In Copenhagen, Denmark, we research the city’s climate ambitions and visit Rockwool to learn about insulation and energy reduction. We sail along the West Coast of Sweden and visit Kosterhavet National Park and Kosters Trädgården, where co-founder Helena von Bottmer explains permaculture to us.
Copenhagen (DNK) – Larvik (NOR)
Walking and Cycling the Capital of Climate Ambitions
“You should put your camera away or they will smash it, guaranteed.” A friendly Dane warns us that taking photographs is not appreciated, to put it mildly. On our stroll around Copenhagen on foot, by chance we find ourselves in Freetown Christiania, a green and car-free neighbourhood where selling marijuana is tolerated. As it is still illegal, sellers and buyers are cautious and many wear scarves to cover their faces. It all seems quite innocent to us, but we still put the camera away before we continue our tour of discovery of Denmark’s capital.
What we notice is that Copenhagen puts a lot of effort into public spaces. Water has a prominent place in the city and is so clean that we spot people swimming, kayaking and playing water polo in the harbour. There are also many well-maintained parks and other pedestrian areas to invite residents and visitors to sit outside and enjoy the summer weather. And then there are the bicycles.
Cyclists surround us wherever we are and our urge to join them soon becomes unbearable. At the next best station of white bikes we hire two and experience the city on wheels. The electric bikes come with a touch screen that indicates speed and position, works as navigational assistance and can direct us to the nearest station to return the bike. Many roads have a cycling lane or are for exclusive use by cyclists and pedestrians. This is no surprise. Copenhagen is probably the most ambitious capital city in the world when it comes to climate policy. The city has set a goal to become carbon neutral by 2025. Some actions they are taking to realize that goal are very visible: construction of walk- and bike lanes and bridges as well as two new metro lines. An excellent destination for us! Read more about Copenhagen’s actions in a separate Sustainable Solution article and video.
That’s what (Friends of) Friends Are for
Spending time with locals. When it comes to what is the favourite part of our trip, it beats beautiful nature and stunning architecture. In Copenhagen we have the pleasure of meeting Per and Allan. A common friend gave us their phone number and soon after our text message of our arrival in town, we welcome them on board.
After sailing around the world for two years, Per and Allan are now back in Copenhagen. They are not only super friendly, but also of great help. They drive us to a chandlery that sells LED navigation lights. Floris later replaces them for the broken ones when he goes to the top of the mast for the first time. And they generously offer that we do the laundry at their apartment. They experienced first hand how difficult laundry machines can be found. As the machine tumbles, we enjoy a delicious dinner and wonderful company. Many thanks guys, you really spoiled us!
Our Research Takes Us to the Suburbs
On our last day in Copenhagen we take the train to the suburb of Hedehusene. We’re on our way to Rockwool, world leader in stone wool. According to experts, reducing energy use is the most sensible action to take during the renewable energy transition. This idea has been firmly embedded in Danish building standards, which are some of the strictest energy efficiency norms in the world. Rockwool’s isolation help reduce energy consumption in homes and office buildings, so in a way its central business case is energy reduction.
Sustainability Manager Connie Enghus Theisen and Public Affairs Director Susanne Kuehn explain that stone wool has great insulation properties and can easily be recycled. After a very tasty lunch in the canteen – or should we say Michelin-quality cuisine? – we experience first-hand that the material is also fire-resistant and waterproof during real-life demonstrations. It’s a good feeling to have stone wool built into the interior of Lucipara2! Read more about Danish building standards and our visit to Rockwool in a separate Sustainable Solution article and video on energy efficiency.
Sweden Here We Come, but not as Planned
“I’m not sure we should sail to Stockholm and take the Gota channel through Sweden” Floris says during breakfast. He brings up the topic that was on both our minds for some time. Our extensive research and trips in and around Copenhagen fully absorbed us. Before we knew it, we were moored for a full week in Amaliehavn. Realizing that our plan to visit Sweden, Norway and Scotland before the autumn starts is ambitious, we rethink our route for Sweden. To save time, diesel fuel and a stiff Gota channel fee, we decide to sail the Swedish West coast instead.
The weather forecast is predicting an end to the gentle SW 4/5 breeze with sun that we got used to over the last week. What will follow is a stronger NW wind, which won’t get us North to Sweden. However, if we leave this afternoon, we’ll be able to make some northerly progress on the Swedish West Coast before the good weather window closes. That means we need to leave directly after our visit to Rockwool.
With a SW 4/5 we set sail towards Sweden in the afternoon. While taking some last images and video of the wind turbines in Copenhagen’s harbour, and staying clear of a big cruise ship that also decided to leave, we head north in the Sont. In the lee of Sælland we eat a freshly baked quiche. At Helsingør castle we see some dolphins frolicking, what a beautiful sight. Ivar even manages to capture them on video. As we reach the open sea, the wind and waves increase. Our next waypoint is the lighthouse on the cape at Mölle. During the night shift the wind picks up to 25 knots and we need to reef the sails. Sailing very close to the wind, we’re only just able to pass by. We feel relieved when the Mölle light moves to the background. When the new day starts, the wind slowly dies down and we close in on Gothenburg in the early evening with the very last breath of wind. When our anchor falls in a beautiful anchorage near Gothenburg we are glad we were able to use this tight weather window.
Exploring Swedish Breath-taking Nature
The Swedish West Coast between Gothenburg and the Norwegian border is dotted with islands. From small barren rocks that barely penetrate the water surface to lush, green lands with villages, forests and beaches. Many offer protected anchorages from where we explore picturesque villages and wild nature on foot and by kayak. This coast is a popular holiday destination for Swedes and Norwegians, which means it is teaming with boats. Apart from Marstrand, we avoid harbours, which fill up early in the day. Instead we anchor in natural bays, some deserted, some quite crowded.
‘Hey Lucipara!’ we hear from a rowing boat close by. Moments later Lars and Kirsten climb on board. They follow us on Facebook and saw that we are anchored in the same bay as they are, near Gullholmen. The young Dutch couple explore Scandinavia with their recently purchased Victoire “Stern”. Lars also writes for Dutch sailing magazine “Zeilen”; his story about his trip to the Baltic Sea featured just before our story in the January vacation special. We enjoy drinks together and share ideas, plans and dreams.
Our favourite destination on this coast is Koster. These two islands are located just south of the Norwegian border. Part of the islands and a large area around them are a national park, Kosterhavet. Sweden has an impressive history of nature conservation and founded Europe’s first national park in 1909. Kosterhavet is the only marine park and the most recent addition to the list of 29 national parks. We learn all about the special underwater world at the visitor centre (Naturum). Panels, a film and an aquarium are used to educate visitors on the history, diversity and importance of nature conservation. They also promote a snorkelling trail as a real-life underwater experience. We can’t resist that opportunity and dig up our snorkels and flippers the next day. It is a beautiful day, so we kayak to the start of the trail. Information on the marine life is placed on underwater info boards connected by a rope. Thanks to the very clear water and the handy brushes that are tied to the info boards, we also learn something on some of the many sea creatures that are around us (if we got the Swedish interpretation right). Read more about Sweden’s nature conservation methods and our explorations in a separate Sustainable Solution article and video.
How to Garden Sustainably on a Rocky Island
South Koster is also home to Kosters Trädgårdar. The small farm and restaurant are popular among the islands’ summer visitors. During our first visit we stroll through the garden and enjoy a delicious lunch. We also meet Helena, who founded the farm together with her husband Stefan 20 years ago. They employ the principles of permaculture, which Helena explains to us when we visit again. In its design and day-to-day operation, everything is inspired by nature. The location of the garden is in the lee of the forest to protect it from strong winds and close to a fresh water stream. Plants that need most sunlight are south-facing, crops that need the most attention are located next to the most frequently routes. There is a closed nutrient loop: plant and kitchen waste is used as compost. The people we meet are enthusiastic, dedicated and work in a cooperative structure. We’re impressed by the effectiveness of permaculture on such a remote, rocky place with such a short growing season. Read more about Kosters Trädgårdar and permaculture in a separate Sustainable Solution article and video.
The weather commands us to leave
After a few lovely days on the Koster islands, the grib files are clear. There is a perfect weather window to sail to Norway. If we miss it, we’ll be stuck here with strong westerly winds for at least four days. Although it is certainly not a punishment to hang around, we know that the Scandinavian summer is short. We set sail for Larvik, Norway. After a full day on the sea in perfect conditions we drop our anchor at the end of the Larvik Fjord, right by Larvik’s beach. A year after our previous visit, we are back in this hospitable country. We can’t wait to continue its exploration.