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Stockholm Archipelago


The Stockholm Archipelago is one of the worlds greatest cruising grounds.

In a stretch about 150 miles long by about 50 miles wide lie over 25,000 islands, miles of sheltered cruising water, and hundreds of anchorages.

Its true that the area also contains one of the highest concentration of leisure boats in the world, but the enormous number of islands disguises this to the point where you begin to believe you are alone in the world.

Orientation

The archipelago broadly divides into three areas. Starting from Nynäshamn in the south, a wide and well buoyed route extends all the way to Söderarm in the north. To the immediate east of this route lie a line of large 'outer islands'. These islands form a kind of barrier to the Eastern Baltic and protect the inner waterways.

To the west of the main artery lie many islands, many increasingly populated with colourful holiday homes. Eventually you reach Stockholm - the 'Venice of the North' due to its being built on seven islands. Beyond Stockholm is a large area of inland lakes.

To the East of the artery lie groups of windswept and staggeringly picturesque rocky islands, set in a rocky and largely unmarked sea. To the uninitiated, sailing in this area is somewhat like skiing 'off-piste', with the prospect of hitting an underwater rock at 6 knots a distinct possibility. But, like skiing, its exhilarating once mastered.

The whole area is well charted. A single pack of boating charts (Batsportkort) covers the entire area and costs about £43. These are good enough for general navigation and the buoyed routes are well marked.

Nynäsham
Nynashamn

The only significant town (other than Stockholm) in the archipelago is Nynäshamn. With a large marina and reasonable shops, it is a filling station for many boats. The marina can get full in poor weather at the height of the season, but a mile or so away, the other side of Bedarön, lie some of the nicest nature harbours in the archipelago.

Nynäsham's little gem is the smokehouse on the quay (Nynäs Rökerie). This has an superb delicatessen serving smoked fish of various types and other excellent barbeque fare. The attached restaurant (Resturang Krogen) is probably our personal favorite. The food is superb and excellent value (for Sweden!). Whatever you do, don't miss the smoked shell-on prawns, in the wooden box...

 

Utö
Uto

About 10 miles north of Nynäshamn lies the pretty island of Utö. One of the top tourist spots in the area, Utö is famous for its restaurant (Utö Värdshus) as well as being an ideal location to stop and explore. The bakery (Uto Bagerei) does excellent home made bread, and a stall by the harbour sells Nynäs Rökerie fare.

The marina is in two parts. The southern part, accessed via a separate entrance, has more spaces. Mooring is bows to a quay with a stern anchor, and it can get very busy at weekends.

Sandhamn
Sandhamn Lokholmen

Often called the 'Cowes of the North', Sandhamn is the centre of the archipelago. It has many similarities with Cowes in that it has a 'race village' and is populated with hordes of KSSS bronzed 'boat gods', all in designer sunglasess and equipped with walkie-talkies. They look like something straight out of the CIA. Unlike Cowes however, there are few shops, the roads are still dirt tracks and the whole place has a less comercial atmosphere.

It's possible to moor in the main marina, which is exceptionally well managed by the 'boat gods', but in high season it gets very full, and a a quieter bet is Lökholmen, opposite. The marina is reached via an extremely narrow cut in the rocks, but once in, the place is sheltered, and there is a free hourly ferry, back to Sandhamn.

Sandhamns Vardshus, the most well known restaurant, claims never to have closed since 1672, and the food is excellent (try the Chef's Casserole). A meal will set you back about £50 a head, including wine. There are a few others. The only grocery (Westerbergs Livs) is astonishing, as it seems to supply the entire archipelago out of something the size of a corner shop. There is also a Bagerie

Finnhamn
Finnhamn

In the centre of the Archipelago are a number of large nature harbours, one of the most popular being “Paradiset”. An almost entirely enclosed pool, this can host two or three hundred boats at high season. The south eastern corner, nearest to the one shop (about a half-mile walk) has a wooden quay for about 20 boats (fee) but most people just tie to a rock or anchor.

The nearby restaurant (Finnhamns Cafe & Krog) is excellent, and you can sit outside, looking over the traffic in the main channel.

Arholma
Arholma

We liked Arholma so much, I'm tempted not to write about it. The island is in the far north of the archipelago, and the eastern harbour consists of a sheltered bay and a wooden quay. Water is from a standpipe some distance from the quay, and there is no electricity. What there is however, is a wood burning sauna that you can book for you and your crew. There is a small grocery, but its a mile of so away on the far side of the island. An excellent, peaceful, relaxing spot.

Outer Archipelago
Huvudskar Huvudskar

All the above locations, for the locals, consist of the 'boring' part of the archipelago. The 'real' part, consists of those groups of islands east of the row of outer islands. These groups, some only really accessible in sensible weather, can get overwhelmed with yachts 'getting away from it', but nevertheless they are a 'must do' destination.

Simply getting to some of the groups is hair raising for a Brit. They are set in a unmarked (but not uncharted) rocky area of sea, where one rock looks much the same as another, but to a local, its a mark! Thankfully, GPS has taken some of the guesswork out of getting there.

The islands have a beauty all of their own, and the sunsets have to be seen to be believed.

We hope to cover more of these groups this year, but in the meantime, here's some photos of Huvudskär, in the south.

 

Some images courtesy Alfred Sturm

Useful resources
North Sea Passage Pilot

Arholma -Landsort - Excellent guide to marinas and nature harbours - in Swedish. Covers the entire archipelago

Hafenhandbuch

Hafenhandbuch Ostsee II - German loose leaf guide to marinas

The Baltic Sea

Baltic Sea

Contains some material on Eastern Sweden

The Baltic Sea

www.archipleago.nu

Dedicated archipelago site with more info on Stockholm area

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