Öckerö. We woke up late and well refreshed after our mad rush the day before. We had another shower in the spotless facilities. Over a leisurely breakfast we chatted to our Swedish neighbours who were finishing a 3 week sailing holiday. They highly recommended Marstrand, which we had planned to avoid as it sounded too touristy. They also made suggestions about some other places as well.
We finally left about 12pm, putting the sails up for the first time. “Durin” was very easy to sail. Very light and well balanced. The self tacking jib made it effortless to tack and gybe.
Nikki made a delicious lunch of seared salmon with a simple salad followed by mint chocolate and coffee.
To get to Marstrand we had to go through some narrow channels. As it was Sunday, everybody was racing in the opposite direction to get home and it was quite a tight squeeze at times. It clouded over and the temperature dropped.
We arrived in Marstrand to find it quite deserted – we were unintentionally lucky to arrive on a Sunday. The Gästhamn was well marked and we had our choice of berths.
Marstrand is famous for it’s sailing and hosts the prestigious Match Cup Sweden event which is part of the World Match Racing Tour. (It would be held second week in July – two weeks time. It would have been exciting to have been able to watch)
We window-shopped, wandering down the cobbled, seafront promenade – there are no cars on the island. Beautiful architecture with multicoloured buildings. Most of the clothing shops had a nautical feel and all the top sailing brands were available.
A Kiosk selling both fresh and cooked seafood was busy closing, shovelling the crushed ice from the trays into the street. It was a pity we arrived too late – the seafood selection looked amazing
Nikki asked if they had fresh ice. I wasn’t too excited about the prospect of fishy drinks and thought it was a waste of time. Their initial reaction was rather dismissive, but when Nikki said “for G&T?”, there were huge smiles, “for G&T, but of course!”, and gave us a huge bag from a clean freezer at the back.
We went back to the boat and changed into track suits and settled down with a fresh Caprese salad, chilled G&T’s and our books for the rest of the afternoon.
It was overcast when we awoke and it looked quite miserable. This, combined with the fact that we were enjoying Marstrand so much, made us decide to stay one more night. After breakfast and another hot shower, we started exploring the island, walking along the rocky path on the sea edge. The sea was wild with spray filled wind. We noticed maps at every side path and saw that Marstrand had extensive walking trails.
We cut inland, following beautiful paths past ponds with bright pink lilies, and eventually arrived at Carlstens Fästning, the fortress that dominates the skyline.
Carlstens Fästning was built in 1658, when the whole Bohuslän province was ceded by Norway to Sweden. From there we went through the woods in the centre of the island. A soft drizzle began to fall adding to the allure. It was one of the most beautiful walks we’ve ever done – and so unexpected. We came out on the western side of the island which was exposed to the North Sea where we would be the next day. We were glad we weren’t out there sailing.
In complete contrast to the previous day, we woke to clear blue skies with a moderate wind.
We left Marstrand and set sail into the open sea that looked so foreboding the day before. We spent the morning tacking up to Slubbersholmen, a lovely, secluded bay where we picked up a buoy and had a leisurely lunch. We watched as a yacht moored up against the rocks, something we were not keen to do with a charter yacht. It took them 5 attempts to get the stern anchor to grab at the right distance from the rock and then the entire time we were having lunch to knock in the pitons to secure the yacht. It is, of course a quiet, off the beaten path, a cost-free way to overnight, but certainly needs a lot of determination.
We set sail again for Hälleviksstrand, a small village further north. We arrived in golden light, red boat houses gleaming – the classic picture of Swedish islands.
Another beautiful day. We walked around the town – so well maintained and very picturesque. There was a storm warning for Thursday and Friday and so we decided to turn South, as the further north we went the greater the distance we would have to fight through stormy weather to get back to base on Saturday.
We had a another glorious day of sailing down to Skärhamn which was a lovely harbour much bigger than many we had been to before. The harbour master met us and helped us tie up. You pay the Harbor fees directly to him right there and then. A far cry from our first night in Õckero. There was an ice cream shop across the way with a selection of about 60 different flavours. We were like kids in a candy store!
With this beautiful sunset, it was hard to believe that stormy weather was still expected to come through on Thursday and Friday. (Just love the free WiFi.) So after an early supper of Fettuccini Alfredo and checking that all loose items were packed away, we went to bed early. Sure enough, the wind picked up about 11pm and howled through the rigging all night.
We woke up with some trepidation. The wind was strong and the sea outside the harbour looked rough. Studying the chart, there appeared to be a fairway all the way down to Marstrand with a minimum depth of 1.8m (the same as our draft!) The fairway was well protected from the open sea and offered a tricky but more comfortable trip south.
We heated up the left over Alfredo, put on 3 layers – thermals, track suit and water proofs and set off. The protected fairway made a real difference. The few times we were exposed to the open sea, we could feel the power of the wind and waves. We only saw one other yacht. Clearly, everybody had more sense than to venture out. We made it without incident to Marstrand – Carlstens Fästning appearing initially as a small dot, gradually getting bigger until we sailed beneath it.
We went back through the channel and then across the long open stretch down towards Hyppeln. Nikki disappeared and popped up a little later with a delicious and very welcome sandwich followed by scalding hot coffee. Just what we needed – my 3 layers were only just keeping me warm.
It was still wild when we arrived at Hyppeln although the harbour was calmer. The Gästhamn had lazy lines and was reasonably empty – luckily as there was a strong cross wind. I brought the bow gently up to the dock and Nikki had a steep jump down with the bow line. A neighbouring yachtie ran out to help secure the the bow, but the cross wind pushed us sideways against the dock before we could secure the lazy line. He climbed aboard and the two of us tried to pull the boat perpendicular to the dock using the lazy line. At 45 degrees, taking up the place of at least 2 boats, we called it quits. The wind was just too strong. Luckily nobody else came in that day.
I had a craving for sausage so we found a quite well stocked store. They also had grapes imported from South Africa! We had bratwurst and sweet potato chips for lunch. The afternoon was our usual recipe of track suits, chocolates and books.
Contrary to prediction, the storm had abated during the night. Relieved, we went for a walk right around island over a series of paths and bridges flanked by benches with spectacular views.
We set sail with blue skies and a gentle wind all the way to Styrsö Bratten.
Styrsö was very touristy with regular ferries disgorging and engorging a constant stream of tourists. As we were tying up, an old schooner filled to the brim with tourists, playing loud ‘80s music and a DJ exhorting every one to party, was leaving. Luckily this was the last one for the day and things started getting quieter.
Styrsö is crisscrossed with walks of various lengths. We wanted a short walk to get a feel for the island, but took a wrong turn and ended up exhausting ourselves walking around most of it. It was beautiful though.
It was very quiet in the harbour by the time we got back but every time a ferry came in, the boat was rocked violently. Luckily they don’t operate at night.
Although, Styrsö is a pretty island and conveniently close to the base, it was our least favourite stop – too many tourists, too many mosquitoes, no showers, the toilets are shared with the general public and were dirty, and there was no WiFi. Our last supper was penne with Salciccia e zucchini.
We packed our bags and cleaned the boat in preparation for an early start the next day.
We needed to deliver the yacht back at 10am. So we set off at 7. We returned through the main shipping channel totally unphased by the traffic this time. We arrived back exactly at 10am, filled up with fuel, had the checkout inspection and had our deposit returned. A full team of cleaners swarmed onto the boat, all the dishes were removed and put into a dishwasher, and every nook and cranny cleaned. The base was hectic as every one of their boats was chartered that day. Clearly high season was starting.
Having learnt from the previous Saturday, we ordered a taxi and had the luxury of being driven door to door to our hotel.
What a wonderful 7 days. A mix of sun and cool weather. Perfect sailing winds. Adrenaline inducing storms. New docking experience. Excellent food. Beautiful harbours. All with a sprinkling of Swedish friendliness and efficiency.