After two weeks of sailing in freezing temperatures the outline of Marstrand’s coastal defences appeared on the horizon. We had been diverted, the harbour we were originally aiming for had iced over, and the little inlet of Marstrand was as far north as we could go.
A smart summer retreat for Gothenburg residents, Marstrand in March was almost empty as we dropped our sails and motored alongside an ice covered pontoon. Suitably proud of a trophy of the stuff accumulated on the bow of the boat, myself and two others set out to have a look around. Despite a combative appearance from the sea, once inside the shelter of the harbour, Marstrand is an oasis to the cold sailor. Nowhere could be more welcoming, even out of season.
A few shops are open in March, but the town is almost completely tourist free, so wandering its deserted streets is a treat for unsteady sea legs. A walk around the walls of the towering castle distills how strategically important this coastal inlet once was, whilst the view hints at how much of the Swedish archipelago remains wild and untouched.
Having had an eventful two weeks however, I wasn’t looking for wild, at all.
The modern Swedish Havshotel in the centre of town stays open through winter and plays host to a fantastic spa, where, for a reasonable fee, I spent half a morning thawing out from the previous two weeks sailing.
Less than an hours drive from Gothenburg, Marstrand is the perfect place to relax after visiting Sweden’s second city.