RoRC Report from the Baltic

RoRC Report from the Baltic

OCC Roving Rear Commodore Andrew Curtain reports on how to plan a trip to Scandinavia while in lockdown.

By - 25/05/2020

These are challenging, dreadful times. Cruising for pleasure seems so insignificant when compared to the personal tragedies in countries that many of us have visited by sail. With this unprecedented viral pandemic, I never thought that we would ever fly a Q flag for genuine Free Practique. With weeks before the beginning of the season, it is impossible to plan any extended cruise. Who knows if visiting yachts will be made welcome?

The Baltic region is no exception. Travel is restricted because all countries are affected by the Coronavirus. As yet there is no time limit to this and at the time of writing, Denmark has closed its borders. Even if one’s yacht is based in or close to the Baltic, boatyards must be sorely pressed and launch dates may be unpredictable in this area with a short season although our yard, Broderna Martinssons, tells us that launching will be on schedule. 

This year we had planned to cruise Poland and the Baltic States, but what can one do now? Therapy, while imprisoned in quarantine at home, is to enjoy virtual planning, looking at cruising guides and charts. Recommendations include:

  • The Baltic Sea and Approaches, 2017, Royal Cruising Club
  • Norway Pilot – Oslo to North Cape and Svalbard,  Imray
  • Landsort – Skanör pilot book.

This covers the coastal area of the whole of the Swedish southern coast from Landsort to Skåne, a total of 400 nautical miles. It also includes the island of Öland, the Danish islands of Bornholm and Christiansø, plus the Göta Kanal and the largest lake, Vättern.

(If fortunate to be close to the southern tip of Sweden at Midsummer, I would recommend a visit to Skanör to see the Gåsaloppet (Goose Race) which is celebrated at noon. Teams of six residents run through the streets of the Old Town. The team is all connected through a shared set of "skis" and it would seem that sobriety is poor form.}

The guide of choice has to be the Hamnguiden series of 9 volumes which cover the coastline of Sweden, the Gota Canal and larger lakes in detail. It is illustrated and has English translations.

Navigation in all areas can be tricky. We hit a rock last year and were told to expect this sometime. I would strongly recommend using paper charts as well as plotter because crosschecking some plotter positions with the chart sometimes shows error. There is no place for such, particularly in bad weather. All countries, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland produce handy packs of charts for leisure use.

All of the above can be easily bought online. The Swedish chandlery, Nautiska sells cruising guides and charts for all of Scandinavia.  One should join the Swedish Cruising Association who produce a number of guides for Scandinavia. They provide many mooring buoys for members in remote but picturesque locations which can be seen by following this link.

So, there is much one can do. I send a couple of pictures from better times in hope of encouraging members to visit this remarkable cruising area.

Finally, I send a present to the readers. A sublime trio from a Glyndebourne production of Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutti where two ladies see their boyfriends off over the horizon. (its more complicated than that, but who cares).  They are wishing them Soave il Vento, “ may the winds blow softly”. We are in troubled waters at present so may I wish members calm seas and gentle winds. Stay well and be safe. 

Photo: Grisholm Castle, Lake Malsren near Stockholm

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