Lake Malaren or Malaria as my spellcheck keeps changing it! Part 1.

It is easy to forget why Stockholm was built where it was…..and that is because it controls the access to Swedens vast network of inland waterways; Lake Malaren, the abundant timber, the iron ore and the sea, or at least it did before the effect of glacial rebound lowered the water level by 5m! The original fort was founded by Birger Jarl in about 1190 after the villages on Lake Malaren was pillaged by the Finns.

Getting good at this – we made a sharp exit from the Wasaholm Marina.

We left Wasaholm marina in time for the 10.38 bridge opening but with a bit of room for error – however we must be getting a bit good at this sailing game as we exited our very tight marina berth and through the nightmare that was the exit without even breaking a sweat. It was so easy that we arrived 30 minutes early at the entrance to the Danvik Canal. If your airdraft is under 11 metres then you don’t need to wait for the railway bridge at the far end of the canal to open and can go straight into the lock, but at 15 metre we needed it to open so had to be there at 1038 precisely, otherwise we would have to wait 6 hours for the next opening! Being early meant that we had to dodge ferries and canal traffic, so after being hooted at a few times we started to sail down the fjord a bit to stay out of the way but just as we set off, the bridge opened 9 minutes early and we had to dash to get through the bridge and into the lock. As there is only about a 30 cm change in water levels here, again it was all rather easy.

Through the Gamla Stan lock.

Through the lock and waiting for the railway bridge to open.

Slight bit of drama around a sunken boat!

Where all the people in Stockholm live!

Bridges!!

More bridges

Yet more bridges but finally made it to the other side of the city!

Once through the lock you see the other side of Stockholm that you normally don’t see as you usually approach it from the sea. There are the tall-ish (for Stockholm) high rises where all the people you see working in the city actually live! Everywhere had moorings for small motorboats, including a bit of drama around one that had sunk!

Still time for a bit of ferry dodging!

Perforated iron spire of the royal church

The town hall

Merchant buildings and warehouses.

Then under several road bridges and into the bay behind Stockholm with its impressive row of waterside 17th century merchant houses, the town hall and parliament building. After a quick trip round the bay we set off for a small creek at Hogholmen directly opposite the Royal Summer Palace at Drottingholm. We really did have a fantastic view for our dinner! We had not seen another yacht until we turned into the anchorage – and low and behold there was another English yacht, beaten us to the best spot! We jiggered about a bit, dropping the anchor here and there until we had found the perfect place! The usual rules of anchoring apply here, drop the hook opposite reed beds in about 3 metres of water with about 10m to 15m of chain out. Follow these rules and you will be fine even in the 30 knot winds that were forecast for later that evening.

Making a quick exit to Drottningholm!

Anchored with a great view of the Summer Palace!

I really like the disregard that the average Swedes hold for authority. I think it is because all the signs at historic sites say ‘this building is own by you for the benefits all Swedes’. There was a clearly marked exclusion zone around the palace bounded by a series of large bright orange buoys. It did not take long before a couple of canoeists paddled straight into it, to be followed in short order by 6 jet skiers who did ‘donuts’ then a few minutes later a motor boat turned up and 4 men ripped off all their clothes and jumped into the water! Every so often, ‘toy soldiers’ wearing ludicrous bearskins would pop out from behind a hedge and wave the intruders away! All very harmless and totally ignored by the intruders!

Boarded by ducks!

If its not ducks………

Drottningholm Summer Palace

Next morning, dinghy inflated, we were about to motor across the bay to the castle when a couple of ducks took up residence on our swim platform! Nothing would persuade them to leave, so we closed the hatches and let them get on with it! The trip across the fjord was probably the farthest that we have been with our little outboard and true to form the little Honda performs perfectly! The only casualty was the spare fuel can whose top split spewing petrol everywhere! We motored across the bay to a small private jetty and tied up. It is always quite fun to watch the envious glances to you as you turn up at places like this! Somehow they image yachting is a bit grander than it really is! If only they knew!

Formal gardens in the ‘English’ style.

The Summer Palace is fantastic! Especially the theatre, it is the most complete 18th century theatre with all its original equipment and sets! Apparently it classified as a world heritage site. It was built by the ‘theatre king’, one of the Karl Gustavs who fancied himself as a bit of a thespian as well as being a king. He built theatres in palaces and castles all over the place! The theatre is still in use and the king and queen are frequent visitors over the summer.

The theatre!

We were not allowed to sit here….these are for the king and queen!

Original 18th century costumes!

Drottingholm is set in a large ‘English style’ parkland which is very unusual for an island made up of large granite outcrops and rocks – someone must have had to work really hard to get rid of them! All over the grounds are pavilions including a very fashionable Chinese house. Chinese items were really sought after in Sweden but expensive so they did ‘china’ on the cheap and just used paint in place of lacquer and fine silks!

Inside the Palace

The garden pavilion.

The Chinese pavilion

All is not as authentically Chinese as it seems!

The royal thunder box!

People were far less envious of our return journey in the dinghy however, the wind had got up as had quite a chop on the water. Our little dinghy was bobbing about sending showers of cold water over us! We could not wait to get back to Grace as we could see one of the large pleasure trip steamers hurtling down the fjord, with a big frothy bow wave sweeping all before them and they really don’t stop for anyone! I am sure that the battered tree trunks dangling down their sides could tell many a story!

River steamers…not to be messed with, especially in a 5 ft rubber dinghy!

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