Hi Ingela --
Thank you so very much for writing -- and explaining. The kind of person/young man you describe sounds a lot like my great-grandfather (or what my mother has told me about him). You describe what perhaps could be called national characteristics that he himself embodied. He was a quiet, reserved man; my mom remembers him best on the porch of a small cabin he would "escape" to, smoking his pipe and carving something with his knife.
It is because he was so quiet about his life that I do this searching now; we don't know a lot about what, precisely, his life was like in Ostergotland, then Stockholm. It is as though his life began in a New York City registry office marrying his Stockholm sweetheart (whom he called his "little sugar grain" -- but that may be my awful translation!). She herself was the daughter of a fisherman, who drowned when she was 9 years old.
So, thank you for this background. I was wondering, not really if it were possible for him to have been a seaman, but rather if it made sense that he went to England to become a Merchant Marine, wondering if that path was a common one for young men from Sweden. It seemed an adventure (and an expense) before the "real" adventure even began. But what you are saying puts his experience in perspective...would be interesting if I could find out when, exactly, he sailed for England and what he did on his voyages.
I appreciate your insight very much. As I mentioned, it's become important to me to gain some understanding of my relatives who I will, unfortunately, never meet beyond a name, date, a few photos, and stories.