Marstrand Harbour

IFR 2004 - Marstrand, Sweden

Aerial view of beautiful Marstrand Harbour....

Marstrand is an island off the south west coast of Sweden with a reputation as the Cowes of Sweden. The harbour lies between the island and the mainland and is full of pleasure boats of all descriptions. The Vega fleet fully occupied pontoon G in the picture. The Swedish Vega Club and its officers must have spent many months planning and working toward this event. Irene Hylen and her sub committee being particularly responsible for the successof the rally. The whole area is a delightful; largely tide free, cruising ground without even a hint of mud, a startling contrast to some of our home waters.

Marstrand Quayside

Marstrand Quayside

VAGB was well represented in numbers of people attending. Steve Birch and John Vaughan joined Cai Christiansen on his honorary Vega, (it looked like a Monsun 31 to me), for the trip from near Copenhagen to Marstrand. They then deserted and joined an American Vega No 2486 skippered by Paul Halvachs for the racing. Your intrepid secretary Di Webb and Ross Dring from Chicago joined that stalwart of the Swedish Vega club, Lars Lemby, aboard Vega No 7 Imari. They then went through an intensive training programme in spinnaker handling which paid dividends in the racing class. Your chairman Mike Freeman sailed Vega No 1768 ‘Jenavive’ over from the Medway with the help of a family crew of nephew Patrick Newsham, son Matt Freeman and grandson Sam. In Marstrand he was joined by his wife Veronica and in-laws Tom and Anita Newsham. Graham and Sue Bulleid, Nick Simms and Margery came over by air and stayed ashore. The Bulleids joined the crew of Vega for the racing and Nick and Marjorie joined Vega. John McDonagh had been keeping his boat Vega No 2025, in Sweden and with his Scottish crew took part in the rally before taking his boat back across the North Sea to Scotland. John’s yacht club is entitled to fly a defaced Blue Ensign, this led to some local people assuming that we had an Australian or New Zealand Vega present. There were several lively debates with our continental colleagues about the difference between English, Scottish and British but as most of these took place over a beer or two I am not certain if the point was made or understood.

We all gathered on Monday at Marstrand and were busy settling in, renewing old acquaintances and making new ones when we heard brass band music coming from the mainland. A large band complete with Majorettes and pompoms marched onto the ferry playing all the while and came to our section of the harbour to welcome us. We then marched behind the band (straggle might be a better description) to the far end of the island where we received the VODA flag and marched back to our area of the harbour to raise the flag over our rally. The friendship part of proceedings was well underway.

Marstrand Band

Marstrand welcoming Band

On the Monday evening we were introduced to the Race Officer and briefed on Sailing Instructions. Thirty-three Vegas registered for the racing, nine in the racing class, twenty in the cruising class and 4 in the special class for modified Vegas. This class introduced at previous rallies has had the unfortunate effect of discouraging some owners from participating in the racing and several familiar faces were absent when racing took place on Tuesday and Thursday. The races took place in the bay to the northwest of the island. The weather was kind and spectators sat on the rocks by the lighthouse enjoying a great view of the event. On both race days the winds were very light but the courses were completed within the time limits. From the back half of the fleet we could see many yachts having difficulty making the buoy nearest the lighthouse. Although the area was tideless there was quite a strong current at this particular buoy.

On the Wednesday a trip to Gothenburg was organised. In the evenings various events took place. One evening we were welcomed to the fortress castle above the town where we were told of the islands history, and how the noble Swedes had defeated the perfidious Norwegians and Danes at various battles and sieges. A view of history disputed by some of the national groups present. The differences were not serious enough to prevent us all sitting down together to a Viking style feast.

Jenavive Marstrand

Jenavive preparing to leave for home....

On the Friday, a combined sports event, picnic and prize giving, was held in the grounds of the castle. Paul Halvachs had made two half models of Vegas, one of which was presented to the people travelling furthest to the rally. This went to an American who had come from New Mexico. The second went to the Vega who had sailed the furthest distance to the rally. This was won by Mike Freeman and his Vega Jenavive. Many other prizes were won by VAGB members.On Friday evening we were entertained to dinner in the impressive community hall and formal thanks were given to our hosts by the various national organisations.The final event took place on Saturday morning with the flag lowering and the announcement that the next rally would be held in Eckenforde in Germany in 2006 and all Vega sailors were invited to attend. After many warm farewells to our international friends, the boats began to slip away from the jetty we had occupied all week. The two British boats, didn’t rush and the jetty was half empty by the time we left. John Donagh left for the crossing direct across the North Sea to Scotland and Mike Freeman and Jenavive headed first for Gothenburg to drop a hitchhiker off and then headed for Kiel, the North Sea and eventually home to the Medway.

Fred Bear - 20 February 2005 - UK Correspondant.......

An American's tale in Marstrand.....

This past summer I made a 2 ½ week passage with Lars and Ana Maria “Aja” Lemby on their Vega, IMARI (007), from their home in Stockholm to Marstrand where we then attended the 6 day IFR 2004 hosted by the Swedish Vega Club. On Wednesday July 7th., I made my way from Chicago to Stockholm Sweden where I met Lars the following morning. After a brief driving tour of the heart of Stockholm we went to his home where I met Aja. It should be said at this point that Aja’s profession of 40 years, was as an educator of meal planning and preparation. On our trip she presented the finest meals that you could imagine and Lars and I did the dishes. It was like I was travelling with the Swedish Julia Childs. Their Vega is docked at the bottom of the hill on which their house is located so they are able to look out their window and see IMARI. Such a deal.

After some last minute provisioning we set out in the afternoon for what would be an 18 day passage. We sailed southward through the Stockholm Archipelago into the early evening and tied up on the dock of old friends Jan and Margarete Sundelm who hosted a wonderful evening meal for us in their summer home. After goodbyes all around the next morning, we continued our passage southward with very favorable winds through the many islands of the Stockholm and Trosa Archipelago. As nightfall approached we anchored in a sheltered cove for our evening meal and overnight stay after 50 nm of travel. The following day we continued southward under 20-30 kt easterly winds, sometimes in the shelter of the islands and sometimes in the open Baltic. As the day went on, we turned west-southwest through inland islands and the mainland and sailed to within a mile of the entry point of the Gota Kanal where we anchored in a cove for the night. While the weather had been cold and wet for the past two days the scenery was beautiful with only an occasional house, village or boat to be seen.

The following morning, Sunday 11th., we made entry into the Gota Kanal and passed through 3 slussar (locks) along the way before tying up in Soderkoping, a small quaint town along the canal for the day. The town which is quite picturesque with several medieval churches dates back almost a thousand years. In the early years of the canal it was a local center of canal commerce. Lars and Aja’s daughter Kajsa and children Alve and Love came to visit us during the day and Love would travel with us for several days while mother and sister travelled the canal path by bike and camped along the way.

For the next 6 days we would be traveling the Gota Kanal. The canal was opened in 1832 following 22 years of mostly manual labor by 58,000 men. It’s original purpose was to provide Stockholm and the Swedish Baltic coast access to the open seas as Denmark controlled the southern portion of what is now Sweden. The Danes extracted tolls and in times of war closed off access to the open seas. The canal is 190 km in length and rises 91.8 metres above the Baltic Sea at its high point, Lake Viken. It has 58 lock systems which are grouped in 1 to 7 chambers at various locations along the canal. The locks are original with their timber gates and stonework having been maintained and repaired over their 172 years of service. The lock chambers are sized such that no more than 4 Vegas (2+2) could comfortably lock through at a time. The upstream gates have 4 plate gate openings located down low on the gates and when opened great turbulence creates quite a wild ride in the chamber. The general game plan is for one person to handle the lines around the bollards up on the walls while the skipper works the lines in or out using the boat winches in order to keep the vessel in position as it rides up or down. It’s a little hairy but fun as long as you don’t crash the boat into the wall, gates or other boats. Lars was always cool as a cucumber while Aja and I were constantly checking the ‘what ifs’. The canal passes through several lakes as it makes its way across the heart of Sweden from the Baltic westward to Lake Vanern. It is very pastoral with a tow path for bikes and hikers along one side as well as farm fields, forests, pastures with livestock, rocky outcrops and little towns and villages all around. The canal is now all recreational with sail, power and steam pleasure craft as well as passenger vessels. It has a variety of bridges that are either lifted or rolled back for boats to pass through. In the evenings we tied up along the side of the canal on docks or in marinas. On several nights we had sheep grazing on the shoreline along side. We arrived in Sjotorp the westernmost village on the canal on Saturday the 17th where we tied up for the night with two other Swedish Vegas 002 & 3055 skippered by Ingemar Back and Per Wasberg (Chairman of the Swedish Vega Club).

The following day we passed through the last of the locks and out on to Lake Vanern, an inland lake some 40 by 80 nautical miles in size. That evening we moored in a cove of the main island Djuro of a 30 island archipelago of the same name, which is a national park. It is an uninhabited nature reserve which is visited by campers and boaters seeking a night’s anchorage. The next day we sailed on to Lacko Castle located on the Kalland peninsula along the southern shore of Vanern. The 240 room castle with a 700 year history sits on a bluff overlooking Lake Vanern and is quite imposing. We moored for the evening at the foot of the castle and took a tour. In the morning we set out for Dalbergsa on the west coast of Vanern. As evening came on we made landfall and motored up a little creek in search of anchorage for the night and ended up at the base of a rapids that was obscured from view. An elderly gentleman came out on his jetty and after warning us of a whirlpool and underwater snags invited us to tie up on his jetty. After several passes and a badly fouled anchor on a submerged tree we managed to tie up at his jetty and got acquainted over some jiggers of scotch. Following our evening meal we went up to his trailer summer home for a visit with him and his wife, two of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. After saying our goodbyes to our new friends the next morning we set out for Vanersborg. Vanersborg is the southernmost point on Lake Vanern and the entry point to the Trollhatte Kanal. We tied up at the marina in Vanersborg for the night and met up with other Swedish Vegas. The following morning Thursday 22nd. we departed with 6 other Vegas southbound on the Trollhatte Kanal which accommodates up to 4000 ton capacity freighters. After passage through a lock at Vanern and a single and triple at Trollhattan we tied up for the day in the entrance to the old Trollhattan locks in a beautiful park-like setting with 4 other Vegas. The first set of locks went into service in 1800 and were replaced in 1844 and then again in 1916 with the presents locks. We spent quite a bit of time touring the Trollhattan lock area as the de-watered old locks were still in place. In the morning we motored further down the canal/river with beautiful forests, few farms or buildings in view and one more 6.4 m lock at Lilla Edet. The Trollhatte is 82 km long of which 10 km is man-made and the remainder is the Gota-Alv River which terminates in Goteborg (Gothenburg). In mid afternoon we put into a narrow channel at Kungalv where we tied up in a marina which was a little dicey for us Vegas, what with the current opposite to the wind, very limited control going in reverse and very tight quarters. The marina was at the foot of the Bohus Fortress. It was initially constructed by King Hakon V of Norway in 1308 to defend the southern perimeter of the kingdom of Norway of that day. In 1658 it became part of Sweden as a result of a treaty. It has withstood 14 sieges and fell into disrepair over the years until the Swedish government took over control and restoration. The next morning, Saturday 22nd, we motored the last of the canal/river to Goteborg, a major manufacturing and port city, and we now started to see more industrial and commercial enterprises along the way. Up to this time the weather had been generally cold and rainy with occasional patches of sunshine and warm weather. It was reported that this summer had not been this cold and rainy in over a hundred years. From this point on though the weather would be sunny and warm with moderate breezes. In Goteborg we tied up in the marina in the middle of the city, next to the Opera House and a 4 masted bark that had been converted to a hostel and restaurant/nightclub. In the afternoon we met up with Diana Webb and Ken Wakeling as well as several others who had come over from England to attend the IFR. Diana and Ken joined us as we sailed the next day to Marstrand some 60 km north along the coast. Upon arrival and registration we greeted many old friends and a group of us later went out for an evening meal..

The regatta races were scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday and Lars had signed us up for the racing class which meant spinnaker handling. Lars would have Diana Webb, Ken Wakeling, and myself as crew but Diana and I had never handled a spinnaker so on Monday we went out for a shakedown/training cruise with Diana and Ito work the foredeck. Well we sort of got it somewhat down pat after a time.

The afternoon opening ceremony was held at the opening to the sea and after some brief speeches the Vega flag was carried by representatives of several countries, including myself, along the quay with a full marching band and all IFR participants.

Marstrand is a resort island at high season so there was quite an audience for the procession and proceedings. The flag was hoisted followed by welcoming speeches from the Swedish Club accompanied by wine and big bowls of rice with chopped meats and spices, delicious.

Following the reception, a skipper’s meeting was held to discuss the race and work out the particulars. We sailed out on Tuesday morning for the two races of the day. The winds were light and variable and Diana and I got caught up in our shoe laces a few times. You could say that Lars and Ken should have been accorded some sort of handicap although we improved from 6th to 5th in the second race of 9 boats.

In the evening we were lead up the hill to the fortress above Marstrand by three musicians for a Viking banquet. The musicians were in period costume and played during and after dinner. An actor in old time officer uniform welcomed us with toasts and stories of the fortress history with many funny asides with the Norwegians and Danes being the bad guys in battles with the heroic Swedes. We then went into an arched stone banquet hall to eat as the Vikings did, on a board with chunks of ham, beef, pork, baked potatoes, round slabs of bread, and wine. All of the waiters and waitresses were dressed up as Vikings and the furniture was period.

Since we thought we should have done better at racing, Lars, Aja, Diana, Ken and I went out for a day-sail on Wednesday to do some spinnaker drills and visit nearby Astol island. We tied up in the long narrow harbor for lunch and a walk around this very picturesque island. On Thursday we again went out to race and improve our standing. We did much better with very few mistakes on the foredeck and came in 3rd. and 2nd.

Following the races the VODA (Vega One Design Ass.) meeting was held with election and re-election of officers. The IFR 2006 will be hosted by the Germans at Ekenforde on the Baltic. The membership was reported as Sweden 600, Great Britain 207, Norway 65, Denmark 210, Germany 138, Netherlands 272, North America 129.

Some 74 Vegas and crew attended the IFR as well as many without boats. On Friday the 30th. we went up to the fortress for games and awards and we took a picnic lunch along. The regatta dinner was held in the evening and was wonderful as always. The seating arrangement was interesting in that table seating was by blocks of Vega numbers so folks were well mixed during the meal and gift giving. A great time was had by all and we had a beautiful sunset to close out the evening.

Very early Saturday morning, Lars drove Graham and Sue Bullied of England and me to a village some 15km distant where we were able to catch a bus to Goteborg City Center and take another bus to the airport for an 11:00 flight home. All of the people that I came in contact with were very helpful and hospitable to me and they made me feel quite welcome. It was a wonderful 3 ½ week trip and I am so grateful to Lars and Aja Lemby for having me with them on IMARI.

Ross Dring CRITTERS 3027 Chicago - Lake Michigan