The end of any voyage warrants a celebration. The yachtsmen heading for Denmark this week will find some 2,000 small-boat sailors celebrating the 100th birthday of the Royal Danish Yacht Club in a wild frug of summertime sailing. Like the couple waiting at right behind their sailbags at Denmark's Skovshoved Sejlklub, the transatlantic sailors will soon find themselves racing around the buoys in boats ranging from 5.5-meters to OK dinghies.
WHEN THE RACING IS DONE
When all the racing, offshore and inshore, is over and done with, the crews of the U.S. yachts will find themselves free to enjoy a Scandinavian summer. There can certainly be no more pleasant antidote to 20 days on the open Atlantic than Copenhagen itself. Unlike Oslo and Stockholm, Copenhagen has no blue laws; there is almost no restriction on the eating, drinking and merrymaking hours, and the centenary celebrations will magnify the always festive atmosphere of a Copenhagen summer. There will be a Dunkirkian fleet of pleasure craft crowding the Danish waterfront from Skagen at the northern tip of Jutland down to Skovshoved, the main harbor of the Royal Danish Yacht Club—more than 2,000 boats from Europe, the U.S., Australia, Argentina and Bermuda. The nearby Bellevue Beach Hotel will be a center for visiting yachtsmen. Its wide, cool, awning-shaded verandas overlook a sandy strand lined with white cabana tents and blondes in bikinis. Copenhagen itself has 36 first-class restaurants and possibly the world's best fish, plaice and sole so fresh they taste of the sea. Tuborg's Export and Festival are the beers to drink with your Harald Jensen or Jubilaeum aquavit and open sandwiches of brown bread, superb Danish butter and tiny rejer shrimps. When, after a sojourn in Denmark, "the wind sits in the shoulder of your sail," there is some lovely gunkholing to be done along the coasts of Sweden and Norway.
An ideal cruise starts east from Copenhagen into the brackish, tideless Baltic and skirts the southern coast of Sweden, then turns north for Stockholm. If you can live aboard your boat, you will solve what might otherwise be an accommodations problem.
Drop anchor for a few hours or overnight in the medieval town of Simrishamn, with its winding narrow streets and half-timbered houses. This port's smoked eel is shipped around the world.
Farther up the Baltic coast is Karlskrona, Sweden's oldest naval station, with a nautical museum and portside restaurants that serve herring in every conceivable guise: pickled, smoked, fried, tossed in salads and baked in puddings.
Sail north then from Karlskrona through Kalmar Sound, an 80-mile stretch of blue water sheltered by the beautiful island of Oland. Its headlands are crowned with windmills, its meadows are awash with lilies and roses and its sandy beaches are a haven for nude sunbathers. In July and August the sun shines over Sweden for 20 hours a day and all of Scandinavia is stricken with sun madness. Oland's tiny holiday port of Borgholm, like every other seaside village, will be filled to the rooftops. This is the season for one of Sweden's favorite delicacies, crayfish served cold and spiced with dill, so book a table in advance at Riddaregarden. The plates come piled high with the six-inch creatures, and a glass of schnapps is traditionally downed with each claw on the plate.
The next port of call on your northward journey might be Visby, the ancient Hanseatic port on the island of Gotland. The walls of the city that was once the most powerful in northern Europe date to the 12th century, and pre-Christian rune stones and Viking hieroglyphics are found all over the landscape. Sandhamn, headquarters of the 125-year-old Royal Swedish Yacht Club, is a day's sail from Visby, in the midst of the thousands of scattered islands that make up the Stockholm archipelago. All foreign yachtsmen are made welcome at the charming Victorian yacht club (opposite), and the surrounding waters are hauntingly beautiful.
Stockholm is a five-hour sail from Sandhamn. One ties up at Strandvagen, Stockholm's Embassy Row. There are many superb restaurants in Stockholm, but the world's best smorgasbord is at the Opera Kallaren. As you cruise along its rich buffet, be sure to leave stowage space for the cloudberry ice-cream tart.
The most unusual spectacle in Stockholm this summer is a show called She, a Cathedral at the Museum of Modern Art. It consists of a sculptured female form, 82 feet long and three stories high. A planetarium lies in one globular breast, a bar in the other, and a 1922 Garbo movie is projected inside the figure's left arm.
When you leave Stockholm guide your boat through the Gota Canal, connecting the Baltic with Goteborg on the Kattegat arm of the North Sea. It was used in the 19th century for commercial shipping but now is almost solely a route for pleasure cruises. It is an idyllic waterway winding through beech and evergreen forests, farmlands and stone villages. Only a third of its 347 miles is canals—the rest is rivers and lakes. There are 65 locks, the highest 304 feet above sea level. The trip takes about three days. All bridges are draw or open bridges, so you do not have to lower your mast.
Once at Goteborg, you're back in Atlantic waters—saltier and trickier. Work northward along the glacier-carved islands and walls of the Oslo Fjord up to Oslo to complete a cruise of the Three Crown Cities of the North.
The island of Hankoe, 80 miles down the fjord from Oslo, is the center of Norway's major regattas. The Hankoe Hotel, built in 1877, runs a sailing school for youngsters. Norway has a more severe climate than its southerly neighbors, a fact reflected in what you get to eat there. The national summer dish, for example, is spekemat, thinly sliced ham or mutton that has been dried for seven to eight months of arctic winter. It is often served with scrambled eggs. The grill in the Grand Hotel is Oslo's best. Have the pot-roasted ptarmigan or reindeer steak. As in all Scandinavia, beer is the wine of the country; Norwegian pilsner goes best with this hardy fare. You can sip it at the Dronningen Restaurant at the end of the Royal Norwegian Yacht Club pier while you watch King Olav and Crown Prince Harald rigging their 5.5s for an afternoon race.
Someday these young Vikings may be sailing the Atlantic. Here they are ghosting along under a sheer rock wall of Oslo Fjord in their little G-dinqhy.
U.S. sailors will be welcome at the Royal Swedish Yacht Club's Sandhamn headquarters.