Through finding the boating with Suwena we have travelled now every Midsummer to a different place for celebrating the summer solstice. The first our boating midsummer was in our home waters in the Röyttä island on the Gulf of Bothnia. It was one of our first boating trips and we were so thrilled about her. Since then we have celebrated the midsummer in Hanko, Pärnu, Kaunissaari of Pyhtää and Visby in Gotland. Now it is time to experience the nightless night in Marstrand of western Sweden.
First time during this season it was warm enough to use shorts during sailing. The sun was shining and outside was 22 degrees. The wind however was on our nose all the way from Gothenburg to the island of Marstrand. Boats were everywhere and everybody was going towards the favourite midsummer place. Last time we have seen so many boats when we were in Vaxholm and boats were leaving Stockholm to spend a weekend in Stockholm’s archipelago.
The day was beautiful and sailing was great. Despite headwind we wanted to sail and so we were beating all the way. After all, we were not in a hurry. This made a good exercise about tacking because fairways between islands are narrow and there was a lot of traffic in all directions. We can really say that we sailed for the joy of sailing.
According to the harbour book Marstrand guest harbour has a anchor mooring on most pontoon docks and a few of the berths have made from steel bars which were way too short for mooring Suwena. We arrived at Marstrand with both bow and stern anchors ready for deployment only to find out the anchoring was now prohibited and med mooring lines are used instead. Again we were suddenly securing the boat by mooring lines and of course we had a decent side wind. All this created a challenging situation and this was only a second time we used the mooring lines ever.
Being used to mooring buoys the med mooring feels different. While approaching the buoy it is picked up first and then the dock lines are made fast. Med mooring lines are fixed to the dock and lying at the bottom of the harbour with the other end firmly fixed to the bottom of the sea. The line must be retrieved from the edge of the dock and brought back to the boat. Of course it can also be grabbed with a boathook from the boat's deck. After this the slimy line must be taken to the other end of the boat and made fast to a cleat.
We first tied up a windward stern line and then the med mooring line. The mooring overall was challenging. All med mooring places were a little too short for us and the mooring line remained very short and at too steep angle in the bow. The wind was across the bow and I did not have enough strength to tighten the rope as it was already very short. Gladly two Swedish guys from a neighbour boat ran to help us to pull the lines against the wind. Thank you very much Johan and Toni for your help. Suwena was now moored and the Midsummer celebration could begin.
The Marstrand guest harbour is surprisingly huge. There are five floating pontoons just for guests and of course the docks for local yachts. It was for us also the first place where we could use the ATM like machine to pay for the harbour fee. Every day we got a new receipt in different colour to decorate Suwena.
On Friday the Swedish traditional decorated majstång or maypole was raised. The Midsummer were celebrated on a shore, in the boats and of course in numerous restaurants and bars. We also got a taste of the Swedish Midsummer traditional food as we got an invitation from our neighbours to join the Midsummer lunch. The dishes consisted of new potatoes, herring made in multitude of ways and of course the schnapps. Every schnapps was washed down by singing Swedish drinking songs. New potatoes were really good and the herring made in Marstrand absolutely great. The jokes were flying and the spirit was high.
There were already quite a lot of boats on Friday but to our surprise the main party day seemed to be the Midsummer day on Saturday. Throughout the day the boats arrived in uninterruped queue and the shore was full of activities. The schnapps were consumed and drinking songs was sung both on boats and in restaurants. The party festival was at its peak.
Marstrand is located on two islands. Koö is on the mainland side and there is a bridge connection for cars. On the western side of Koö is Marstrandsön with the ferry connection from Koö island. For example the grocery store is located on Koö side and can be reached for free by the ferry. Coming back you can swim to the boat or for a less adventurous route it is possible to buy a ticket on Lasse-Maja’s ferry for 20 kronas.
Also the pizza place in Koö island wanted to have his share to fill the stomaches of boaters. A few young boys drive with a dinghy between docks advertising a pizza home delivery or should I say a boat delivery. After happy Midsummer eve the seafood pizza was an excellent repair kit. Especially as boys brought just baked pizzas directly to Suwena.
Marstarnd was an excellent place to celebrate the Midsummer. Yes, also the Swedish showed their good skills to have fun and be relaxed. The docks were full of the crowd and many arrived by ferry into the many hotels on the island. Despite of this or maybe because of it the spirit was high and atmosphere the best. We'll see where Suwena will celebrate the midsummer next year. This year’s choice was spot on!
Afterwords for our non-scandinavian readers.
The Midsummer is one of the most important celebration of the year in Scandinavian countries. Maybe even the most important one just after Christmas. During the Midsumme weekend in the end of June people like to go to spend some time in nature and the cities are ghosted. Shops and restaurants are mainly closed in cities. In Finland we see annually in news about amazed foreign tourists arriving in Helsinki for Midsummer without possibilities to do anything. People have left to the islands with boats or are in their summerhomes by lakes or are taking their caravan somewhere. Everybody is buying something for barbecuing and even more beverages to accompany. So already on Thursday there are long queues everywhere when people are hurrying and preparing for Midsummer.
We recommend for foreigners the places like Marstand where also locals go. There are also hotels, motels or farmhouse accommodation available. Such kind of Midsummer celebration place you can find in each Scandinavian country. Join the party. Bring your friends, something to barbecue, a few beers and join the crowd! Welcome to the party on the nightless night!