Why go to Sweden? Well, for most people, the principal attractions
are the archipelagos of the East or West coasts. There are over 24,000 islands in the Stockholm area alone, but other parts
of the country have their own charm.
Without doubt, the most spectacular part of the country is the eastern coast. There is a small 'taster'
archipelago around Karlskrona, but the skerries start in earnest north of Kalmar, and continue in an almost unbroken line
for over 300 miles. In the archipelago, the cruising mood changes. Instead of overnight havens, marinas become daytime 'filling
stations', and empty out at night as people hole up in the 'nature harbours' - sheltered
rock pools - out in the islands. Despite the whole of Scandinavia going on holiday in July, and 1 in 5 Swedes owning a boat,
the place never feels 'full'.
The main routes through the islands are well marked, although navigation is still relatively challenging
compared to the UK or Denmark. Outside the main routes, you need your wits about you and careful attention to the chart.
people prefer the western coast. The skerries here tend to be more barren and the weather less predictable, but the area
is just as beautiful. The skerries peter out just south of Gothenburg and the south western and southern coasts
are less interesting, although there are still some fine beaches and interesting towns.
A favorite route is to traverse the 'golden circle' as we did, traveling anticlockwise across southern Sweden
and up the eastern coast, and then back across Sweden using the Gota Canal. Traveling this
way maximizes the effect of the special light on the islands which is simply magical. It's possible to do this route in 6
weeks, but to do so would miss soaking up the atmosphere and culture, which we think is essential to appreciate Sweden properly.
There is an organised system of 'Gasthams' (Guest Harbours). Every marina will have some space reserved
for visitors, and many harbours in the center of towns open only for the season. (see the Gasthams