Leaping to Landsort

Landsort (literally meaning ‘spit of land’) is generally considered the most southerly point of the Stockholm archipelago and is actually a village on the island of Öja. The village has around 30 permanent residents and is probably most famous for the lighthouse. The lighthouse is the oldest one in Sweden and was built in 1689. The original building was designed to support an open fire burning coal and for many years this was the only warning light. In 1840 an oil lamp was installed along with mirrors giving a much more powerful and consistent light and in 1869 a conical roof was added. An electric light took over in 1938 and the march of technology now means that, like most lighthouses around the world, it is fully automated.

Landsort lighthouse

Surrounding the light is the partially preserved Landsort battery. This is a mainly underground complex of artillery stations, radar and measuring stations, fire and command centres and everything else needed to support the troops required to man the battery. There is a central tunnel directly under the lighthouse which can house 82 people and and room under one of the guns can accommodate a further 46 people. It was manned from its establishment in 1933 as part of the ‘seaward line’ of defence of Stockholm through to the end of the war at which point the garrison was stood down. Sweden was, however, neutral during the war, so no shots were fired from here in anger. There were a few incidents. One of those was in 1943 when the motor vessel Glan apparently ran aground and sank. The Captain, in the inquiry, said that he had been blinded by the searchlight which was shone at him and that was why he had run aground. I wonder whether this was perhaps more connected with another incident in 1942 when it was reported that the soldiers were running an illegal still at the base. When Stockholm Police were brought in to search for it, apparently nothing was found, or at any rate they didn’t declare anything. I wonder how they were paid off ….. Perhaps the Captain of the Glan had been sampling these wares as well? As you can see, it must have been an exciting posting to Landsort.

We sailed into a small gasthamn on the north western side of Öja after a fairly short trip of just 11 miles from Nynashamn. There are a few stern buoys (we managed to pick up one of them) but the rest of the space requires a stern anchor. The harbour is very exposed to the west – indeed we have passed it many times on our way north, but on this occasion easterlies were forecast so we made the most of it and moored up and did the lovely 2 mile walk south to the village and the lighthouse. With relatively benign conditions we stayed for the night as well.

Landsort Gasthamn

The island is also the location for a pilot station and this has been the case since the 17th Century when the requirement to take on a pilot became a legal obligation. The skills of the pilots were considered so important that pilots were exempted from military service. The pilot boats still head out regularly to put pilots onto the ships heading up into Södertälje and Lake Mälaren. The island has always been important as well to fisherman and twice a year fishermen from Trosa would head out and live on the island to fish for herring. The various harbours they used are still evident and have a distinctly Swallows and Amazon feel to them.

Fishing harbour on Öja