I love the first day of picking up a new yacht charter. It’s like it’s own voyage of discovery – the idiosyncrasies of a new boat, local provisions, making sense of the charts and orienting ourselves to the new environment and it’s generally rushed as you are eager to leave harbour and start the new adventure.
We arrived at Nils Ericsson Bus Terminal in Gothenburg after a 4 hour bus ride from Copenhagen. The Bus4You from Nettbuss was very comfortable with WiFi, power and the extra space of the“custom plus” option upstairs. It was wonderful to relax after the hectic walking in Copenhagen.
We shared a tasty toasted Polsa and then caught tram 8 over the river to Brantingsplatsen where we expected to catch bus 47 to Yachtcharter Göteborg according to Google maps. It was a large junction with buses going in all directions, but we couldn’t find the stop for 47. Eventually found a helpful Västtrafik employee who walked us to the stop, checked the schedule and let us know that the next bus would be there in 5 minutes. A little later he was back saying that he had rechecked and there were no 47 buses on Saturdays! He suggested we could walk to the base (a mere 1.1 km away) pointing at a complicated interchange of highways and roads.
Seeing our confusion, he grabbed one of our heavy bags and led us on the pedestrian path that wound itself under and around the interchange and only when he was completely sure we knew how to get to our destination, did he relinquish hold of the suitcase. What a wonderful introduction to Sweden.
We arrived at the base sweaty and tired and immediately changed into shorts and sandals. We were welcomed by Thomas and filled in all the paperwork. Sailing in Sweden is different to elsewhere we have sailed – you pay extra for bedding and the cleaning fee was very expensive. A dinghy is also extra, but discussing our general plans, it seemed that a dinghy would not be necessary.
Thomas offered to drive us to a shopping centre to get our provisions, but he was much more concerned that we get to Systembologet, the official Swedish alcohol outlet, as they closed at 3pm on a Saturday. We had brought a few bottles of good wine and gin from SA so we were OK. He dropped us at the mall and I foolishly said he could pick us up in 45 minutes. It didn’t take us long to realise that there wouldn’t be enough time. We ran up each aisle, counting meals and making up recipes based on what we saw, and chucking things into the trolley. Frozen salmon was cheap and wonderful and a kilo went in. They had delicious, fresh sausages and cheeses. Vegetables were easy, but the variety of bread was confusing. We eventually chose nutty rye bread and a packet of large semi circles of pita looking stuff which we later found out was breakfast bread – good choice then.
Managed to fill our trolley (only SEK1000) and pay (the cashiers swipe faster than you can unpack in Sweden) and exit as Thomas pulled into the car park.
Back at the base we packed groceries- fridge still warm and did the boat briefing with Håken. ”Durin” a Hansa 315 was brand new and still had a strong smell of fibre glass. We were only the second charterers. At 18h15 we finally set off.
Yachtcharter Göteborg is quite far up the Göta älv river and Gothenburg is the largest port in Scandanavia and very busy. A little intimidating for those of us used to Thailand or Bahamas. The channels are clearly marked and we kept well out of the way of anything bigger than us – which was everybody.
“Durin” dwarfed by ferries in the Göta älv river
The recommended stop for the first night was Hyppeln, but at 19h45 we had only just exited the main channel and were nervous of whether we would make it before the sun went down and so we looked for closer places to stop. The first island we came to was Grötö. The sailing guide showed a narrow channel into the harbour and we went in quite slowly. As we came in, the harbour looked full and tiny, so rather taking a chance of turning around in it, we quickly reversed out.
We next tried Öckerö. We went straight into a slip and tied up. The carpet on the dock made it feel like someone’s personal slip. Our fridge was still not very cold and we were eager to connect to shore power. It was already 21h15 and we were tired and starving. I plugged our power cable into the junction box and put a credit card into the slot. No result. Eventually I decided to find a harbour office. The harbour master, a youngster, assured me that the slot we were in was for guests and harbour fees were paid using automatic machine which issues a card for the electricity. And so the drama began. I selected English and then faced with “Harbour fees without card “ or “Harbour fees with card” selected the former as I wanted to pay harbour fees and I did indeed not have a card. I paid SEK180 and got a receipt but no card. The Harbour Master had only worked there for 2 days, didn’t have much English (substantially more than my Swedish!) and didn’t know what to do. There was no option for card only. There was one for electricity card SEK30 but I didn’t want that because the sign said that harbour fees included electricity. With no other option, I eventually decided to buy the electricity card.
I went back to the boat and inserted the card into the slot. Nothing. So now I had paid SEK210 and still had no electricity. The card did give access to the showers though which gave me some hope. Looking around the harbour I saw an area that seemed less personalised (no carpets). I put my precious card into the slot of a junction box there. I was immediately asked “Which point”.
We moved the boat to the new area and as we approached we saw the well marked blue sign which we would come to know so well – Gästhamn! We slid in between two yachts, not quite as smoothly as before which is to be expected as there were people on the yachts watching! With some fending and help from my new neighbours (one Swedish and one German) we tied up and got the shore cable out. The nearest junction box was full and my cable couldn’t reach the next one. My Swedish neighbour offered an extension cord, but when we tried to connect to the junction box it had the wrong connector. I thought I might as well move again to another slip closer to a free junction box as that was all I did in this harbour. As I started the engine, our German neighbour, on hearing the problem, offered his extension with the correct connector. Connected up. Worked. Salmon saved. 10.45 at night.
In the meantime, Nikki had cooked up a delicious “pasta al salmone”. Just what we needed – we hadn’t eaten since the Polsa at the bus terminal.
We had glorious hot showers in the spotless facilities, connected with the free WiFi and fell asleep to the dulcet tones of German folk singing from the nearby motor home camping spot.
“Durin” in her final slip in Öckero