With a hull constructed entirely of oak to limit her magnetic signature, HMS Gåssten was one of the last three wooden ships to serve in any navy and is the only one of her class left afloat. Of her sister ships, one was lost at sea and the other sits outside the Vasa Museum in Stockholm as an important example of Sweden’s naval heritage. In 2018, HMS Gåssten underwent a wonderful transformation from functional naval vessel to beautiful live-aboard; a charming and versatile floating home from which to explore the glorious Norwegian fjords. The work was done by master-craftsmen in Scotland, who were tasked with maintaining her unique character whilst making her fit for purpose, and the results have been a huge success.
The officers' quarters have been remodelled into five simple cabins, all with their own bathrooms. They are snug but extremely comfortable, warm and very much in keeping with the expeditionary nature of the ship. Importantly, they retain some of the original naval features, such as the exposed oak beams and wooden panelling. On the fore deck, a new saloon has replaced the original mine-lifting crane, and this acts as the social hub of the ship as well as the main dining area. On the saloon roof, a new deck space has been created from which to admire the awesome scenery of the surrounding Sunnmøre Alps in fine weather and perhaps the wondrous Northern Lights, in the winter months. By contrast, the bridge has been left largely untouched and retains the look and feel of the old minesweeper, and the gun turret on the bow deck has been removed to facilitate access for swimmers wishing to jump into the crystal-clear waters below.
The crew on board are exceptional and know every inch of the coastline. At mealtimes, delicious food emerges from the galley at the stern, peppered with many local delicacies and often containing the fish, crabs and lobsters that you may have caught earlier that day. All meals and drinks are included in the charter price. With every summer charter, a top local guide will be on board to help plan your daily activities, which will include hiking through the beguiling mountain ranges which tower over the fjords, cycling / e-biking along glacial valleys and through neat villages full of pretty clapboard houses, kayaking the gentle, protected waters in which you are sailing and enjoying the paddleboards on board. Your hosts will also find you the very best locations for catching huge Atlantic cod, enormous crabs and lobsters and hopefully spotting the biggest residents of all – the whales and porpoises that come right into the fjords after the herring. And at the end of a long day out in the fresh air, perhaps revitalise your weary limbs with an hour or so in a traditional, floating Norwegian sauna, alternating between the extreme heat of the interior and the refreshing cool of the waters on which it floats.
One of the huge advantages of HMS Gåssten is that she is able to enter fjords from which the cruise ships are banned, meaning that you will have them largely to yourselves – a vast, natural playground formed of some of the world’s most spectacular natural landscapes. And as such, you will also have easy access to some of the most remote mountains and fjords in Norway, with your own private vessel to act as pick-up and drop-off. In winter, HMS Gåssten becomes the perfect live-aboard for ski-touring enthusiasts, keen to tackle some of the finest mountains for wild-skiing in Europe. The expert, on-board mountain-guides assess the conditions and select suitable daily challenges depending on your skiing ability, whilst the boat is able to drop off and collect from all manner of otherwise inaccessible places, cutting down on the walking and giving access to slopes that others can not reach!
- Length: 24m
- Built: 1973 and refitted 2018/19
- Style: Oak-hulled former Swedish minesweeper
- No. Cabins: 2 x Double Cabins, 2 x Twin Cabins (bunks) and 1 x Double/Twin Cabin
- Bathrooms: 5 en-suite/adjacent bathrooms
- In-cabin: Individual heating controls
- Kit: WIFI
- Toys: Kayaks, e-bikes, paddleboards, fishing equipment, lobster pots & board games
- Crew: Captain, chef, host / deckhand, guide
- Housekeeping: daily cleaning and 1 linen/towel change per week
Photograph credit to Gordie Smith, Tanya Sheasby and Beetle Campbell.