Southern Baltic Sea '12

Berg and Flight of Seven Locks 5.6. – 6.6.

  • Posted on: 9 June 2012
  • By: Eve

On Tuesday morning we got lucky as in the morning lock keeper decided to raise the boats from lower harbour first. We started our ascent at 9am. During the previous evening we walked the seven part lock up and it was built by the same way as the doubles, it only had more parts.

Carl Johan's flight of seven locks is the tallest on the Göta canal. The height difference is 18.8 metres. These locks are one of the biggest attractions on Göta and thousands of tourists visit every year to see boats and cruise ships going up and down. No wonder that we got our share of being photographed while Andrus steered Suwena into the first lock and I started the line handling.
Suwena in Carl Johans locks
After the 18.8 metres raising
The lockage took about 1.5 hours on our way up. Going down it is much faster, altogether about half an hour. Suwena crept a lock by lock towards Berg where we want to spend an extra day.

Berg is one of the key places on the Göta canal. Downstream is the Carl Johan's flight of seven locks and immediately upstream is two double locks. All these provide a plenty of entertainment for visitors. There are also restaurants close to the locks. It is possible to eat and watch boats in locks at the same time.
The harbour of Berg in the Göta canal
Eve having a lunch in the Göta canal restaurant
There is a pathway along the whole Göta canal. Originally it was used by bulls and horses for pulling ships along the canal. Nowadays the pathway is for recreational usage and there are many people walking, jogging and biking. On Wednesday we also dug out our foldable tandem bike and went for a biking trip. Berg was full of hikers, caravans, boaters and hotel guests. Altogether we had a splendid National Day of Sweden in Berg.

From the 58 locks of the Göta canal now 22 are behind us. We will still raise the next 16 locks to the highest part of the Göta canal. The canal raises to 92 metres above the sea level. When passing the Göta canal from east to west there are 38 locks to raise up and 20 to lower down to lake Vänern. Going up takes more work with the lines but is anyhow a nice way to pass the time.

The 58000 soldiers must had some digging to do while building the canal in 1810-1832. The canal's length is 190 kilometres from which the hand dug part is 87 kilometres long. The canal was built to help Swedish industry for transporting the goods from the middle of Sweden to the coast. It is great that the canal is preserved and well maintained. Nowadays boaters and cruise passengers together with bikers and joggers along the banks can really enjoy this magnificent achievement.

Looking from the boater perspective, being on the canal is simple. One payment includes the lockage and marinas for three weeks. One keycard opens service blocks in every marina and we can stay up to five nights any of the canal marinas. This way we can relax and enjoy the boating and no need to worry about checking in or making marina payments every day.

On Thursday our voyage will continue and we'll see where we get before locks will be closed at 6pm.

Lively Motala 7.6. - 9.6.

  • Posted on: 11 June 2012
  • By: Eve

Our journey on the Göta canal continued on Thursday. There are four double locks after Berg harbour and we got into the rhythm once away. The canal snakes through the beautiful countryside scenery under several bridges and of course through the locks.
Ship in Berg's upper lock
The speciality of Thursday were also two aqueducts. Suwena sailed slowly over the road. It felt a little silly when we sailed on top of the cars. In addition we drove between two water systems. On the left side the level of the pond was above us and at the same time on the right side the lake shimmered below the Göta's water level.
Eve and Suwena on aqueduct in the Göta canal
Our original plan was to travel until Borensberg and spend a night there. The day however passed smoothly and we set a new target to get until Motala. After crossing lake Boren we arrived at the second largest flight of locks on the Göta canal. There are five locks in Borenshult with the total height of 15.3 metres. The lockage went exemplary and afterwards there were only a few bridges and one lock before Motala. In total it took nine hours of continuous driving and 15 locks. I must say that we got too greedy for one day because we were fagged out as we arrived in the guest harbour.
Suwena in Motala
The canal center of the Göta canal in Motala
After a good long sleep we woke refreshed and went to explore the city. It was a graduation day and again we could see the celebration of Swedish students. Instead of trucks like in Stockholm last year, the students in Motala used tractors and had party trailers. The beats were turned up in every trailer as they drove on the streets of Motala.
High school graduates party in Motala
Motala was also preparing for Vätternrundan that starts at the weekend. Vätternrundan is one of the worlds biggest cycling events. The longest route goes around Lake Vättern and it is 300 kilometre long. On Saturday we followed the ladies 100 km loop. One week later a 300 km main event will be pedalled. Staggering 30000 cyclists are participating this year and 23000 will go around the lake. OMG!

Motalas market also hosted a fair for cyclists. All kind of gear related to the cycling were offered. Well, now one pair of cycling gloves will be exceptionally used by boater. The usual sailing gloves with the open fingers are always too long for my fingers. If these gloves are not good for handling lines, no matter, I can always use them with our tandem bike.

The Motala Motormuseum is located in the guest harbour. The museum was a very positive surprise. We were prepared for old cars and different engines but in addition there were many other kind of apparatus as well. The museum had over 200 different cars, motorcycles, bicycles and other engine operated machineries. Furthermore there are over 300 historical communication devices like radios, TV-sets, portable computers and even telephone switchboards. Also the central operator was dressed according to the spirit of the times. The neat thing in this museum are well made props. The sections were decorated with mannequins dressed up including many accessories and suitable furniture as well. The feeling of the decade was present intensively.

Our favourite was of course the unbelievable amphibian car Blue Peter. Bill Rose bought in 1943 a little "tired" Austin 7 for four pound sterlings. He built a new frame for the car. He also had a need for a boat and while building the frame also the boat was born. And what a beauty she is!
Amphibian car Blue Peter in the Motala Motormuseum
The Motormuseum could have a better name because there are many other things to see. The museum experience was wonderful and it is a great monument for the technical history of Motala. After all over there have been the factories of Elektrolux and Luxor. The starting point for engineering workshops was Motala Verkstad that manufactured tools for building the Göta canal. Even in the book of Jules Verne the captain Nemo built an steel spur for his Nautilus submarine in Motala Verkstad.
Andrus in the Motala Motormuseum

The Castle of Vadstena and the Monastery of Bridgittine 10.6. – 11.6.

  • Posted on: 15 June 2012
  • By: Eve

One of the most famous historic cities in Sweden is Vadstena. In Motala we turned the bow of Suwena south and set course towards Vadstena. The Göta canal's eastern part is ending in Motala and the canal is continuing on the western shore of lake Vättern. We wanted to visit Vadstena and decided to make a side-trip from the Göta canal. It is only 9 nautical miles from Motala to Vadstena and the voyage went fast in Sunday's sunshine.
Vadstena
It felt great to drive into the castle's moat and moor Suwena into the shadow of the castle. Soon after our arrival the familiar ship from Söderköping moored next to Suwena. The ship Diana must have made several cruises on the Göta canal while we only have made until Vadstena.
Suwena entereing Vadstena castle's moat
Suwena and ship Diana in the harbour of Vadstena

We heard from local boaters that starting from Midsummer the guest harbour of the Vadstena castle's moat is packed full of boats and even the locals have difficulties in finding a spot for their yachts. We can say that in lake Vättern it sounds similarly like in lake Saimaa in Finland, the summer season is starting at Midsummer. Now in the harbour were only a few guest boats. The harbour fairway is very narrow and boaters have made up a unique way for mooring the yachts between the piles diagonally. By this way also longer boats fit into the smaller space.
Boats parked diagonally between the piles in Vadstena
Vadstena guest harbour is managed by two very energetic harbourmasters. We had a good chat with them about Vadstena. They also delighted us with the red carpet in front of Suwena's gangway. After the walk on Sunday evening it was nice to "get onboard" along the red carpet. On their web page they have set a target to be the best guest harbour in Sweden and for sure we can vote them. In all guest harbours in Sweden we have met friendly people but in Vadstena we were definitely most welcome.
Eve on the red carpet in Vadstena
The castle of Vadstena rose like a royal next to us and we went to explore its secrets. The history of the castle is really impressing. King Gustav Vasa started building the castle of Vadstena in 1545 to protect Swedish southern borders from attacks by Danish. It is built in renaissance style with living quarters being separate from defence facilities. The castle was still inhabited by the royals in the beginning of the 18th century. The most famous of them being the third son of Gustav Vasa, a duke Magnus who suffered from mental illness. He is buried into the monastery church of Vadstena.
Vadstena castle
The king's life at the medieval times was very different from nowadays. Then they had to travel around provinces from castle to castle collecting taxes. It feels unbelievable that together with the king's court also every piece of furniture and kitchen ware were transported as well. So castles stayed almost empty during the absence of the king.

Vadstena has a lot of history but unfortunately this history does not present itself inside the castle. The castle has been in bad shape and also used as production facility in the 20th century. A lot of historic material has been destroyed during these times. From outside the castle looks really magnificent and it is in good shape. Internally however its premises are restored thinking more about modern usage. For example the castle hosts the province's archives and the Vadstena Academy. Needless to say we were disappointed because we expected to see an authentic medieval castle and Vadstena castle has been advertised as the best preserved medieval castle in whole Sweden.

To our surprise the monastery museum and church of the Bridgittine were more interesting to see which we almost skipped. Saint Birgitta founded this monastery in Vadstena in the 14th century. Her daughter Catherine brought her mothers remains back from Rome to Vadstena and the relic is stored nowadays in the monastery church.

Still every year people come to pilgrimage to Vadstena. In the monastery museum was a good presentation about the life of the Birgittine nuns. We could see for example the nun's chamber, dining room and their working areas. They also duplicated a lot of books. One curiosity is that the first medical guidebook in Finland is reproduced in Vadstena and delivered to the monastery of Bridgittine in the city of Naantali during its hey day in the 15th century. Nowadays the original medicine and herb book is stored in the Royal Library of Stockholm.
Andrus practicing the bridgittine font in the monastery of Vadstena
After such a dose of tourism it was time to say goodbye to the dukedom of the princess Estelle. We have travelled along the Göta canal across the East Gothland and the little princess is the Duchess of it. It was time to untie the lines and cross lake Vättern. The second biggest lake of Sweden showed to us its mild face. There were no wind and the iron genoa pushed us 14 nautical miles to Karlsborg. At the same time we changed to the West Gothland which is by the way the Crown Princess Victoria's and Prince Daniel's dukedom.

Karlsborg Fortress and the Highest Point of the Göta Canal 12.6.

  • Posted on: 16 June 2012
  • By: Eve

After crossing lake Vättern we just made to the last opening of the road bridge and Suwena was moored to the guest harbour in Karlsborg.

On Tuesday morning we took a two kilometres’ walk to the fortress of Karlsborg. To our surprise the fortress area was huge indeed. The fortress’s main building is mindbogglingly enormous, its length is 678 metres. Just the walk from one edge of fortress to another takes a good 10 minutes because the whole area is bigger than 170 football fields. We bought tickets to the fortress's adventure tour and again noticed that the season wasn’t yet started because the guided tours were made only in Swedish. We got MP3 players with English guidance so let’s join the group.
The main entrance of the Karlsborg fortress
Church of the main building in Karlsborg fortress
The adventure tour was really well made and fun. At first we watched the fictional movie about fortress's life and Russian's attack the fortress. Afterwards we ran through defence tunnels into safety from enemy and to defend ourselves. The cannons thundered, sound of the battle came from everywhere and in one of rooms even the floor trembled from the shots of cannons. Soldiers were defending in embrasures. Again the Swedish have made the stage set very well. We passed the wounded soldier in pain and another snoring in the bunk. There were built different living and working areas under the fortress. We saw workshops, pub and in the end a safehouse for Swedden’s gold reserves.

The Karlsborg fortress was built for defence of Stockholm in the 19th century. In case of successful Russian’s landfall the Royal Family, the crown jewels and nation’s gold reserves could have been transferred to safety of the fortress. In that time, in the year of 1809, the Swedish has just lost Finland to Russia in war. The border of Russia has moved closer into the island of Åland. And that worried Swedes indeed.

From the top of the defence wall we could see three defence lines built to protect Karlsborg. The construction of the fortress took 90 years from 1819 to 1909 and cost a tremendous amount of money. No wonder that the King Karl XV ironically shouted while inspecting the fortress for the first time: "What! It's made of stone? I thought it was built of gold." To build the fortress it took 250000 tons of limestone.
Short part of the main building in Karlsborg fortress
Fortunately the fortress was never used in actual battle. The adventure tour brought life to the fortress and the visit was very interesting. Without the guide tour we could not visit the dungeons and tunnels at all.

Karlsborg itself is a small locality on the western shore of lake Vättern. We spent there one night and after visiting the fortress we continued forward on the Göta canal.

Ahead of us was only one more lock upwards. The Forsvik lock is the oldest lock in the Göta canal and it was completed in 1813. Forsvik lock is also the highest single lock. We raised another 3.5 metres by the help of one thousand cubic metres of water and then we reached the highest point of the Göta canal. We were 91.8 metres above the sea level.

The tip for future Göta canal’s sailors. It is better in Forsvik to tie the boat to the right side of the lock while going up i.e. to the northern bank. We have been in all locks on the left side so we thought to do now again. As Andrus drove into the lock he noticed a huge rock bulging out from the wall on the lower left side of the lock.
Boulder in the wall of Forsvik lock
The locks are closed at 6pm and we slowly enjoyed the scenery of lake Viken. We arrived to the Tåtorp guest harbor and moored among a few other boats. From here onwards everybody will go only downwards on the locks which ever direction will be chosen.
Suwena at sunset in Tåtorp dock
Finally it was a warm shiny summer evening and we spent a relaxing time in Suwena's cockpit with sundowners on the "top" of the Göta canal.

Twenty Locks Down to Sjötorp 13.6. – 14.6.

  • Posted on: 19 June 2012
  • By: Eve

There are 21 locks on the Göta canal between lakes Vättern and Vänern from which 20 lower towards lake Vänern. We had already passed the upwards going lock and lake Viken previously. Now ahead of us is a slide downwards from the Göta canal's highest point of 91.8 metres. Lockage downwards is much more faster and we set Sjötorp as our destination on Wednesday.
Manual lock of Tåtorp
So it was time to open bowlines from the mooring lines and prepare them for going down. We also changed the locking lines to the starboard of Suwena and we made Suwena fast on the right side of the locks on the way to Sjötorp. We had previously followed the oncoming boats and noticed their crew look very relaxed during downwards lockage. It really required less effort than going upwards. After entering the lock we passed the bow and stern lines through the rings. During the lockage Andrus slackened the stern line and I eased up on the bow line in front. Like Andrus sayed in one of the locks, "It feels like being in a bathtub while the water is going out."
Eve is handling lines during downwards lockage in the Göta canal
The Göta canal Skipper's Guide introduces various sights along the canal. From there we spotted a miniature canal built in Norrkvarn for a kids and a kids alike. It looked exciting and we kept an icecream break over there. It must be fun to drive with radio controlled boats in these locks. I wonder if this place is more popular for kids or their’ fathers?
Kid's lock in Norrkvarn
There are eight locks in the end of the canal in Sjötorp. The numbering starts from lake Vänern upwards. Wednesday's schedule got a bit tight as we departed little late in the morning and made an extra stop in Norrkvarn. Fortunately the lock keeper in Sjötorp locks 8 to 4 was kind to lower us until Sjötorp marina even if he had to make a little overtime.

There are three different guest harbours in Sjötorp. We stayed at the upper harbour between the locks four and three for an extra day to celebrate the passage of the canal. The middle harbour is between locks two and one and the lower is on the coast of lake Vänern. That meant three more locks for a Friday when we continue towards Vänersborg on lake Vänern.
Suwena in Sjötorp upper harbour
Sjötorp middle harbour
Sjötorp lower harbour on the coast of lake Vänern
In Sjötorp we celebrated the canal passage and found an excellent restaurant. Restaurang och Pub Kajutan offered to us a wonderful dinner. I have a feeling this place will be high on our ranking list of summer's best restaurants. Along the Göta canal waitresses could not decide if the Swedish gös means pike or pike-perch? This time the Kajutan's waitress described gös fillet as a delicious pike from lake Vänern. It must have been overweight pike-perch or normal size pike because the piece of fillet on the plate was rather hefty. Anyway it was made in butter, garnished with shrimps and it was really delicious. The dinner was topped off by a insanely good crema catalana with fresh berries. Already last year we named crème brûlée as Swedish national dessert because it is on the menu of every single restaurant over here. It felt nice that the restaurant Kajutan has made it a little differently but still even more tastier dessert.
Gös dish of the restaurant Kajutan
On Friday we felt great to pass three last locks on the Göta canal and arrive successfully on lake Vänern. YES, we made it! 190 kilometres long Göta canal is behind us, we passed through 58 locks and we are still married together. Champagne is awaiting now!
Eve in the last lock of the Göta canal,lake Vänern is in the background
The gate of the last lock on the Göta canal opens!
The last lock of the Göta canal, Sjötorp 1

Over Lake Vänern and Passage on the Trollhätte Canal 15.6. – 17.6.

  • Posted on: 24 June 2012
  • By: Eve

At first we thought about visiting the cities of Mariestad and Lidköping and also the castle of Läckö but on the other hand we have been travelling almost every day, so we decided to take a rest and make a longer stop in Gothenburg (Göteborg). Thus the Firday's leg over lake Vänern was 70 nautical miles from Sjötorp to Vänersborg. Perkins purred quietly as we passed across the Sweden's biggest lake. There were no wind and the sun was shining. Passing squalls brought some wind but it was directly against us.
Silky smooth lake Vänern
Lurö archipelago in the middle of lake Vänern
We listened actively the VHF channel 9 while approaching the Tollhätte canal from the north. On this channel both ships and boats talk with lock keepers and bridge guards throughout the canal. On Friday evening all traffic was in Swedish and we tried to understand the notifications made in local dialect. About a mile from the bridge we called them up and asked to open the bridge because of our air draft. Everything went smoothly by using English language. Simultaneously we also asked to open the adjacent railway bridge as well.
Dalbo bridge and railway bridge in Vänersborg
The VHF was anyway very useful in the Trollhätte canal. We used it extensively, all ships and also boats made advance notifications about arrivals to bridges and locks. The traffic went very smoothly.

We arrived late in the evening into the guest harbour of Vänersborg. There were already five other boats moored alongside and we joined them. In the morning we had a brisk wakeup to the all boats in the harbour when two active marineros woke everybody up to pay the harbour fee. We have not seen such a impatient cashiers since Itäsatama harbour in Hanko in Finland.

On Sunday we had ahead one more canal with locks. We were a little worried about the Trollhätte canal's ship locks. The locks are from six to eight metres tall and lines must be moved two to three times in fixed wall bollards to the lower one. Fortunately the first lock was only six metres so we got hold of the system quickly.
Trollhätte canal
Railway bridge on the river Göta
Already beforehand we were thinking that one line in the middle cleat should be enough. We made similar rig in Saimaa canal's locks with previous Suwena and it worked perfectly again. Andrus drove the boat into the lock and I passed the line over the first bollard in the wall. The water started to descent and a few metres lower was a next bollard and I moved the bitter end of the line to the new bollard. While I held the line tight in lower bollard Andrus pulled the loose rope from the upper bollard. This turned out to be a good way because the surface of some bollards were rather coarse and the line got stuck easily. Most of bollards were smooth and the line slided around the bollard easily.
Eve on the lock of Trollhätte canal
Suwena's mooring line in the Trollhätte canal
The boats should be tied up in the Trollhätte canal locks to the eastern side if possible. The wall on eastern side is smooth with recessed bollards. The wall on western side is rough rock with concrete pillars made for mounting the bollards. Depending on the length of the boat these pillars either will match with the boat or not :-)
Rough rocks on the western side of Trollhätte canal's lock
There are first two locks in the Trollhätte canal after which in Trollhättan city comes a flight of three locks and finally in Lilla Edet is still one lock more. We stopped in the upper waiting dock of a second lock from the north because the very small guest harbour of Trollhättan was already full. The Sun came out and warmed up our afternoon walk. In Trollhättan it is possible to explore the original and out of commission locks. The walk was very nice, the old locks are surrounded by a beautiful park. We also enjoyed a delicious skagenröra bread that is a traditional sandwich filled to the brim with shrimps. And again we had energy to continue the lockage towards Gothenburg.
The guest harbour of Trollhättan is located in the old lock
The first lock in Trollhättan was built already in 1794 - 1800. When these locks became too small a two parallel locks were built in the year 1844 so the steam ships can move both ways at the same time. Apparently in the 19th century locks were very busy and there were frequent traffic jams. At worst in the year of 1850 there was a queue of 120 ships to locks. For sure it took several meals before entering the lock.
Eve on the old lock of Trollhätte
Old lock of Trollhätte
Old lock of Trollhätte
Let’s get back to the present time. Everything went exactly like in the Trollhätte canal guide except the canal fee is paid at the upper lock of the flight of the three locks in Trollhättan. The girl from the lock came out to collect the canal fee from the boats in the lock. This year they accepted only credit cards and Andrus had no other option than to put 860 real Swedish kronas back to the wallet and dig out Visa card while I held Suwena on the rope.
Flight of three locks in Trollhättan
Just after leaving the last lock in Lilla Edet we waited with six other boats for a bridge opening. The bridge opened but the red light stayed on. Two local boats rushed through the bridge anyway not caring about the red light. Suddenly a big hassle started as behind the corner of a canal a cargo ship emerged from a opposite direction. All boats run backwards towards the lock’s waiting dock in order to get out the way of the 80 metres long ship.

The Trollhätte canal is 44 nautical miles long and after the sixth lock we had still 30 miles to go on the river towards Gothenburg. We had descended 44 metres down from lake Vänern. Behind us were the 58 locks of the Göta canal and six locks of the Trollhätte canal. Sailing in canals is totally different and full of work. Despite of this after passing the 64 locks it felt good to go towards the sea.

The Göta river gave us a good speed. In the upper part the current was 0.5 to 1 knots but closer to Gothenburg it really run with 1.5 knots speed. The river has a speed limit of 5 knots and our Perkins was running almost at idle with the current pushing us forward.

Just before Gothenburg is a Marieholm railway bridge and the Göta river bridge. The latter passes from east to west in Gothenburg's centre and opening it always messes up the city traffic for a while. Even the guidebook recommends that the bridge should not be opened without a proper reason. There are three different underpassages. The sides are 17 to 18 metres tall and the highest middle with 18.3 metre clearance was reserved for ships. Our mast is 17.5 metres tall and in addition there are Windex and tricolor light. We asked by VHF from bridge keeper the water level of the Göta river. When they heard how tall we are we were directed to the middle under passage. Soon both the red and green light were lit and we crawled slowly forward with the mast almost scratching the bridge's roof. Simultaneously a string of cars were rumbling above us.

In the end of the long day we entered the Lilla Bommens guest harbour in the centre of Gothenburg. The canal adventure was behind and a few days of city vacation ahead. To tie her up in Gothenburg was very great.
Suwena arrives at the Lilla Bommens marina in Gothenburg

Gothenburg 18.6. – 20.6.

  • Posted on: 25 June 2012
  • By: Eve

Three days in Gothenburg is a way too short time but it’s a start. The second biggest city in Sweden offers so much to see and to do. We were a little tired after the canal trip so we took easy and enjoyed the city’s feeling.

Lilla Bommens guest harbour is located in the middle of Gothenburg's centre. Next to the marina are the Gothenburg’s opera house and huge shopping centre called Nordstan. A few minutes walk away are the Nils Erikson bus station and the Gothenburg's railway station.
Lilla Bommens guest harbour in Gothenburg
Even the city is quite big there is still somehow a small city feeling. All intersections did not even have traffic lights. Both cars and pedestrians moved seamlessly and both gave way as needed. Trams were going in all directions and there are 13 tramlines in Gothenburg city. We also saw a very rare intersection with four pairs of rails. Maybe the clanking from trams is something that gives an idyllic flavour to Gothenburg. At the same time Älvsnabben ferries are transporting tourists around the city.
Restaurants in the Avenue of Gothenburg
The harbour Lilla Bommens is nice and well functioning. It really is a guest harbour because the local yacht clubs are located at the lower Göta river more close to the sea. Gothenburg is located about 5 miles upriver therefore the location of Lilla Bommens in the middle of Gothenburg is just perfect for a city visitor.

For a once docks had enough electrical outlets. Special thing was that the electricity is turned on remotely from harbour office. The harbourmaster only asked for the number of the outlet we connected Suwena's shorepower to. "Var så god" and we had power.

The docks in Lilla bommens are equipped with med mooring ropes. As the marina was not full yet they let longer boats to lay alongside. This way there are more room for manoeuvring between the pontoons. On Tuesday as we had a breakfast a bunch of guy's came to the dock pulling each mooring line at a time. After wondering for some time Andrus went to talk with them and heard that they will check and replace the mooring lines. Soon a diver emerged with various equipment and boss of the team grinned, "No toilet flushing today, please". Of course he asked not to use engines as well while the diver is in the water. A signal flag A was raised to the end of the dock as well. This caused to slow down for the moment even tourist sightseeing ships leaving from the harbour. Except they were not careful for a very long, soon their speed was again 10 knots according to AIS even if the speed limit on the river is five knots.

In Gothenburg there are no need to be hungry or thirsty because there are many restaurants, cafes and of course bars. For city of this size the number of restaurants is huge. The Avenue is full of more expensive restaurants and close to the Saluhallen and in old town the price level is little bit lower. This is really the place for a gourmet trip.

Being a boaters we went eagerly to explore the maritime adventure centre called Maritiman that is located next to Lilla Bommens. There are 20 different museum ships from which the most interesting was of course the Draken class submarine Nordkaparen from the year 1961. It felt wild to climb down from the submarine's hatch by using steep ladder into the inside of the ship. Many levers, valves and knobs were throughout the ship’s 69 metre length from bow to stern. The sub hosted 40 sailors and they all shared 20 bunks in two shifts. The bunks were fixed straight to the steel hull of the submarine. Off-duty sailors climbed into the bunk and tied themselves with three straps into the substitute of the bed. The torpedoes were stored in the middle of bunks so between half of crew and torpedoes the dreams could be really interesting.
Ships in Maritiman museum in Gothenburg
Eve on a descent to the Nordkaparen submarine
After the canal days and relaxed visit to the city it was time to prepare Suwena for the sea. All our stuff were laying around the boat. Tablecloths and decoration items on the tables on the sea is a big no-no. Therefore our Midsummer celebration preparation included also making her seaworthy in addition to the bunkering. We selected Marstrand island as a place to celebrate the Midsummer. Marstrand is located about 20 miles north from Gothenburg. The locals warned that the island is a popular Midsummer place. We decided to go already on Thursday so we can secure a good berth for Suwena for Midsummer.

Midsummer Celebration in Marstrand island 21.6. – 23.6.

  • Posted on: 30 June 2012
  • By: Eve

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.
View in Gothenburg's archipelago
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.
Harbour fee paying ATM
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.
Majstång of Marstrand, writer Ann Rosman's lighthouse in the backgound
Famous Skagenröra shrimp bread of Sweden
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.
Boats arriving at Marstrand for celebrating the Midsummer
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.
Beach road in Marstrandin
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.
Pizza boat arriving to Suwena in Marstrand
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!
Marstrand guest harbour

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!

The Adventure Island of Marstrand 23.6. – 25.6.

  • Posted on: 1 July 2012
  • By: Eve

During the winter it is always fun to plan the upcoming summer cruising route. We use harbour books, google, sea charts and other boaters blogs. Marstrand was however found differently. I read a few detective novels of Swedish writer Ann Rosman. She has located her books in Marstrand. I liked a lot her first book Fyrmästarens dotter. Her second book I guzzled down as fast as I could. She has put events around Marstrand island. In addition the main character Karin Adler loves sailing and is living aboard in Marstrand. So we had to check if the visit in Marstrand somehow fits to our cruising route.
Marstrand
When we got a map of Marstrand from the harbour office I was really surprised to find several places on the real map which Ann Rosman has mentioned in her novels. She had really located the books events into the real environment. Therefore one of the most interesting things in Marstrand was a trek around the island.

The expedition started at first in the fortress of Carlsten that raises above the island. The building of fortress was started by King Carl X of Sweden in 1658 when Marstrand was assinged to Sweden. The fortress was built along several centuries until in 1860 it was announced to be finalized. The fortress had exactly this authentic feeling that we always expect from old buildings. The granaryes, secret passages and cannons bring up the imagination. Climbing up the top of the tower was worthwhile, the view above the island was absolutely stunning.
Carlsten fortress in Marstrandissa
Carlsten's fortress was at a times mainly built by inmates and the punishment got a name the Work of Marstrand. The most famous of the inmates was a man called Lasse-Maja. He got a title of Grand Thief because after a failed love story with a rich woman he decided to have a revenge on rich people and steal from them. By dressing in woman clothes he was able to confuse his victims. He carried his life sentence in Marstrand starting in 1813. In 1823 he escaped from prison with the proven trick to use the women’s clothes. The desired freedom was short and back in prison he was noted as excellent cook and was transferred from construction to kitchen work. Probably these gourmet skills helped him out of the prison in 1839 when the king himself pardoned him after the 26 years of imprisonment. Lasse-Maja with his real name Lars Larsson Molin had even time to write his autobiography that was one of the bestsellers in Sweden in the 19th century. He is so famous in Sweden that there is even a feature film about him. The ferry and one of the restaurants in Marstrand carry his name as well.

After fortress we continued to the nature trails going around Marstrand. The island is surprisingly hilly and we had our share of climbing up and down.
Rare pink water lily in Marstrand
Rocky shore of Marstrand
The first and the most important exploration target was a sacrificial stone and its blood groove. It is believed that the groove was used to divert the blood flow. We found the stone in the middle of the forest without the headless body dressed in the middle ages attire unlike Ann Rosman started one of her novels.

The shores of the island are made of rocks and stones. In the north-western corner we spent some time to climb over rough boulders to reach the lighthouse of Skallens as the lighthouse is located outside the trail. The time spent was really worthwhile. Back at school when learning in geography about Kattegat and Skagerrak they felt very distant. Now however we were at the base of a lighthouse that divided these two waters. To the left from a lighthouse is the Kattegat and to the right northwards is the Skagerrak. By looking for footholds for our feet while climbing towards the lighthouse I was thinking that there are still many seas and their borders to search for.
Skallens lighthouse in Marstrand
Eve at Skallens lighthouse, Kattegat is on the left and Skagerrak on the right side
The trails go across and around Marstrand. Now and then there are benches for admiring the view and taking a rest. The island downright invites for a picnic and to spend lovely day in nature.

We also went to climb up the stone age caves. In these caves people from the 18th century took shelter when Danish and Norwegian attacked the country. There are quite a lot of forest on the island. St. Erik park's trees were exciting because the forest is between the rock hills. The tops of the trees are at a level with the top of the hills and curved in various ways. It seems even the trees know how to take a shelter from the gales of the sea.

The visit to Marstrand was unforgettable. Every day we had something different to do. It featured nature trails, sights, restaurants and small boutiques. And the most important of all things the relaxed atmosphere at the docks. It was a great place to celebrate the Midsummer.

Skagen and Saeby 26.6. – 27.6.

  • Posted on: 4 July 2012
  • By: Eve

Our original plan was to leave Marstrand and go south towards the island of Anholt in the middle of Kattegat. However the weather forecast showed a wind from south and a motoring directly against the wind was not interesting us. So we decided to make a little side-tour and turned Suwena towards Skagen in Denmark. This way we had a wind on the beam. We travelled on a border between Kattegat and Skagerrak. The line between the lighthouses on north-western corner of Marstrand and on north-eastern corner of Skagen divides these two water areas. Therefore we also had an additional meaning for this sail.

Andrus made a route directly over the Kattegat to Skagen because in here the Kattegat is at its narrowest, only 30 nautical miles. Our route caused a little surprise to us. We had been sailing for some time and the sea was totally empty. We chatted quietly in the cockpit when suddenly a clatter and rattle was coming along our keel. Fortunately Suwena has a long keel and while sailing the foldable propeller is folded. Soon the fishing net emerged from below Suwena. OMG, fortunately we did not get stuck. A moment later we noticed to be in the middle of really big fishing nets and there were many of them. The rest of nets we avoided and one test for the keel was enough.

This leg had also good conditions for using a autopilot's windvane mode. On the sea the wind is always shifting a little around. Autopilot's windvane mode worked wonderfully and kept the wind angle constant. All was good until suddenly it sounded a large new kind of alarm and we were frozen about what is going on? The wind had shifted more than a little bit and the autopilot notified that it was time to trim sails and update the wind angle into it. Actually the big wind shift was also in a forecast so there was nothing surprising. We just had never have this kind of alarm going off before.

Now on Kattegat we also familiarized ourselves with tidal waters. On the Baltic sea there are no tide. Of course the water level varies but this is caused by wind moving the water around. At the beginning we had a half knot from a stern. Suddenly when the direction of the current was reversed and its strength went up to 1.5 knots we started to ponder about its origins. It turned out to be a tidal stream. According to the Navionics sea chart the tide in Skagen on this day was 28 cm. We followed this small tide with great interest because next year we have a plan to enter the North Sea through Kiel canal and then we'll sea the real tidal waters.

Suwena was dressed again with a new courtesy flag. The flag of Denmark was flying in strong crosswind below the right spreader while we tied her up in the harbour of Skagen. The harbour was big and full of Norwegian boats. Of course there were many Norwegians already in Sweden but here their amount multiplied. It turned out that next to harbour was a store where liquid bunkering items were sold by boxes on the pallets. Usually alcohol is sold in this magnitude by the ferry harbours. For example in Tallinn on a way to Helsinki just next to the ferry ramp it is possible to make a last minute purchase and load your car directly with a pallet trucks. We were a little surprised. But what the heck, its a nice sail from Norway and you save some money as well. Similar bunkering stores were also in Saeby, our next stop from Skagen.
Tight harbour of Skagen
Tight harbour of Skagen
Skagen harbour is really a fishing habrour. Huge fishing ships were entering and leaving all the time. The harbour is however well maintained and there were no typical smells associated with fishing. Also there were only a few seagulls. This was absolutely the cleanest fishing harbour we have been.
Fishing vessels in Skagen
Skagen was busy trekking place. There were many camping sites, hotels and guest boats. Huge sandy beaches and trekking paths bring visitors into this place. The lighthouse at Skagen's cape divides Kattegat and Skagerrak on Danish side. Our visit to Skagen concentrated on the city and the first priority was to find a shop in where to buy a Danish pre-paid internet stick.
Walking street in Skagen
After Skagen we wanted to stop in Saeby. We were tipped about this place by our Swedish Midsummer neighbours. The Sun was finally fully shining and temperature climbed to 22 degrees. We were broad reaching and raised the gennaker. The wind of 5 m/s filled the sail nicely and I had to run downstairs to change into the summer's lightest sailing outfit. Sunbathing in bikinis under the gennaker was a great treat. We enjoyed the afternoon coffee together with Andrus on our foredeck while the gennaker was silently pulling Suwena towards Saeby. This is the summer we have been waiting for some time already. Andrus estimated the tide and chose our departure time, so we had a knot of current pushing us along all the way.
Suwena's gennaker
Saeby's habrour was totally different compared to the guide book. Everything was renovated. There were brand new docks and most of the berths were for tying up between the piles not stern anchor as in the book. We were just making her fast when we heard three beautifully trumpet played songs from the breakwater. It was time to lower the flags for the night.
Harbour of Saeby
In Denmark the free berths are marked with green signs

Pages