Memoires of a puking Goddess

The darkness swallowed our ship as we sailed into whatever was left of the cold clear night. I had spent hours planning our longest passage ever. To stay ahead of the coming storm we had to sail hard for the coming 24 hours, or risk being land-bound for as long as a week. Further up the coast we would be much more likely to keep sailing protected from the raging Norwegian sea. For the journey we had recruited a new crew-member; Line, the goddess traveled through our virus-infected country and arrived just hours before we left the port i Trondheim.

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We have, as everyone else been very much restricted in our movements due to a certain virus that is currently taking over the world. Walking down empty streets in the third largest city of Norway on a Saturday night feels strange and at the same time somewhat calming. At the moment the borders to our country is closed for visitors and even within the country many quarantined zones make it hard for people to move around. So it was with the outmost luck that we got The Goddess onboard before all ways of traveling are closed down further.

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As for our own protection we have gone into what we would refer to as a half-ass-quarantine, meaning we avoid contact with as many as possible and try to keep distance to everyone. This do not help us however when we are no longer allowed to use public spaces like showers and such, but the rules/laws are different everywhere and we’ll do our best to comply, but a sailor got to do what a sailor got to do.

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Leaving Trondheim Captain Simen went to sleep while myself had my hands full teaching the Goddess the ways of the sea. Even they have to know the most important rules of the coast, the buoys and how to make out a safe lead-way. We had the basics down before sunrise and as later everyone was awake we spent a long and wonderful day at sea. I don’t think anyone could ask for a better first day in a sailboat than what the Goddess got served this morning. The winds were great, the scenery just amazing. None of us had any knowledge on anything this part of coastal Norway had to offer.

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Then, of course, as the darkness once again rained upon us the storm started to catch us from West. The wind picked up quite a bit and so did the waves. Once the Goddess lost her inner compass the curse of the first sail got hold of her and she fed the fishes quite generously on multiple occasions. Hanging over the railing in between with certain sea-spray every minute or so – it went on for hours before she finally collapsed in her cabin a few nautical miles from our destination. We didn’t see her until next morning.

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The Captains made sure the boat were safely in the guest harbour of Rørvik before we also went to bed. We had no rush, the slushy weather for the next couple of days gave us more than enough time to get back to our normal selves. Big kudos to Rørvik, this is the first harbour since Mandal with actual working showers and facilities. We all showered, did our laundry and the Goddess had fun with the dishes. We also got oil for the engine and talked the virus-closed pizza restaurant into serving us each a great good old burger. Even though this was probably a law-breaking meal according to a very frustrated owner, we had a good time – also probably the last dinner out in a while.

As this is being typed we have left Rørvik. We are fighting a 6 on the Beaufort’s, a strong breeze from the North making our planned daily sail about double in time. No problem for a ship like ours and tonight we’ll be docking at Leka, an island where people have been living for ten thousand years.

Captain Jack

A thousand year old city

The lights form the city of Trondheim, established in the year 997, lit up the sky in front of us. We were sailing in the light from the stars. It was a bit chilly but we have come to accept that we have entered the parts of Norway where winter is still the standard. A few hours back the wind picked up suddenly an tore our foresail into shreds pieces. There was no way for us to save it. In the ocean outside a small storm was picking up and we now motored besides a whole school whales swimming toward calmer waters. We had of course forgotten about the tide and had therefore strong currents making the passage take double the time. Our decision to make the extra trip in the Trondheim fjord was done before we started out five weeks ago. 

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Trondheim means we have passed the halfway-mark. It meant we could visit Captain Simen’s grandma and gave us time to search out a new sail. It would be extremely hard to keep sailing north without a good foresail to accompany us. Now when the winds have finally started to turn in our favor. Also we were going to pick up an extra crew for the next part of this trip north. It still remains to see if she can make the journey here, but we are trying our best to make it happen.

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As of right now, the world itself and our country is in a bit of crisis. The corona virus have totally closed down most of the cities. We’ll probably end up having to be a bit sneaky on our way from here. Shops, restaurants, services and other stuff are temporarily closed down. People are keeping to themselves and are nowhere to be seen. I almost felt privileged walking downtown Trondheim on a Saturday night with no other people outside. A random taxi and a few confused people were all we could find, if  I didn’t know better I would say it was 4:30 Wednesday morning, not eleven at night on a Saturday..

We have met some friends and found a sail. I made a couple of calls and without much problems we found a sail that would fit. I really hope it will pass the first tests when we are back on the water. It looks strong, is a tiny bit shorter, but that might just be good as we are now entering colder temperatures. And as sailors we have learned that the cold winds are much stronger and harder than the warm summer winds.

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Lucky for us we are not being in contact with too many people, as everyone else we are of course at risk whenever visiting a store or using a public bathroom, but we are crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. We are already stocked up for a month if worst should come to worst in the few weeks remaining. In short, we are probably in the safest place we could be. But the things going on might affect how long we will stay in the places we visit, if we are even aloud to dock when we get there. As of tomorrow morning we will set a steady course north. Trying to stay ahead of the new storm-system building outside of Iceland.

Captain Jack

Halfway point

The fjords are still giving is protection from the open Norwegian sea. There have been parts that made us sail in unprotected waters but once again the weather-man has given us great days and we have made some good progress. Passing Stadt, one of the more ‘dangerous’ passages on the Norwegian coast went smooth. We had about 1,5 meter waves a little wind and it was all over and done within a couple of hours. Any other day of these crazy winters it could’ve gotten pretty adventurous out there. We sailed in to Ålesund the same day looking for a much needed, nice hot shower. 

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The guest harbour in Ålesund doesn’t have any shower. No toilet, no service house. Shame on them. But there wasn’t much we could do. Can’t fight the system. Instead we got to take a walk in town and get back in touch with ourselves. Due to rain and tiredness from the long day before we stayed an extra day. Both of us have been to Ålesund before. it’s a nice city with lot’s of rich fishermen and tourists hanging around. Sadly our budget was low, but we got to share a kebab and walk around the down town area.

We had no plans for going to Molde, but since there was no showers in Ålesund we wanted to give it a try. This time I researched it upfront and they had showers! When you haven’t had a real wash since Bergen and long warm and cold days at sea a good shower and maybe a shave is all you want. But Molde gave us a cold one. First of all they had the most expensive showers since Stockholm, then when you were all undressed and soaped in and give the stupid machine your money – no hot water is coming. The water was so cold I could have made you ice-cubes in ten minutes. Now broke until payday we left town bright and early next morning.

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Between Molde and Kristiansund there is also a stretch of open water. We weren’t really worried since the reports said we would have the winds in our back, along with the waves. So it was smooth sailing, though a bit cold it turned out to be a long day but we finally got into the sheltered waters of Kristiansund and with only a few drops left on our tank we could safely pull into the fuel-station as the darkness slowly started to surround us. As we then found our spot in the guest harbour it started to rain and did so for 30 hours, hence we once again decided to stay over an extra day. By coincidence my good old colleague from a few years back was also in town for a job interview and we ended up catching up over a cup of coffee in one of the city’s many places to hang out. The rest of the day went quickly as we relaxed onboard with games and computers.

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This morning I could smell the winter outside. It was so cold that I let the autopilot take care of the job while I watched the monitors inside with my coffee. Lucky the sun came out and heated the air a bit. We are staying in a small place called Vihalsen, 60 nautical miles from Trondheim, where they most definitely should have showers. It’s a bit much to do in one day, but due to some bad weather approaching we might try for it tomorrow. If we’re lucky we’ll continue to stay just ahead of the snow.

Captain Jack

Sailing the Norwegian fjords

Having spent a couple of days in rainy Bergen we were ready to keep sailing. We still have a pretty good distance to cover and city-life was never been good for any of us. As Captain Simen slept in I hoisted the sails and broke the ship record for speed. Only using the foresail we did 8,4 knots and it felt amazing. Although we are somewhat heavy with all our stuff onboard, good old Ella moves smooth through the water even when there is some crashing waves around. I wonder if our beloved ship and home have been looking forward to this next part of the journey to 70 degrees north. 

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It’s superhard to take good pictures of the mountains, the size is crazy. In the far right corner you can see a small white speck – it’s a house.

Sailing in the fjords is something drastically different from the open water. Here the waves are kept to a minimum by the surrounding mountains and the finds get pushed pushed between them. Even the small breezes we have encountered this far are giving us good speed every day. This said, we have also been burning some diesel to keep up with our goal of keeping to at least 4 knots an hour. This again has led to us now averaging about 5 knots and this is the exact spot where Ella is breaking through and we get the great feeling of sailing for real.

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Time fly by. It has been a few days since I got to post due to a heavy lack of internet. This also makes navigating a bit tricky since it takes forever to load the maps we need to locate the reefs and shallows. We have crossed Sognefjorden, the longest fjord in the world, before this we stayed over in Fonnes, right by Kaland and then the next day in Askvoll. These are huge distances to cover using our standard. Today we crossed Nordfjord and are staying in Måløy where we are preparing the ship for one of the passages we have been most worried about. Tomorrow we will sail passed Stadt. This are is famous for it’s bad and extreme conditions. The waves here are deemed dangerous and any sailor should sail with care.

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Enjoying nice, warm and sunny days. 

For once though, it seems that the weather-gods are on our side. The last few days including the forecast for tomorrow has been amazing. This is partly what has allowed us to travel these great distances. Before breakfast tomorrow we will reach 62 degrees north, leaving us only 8 degrees to sail. Also it’s only about an hour till we are back on the open Norwegian Sea. Everything on deck is tied down and extra secured. The forecast is only about 2 meter waves and a nice slow wind of 4-6 meters a second, but you never know this time of the year.

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I think we’ll have to take a longer break soon, cause last I heard it has snowed something like two meter at our final destination. Also it’s supposedly cold and still a bit dark. And I’m not really sure if I’m ready to leave summer down here yet. But first things first, we are likely to hit Ålesund this weekend and then Trondheim early next week. And after this the amazing Lofoten is awaiting us. Every day now is a great adventure, let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Captain Jack

Playing in the North Sea

Captain Simen was sleeping in as usual as I started out from Haugesund. Little did I know that the little passage in open water straight in  from the North sea would act up hard this early morning. But it certainly did, and for two hours I had my hands full while Simen was tossed between the walls in the cabin. It was rocking pretty bad until I finally was set in a position where I was able to hoist the sail to gain some stability onboard. As the waves came crashing one after the other we made a steady 8 knot ahead with only the foresail hoisted. It was totally amazing and at the end of the run I could see a rainbow pointing the way I myself was fighting to keep the snow out of my eyes and the ship away from the thundering shore on the starboard side. 

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First we sailed from Egersund to Tananger. We have, as you might understand, been getting pretty sick of waiting for storm-systems to pass and was eager to get some miles behind us. Tananger didn’t have much to offer as we moored. I suppose this is one of the places most people go in the summer or to work on the shipyards (or whatever they are) covering the entire bay. Once again we were of course lucky to arrive just as the snow came whisking into our faces.

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The bridge in Haugesund.

In general I think the gods must be following this blog, cause they tend to make sure that we are safely tied to a pier before the skies open the daily waterfalls. Luckily February is over tomorrow, noting that this of course is a leap-year, and we are getting very close to spring. As we passed the Stavanger fjord however we finally hit snow. We are officially in waters where the snow is licking the salty waters of the ocean. Our wishes to reach green bushes and blooming hills are still a couple of months away and the truth may be that we have picked the wrong time of the year to experience these things along the Norwegian coast.

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The favala outside Bergen.

After spending a night in Tananger we made a huge leap. 54 nautical miles in 10 hours. It was great to do some sailing in the dark again. It gives me a special feeling to navigate by the lights. In some strange way, at least here down south I feel much more comfortable maneuvering the waters based on light-signals. this way I always know exactly where we are and there is little to no room for mistakes. At the end of the day we found a quiet little harbour in Klokkarvik that sadly had no electricity for us to heat our frozen bodies. We went to bed early.

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Next morning, still frozen I started the engine and sailed off in some great shine from the sun. From Klokkarvik there was only about 2,5 hours to Bergen and it was done in a coffee. In Bergen they had electricity. And rain. And snow. Shitty weather as always and a wind that made us walk in thirty degree angles. Can’t expect anything else from the only city in Norway with more days of rain than anything else. But! It’s the end of the month, it’s Saturday and it’s the first extra day of the decade. I’m off to celebrate!

Captain Jack

The storms left us alone

For the first time since we left Fredrikstad, it looks like the storms have given us a chance to make some real progress. Leaving Mandal felt great, but we didn’t get further up the coast than Farsund before the winds once again locked us in for a few days. We have been getting pretty good at playing the waiting-game and have once again survived a lock-down without developing too harsh of an cabin-fever. We are now working our way toward next big port of call and Norway’s second largest city – Bergen, sometime this week. 

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The fairly short sail to Farsund was a smooth one. We did of course not have any wind to sail in so once again we ended up motoring the whole way. It was a beautiful journey in some of the exact landscape that make thousands of people spend their summers here every year.

Farsund itself was pretty much closed down for the season. But they did have a free guest harbour, however it took us a while to find some electricity. After some walking around and a couple of phone calls to the right officials we found a spot in the local fishing harbour. We then took some time to do a few fixes on the boat before having a nice meal and went to bed. This was to be our home for the next tree days. I think I personally completed two entire series on Netflix while the other Captain did whatever he was doing on the PlayStation.

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Before leaving Farsund we had a pizza-dinner the night ahead. This made sure we got a good night sleep and didn’t have to do any dishes. Something we found fitting since Captain Simen had just finished his two day project of cleaning all our stuff. The only thing we didn’t do was the laundry, but we sailed ahead bright and early next morning aiming to make this happen as soon as possible.

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The morning came when we could finally venture on. Unsure of the weather on open water we didn’t plan to go too far the first day. 22 Nautical miles later we had found a little guest harbour in Kirkehamn which by the way literally means Church Harbour. This small little fishing village is home to about 120 residents and to our great amazement they had both free showers and a free guest harbour. We did however pay to use their laundromat, but this was a much needed investment. Kirkehamn was a quiet little place but if you’re into gaming – you may remember the place being mentioned in Red Dead Redemption 2 as a village where a mother and child was murdered. How much truth there is to the story is something I haven’t dug into. As for us the place was a quiet little harbour with no internet what so ever. It was the time to take a warm shower and find a new book to read. Luckily our library still has plenty of stuff I haven’t even looked at yet.

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The article from the game, in Norwegian.

Next morning, actually it was almost midday, we continued north. As this particular stretch of Norway offer few places to stay and has no cover from the harsh weather in the Norwegian Sea we have planned it out so we can sail for about 6-9 hours a day and in a couple of days from now reach the city of Haugesund. Sorry Stavanger, but we will be skipping you this time around.

Today we had some great wind and finally got to hoist our sail. We did an average of 5 knots all day long and even though I called the sea rescue this morning to check on the weather and they said it would be stormy, we didn’t see a speck of it. We had pretty much calm seas and good winds the whole crossing. At the moment we are safe in Egersund, here we’ll take a slow and early evening before the long stretch to Tananger tomorrow.

Captain Jack

 

Between storms

Since Elsa – last weeks storm, took out our weather station completely I won’t be able to tell you exactly how bad it got this weekend. It wasn’t too bad and we enjoyed a couple of days getting to know Mandal. Not the biggest of towns but it left us with a good vibe and some great human interactions. We went out and had pizza for Valentines Day spending the last of the budget for the week. Right as the storm came swooping in, another northbound boat docked next to us. Also we had company from a local sailor awaiting good weather to cross Skagerak over to Denmark and ultimately down to the canary islands. 

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The couple’s ship came from Tjøme, just across the Oslo-fjord from where we started out. They had sat course for Svalbard, but where sailing in good time. Meaning they are planning to spend vacations and holidays until they reach northern Norway.

The weather makes it hard for us to plan ahead. After we spent a couple of days in Mandal we finally had one good day of sun and little wind. We used this little pocket filled with amazing sun to sail passed Lindesnes, and get started on our journey north. We have officially passed the most southern coordinates and the spirit onboard is high.

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Passing Lindesnes Lighthouse

Then the gods decided it was time for some more heavy rain and even a bit of snow. We are once again awaiting some more sailable elements to take us over the next couple of days which also include the only non-protected waters until we hit Stadt, much further north. As long as we can get our asses passed Stavanger, we’ll have protection from fjords and islands to press on – even with some nasty winds or precipitation.

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For now we are docked in Farsund. This is a smaller town than Mandal with less than ten thousand people. Their guest harbour is closed for the season, so we didn’t have to pay but this also ruined our plans of getting some laundry done. We spent some time figuring out the electrics, cause they seem to have closed it down due to a technical error somewhere. A phone-call to some officials fixed the problem and we are now able to make all the waiting-coffee we can drink.

Captain Simen took on him to seal the exposed steel Elsa did to our hull. We then made a quick fix by spraying the area with some simple white color and hope this will hold until we eventually get the boat in dry dock this summer. At least it should keep the rust away for now. The jerry cans with diesel have also made some damage to deck and had to be moved around on deck a bit. I wish of course that we’d have more space for stuff on deck but we’ll just have to make the best of what we have.

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The flooded dock in Mandal

For now, it’s supposed to rain pretty much constantly for the next ten days. We don’t really have the liberty to wait that long so even though it will be wet, we’ll be sailing on as soon as the low pressure have passed and the waves are down at a respectable level. The exposed coastline up to Stavanger is long and I’d hate to have side-waves all the way. My dream is for the winds to turn north and give us a great long surf the whole way. One can only dream. Until then, Simen has connected the PlayStation and I’ll be working on some writing.

Captain Jack

Prepping for the Norwegian Sea

For the first day since we started our journey north, we’ve had calm seas and hail. Apart from the hail it was amazing to have the autopilot finally getting to do it’s job. Most of the day we enjoyed reading books and sipping a nice cup of coffee. We have this little camera pointing forward to see ships and other things that may get in our way and it seem to work fine whenever there is no rain or anything else blocking the view. We can sit at the chart-table and just pop our heads up to check for other ships once in a while. The sad news is that another storm is coming this weekend. We have to use the days between the storms effectively to get as far as possible, but then there’s this balance of taking care of ourselves, stay safe and enjoy the journey at the same time.  

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A serious Captain Simen reading his book.

We docked in Kristiansand. It’s a fairly big city in Norway of well over a hundred and ten thousand people. Lucky for us they had electricity for heat. My hopes of filling our cans of water disintegrated as I almost walked right off the pier. The people running this place had disconnected the whole pier, no wonder there were no other boats around. Result was; we suddenly had our own little downtown island, cut off from the world with barely enough water for the super-important coffee next morning.

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The trip down the coast to our next destination was short and sweet. We only did 24 nautical miles with an average of 4 knots. It was a beautiful day on the water, the best so far – probably what is know to be the silence before the storm. It’s not that I would ever complain about this horrible weather, but if the gods get what they want it will be shitty for the next 5-6 days. We can take a bit of wind, we can take a bit of waves, we can respectfully take some rain and even snow – but not all at once. Better stay put and await further orders.

In the last post i mentioned that Lindesnes is the most southern point of Norway, I’ll take this back, I stand corrected – cause it’s not. It will however be our most southern point on our venture north from Fredrikstad. The most southern point, and I learned this yesterday, is actually a small reef called “Pysen” and we passed north of it earlier today.

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Mandal is a whole lot smaller than Kristiansand but have ten times the charm. There is only about 15 thousand people here, and they have all the amenities you could need in a small place like this. Time will show if its enough to keep us occupied during our stay. To get here we passed through an amazing archipelago with hundreds of cabins in all shapes and sizes. The people we have met so far have been most welcoming and we’ve found a great spot in the harbour. This is of course one of the best things about living onboard, most of the time you get to live in the down-town area of the cities you visit. This give you short walks to almost anything.

Besides reading a few books and drinking tons of coffee, we are settling in for a few quiet days in the boat. If we are really lucky we’ll even get to take a shower in the service house which for some reason stands unlocked. From here I have calculated about 20 active days of sailing to hit Trondheim. It’s a reach, but our working-goal is to hit Trondheim before March 15th. It’s possible to make it – but as we will be entering the Norwegian Sea whenever we start from Mandal we need to get the boat back to ship shape first. We are likely to encounter quite a few waves and there is still many weeks left of this years storm season.

Captain Jack

Riding out the high tide

After the boat got scratched and badly manhandled by “Elsa”, the storm, we sat course south-west – away from Stavern. The winds blew into our faces the entire day and for the first few hours we were busy securing stuff on deck and getting resettled in the boat after the few days spent in Stavern. The waves came down a bit after a while and we only had to deal with those in the area of four meters or 13 feet at the highest – But out on deep water this was almost pleasant. What was no fun at all however was the last part into the harbour of Portør, which was one of the hardest tackles I’ve ever attempted. For future reference; Going in to Portør in any form of bad-ass weather is hereby not advised. 

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But this crew made it, and inside we found a winter-abandoned village with plenty of space. There was no guest harbour as anticipated, but we made use of the side ferry dock that we guessed would not be in use for another couple of months. The port itself has been in use for as long as we can tell. In 1981 there was found a boat out here that dates back to the 1500’s. Portør have always been an important safe and emergency harbour for ships passing by.

We took a short walk in the last bit of daylight. There is really just one tiny road that run from our dock and across the bay passing a small shop that sell extremely expensive ice cream. The only person we saw during our stay was a kayaking man in a red jacket. The early evening was spent refilling engine oil and cooking potatoes with fishcakes for an already sleeping Captain Simen.

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Arendal welcomed us with calm waters. The largest waves we tumbled over today must have been 7 meters high. It’s a total rush, but good old Ella get the job done. The average height of the waves was probably somewhere in between 3-5 meters, but it’s always a special feeling having a mountain of water coming toward you. We drank some sea-spray for a few hours but there was no problem out there at all. Except to maybe make the coffee, that turned out to be quite a hazzle. Since we had a whole night with no electricity in Portør, it was good to get back the heat here in Arendal.

We are currently prepping for tomorrows sail. Actually; tomorrow is supposed to bring close to no wind, no weather at all actually… No wind, no rain no centigrade’s – I guess we’ll have to make use of the engine again. Our hopes are high to go fast enough ahead of the bad weather coming in this weekend to see Lindesnes in daylight, this is the most southern point of Norway. If not tomorrow, maybe we’ll be there the day after. It’s extremely hard to say with all this global warming going on – it makes planning your day almost impossible.

Captain Jack

 

Seasickness-training in Stavern

We’ve been tossed around in our boat for a good 36 hours now and are finally seeing the last of this storm. You could’ve said that we should have been smarter with where we dock and that an opening straight out to the bay possibly wouldn’t be the best of choices. It has resulted in us losing much needed sleep and a couple of fenders. On top of this we’ve had a few scratches to the hull, but nothing critical. It does not look optimal and will require us to take the bat ashore at some point after our arrival at the final destination for this trip. It’s all cosmetic, except some exploded fenders and a need to invest in some new ropes. 

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Picture by NRK. Red area is red warning for flood.

We are luckily not in the hot zone for the coming super-flood and are currently tied to a floating bay that should keep us safe throughout the night. In some parts of Norway, somewhat in the area where we’d be next week are currently dealing with the largest spring-flood of the last hundred years. Best of luck to all of you out there, may you not obtain any lasting damage. Our plan will be to set sail at first daylight tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be good enough and we should be able to get quite a few miles done in a fairly short amount of days – if we push on before the next storm system is due to arrive in a weeks time.

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This storm did not come as a surprise on us and we should definitely have done a better job on where to dock our boat in a situation like this. But the experience has been archived with other files for steep learning-curves and will not happen again. On the other side, we’ve had plenty of time to discover Stavern. Ibby, the cadet, survived until Saturday afternoon before setting course for the city of Halden. Before this we had to check out the local pub and had the pleasure of meeting all of the towns originals in one night. This of course called for a great party that lasted to the early hours.

All of Sunday then went on with regularly checks in the powerful storm outside and making sure that everything was tied down. Our beloved stack of Jerry cans on deck need a new system, in short I suppose it’s time to install some more bolts on deck and to make sure there won’t be any unwanted leaks or loss of life essential fuels. We are in good spirit, have had visits from friends and families. The crew is mentally preparing and is getting ready for another great week of sailing; This time some of the most visited coastline in Norway. It’s a freakin’ summer paradise and we can’t wait to have it mostly to ourselves.

Captain Jack