This entry is published with some delay due to limited progress on our sailing adventures, the time consuming research regarding the Norwegian entry requirements and limited data availability. Alas as you may already know we had to give up on our ambitions to sail Norway and the UK (this time around) and decided to head south instead. The last couple of weeks we have been focused on our journey to the Netherlands (more on this in log 5). This log is all about our time in Kosterhavet – we can’t recommend this place enough.
After visiting the beautiful Sannäsfjord we sailed further north towards Strömstad, which is the last larger border city/town to Norway, laying just about 10km south of the border and is surrounded by numerous little islands and fjords.
The friendly welcoming people of Strömstad were a wonderful addition to our otehrwise somewhat lonely and isolated last couple of weeks. During that time we’d hardly seen other boats or people, which led us to include Kai in our discussions. But also making some further progress on our blog, so read read and read.
In total we visited Strömstad 4 times, during which we did shopping and laundry, while also picking up some packages, including a repaired larger camera lens, which will hopefully allow us to catch some better snaps of the wildlife.
In between the harbour visits we did explore the unique surroundings in Kosterhavet. Although the weather wasn’t as spectacular as the surroundings, we still managed to catch some sun and enjoy the fascinating nature of narrow fjords with plenty of forests. The area offers plenty of docking and anchoring opportunities within a very small distance, making it a small sailing paradise, with lots of fish and marine life. We discovered the following highlights.
Koster islands: Sweden’s only marine national park. These scattered islands just of the coast offer plenty of small cosy harbours, but also some very cosy yet scary docking and anchoring options. The main islands provide for some beautiful hikes, runs, or bike rides through nature with forest and rocks. The outer small islands, some of which are prohibited for anchoring, are home to plenty of seabirds, seals and other marine life.
We were lucky to find the most idyllic anchorage between the rocks (58°51.641’N 10°59.952’E, if you are ever visiting the Koster islands) and to have a bob of seals as our next door neighbours. The Koster islands are ideal for stand-up paddle boarding, we had a lovely time paddling in between the many rocks and it’s a great way to come a bit closer to the wildlife – maybe too close? Pernille accidentally startled a poor seal paddling over a shallow rock – and the seal in return startled Pernille with a big splash to the point where she almost went for an impromptu dup in the cold water. Although a bit of a dramatic introduction the seal seemed curious about us strange creatures and proceeded to follow us around for a bit. In Kosterhavet the animals come first. It’s estimated that around 2500 seals live here (it’s Sweden’s largest seal colony) and there are seal islands, where we humans are not allowed to go. The pictures below are therefore taken with quiet a bit of zoom from our anchorage. As much as we want to see wildlife, we’re still very respectful of the animals and the fact that here we’re guests in their home.
We also went for a little bit of #beachcleanup. Kosterhavet is such a beautiful national marine park, which the locals here are very proud and protective of. So it is heartbreaking to see the amount of plastic (especially fishing nets) washing up on shore despite the constant effort to keep it clean. After our little cleanup, one of the park boats happen to pass by full of happy/proud people that had just collected a massive amount of rubbish. Unfortunately, most areas will not be cleaned professionally, so it’s up to us sailors to contribute. After all it really does feel good to have some sort of positive impact – even if you just collect a handful of debris.
Öddö- Paradiset : Spectacular nature and plenty of docking options, all within an hour from the harbour of Strömstad. This spot offers plenty of hiking options and we enjoyed lovely long walks with Kai, followed by even longer de-ticking sessions for the dog . Leo spend about 4 hours one day on the SUP catching 3 horn fish, only followed by a 2 min attempt the next day catching a 2,5kg sea trout. Although super tasty it started some serious and deep discussions about fishing, however Leo mostly fails in catching anything and if he does catch a fish he makes sure nothing gets wasted, which makes Kai super happy.
Fjord to the North of Strömstad aka “The Creepy Fjord” : just a couple of miles north and in eyesight of Norway is another longer fjord. We never managed to find out what it’s called, but it was a spectacular sail; steep walls and narrow patches, with lots of forest – quite similar to the Oslo fjord – and Leo also had a jolly old time wing foiling with the funnelling winds through the fjord. However a closer visit to its shores revealed a somewhat sadder picture – lots and lots of rubbish, so much that it really affected our otherwise splendid mood and we only stayed two days. We hope during the summer months, ambitious citizens will find the power to clean some of it, as it is a truly remarkable place.
We also found the place to be a bit creepy. Our first night in a very remote little picturesque bay was disturbed when Leo came back from a walk with Kai on the beach. Not only had he found lots of rubbish, but right on a rock a metal printed picture of a young boy – nothing more. We did try to find some info about it and what had happened to the boy without any luck, we hope nothing tragic happened, but it made us feel very uncomfortable. A similar feeling creeped up on us at the next anchorage, where plenty of rubbish and some abandoned cabins reminded us of Chernobyl (500m away people were living in a small village but still).
By now you probably think we are nuts, you might not be far off, but anyway it was kind of weird. Probably just because of the season, in summer everything is probably full of life and people, giving a much better vibe. Please don’t miss a sail into that fjord it’s spectacular.