Bill Rollo (author) and Matthew Peacock planned a cruise up the Scandinavian Coast from Roskilde in Denmark to Oslo in Norway in the summer of 2018, marking either end of the trip with a visit to one of the great Viking Museums. The idea for the trip was taken from the Drascombe Association’s Viking Cruise in 2014, and we are indebted to Jack O’Keefe in particular for his advice. In the event our trip differed slightly in that it was eventually undertaken by a single boat, and perhaps in our intention to spend as much time as possible in Naturhamns in the archipelago, making maximum speed before and after. The plan started with the prepositioning of the boat (Matthew’s GLADYS, an open Bayraider 20) in Roskilde, and of his car and trailer in Oslo. Thereafter it had to be adjusted to fit the weather, which was unseasonably poor in the first week, but wonderful thereafter, as the log will show.
Sun 17 June
Weather – Southerly 12-18 kts. Gale warning for Kattegat.
Matthew arrived from Oslo and Bill from London. Retrieved outboard and kit and stowed boat. Slipped Roskilde at 1430 and saw the replica Longboat Sea Stallion under full sail returning to harbour – a fantastic and inspiring sight. Worked our way up Roskilde Fiord in wind which varied from 20 Kts plus to calm, through various narrows – some with a more significant current than forecast. Anchored to drop mast and pass under the infamous bridge at Fredericksund, and for the last hour ended up motoring into a stiff breeze to the little harbour of Kulhuse. Arrived 2000. Deserted aside from 2 very friendly Danes in a small boat doing a circuit of the Isefjord. Blew hard during the night.
Distance 22 Miles
Mon 18 June
Weather WSW 10 to 26 kts forecast, increasing through the day.
Slipped Kulhuse at 0650 and motored to Southern end of the channel out of the Fiord. Hoisted sail at 0730. Plan was to go as far as possible to get ahead of the weather, with a series of decision points at which we could seek shelter if required. Abeam Hundested 0825 and decided to continue to next DP off Gilleleje which we reached at 1100. Wind was constant and boat going well so decided to continue across Sound. 1450 lighthouse at Kullen abeam and decided to continue to Torekov which we reached at 1800. Great day’s sail.
Distance 45 Miles
Tue 19 June
Weather – forecast was for W 20-30 kts.
Decided to go out and have a look, with DPs under the lee of Hallam Valdero, once out of the lee and then when across the bay where it would still be possible to run down to Helmstadt before committing to 20 miles of lee shore before Falkenberg.
Went out at 1045 to the bay on the East side of Hallam Valdero, put up jib and mizzen and sailed out to second DP. Boat was comfortable but with little margin if wind increased further so returned to Torekov. Back in by 1215. Dinner that night with Hans and Wendelien on their lovely steel yacht.
Distance 5 Miles
Wed 20 June
Weather – forecast was for West 10-20 kts, increasing in the afternoon to 18 to 28.
Decided to try and use weather window in the morning with same DPs as Tuesday. Slipped 0630, sailing out of the harbour following fuel problem with outboard. Had a fast sail up to Falkenberg initially under jib and reefed main. Wind slackened mid-morning and then increased rapidly as we entered Falckenberg, sailing into the marina on the North bank under jib and mizzen at some speed and then unable to shift berth under oars due to wind. Arrived 1200.
Spent the afternoon sorting out the fuel problem with the outboard with the help of assorted exceptionally friendly and helpful Swedes – Helen, the marina manager, deserves a special mention, not least for her comment that she thought the Vikings were coming back when she saw us approaching, confirmed by Bill’s surname. Distance 29 Miles
Thu 21 June
Weather – forecast was for wind to go around to NW and blow 16-28 kts. Bang on the nose. Stayed in harbour as forecast turned out to be correct, used free bikes from ever helpful marina and replenned in Falckenberg. Fantastic thunderstorm that night.
Fri 22 June
Forecast was for wind to remain in North West with 15 kts gusting to 28-30.
Decided to try to make progress towards Varberg as harbours at 5-mile intervals plus possibility of turning around. Slipped at 0830. By 1030 SW of Glommen with 2 reefs in and wind and waves increasing. Dropped to Jib and Mizzen. The boat was completely comfortable, but our speed dropped from 4-5 kts to 2-3 with little ability to make headway. Saw life boat towing a motor cruiser South. Continued North to get right approach to harbour and then motor sailed into port, arriving 1130, which was preparing for mid-summer celebrations – in the event the weather made these rather subdued.
Distance 7 Miles
Sat 23 June
Weather – depression finally disappearing up into Gulf of Bothnia with a NE wind decreasing and backing into the West.
Plan was to leave early and try to make up time by going direct to Malo Hamn, with options to go into Varberg or Bua Hamn if the weather did not behave. Slipped at 0330 in a light Northerly breeze. Could not hold our course so motored until wind increased as the sun came up. Lovely day and arrived Molle Havn about 1300. Found spot in channel at Hastholmen, and swam then went to Skallhamn and explored inlet where we moored. Met British couple in big cruiser whom we had previously surprised on the way up.
Distance 32 Miles
Sun 24 June
Weather – forecast was for moderate winds from South going around to West.
Plan was to bypass Gothenburg, previously visited, and continue to an anchorage towards Marstrand. Slipped at 0600, sailed initially and then motored and sailed up the leads to Gothenburg, heading North West through the channel between Styrso and Branno and then hoisting sail to cross the main shipping channel and continuing North. 1315 Stopped at Bjorko Fiskhaven – excellent place with good chandlery, ice cream and benzin. Finally stopped at Islet of Ron, just North of Roro, at 1615. Completely magical place which we had to ourselves.
Distance 35 Miles
Mon 25 June
Slipped at 0600 and motored up to explore anchorages around Vanholmen and then went around to the very smart marina at Marstrand where the elegant harbour staff clearly thought we were some kind of weird English boat people but were very friendly and helpful. Excellent coffee and cakes but virtually no old boats.
Motored North while we tried to fix battery to Mollosund – nice place – for an ice cream, , then tacked out to sail up the channel to Pilgrimen Island one mile south of Gullholmen where we found an excellent hole in the rock with a convenient ledge on which to cook and did our best to help a French boat attempting to moor.
Lovely day up the West side of Tjorn and Orust which contained many attractive looking anchorages, and the first of several marked by a constant stream of large and very smart Norwegian yachts motoring South at great speed.
Distance 28 Miles
Tue 26 June
Weather – continued fantastic with moderate winds from West.
Leisurely start with breakfast on the rock then popped around the corner to Gullholmen for a coffee, where we met 3 German small cruisers who were cruising from Stromstad to Steningsund), one of whom (the Sanders from Stuttgart, members of the DCA) kindly lent us a charging cable with the right fittings to give our errant battery a boost.
Gullholmen again a nice mix of smart and not so smart with a good coop right on the quay. Bought our own lead and eventually slipped at 1215. Then had a fast sail in flat water with a good wind from the West to the Island of Keo. Mega flaff while we sailed around it trying to find somewhere up to the standard of the last 3 nights, during which Bill nearly disappeared trying to place an anchor in soft mud on foot in the supposedly idyllic bay on the East side. Eventually settled in the bay on the other side of a small isthmus which was equally pretty but had a gravel and sand bottom. Swam. Decided we needed to improve our Swedish approach – straight in dropping a stern anchor and tying up direct to a rock. We still tried to have 3 points of connection.
Distance 14 Miles
Wed 27 June
Weather – continued lovely with a gentle South Westerly.
Now in relaxed mode. Slipped 0815 and went into Smogen for an ice cream. Clearly about to be very busy but somehow lacked charm – less the barista. Then sailed North through the Sotekanalen, past Alvo, St Flatsk, and Dannemark, through Hamburgsund to another wonderful anchorage at Galgeberget just West of Fjallbacka at 1700. Friendly Swedes in huge Malos opposite another of our holes in the rock, and excellent SKX ‘facilities’. Wonderful sunset.
Distance 17 Miles
Thu 28 June
Weather – in transition with a new low coming in from the Norwegian Sea over Northern Scandinavia forecast to bring SW winds of 14-24 kts in the afternoon.
Slipped at 0515 with breakfast on the hoof, reefed down progressively and sailed up to Ramsos where we stopped only briefly as the wind was continuing to build, the charming but tiny harbour was filling up, and we did not want to be stuck there if the weather was poor the following day. Then sailed up the East side of South Koster under jib and mizzen to Ekenas at 1200 where we managed to moor in the inner small boat harbour only to be literally overshadowed by a huge Norwegian motor cruiser who insisted that there was room for 3. Bill walked up to Langesund through the nature reserve to walk off his bad temper and then fell asleep watching the Koster nature film which some very kind and polite Swedes had agreed to watch in English. Followed by long chat with Norwegian teacher on our other side with a young family and sensibly sized boat who gave us much excellent advice on Oslo.
Distance 23 Miles
Fri 29 June
Weather – wind went round to NE during the night and blew very hard. Still strong from NW and bang on the nose next morning so decided to stay and explore South Koster by bicycle. Spent a pleasant day doing so, finishing with tea on board the English pilot house ketch we had seen with a splendidly large and faded red ensign the day before which we did our best to persuade the owners not to wash. When they asked which was our boat (in plain view) they were unable to ‘see’ it as it clearly did not fit their mental expectations of a cruising boat…the Bayraider obviously has the potential to be re-branded as a stealth cruiser!
Sat 30 June
Weather -wind has moderated to a fresh NNE which just allowed us to make our course up the coast.
Slipped 0530 in deft manoeuvre and motored 1.5 miles north. Started with one reef reduced to 2 after an hour as wind increased. Crossed border into Norway and changed courtesy ensign. Just managed to hold course on 320M to Sondre Soster when wind died away as we tacked up the coast and was then fortunately replaced by a fine sea breeze which gave us excellent sailing to Engelsvik which we reached at 1430. En route saw 2 lovely classic yachts – one crewed by a solitary girl and the other identified by sail number H-51 – the first we had seen, as well as a flight of male Eider ducks, equally elusive as we had seen many females but no males to that point.
Engelsvik was pleasantly sleepy but its honesty box required payment in cash so we took the bus into Frederickstadt to obtain some. Cash and camping gas hunt was successful but otherwise hot and rather uninspiring after the wonderful sense of freedom and isolation of the last week.
Distance 25 Miles
Sun 1 July
Weather – 5 kts from South.
Slipped at 0850 and worked our way North. Arrived at Sandpollen at 1730 after a long day of gentle sailing up the Eastern side of Oslo Fiord ending by sailing through the narrow gap on the west side of the Drobak narrows where the Blucher met her end. Moored on the jetty at the South Eastern end of this wonderful natural harbour – literally a pool – and watched it gradually empty of boats at the end of a lovely summer Sunday as fortunate Osloers returned to their homes.
Distance 29 Miles
Mon 2 July
Weather – calm
Motored for 4 hours up Oslo Fiord, avoiding a couple of large cruise ships as the fairway narrowed, to moor at Grassholmen, a pleasantly dilapidated but entirely functional small harbour on the nature reserve (previously Oslo’s airport in flying boat days) a 15 minute ferry ride from Oslo’s centre, alongside a classic Colin Archer double ended cutter.
Visited the Viking Museum on a hot afternoon, and then the exhaustive and exhausting exhibition of Polar exploration around the Fram in which the huge care and preparation Nansen and Amundsen put into their ventures came over very clearly. Nansen’s subsequent role as the first global High Commissioner of Refugees was also, rather shammingly, a revelation.
Distance 15 Miles
Tue 3 July
Slipped at 0515 to motor across to the mainland to pull the boat out of the water, leaving at 0815 and arriving at Hook of Holland midday on Wed after 1000 miles of driving.
Distance 2 Miles
PLANNING AND PREPARATION
The major marinas were empty but filling fast as the holiday season began and Norway emptied into Sweden. An ideal time to visit might be the first three weeks of June immediately prior to the Mid Summer holiday weekend in Sweden which marks the start of the school holidays.
Depending on your objectives the area to focus on is the archipelago south and north of Gothenberg, with the outer skerries most likely to produce the wilder and more solitary locations.
General knowledge best from Imray (RCCPF Baltic Sea and Approaches, and RCCPF Norway), or the Norwegian Pilot (www.norwegiancruisingguide.com) available on line. No need to carry any. The best guide to harbours and anchorages that we found was the Harbour Guide (www.harbourguide.com ) available online (cheaply on a monthly subscription) or on paper (expensively) which included naturhamns and the location of rings on rocks and SKX facilities. There is a mass of free information on gasthamns in all 3 countries.
We used paper charts for general orientation and E charts for confirmation and detail which was expensive but worked well. A cheaper option would be a small number of paper charts for overview and planning, relying on the E charts for detail.
We used NV chart books (ww.nvcharts.com) for Denmark and Norway and Delius (www.delius-klasing.de) charts for Sweden. While the books were convenient, I preferred the latter as all the charts required for a day, including an overview, could be prepared in advance and put in map cases, without the need to remove them and change pages in poor conditions. They also showed navigational marks in colour. Decent waterproof map cases of the right size may be a market opportunity – alternatively lamination in advance would have helped.
We used the latest Garmin Card (Oslo-Trelleborg) on an old 450S which worked well, with Navionics on a tablet, and the NV/Delius apps on an IPhone as back up.
Internet coverage was excellent, and we relied on this rather than radio for forecasts. The 3 state weather institutes (www.dmi.dk; www.smhi.se; www.yr.no) , all with apps, in conjunction with Windy (www.windy.com ), provided good overviews of the major weather systems in English, but their estimates of likely wind strength were necessarily very broad for the comparatively large areas covered. Detailed hour by hour forecasts for individual locations were available from YR, actual wind strengths from Windy or Viva, or other providers such as XC Weather.
Pitons and hammer are useful for mooring to rocks and are locally available. Two long (30 m+) mooring lines would be very useful for the same reason – we liked to triangulate in narrow inlets – the Swedes tended to use only a stern anchor and one or two bow lines. We never used our second anchor. We did not use our oars, but a large paddle would be handy for close manoeuvring. A reliable outboard was a boon in calm conditions. Outboard fuel (petrol = benzin) was readily available, unlike in Scotland. Carrying food, water and petrol for 2 days proved sufficient. Very little cash is needed as credit cards are almost universally used.
Almost as dark as it gets – Sandpollen at dusk