After 3 years spent in short
navigations in well known areas, we can at last resume discovering the
world ! New seas, new countries, and a new record position: 58°21'41"
North and 11°35'15" East. That's a long way since French
Guyane (4°51'N) and the British Virgin Islands (64°45'W), riding our faithful Saltimbanque...
More pictures beating against the wind, as well as many films, in our page "Pictures".
5th, the plane from Oslo lands at London Gatwick. It's delayed. So are
the luggages. Fortunately the train heading to the southern coast is no
more on time. Laure has run to buy the tickets, Camille rushes in the
station and here we are, packed in the carriage right before the doors
close. It's crowded. The signalling screens don't work. We change
carriage twice before we are certain to be in the right one. Laure who
is moving out of the UK carries a lot of luggage to be transported by
boat. Camille is still shivering from a bad cold which started the day
It's then in tip-top shape, but willing to escape as
fast as we can, that we make it to Saltimbanque on that evening. With 3
weeks ahead of us and a tropical, eeer scandinavian destination ahead
The weather is far from being optimal: South-.Westerly wind 6b, veering
rapidely North-East (yes indeed, right in out face), increasing up to
gale force 7-8b on Monday, then stable from NE 6-7b for the entire
week. The equation is rather simple: we have to leave as quickly as
possible, otherwise we'll get stuck on that side of Dover Straight for
Off we go ! Bye bye Newhaven...
7pm Saturday, we are
ready: the boat is full of food, Laure's huge suitcase has found it's
space in the back (after all we used to carry a kite-surf and a guitar
!), we said farewell to the - very friendly! - staff of Newhaven
marina. We sail for the last time along the long wavebreaker, unfurl a
bit of genoa (the SW wind is still quite strong), and that's the trip
beginning. Heading to East-South-East first to pass offshore Beachy
Head, the most southern point of our voyage. (50°43'45" N)
Hardly 1 hour running in heavy swell, and Laure notices a weird
behavior of the tiller. Indeed it shows a worrying play (the tiller can
turn by about 20° before anything would happen to the rudder). When we
changed the bearing on the rudder this winter we had noticed there was
slack in the small side bolt thread, but we trusted the main bolt to
hold the tiller in place. Has the swell managed to damage it already
after such a short time ? We are already seeing ourselves stopping in
Eastbourne to repair, and then loosing our one and only weather
window... Just in case we try tightening again the main bolt. To our
outmost surprise it is totally loose ! We tighten everything hard, the
tiller comes back perfectly in place and works at it should. We keep on
checking regularly but it doesn't move. It won't move for the entire
journey in spite of the heavy seas we met. The boat grounded at each
tide at Newhaven, and the rudder would hit the mud regularly. We think
this is why the main bolt got loose. We hardly left and already quite a
Time to recover from this adventure, and
the wind has turned already to the North-west, decreasing in force. We
send all the sails up and Camille down in bed, and we start the 3h/3h
shifts. We have sailed 3 hours in a row with the wind on a direct
heading to our destination. That's the voyage record !
night is really nice, not a cloud in the sky. It became dark at around
22:30 English time, the dawn shows up at 2:30... Benefits of high
latitudes in June ! The wind and the sea both calm down but we keep
sailing well under the morning sun thanks to a good optimization of the
tide stream: 78 NM during the first 12 hours !
Early in the
morning we cross the cargo rail and sail in French waters (2nd country
of the trip)! After we are done with zigzaging in between the
cargoships, we need to avoid the sand banks typical of this coast.
Junior, our brand new engine, helps us discreetly as the wind really
drops, and we arrive in Belgium (and that's the 3rd one !).
Sun set close to Zeebruges
forecasted from the NE settles in, we are heading towards Ostende, then
under Ostende. The belgium weather forecast confirms the strong wind
for Monday noon: we still have a few hours to try and reach our
objective: the Netherlands and their inner waters, promises of
manageable conditions even when it blows hard.
At 3am we sail in the Westerschelde, the river
leading to Antwerp. Heading to Breskens where, contrarily to
Vlissingen, there is no lock which makes the entry much easier at such
an indecent time of the "day". We get there at 4am local time, change
the courtesy flag for the dutch one (4th country in one navigation !),
and enjoy a few hours of deserved sleep.
8 June: port call at Breskens
forecasted wind arrives at the planned time, and not just for fun...
Not really a weather for Saltimbanque. At least we have a bright sun
that let us wear shorts ! We go for a walk on the dyke, now remembering
that these Dutch landscapes..., well, were not unforgettable ! The wind
is so strong it blows the sand off to a point where it hurts our naked
legs. We get sheltered in the polder underneath. Or rather in the
polder supermarket, where we replenish our stocks of beer, Belgium
chocolate and Dutch cheese :o)
revitalising morning of sleep (which will actually be the only one of
the trip !), we leave again at 3pm with the slack tide, in a sporty
North Easterly wind but sheltered waters. A few active tacks later, we
pass through the Vlissingen lock (all good we still remember how to do
it :o) ), and enter the "Dutch inner waterways".
< Sportive sailing in fortunately calm waters
objective is to motor against the wind up the "kanaal door Walcheren"
until Veere. The first part goes very well, in between cyclists and
Dutch trains (everything being faster than us, except may be the cows).
But then the canal is far less sheltered and we can hardly beat the
wind with the engine. We try again the trick that had worked in the
Thames before: main sail with 2 reefs, we tack and tack with support
from the engine. The canal is pretty narrow (5 times the length of
Saltimbanque approximately) and we make very slow progress, pushing the
engine hard though it has just passed his running in period.
The last lock is a liberation and we jump on the first available berth on the small pontoon at Veere.
The canal ... looooooong canal....
Meet the locals
10 June: Veere - Benedensas (39 M)
inner waterways have the advantage to be very narrow and thus always
flat whatever the strength of the wind. But the drawback is that we
need to tack very often. The trip promises to be long, so we leave at
dawn. At this point we notice another damage to our tiller probably
also a consequence of our groundings at low tide: the hole in which
passes the axis that prevents the rudder from falling down in the water
is totally oval. Nothing critical at short term, we can stabilize the
situation with a washer and epoxy paste, but we'll have to fix that
during the winter... That's a lot of trouble by a tiny small tiller...
Typical Dutch boat
The navigation is pleasant, in between the small islands under the morning sun. "At the green buoy, you tack !" "At the red post, you tack !" "Here, green post, you tack!" "There, you tack before the island!" "I can see something right ahead, shall I tack? - No this is just a barnacle goose against the light. But don't wait too much before you tack, right? "
And we tack.
And we tack. Oh a lock, that's a bit of change ! And we tack again. Ah,
at last a long run on the same tack, let's prepare some sandwiches !
Big mistake: when going down in the cabin, the eyes automatically check
the GPS which indicates the speed over the ground. It's very slow, we
have over 1 knot of current in the face... They must let the water out
to the sea, that's not our lucky day...
"I'll take the white one please !"
Channel of Benedensas, taken from Saltimbanque
we tack again, spontaneous regatta with 2-3 other boats who tack and
tack like us (believe it or not, we won! thank you brand new main
sail!). And that's Bruinisse on our left side ("The mussels'
capital", as proudly claims its giant sculpture of the famous mollusc).
One more lock and we finally reach Benedensas, this pocket port hidden
in the vegetation, where the wild cows welcome you along the channel.
11 hours of sailing with in average one change of tack every 10 minutes, we are slightly exhausted !
starts similar to the previous one, only difference is the barge
trafic, very intense in the Volkerak where we are by now.
The wind picks up, we take a reef, and then it happened again, the suicidal hat of Las Palmas (re-read your classics HERE)
has done it again. This time we are simply sailing with no towed
fishing line, so everything is easily sorted out by a small
Hat-Over-Board manoeuver. It's good to train from time to time!
The barges, our mates in the Volkerak
A few hours of summer, feeling good !
lock, and here we are in the Haringvliet. Our good old Haringvliet
where we were sailing 7-8 years ago, and its eponymous bridge right in
the middle. Ok, we crossed the Atlantic Ocean, we are not going to get
stopped by a stupid bridge! Normally we have at least 80cm margin
above the mast, no need to wait for the bridge to open ! And indeed
Laure had always been right there is plenty of space :o) Eaaasy !
We are now heading to the North-West, towards the sea, and are then
running with the wind, but not on a direct course to our objective so
it doesn't count. Whatever, it's quite enjoyable ! It's suddenly very
hot and we sail wearing shorts and T-shirt by 25° on a flat sea. A few
wind turbines, a small harbour: it's Stad aan het Haringvliet, our
former home port! Now that's it, our round trip around the Atlantic is
finally properly closed this time !
lock, Saltimbanque is back to sea water and spend the night in the
outer harbour of Stellendam, alongside a couple of nice pensionists who
had sailed on a 28-feet aluminium boat in the past before they swapped
for a catamaran. (but even their small cata was cute, with a DIY
feeling, especially the TV-antenna built from Heineken cans!)
We enjoy this warm and sunny evening and cook the coconut we bought
in a delicious pie, which goes very well along with the ti-punch drink
in the cockpitt. Holidays are a great invention!
Summer time, and the living is easy....
Stellendam - Ijmuiden (55 M)
Originally, we didn't want to go. No
no, we will never stop in Ijmuiden. We will rather go to Scheveningen,
there is a South-Westerly gale forecasted for the day after, if we have
to be stuck let's at least be stuck in a nice place !
weather has made the decision for us, offering us a full entire day of
perfect East wind force 3, bucolic Ijmuiden on a quasi-direct run under
the sun. Rejecting this opportunity would mean loosing almost 24 hours
on the direct route, it would be irresponsible given the wind
conditions to come.
It's very warm ad heavy weather during
this nav. The boat is covered with insects, especially bumblebees, who
land in everything a bit colorfull... More than 6 NM offshore, 2 swans
fly one behind the other right above the sea surface in a very
gannet-like flight... Suddenly, the sea becomes green and choppy then
brutally blue and smooth. It smells fresh water like in the Haringvliet
and it's crowded with birds. We are very far from locks and
rivers, but clearly there was a huge layer of fresh water offshore the
Hague that morning... Weird navigation !
Passage between an oil rig...
... and a famous 3-mast shooner
Now you understand why we didn't want to go ?
platform, a wind farm and the 3-mast shooner Eendracht later, we have a
visual on our favourite harbour. Nothing has changed, the emotion of
the magical entry in the heart of the cement plants and furnaces is
still the same: it's filthy ! At least as we are off-season the marina
is empty and we can find a berth without any neighbour at less than 50m.
13 June: gale in Ijmuiden harbour
At last south-westerly wind ! Yes but
minimum 35 knots... We don't do half-things in this place! The
kite-surfers seem to enjoy it, but we do prefer the comfort of
Saltimbanque's cabin where we welcome our friend the dutch
single-handed sailor Richard. He hadn't seen the boat since Terceira in
the Azores and finds it similar to his memories !
Then we spend
the time onshore preparing our new route. After twisting the weather
files in all possible ways, we have to accept the obvious: there is no
visible weather window for us to cross the North Sea towards the
North-West of Denmark as originally planned.
The solution to
still have a chance to reach Sweden in the time frame we have is a
canal (yes, one more !). It crosses Germany in its narrowest bit and
gets out at Kiel in the Baltic Sea. After that we will be on the lee of
the Danish peninsula and thus much better sheltered from the gales. It
makes the trip longer by about 200 NM, but it's always better to do a
detour than not going anywhere ! We then buy a German courtesy flag and
have a few hours of rest in a westerly wind which struggles to drop
Departure at 2am, as
soon as the wind weakens so we hope for some favourable breeze and at
least we'll have the tide stream with us. Lost case, the wind has
already completely died and Junior has to work for a few hours.
weather forecast plans for weak winds for the entire day, mostly from
the North-West. Then it should turn toward the North force 4 during the
night (perfect), but blowing hard from NE for 2-3 hours before that in
the evening. Weird... Wind charts are certain of it, but the local
forecasts don't see more than force 5.
At 18:45, a
black bar of clouds on the horizon towards NE. The wind veers, slowly
becomes stronger. Laure is outside while Camille is waiting for the 7pm
weather forecast in the cabin. "Camille, we should change the genoa for the jib, the wind picks up. _ Indeed... do you think it can wait for the forecast ? _ Don't think so, it's coming fast... _ Ok let's try to be quick then"
18h47, we start preparing the jib
18h52, the jib is up
18h54, we take the first reef
18h56, we take the second reef
18h58, we just get the main sail totally down as we cannot control the boat any longer
we receive the weather forecast which plans for a perfect force 4-5.
Outside the swell gets higher. Laure steers all senses awoken, Camille
thinks about heaving to if the wind keeps picking up more. There is at
least 30 knots.
the wind has stabilized but the sea increases. We can still sort of
beat against the wind with only the jib, but with the tide stream and
the swell coming towards us, our heading is not glorious. Not the
highest priority right now.
wind is stable. We tack and tack in between the cargo rail, the shore
(we are just offshore Vlieland, one of the Frisian islands), and a
platform which honestly could have been somewhere esle.
20h00: we don't dare saying it but it feels like the wind is dropping a bit
20h30: we hoist the main sail back up with 2 reefs, then 1 reef
21h00: all sails up, this mess is behind us...
At least the sunset was amazing !
Brutal phenomenon, a bit unusual for
these latitudes, but perfectly forecasted by the wind charts
(passageweather.com)... We calm down with an amazing sunset, and the
layer of clouds which finally goes away to let the stars shine in the
dark sky. The tide stream turns, we pass this bloody platform. The
shore now takes a more eastwards orientation, and we can head directly
towards the Elbe river.
Everything would be perfect if it wasn't
for this painful swell coming from abeam, and the ambiant temperature
of 11° in a northerly wind. We wear layers and layers of fleece and
beannies like in the coldest of the norwegian winter...
The next day is event-less, losely hauled in a NNE wind force 4 and under a blue sky with a few white puffs.
night at sea, still rather shaken but with a good speed. We cross the
German border and enter a 5th country, this one unvisited yet !
"You wished to see Cuxhaven, you have seen Cuxhaven"
Early in the
morning, we reach the entry of the Elbe river leading to Hambourg just
1 hour ahead of the tide schedule (not too bad after 3 days at sea !).
We could believe we have made it, but there is still 20 NM left to
reach Cuxhaven, 35 NM if we want to make it to the entrance of the Kiel
The wind is good, with us over a few miles as the river
curves to the South (but it still doesn't count, we are definitively
not heading North !). We are in the good tide timing for the
canal, we take a few pictures of Cuxhaven but we don't stop.
lock to this canal is a bit wider than the ones in Holland. Not
surprising given the size ot the vessels sailing through them.. The
doors close, then open, and here we go on the highway to the Baltic Sea
3 days at sea, we could do with a shower. But the possible
stops half-way along the canal are rather isolated. We thus do a short
hygenic pit-stop in Brunsbüttel. Aaaah we feel better when clean, and
we can continue our trip towards the East !
Pure sailing is
forbidden in the canal, and indeed given the shore effects and the
traffic it wouldn't be the best idea. Whatever, Junior is a very
enthusiastic brand new piece of mechanics and he will cover the
distance without any problem, right ?
Don't turn back, you are followed by wind turbine blades
indeed in perfect shape. But when checking around the engine, we
realize that the crack on a neighbouring beam that we had noticed and
repaired last winter is wide open again as if nothing had been
done...We have a closer look, and we understand the problem happened
already in the past as welds and reinforcements have been added here
and there. But on one side the old weldments have given up as well,
probably because of the new crack on the opposite side. It becomes a
bit worrying even though the structure of the boat and the engine berth
are not in danger. Kiel seems like a place where we will be able to
repair or at least stabilize the situation, but we have still 40 NM to
cover under power... We mark the size of the cracks in order to follow
their evolution. None will develop further during the trip, but it's
definitively not comfortable at all !
A bit of rest...
so far we are still making progress at 3 knots (against the wind...)
until we reach the pontoon at Gieselau, well hidden in a small
side-river. The place is simply magical, a peaceful green setting where
a few dutch old gaffers hide away. We forget about the tireness of 3
days at sea and our cracks issues to simply enjoy the moment and
celebrate our efficient navigation. A new gale is forecasted for
tomorrow evening, and we have made the outmost of this weather window !
The trip is
long, the engine is new but no more powerful, and the wind will pick up
in the afternoon. We thus wake up at dawn (we're kind of getting used
to it) on a gorgeous canal, totally flat, whose surface evaporates
under the relative warmth of the raising sun.
The wind has
veered to the West and helps us from time to time. The landscape is
charming, but it's a bit long. We take this opportunity to study our
nautical guides of the Baltic Sea. We hadn't anticipated this
alternative route and we have to prepare everything. It looks superb,
the trip is longer but may be nicer!
The canal at dawn
In the last lock
At last we
reach the last lock. Laure remembers her nicest German to communicate
with the locals and we understand we have to pay for the canal in the
office by the lock. 12 euros for us, only in cash.
open, let's go to the Baltic Sea !!! Except that the boat in front of
us calls us worringly: their engine don't start. And here we are, us
Saltimbanque and his reliable engine (yes !!) and powerful (well...),
towing a boat with a dead engine ! So everything is possible ! We even
managed to tow them to another quay (fortunately we were pushed by the
wind, it helped....) Then we can hop to the marina downtown Kiel.
looks completly full, but it's our lucky day: we spot the harbourmaster
walking on the quay side and he finds a berth for us for the next 2
days (yes the wind is forecasted very strong the day after so we'll stay
in the marina). More luck again as this same harbourmaster calls a
friend of his who should be able to help reparing our cracks !
This place looks very welcoming :o)
18 June: a day in Kiel
Kiel is a city who looks
to the sea. It was actually born by the sea: first a fishermen village
visited by Vikings, then member of the Hanseatic league (excluded from
it in 1528 for having hosted pirates), Kiel has always been a busy
commercial harbour for the entire region. For a while (1773 - 1864) it
even belonged to the king of Denmark without being part of the Danish
kingdom. Actually the entire region was the property of the Holly Roman
Empire, and the king was just the janitor (a part-time job in parallel
of his official one as a king). A bit messy. Finally the Prussian
Wilhelm I arrived to put things in order, gave a proper city status to
Kiel and turned it into an important naval base. The popuation then
sky-rocketed (less than 20 000 in 1864, over 200 000 in 1910). So he
naturally deserves the big statue on a horse in the main city park, as
well as the title of Commodore of the Kiel Yacht Club, funded in 1887.
Kiel has also been the place where a few seamen started the german
revolution of 1918, and a strategic harbour (also strategically bombed)
during the 2nd world war.
harbour is home to state-of-the-art shipyards, a submarine base, one of
the main institution for marine research (IFM-GEOMAR), a dozen of
ferry-boats and cruise ships leaving to the Baltic or the Atlantic,
hundreds of sail boats of all sizes and shapes... The marinas are full,
the bay is crawling with activity, the promenade along the fjord (yes
that's how they call the bay) gets covered in cabans and sheds... the
Kieler Woche (the Kiel's week) starts in 2 days ! With 2000 boats and
5000 seamen every year, this is the largest sailing event in the world.
And it will require many schnitzels to feed the expected 3 million
visitors ! Preparation progresses rapidly in stereotyped german order
and efficiency, jawohl!
Kiel, city side...
... and dock side !
have the chance to participate this year, pressed by the weather. But
we have a bit of time to walk the city, which soon ressembles a giant
All day long, gigantic ferrys leave or arrive,
passing by old gaffers and large shooners invited to the event. In the
meanwhile the locals keep sailing their optimists, kayaks, fun boards
or playing water-polo (even kayak polo !) after a day at work.
The maritime side of Germany, we didn't know yet - and we like it !
19 June: Kiel - Stranden (8M)
We have an
appointment at 9am with the welder at Stranden, a few nautical miles
towards the exit of the Kiel fjord. Once more we wake up at 6am, and
off we go. There is still a near-gale warning in force, but the bay is
so sheltered from the NW wind that it's hard to believe...
sail quietly, not-too-close hauled, in the Kiel channel. Many boats
keep converging to the Kieler Woche. Today we have military ships from
Poland, France and USA. The "USS Jason Durham" gets closer to the green
buoy far far in front of us, and will clearly take the channnel on the
side before we will reach him. But a small fastcraft marked Polizei
calls us, and asks (without missing to fully hide a far from
professional smile) if we could go a bit on the side as the big
American boat is "ein bisschen nervös"... Well, we pretend to
change our course, but given our respective speeds, the grey boat
passes way ahead of Saltimbanque, the high level threat !
We scared the hell out of him with our sharp bow !!
The Baltic Sea :oD
arrive in Stranden right on time for our appointment with the welder.
He does a very good job, welding extra reinforcements for a
ridiculously good price! We are really happy and relieved not to see
our Saltimbanque getting cut along the dotted lines...
welder is happy too - he is actually president of the local Yacht Club,
owner of a beautiful X-yacht 42 on which he organises cruises on the
seven seas with friends and members of the Club, of course also one of
the organizer of the Kieler Woche ... in a word a great guy :o) And who
apologises but he has to leave to prepare his meeting with his
Excellence the President of the National Japanese Yacht Club.
We enjoy a quieter afternoon with a walk along the northern end of the fjord.
our first contact with the Baltic sea and we eagerly absorb all the
impressions. The water is blue, transparent and beautiful after the
grey shades of the North Sea. But it's covered with jelly fishes !
Apparently they leave when the water gets warmer, later in the summer...
The sides are flat but a bit more elevated than in Holland, with
many trees. It's very green ! Quite a lot of fieds as well, right
behing the narrow sand bar. Without tides (20cm maximum...) and
foreshore, the vegetation almost reaches the water. Green so, and pink:
wild rose bushes everywhere.
The weather forecast had been claiming for the last 2 days
that the wind was blowing at gale force, even though it was hard to
believe from our perfect shelter. So as soon as it promises a quieter
moment, at 2am this Saturday, we rush towards the North.
have hardly left the shelter from the shore that we realize that yes
indeed there has been a gale for 2 days, and guess what the wind is
still quite strong. We sail on a beam reach for the first 25 NM and we
sail fast: 6,5 kts average ! The sea is choppy and short, which makes
is uncomfortable. There is a bit of commercial trafic, but the large
vessels respect well indicated narrow channels, there is no room for
4 hours later, we arrive on the lee of Langeland
island, and so changes the world. The wind drops a bit but mostly the
sea is flat, the clouds fly away, and it's good and fast gliding on the
Danish waters (and that's a 6th country !!!!)
morning is just amazing, we get some rest and enjoy the conditions. But
the wind quickly drops, the weather being a bit "everything or nothing"
during that journey... But then we can fish, as for once we are sailing
under 5 knots, and we are very curious to find out what kind of unknown
fish we will catch in these brakish waters. Very quickly the line gets
under tension, it's... a needle fish ! Quite a large one. The wind
keeps droping and soon we have not much left, then
not-much-left-and-right-in-the face. We tack and tack at 3 kts,
despairing to never reaching the bridge of StoreBælt that we have seen on the
horizon for hours.
is no tide stream in the Baltic Sea. But when the wind blows hard it
"pushes the sea" and creates surface currents. The wind is coming from
North-North-West (in our face), so it creates a current going towards
the South (so also in our face...) We have to fight against all elements
at the same time, we even need to cheat a bit with the engine to pass
the brige as the current was really strong and the wind disturbed by
the bridge's legs...
Once behind the bridge it goes a bit better. A wider area where to
sail as we enter the Kattegat (so the current weakens), the wind picks
up bit, turns a bit so we can sail on a direct route. Still beating,
but we are not too picky!
Store Bælt bridge (the great belt), very impressive !
Anholt, a little crumb of paradise...
more night at sea in windy and wet conditions, one more day in
irregular conditions and a wind now dying again... Junior helps to fill
the sails with wind in this light breeze. We sail along the largest
wind farm of Denmark, not very productive that Sunday. The water is so
transparent as we aproach the island, it reminds us of the Glenan
islands. Anholt island gets bigger and bigger on the horizon line and
we reach the small harbour at the end of the afternoon. Three fishing
boats, of a shape new to us with a rounded deck at the bow, may be to
deflect the big waves of the winter storms ? Otherwise the harbour is
empty. The number of available pontoons tells us it will get much
busier in a a few weeks ! Aaah, off-season sailing...
harbour seems arbitrarily dropped here, they built a dyke in the middle
of the beach, dug a bit in the sand, et voila ! No quay - the boats
float along the sandy banks. Most of this 25km long island is a natural
park of sand and dunes. Only the western third with forests and
cultivable land is inhabited. During our long walk along the beach and
through the village, we meet a few cormorans, two cyclists and a fat
refueling (as they plan some calm days) we notice that our consumption
is much lower than what we expected. With Nestor we estimated 0,7 liter
/ hours. But the young Junior doesn't look very hungry ! 0,35 liter /
Evening walk on the sandy island
22 June: Anholt - Marstrand (74 M)
We would have loved to
stay longer on the beautiful tiny island, and explore a bit more in
depth the Danish waters... but we have to reach the North of the
Kattegat before the next gale. And so we leave as early as the next
morning. Departure at almost a reasonable time (8am) and we leave
behind us this world hardly previewed, promising ourselves to come
The forecasts have been hesitating for a few days,
between flat calm and SE wind 25-30 knots. We leave with one reef, that
we will release right after the dyke. And we sail on a beam reach with
a perfect 3-4b and a lead colored sky.
We meet several Swedish boats heading to Göteborg, but we are going to
the North, to our home port of Lysekil, and so we are waiting for the
weather forecast in the afternoon to decide where exactly we shall go!
For the moment, the wind turns a bit more and we are - you won't
believe this - running with the wind on a direct course during 3 more
hours ! This is matching our record for the trip !
We resume fishing, the line gets tensioned, again a needel fish. We
don't like that so much and releases it in the water. A few hours
later, a new species is approaching ! It's a ..... makrel ! How exotic !
But the wind
turns again because of a big squall cloud, and we are back to a more
usual beating course against the wind. That's it, we can get a glimpse
of the Swedish coast on starboard. Soon we cross the maritime border
and hoist the ikea, err Swedish flag: 7th and last country of the trip !
the Volvo Race arrives in Göteborg. We will be a few hours too late to
be part of the party, but we can see the last boat on the horizon in
We finally receive the forecast: the wind drops and totally
disappears during the night and tomorow Tuesday, then the gale arrives
on Wednesday. So we can't spend too much time on the way, but if we
anyway need to finish under engine power we can do it with day light.
So we pull the tiller and head to Marstrand.
already 11pm, but for the last 3 days and latitudes above 57°N it's
never really dark. At 10:30pm the sun goes down but the sky remains
clear. A kind of permanent sunset stays above the horizon and the sun
rises again at 3am. That makes intersting nights, heading North,
following the sun light !
We need to sail in between rocks to
enter Marstrand, hepled by coloured sectors of lighthouses. Right by
the white ray of light indicating safe waters, unlit buoys, rocks, and
lobster pots all over the channel. The permanent gleam is much
appreciated and we reach the marina at 1am enjoying the landscape.
Marstand and its conspicuous fortress
23 June: Marstrand - Lysekil (33 M)
Right out of the channel
After a long
6 hour night, we discover Sweden under a warm sun. Marstrand harbour is
cut in two by a narrow channel winding along the granit blocks, it's
The forecast was about very weak wind, but to our
great pleasure, there is actually a good 10 knots (still from NNW just
in case someone would imagine us somehow not beating against the
wind...) Saltimbanque sails at 3-4 knots, perfect for careful sailing
betewen the rocks. Why going around the rocks when you can pass in
between ? It's narrow, but well buoyed and absolutely gorgious. We
glide in silence in between rocks, it's beautiful... Ijmuiden is so far
our day, tacking and tacking, fishing big makrels. It looks like it's
crawling here ! Super afternoon against the wind but with a favourable
current, all sails up.
We sail along an island covered by birds, and
approach the rocky maze that we need to pass to reach our harbour. We
look for the buoys and beacons which will soon become so familiar: a
green one here, a cardinal one there. A last narrow passage in between
2 islands and we arrive at Bastevikhamn, Lysekil Marina, our home port
The rocks that will soon be called "our" rocks
sailed 882M since Newhaven, and are so warmly welcomed in our new place
that we already feel home. Must be the pink granite...
The gale is
supposed to arrive during the day. Ok, but we don't have much food left
onboard, as we have eaten everything we had bought in Kiel. Our marina
is hidden in the heart of the granite, it's amazing but there is
nothing around ! We then decide to sail to the closest town, 3NM in the
We are pushed by a strengthening wind, just before it
becomes way too much for us, and come back with all the necessary
ingredients for a home/boat-made pizze !
The day after we stay in the harbour, having some rest and rincing the oilies and the sails.
26 June : Visiting our new neighbourhood (24 M)
A day in between the rocks
didn't last for long and on this Friday there is a very sympathetic
westerly wind force 3. Let's explore our new territory!
We leave the
harbour, heading North to the large channel which goes to the refinery
(yes, we didn't want to be too much in a natural paradise we picked the
marina close to the oil tanks, very discreetely hidden in between 2
rocks). Once in the channel, we tack slowly in a light wind, facing a
rather painful residual swell from the day before.
in open seas, we head (very precisely !) to the North to enter the bay
of Kungshamn. We sail almost in the cliff and a few meters before the
crash, sharp turn to the East to pass in between a rock and a small
lighthouse. It's really narrow but so beautiful, sailing silently in
Small houses on the rocks at Smögen
Our first Baltic anchorage !
island, 2 islands, 3 islands, here is the bay that we have selected for
our first "Baltic anchorage". This technique is very common here, but
for us it's a first! The plan is to drop an anchor at the stern, then
go ahead very slowly towards a rock, drop a crew member with a long
rope from the bow so s-he can attach it around a small metal pole
incidently hammered in the rock. Very easy on the paper at least. In
practice it's a bit trickier. There are long algaes that are trying to
get jammed in the propeller, the rock is not as clean as we thought,
jumping on a nice and round rock is kind of acrobatic, and the wind
turns around the rock to push us directly towards the shallows right on
But we did it ! Not the most comfortable anchorage,
but it makes nice pictures ! Since that first time we have improved the
stern anchor line and are a bit more confident, so we have way more
positive experiences !
again, towards the east in between the rocks, then heading to the South
to get back to our marina. This is the end of the holidays but the boat
is now very close to home: we'll be back soon !
Sailing in the Swedish rocks, so happy to have found a beautiful sailing area !
The rest of the summer, between rocks and sea
all, we build a better stern anchor line for Saltimbanque, getting
inspired from our neighbours: a small anchor, a few meters of chain,
and 25m of strap stored on a drum: the magical formula for successful
Then with the boat at hardly 2h30 form home,
our week-ends become Swedish and we keep exploring our new waters. This
coast is absolutely fabulous and we are not missing Brighton too much
A Swedish summer...
Let's go to the end of the fjord
already mid-september, time to find a shelter for the winter. Our
winter port is 16NM away from the summer harbour, at the end of the
Gulmarfjord. Nice navigation under a fresh sun, but we are so slow !!
The local mussels are crazy about the mud from Newhaven, which still
covers our keel, so we hardly sail over 3 knots... We finally make it,
and the boat is craned up for a winter under a tarpolin and a lot of