Report of RoRC Ernie Godshalk from the Baltic

Report of RoRC Ernie Godshalk from the Baltic

Ernie Godshalk (Baltic) Golden Eye – A bit more background from prior cruises in Sweden:

By Ernie Godshalk - 17/07/2018

The island of Gotland, with its beautiful Hanseatic walled town, Visby, is located 50 miles off the east coast and 100 miles south of Stockholm. Gotland is strategically located in the center of the Baltic and has a long history with many changes in sovereignty and extensive trade as far as the Mediterranean. Even today, Swedes are concerned about Russian occupation. Visby has an attractive yacht harbor and many tourist attractions ashore.

The Swedes are enthusiastic hosts, and we have made many friends on both coasts, in particular the officers of GKSS and KSSS. GKSS and KSSS are particularly welcoming with friendly staff and excellent facilities in Gothenburg, Marstrand, Saltsjöbaden and Sandhamn. An invitation to a private sauna can be a special treat, followed by a quick swim. A guest sometimes joins in splitting wood for the blazing sauna stove.

Summer weather, especially on the east coast, is generally fair, with occasional strong winds especially on the west coast. We had great sailing for most of this last summer and in prior summers in Sweden. Air temperatures are usually ~20ºC. Water temperatures reach 15-18ºC on the west coast and 20ºC on the east coast, so, swimming, even without being preceded by a hot sauna, is not uncommon – many Swedes in fact swim every morning year around.

Careful navigation is essential on both coasts. There are far more hazards than nav aids, so, it is important to have good charts and know where the boat is at all times. In some areas clearly marked on the charts, such as the Stockholm Archipelago, soundings are incomplete, and further care is requisite. It is rumored that author has “found” rocks in unexpected places.

Racing is highly competitive on both coasts. GKSS and KSSS sent several top sailors to the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The 1977 America’s Cup boat, Sverige, was sponsored by GKSS and members of its North American Station. A major annual race, the ÅF Offshore Race (formerly known as Gotland Runt or Round Gotland Race), starts in downtown Stockholm with a 50,000+ audience ashore and ends two or three days later in Sandhamn.

Sweden’s boat building tradition has produced many beautiful and long-lived boats, including the classic “skerry cruisers.” These are mostly long, low, narrow bullets of brightwork but also include outstanding Sparkman and Stephens designs.

Two important considerations for some members cruising in Europe are: 1) The “Schengen Agreement,” which limits citizens of some countries, such as the US, to 90 days in the previous 180 days in the Schengen countries (essentially the EU countries plus/minus); and 2) potential liability for value-added tax on your boat it if remains in the EU for 18 months.

So far in 2018, Golden Eye has spent a month in the Stockholm archipelago in spectacular weather and is presently bound into the Finnish lakes via Saimaa Canal (Russian waters), St. Petersburg and back to Stockholm for the winter of 2018-19. I was delighted to meet Tom Tigerstedt, PO, SW Archipelago (photo), Åland Islands (see photo) and hope to renew friendship with Max Ekholm, POR Helsinki before meeting Vladimir Ivankiv, POR, St. Petersburg, who has arranged our visit to St. Petersburg, and to meet Mike Westin, POR Stockholm upon return to that area later this summer.

I look forward to meeting members in, or discussions with members about, this region.

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