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Around Skagerrak
-- 15 to 29 July 2017  --
Finally a very classical trip for summer holidays here, wandering along the Norwegian "rivieria", then crossing to Sweden which remains the favorite playground of local sailboats. No long navigations this time, but a multitude of tiny anchorages all cuter than the previous ones.

For more beachy scandinavian pictures, let's visit our page "Pictures".

400 miles sailed

Our stops, click on the names for more details:
Vollen (marina) - Drøbak (marina) - Vallø (marina) - Malmøy (anchorage) - Portør (anchorage) - Arendal (port) - Hunnebostrand (marina) - Fjällbacka (marina) - Väderöarna (anchorage) - Alevikilen (anchorage) - Brevik (port) - Kuvauen (anchorage) - Seiløy (anchorage)Hankø (mooring buoy)
15 July: Oslo Killingen – Vollen (11 M)
It blows hard on that first day of holidays, we will get straight into the swing of things... Whatever the sun shines, the boat is full of food, we hoist up the jib and a main sail much reefed  and head to the South, beating against the wind of course.

The wind picks up more and more, as well as the sea which is surprisingly high for being in the end of the Oslo fjord. It definitively swings hard today !
We quickly arrive in the small harbour of Vollen, which is well sheltered from the southerly wind. So ok, we can still see the hills over Oslo from the harbour, but we left !

Bybye Killingen, this is holiday time !
16 July : Vollen – Drøbak (14 M)

Islands around Drøbak
The day after, surprise! The wind and the sea have totally calmed down!  The boat slowly - very slowy- glides all sail up in between the islands covered with pine trees...

Our objective today: position ourselves South of the Drøbak straight where the wind funnels in and where the current flowing towards the North becomes very strong in case of southerly gale. We tack and tack slowly in between the islands, then a bit less slowly as the wind comes back and speeds up in the narrow channels.
We arrive at the Oscaborg fortress, and have just a few miles left before Drøbak. When having a closer look at the chart, we realise that the fjord is almost entirely blocked by an artificial wall hardly 1m under the water!! The fortress is well protected... There are only 2 very narrow channels, well marked with red and green beacons.

Once on the other side of the wall, it's just straight to the guest harbour of Drøbak, a charming sunny town, with flowery streets and delicious ice creams!

The beautiful flowery streets of Drøbak
17 July : Drøbak - Vallø (31 M)

The danish-like shore around Tønsberg
Last day of the Southerly gale, we hope to progress as much as possible toward the exit of the fjord but without being too exposed to the wind. Finally we will have an extremely varying wind, from 2-reefs-3rd-reef-ready in the Drøbak fjord to genoa-all-main-sail from time to time. The conditions in the fjord are always very instable and the wind arrives in puffs...

After a few hours manoeuvering, that's it, we can see the open sea on the horizon! But it will be for tomorrow, for now we turn right and enter Vallø, right by Tønsberg.

Short walk along the fjord to finish the day. Surprisingly the shore is very flat, scattered with reeds, shallow beaches where small round rocks grow. It almost looks like Denmark!

18 July : Vallø - Malmøy (35 M)
That's it the gale is finally over and the conditions become manageable outside of the fjord. Even extremely manageable. Even rather calm. Even very calm.
We take advantage of them to sneak in between the granite islands in the South-West of the Oslo fjord, these archipelagos that are named « Skjærgård » here, litteraly field of rocks. More wooded that in Sweden, they are scattered with «hyttes», these wooden-cabins-holiday-houses that the Norwegians love. The light is fantastic early in the morning on the quiet sea...

… VRAOOOOOOOMMMM ….. VRAOOOOOMMM ….. 9h30, the locals are awake and they rush to the islands in their big power boats that go fast, smell bad and create waves... But where are the sail boats ?? We feel a bit in minority here...

The crumbs of the Oslo fjord in its SW end

The conditions now allow us to hug the rocks!
We arrive on the island called Ildverket where we moor along a small wooden pontoon fixed directly on the granit. The water is crystal clear, the small beach is full of sea snails, the island is very beautiful with a breathtaking view over the entry of the fjord. But the waves generated by our friends with big engines make the quay very uncomfortable.

We just stay long enough for a short walk - swim - lunch, just long enough to admire the good organization of the natural park here: the "bin barge" comes to pick up the garbage while the youngsters from the nearby village come to sell ice creams from their rib.
The South-Westerly wind picks up again, let's head to the open sea ! We get definitively outside of the Oslo fjord when we pass the famous lighthouse of Færder, and head to the West. Towards the Larvik fjord and its small islands. We have picked the island of Malmøy and its anchorage place hidden in a perfectly round bay. We reach it in the sunset light, the anchor falls on the ground and Laure can finally jump in the water to have a Saltimbanque special shower. Not bad...

The famous Færder lighthouse, at the opening of the Oslo fjord

First anchorage of the holidays !

19 July : Malmøy - Portør (32 M)
Quiet day, program "exploration of the Norwegian waters". The wind very kindly turns to the South-South-East before falling down and we can progress under asymetrical spinneaker for the entire morning. The the engine replaces the spi as the wind gives its last breath at noon.

Never mind, we soon enter the rocky maze (Skjærgård if you are following well) of Kragerø where the channels will soon be too narrow to sail anyway. And indeed we are heading to a beautiful wooded island. But where is the channel ?? In the island. In the island ??!! We get closer and discover a tiny crack in the famous island, but with about 10m depth and same in width, it's large enough for us !

The experience is quite close to our kayaking trips, we have the feeling of sailing in a mountain lake! On the port side pines, on starboard a high cliff. But we are hardly a few miles from the open sea...

Saltimbanque sneaks in the maze of Kragerø

Laure has her special way to enjoy the anchorage
For the night, we have spotted a complex of many big round rocks in Portør where we would like to try a Baltic-style anchorage, an anchor on the stern and a mooring line from the bow to a small piton hammered on the rock.

The place is well known, most of the best spots are busy. We try various places during more than 1 hour: here there is not enough water, there not enough room, here a side current which makes the anchorage uncertain. Disappointed we head to the neighbouring bay and anchor "på svai", which is a classical anchorage with the anchor on the bow. Actually we have more freedom to shower in the cockpit!


20 July: Portør - Arendal (32 M)
Departure early in the morning, we get out of the rocks by the South pass. And as soon as we have a bit of free water, the spi is hoisted up! The wind has veered to the East North East, direction that will not change for the next 10 days.

Close to paradisiac navigation, wearing shorts and T-shirts under sun and spi, mackerels bite on our line, and we have over 1 knot of current with us. The mountains over Kragerø now make room for a lower shore line which could make us think of our beloved Brittany, far far away...

We leave the surfacing rock on our port, the pole on starboard, and we are out!

Baltic forest and anchorage
Hardly time for lunch and here we are, north of the island of Tromøya, where we enter the Skjærgård (ah no, we are not translating any longer). The wind funnels in the narrow channel in between the island and the continent and we sail happily, pushed by the wind with only the genoa. The channel is very - very - busy. It is bordered by many "hytte", then actual houses, and finally a full shipyard ! We are the only ones under sail power, good old feeling of driving a Peugeot 205 on the highway!

It's a bit early to arrive in the big city of Arendal, we have noticed on the guide a small island with vertical rocks and pitons to try again a Baltic-style anchorage. Victory, this time is the good one : Laure drops the anchor on the stern and gives the strap holding it to Camille, who slowly brings the boat close to the rock while controlling the tension on the anchor strap. In the meanwhile, Laure has gone to the bow and checks that the sea bottom doesn't get too shallow. 3m to the rock, 2m, 1m, 50cm, hop, Laure has jumped onshore with the rope and Camille, staring the echosounder, stops the boat by pulling on the stern anchor. Perfect, full success !! One must be relaxed about touching the sea bottom a bit though, we rarely have more than 10cm under the keel at the critical moment of disembarking from the bow. Controlling the speed is key.
Perfect, we enjoy a small walk on the island and a coffee before continuing towards Arendal. To our outmost surprise, the guest harbour is full, mostly with big power boats (the model "Skagen", see our article from summer 2016). We try our luck in the old harbour of Pollen, and pick a spot alongside an old racing boat long and narrow like a cigar.

The weather will get worse and the wind blow hard during the night, we are ready for sleeping late...

Nice wooden boat in a regatta in the middle of the channel
21-22 July: Arendal - Hunnebostrand (109 M)

Nice weather on Arendal before departure...
As planned, the weather is not great. And actually it is worse further South: the Easterly wind is accelerated in between the Southern tip of Norway and the North of Denmark. So we have decided not to sail further along the Norwegian shore and rather cross directly to Sweden.

Well, directly... the wind blows obstinately from the East, and we are going, well right towards the East indeed... It's not going to be that direct actually...

Icing on the cake, the visibility is rather limited and the weather pretty wet. We get out of Arendal in between the rocks of the Southern islands, then heading to the North-East, beating against the wind. The gale is not that far away and we are sailing fast with 2 reefs on the main and the jib. We even need to get the main sail down temporarily as the wind seriously picks up under a cloud a bit darker than the others.
Despite the sporty conditions, our speed over the ground is desperatly slow... the great current which hepled us so much the day before is still here, and contrarily to our good old tide streams, it doesn't intend to change direction soon ! We are then full speed over the surface... at hardly 3 knots over the ground...

But as expected, the wind finally drops a bit (veering even more right in our face, we can't have it all...), we hoist all sails up and tack, now heading to Denmark. The sky gets clearer and we can almost see stars during the 2 long hours of darkness of this late July "night".

The sun rise is as beautiful and peaceful as this night offshore...
We tack again in the morning. We haven't fully decided our final destination: either we take the option "more miles for Saltimbanque" and go to visit Göteborg, or we take the option "let's discover the Swedish Skjærgård" and we land just north of Smögen that we already visited last year.

Mode fine tuning the spi and drying out clothes
Around 11am, the wind drops totally and we hesitate under engine power for a few hours in between the 2 options. And the warm sun and South-Easterly wind (yes coming from Göteborg indeed) make us decide for anchorages in the Skjærgård. The wind picks up slowly from abeam and we jump the asymetrical spi like never, our racing friends would be jealous: halyard, tack and sheet and hop let's go ! Well, 10 minutes later the wind refuses a lot and bah, we take the spi down...
The Skjærgåd approaches, here there is no tree, only pink granite islands. It's fantastic... And we have finally found out were all the norwegian sail boats were hiding! These neighbours are less of a nuisance and we zigzag peacefully in between these amazing round rocks until the port of Hunnebostrand.

So yes we love Norway, our residence country, but you can't deny that this Swedish coast really has something special...

Hunnebostrand, Sweden :o)


23 July: Hunnebostrand – Fjällbacka (14M)

A windy Skjærgård today...
We have chosen the option few-miles-many-anchorages, it's time to execute the plan! Off we go sailing in the rocks. The wind is pretty strong from the shore: we soon reach 6,5 knots, a bit ambitious for piloting in the rocky maze, but what crazy sensations !!
A few surfs "shaving the rocks" later, we enter in Glupö, an achorage place which looks perfectly well sheltered from Easterly winds. First observation: everyone had the same idea ! Second observation: not so well sheltered the anchorage place !! No available rock, we drop the anchor from the bow and enjoy a quick swim in uncomfortable gusts.

Laure swims far away as usual, wearing her swimming glasses to watch the numerous jellyfishes that share the sea with us this year. When back onboard, she looks worried:
"Tell me, is that a natural reserve here ?"
"Eeerrr no, replies a perplexed Camille. Why that ?"
"For this!" Laure replies, offloading the clams she harvested and cautiously bought back inside her bathing suit !!
We didn't know what to cook for lunch!

View from the anchorage

Fjällbacka: the marina, the skjærgård, the sea...
Direction Fjällbacka for the night, a very picturesque little port, but once again... it is well known! The view from the top of the hill is definitively worth the night in the marina and its exorbitant price (350 SEK, that is close to 35 euros...)

24 July : Fjällbacka - Alevikkilen (23M)
We wake up at dawn on that morning, we want to visit the small islands of Väderöarna, 8NM offshore. Yes but the harbour is said to be the tiniest possible, we then have to be the first there !

Very quiet departure running with the wind, greeted by a small seal who happened to be here. We sail way slowlier than the day before, which allows us to fish and ensure enough mackerel for lunch. In these very fishy waters, we always catch our lunch in less than 15 minutes when our speed is compatible.

Beautiful Swedish rocks

Barbecue and a great achorage
Arrival in the archipelago under a rather grey sky, people on the jetty do large gestures to organize the entrance into the minuscule harbour: it is so narrow that even Saltimbanque can't U-turn inside. But it is before all only for those who wants to spend the night inside, and we prefer the other bay neighbouring the harbour. No choice we have to anchor the Baltic way, wind from the back which is not very comfortable: we are only holding on the stern anchor. Fortunately it's only 2,5m deep an perfect sandy bottom, the anchor holds very well. We are very proud of our nice manoeuvre :o) We satisfy our - recurrent - fantasy of grilled mackerel on our barbecue in front of our boat anchored on a rock !
The archipelago is absolutely stunning, even with this grey sky the water is turquoise-blue. The walk over the hills shows ancient carved inscriptions on the granite, as well as the ruins of a tiny place of worship. That's a memorable stopover!

Getting out of the archipelago against the wind is way less funny, and will require all the obstinacy of a well fit Junior to get us out of there. As soon as we can bear away, we glide beating against the wind towards the North and the next Skjærgård. How peaceful to sail silently in between the rocks...

Carved inscriptions and view over the harbour

Game: find the tropical fish and the camel head
The channel becomes very narrow and we are totally sheltered from the wind. Never mind we can finish with the engine. Rural option tonight: we head to a fjord inland. The bare rocks slowly become wooded rocks, then forests, and finally meadows. To find the bay, very simple: let the cows on your port, the sheeps on starboard, and avoid the isolated danger marked by its debonair heron.

Once in the bay itself, it's incredibly quiet! We don't dare speaking and we whisper that it is beautiful... Not a wrinkle on the surface, the reflections in the water mirror show a kaleidoscope of fantastic animals...


25 July : Alevikkilen - Brevik (16M)
Today, direction the famous Koster islands, very touristic place. We have noticed a harbour a bit more isolated than the others on the South coast, and we leave once again at dawn hoping to arrive early enough to find an available berth.

The navigation is just magical, early in the morning on flat waters, silently sailing in between the pink rocks... memorable. Once out of the Skjærgård, a short leg under asymetrical spi brings us closer to the rocks south of the island. They are home to numerous colonies of seals, cormorants, and for the first time since we left the Channel... gannets :oD

Seals, cormorants and... THE gannet our favourite

Fishing cabins in Brevik's harbour
Then we enter in the rocky maze South of the islands. Sailing, then motoring when it becomes too narrow and facing the wind. Last rock, and we are reaching on a direct course to the small harbour. Miracle, a mast seems to be on the move behind the jetty. The departure is soon confirmed as the hull is getting out of the port: there is a free berth ! But behind us the competition rushes too, at 5-6 knots under their powerful engines... So we push a bit harder on Junior, and hoist all our sails up to help. It's a tight race but we are first in! Haul down all sails quickly, find the recently freed berth, plouf the stern anchor sinks and hop the mooring lines in the bow are attached on the quay, VICTORY !
We can then walk around the island. We don't know what to expect, the place is rather posh, ultra known by the Norwegians who own a cabin here when they don't come with their boat (we are close to being the only "non-Norwegian" boat of the harbour...)

And finally we really like the island. Stunning shore, rocks of course but also long white sand beaches bordered with reeds. The shallow water is very clear, with fantastic colours. There is no car on the islands which has a holiday-feeling which reminds us Vendee in France from time to time. Out of the 2 large marinas, indeed totally packed, the island is quite and very pleasant.

Colours of Koster islands
We get back to our spared port of Brevik far from the crowds. We are very pleased we chose this harbour with dry toilets and without infrastructures. The laid back atmosphere fits us well, especially with such a nice sun set...

26 July : Brevik - Kuvauen (23M)
The forecast hesitates between near gale or flat calm for the coming days, and we start sailing up North not to be too far from Oslo is the bad weather gets confirmed.

Departure against the wind, in between the seal colonies. We also spot a porpoise, kind of small dolphin which unfortunately doesn't come and play along the boats.

Saltimbanque crosses the Norwegian border
Arriving on the Norwegian border, materialized by a series of yellow buoys. We have paid attention not to carry more alcohol than the allowed duty free quota, as we are actually getting out of the European Union and controls are said to be frequent.

Direction the island of Vesterøy, and small crack in the rock open to the south-west but that should be well sheltered from this Northerly wind. The entrance is a bit narrow, but thanks to the application "gulesider.no" we have access to all the numerical charts on our mobile phone, with the boat position thanks to the GPS in the telephone. So it is indeed less elegant than alignments, but it's damned efficient.

When entering the anchorage place, we think we recognize a blue Oceanis 339 with a solar pannel in the back stay... a Norwegian... As soon as the anchor hits the ground, we inflate the tender and approach them, to ask a shy "weren't you in Cape Verde and Tobago a few years ago ?" ... and they were there !!! This is LaVie, close to whom we were anchored in Sal, Sao Nicolau and Tobago. After our routes separated and they tell us their adventures in Cuba, New York, Newfoundland, Greenland and Iceland around a drink in their cockpit like in good old times...

January 2012, LaVie anchored in Pirate Bay, Tobago

July 2017, LaVie anchored in Kuvauen, Norway... How unlikely...
In between 2 social dinners we walk the rocky moors around. Fantastic landscape again, of grey granite this time, and pines which manage to grow in any small crack, like the "dune carnations" home. Except for a few lost cabins and some little activity on the beaches, it's desert, just the norwegian mineral nature.

Rock, dwarf pines, and a few anchored boats... a norwegian happiness

Sunset on Kuvauen
A magical place, almost alone, 3 red fishermen cabins from the 19th century add a touch of colour in this mineral universe. A great moment...

27 July : Kuvauen - Seiløy (3M)
The near-gale seems to stay away from us. We can then enjoy the beautiful desert islands in the entrance of the Oslo fjord. Right now it's very calm, and it rains...

Short navigation from the south to the north of the island, Seiløy and it's maze of big rocks. Once again it's narrow, but beautiful! We find a perfect spot on a nice round rock. The weather is not the best, but we explore the place in the tender and try fishing a bit.

Back onboard, the weather gets worse and the wind turns around in the squalls. That's too much for our stern anchor which drags and have us leave to the middle of the bay for a classical bow-anchor night. 5m of chain is a bit limit, we have upgraded the system with 5 extra meters of chain since then and we have less problems.

We have become almost experts in baltic style anchorages !
28 July : Seiløy - Hankø (7M)

From left to right: Saltimbanque, Norge the boat of the King (and alongside his 8mR is you look closely), and our friend's Yngling
The near-gale won't happen, we have time to pay a visit to one of our friend who has a hytte nearby, close to the island of Hankø. The wind had veered South-West though and we sail fast.

We enter the channel of Hankø, in between the island and the contient. We are not alone, the king and his big ship are also here. We grab the mooring buoy that our friend lends us and study the royal ship, Norge. The king is an enthusiastic sailor and comes to take part in the world cup for 8mR which will happen here soon. His beautiful SIRA is brought alongside the flag ship.

Nice show! We get to the shore to spend the evening on the top of the rocky hills with our friends, our first experience in a Norwgian hytte !

29 July: Hankø – Oslo Killingen (48M)
Already the end of the holidays... After 10 days of North Easterly wind, we are very pleased to see it turning to the South again, promising a fast and direct sail back home.

Very beautiful islands at first in a rather fantastic stormy light. Then the navigation becomes a bit repetitive. Moss and the fast ferries to avoid, then the Drøbak fjord, then Drøbak islands, and at last the Oslo waters and our home port.

Direct indeed, but long. A bit of cleaning and we can get back home... by bike !

Back to the end of the fjord in stormy lights

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