The Øresund strait between Denmark in Sweden is a busy shipping area and due care needs to be taken. Easterly winds still dominated the forecast, so we motor-sailed east to the Swedish side where we could sail comfortably north along the coast. At this time of year most of the small harbours are closed; some charge a reduced fee. When we weren’t anchoring we enjoyed a cheap night in a fishing harbour at Torekovs as the payment machine wasn’t operating. We wanted to make the most of the favourable winds and not motor so much through the islands. On the way though we stopped at Lerkils to visit sailor friends Claes and Laila from Comedie – a most enjoyable evening.
A steady 10kn easterly wind on the beam filled our new sails and had us clocking over 8kn at times. Blue Heeler managed 60nm in 9 hours. As we approached the archipelago near Gothenburg we anchored each night – it’s so peaceful at anchor. All we hear is the unusual bird noises of the Eider. Listen to their ‘gossip-like’ sound here.
Last year we went through the narrow channels of the archipelago twice – up to Norway and back south again – so this year with steady winds we sailed on the outside of the islands for some excellent spinnaker sailing.
Three weeks since we left Flensburg and already the temperature is improving – up to 15-20degC. The sea temperature is now around 10degC which also means the inside of the boat is a little warmer so we don’t need to run the heater so much.
At Easter we anchored at the rocky island of Härmanö. On the banks were small bonfires and fireworks shooting into the sky as if to celebrate the full moon. (Swedish folklore tells of the day when witches supposedly travel to Blåkulla (Blue Hill) to cavort with the devil before returning on the night before Easter Sunday. On their way back, Swedes light fires to scare them away!).
Easter Sunday morning was calm. No witches could be seen either flying above or floating lifeless on the water. A slight breeze allowed us to sail from the anchorage slowly passing the town of Gullholmen. It was still early and people dressed in pyjamas were catching the early morning sun rays. We even saw one guy jump in the cold 9degC water for a morning dip – he wasn’t in long!
Heading west to exit the archipelago, the wind shifted to a steady south westerly 10-15kn breeze. Time again for the spinnaker! We had the spinnaker up for most of the 50nm sailed this day – perfect conditions. Already we have almost 15 hours of daylight and that will only lengthen as we head into summer and farther north.
Our final day in Sweden was relaxing. I spent an hour or so sewing some courtesy flags for the Shetland Isles, Orkney’s and Scotland. I can always hoist the UK red ensign, but it’s always nice to present the local flag when possible.
Norway is not a member of the EU and when we re-enter the EU we will get another 18 months of permitted cruising time. However, decisions (or lack thereof) around BREXIT is making our future plans uncertain. Although we hoped not to have to worry about Schengen restrictions once we head to the Mediterranean, we may not have any option once the UK leaves the EU. Who knows?
Anyway, until such time as the UK makes up its mind, we will spend the next couple of months enjoying the northern latitudes of Norway. Unlike its vertically challenged southern neighbour of Denmark, Norway’s mountains and deep fjords will provide a different sailing experience for Blue Heeler.