Sailing the south coast of Sweden, part three: Ystad to Skönviken
We got off to an early start — 8.15- – from Ystad. Our goal was to arrive at Simrishamn, another marina that doesn’t have many places for larger boats. We wanted to arrive by 15.00 at the very latest. Fortunately, we had wind blowing from the right direction at between 12-16 knots. Enough to cross the 33 nautical miles before the crowds arrived.
The marina in Simrishamn is a bit unusual in that you need to read the signs indicating the depth in each part of the marina. Closest to land it’s 1 meter, then a sign states 1,6 meters, then 2 meters, etc. If you just go for a vacant berth without reading the signs, you could go aground.
The side of the pontoon with the white Danish boat is marked as having a depth of 1.6 meters along its entirety. Where we are, it’s 2 meters and at the end, it’s 2.5 meters
Luckily, we arrived just after 15.00. The crowds (mostly German and Danish boats) began coming in at 16.00. You may be thinking, “why all the worry about getting a berth – why don’t you just raft up to another boat”. Well, its mostly because of the dog. We don’t think our old dog would be able to jump onto another boat, since most boats either don’t have a mid-ship gate or would leave it up (this is happened to us). You also can’t be sure that the boat being rafted is dog-friendly. They could be allergic — or have a cat onboard! The final reason is that the average size boat in Scandinavia is perhaps 40 feet and weighs 10 tonnes. Freja weighs 27 tonnes fully tanked, so her size and the displacement scare most other boat owners – and they’ve flat out said no, you can’t reef up to us. The only boat that ever said “OK, but we need to leave early tomorrow morning” was a Westerly 49 when we were in the Bristol Marina.
Simrishamn is a colourful, picturesque coastal town that becomes a popular summer resort town in the summer. The beautiful white sand beaches in the area between Ystad and Kivik, just north of Simrishamn, attract thousands on tourist each year. This area is called Österlen.
One of the colourful townhouses in Simrishamn
The centre of town begins at the fishing harbour. From there you’ll find a pedestrian street lined with shops and restaurants. The areas on either side of the pedestrian street are residential and you’ll find colourful one and two-storey townhouses and cobblestone streets. It’s worth a walk with your camera.
The pedestrian street begins at the fishing harbour
The pedestrian street is lined with restaurants, cafés and ice cream shops.
Unfortunately, we arrived too late to get a table. Everyone was out and about on this warm June evening.
The complementary pastel colours on these townhouses are lovely
A look into one of the townhouse windows
Simrishamn Marina Info:
The marina office opens only on appointment (07.00-09.00 and 14.00-16.00).
Marina prices (2016): 200 SEK during high season (June, July, August) and 135 SEK during low season. You pay the marina fee at the automat (takes credit cards only). You can also buy a Tallycard smart card for electricity here and “fill it up” . Money on the card that isn’t used will be refunded when you return the card to the machine. It will just swallow the card and give you your cash!
- Showers and toilets are included in the price.
- Note: there is no Wifi here
- Contact: 0414-81 92 02 or 0414-81 92 17 Mobile: 0709-819202
Simrishamn to Hällevik
Most sailors who spend the night in Simrishamn will make the traverse over the Bay of Hanö to Utklippan. That’s because they’re in a hurry to work their way up to the east coast archipelago which begins just before the town of Oscarshamn. Since we weren’t in a hurry we decided to sail north and explore the coast north of the bay. Our first stop was the small marina at Hellevik. We found this marina in the guide book “Hamn Guiden”, part of the Hamn/Havne Guiden series.
View of the marina in Hällevik
The village itself is so small that you don’t even realise there’s a village. There’s the marina and fishing harbour, a few houses, a seafood shop, a restaurant and a combined supermarket-boat supply shop. That’s it! But it was a very pleasant 33 mile sail and set us up to visit the small archipelago of Blekinge.
Hällevik Marina info:
- Prices: 180 SEK for all boats
- Includes Wifi, electricity, showers, toilets (a real bargain because it’s actually a boat club, not a profit-making marina.)
- The supermarket/boat supplies shop is next to the marina office.
- Restaurant: about 300 meters from the marina office
- Contact: +46 705-89 12 17 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Blekinge is the area located north of the Hanö Bay. Its archipelago isn’t well-know to those who don’t live there. If you have the time, we encourage you to explore it — it’s lovely and not very crowded. We were really itching for a peaceful anchorage surrounded by forest. The last time were at anchor was south of Gothenburg on the west coast of Sweden. We found it in a well-protected cove called Skönviken (“beautiful bay”) just west of Ronneby — and it is indeed beautiful.
View of Skönviken in the Blekinge archipelago
We were all alone, since the school holidays had not yet begun. It’s a wonderful anchorage because it’s well-protected but not far from the open sea. You can take your dingy and row/motor over to one of the outer-lying islands to admire the view.
View towards the open sea late in the evening
The GPS coordinates for the anchorage are 56°09.48 N, 15°11.23 E. One warning for the Blekinge coast – it’s shallow and rocky. There are underwater rocks everywhere, and when there aren’t rocks there are sandbars. You need to be super-alert while sailing here! You will often find underwater rocks near the entrance to and even inside the marinas.
Sailing the southern coast of Sweden – part 2: Falsterbo Canal to Ystad
After passing through the 1600 meters of the Falsterbo Canal, you are officially on the south coast of Sweden (still part of the Skåne region). We had to dodge the ferries coming in and out of Trelleborg. Four difference ferry services connect Trelleborg to Europe: Travemünde, Rostock and Sassnitz in Germany, and one to Swinousjscie in Poland. Quite a few boats to dodge!
We decided to stay at the idyllic marina at Smygehuk instead of continuing on to Ystad and arriving late. We were thankful we did! It really is charming.
The tiny marina of Smygehamn in Smygehuk
The tiny marina of Smygehamn had exactly two spaces for boats as long as Freja. One was already taken by a large motor yacht from Holland that we’d already seen in Klinteholm Marina in Denmark. The only thing to do was to think “thank you!” and take the one berth that was left. We were so happy we ordered the shoal keel for Freja. The depth in the marina was just 2 meters, leaving us with a scant 20 centimetre margin. We noticed lots of people watching us as we approached and moored up. We were certain they were thinking “they are going to go aground, those idiots!”
Senna waiting to go for her after-arrival walk
Smygehuk marina is surrounded by little cafés, small boutiques and ice cream shops. A huge white-washed former warehouse houses the tourist office. It’s also an art gallery selling hand-made crafts, sculptures and paintings. During the summer, it also sells ice cream and cakes and coffee. There is also a small shop selling newspapers, snacks, fruit and drinks.
This old warehouse has been converted into an art gallery and tourist office
This big sign proudly states the Smygehuk is the most southern tip of Sweden
Distances to various capitals as well as to Treriksröset (the point where Sweden, Norway and Finland meet in the north).
This “compass” was constructed at the southernmost tip of Smygehuk, on an overlook in front of the sea
Info on Smygehuk Marina (Smygehamn)
Prices (2016): 170-200 SEK Red/green sign system (green means the berth is free)
- Moorings: either between finger piers or alongside (2 places)
- Open from May to September
- Facilities: toilets, showers, electricity, water
- Restaurants and cafés
- Bus stop just 100 meters from the marina (if you want to go to Trelleborg or Ystad)
- Note: the marina is only 2 meters deep – perhaps less if there’s been a high pressure system for awhile.
- Contact: +46 766-45 30 00
Ystad – a town made famous by crime novels
Ystad is not far from Smygehuk and we decided to stop there to visit the city. You need to arrive early if your boat is 43 feet or more in length. Ystad marina just doesn’t have many berths for boat this size. We arrived just before 14.00 and were relegated to a berth in the southwestern part, near the rescue vessels. The advantage of this part of the marina is that the evening sun lasts the longest . The disadvantage is that the marina office is a long walk from here — we guessed about 500 meters.
View of Ystad Marina
Ystad is an old town, founded as a fishing settlement in the 11th century, and some of the architecture dates from the middle ages. The area between the marina and the town centre is filled with colourful one and two-storey row houses that date from the 1700’s. Closer to the centre of town, you’ll find the red brick buildings that date back to when Ystad was part of the Hanseatic League (14th century) as well as the half-timber architecture from the 15th and 16th centuries.
One of many red brick and timber-framed buildings in Ystad
A few more timber-framed buildings. These date back to the 15th and 16th centuries
Red brick Gothic was the style of architecture during the Hanseatic League period. Ystad was part of the Hanseatic League during the 14th century
Ystad and its surrounding area has been made famous by the Wallander crime novels written by Henning Mankel. You may have read the books or seen the movies and TV series. I’ve read all the books and have seen the TV series in both Swedish and English. So yes, I’m a big fan of the books! If you’re a fan as well, you can visit the often-named places such as the Hotel Continental. This is where the fictional Kurt Wallander would often have dinner or a drink, and where he once forgot his service weapon.
The Hotel Continental, made famous by the Wallander crime novels
The centre of town is host to lots of shops, cafés and restaurants and we took advantage of this to buy some tea, artisanal honey and other gourmet items at the Gourmet Hörnan. Saturday is the busiest day of the week in Ystad as the marketplace is full of stands selling everything from vegetables to coffee to arts and crafts.
If you’re a fan of seafood, there’s a shop and café just a few steps from the marina office. We bought enough fish to last almost the next week and then sat down at the café to have a seafood lunch with a great view of the beach next to the marina.
Enjoying a warm June evening on the stern deck
Info on Ystad Marina:
- Up to 12 meters: 200 SEK
- 13-18 meters: 250 SEK
- Over 18 meters: 500 SEK
Electricity is accessed with a Tally Key (smart card that you can fill with cash). Any cash left on the card will be refunded at the marina office when you give back the card.
Other facilities: toilets, showers, sauna, washing machines and dryers, grills for picnics, beach, mast crane, fuel station, black water disposal.
Contact: +46 (0)702-55 29 32 or +46 (0)709-47 73 38
You’ll find three restaurants right next to the marina. We had lunch and bought some seafood at the restaurant nearest the beach. If you want to have a more “gourmet-style” dinner, try the restaurant at the Ystads Saltsjöbad. We ate a fabulous dinner there. If the weather is cooperative, you can sit outside on the terrace and have a great view of the beach. If you have a bicycle, it’s only about a 10-minute bike ride up the coast (west of Ystad Marina).
20.30 in early June, and it’s still 28°C. It’s not just snow and ice in Sweden!
Sailing the southern coast of Sweden — part 1
Helsingborg to Malmö
Malmö’s well-known (at least in architectural circles) rebuild of it’s old docklands includes the Dockan Marina. We had visited this marina in July of 2015 when we sailed with Leon Schultz, our “sailing coach” and friend. We found it to be very convenient to essential cruiser shopping. The local mega supermarket, the ICA Kvantum, is just a 15-20 minute walk away (just 5 minutes with our bicycles). The state-run liquor/wine/beer shop is right next to the supermarket. Last but not least, the local drug store (called Apoteket in Swedish) is also right next to the supermarket.
View towards Malmö and the entrance to Dockan Marina
One note about the Swedish drug stores and your prescription meds: if your prescription does not come from a country in the EU, you need to get your prescription re-written by a Swedish doctor. This happened to Jacques when trying to fill his prescription as Switzerland is not in the EU. The cost of the “translation” was 400 SEK. It’s perhaps a better idea to ask your doctor to give you a prescription for the entire period you are out cruising.
Dockan marina in Malmö
The Dockan Marina is convenient for the railway station in Malmö. It’s only a 10 to 15-minute walk away, so if you have friends joining you for a few days on the boat, they can fly to Copenhagen and take the train to Malmö central station (a 20-minute trip from the airport).
Another view of Dockan Marina in Malmö. There’s a very pleasant Italian restaurant in front of the blue boat
You can reserve a spot at the marina — essential during the summer months if you have a larger boat. We managed to get one of only 2 berths left! The marina is extremely well-run and if you call ahead there will be someone to show you your berth and help you with your lines.
We didn’t have much time in Malmö this time, so we had some take-out sushi from Asuka Sushi (almost next to the marina office) on the boat. There are, however, several different restaurants and cafés all around the marina.
Dockan Marina information:
Prices per night 2016 (Pay at the harbour office! If you pay on the pier an extra 100 SEK is debited)
- Up to 12 meters: 250 SEK
- 12-15 meters: 300 SEK
- 15-20 meters: 350 SEK
- Over 20 meters: 450 SEK
Services included in the fee:
- laundry facilities,
- bike rental (limited number)
- garbage disposal
The handy guide to Dockan Marina. You can download this as a pdf on their site.
Malmö to Falsterbokanalen (Falsterbo Canal)
In April, we went over the Öresunds tunnel part of the bridge between Malmö and Copenhagen. This time we were going under the bridge. There’s no need here to call bridge traffic on the VHF, as we had to do for the Store Baelte Bridge. Only vessels 200 tonnes or more need to do this. We do need to stay out of the shipping lanes though. The big ships pass under the highest part of the bridge and we pleasure boats pass under the span next to it. These are clearly marked in the inshore traffic lane.
The Öresund bridge is truly majestic. Judge for yourself with these photos!
The Öresund Bridge on a beautiful summer day
The height of the span for pleasure boats is 34 meters — more than enough for us!
In the fairway leading to the Falsterbo Canal
Going through the Falsterbo Canal (Falsterbokanalen)
Most cruisers who want to get to the south and east coast of Sweden will go through the Falsterbo Canal. It saves about 8-9 nautical miles compared to going around the peninsula of Skanör/Falsterbo. Saving mariners a few miles, however, was not the reason for the construction of the canal. During the second World War, the German navy had placed mines around the outside of the peninsula, so it was too dangerous for ships to go from the eastern part of Sweden to the western part. Construction of the canal permitted safe passage on neutral Swedish territory.
Today, only pleasure boats and the odd very small cargo boat still pass through the canal. One big practical tip that we learned from Leon Schultz (who learned this from a bridge operator): don’t wait for the green light to go up to the bridge. It’s open for only about a minute and it takes more than that to get to the bridge if you’re stationed at the waiting pontoons (the speed limit is 5 knots). The bridge has been known to close right in front of boats motoring up too slowly or from too far away.
Here’s the procedure: Observe the traffic flow on the bridge. When the barriers are about to come down for the road, a bell will sound (as at a railway crossing). That’s your signal to motor up to the bridge as quickly as possible (the speed limit is 5 knots). Don’t wait for the green light. As soon as you see the bridge start to open, proceed carefully ahead, even though the green light is not yet flashing. This way, you’ll arrive when the two sides are completely open and be able to go through. You can see in the video below that it doesn’t stay open for very long – maximum a minute or so. If there are boats behind you, they will appreciate that you don’t dawdle around. Good luck!