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

 

Byebye Fredrikstad

The day before we set sail the harbour is covered in ice and all our ropes on deck are due to previous rain frozen to solid blocks of ice. There is a storm heading our direction – so large that it may cover the entire kingdom. The weather-people are staying every one better stay inside. On the bright side; the boat is packed with everything we should need for weeks to come. The deck is prepared, food stoved, dishes washed and all clothes clean. Tomorrow morning we will engine ourselves across the Oslo-fjord to our first port of call on this voyage: Stavern.

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Mother sowing

The map and safety-apps are downloaded, along with games to the PlayStation for lock-down days at port. The mothers have had their chance to speak their minds, the routes have been semi-planned and other thinkable complications have been discussed. We have bought new sailing suits and flares in case shit hits the fan. There was a party on Monday to say farewell to our local friends in Fredrikstad.

We are at the peak of winter and from here on the temperatures should in theory rise. The days has become a lot longer and this is important since we are in need of all the heat we can get from above. Not that we worry too much, there will be plenty of cities and guest harbours for the first half of this journey north. Meaning we’ll have lots of places to get some additional electricity and maybe even a hot shower.

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Last dinner onboard in Fredrikstad

For the first day we have recruited Ibby, an old Mate of Captain Simen, to sail with us to Stavern. It’s going to be his first sail ever and it will be nice to have someone help us out with all our frozen sails and ropes. Tomorrow morning will be the start of a special journey. Wish us luck and feel free to check in on the blog once in a while to get the latest news on the venture.

Byebye Fredrikstad,

Captain Jack

Final port of call

We have arrived! Our beloved ship is safely tied to the dock up river from down town Fredrikstad. Our journey of somewhere around 1400 kilometers or just about 755 nautical miles have been completed. Some may say that we have won the prize for slowest passing of this distance ever. And that might just be, but we are extremely pleased with the trip in all aspects. Also, we are back in the exact spot where this blog was started a long long time ago. We are now settling in for a few slow weeks to plan out our future projects and let winter get a real grip on both us and the Norwegian landscape.

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In the days to come we are planning to see some good snow and maybe even climb some mountains, see friends and family. It has taken somewhere in the area of 3 months to complete this first journey with this wonderful boat – Ella, the boats name for now have really proven her value to us, she’s a solid ship and we’ll take great care of her in the months and years to come. We’ve had the pleasure of basically having the whole coastline to ourselves, Captain Simen say we have seen possibly 10 leisure boats throughout this adventure, the rest have been commercial ships and that sort. We have met some great people and seen the amazing landscape surrounding the Swedish Kingdom.

The engine drank 200 Euro worth of fuel and about 1 liter oil, we have spent 180 Euro on harbour fees. I have sown and mended the sails 5 times but other than that there have been amazingly few repairs and fixes. No fish has been caught since Valdemarsvik, we’ve ran through a whole box of salt and pepper. The statistics are endless, but the sum equals one of my life’s most interesting adventures. Including a few investments into equipment, a computer, a metal detector, a new battery, tools, food, drinks and everything that should now keep us afloat throughout the winter – The total amount spent is just over 3200 Euro, this results in about 15 Euro a day for each of us.

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We have many thank you’s to send. Thank you for the support and thank you for following our blog, reading and kind words on our way. Thanks for help, water, food, laughs and gifts. It’s all greatly appreciated. We will now go into hibernation for some time. We need to charge our batteries and get the boat ship shape – ready for our next adventure!

I have decided to make this post short and sweet. Thank you again for following the blog, I hope we’ve at least inspired you to be tiny-bit adventures in the future. Until next time – stay cool, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and I can’t wait to see you again in 2020!

Captain Jack

 

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Stuck in a storm

Once again we have been forced to move slowly. We haven’t come far since last post. As this is being written the wind hit the boat with storm force and we’ve had to make use of all available fenders. The gusts are supposed to hit 25 meters a second in an hour or so. This is within classification of a storm. Just a few moments ago the wind ripped off our solar panel and cracked the whole protective glass, we’ll take the damage report tomorrow. We have found ourselves a safe harbour in Fjellbacka and will wait out the storm here.

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Great weather earlier today

Due to rain we chose to spent a few days in Kungshamn, an rather large village to small town. It’s obvious that this part of the Swedish Kingdom is mostly built up around the summer part of the year, but that suits our budget well. We met an nice old happy Swedish camper covering up his boat for the season. He had flown in from Florida to take care of business. As we shared stories over a few drinks he offered it came out that he was the inventor of a special type of anchor. As patent owner, Hans gave us one of the prototypes. We are so thankful, meaning we have finally an anchor to use up front. Since our aft anchor is bolted to the railing in the back it’s hard to get a smooth anchorage in higher waves, but with another anchor in front we are positively inspired for the future. Hans of course had plenty of stories and we shared a good meal together on our last night in town.

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My mother with husband also came to visit. Although we are not really far from the border they decided to treat themselves to a Sunday drive, they also brought a nice bag of food. The result is of course that in the two days that have passed since we have eaten royal dinners onboard. It took them about an hour and a half to drive the way that will take us 3 active days. Part of the things to consider now is also the temperatures that are closing down toward zero. Plus an active windchill and rain we are only able to sail for a few hours a day.

Our sail today however was a good one. We enjoyed a beautiful mostly sunny voyage as the wind slowly increased to the howling now tormenting us from the side. We passed through a canal where we had a bridge opened for us and saw some beautiful summer houses all the way here. There was no need to sail on open water so we stayed in between the hundreds of islands an the area.

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I’m extremely happy we selected this spot and not the first we saw that would probably flush us out on open water and crash us into a rocky shore down the coast. I think sleep tonight will be quite an adventure – but it still looks good for us to reach our destination by the end of the week.

Captain Jack

December sailing

December is here. The deck is covered with frost in the morning and the inner shallow bays of the west-Swedish archipelago is covered in a layer of thin ice all day long. The sun rarely peek through the clouds but we are able to keep up the temperature with warm clothing and electric heat during the windy nights. Life is magical and just as we were running out of fresh food, Captain Tommy came by with a Christmas present of two bags with great stuff to fill our stomachs. For those of you that are long time followers you’ll remember we shared a week with the amazing Captain Tommy as we were traveling in the waterways of Baltzar about 14 months ago.

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Due to the short days of daylight and mixed weather we have decided to go a bit slower this last part than originally planned. There is no lack of harbors to visit and since we are out of season most placed don’t charge anything, although showers are lacking. The one we found was one in the corner of an unheated public bathroom –  that would have to do for the week. Now also with a bag full of potatoes and a box of creme fraiche we are not stressing anything.

So far the sails have been holding up since the last repair. We are crossing all fingers that the stitches will hold it together for another week. If not, I believe we do have enough diesel onboard to make it anyways. Sailing this last bit is most amazing. We are enjoying great winter winds and are pretty much sticking to the inside fareways. This said, we do need to keep an eye on the strong winds to the north and the ones coming in from east. There may even be another break-day to let some hard weather get through in front of us.

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One of many wonderful places

Our journey since the last post have been good. We are visiting plenty of harbors and are not having any concern to how far we go in a day. But a look out the window right now as the time is 16:12 it’s basically already dark and I would much rather enjoy the sights of this landscape. Captain Simen has been awake bright and early this week and have therefor been naturally taking the first shifts. I keep getting late to bed due to some way to interesting crime-series. At night we’ve had no problems finding electricity to keep warm and enlightened.

IMG_20191203_120639.jpgThere have been no luck with our desperate attempts of fishing. But one of these days we are bound to get something big. One of our poles broke to something that must have been a monster-fish, but luckily we have a more poles laying around here somewhere. I am lobbying to get a net onboard and hopefully this can get into our next budget, if of course we can’t find one that is being given away somewhere..

All in all, we are having a great time. We have even secured a dock for our arrival. The harbor master in Lisleby, Petter, have given us permission to use FF Harry’s old spot for the duration of our stay in Fredrikstad.

Captain Jack

X-mas gift

A small donation is always greatly appreciated. One unit buys one liter of fuel 🙂

€1.00

Northbound

We have started the last stretch on our journey to Norway. The break in Copenhagen was a much needed one and we have almost recharged our batteries. I learned yesterday that it is basically just five weeks until my mother have demanded our presence for Christmas eve. Unless the weather turn stormy or something radical happen on the way – we will make it, no problem. Over the Angelholm bay however, the strong wind ate our foresail and we are once again down for repairs. The problem is those damn seams that is supposed to hold the sheets of the sail together. Over the years these seams have loosened or rotted away. The result is that I’ll have to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20 hours to now sow meters of sail by hand. 

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It’s all part of the game. I don’t really mind and so far it looks like we have found a protected harbour that is closed down for the season. That mean they have turned of the machine to pay and sadly also closed down the showers. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that the time has come to once again get ourselves cleaned up. This is harder than you would think actually. We have resigned to boiling water and wet-wipes. Living on a boat like this take away the everyday need to shower, but once in a while even hard-knocked free-living creatures have to wash up. We have high hopes for our next stop on the journey; Halmstad. If I can finish the sail-mending today, we should be there tomorrow afternoon. We’ll be coming in hot with 10 meter wind in our back and 1,5 meter waves.

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Arriving in Halmstad we’ll be a quarter of the way to reach our final destination for this voyage from Copenhagen to Fredrikstad, Norway. We are prepared to be a bit more limited in our movements as we get north, of course due to the winter weather. So far we have been lucky to stay out of the big storms or any snowfall, but this is bound to change in the coming weeks. Southern Norway is already snowed down and slushy yuk is covering the streets in the cities. I can’t wait. Last time I saw real snow, and not just flakes in the air, was two and a half year ago, so this is something I really look forward to!

One year ago exactly we landed in Malta. The plan then was to stay there for a couple of months only, this of course didn’t happen and we got sucked into the island-life before we knew it. Back in freedom we are coming up with plenty ideas for how to tackle 2020, but we haven’t 100% decided how to attack this yet. We have many great ideas and it will for sure be one of the most exciting years in my life. I don’t want to reveal any details in case things change or we get any other great ideas, so this will have to wait til later.

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I better get back to sowing, my morning coffee is starting to sink in. The forecast for today is rain rain rain, so in a way this happened on a good day. Please follow and share our journey! I’ll make sure to keep you updated on our progress the coming weeks. Until next time, stay safe and enjoy every day.

Captain Jack

Copenhagen here we come!

Yes, we are taking a break from Sweden. The time has come for us to visit our next country on the list. Denmark, you have been deeply missed and even though the forecast is rain, even snow and plenty of degrees in the blue – we are truly looking forward to hang around for a week or so. I must admit I’m excited to actually have a place to stay this time around, our last few visits have been deeply colored by our tendencies to live in a mix of couch-surfing and tents on all sort of illegal sites. 

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The south of Sweden have been conquered. We arrived in Smygehamn at the perfect moment after having live-streamed the passage there. The sun was just about to go down in the distance and after securing the boat to the dock we walked to the very tip of the guest harbour. This point marked the tip of mainland-Scandinavia and to us the halfway-point. Even though this is halfway, the first half also represent the hardest and slowest part of this trip to Norway. From now on, everything should in theory go smooth and much faster from here on.

Smygehamn smells bad, very bad. there’s a strong stench of rotten eggs or something much worse in the whole area. This make the place a bit unpleasant, but the guest harbour was free(!) and we got to enjoy the peace of an ended summer season by ourselves. Not counting the smell, I’m sure the people running the place could do much more to advertise this place.

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Next morning we aimed for Trelleborg. They do however not have a guest harbour at all, so we ended up stopping in the harbour before, in Gislövs läge. This is a small little village with not too much going on, the little grocery store had some light-beers for sale and this somehow inspired us to take the bus in to Trelleborg to check out the nightlife. We grabbed a great IPA at a nice restaurant in the city center, and when they closed we were sent to the only bar that was still open where we had a few more. This would have to do for our Halloween celebration. We are doing perfectly well by ourselves, and that’s good when except from an elderly couple and a bartender that didn’t look like she wanted to be there at all – we had a blast.

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We are of course setting course for the King’s city, Copenhagen. I’m a bit concerned about finding a free place to anchor up, but surly there will be a place for people like us. Our lovely ship can take just about any harbour but as our budget once again is running low, we’ll have to do this the pirate-way.

Captain Jack