Sometimes it pays to take your own advice. Earlier this summer, we gave everyone the advice to “go west” and explore the sparkling waters of Sweden’s west coast. So when the opportunity arose, that’s exactly what we did. With Agapi’s Gothenburg representative Marcus Lindholm as our guide aboard his Agapi 800, we got to see first-hand just the fuss is all about.
Like the rest of Sweden this summer, the west coast was bathed in sunshine, enjoying the type of weather we’d normally travel to Mallorca for. Hot, calm days and warm water… OK, warmish.
Red and white houses – and the occasional happy church – dot the coastline
The island of Tjörn, about an hour north of Gothenburg, has long been a favourite getaway for many Swedes. It’s Sweden’s sixth largest island, with a wealth of attractions on land and at sea. Our base was just off Tjörn’s south-west coast, in the sheltered waters of Klädesholmen a one-time herring capital of the region, and still home to some quality sill production. Most of the herring may have left the area now, but schools of summer tourists continue to keep this picturesque fishing village buzzing.
The Gothenburg archipelago is characterized by a complex tangle of low, rocky islands. Red and white houses cling to the rocks and cliffs, and the region’s connections to the sea are apparent everywhere. This is truly a place for boaters.
We weren’t the only Agapi in town
Zipping in and out of the narrow passages between the islands is great fun. It can get suddenly shallow in parts, but the Simrad plotter helps takes the guesswork away. These waters are an ideal place to drop the tow raft in the water, and the pack of kids we had onboard all loved bouncing around in our wake.
Kids overboard! Bouncing behind the boat
One of the absolute highlights of our visit though was the tiny island of Åstol. Just a short cruise south-east of Klädesholmen, Åstol is home to about 200 people, with most of the action clustered around its distinctive, long narrow harbour. There’s no bridge to Åstol – it’s accessible only by sea – but we had no trouble finding a berth, tying up the Agapi right outside Åstols Rökeri, a smokehouse restaurant serving iconic west coast seafood. We couldn’t resist the fresh smoked prawns, washed down with crisp white wine and Swedish ale.
Settling into Åstol’s snug harbour
Åstol is such a gem, with charming houses nestling against rundown fishing sheds on carless streets. On the windward shore, a neighbourhood waterslide sends children giggling into a rock pool while adults sun themselves. This place is a compact slice of holiday perfection. And yet most Swedes will never visit. And that’s really one of the great things about the boating life. When you loosen the ropes and let the Agapi slip away from the dock, you really feel like you’ve been let in on something special – something exclusive and different, where an ordinary afternoon can become an adventure.