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“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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