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The Swedish High Coast

-- 16th to 22nd of July 2018  --

Change of scenery with this escapade on the other side of the Bothnian Sea: direction the "Höga Kusten", or High Coast, in Sweden. The surroundings are … higher (yes!), offering hilly perspectives. And nothing but a warm sun and dry sky. We are at 63 ° 12'83''N, the record of the most northerly point ever reached by Saltimbanque, and we swim in the sea every day.

More still-pink-but-almost-reddish rocks on our page "Pictures".

219 nautical miles
2084 miles since the start

Our stops, click here for more details :
Bönhamn (marina)Mjältön (anchorage) - Ulvöhamn (marina) - Näske(marina) - Trysunda (anchorage) - Tennviken (anchorage)

16th-17th July : Lootholma – Bönhamn (173M)

It’s been several days and the weather remains stable: a strong high is camping over the Gulf of Bothnia, ensuring warm weather and little wind. When the forecast starts showing a gentle breeze from the North then East, we grab the opportunity to go and explore further North. Instead of tacking along the Finnish coast, we decide to sail one long leg close to the wind, until Sweden on the other side of the Sea of Bothnia.

So we set sails from Lootholma in the morning calm, motoring the 8nm out of the channel (which is too narrow to sail against the wind anyways).

Once we reach the last rocks on the northern border of the archipelago, we hoist all sails and stop the engine (aaaaaaahh ! less noise!). We are expecting to tack again and again between rocky islands before reaching the open sea. And so we tack for a first time, keeping a close eye on the compass and the other on the map. Sailing close, sailing close… we pass a first beacon… the wind veers slightly and we pass a second island… then another one …

On a perfect course with closely trimmed sails, we reach Isokari island, the last of the archipelago. Some more rocks under water are passed equally easily. Next is a protection area for seals. Bob (the windvane) is now steering and clears this last obstacle brilliantly.

Soon the end of Kustavi channel and the exit from Turku archipelago

We can't get enough of the long nights...
All of a sudden we find ourselves in open water – and completely alone. The thousands of holiday-makers cruising the archipelago do not often venture outside of it. During the next 36 hours we will see only 4 cargo ships (from a distance) and another big dead animal.
What a trip! We leave the rocky islands of Turku Archipelago with the full main sail and the genoa up, sailing close to the wind on starboard tack. During 36 hours, we will not touch anything. No need to maneuver at all. Only a few degrees correction to Master Bob, but otherwise but only have to sit back, relax and enjoy the sunny ride!

Swedish summer !

Arriving to the Swedish High Coast
There is a little bit of swell at the beginning, but it calms down quickly enough. The sea is beautiful, the sky is blue, the wind is perfect… so that our reaction is unusual when we sight land on Day 2 at 5pm: “already!...”

The mountainous coast is visible from far away and we have 30 nm still to cover. The last hours are the best: watching the land slowly grow, set against the never-ending twilight…

At 1am we enter Bönhamn harbor, one of the famous old-turned-touristic fishing harbors of the region. There are 3 guest quays around the harbor – mooring is rear anchor and stern to the wooden quay. The holding is good on 2 to 4m depth (deeper outside, shallower inside), but the shelter from the North is not perfect.

Arriving "by night" to Bönhamn

18th July : Bönhamn – Baggviken / Mjältön (11M)
A few hours of sleep later, we are ready to explore our new garden. Bönhamn is located in a bay surrounded by granite rocks and full of dark red wooden fishing huts. No doubt, this is Sweden! Weird feeling to have sailed 2000 nautical miles and be in such familiar surroundings. Something is different from our beloved Bohuslän though: it is not possible to pay the harbor fees by card – and no app! There is a box to deposit 130 SEK. We leave 15€ instead… this cover water but no electricity. 10 SEK coins are needed for the showers, which we don’t have either… that’s ok, the sea is warm…

Saltimbanque right in the middle of Bönhamn

Homo sapiens finding it difficult to adapt to extreme conditions about 300km away from the polar circle...
After walking through the wooden huts around the bay, we start on the nature trail heading South. Blueberries are ripe here too – we make a note and come back later to pick some! At the tip of the peninsula, smooth rocks make for a well-appreciated beach suitable for families. Walking just a little further, we find a lonely spot at the bottom of steep granite cliff, making a beach suitable for Saltimbanque’s bathing. 
In the afternoon, we sail to our next anchorage: Baggviken, a real and round lagoon in the South East of Mjältön Island. The entrance is narrow and shallow (3m), but there is ample space and good depth (4-6m) inside. Several short pontoons are offered for visitors (contribution 50 SEK appreciated), but most are full. Another couple of yachts are moored with their sterns tied to trees.

As for us, we prefer to trust our bow anchor and drop it in the middle of the bay, swinging happily a little distance away from other visitors and from mosquitoes (both being inconvenient when one wishes to have a shower in the cockpit). Our thermo-sounder indicates 21.6 °C in the water and more than 30 °C inside the boat. I repeat: we are at 63° North, 3 degrees away from the Polar Circle. 

Saltimbanque in the perfectly round-shaped lagoon
19th July : Baggviken – Ulvöhamn – Näske (15M)

These rocky plains are moraines coming from glaciers, nicely tidied up by the sea when it reached this level
Once upon a time – a long long time ago – the region was covered by ice. Glaciers, several kilometers deep, compressed the earth under their weight. The ground was thus depressed, 800 m below its original level. At the end of the last ice age, the glaciers melted away liberating the rocks from their weight. Since then, the ground has risen back by about 500m. This phenomenon of “rebound”, called “isostatic” by scientists, is ongoing and nowhere stronger than here, in the High Coast of Sweden – and just across the Gulf in the Kvarken region of Finland. The ground rises by 8.5 mm by year (or 85cm by century!). Within a generation, people see new islands appear, bays turn into lakes… in 2500 years, Sweden and Finland will be linked here and the North of the Gulf of Bothnia will be a lake...
Mjältön Island happens to be the highest island in Sweden, towering at 236 m (Norwegians, don’t laugh!). Which means that we have to climb to the top of course. Even better: since the island is always growing, the top is actually higher by the hour. Everyone who climbs to it is therefore beating the record of the highest island climb in Sweden :o)  This is a nice motivation to walk up under the burning sun (even at 10am) 
Tradition has that every hiker brings a rock to build up the cairn at the top. Also efficient to help raising up the sumbit altitude...

View over the other granit islands
Here is too, Granite is king. Along the coastline various shades are displayed, from salmon pink to dusty red to a classical grey, even cream white. In every little crack grow tiny pine trees or dried moss. Without looking at statistics, the state of the local vegetation tells us that this is not a normal weather. Sweden is current in wild fire crisis mode, today more than 60 fires have been registered, and the authorities struggle to cope. This is what the news say – as for us we will only see one plume of smoke in the distance, and the many billboards saying that under the circumstances, barbecues are forbidden (which must mean that the situation is serious, Swedes are fond of their barbecues…) 
Feeling hungry after our morning walk, we head to Ulvöhamn to grab some lunch. This harbor was founded in the 16th century by the Gävle fishermen. Gävle is a town about 400 km South of here, that enjoyed the royal privilege to control herring fishing over the whole Sea of Bothnia at that time. The whole coast has been thus populated by Gävle fishermen who built small settlements on the islands. Ulvön in particular retained a reputation as the “surströmming” capital. This Swedish delicacy is well known for being the smelliest food on earth: it is essentially rotten herring in a can - and is banned from travelling in planes for fear of explosion. Unfortunately (?) it is not the official season to taste fresh surströmming and the vendor discourages us from carrying a can back home in a boat without a fridge. Too bad.

We resort to “normal” marinated herring and ice-creams, which are always good and cheap in Sweden. We also enjoy visiting the tiny chapel from the 16th century, covered with naïve paintings describing harpoon fishing and stages of life. At the time of the Gävle fishermen, there used to be only two services a year in the chapel, performed by an itinerary bishop who wandered along the coast – and was paid in fish only! 

Great historical paintings in the Ulvöhamn chapel

Swans getting speed
Finally sated, we can continue towards our evening stop, 10 nm further in Näske Bay. The sea breeze is drawing out and we alternate motoring and sailing, enjoying the scenery and the bird sanctuary we pass, and racing with some swans.
Näske harbor is mainly occupied by resident boats and it is visibly a good place for winter storage and maintenance. Guests are welcome if there is space, preferably at the end of the pontoons. In July many residents are out and there is space aplenty. The depth is good (6.5m), there is water and electricity (for pay), and dry toilets (and many showers but they may be locked, we haven’t tried). Guests are invited to write their name in a book and deposit 60 SEK in a box.

Finding cash is again an issue: this time we ask for more change when we buy some fresh salmon from the fishfarm next door.

Saltimbanque in Näske, we haven't seen many neighbours

20th July : visiting Skuleskogen National Park

The famous crevasse
This is no coincidence that we took a berth in Näske. We were planning to visit the National Park, where the highest point of the coast is located and whose entrance is but a few kms from the harbors. Today is hiking day! Well-shoed and merry we start on the road, despite the annoying horseflies dwelling around the park and the warm sun. We will walk 28km in the day, in forests, along lakes, on high summits and inside the famous crevasse (which the park is popular for).  
The views are just stunning, the colors so bright under the sun, the landscape yet again different from everything we’ve seen so far. We are happy to have sailed that far North, to this part of the Baltic often overlooked by visitors. 
Astonishing views from the top

These ruins of prehistorical dwellings are now at 22m of height according to our altimeter. Given a yearly raise of 8,5mm and considering the house was built by the sea, you may date the ruins!
Here too the “rebound” is perceptible. Traces of prehistoric campsites are now found at 50m above sea level, which used to be on the beach. 
Back to the harbor we’ll jump directly in the water. It’s bath-time! For the 6 days we will spend in Sweden, we will not see one single shower – and yet we will wash everyday :o) 
Our swedish bathroom

21th July : Näske – Trysunda - Tennviken (20M)
Another warm day without much wind! Let’s continue our tour of the little fishing harbors. Next stop: Trysunda. Part motoring, part sailing, even flying the spinnaker for a short while!

As they can't come alongside, they pile up in a crocodile lane !
The little used-to-be-fishing-now-touristic harbor is very cute and very well-known. The guest pontoon is full at 1pm already. There’s another pontoon deeper in the bay but too shallow for yachts. So we decide to drop the anchor in front of the beach. 7m, sand and rocks. The shelter is not perfect, with some waves coming in when boats pass by – but it’s only for an hour or so. The alternative was, as demonstrated by a Bavaria arriving after us to the full harbor, to moor oneself to the bow of another boat, disembarking right into the cockpit of the boat in the front. A little too intimate for us… 
So we walk the village and we climb to the viewpoint. Yes, it’s nice here too.

Satisfied with this observation, we sail on to the North, still alternating between (some) pure sailing and (a lot of) motoring. We throw buckets of water to each other to cool down in the afternoon sun.

Very cute village of Trysunda, especially with a Saltimbanque in the background

Many islands are bird territories in the surroundings

Thunderstorms are coming up and we are looking for shelter. Looking at the map this morning we identified Tennviken, perfectly sheltered from all winds behind a narrow entrance. 
On Google Earth we noted the presence of a few cabins on the South of the bay. We hope not to disturb holiday-makers too much by anchoring in the middle. But some of them, sitting on their terrace along the channel, give a friendly wave and shout “allez les bleus!” Then as we are sounding the bay to find an appropriate anchoring spot, a man beacons from the shore: “take that buoy there! It’s mine and I don’t use it this summer! Welcome!”

The buoy is strong enough and better sheltered than any anchorage. We are the only yacht in the bay, snuggly tucked between rocks and cabins. Let the thunderstorms come!

Water temperature and position in Tennviken. At the same latitude in the southern hemisphere, we would be only 10 miles from Antarctica...

22nd July : Tennviken (onshore)
It doesn’t blow that hard, but there is thunder and rain. No point in getting out of bed early this morning…

Perfect equipment for the blueberry hunter, protecting both from the rain and the mosquitos!

Once the worst has passed, we set off in the dinghy to explore the North of the bay. There is a forest there – therefore, there are blueberries (and indeed, we’ll pick a full container of big and sweet berries!). As fesh products start to be rare onboard, nature’s treat is always welcome. Today a new surprise: raspberries! The first ripe berries that we see during this trip – and they seem to be thriving just on the shore, between the rocks.

The coastline is still as pretty despite the gray sky. 50 shades of granite. The water is blue and clear, free of the algal blooms that invade parts of the southern archipelagoes.
Laure finds the coastline equally enjoyable from the water, as she goes for a long swim while Camille bakes some pie and bread. Not that bad a day for a weather-standby…
Laure at, or rather in, Tennviken

Evening light...
The storms are gone after 8pm, leaving a clear sky to be enjoyed from the cockpit at dinner. This was a really nice Swedish parenthesis. Tomorrow we will leave early to sail to Finland – for the 3rd time since the start. We can’t seem to stay away from it too long… 

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SuDad - 27/07/2018 16:38:37
Vous soumettez une nouvelle fois vos supporters à une épreuve redoutable, celle de ne pas (trop) se répéter dans les éloges. On a toujours la réaction de s’extasier devant la beauté des photos, de s’amuser des notations pittoresques que vous collectionnez, d’admirer la rigueur des données « techniques », des relevés de navigation. Et aussi des fiches de géographie, qui nous instruisent sur les réalités de ces pays nordiques, dont nous ne percevions que les lieux communs. Votre « Baltic tour » devient une mission culturelle ( !?!...), heureusement émaillée constamment pour vous de préoccupations mer-à-mer et terre-à-terre des plus distrayantes !!!

AUMADATROI - 26/07/2018 19:58:25
De bien beaux petits coins de paradis ! Et en plus de l'eau à 25° !!! Ca donne envie quand même !!!

Mum - 26/07/2018 15:33:54
Merveilles de merveilles on apprend,on rêve et on sourit

la mamou - 26/07/2018 12:59:30
encore tellement magique , qu'il faut bien une ou deux autres lectures d'affilées !!!

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