Passing Porsch

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.

Beer at lastIn 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. The water wheel
We 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).

An irregular liftTo 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 Norway" "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. "No!"

Wild horsesSo 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.

Windward boatFrom 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.
Traces of EnglandSailing Mecca
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!

Will she? 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? A car ark
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 and James.

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.

Best wishes

Robin, Peter, Adam and James

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