Nelly (Aronele) goes to Norway

Norway? Why Norway?

I have been thinking about ‘doing’ a circumnavigation and to build up my experience have been looking to sail longer and longer passages. For me preparation for a marathon begins with a walk for the Sunday papers and builds from there. So, when a long- time sailing buddy was musing about going back to a hotel in Leikergaard, Norway, where he witnessed the moon landing in 1969, I thought, why not?
Being greedy and wanting to do some winter sailing, I delayed Nelly’s lift out until June this year where the good weather working like a man possessed made for fast progress with the necessary maintenance work.
New features included the fitting of a Monitor wind vane steering gear. I did all the heavy thinking and supervising whilst Ian Pollard got on with the doing bits stopping once to say, John, if thing don’t improve soon, I am going to have to ask you to stop helping me.
The day of departure was calm, warm quiet and windless. Nelly slipped through the water at 7.5kts assisted by tide. Some nine hours later the a SW’ly wind came up and it was time to get the cloth out starting with the cruising chute. We changed as the wind grew and veered inti the NW and N. Through 14 to 17 kts, fantastic going like a train, then through to 25 and stayed there or at above for the next four days. Nelly was heroic, the crew, including myself for a short time. less so.
I began to forget what David’s face looked like as for those three days he was constantly showing me his bum and soles of his sailing boots as he leaned over the rail hoping for death.
Once passed the coastal bits the place empties of vessels apart from the oil rigs and it was a case of getting down and sailing the boat and what was after the third day feeling a bit like an endurance test.
Self-steering gear was an absolute dream. Other than the cat’s cradle of string for the tiller, using it meant running free without having to use the engine to charge batteries, the Rutland generator giving enough power for fridge, nav kit and lights.
In light of the heavy weather I made the decision to veer towards Stavanger, making land fall in beautiful Skundeshaven.
Picturesque wooden homes right on the waterfront and moored up in the heart of the town. Clean, light and mostly not bouncing around. Priorities, hot shower and catch up on the missed meals and sleep.
The arrival made the journey worthwhile. In telling my wife I opined that this must be akin to childbirth, you know, forgetting the pain because of the gift of the present. I thought the phone line had dropped out as it seemed to go quiet and curiously cooler for a short while.
Next up Haugusson and Bergen.

Skundeshavn to Haugesson

The wind has been standing persistently in the north and northwest with little sign of abating. The good thing, from a sailing perspective is, notwithstanding the wind, the waters remain relatively flat so it is possible to make some really good progress, unless of course your destination lies in the eye of the wind.
En-route we passed numerous waterfalls cascading off the hillsides and into the channels, many of which read no depth on the echo sounder. Waters are really clean and clear. Navigation aids are a mix of clapperboard church type buildings with lights, small round white towers with conical red/orange caps and the occasional, almost invisible-until-you-are–on-top-of-them-poles.
There are a profusion of islands, islets, rocks and submerged humps around anyone of which are secret bays with communities huddled around their water frontages. Their brightly coloured and individualistic houses and boat houses standing directly on or near to the shore.
People on the whole very friendly, most speak English and are fiercely proud of their country but not in a nationalistic manner.
Interesting approach to Haugesson, insofar that most the town comes down onto the waterfront with the various frontages competing for patronage and its usually a case of tying up alongside and hopping off. They must have been tipped off that we were coming as all the premium spots had been taken. We were relegated to the cheap seats but still only a short walk into town which, had the tired feel of Margate about it except with Skandinavian style.
We brought excitement to the crowd and received applause all round as I limboed Nelly’s 14m mast under a bridge of 13.5m. I gave them my raffish Roger Moore raised eyebrow glinting steely eyed look of a man at the roulette wheel in Monaco, in return they gave me the, ‘we think you are a lucky arse’ look.
Some slight niggling mechanical issues developed. Not as much of the water as I would like is staying on the outside of the boat and the bilge pump has decided to take a leave of absence.
Phoned the boat doctor Ian Pollard, who dispensed sound advice and reassurance, ‘ No you are a lucky arse and don’t use the big spanner. Work to do in Bergen.