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Oslo - Copenhagen
-- 13th to 20th May 2018  --
A spirit of summer holidays for our first days heading South, to the doors of the Baltic Sea.

More sunny pictures in our page "Pictures".

289 miles sailed

Our stops, click on the names for more details:
Sandspollen (pontoon on the rock) - Alholmen (anchorage on rock) - Hamnholmen (alongside the rock) - Hälleviksstrand (marina) - Margretheholms (marina)
13th May: Departure, Oslo Killingen - Sandspollen (18 M)
It’s the second time that we set sails and leave onboard of Saltimbanque.

We are bound to compare with last time. Lots of similarities: same crew, same boat, same decision to put our jobs and lives onshore on hold for a while. Our blog looks the same. Maybe out of superstition, we even stick to the day-before routine of eating pizza and watching the Eurovision Song Contest.

But there are some differences too: this trip will be shorter, in more civilized, less exotic places. Our home is waiting for us, we feel like we are going on an extended holiday rather than an adventure. Is that because the plan is less ambitious than last time? If we left for the Atlantic again this time, would we be as excited and anxious as 7 years ago? Maybe not… maybe that’s what they call experience… note to self: remember to learn and be amazed by second times. 

Bybye home berth, see you in 4 months!

The King at the helm!
But enough philosophical thoughts, let’s jump into action. Our escort is waiting for us on the departure line… the King is here too, sailing off just in front of us. We’ll meet him again a few minutes later on the fjord, sailing his beautiful 8R in company of other beautiful “8m classic”. 
No, that wasn’t the King who was waiting for us. It was Romain, sailing his nice cormorant dinghy “Mists of time” just imported from France. We meet South of Fornebu. Onboard is also Fred, the reporter of the hour. Fred has his drone hovering around the two boats while we sail together for an hour or so. Fantastic pictures of Saltimbanque and of the cormorant! Thank you Romain, Fred and Grabiel+le (the kids are also onboard waving goodbye). A wonderful departure!

Our boat seen from outside, a first time for us!

Images from a drone... We had a dedicated "media-man" to cover the departure!!
Finally Saltimbanque tacks while the cormorant bears away and we head off to the South, towards the entrance of the Oslo fjord. The Southerly wind is quick to vanish and we need to call on the engine for the rest of the day. No wind, sailing off-season, hardly anyone on the water … let’s enjoy some nice anchorages! For tonight, we choose a short pontoon against the rock in Sandspollen. Beautiful and very quiet!

First stop, rather bucolic
Once safely moored, we set off to explore the surroundings as we always do. A forested headland bordering the Drøbak Sound. In our pocket, a plastic bag: during this trip, we will pick up all the trash that we will see on our way. The idea is simple: we’ll sail and walk onshore as usual, but instead of ignoring discarded plastic, empty cans and cigarette butts lying around out  - we will pick up and dispose periodically in containers dedicated to that purpose, so they can be appropriately treated as trash.

12L of plastic waste picked up in a few minutes on this beach
So, here we go, on a forest path through the spring flowers until a small creek along the fjord. An old yellow sole of a shoe attracts our attention, we open the plastic bag, pick it up, and start looking around… Impressive operation! On this beach less than 50 meters long, we fill up a 12 L trash bag, in no more than 15min. Old plastic bags, white bits of polystyrene, many pieces of ropes and fishing nets of course – and an astonishing amount of lollipops sticks! Dozens of them! Probably we would not have noticed them if the yellow sole hadn’t caught our sight. We suddenly become aware of our usual blindness, the habit we all have of filtering out what we don’t need or want to see. Like trash lying on the ground. Like all those bits of plastic, shapes and colors that do not belong to this sandy beach. It doesn’t take much to see them. Just a small change of mind, change of habit, to get used again to seeing.

Not all the places are so impressively littered as this small beach washed by the currents of the Oslo fjord. But the realization of tonight motivates us to always keep a bag in our pocket, and pick up what we see. The sea is too beautiful to allow our trash to change its face.  

Total for this first week, 15 litres of plastic waste picked up during the four first days (norwegian and swedish shores)

14th May: Sandspollen - Alholmen (38M)
This will be a very quiet day. In the absence of wind, at least we can try and take advantage of currents. We set off early in the morning to get the tidal stream with us in the Drøbak Straight. Every little helps. Big shining sun and 25° are also welcome to alleviate the boredom of a day motoring. 
One of the small islands in the Oslo fjord, by Moss
We manage to squeeze 1h30 of sailing in the afternoon breeze. When this one dies out, we start searching for a place for the night. Approaching Vesterøy, which we liked so much last summer, we hardly recognize the place: it’s empty! The pink granite coves are all for us! We drop the rear anchor in the water and tie the front to the roundest nicest rock. It was still a good 2m at the rock level. Drinks and snacks with a view from the top of the rocks, enjoying some sea-snails fished on the spot… this trip really feels like holidays!

Luxury of being off-season...

Even in the most remote spots, we always find a very convenient small cabin in the woods :o)

15th May : Alholmen à Hamnholmen (39M)
The weather forecast is talking about more wind today. We enthusiastically hoist the large spinnaker as soon as we are clear of the rocks. Alas, the wind drops soon after and we need to put the spinnaker away and start the engine again.

The spi when it was still flying
Luckily, the wind comes back as we cross the border to Sweden, force 1 to 4, mainly from the West. We try out all combinations of front sails, genoa and spinnakers, before enjoying a long ride at 6 knots with the asymmetrical spinnaker catching fair wind from abeam.

17.02, end of the working day. The wind stops. The engine takes on the night shift. We set course towards the nearest group of rocks to seek shelter for the night. Luckily, rocks are plenty here in our beloved Bohuslän.

The Swedes would go there with eyes closed... we are still wondering what the hell we are doing here !!
No wind, no wave, no pack of boats jammed in the bays. Perfect conditions for a little anchoring challenge. Tonight, we try mooring alongside a rock. The idea is: find a tall, steep rock, come alongside it and tie your bow and rear with mooring lines to the rock (or rather, the bolts conveniently placed in the rocks in the most popular anchorages). You need to spot the bolts, make sure that there is sufficient water depth (checking the maps four times is ok), sail slowly closer to the rock, turn to come alongside it, have an agile crew member quickly jump onshore to fasten the lines around the bolt, and voilà. It sounds simple. Some complications may occur: the rock might be too steep, providing no safe landing to the agile crew member, or not quite as flat as anticipated (be generous in the amount of fenders you choose to decorate your side)… anyways, we’re safely set for the night, with an impressive view of the rock wall out of the cabin window…
Around us, the granite is flowering with sea pink and purple violets … Spring is beautiful in these parts... and mosquitos like it here too !!

The Bohuslän, we love this part of Sweden...
16th May : Hamnholmen – Hälleviksstrand  (31M)

Eiders, very commun birds in the surroundings
4th day of calm conditions, with a small chance of thermal breeze in the afternoon… We leave our natural quay with the engine on and… we continue so heading South for several hours. Off-season the seal population largely outnumbers the human one in the Swedish skjærgård (=archipelago for those who haven’t read the previous articles). We also spot several porpoises and some local kind of ducks: eiders. Same family as the ducks, they have black and white feathers for the males and a common female-duck color for the females, and their beak has a very large base. These eiders use their winter feathers to build their nests. This duvet used to be collected to stuff pillows!

We also spot seals and coromorans...

...but windy breezes are out of sight.
The wind picks up later and less clearly than the day before and coming more from the bow. No fun with the spinnakers today, we slowly sail past the Lysekil bay where Saltimbanque was based for 2 fantastic seasons.
Based on our experience from yesterday, at 5pm sharp we enter in the Skjærgård looking for our port for the night. But the wind keeps on blowing for a little longer today! It is even strong enough to sail through the very narrow channel of Gullholmen, definitively more elegant :o) We have to always imagine the angle at which the wind will blow behind the next rock to anticipate our approach and bring Saltimbanque in one piece onto the harbor of Hälleviksstrand.
Sailing the Gullholmen channel, our small challenge of the day

Known since 1617, this natural harbor tucked between two granite mountain has always been home to a community turned towards the sea. Herring fishing was the first main activity in the 18th century, followed by the establishment of a herring-salting factory. Local farmers were then drawn to the growing business opportunities, and exchanged their vegetables against fish, which they sold on inland. During the 19th century city-folks discovered the beauty of the seascape and the benefits of sea-baths. Holiday homes and bath-houses mushroomed all around the town and up the slopes nearby. Everybody has two houses here: a small wooden cabin (painted in dark red usually) to store fishing equipment, and a main house, big and bright-colored, decorated with a balcony and a veranda. Houses were located on the slopes rather than at sea level, to offer a better view on the fjord and sky (and upcoming storms)  - and to keep all arable land for farming.

Nowadays, there are 200 permanent residents in the village – and a lot more in the summer! (They dimensioned the water heater in the harbor’s showers at the size of the village – as one can read on a note at the entrance. July holidaymakers be warned, your shower might be lukewarm…)

There are 8 visitor berths in Hälleviksstrand, on catways. In May we paid 130 SEK for the night.
17-18 May: Hälleviksstrand - Copenhague (163 M)
Finally some wind ! North-Easterly winds are common here in the spring. It blow up to a gale in the Skagerrak. But since we are sheltered along the Swedish coast and we are going towards the South, this should be just perfect for us, running with the wind and getting some decent speed at last.  

And so we leave early in the morning, hoisting the genoa only, a little furled to cope with the 20-25 knots wind. Saltimbanque is sailing fast and we are getting used to sailing again (apart from the last 4 windless days, we haven’t sailed since last summer…)

Bybye beautiful pink rocks, further horizons are calling us!
We expect the wind to pick up in the afternoon. But on the contrary it drops slowly. We hoist the asymmetrical spinnaker, then we set the pole to the genoa. Back to our favorite configuration in the trade winds: goose wings sailing. For a few minutes only: when the wind picks up we take the mainsail down quickly and furl quite a bit of the genoa. Who said sailing wasn’t a sport…

We’re back to full speed… at least on the water: a frustrating current is slowing us down and limiting our speed over ground to a mediocre 4.5 knots.

The night is trying to fall but doesn’t really succeed. At midnight there is still enough light for us to see the sails and the ropes, which is helpful because the wind has veered and we need to change all the sails again – from genoa to jib and from full main sail to 3 reefs. The stars, unshaken by the windgusts, are placidly looking down to us.

3 am, the light is growing brighter again, reefs are taken and released, the genoa is back in place. In the end we have used all the sails except the largest (symmetrical spinnaker) and the smallest (small jib and storm sail) and we will have exercised all the reefing and hoisting and furling maneuvers. What we have not exercised though, was the watching in shifts to get enough rest…
9 am, we are reaching the Kullen headlands, at the entrance of the Øresund between Sweden and Denmark. The coast seems so green! All leaves are out on the trees, in stark contrast with Oslo where nature was barely shaking off the last trace of snow and hibernation… The seawater has been covered with pollen since we left. We have crossed numerous yellows lines, that were dissolving in our wake. In the Oslo fjord, the water was slightly brownish, full of the mud washed down by melting snow. Since the Swedish border, it is back to a beautiful and transparent blue. All always covered with pollen. Here, in addition, there’s an earthly smell in the air. Don’t be fooled though, we were not there yet! There’s a long 40 miles from the entrance of the Øresund to Copenhagen. And of course, the wind is now blowing in our face, and the current still strong against us…
Saltimbanque plough the sea thick of pollen

Welcome to Danemark!
This last part feels very long indeed. 14 full hours later, we finally reach Copenhagen. We catch a garfish on the way, the first catch of this trip :o)  (the usually abounding Swedish waters have been disappointing this time).

At 6pm on this Friday evening, the Øresund suddenly gets covered with sailboats! End of the working week, the locals swap their suit for their oilies and hit the water for the week-end. This is the kind of cities we like :o)

19 - 20 May: stop in Copenhagen

There are many harbors in the Danish capital. We chose Magretheholms, romantically located between a power plant and some windmills. Approaching by night is feasible but not that easy, both because of the red blinking buoys which can be confused with the red blinking windmills, and because over half of the harbour beacons were unlit. In the harbor boats moor on dolphins at the stern. All places are occupied by resident boats, but a system of red/green cards allows the boat-owners to signal that their berth is free when they go away for a few days. 170 DKK for the night for boats under 12m.

On the to-do list for this stop: small repairs to the engine, in particular to the water exhaust tube which starts to be corroded and leaking since the departure. We repair it with 2 serflex connected together so it is long enough, sikaflex, and tape normally used to make a mast-foot watertight. The chandlery shop is very well stocked, and offers in particular campingaz bottles (butane – while the rest of Scandinavia seems to run on propane…)
We keep some time for tourism too! We were here two summers ago for 24 hours only, and was clearly not enough! Under the sun, this city is even friendlier than in our recollection. We visit the Tivoli Gardens first, the attraction park built in the center of the city celebrates its 175th anniversary. Flowers are in full bloom everywhere, a perfect background for the just-tacky-enough roller-coaters and candy floss stalls. 
From the marina to the city we bike through the former docks

The botanic garden, really beautiful on this season
It’s only a few minutes with the local public bicycles (equipped with an electrical engine and a GPS touchscreen…) to reach the cemetery where the famous Danish writer Hans-Christian Andersen is buried. Cemeteries are always pleasant, green and full of flowers in these parts of the world. But the most bucolic place of all if definitively the very nice botanic garden.

It is very warm (over 28°C in the boat) and the entire population seems to be outside, enjoying the sun, drinking beer and chatting. Kids play in the public fontains, all parks are packed with disposable barbecues and skittles. The tourists have picked the iconic Nyhaven and its famous colorful facades while the locals enjoy their beer on the terrasses of the hipster district of Nørrebro.

Iconic places make iconic pictures...
This concludes our first week, spent cruising familiar waters. South and East of Copenhagen, Saltimbanque never went. The straight between Copenhagen and Malmö also marks the official entrance to the Baltic Sea. Let the adventure begin! 

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Your messages:

Sylvia - 29/05/2018 22:31:07
It's very interesting to read about your new adventures and enjoy the pictures. It sounds like a good start of your journey. And thanks for taking the effort to translate it all! Keep enjoying and I look forward to a new blog.

SuDad - 26/05/2018 17:42:19

Souvent relancé (si si) pour découvrir vos derniers commentaires et images, je comprends pourquoi. Comme jadis sur l'Océan, on retrouve le ton alerte, les détails qui illustrent bien l'environnement, les clins d'oeil qu'on a plaisir à cueillir au passage. Pour les mordus de mer, il y a même les détails techniques. Ca risque de finir dans "Voiles & Voiliers" tout ça, moi je dis.
Vos récits, comme lors de la grande traversée, sont euphorisants. C'est vacances pour tout le monde. On peut se frotter les mains: vous allez nous faire voyager, dans les semaines à venir. En priant les dieux de la rose des vents.
Bon plaisir !!!

Marcello... - 26/05/2018 10:27:10
c’est tout bon de vous lire !!! mais cela justifie des préparatifs sérieux !! tout d'abord, une bassine d'eau... froide avec du gros sel dedans, pour "faire" la mer.... un ventilo pour "faire" le vent.... une lampe torche dans les yeux pour "faire"le soleil... et, j'ai ressorti une vieille couronne de galette des rois pour "faire si je croise le roi".... et bien sur, un panel d'habits adaptés au différentes conditions météorologiques !!! une cassette de cris de goelands.... et voguent les rêves!!! profitez bien de vous... brise de terre.... pardon...bises de terre !!!

AUMADATROI - 25/05/2018 11:03:21
De retour de ma balade portugo-galicienne je jis avec délice votre narration ! Merci les filles !!!

la mamou - 24/05/2018 16:19:12
Jolie lecture depuis l'aéroport de Lanzarote où nous attendons notre vol !

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