On our last evening in Stavanger Sondre texted me after he finished work. He brought a friend to meet me who is training to be a pilot. It was great fun to see the grown up man, having looked after his siblings when he was born.
We motored out of Stavanger yesterday, setting the main as we headed north out of the fjord. We were forecast some quite strong winds SE6’s and then SW5’s and I was apprehensive, so put a reef in the main.
Rounding the top of the fjord the engine was off and we sailed south close hauled between the islands. The sailing was lovely.
I had to shake out both reefs, having gone to the first mark on the furled genoa. Heading along the coast we were on a beam reach, with an unusually large swell but by mid afternoon the wind dropped, but not the swell. The sails flogged with just under 10 knots of wind over the deck. I set a preventer to keep the boom as rigid as possible but our speed and comfort were dropping all the time. The weather that produced the swell is some distance away.
The western entrance to Ergusund is quite frightening with a large swell hitting the coast and it is only from half a mile away that an entrance looks vaguely possible.
It’s a revelation once one gets in though, first passing between two rocky outcrops as the seas hit and then exploded upwards off the rocks and surrounding cliffs. Then faced with a wall of rock dead ahead, we turn sharply to port and we were in the fjord in completely flat water.
Then the heavens opened with thunder and lightning quite close. Very close. Another sailing vessel passed us with a smart looking couple on board. No need for them to take their time arranging fenders and dock lines and navigate the fjord at the same time. Small boats rod fishing close by started their engines and accelerated away as the rain grew heavier. It was not on their holiday plans to go fishing in torrential rain!
The main had come down just inside the fjord and we motored slowly up to the town centre. The fjord winds and narrows in parts and is breathtakingly beautiful. The homes look divine. We are surrounded by postcard pictures of ideal waterside dwellings. It widens enormously at Ergusund itself, which although lovely, retains the look of an industrial working harbour.
During the rain the auto pilot played up. We have come a long way since the 6th June and there is still a long way to go to get home. Briefly at times like this the desire to get home intensifies which also makes one doubt oneself as a sailor. Can I really get home? There is still so far to go.
I had a bad night, the stern facing the long narrow stretch to the harbour entrance and the unusually bad slapping on the sugar scoop made me restless. The rain continued to fall.
We are now at delightful Hidra Island. We left for Ergusund for the island this morning in similar conditions to yesterday but this time by the eastern entrance, which is wide and open.
Not wanting to flog the main again we gently sailed east with just the genoa, just maintaining 4 knots. The large swell continued to make life uncomfortable.
And Hidra is worth every bit of the pain getting here.
We are berthed in a charming little natural harbour within the island itself surrounded by high cliffs and rolling hills. A beautiful church marks the main channel in to the harbour and the village itself.
There are only four visiting sail boats including us.
One boat vigorously waved a greeting to us, which I returned. They were a bit further away so I talked to a German yachtsman briefly who was close by. A few minutes later the vigorous waving yachtsman approached me.
‘Hello James! How are you? Where have you been?
Who the hell is this I thought, playing for time as I wracked my brain. And then it came to me! Of course! The first and only person I spoke to in my first two days in Norway. A nice Swedish chap, moored close by had said hello to me on the first morning. He had left fairly quickly as his wife was arriving by air to join his boat. And he remembered my name! Their boat is ‘Smilla’. How can I tactfully ask for his name?
I would love a day here tomorrow but feel we need to press on to Mandal. Easterly winds are with us later in the week and although the westerly winds have little strength we need to get east as much as possible by Wednesday, ready for the sail east to the NE tip of Denmark.
I would like to explain what this trip is like! It’s difficult to describe unless the reader has had a similar sailing experience. All the longer passages have been in new and testing places and every short trip a pilotage challenge of some kind.
I have spent many years in familiar waters between Lowestoft and Ramsgate. I have sailed regularly to the continent from there, but, as different as they are every time you experience them, they are still familiar waters. I have sailed elsewhere of course but not for a prolonged period of time as this has been since June 6th. I am not surprised how hard it has been but how emotionally taxing it has been.
I am Grandpa Suffolk again. My stepdaughter Alicia and husband Logan have another baby boy born early this morning. My godson Shiloh has a little 7lb baby brother. Alicia did wonderfully well. Two and a half hours of labour to produce Boe Logan Irvine MacDougal.
Hannah sent me a text at 0025 saying Alicia had gone in to labour and I got my first picture with news of his birth from Hannah at 0900. Lovely.
We are now in busy and rather smart Mandal rafted to a Norwegian boat who arrived at the same time as us. They are on their way to Scotland. The father is taking a year out to do the Arc and then perhaps the eastern seaboard of the States. His lovely daughter, who speaks perfect perfect English is studying law at Exeter with an interest in EU law. That made us all laugh with our exit from the EU, together with our football team being dumped out of the European championship by Iceland. I can’t claim the impeccable Andy Murray because he is Scots! Or can I? I am a very proud quarter Scots?
My Swedish friend and his wife left just before us so in the end I did not get his name.
I motored in to the Hidra village in a light drizzle and berthed on the fuel quay. There was nowhere for a credit card. To my astonishment a person came out of his house to serve me! So far, marina fees have been automated or honesty boxes. Fuel has been manual with a CC machine. Saying that, Haugusund did have a man on the quay to collect mooring fees.
I might have been overcharged! 30 litres was 300 Kroner! No idea.
Hidra IS gorgeous and I was sorry to leave. There are lots of small anchorages within this island and natural bathing pools. The Norwegians have got it made!
We motored out in to practically no wind at all despite a forecast of strong winds. The swell had gone and after an hour the sea was smooth. I was able to get close in to the coast with no dangers.
At 1330 the water began to ripple and a breath of wind allowed us to set the genoa with the main and motor sail on a beam reach. A couple of hours later we were sailing and the wind and sea state had steadily increased off the starboard quarter on a beautiful sunny afternoon.
The boat went very well indeed. The coast line could have been Andalucia, but more beautiful. The sea was beautiful Mediterranean blue.
From Lindesnes the wind increased from a 5 to a 6. We jibed on to port about seven miles offshore from Mandal and the run in to the coast took very little time at all as ‘Talisker 1’ literally flew touching 8 knots through the water.
Yet again the approach to the coast is littered with danger.
Within the protected bay just before the narrow entrance the engine was on, the genoa furled and the main down.
It’s rather smart here! And expensive!
My neighbour heading for Scotland says there are very strong winds forecast in the North Sea! A gale. I thought there were some easterly winds due Wednesday or Thursday. I need to check.
We have logged 126 NM since Stavanger.
I felt a bit lethargic today! We should have sailed to Kristiansand but decided to stay in expensive Mandal, do some washing and have a blank ships log book page photo copied as the book is coming to an end.
We are rafted to ‘Tiffin’, a Rcona 400 of Sweden. Looks a nice boat. The lady is not his wife, but his sister and the afore mentioned pretty girl, his daughter.
As he is teaching them to tie knots it seems they have not done much sailing. He seemed relieved not to be going in the strong North Sea gale that he had mentioned. I reckon he would have been minding his boat + two ladies instead of having help from two crew! Having spoken to the sister it is clear she has done little sailing. Anyway! I mentioned Peterhead! Inverness is a 80 NM further than Peterhead and a good nights sleep in a safe marina will shorten and make the final arrival less of a hardship. They ought to depart from Norway a good deal nearer too. Perhaps Ergusund! That would take a further 50 NM off the crossing.
What do I know!
I am thinking of leaving for Denmark tonight.