I am moored to a wooden boat builders on the N side of Sagvag.
Today we dropped below 60 degrees N. So just after my 60th birthday we made it to that latitude.
The weather was not great and the places recommended to me for stops were full OR in the prevailing winds not worth trying. But I think I have fallen on my feet.
Coming in to Sagvag I turned to port and was passing an old quay with wooden boats. There were two spare berths on the old wooden quay. I signalled to a chap standing on the balcony of a pretty white house overlooking the quay if it was alright for us to berth?
There was a flurry of Norwegian and gesticulating! This was all rather worrying I thought!. It is always so embarrassing to say ‘English English .. I am so sorry I don’t speak Norwegian.’ Then someone replies in perfect English.
I did think I was being told to get lost! Not a bit of it!
‘Of course you can berth there! As long as you like! This is the oldest wooden boat builder in Norway. We are on holiday. Stay there! Help yourself to electricity’.
As I was berthing and getting my mid ships line secure I said of course I would pay. I would HAVE to pay.
‘If you want to pay … Leave! Tomorrow I show you the boat yard’. My new friend promptly and quite rightly disappeared out of the rain in to his pretty white house.
Now that is a lovely welcome in the rain.
The two places I have missed today are Bekkjarvik, which was full.
There were also very discouraging looks from boats moored who obviously did not want us to raft. Our second stop, Brandasund, about 8 NM further, seemed a little tricky on the chart in the prevailing southerlies so I stayed inland in the fjords between the islands. Sagvag looked so here we are. We are also a good deal further south than I had planned to be this evening.
There were a couple of alarming moments going under bridges. I know my air draft. The bridges clearly give their clearance height. But even with ten metres to spare it looks as though one is going to ……………….CRASH. Rediculous! Quite why looking up does not look nearly as high as looking down I really don’t know! God gave us that defence I suppose! Falling is very bad for ones health and gravity prevents us falling up. I wonder if birds see the same vision! Vertigo for a bird would be hell! I don’t think I will have this conversation with a mountaineer.
BUT we are no longer 60 degrees N. Its been quite something being 60 degrees N since Lerwick. I’m really proud of my lovely ship to have taken me so far north. I know its not far north in some people’s eyes but this Thames Estuary sailor has never sailed a boat further north than Great Yarmouth so its big stuff for ME! ‘Talisker 1’ is of course an old hand having sailed in the NE and the W coast of Scotland so she probably thinks it’s all so easy. She isn’t letting on if she has been 60 degrees N though! Secretive lady.
I spent two days at Sandringham YC seeing no one, but having taken the bus to the nearest shopping centre I spotted Bergen Sailing Club and a lot of boats. The bus driver spoke impeccable English and said I would see more people there.
I moved to Bergen SC on the 8th. The club has brand new excellent facilities including a new club house.
The moment I arrived I was made welcome. The club have a famous race to Lerwick and back each year. Just before we arrived in Lerwick they had completed this years race. I think it’s an excuse to fill their boats with booze for the return journey. The return race is probably less competitive! Alcohol is a fantastic price in Norway.
I sat with three members, one of whom had just done the race for the nineteenth time. I was shown a film of the race, incidentally sponsored by Pantaenius (my boat insurers). There were some fast boats. I would have done coast to coast in under 30 hours but for the cable layers! The winning boat did the trip in 17 hours. There were lots of boats slower than us.
The race start was delayed on the Norway side because of killer whales! All on film! Wonderful.
One of the members kindly came and looked at the baring at the top of the rudder shaft and compared it with his boat. He came to the same conclusion as me.
Yesterday was a maintenance day at Bergen Seilforening.
I did tighten the stainless collar to the deck around the nylon collar/baring at the top of the rudder shaft. It meant placing mole grips on each nut, which meant a crawl in to the back of the cockpit locker and out again for each nut and then back out again each time to tighten the bolt. Then I gently tapped the nylon baring right down and really screwed the ‘cover’ on tight.
I had a bit of homesickness seeing Sally and my brother William. We tried to facetime and it did not work. I should be home with them. Sally does not agree! Any worries at home as she looks after both our Mum’s are told to me on a need to know basis. That means I am told nothing!
Because of this I had a sudden thought to sail straight home from Stavanger. 400 NM direct and about 70 + hours perhaps! I confided this to Doc and James R. Doc closed that door very firmly. NO NO NO. Why? It is a terrible trip. Oil Rigs everywhere, ships, fishing. You name it… its there! Well Doc has done the trip so DOES know. The long and short of it is I stick to the original plan and sail home via the east coast of Denmark and the Kiel Canal, Frisian Islands and perhaps sail home from Den Helder.
It was a bit frustrating not to see too much today. But tomorrow is another day in Norway and the opportunity to visit a wooden boat builders yard.
I clean forgot. The best news in British sport since England won the world cup. The fabulous double grand slam champion, Olympic champion and Davis cup winner became a triple grand slam winner by winning Wimbledon today. One of the great players of the modern age. Fractions have separated Murray from more GS titles and of course playing in an era when the term great has gone to a higher level with the likes of Federer, Nadal and now Djokovic. BUT there are more titles to come for AM. A blade of grass separates Murray from Djokovic and its been enough, most of the time!
It’s rained heavily this morning but my friend, Gerhard Bakke has shown me some of his Skips Tomraren (www.stmb.no) wooden boat building yard. And wow … it is traditional.
They even have their own foundry and make all their own bits and pieces. Even screws! Gerhard does not trust modern production. ‘It’s crap!’ he told me.
Great huge logs of Norwegian pine are floating in the harbour.
They are getting rid of their fresh water content and which is being replaced by salt water. THEN it can be used for boat building. The machinery is all very very old and in tip top working order. Huge band saws. One band saw actually planks the huge logs.
Modern offices are in the building overlooking the dock but there is an office with the original furniture and pictures that date back to earlier boat building here. There is evidence that ships have been built here since the Vikings.
Gerhard told me they teach students in the winter. Eight at a time. The first thing that happens to a carpenter coming here is that their spirit level and square are broken … discarded. Everything is by eye. You have to have an eye.
I am very chuffed with the trouble Gerhard took with me, a stranger, this morning. But he is a very passionate man! He wants everything, or as much as is possible, to be done in the old way. He is trying to preserve the traditional ways and methods of boat building.
Saying that! Gerhard and his brother have plastic boats to sail themselves! I leave you to work that one out. Gannon and Benjamin would not approve.
Its blowing F 5’s from the S today that will become variable F 2 – 3 this evening. I am probably making for Haugesund later today. Hopefully the sun might shine!
I need charts and a sort out of my self-steering. Its working but I need to do another dockside calibration after the baring problem between Lerwick and Bergen.
We are in Espevaer tonight. Engine off 2100 BST rafted to a nice couple on a large Bavaria.
Espavaer is a tiny island just to the north of the seaward entrance to Bomlafjord. It was one of the places I was told to go BUT this is not somewhere to make landfall to Norway for the first time. I am so pleased I plumped for the wide Martiens, the southern entrance in to Bergan. This place would have worried me to death straight from Shetland. And it’s certainly not an all weather entrance.
We left Gerhard’s charming dock at 1400. He came down to the quay.
‘You leaving so late?’
I told him I might go to Haugesund but then the weather! Gerhard said there were breaking seas on that part of the coast in the wrong weather and then added
‘Don’t worry! The rescue boats (Norways RNLI) are very near there’.
I thanked him again and AGAIN offered to pay.
‘That is strictly against the rules’ he told me. ‘We are all happy here. We have all professions working on the wooden boats. Very qualified people, doctors and accountants, physiotherapists. All prefer the boat yard now.’
‘I hate anyone happier than me’ was his parting shot as I gently motored away from his quay. ‘No one can be happier than me.’
I have his web site address. I have been told to take a look at their projects and the boats they have built. I told him to check on Gannon and Benjamin, Martha’s Vinyard. USA.
It was windy out in the fjord. The engine was off immediately and full main and genoa set. Only one tack and we were under the 36 metre bridge to the S of Stord and then in to the wide and more exposed Bromlafjord.
It was not long before I needed a second reef in the main. I decided to sail out of this wide fjord and allow the wind to drop before reaching the sea. The beat took about 6 hours and 16 tacks. It’s only 17 NM from Sagvag to Espavaer but our tack sailed us 32 NM over the ground.
By the time we reached the coast, the wind had dropped, the sea had flattened and we were sailing under full main and genoa again. The wind has slowly dropped to 9-12 knots over the deck.
As we rounded the southern tip of Bomlo, Espavaer came in to site just to the north. A few yards from the S entrance the depth still exceeded 100 metres.
In to the island itself we were in double figures again. 27 metres in the entrance itself rising to about 9 metres in the inner harbour. I was nervous of other places on the quay and the Bavaria kindly let me raft. I was certain of floating where they were.
I lost a winch handle today. I clumsily dropped it and unbelievably it stayed on deck, …..saved by the toe rail. I then lunged for it in a panic and cack handedly ‘tipped it round the post’! Well! Knocked it overboard. It’s now lying in 600 metres in Bromlafjord. Blast! I hate losing things.
My e7 chart plotter also stopped talking to my instruments. A quick text to Olly to check the converter is showing on the e7. It’s not that vital. Speed, depth and beaufort scale have stopped displaying on my e7. But the instruments themselves at the bridge deck are working fine.
Something to look at in the morning. And Espavaer of course.
We are in Haugesund after a lovely sail down the coast close hauled.
Visibilty was very occasionally poor and very poor, when coming in to the rocky approach to Haugesund from the north.
Having got in to the town centre I motored gently up and down between the bridges looking for a space and then a kind whistle from a sailor returning to his yacht on the quay. He generously and without ceremony let us raft with his Bavaria 40.
I’ve noticed huge amounts of waving and acknowledgement from sailing vessels and for the most part a totally different reception from the motor boats despite my friendly waves to them. Me thinks there is more of a them and us in Norway between sail and power.
This morning I went to the little post office and grocery store on Espavaer. The whole place is tiny. We were on a private quay so payment was made through a hole in the wall of a private house a few yards from the quay. Role 100 up and pop it in the hole. There is a stick provided to push the loot on to his parlour floor. Job done.
My neighbours invited me on board their Bavaria 42 Cruiser ‘Panta Rhei’ for a coffee and a chat. They had been most welcoming the night before. Kari and Bernt Johnssen are on holiday with their boat from Bergen.
My making south to Denmark has been on my mind and they have pointed me to some good stopovers. They recommend not missing Skudeneshaven or Kvitsoy. I already thought after meeting Svein Erik and Ingeleiv in Stavanger I should use Kvitsoy as the stepping stone to go south and then east along the southern Norwegian coast.
The thoughts are Ergusund, the island of Hidra, Farsund and Mandal. Kristiansand is not so good in strong southerlys they tell me.
Doc asked me a question. There is Kristiansond in the north where Doc has been with ‘Tuesday of Ore’ AND Kristiansand in the south of Norway. What is the meaning of both names? Sond means narrow. Kristiansond is apparently four island with narrow channels. Sand means … well sand. King Kristian lV founded the town of Kristiansand with its long sandy beeches.
Bernt then told me another legend. Just S of Haugasund is a bridge to Karmoey. There is an area of Kamoey called Avaldsnes where there is an extremely old church. Near this church is a large leaning stone set in the ground that is slowly leaning more as each year passes getting closer and closer to the church. Legend has it that when this stone eventually leans enough to touch the church it will be doomsday. The end!!
There are many Viking kings buried on Karmoey. Norway was supposed to derive her name from this tiny place.
Anyway! Here we are in Haugesund.
I might treat myself to something off the boat tonight!
I did eat out last night in Haugesund. Just a steak and it was SO delicious. My first proper food since the 4th June.
We are now in Stavanger having arrived early afternoon AND, wait for it, I have had another meal out as a guest of very old and marvellous friends Svein Erik and Ingaleiv.
They were the best neighbours I ever had in London. 25 years ago we lived next door to each other with our young families. Very special people indeed.
They have three children. Siri was five when I first met her. I did not see her this evening as she works in Trondheim. But the two boys were there. We looked after Siri and Vegar when the youngest boy, Sondre was born in London at St Marys, Richmond where my lovely little girl Hannah was born about two years earlier. Vegar has a very lovely Argentinian girl friend who has moved to Norway. They met in Perth Australia. Her beautiful cousin was with us this evening too visiting from S America. The youngsters were so lively! Svein Erik and Ingaleiv look so young but that’s this beautiful country and the outdoor life they lead. The water does not hold as much for them as the mountains and skiing. But just to look at the water and fjords will grab anyone. Ingeleif and Sen Erik have a beautiful mountain home overlooking one of these gorgeous stretches of water where they can ski throughout the winter.
We are in the Borevika guest harbour and the northerly winds have started. It will blow tomorrow.
Today in 0 wind we motored the 32 NM from Haugesund to Stavanger. It’s quite a distance down the Karmsundet from Haugesund before crossing Skudenesfjorden, passing Kvitsoy half way across before entering Byfjorden, the entrance to Stavanger.
The top of Karmsundet below Haugesund is drab and industrial but gets prettier the further south one travels.
I had hoped for a tad of northerly to sail down the fjord all the way but nothing kicked in before 1700. There was a bit of commercial traffic.
So, a lovely reunion with special friends. Sondre is going to run me by car to a chandlers tomorrow. I will catch up with the family later in the day.
The big winds tomorrow decrease on Friday but will still be N-NW so we could make a run for Ergusund and get the trickiest part of this coast out of the way. I am wary of the S coast of Norway. I will not be pleased its out of the way of course. That’s wishing ones life away. But I will be pleased a worry is behind us always in the knowledge there will be further obstacles and waves to cross in future.
I had another fabulous supper with Svein Erik and Ingaleiv last night. Today I was able to thank them and load a few boxes in to a van with them. They are in the process of moving. They have a lovely home in the mountains and now, with grown up children they don’t need a large house in Stavanger too. They will have a lovely apartment overlooking the fjord and close to Svein Erik’s office for when they are Stavanger. Their mountain house looks spectacular!
I have just returned from the very well equipped chandlery that Sondre took me to yesterday. It’s sort of supermarket size, stocking things one would normally have to order in the UK. For anyone visiting Stavanger by boat and in need of a chandlery the shop is Maritim – Stavanger, Siddis Marine AS telephone number 00 47 51 84 12 00.
They had some charts printed for me. I now have everything I need from Stavanger to Kristiansand and also to reach northern Denmark.
And at 1630 BST and 1730 local time the sun is shining. I’ve been getting rusty!