Cruising Logs: 2006 - A Scandinavian Cruise
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  The Passage- a week later

  The car journey back the following weekend didn’t go altogether to plan either, with an enforced 4 hour stop in Nottingham to rebuild the charging/cooling system – but we still had time to lock out into a calm Humber and await the forecast Southerly gale that had cast a bit of a  mental cloud over the preceding week. The spinnaker came down at 2300, by 0100 we had two reefs, the third came down an hour later, and by 0230 we were charging along under just a poled out No 3. For several hours the wind was a solid 30 knots with an hour or so around 0600 with a steady 35 – and of course pouring rain. We made the nice discovery that even in big seas the new autopilot steered a lot better than us and so from now on we just left it to get on with the job whilst we tended the sails.

  Or not! Initially  our course took us north of the rhumb to avoid the shallows of Dogger Bank (possibly unpleasant in this wind) and as the wind veered SW next evening so our course altered to keep the wind dead astern.  The occasional breaking wave made life wet for the man on watch, but nothing dangerous came aboard. Sleeping was a bit of an art form as we rolled and pitched our way onwards, but the frequency was low and everyone’s stomachs seemed fine. By midnight the wind was down to 20 knots and veering to WNW so we hoisted the trysail as the boom would have been constantly in the water. The new motion proved more difficult with some awkward cross seas , and Barney succumbed, soon followed by Ben who was listening to Billy Connolly on his I-pod and crying with laughter and vomiting at the same time. Only a Scottish comedian could do that!

  The 0530 shipping forecast suggested another Southerly gale coinciding with our arrival, soon turning Westerly . This would leave us arriving at a distinctly rocky coast in bad weather with the prospect of it becoming a lee shore. Nice! I reasoned that the South Norwegian coast might be less windy, especially if we entered the Skagerak close to Jutland and crossed over to the Norwegian shore once the wind had veered west. Kristiansand seemed to have the easiest entrance, so plan B was hatched, course altered and we rolled on our way.

  The morning was spent in bright sunshine gradually piling on sail til we were once more under kite. We even motored for a few hours. Then the wind backed into the South, the sky began to cover and our third night mirrored the first with systematic reductions in sail – but very rapid progress towards the Skagerak whilst being entertained by various schools of silver grey dolphin and helpful watch keepers on passing ships who provided us with forecasts. Our third dawn brought heavy rain , more dolphins who entertained Ben with a spectacular display of leaping and tail slapping ,  and a Norwegian forecast of a 7, though we couldn’t quite understand when it was expected. For a while we rolled along under storm jib and trysail, but as we turned north to cross the Skagerak, the wind veered and the sky turned blue so we changed up jibs, hoisted the main and thrashed across towards the coast. Halfway across the wind was again 30 knots, causing us to take in the 3rd reef, but with 3 of us up to sail her and the land ahead no longer a lee shore  , Festina charged along at nearly 8 knots in good spirits.

 The southern Skjaergard looked wonderful in the afternoon sunshine. We moored alongside a beautiful Colin Archer yacht and a short walk ashore convinced the boys that 30 % of Norwegian girls look like Maria Sharapova, but the rest were far prettier. All in all it looked as if we had come to the right place!

  An introduction to the Sjkaergard


Nothing happened the next day to change that view. Our neighbours were charming and showed us nice places to go on the chart , the boys visited the book shop and found the girls even prettier , and when I did eventually tear them away for a 10 mile beat through sparkling ( flat) water and myriad islands we all started salivating over the gorgeous gaily painted summer homes tucked away in innumerable little sheltered coves and bays- each with their own jetty , some with boat houses and all with the inevitable flagstaff and Norwegian pennant.

  Our destination was Ny Hellesund , a perfectly sheltered natural harbour between two islands with two extremely narrow entrances . It was a deservedly popular place but never on the scale of Newtown . Most boats moored bows on to the rocks and some  crews were camping on picture perfect grassy swards between the rocks and the trees . The whole area was free to moor or camp , kept spotlessly clean with well organised picnic tables and barbecues , loos and rubbish bins ,with an occasional visit from a warden boat but not a money collector in sight. We learnt that it is enshrined in law that the coast must be open to the people  as a national resource. No wonder we don’t see any Norwegians visiting the UK.

  We had surprising difficulty setting the anchor in the sandy mud , eventually settled for two,  and were very glad of them as a front blew through  in the night causing at least  one boat to drag badly.

 It was too nice an area to leave so we took Thursday off and launched the Klepper for the first time from the boat , using  her to explore the nearby islands . When in Rome etc ( or in this case Norway ) why not copy the natives. , Accordingly we  joined our neighbours and moored bow on to the rocks for our second night , which felt very secure in the still fresh Westerly wind. Later that evening I climbed the  200 ft or so to the top of the island and gazed to windward over literally hundreds of other islands glistening under the setting sun. Amazingly even at this height, and despite  being buffeted by the fresh wind  I could smell the sea , mixed with the piny scent of trees , but above it  all was  a strong aroma of barbecues as seemingly the whole nation was spread out over the rocks cooking and enjoying themselves in the evening sunshine .


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