“Skagerrak and Back” is the story of my North Sea circuit aboard my 27ft yacht.
In 2007 I bit the bullet and decided to head for foreign climes. We crossed the North Sea from the Firth of Forth to Norway. We skirted the coast southwards to Sweden, through the Skagerrak past Denmark and into Germany. We travelled through the German and Dutch canals and back home through the uninviting waters of the English east coast. Most, but by no means all of the journey was sailed solo.
When I returned I wrote what started out as a ‘log’ of the trip. This is not, as you can probably spot, a tale of astonishing derring-do and bravery in the face of insurmountable odds. Neither does it purport to be a pilot book or sailing directions. It’s just the story of an achieveable summer cruise aboard a seaworthy wee boat.
Hopefully there’s enough detail of the places I visited to whet the appetite and give you some idea just how good a cruising ground this part of the coast of Scandinavia is, or make you want to head for the surreal sailing waters of Holland’s canals.
As I say the story started out as a ‘log’ of the trip. But I really couldn’t be bothered keeping the kind of detailed sailing log that tells you exactly when I made a slight course change and how many Wheatabix I had in my long-life milk that morning.
Sailing alone does sort of heighten your awareness of your environment. In my case it sharpens what the charitable might call my ‘critical faculties’. So as well as the story of a cruise the log turned into a series of observations about the nature, culture, people, economy and boats of the places I passed through.
This is the first in a series of cruising 'logs' about Zophiel’s voyages. “Floating Low to Lofoten” is about my trip to the Norwegian Arctic, “A Gigantic Whinge on the Celtic Fringe” is the story of our circumnavigation of Ireland and "Bobbing to the Baltic" describes a trip from Edinburgh to the Russian border.
Recently some of the people who have been slandered in these tales have suggested that they should be used for kindling. I’ve taken these kind words to heart and published them first for Kindle and now for other e-readers.
Soon I'll be publishing two volumes about some land-based travels, entitled "Travels with my Rant" and "The Front of Beyond". These are gripping tales about nipping over dodgy borders in places like Nicaragua and Burma and being kidnapped, after a fashion, in East Timor.
This volume contains a lot of colour photographs. If you’re struggling with grainy black and white on an e-reader, there’s more sailing tales and the full set of colour photos from this volume on my website at edge dot me dot uk.
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About the Author
"Travels with my Rant" Most of my writing is about my travels. Mostly very slow travels. For some years now I've been plodding round the seas of northern Europe aboard a small sailing boat. To date I've published three accounts of these trips. For years I poked around in some of the more obscure parts of some developing countries, hitch-hiking and travelling by boat, train and bus. Some of the buses were slower than my boat. The record was 12 hours to go 11 miles in the Shan State in northern Burma. I'll soon be publishing two volumes entitled "Travels with my Rant" and "The Front of Beyond". These will include tales about hopping across dodgy borders in places like East Timor and Nicaragua. Whilst travel may broaden some minds and narrow others, travelling slowly and alone changes your perspective on the world around you. I like to think it hones the senses and heightens the critical faculties. Others have agreed that yes, it does make me rant on and on about everything. My travel writings are not gripping tales of derring-do and one man's survival in a savage wilderness against all the odds. I am, in fact, something of a wimp. Neither do they consciously seek to maintain the mythology and exoticism of travel to far flung parts. The fact is that more or less everywhere on earth people wear jeans and ride scooters. The documentary makers must have a hell of a job editing the world so that it's full of tribal head-dresses and loin cloths. Culture shock isn't all it's cracked up to be and nowhere on the planet is as alien as it appears to be from a distance. Except Manchester of course. I've tried to give a flavour of the places I've visited and to discuss those aspects of their landscape, environment, people, culture, economy and politics which make them interesting. In 2014 I published a sort of pilot book entitled "105 Rocks and Other Stuff to Tie your Boat to in Eastern Sweden and Finland". It's full of photos, maps, descriptions and waypoints for, as the name suggests, 105 Scandinavian rocks and other harbours. It's available FREE of charge at my website (www.edge.me.uk) as a web file and as a pdf. There's yet more stuff on my web page at http://www.edge.me.uk/index.htm. This includes a pile of more academic papers written while I was Head of Research of the Architecture School in Aberdeen.