m to the jetty. Yes, but the gusts are
strong (25-30 knots). The sea may be flat, Junior does not manage. Full
speed, we are stuck on the spot. Between 2 gusts we manage to progress
a few meters, enough to be a little sheltered by the jetty and finally
get Laure on the dock with a mooring line. Phew!
The crew of the
freshly moored catamaran comes to help: the water is shallower along
the jetty than on our map (1.5m of water further inside the jetty), we
have to pull back a little outside to find 2m. This is good enough, we
are moored, with 6 lines and all our fenders out.
We look at
each other, a little shaky. We look at the weather reports. 40 knots
(force 8-9) from the South tonight, veering southwest at the end of the
night. Tomorrow Monday 20-25 knots (force 6) from southwest blowing 30
(force 7) in the afternoon. Tuesday 40 knots from west. Wednesday 40
knots from west. Thursday maybe 20 knots southwest, and probably quite
a swell. We fall asleep with no idea of when or how we will manage to
get out of here. We are awakened at 0400 by howling gusts shaking the
mast and a torrential rain.
10th September : Vikerhavn – Naersnes (51 NM)
sooner we open one eye, then we turn it to our smartphone to watch the
weather files. 20-25 knots from southwest expected this morning, then
30 from 1600, but only south of Oslo Fjord. It could be ok, we hurry to
get up and get dressed to watch out at the sea and get a feeling of the
waves. The wind has veered southwest already and the harbor is better
sheltered: we should be able to get out. Then we have 3 miles to go
upwind and then we can bear away towards the Oslo Fjord. We need to
leave now, in order to make it before the afternoon. It is tempting to
try. We can always go back to the harbor if it doesn’t work.
set off with 2 reefs and the jib. It is going well actually, the wind
is less strong than it seemed, we tack without problems and the first
squall washing over us is wet but not windy. Running downwind, rocked
by the 2m high well from the beam, we remember that Saltimbanque is a
strong boat meant for high seas and long swell. After sailing in a
closed sea for so long we had forgotten. We are happy when we enter the
Saltimbanque sailing with 2 reefs and the jib, approaching the first islands of the Oslo fjord
Drøbak's channel, we are happy to be reaching !
downwind through the fjord, pushed by the current, we are constantly
sailing at more than 6 knots, sometimes 7. We fly through these
familiar waters: Hankø, Moss-Horten and its ferries, on to the Drøbak
sound. The wind begins to rise as expected, but contrary to the
forecast, it doesn’t not stop at the fjord. It is actually funneled in
the narrow sound. We swap the sails: from 2 reefs+jib, we turn to the
genoa, a little furled up to start with. Then more furled up. Then
almost entirely furled up. The wind is peaking over 30 knots in the
narrow narrow Drøbak channel. The sea is flat however and we are
running safe and fast.
maps show a harbor that seems perfectly sheltered from the south-west
just behind the islands of Drøbak. We hope that the wind will calm down
a bit for the arrival. To our relief the high islands offer a complete
shelter from the wind outside, and we suddenly find ourselves in a
little 15 knots - which seems like flat calm!
We can finally
look around us: it's nice here! The land around is very high compared
to all that we have seen for the last 4 months! And dark green with
pine forests! And there we see it in the distance, a familiar
silhouette between the islands: OSLO !!! The Tryvann hill and its ski
resort, our city is a dear sight :oD It means that we are home
after these 4 months. We are happy, and relieved after the stress
of recent days ... Almost there, in good time - we did it! We completed
our Baltic loop!
OSLO !!! We didn't believe we would make it the night before, and tadaaaa here we are !!!
last night of this trip is spent in the harbor of Naersnes. No service
at all for visiting yachts, but no place to pay a fee either… we took
what seemed to be a free berth and nobody told us anything!
11th September : Naersnes – Oslo (11 NM)
Fornebu! Saltimbanque is getting very close to the finish line...
is raining cats and dogs today, but this should stop at 1600. Perfect
timing, this is when most people leave the office. We are aiming to
arrive at Lysaker Brygge, the wharf located in the business district
West of Oslo - just out of the windows of Camille's office.
set off in a variable wind of 10 to 15 knots, while it is blowing more
than 40 knots outside the fjord ... So yes, it's pouring rain and we
are drenched and cold, but we are so happy to have made it inside that
nothing could wipe away this wide grin from our face.
16:05 we arrive on the jetty, greeted by Camille’s colleagues waving at
the windows. Some come down to the dock to see our proud boat back in
good condition from this long and beautiful trip. Thank you all for the
welcome committee and for making our arrival memorable!
There is 1 mile left to reach our berth. It's only 15 minutes, and here we are, back home.
made it to Lysaker, with all the courtesy flags on the backstay,
actually NOT flying in the wind as we are - YESSS - very well sheltered
from the force 9 gale now blowing outside :oD :oD
is the end of an adventure, as our other life will soon resume – our
life onshore. Soon we will not look at the weather forecasts every 3
hours, we will eat at a fixed time and we will wear dry clothes every
(And once the boat is tidy and all the laundry is done, we swear, we will add an epilogue to conclude this story!)
Sylvia - 22/09/2018 20:15:47 Welcome back home! Kariine - 19/09/2018 23:14:18 Bienvenue à terre les aventurières ! Encore un joli morceau de terre ou plutôt de mer que vous ajoutez à votre compteur découverte.... Et du rêve en plus à notre compteur à nous ! Bises. Marcello !!!! - 17/09/2018 13:55:42 Mais que du bonheur à vous lire !!! j'ai deux regrets...; celui de ne pas avoir été caché enfoui dans la soute pour partager ces moments...; et celui de ne pas avoir pris plus de temps pour papoter avec vous!!!! bon..... au prochain périple... promis...; je ne loupe rien.... euh.... vous pouvez m'aménager la soute???? grosses bises à vous deux...; trois en comptant Saltimbanque !!!! SuDad - 16/09/2018 18:43:40 Magistral, ce récit de votre retour à la maison ! Ce livre de bord tient ses promesses: on suit les péripéties, les coups de vent, les pensées, au fur et à mesure. Le film avec les marsouins donne l'impression que vous les avez briefés pour qu'ils sachent où nager, avec une petite note de fantaisie devant l'étrave.
Ce dernier chapitre illustre les incertitudes, les tensions, les enjeux, liés à la météo, et les efforts et la fatigue qui en découlent. Une atmosphère qui clôt bien le happy end, avec le suspense parfait d'une fin de spectacle. Une fois encore, votre odyssée est exemplaire. Vous aurez l'occasion de remettre votre réputation en jeu, la prochaine fois. Commençons à attendre.
Bravo, Saltimbanque, et merci à son équipage !!! ^^
Mum - 16/09/2018 18:29:08 Bravo pour ce retour mouvementé et merci encore à Saltimbanque d'être fidèle et sur ! merci beaucoup à vous deux de nous avoir fait rêver par les photos ,les films et les récits bon courage pour la reprise la mamou - 16/09/2018 18:12:19 plein d'émotions à vous lire ... merci pour ces beaux récits
ici c'est encore l'été , la grosse dep devrait finalement passer en mer d’Irlande
bonne "rentrée" !!!