Soon, all too soon, we had to leave Soon. But not before we had discovered
Awaksol, the miracle oil which Scandinavians lavish on their wooden boats
to give them a varnish like shine. It is thinner than water, and needs
numerous coats, but we were able to get a couple on overnight.
The next day was hot and still and we crossed the fjord to Horton for fuel,
which was on the menu of a fashionable waterside restaurant:-
Shrimp crostini 159 NoK
Diesel 9 NoK/lt.
The pretty waitress came down to operate the pump and then returned to
serving a nicely chilled Sauvignon Blanc as an accompaniment to Gravad
Laks. The fuelling station was at the end of a narrow passage whose width
was slightly less than Voltair's length when account was taken of the
moored vessels. Robin rejected the suggestion that he should reverse out on
the grounds that this would provide more entertainment than Horton's
fashionista could cope with on a Saturday afternoon. So we decided on
exploiting a gap between moored vessels to wear the ship around under
hawsers. With a crew of four there were five different suggestions as to
how this should be done, but somehow it was, and we motored elegantly out
of the cut and back to what we expected to be a quiet anchorage on the East
shore. Charming and shallow it was, but filled - on our arrival - with a
party on board an old gaffer enjoying too much drink and bad Jazz. We saw
them off with a blast of Dire Straights.
Sunday was brisk and sparkling with the wind from the South just permitting
us to sail the course weaving between the islets just north of the entrance
to Fredrikstad. All of Fredrikstad came out to greet us; the gin and tonic
brigade, the boy racers, the sailing schools, the picnic makers, the
canoeists, the fishermen, the dingy racers, the girl friend impressers, the
old, the young, the competent and the beginners. And there wasn't much
room. Amongst all this lot, Voltair ploughed her stately way - occasionally
forcing some rapid changes of course and Chris surprised a following
motorboat with his decision against piling us onto the rocks and put in a
sharp tack instead.
In the evening we tied up in the heart of the town, just alongside the
smart restaurants and, tourist guide in hand, proceeded to search out the
old town. If you are ever in Fredrikstad, dear reader, and intent on
searching out the old town, on no account follow the signs, The signs take
you over a new bridge, well up river and quite out of you way. So it was a
foot-weary party that entered the old town in desperate search for its
'charming restaurants and Old World cafés' - or at any rate a beer.
found a beer in a pizza parlour and also discovered the ferry - unmentioned
in the guide book, curses be upon it - that connected the old town with a
quay near where we were moored for a handful of loose change (the elderly
and the young, for free).
To proceed onwards you have to pass under two lifting bridges that open
briefly for waiting traffic at 6 am and at three hourly intervals
thereafter. We settled on an early start and presented ourselves at 9 am.
Nothing opened. Conversation over the VHF established that the first bridge
was broken, but that engineers were expected at any moment, so we retired
for a cooked breakfast. Further conversations indicated that there was
little prospect of a repair that day. At about this time we noticed that
Clive had been absent for awhile. It turned out that he had been chatting
to the bridge operator, and that they had discovered that they were both
supporters of Fredrikstad's football team who had a needle match that very
evening. Well, fellow supporters must stick together, and the operator
agreed to open what he could of his broken bridge for us and even to
persuade his colleague on the main road bridge to execute an irregular
opening at 10:30 am.
And so we wound our way through the shallows to Sweden arriving at
Stromstad in the early evening and mooring outside the Skagerack (sic.)
hotel. The first surprise was a splendid supermarket still open and with a
massive choice of goods. Other differences we noticed were fewer flags - at
least in the border area - and the absence of trees on the islands. We
presented ourselves bright and early on the Monday morning, complete with
passports and ships papers, at Stromstad police headquarters.
"Why?" asked a pleasant but puzzled official. We explained
"We are in a customs union with Norway; we have no interest in people or
boats coming from there. We haven't looked as passports at this border ever
in my lifetime."
"But we have not just come from Norway, we are a British boat coming from
"We are also in the European Union, we have no interest in people or
vessels coming from our fellow EEC countries".
She did not quite say "I am about to arrest you for wasting police time",
but we got the message.
"The customs people, perhaps…" Robin ventured.
So we retreated. I will just enter this observation for the benefit of
international negotiators who may be wondering if they have a worthwhile
job. Any UK citizen can enter Sweden uncontrolled because of the EEC. Any
person entering Norway from Sweden will be uncontrolled because of the
Shengen agreement. But any person entering Norway directly from the UK will
be controlled as Norway is outside the European Union. There must be an
opportunity here somewhere.
From Stromstad we proceeded by easy stages to Goteborg. One evening we
anchored under sail in a deserted bay on the east side of Lokholmen. We
passed between the islands of Humpem and Smugh and shortly after definitely
passed Porsch. Another afternoon we dropped into Gulhomen, an old fishing
village where we met the local historian who told us all about the herring
cycles and the common dialects spoken by the people in his area and the
people who lived around Kristiansand in Norway. "Nobody has really been
interested in borders between Scandinavian countries". (What about the
Nordic wars, we thought, but did not dare to ask) We enjoyed some beers in
a restaurant and paid no more that an English tenner for a round - and that
included a bowl of crisps. We tacked up some tight sounds and raced the
locals, sometimes winning. Once we found the bottom with our keel where
the chart said there was a least depth of 2.5 meters.
The further south we
sailed, the more yachts we met. At times it was like an August bank holiday
on the Solent. Even wild anchorages became cluttered with yachts after 4
p.m. All the Swedish boats anchored bows to the rock with a kedge out
astern. We stood out by anchoring off (generally in clay; always in good
holding). The Swedish boats are designed with open fronted pulpits - often
with steps - for easy landing on rocks. It is not that they all know the
coast like the backs of their hands and have their favourite spots that
they know to be safe. We saw some very tentative approaches and some
approaches abandoned. Some boats came equipped with rock pitons and hammers
to create their own mooring bolts on the spot. At Kleveron, four of the 13
boats in the anchorage moored up nose to the rocks with their sterns facing
North despite a Northerly wind shift being forecast - but we did notice
that all but one of these had left before we had woken up!
You really cannot miss the fairway into Goteborg. Massive green and red
piles tower out of the water every few hundred yards with pass this side
markers hung out on motorway style gantries. We were accompanied in by a
Stenna line cruise ferry and a French submarine under tow from two tugs. We
holed up in the Lilla Bommen just by the Opera house slap-bang in the town
centre. It was midsummer night. We went out towards midnight to join in the
fun. Fireworks? Bonfires? Dancing in the Street?
Sadly no - just a bit of
drizzle and long queues of youngsters trying to get into the Hard Rock
Café. Robin did a swap with a fellow Brit coming north - exchanging one set
of charts of the Ryfylke (of which we have a duplicate) for a complete set
of Danish paper charts and a copy of the London times newspaper. Apparently
Brown thinks he's Prime Minister and Kate Moss has kissed somebody and its
raining in Wimbledon.
So we moved to the GKSS moorings at Langedrag, and there met Peter with his
friends Ored and Karin. We enjoyed a lovely Sunday sailing around the
islands - stopping to eat Karin's magnificent picnic in a remote bay. A
spinnaker run back led to an evening in an open air restaurant in Goteborg
centre - three kinds of picked herrings with aquavit, a delicious fish
soup, something with foaming avocado and salmon were variously enjoyed
before we retired to watch the sunset over a fine malt.
The next day we had to say a sad good-bye to David and a warm hello to Adam
Would the fantastic weather hold? What is the coast like from Goteborg to
"The Sound"? How many blondes can you get in a telephone kiosk? Would we
make Copenhagen in time? Who is Gildenstern? For the answer to these and
other questions, tune in to the next episode.
Robin, Peter, Adam and James
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