Sailing this far north with one month left of the year is proving to have it’s own set of challenges. It’s not especially harder – just more unpredictable, kind of grey and wet. To make this short and sweet; we haven’t moved a single nautical mile since the last post. This little part of Gothenburg have been our home for the last week and we are getting a bit restless. The forecast keep promising better weather, but I have lost my faith in the weather-people. Below you can see the forecast for tomorrow and I’m writing this as heavy rain is hammering on deck above. As you can see – the snow is catching up with us it is due to fall tonight and it kinda sucks, cause we are just 3 days away from our final destination.
We could of course just sail through it and act like awesomely though vikings, but I want to enjoy these last few days. Besides the temperature in Fredrikstad today is ten degrees colder than here today – and next week it is supposed to get down to minus 10 degree. And that’s fine, hey, we knew this was coming. And since it’s still a few weeks left till we actually have to be there, and we most likely will get our fair share of winter in the coming months anyway – We are happy to wait out any weather as long as we have shore-power to keep us comfortable. The alternative is harsh headwinds of 15 meters a second, two meter waves with slushy snow-rain whipping your face as you desperately try to avoid reefs, ships and shallow waters.. That simply won’t work for our poor old 30 year old sails that have already been mended four times during a total of about 25 hours so far since we started.
Captain Simen has done a great job cleaning out the slip cabins. The moist following time of the year, conditions and condensation is an everlasting project keeping on a distance. I’ve been drinking coffee. Together we have binge watched entire seasons of several series. I guess that’s the definition of passing time in a sailboat at bay in November.
I am not complaining. I’m actually having a great time! This stuff is part of the deal and we knew exactly.. well maybe not exactly what we were going into, but we knew that we were sailing into winter. As I have logged year after year of experience as a Norwegian, this is what non-skiing Norwegians do when the days turn short and the snow and cold come rolling in. We embrace the warmth of inside and stay there until May.
The plan forward is pretty easy. We are sailing north either tomorrow or the day after. But since the weather people cannot figure out what day the bad stuff will pass we’re awaiting a signal. If we sail tomorrow, the rain might have passed but the winds are totally going to crash our diesel-budget. It looks like Saturday morning will be the day. Maybe. Whenever it will be, to get to Fredrikstad all we have left is one last push to reach the end of this chapter (and the beginning of the next).
We have sailed quite a distance since last post. At the moment we are docked in Erikstad, part of the large port of Gothenburg. First we crossed Laholm bay which was quite a windy adventure with some pretty sharp waves making the passage pretty bumpy – but nothing good old, still unnamed sailboat, couldn’t handle. As for now we still sail her under her original name; ‘Ella’ and I suppose this will do just fine for 2019. When we had crossed the bay we arrived in Halmstad. Here we finally found a shower to cleanse our rather dirty corpus’s. It was a very nice guest harbour along the river to visit and since we got to take a good rest, showers and dealt with some rather cold rainy weather we decided to stay for a few days before continuing north.
From Halmstad there is not really any harbors deep enough for a sailboat until Falkenberg. We could of course anchor up on the way, but the landline is basically just one long slope bay unprotected from any wind or weather washing in from the unruly Kattegat. We therefore settled in for a long haul across. This time however we had the chance to wait for great conditions and on the day we sailed the wind was so perfect that we decided to sail throughout the night. When we anchored up in the first suitable place we had covered more than 60 nautical miles in 14 hours, a new personal record for us(!)
Night-sailing is great. We pulled up the laptop and watched an entire season of a Norwegian TV-drama and made great speed along the way. On the open water the dark is no problem at night, you basically just stick out the course and let the wind do the rest. As we however got closer to Gothenburg you’ll have to stay pretty far away from land to avoid the many reefs of the western archipelago of Sweden. Lucky for me I actually paid attention when learning how to navigate by night and even though it’s a bit more work to count seconds between light-flashes and double checking the plotter ever so often we found ourselves a quiet little trench between land and the island of Ockero to sleep through the forecasted morning rain.
Next morning I grabbed some breakfast and set sail right away. Since most harbors have prepared for winter we had ran out of fresh water onboard, so I had to kiss my beloved morning coffee goodbye anyway. Besides, the last bit to reach Gothenburg was just a few hours sail. We arrived at about six o clock Friday evening and decided it was time to get a couple of anchor beers to celebrate that we have reached our last milestone before crossing the Norwegian border in a week or two. I guess, if we sailed nonstop from here we would make the trip in just a couple of days. This last bit of the way however, I think we’ll take nice and slow. After all, we don’t have any plans whatsoever when we complete this last bit.
If we had continued up the river toward Trollhettan we would now have cut out the lower part of the country away from the rest of the mainland. This of course counting the part we traveled with FF Harry through the inland canals last year. In a way the circle will be completed anyway when we arrive at our destination in Fredrikstad which is also where we started out in May, one and a half year ago. We then took FF Harry to Halden and loaded it on a truck, making our way through dense forest to reach the Swedish border. There have of course been plenty of distractions and detours, but it feels great to soon have completed this huge adventure. I wonder what comes next.
For now we are enjoying a weekend in the second largest city of the Swedish kingdom. Our only real mission here is to fill the water tank and to go for a walk in the city center. Both of us have been in the area before, but never really had the time to check out what the city really looks like, so this could be a nice little stop for us.
We have started the last stretch on our journey to Norway. The break in Copenhagen was a much needed one and we have almost recharged our batteries. I learned yesterday that it is basically just five weeks until my mother have demanded our presence for Christmas eve. Unless the weather turn stormy or something radical happen on the way – we will make it, no problem. Over the Angelholm bay however, the strong wind ate our foresail and we are once again down for repairs. The problem is those damn seams that is supposed to hold the sheets of the sail together. Over the years these seams have loosened or rotted away. The result is that I’ll have to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20 hours to now sow meters of sail by hand.
It’s all part of the game. I don’t really mind and so far it looks like we have found a protected harbour that is closed down for the season. That mean they have turned of the machine to pay and sadly also closed down the showers. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that the time has come to once again get ourselves cleaned up. This is harder than you would think actually. We have resigned to boiling water and wet-wipes. Living on a boat like this take away the everyday need to shower, but once in a while even hard-knocked free-living creatures have to wash up. We have high hopes for our next stop on the journey; Halmstad. If I can finish the sail-mending today, we should be there tomorrow afternoon. We’ll be coming in hot with 10 meter wind in our back and 1,5 meter waves.
Arriving in Halmstad we’ll be a quarter of the way to reach our final destination for this voyage from Copenhagen to Fredrikstad, Norway. We are prepared to be a bit more limited in our movements as we get north, of course due to the winter weather. So far we have been lucky to stay out of the big storms or any snowfall, but this is bound to change in the coming weeks. Southern Norway is already snowed down and slushy yuk is covering the streets in the cities. I can’t wait. Last time I saw real snow, and not just flakes in the air, was two and a half year ago, so this is something I really look forward to!
One year ago exactly we landed in Malta. The plan then was to stay there for a couple of months only, this of course didn’t happen and we got sucked into the island-life before we knew it. Back in freedom we are coming up with plenty ideas for how to tackle 2020, but we haven’t 100% decided how to attack this yet. We have many great ideas and it will for sure be one of the most exciting years in my life. I don’t want to reveal any details in case things change or we get any other great ideas, so this will have to wait til later.
I better get back to sowing, my morning coffee is starting to sink in. The forecast for today is rain rain rain, so in a way this happened on a good day. Please follow and share our journey! I’ll make sure to keep you updated on our progress the coming weeks. Until next time, stay safe and enjoy every day.
Oh Copenhagen, it is great to be back! Spending hours just walking around the different part of the city and all the sites to visit. Enjoying superb architecture and mild-ish temperatures. The flatness add to the experience by making movement easy and fun, we even got to ride on some electric kick-bikes – of course getting totally lost on the opposite side of town. Everything seem to follow it’s own time schedule and there is always some life to seek out. Onboard the ship we have decided to take it easy for a few days. Every minutes since we purchased the boat we have been somehow traveling about every day, now it was time for us to enjoy the little we have left of the autumn of 2019.
Finding a reasonable guest harbour in Copenhagen could cost you quite a bit. But it could also go close to free if you take it easy and can settle for some awkward anchorages. Electricity is of course the joker in this game and privacy too. Luckily boats are still widely considered a no-go zone for petty theft so we feel very safe in Denmark’s capital when it comes to leaving the boat alone. We have enjoyed a few strolls along the canals. There is always room for a great conversation and the sprouting of ideas, and a short walk away, around the corner there is always a new adventures.
We found ourselves a couple of spots we could stay the night. For the weekend we had a visit from a crew-member that we haven’t seen since our summer on Foxen in 2018. Eimund came to enjoy the Danish capital for a couple of days before returning to Norway to take his driver’s license on Tuesday. He arrived something like six in the morning so a bit of sleep followed before we went on to explore the city together. Toward the end of the night, as we were checking out the infamous Christiania we crashed into two German hitchhikers in need of a place to spend the night, so without hesitation we booked them in on the ship.
It’s good to see that Copenhagen haven’t changed much. Everything is delightedly the same and I personally love the city. Saturday afternoon we decided to move the boat in downtown. This mean we got to tie the boat on the opposite of the bay from the Opera-house – I’m pretty sure a hotel-room in this area costs thousands. But there is nowhere like home and we are loving it.
We also had time to celebrate my birthday. November 10th is a day to be remembered. There was a plan to celebrate last years birthday in this town, but instead we ended up in Greece, what a life.. Of course, our stay here this time around is strictly a visit and we will be heading towards Norway again shortly. We will have forever of time to get there, but my guess is that it will take us about a month.
Yes, we are taking a break from Sweden. The time has come for us to visit our next country on the list. Denmark, you have been deeply missed and even though the forecast is rain, even snow and plenty of degrees in the blue – we are truly looking forward to hang around for a week or so. I must admit I’m excited to actually have a place to stay this time around, our last few visits have been deeply colored by our tendencies to live in a mix of couch-surfing and tents on all sort of illegal sites.
The south of Sweden have been conquered. We arrived in Smygehamn at the perfect moment after having live-streamed the passage there. The sun was just about to go down in the distance and after securing the boat to the dock we walked to the very tip of the guest harbour. This point marked the tip of mainland-Scandinavia and to us the halfway-point. Even though this is halfway, the first half also represent the hardest and slowest part of this trip to Norway. From now on, everything should in theory go smooth and much faster from here on.
Smygehamn smells bad, very bad. there’s a strong stench of rotten eggs or something much worse in the whole area. This make the place a bit unpleasant, but the guest harbour was free(!) and we got to enjoy the peace of an ended summer season by ourselves. Not counting the smell, I’m sure the people running the place could do much more to advertise this place.
Next morning we aimed for Trelleborg. They do however not have a guest harbour at all, so we ended up stopping in the harbour before, in Gislövs läge. This is a small little village with not too much going on, the little grocery store had some light-beers for sale and this somehow inspired us to take the bus in to Trelleborg to check out the nightlife. We grabbed a great IPA at a nice restaurant in the city center, and when they closed we were sent to the only bar that was still open where we had a few more. This would have to do for our Halloween celebration. We are doing perfectly well by ourselves, and that’s good when except from an elderly couple and a bartender that didn’t look like she wanted to be there at all – we had a blast.
We are of course setting course for the King’s city, Copenhagen. I’m a bit concerned about finding a free place to anchor up, but surly there will be a place for people like us. Our lovely ship can take just about any harbour but as our budget once again is running low, we’ll have to do this the pirate-way.