Swede 'sets sail' for US via German autobahn

David Landes
David Landes - [email protected]
Swede 'sets sail' for US via German autobahn

A Swedish sailor in his seventies began a long-planned solo journey to the United States on Monday by hitching his boat to a trailer and driving through Germany.


"This way it will only take me two or three days to reach Ireland," 72-year-old Sven Yrvind told The Local from the road outside of Cologne.

"The North Sea isn't so safe for a small boat like mine. There are so many large cargo ships around Norway and the straights. A big ship may have run me down."

An experienced inventor and boat builder, Yrvind has spent the last three years building the roughly 5-metre vessel--dubbed will take him from Kinsale, Ireland to Florida in the southern United States.

"It's a very special boat. It has no keel and is very small," he said, adding that "small boats are safer than big boats" for braving the rough Atlantic waters.

"Bigger boats generate larger forces and are more complicated. Small boats are much simpler."

While choosing to forego the congested waters between Sweden and the British Isles, Yrvind insisted he feels more at home on the water than on land.

"I feel safe at sea. I feel more afraid of all the people in a big town," he said.

On Monday, Yrvind left Västervik in western Sweden by car for the first leg of his transatlantic trip.

Yrvind hopes his journey, which he expects to last between two and three months, will help demonstrate the advantages of a small, keelless boat as well as draw attention to the benefits of living simply.

As has no motor, Yrvind will have to rely on the winds and his own strength to get him across the ocean.

"If there isn't any wind, I'll have to row," he said.

"I'm something of a missionary, I guess," he added, lamenting sailing traditions which have lost sight of the "fundamentals" and the pressures and distractions of modern society.

"When I was born, there were 2 billion people on earth, and now there are nearly 7 billion and that just can't continue," said Yrvind.

"We're using up our resources and with the TV and radio always on, you can't think by yourself."

Yrvind, who has been sailing for more than 50 years, consciously chose a transatlantic route that would make the journey last longer than the three to four weeks which is typical of Atlantic crossings.

"It takes a month to become one with the sea. It's a good chance to clean out your brain of all the garbage you get from society," he said.

According to Yrvind, life—as well as his voyage to the United States—is very much about the journey, rather than the destination.

"We think happiness is always one step ahead and we have to keep trying to catch up with it, but if you slow down, you often find that it's right there in front of you," he said.


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also