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Monday, 28 August 2017

Ystad - Rodvig, Denmark (27 August 2017)

We returned to Ystad after a brief visit to the UK for a wedding. This journey took some planning as we were bringing the car as we had quite a few items to bring out and would have other items to take home at the end of the season. We took the usual overnight ferry to the Hook of Holland and despite being much busier than we are used to we were through customs 15 minutes after docking. We then drove for seven hours to Burgstakken on Fehmarn Island in Germany as it is here that “Whileaway” will spend the winter. Having parked the car in one of the sheds where yachts are later stored we then stayed in Puttgarden on the N of the island for the night. Early the next morning we had a short 15 minute walk to the ferry that goes across to Rodby in S Denmark every 30 minutes and takes 45 minutes. This service is extremely popular with Danes, hence the existence in Puttgarden of a huge “Border Tax Free” shop. Of course not really tax free but taxed less in Germany than in Denmark particularly alcohol and cosmetics. By 0800 we were waiting for the train that took us to Copenhagen. There we changed to another train that took us over the Oresund Bridge to Hyllie just outside Malmo; where we changed again to the train to Ystad. All smooth, comfortable, on time journeys of course!
The weather forecast for the next morning was for a brisk wind from the NW. That would enable us to sail WSW initially along Sweden's S coast and we did so for the first three hours. However the wind then turned into mainly W, so right on the nose and we then ended up motoring. On the SE corner of Sweden is a large peninsular, Skanor, so at a narrow point the Falsterbokanal has been built. Less than 2nm long it saves a journey of about 15nm!
Approaching Falsterbokanal on a sunny afternoon 
The road on to the peninsular is at the N end of the canal and there we were forced to wait 45 minutes for the bridge to open on the hour. Just the other side of the bridge is the sailing club harbour of Hollviken and having done 36nm that day we decided to stay there for the night.
The following day we opted to head N up the Oresund to the island of Ven. A light N wind was forecast so again it was the motor doing the work, especially as we started off having to follow a buoyed channel for 7nm through shallows. We emerged to head under the Oresund Bridge (“The Bridge” for aficionados of Scandinavian thrillers!). As we headed N the wind strengthened and the sound became more choppy for a while. But just after 1500 we entered the main harbour of Kyrkbacken.
Alongside in Kyrkbacken
This was the third time we had been to this Swedish island – but the first on which we found space to stay! Our two previous visits had been in mid to late July the year before and both times the harbour was absolutely stuffed! Now the Season is nearing its end and there are fewer boats. Ven's attraction (apart from being a very pleasant island), is that it is in the middle of the Sound, about 3nm from Sweden and 5nm from the Danish coast. Thus ideally placed for day trips or short stop overs. On this bright sunny afternoon it had quite a few visitors but by the evening many had left.
Ven's main claim to fame is having been the home of  Swedish astronomer Tycho Brahe who built a castle and an underground observatory in the 16 century. The remains (and partially reconstructed) of the latter are much publicised.
In the afternoon we went for a short walk up to the medieval St Ibbs Church on the cliff top from where there are excellent views across to Denmark. The following morning we set off on our bicycles and went first to the centre of the island (about 1km) where there was a bakery. This was truly artisan, ran by an old lady in an old building! 

The bakery
The shop!
We then followed a few roads and cycle paths covering much of the island including Backviken which is where the ferry from Landskrona in Sweden arrives. When the ferry arrived there were many walkers and also those who went a short distance to the cycle hire centre. This is obviously the most popular way to tour the island as the enormous cycle parking area showed!    

Just a part of the cycle renting park!
 On Friday morning there was a brisk WSW wind as we set off for Copenhagen. We had a fast two hour sail until near the entrance when we dropped the sails and motored past a departing sea plane!
Unusual hazard to navigation
We then passed a cruise ship and the Little Mermaid, avoiding the numerous tripper boats and then turning to port immediately before the new harbour bridge and into the Trangraven Canal. The Trangraven pedestrian (and cycle) bridge opens on the hour and although it was 1110, disappointingly it was only just closing! But we were too late, so we tied up at the waiting pontoon. An hour later we turned into the Christianshavn Canal and then into Wilders Platz, a short offshoot, where we had booked a space for two nights. So we were close to the centre of Copenhagen.

Whileaway (centre right) alongside converted warehouses in Wilders Platz
We had a good visit to Copenhagen last year, our main purpose this year was to take the 25 minute train journey to Roskilde. We could have sailed there but the passage would have been some 80nm (in the wrong direction for subsequent plans) instead of 15nm to Copenhagen in the right direction!
Roskilde was once Denmark's capital. Our interest was in seeing the Viking Ship Museum (Andrea for a second time). The exhibition includes the remains of five unique Viking Ships excavated in 1962 from Roskilde Fjord.

Viking warship remains
At the end of the late 11th century a system of barriers was constructed in the fjord to protect the royal seat and the cathedral. The ships had been sunk across a sailing channel as part of the barrier. The boat builders have also built reconstructions of the five ships (and other Viking craft) based on original surviving ship finds. These ships are in the boatyard at the museum and all have been sailed one as far as the Shetlands, Britain and Dublin where it seems it was originally built! An excellently presented museum.
One of the reconstructed Viking ships
Later we visited Roskilde Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The first Church on the site was built by Harold Bluetooth who died around 985. A couple of others followed until the present brick built Church was stated in the 1170s.
Cathedral interior
The Church is on the World Heritage List because it is an outstanding example of one of the earliest ecclesiastical buildings in brick (a new material in Europe in the 12th century). The Cathedral contains the burial places of many members of the Danish royal family. It includes a chapel intended to house the "future sepulchral monument for the present royal couple, Queen Margrethe II and the Prince Consort"!
On returning to Copenhagen after 1900, Saturday night activities in the city centre were well underway. But a revelation to us were three new style vehicles powered by pedal. The "cyclists" sit around a central bar from which they help themselves to beer and other drinks. They sit at stools which have pedals attached to propel the vehicle. It is steered by a (presumably) non-drinking driver who stands behind a wheel.
The bar cycle!
Presumably the vehicle gets slower as the evening wears on?
On Sunday morning we slipped our mooring in time for the 0900 bridge opening and were soon greeted with heavy rain (not forecast), the first in daytime since we had returned to Sweden since early August. After initial light winds (forecast for the day) the strength increased to F4/5 and we had an excellent sail SSE to Rodvig, 35 nm away. Arriving mid afternoon we tied up in the Fishing Harbour.
Fishing Harbour, Rodvig
We have visited Rodvig and round about before so apart from a wander round the village we stayed on the boat enjoying the warm afternoon and evening sunshine. As there is a fishmongers on the quayside it was fresh fish for dinner!

Swallows having a break from collecting breakfast
In the early morning the swallows were very active skimming across the water catching tiny midges and flies, a sad reminder that autumn is on its way and they will soon be off to warmer climes. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Karlskrona - Ystad (15 August 2017)

Our return trip to "Whileaway" took 23 hours. I had booked return flights from Stockholm earlier in the summer but our engine problem meant that we had ended up much further away from the capital than expected. However a late change to the airline tickets was prohibitively expensive so we flew there, had dinner then took the comfortable night sleeper train south. Unfortunately we had to change trains to a local service at 0550 but then arrived back in Karlskrona a little after 0800.
Back to Sweden, where either flag is flown by residents
We had received an email from the engine engineers saying that they had found and fixed the problem a few days before we left the UK. The first task was therefore to start and run the engine to see if I agreed! All seemed fine so I cycled off to the engineers office to pay the bill and learn that they had discovered a blocked exhaust pipe. This carries both gas and the sea water used for cooling the engine and it was the seawater element that had gradually blocked over the years. As a consequence of the problem two other rubber caps which had been put under intense pressure had also failed and had to be replaced.
So we were ready to go but the weather wasn't being accommodating! There was a strong wind blowing that morning with a forecast that showed a significant increase over the following couple of days. So we decided to stay put (and weren't the only ones!); and indeed by early Saturday morning the boat was rocking and rolling even in the harbour as winds reached F6 gusting F8 (over 30 knots). But we had plenty to enjoy in Karlskrona as it was the annual Archipelago Festival with various entertainments, games competitions, music, food and so on.

Circus training for young children at the Archipelago Festival
On Saturday afternoon we took the local bus to the nearby settlement of Nattraby. This was a very attractive extended village. It is on the coast so we saw the arrival of the historic ferry "Axel" which comes from Karlskrona three times a day.

Axel in the approach to Nattraby
By Sunday morning the wind had abated a little and we were keen to move on so we decided to head for one of the outlying islands, Hasslo. It is fair to say that this was a rather lumpy passage especially once we were in open sea. We had to head into a still strong E wind and once we were into open waters the sea was moderate at best. But Hasslo was only 11nm, approaching 3 hours, in these conditions. The final approach was a buoyed passage between numerous rocky shoals but was fine and then we were into calmer waters as we entered the small harbour at Garpahamen. I started visually checking for a place to moor, taking a circuit around the harbour and within a short time the depth under the keel dropped rapidly until we were aground on mud! Twenty minutes of engine running, lightweight anchor being deployed (to haul us into deeper water), then rocking up and down on the bow eventually freed us and we returned to deeper water and then to the top of the harbour alongside a pleasant and helpful Danish couple. A cycle around the island took us about 90 minutes but confirmed how keen the Swedes are on having their summer houses.
View of the approach to Hasslo from the harbour breakwater
Our next passage was 16nm E down the coast to Ronnebyhamn and by now the wind had abated to F4/5 (maximum about 20kn) and it had turned SW so we got in a little sailing and then motor sailing. Again the final approach over the last three miles involved close attention to buoys keeping us off the rocky outcrops and finally a very shallow area where at times we had less than 0.5m beneath the keel. But Ronnebyhamn was a very pleasant small coastal community and we tied up with a lovely view across the water.
View across to Karon from the marina
 We did cycle the 5km to Ronneby and decided that the town was rather ordinary, with some attractive older properties but quite a few relatively modern nondescript additions particularly amongst the shops. In addition the planners had clearly paid homage to the highwaymen and busy roads crisscrossed the town seemingly needlessly. The following day we took the ferry a short ride across to the island of Karon. Apparently most of the 30 or so homes here were built in the 18th century and the island is very unspoilt. No traffic, no facilities, no shops or cafes, so a very pleasant ramble along tracks and through woods around the island.
Summer House on Karon
After a couple of days time to move E again. A choice here. we could either return to the open sea, set a course due E and then near our destination head N; or we could weave our way between many rocks and islands within the Hallaryd archipelago. In fact, we learnt later, there are over 270 inlets and islands of various sizes with rocky or craggy shores, broad-leaf copses and meadow lands in the Archipelago. By now the wind had eased down to around 10 kn or so and we decided to test our navigational skills and follow the inside route. It certainly brought us up close to many islands and rocks and with opportunities to see the bird life at close quarters. But we did have to concentrate to keep finding the next channel marker and keep us on course.
Passing a rocky island in the archipelago
After 16nm we turned into a sailing club harbour, Hafen Svanevik, just outside Karlshamn. What a delightful place. Not very big, quiet and with lovely views across to some of the islands.
The sailing club Hafen Svanevik at Karshanmn
A walk around the coast took us into the town of Karlshamn where there were some characterful old buildings as well as a few less characterful new ones! Like other places in this part of Sweden it has been part of Denmark at times. passed over as a naval port in favour of Karlskrona, it turned to overseas trading and built very profitable businesses.  The town streets were still adorned with flags and bunting from their recent festival. Especially delightful was the discovery in the adjacent Fish Harbour of a fishmongers and smokery. A few purchases were made and they were very good indeed. The following morning we cycled N along the coast along roads through the woods to small villages before returning and buying more (not smoked) fresh fish for dinner.
Cycling along a road through the woods
Friday morning was sunny and still and we motored 9 miles S to the small island of Hano. The island is only about 2km x 1km and lies about 10nm off the nearest part of the Swedish coast.The island is a large rock of granite with a very unusual natural environment. Whilst the higher parts are large slabs and boulders of granit, lower levels are woods or scrub. Apparently these were formally part of the sea before water levels reduced. We walked on the footpaths around the island before and after lunch. Some of these are granite chippings, some covered in moss or grass requiring you to walk over granite rocks.
Granite rock, trees and scrub on Hano
We climbed to the summit to see the short lighthouse with (so they say) the strongest light in the Baltic. In addition we visited the English Cemetery. This is a piece of naval history dating from 1810-12 during the Napoleonic wars when Hano served as an English naval base. The cemetery contains an unknown number of graves of English sailors.
The Cemetery
Cemetery plaque
The ferry arrives half a dozen times a day, mainly bringing day trippers as there is little accommodation. The only facilities (around the harbour) are a restaurant and cafe, very small and limited shop, ice cream kiosk and a museum.. But it is all very friendly and welcoming.
We awoke on Saturday morning to find that it was foggy; or a soup as the German sailor tied up in front of us said as we peered over the harbour wall into the murk! But the poorer visibility wasn't stopping the swifts swooping over the harbour searching for breakfast. During a rest break quite a few took a few minutes resting on our guard rails seemingly oblivious to us.

Around 0900 we decided to cast off, feeling that we had a potentially longer passage and that this was an area with few big ships. Then right outside the harbour out of the fog appeared a small freighter seemingly waiting to come alongside. After about an hour the fog began to lift and the wind increased so that we were able to first motor sail then dispense with the engine. During the rest of the passage the wind swung between F2 (about 6kn) and F5 (maximum 25kn) making reefing in or letting sails out a regular occurrence. It took nearly 8 hours to cover the 38nm to Simrishamn near the foot of Sweden's E coast, but we found space in the quite spread out marina adjacent to the fishing harbour. For only the second time this summer (apart from our base at Fehmarn) we came across a British sailor, this being Andy on “Hoppetosse”. Over evening drinks on our boat later we learnt that he was on his way back from Helsinki to Fehmarn.
Simrishamn is a town of mainly smaller houses, with some very attractive cobbled streets. 

Typical Simrishamn
In a self-guided tour (courtesy of the Tourist Bureau) we discovered a few of these homes many with the traditional Simrishamn door.
The Simrishamn door!
There is a very big fishing harbour, with a fleet of around 20 boats, although these are probably much below the peak. We had fish and chipped potatoes on an old fishing boat converted to a cheap and cheerful restaurant for lunch. Not so cheap being Sweden of course. Fairly ordinary fish and fried potatoes, with a pint (well 500ml) and a half of local lager was about £28 for the two of us.
Monday produced another sunny morning and we set off for Ystad, just over 30nm away on the S coast. We had brisk winds and although the wind direction was unfavourable at times we were able to sail most of the way and motor sailed when we tired of beating into the wind.
Ystad has a ferry port from where services depart to Bornholm and freight to Poland. It is also an important passage port for leisure sailors being strategically placed in the middle of Sweden's S coast. It is a town of some size with a busy shopping centre and some fine historic buildings. Many buildings and courtyards are very reminiscent of those found in Denmark; hardly surprising as this part of Sweden was part of Denmark for many years.

Attractive courtyard with cafes in Ystad
Even the typical tourist "trains" that take sightseers around the town do not ply their trade here. Instead there are circuits of the town in an old fire engine or two! 
Tourist trip fire engine (behind the smaller fire engine dating from the 1930s)
Traditional street with hollyhocks in full bloom - just like Denmark!

We are leaving the boat here for 5 days to return to England for the wedding of one of Andrea's nephews. Ystad has a train station very near the marina and with one change we can get to Copenhagen Airport. Looking forward to crossing The (Oresund) Bridge on a train!