Monthly Archives: August 2015

Heading to Ipswich: Peterhead to Amble


Monday, August 24

A favorable forecast, or as favorable as we seem to get these days, has us leaving around noon for an overnight to Amble.

We had enjoyed our stay in Peterhead, primarily due to the folk we met such as Chris, Rita and Mike on s/v GRIFFYN, Nigel on s/v RASSY LASS, Ray and Lynn on s/v CRYSTELL, and two Dutch guys, Lucas and the captain whose name we never did learn how to say. In addition to fellow cruisers we also appreciated Peterhead’s marina staff and that of the local library.

Having landed Wednesday, August 19, we were primed for heading south to our winter berth in Ipswich.

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Since we’d been in the area before, we had pretty much explored the town a bit, so this time we got on a bus to hike part of the North Sea Trail.

While waiting for the bus we spotted an electric car charging station. Would have been really interesting to see someone use it, but in lieu of that, we just took photos.

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We caught the bus, which took us to Cruden Bay, 20 minutes away. We began the short coastal walk first coming upon Slains Castle, rebuilt in the late 1500s, and sitting close to the sea cliffs.

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An easy stroll along fields of grain

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and purple heather

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brought us to a hole in the cliffs

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followed by a collapsed sea cave called the Sea Caudron located

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at Bullers o’ Buchan, an old fishing community where fishermen beached their boats and hauled gear and fish up the cliffs.

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Other than that walk we watched weather, provisioned and caught up on emails and Internet tasks. There’s also a sailing school sharing the same cove as the marina, and the weekend brought several sailing clubs as well as kayakers. Seeing the young kids enjoying these water sports entertained us as well as reminded us of the AF sailing school at our club at home, OBYC.

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Discussing when to leave seemed to be the topic on everyone’s mind with two of us heading south, two heading north, and one sailing across the North Sea. For us, Monday-Tuesday seemed doable in spite of knowing 25 knots of wind were forecasted starting midnight Monday and building into Tuesday. But, it’d be WNW so would give us a good run down to Amble hitting the noon high tide with time to spare (because of the sill bar, we have to time our entries and exits to be +/- three hours of high tide).

As we were leaving the marina, we realized (thanks to Ray) we needed to contact the Peterhead Harbor Master. When we did, he said to hold up for 15 minutes as a fishing boat was exiting and an oil rig supply ship was entering. We circled around while getting the mainsail ready to hoist since it’d be easier in the protected harbor than outside the breakwater. Considering the roller-coaster swells coming into the harbor, we could only imagine the extent of the roll once outside. And, the best clue as to how it’d be was the Harbor Master’s instructions to watch ourselves out there as there was a strong swell. With the waves crashing against the stone jetty, we took his caution to heart.

Well, there’s a reason they call some sailing outfits foul weather gear. We sure were glad we had ours on as we began our exit from Peterhead following the fishing boat out before we turned south.

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That famous Bette Davis quote ‘Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night’ came to mind as we proceeded to pick up where we left off on that windy passage from Norway to the UK.

With harnesses strapped on and clicked in we began our sail as JUANONA bucked against the current, which fortunately wasn’t too strong, while the wind howled from the SE. We had the motor on as well because we needed to have as much power as possible to make 5 kts/hour.

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This also required a sharp lookout for the fishing buoys that popped up in the most nerve-racking spots, such as right off the lighthouse rocks.  The last thing we needed was to get one caught in our prop so close to land in an onshore breeze. Thank gods and goddesses it was daylight and thank gods and goddesses the buoys were bright orange.

Fortunately, I had made sandwiches before we left and had also picked up some scones. The former we ate for lunch and dinner while the latter helped offset some queasiness with their baking soda ingredient. To give you an idea just how bouncy it truly was even Max slapped on a seasick medicine patch halfway through the passage.

We skidded off and sledded down the sides of waves as we made fairly good time going against the current. Since we had 24+ hours to cover 130 nm, we knew the first part could be a wee uncomfortable; but, the winds were forecasted to die down early evening, eventually swinging to the WNW at midnight and grow to 25.

Catnaps in the cockpit allowed some rest.

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Eventually Max took a much-needed break and went below, and I stood watch. At one point a bird fluttered aboard. Wherever it blew in from it sure looked happy to be able to rest; and, the need to perch itself somewhere outweighed the fear of being close to a human. Our birding friend Jayne will need to identify it. Always nice to have company as I entertained myself with snapping photos of our feathered friend.

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Late afternoon the winds died down as forecasted, but they did so too much requiring us to motor-sail up to 10pm or so when the wind began to pick up again. At this point we were far enough offshore where fishing buoys wouldn’t pose a navigational hazard.

Our watches were flexible, with whomever was the most tired heading to the main cabin and cozy berth.

At one point the AIS showed a cargo ship getting a bit close, so I hailed them on the VHF to see if they’d like us to change our heading. They kindly replied they’d alter their course to go behind us. More times than not, we’ve received this courtesy whenever we’ve contacted larger ships. This consideration makes for an easier sail for us.

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Tuesday, August 25

I woke Max up at 2am saying the winds were clocking up to 17. Time for the second reef in the mainsail and furling the jib. While he navigated forward to the mast I shined the flashlight while trying not to beam it right into his eyes. As he worked his way down the boom to tie up the sail, I got more and more nervous finally yelling watch out as a wave bounced us up and down. He was double clicked in (our harnesses have two leads, a short and a long one) so all was fine; but, I must say I’m never happy when he’s on the foredeck in the dark, in bouncy seas.

With only the mainsail up we were making 7 knots. As morning dawned the winds continued to grow, eventually reaching 25+. It was a beautiful sail, though, with the wind slightly aft the beam, and with seas relatively smooth since they were blowing off the land.

While I was asleep in the early morning hours Max was visited by both a dolphin frisking about

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and a windblown, female kestrel (Jayne, this one we could identify… we think!). Max came below to tell me. Both of us were mesmerized by this bird’s beauty. Being visited by wild life can seem pretty magical when at sea.

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In addition to the scones, sustenance were some pistachio nuts brought by Nigel during a shared cocktail hour several nights previously. Generally, we’re much better outfitted for passage meals but the short length of this one (24 hours) and the snacks we had prepared (sandwiches and scones) were enough to get us through the night.

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The day dawned a bright blue, and as we neared the shoreline, we watched for buoys and local fishing boats

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while enjoying the onshore scenery.

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Soon Amble came into view.

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We radioed the marina asking for a hammerhead berth (it’s at the end of a pontoon that looks like a capital “T”) if possible. They said no problem, and we headed in. Thankfully, once we turned into Amble’s harbor we were going into the wind. With 28+ knots it was a bit of a relief giving us better control than if going with the wind.

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Mick and Ben, whom we knew from our stay earlier in the summer, greeted us, and JUANONA eased onto the dock. We finally relaxed. We’d made our destination with some great sailing.

That night we opened a bottle of wine, the same label as our friend Libby and David gave me so many years ago and that was used for Max’s and my first date. It was a perfect way to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary and a safe landing in Amble.

Now, onto the next adventure!

Passage to the UK August 2015

Monday, August 17

When we awoke Monday morning, we checked the weather, and, once again, found our plans had changed. Instead of dinghying to the next island to view a medieval church, we were going to cross the North Sea.

Christopher on SILA thoughtfully let us view a great app (Weather Track, which we’ll be downloading) that overlaid our track from Norway to Scotland. The view confirmed the decision:  time to go.

JUANONA  was pretty shipshape anyhow; but, Max took the anchor off the bow (in case of plunging seas, this saves the anchor from banging around and also limits our taking water into the anchor chain locker, which can find it’s incipient way into our V-berth bedding).

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We stowed the cruising spinnaker below, stashed our toothbrush pot holders (Christmas-themed yogurt containers from our time spent with Betsy and the Sumners last December), and put sleeping bags in the main cabin for hot bunking (one of us would be off-watch and in the sleeping bags while the other would be on watch).

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Last photos as we exit this scenic harbor, and we’re off!

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As predicted we needed to motor, then motor-sail to get a good start. We had 320 miles to cover before we reached Peterhead. With our eyes on that Low coming across our path, we wanted to get as far west and south as possible before it overtook us, so that when the strong winds arrived they would not be forward of the beam.

When it’s dead calm, there’s not a lot you can do so you just sit back and read while scouting out the area and hoping for some wind.

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Our views consisted of oil and gas rigs; at one point we counted seven all around us.

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One was being towed,

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some looked like robotic creatures stalking the sea while others appeared as modern Stonehenges.

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When your chart looks like this:

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it’s not surprising to know you’ll be maneuvering around those rigs.

We were hailed by a security boat warning us to keep clear of the exclusion zone in one of the gas fields ahead. So we altered course for a mile then switched back to our original heading. It’s a bit odd to be sailing along in our own little cosmo only to be startled by someone calling out ‘JUANONA’ over the radio. A voice over the radio definitely is an event, breaking into the sameness of gray-weather cruising.

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The beautiful day slowly moved into a dark night fell around 11:00 p.m. and visibility was difficult due to dark, cloudy skies.

Knowing the remainder of the passage could be windy, we put a reef in the main and added the staysail, a smaller jib, to our sail configuration.

Tuesday, August 18

The day broke beautifully with streaks of mauve, rose, cream and blue. Nothing to hint of the wind that would be blasting us later in the day except for that old adage ‘red sky at morning, sailor take warning…’

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With only two of us, our watch shifts were flexible. One of us would be up and looking for obstacles (rigs, ships, and fishing boats via the AIS, radar overlay on our chart plotter, and eyes). The other would be grabbing up to three hours of sleep.

We always had a physical check (every 15 minutes or so) versus relying solely on any electronic ‘eyes’, which is how we saw two large fishing vessels dragging nets headed in our direction. Fortunately, it was daylight for the boats weren’t broadcasting their positions on AIS. I just hope they turn their lights on at night.

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As forecasted, the wind was slowly edging its way up to 30+ knots as the day progressed. We had the main sail (with one reef), the staysail, and our regular jib up.  As the winds built we put a second reef in the main and eventually furled the jib as the seas began rocking ’n rolling. Waves crashed across the deck causing water to stream down on either side of the cockpit while below-deck started on spin cycle.

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When you see the gimbaled stove tilting crazily you start doing the same, becoming a walking italic.

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Before too long we were navigating below by clutching at any hand railings. JUANONA began squeaking and moaning as our two-water tanks (55 gallons each) located under the main cabin seats sloshed in tandem with the salt water outside.

More oil rigs caused us to adjust our course frequently through the night. At one point someone announced ‘you’re clear of the Fair Isle channel.’ Since we weren’t cognizant of any channel needing to be crossed, all we could think of is that the message was for two fishing boats mentioned earlier.

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With such high winds we were making up to 8 knots per hour. And, just so my navigational description is correct, I asked Max to explain our strategy… “We were intentionally steering up to 25 degrees south of our rhumb line (the direct course to Peterhead). We did not want to take any chances in case the wind clocked more to the southwest, which would bring the wind well forward of the beam and make for very uncomfortable or even treacherous conditions. I know from racing that steering up to 15 degrees off course increases the distance sailed only slightly, and even 20 or 25 degrees not excessive, so it seemed well worth the trade off to build some safety cushion to windward of the direct route.”

Wednesday, August 19

Finally, about 1:00 a.m. we cleared the last of the major oil fields and adjusted our course to Peterhead.

The seas and wind had calmed down a bit, and we realized we could be in Scotland by early afternoon.

With gray skies and 17+ knots of wind we arrived outside the entrance to Peterhead’s harbor and ghosted through fog to the pontoons.

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We had landed with neither of us nor JUANONA the worse for wear. At least, nothing that fresh-water rinses, clean clothes and a celebratory drink or two couldn’t revive.

Freshly showered and with the last load of clean clothes I walked the pontoons back to JUANONA hearing, believe it or not, the ice cream truck merrily announcing itself on the streets above the marina with, of all tunes, ‘Yankee Doodle Dandy’.

With fond memories of all the sights and all the people we met, our summer cruising was drawing to a close. We still have our UK coastal route to voyage down before reaching Ipswich, our winter’s home, so some good sailing is hopefully on the horizon, just not requiring crossing a sea or ocean to enjoy.

And, to that, we raise our glasses and shout ‘Skaal’! :)

Cruising Norway: Heading south PART IV


Monday, August 10

Lumpy day of rock-rolling seas got us to Haholmen where SILA also had decided to land. A shared dinner and laughs with Christopher, Molly, Porter and Jack, then back to JUANONA where we once again so appreciated our summer in Norway.

Tuesday, August 11

We awoke to a beautiful day and decided to stay to wait out a heavy forecast of winds on Wednesday. SILA’s friends on another boat had arrived the night before, and both boats took off for a more southerly harbor.

Asking about diesel got Max a ride on a Viking taxi, a replica of SAGA SIGLAR, a boat that was sailed around the world in the mid-80s by 37-year-old Ragnar Thorseth with a crew of seven.

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Can you tell he was a happy sailor? :)

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Plus, the nice guy who captained the taxi and looked like Daniel Craig also showed us the conference room, which told more of Thorseth’s adventures.

The ship’s design followed a 1,000-year old Viking boat that was found in 1959 at the bottom of a Danish fjord.

Not someone shy of challenges, Thorseth had also rowed across to Lerwick at age 20, sailed around the world in a fishing boat at age 28, and at age 35 led a Norwegian expedition to the North Pole.

We saw both that row boat hanging from the ceiling of a conference room

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as well as the salvaged hull of the Viking boat that had sunk off the coast of Spain in 1992 (There had been several replicas of the Viking ship off cruising.). The life-saving zodiac was also on display as thankfully no one was lost during that storm.

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This complex was a beautiful one, and had been sold some years ago to become part of the Classic Norwegian Hotels.

And, we weren’t the only ones enjoying the scenery and hospitality. Some ad folk were here to shoot a Ford commercial. Evidently an iconic bridge had become a popular photo op for car commercials. A Ferrari spot was being shot using the same bridge next week.

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In addition to the television crew there were vacationeers wandering about and another boater named Kjetil who was sailing and rowing down the coast of Norway. He wasn’t the same guy we met in Tranoy in mid July, which leads me to believe this is a somewhat popular pastime. He joined us for a late night and just said he was taking some time enjoying the coast. I can think of other ways to enjoy the summer coastline.

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Wednesday, August 12

We woke to a very windy day with rain off and on, which confirmed our decision to stay put.

Max said we might as well splurge on a good breakfast at the hotel (yogurt and fruit can be a tad bit monotonous), and so we did – our 2nd and last shoreside meal in Norway.

That meal was the highlight of the Wednesday as we drifted through the day and had an early night.


Thursday, August 13

The day dawned sunny and we headed off to Ona leaving behind this wonderful retreat.

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Ona is a very small town with a pottery store and a gallery on the connected island, Husoya,  and several light houses. We had first seen this island as we sailed by her the night we left Alesund to head to the Lofotens June 23rd.

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We walked to the cemetery on Husoya where, along with some birds, appreciated the bright day and warm weather.

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ALCHEMY had mentioned sea-tossed rocks, and we duly noted how strong the waters must have been to create such a pile so far from the waterline.

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Back on Ona  we climbed the short path to one of the lighthouses, then did some R&R in the sun.

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Friday, August 14

Moving south we headed off to Runde and met up with Sila. We arrived a bit too late for walking around but did appreciate a shower at the new environmental center.

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At night another sailboat came in and ended up rafting next to SILA.

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In conversation with him a decision was made to stick close to the coastline when crossing the Stadt, a jutting fist of land just south of Runde.

The combination of current and winds around this infamous headland make it one of which all boaters are very respectful, thus we were planning a careful navigation of this part of the coast. Norway is even considering making a tunnel through the point, a reflection of how dangerous they consider it.

Back aboard we found a communication from our friend Kjetil in Alesund, asking if we wanted to go trout fishing at a cabin. Would we ever! Unfortunately, we were gearing up for crossing back to Scotland, thinking we’d be doing it any day now, so had to pass on the invitation.

We were so sorry to have missed being with him. Not only would it have been fun to go trout fishing but, more, it would have ben even more wonderful to share time with him. Thankfully, Norway isn’t too, too far from the UK coast, so we hope to see him within the year. At least we have a lovely reminder of him as his sailing club’s burgee hangs in our main cabin.


Saturday, August 15

We left Runde to head to our last port, Maloy, where we’d load up with diesel and provision for our crossing.

Fortunately, the forecasted wind wasn’t bad nor was the current for rounding Stadt.

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We took snaps of SILA under full-sail while they took some of us.

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We waved good-bye to Christopher, Molly, Porter and Jack as they continued on to another anchorage, and we stopped off in Maloy.

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We took on diesel at the Shell station

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then crossed to the marina and hopped off JUANONA to provision. Walking down the main street we noticed American flags interspersed with Norwegian ones. Wondering if today was some sort of joint celebration, we discovered it was ‘Elvis weekend’ here.  And, as we mentioned to some friends, if Elvis is here, he speaks excellent Norwegian.

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Checking weather and winds we were ready to bid Elvis good-bye and leave early the next morning for the UK.


Sunday, August 16

Hold it. Doublechecking the forecast we aborted our plan for starting the passage to Scotland due to a change in a low pressure heading from east to west. If it was behind us, that’d be one thing, but since it looked like it was now going to come ahead of us with 30+ knots of wind, we decided to put our passage on hold and head to one of ALCHEMY’s favorite stops, Rognaldsvagen.

But, not before I took advantage of the FREE, let me repeat that, FREE, laundry facilities!! Was I happy or WHAT? So, now that we weren’t heading off across the North Sea I headed across the pontoons and marched myself right up to those six, yes, SIX, machines (three sets of washer+dryer) and surveyed my domain. Ahhh. let me do the bear naked happy dance as our friend Shawn would exclaim :)

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Since we still wanted to leave in the morning, I only had time for two wash+dries, and not all the time for drying; but, what a bonus to get some laundry done.

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We motor-sailed to Rognaldsvagen and found SILA (it was getting a wee bit embarrassing to me to find ourselves constantly encroaching on their harbors, but they were always gracious about us popping up on the horizon).

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Another check of weather and it seemed we’d be continuing south along the Norwegian coast until mid-week; so, we went to bed thinking of meeting the nice guy up at the cafe who promised some good stories and an easy way to cross to Kinn to see a 12th century church.


Monday, August 17

Whoops, scratch the plan. The weather forecast changed yet again and we’re off. Favorable weather windows have been few and far between, and we had to take advantage of this opportunity to cross the North Sea.

We passed the church, which is one of Western Norway’s best example of medieval buildings and was in use up to 1882, and took photographs, which, at this point, was the only way we’d see it.

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Then turned to 224 degrees, our course towards Peterhead.

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Scotland here we come!

Cruising in Norway: Heading south PART III


Tuesday, August 4

This past week we’ve been noticing the change in the amount of daylight. Now we actually had sunrises, and when I awoke at 4:00 a.m. I snapped some photos (the two below are untouched, with color as it actually was that morning), looking east, then towards the west.  As the pictures show it promised to be another beautiful summer day.

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Because we wanted to put some miles under our hull we now were getting up fairly early (but not that early!) and sipping cups of java and noshing our yogurty breakfast along the way. Thanks to our friend Rob Andrews, we were huge fans of EasyYo, a New Zealand invention for making fresh yogurt effortlessly. On passages and in Norway where a small container of yogurt bought at the store can cost up to $4, we’ve been enjoying a delicious variety of yogurts. Anyone interested, just check Amazon. The packets aren’t inexpensive, but they certainly provide an easy method for creating a nutritious dairy product. Oh, and, they’re tasty, too :)

We had a glorious sail with the10-12 kt wind behind us and smooth seas. we even got a peek of the Seven Sisters way in the background.

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This type of sailing is similar to gliding on ice skates:  there’s no friction from waves, just a continuous slipping towards one’s next port.

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We passed a lone fisherman with his harem of gulls trailing behind and famiies summering on sandy beaches, all enjoying the beautiful day.

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We furled our sails with plenty of time to then motor past a statue greeting us as we turned to enter Rorvik’s harbor.

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Tieing up at the dock we checked out the little club house (yes! TWO washing machines) and walked into town where we purchased some wifi access at Norveg, the impressive museum about the local area’s culture.

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We’d also heard the cafe was offered and excellent meal, one some described as the best they’d eaten in Norway. Hmmm… might be out first meal in a restaurant (figuring the Hurtigruten breakfast didn’t really count since we were ‘stuck’ on a boat… :) ).

We walked to the grocery store to provision and when checking out a young cashier, Ellen, asked us where we were from. As the bananas, apples and iceberg lettuce continued their way down the conveyor belt somehow the wifi trouble we were having came up. Ellen said she could easily help us if we wait ten minutes for her break. We said of course! And, this friendly young woman not only made calls using her cell but also used her credit card in exchange for our cash to purchase more wifi time.  (Whatever you do, if you’re in Norway, was not the way to go but our only option since we didn’t have a Norwegian address or a credit card that could be used without a signature. We had tried Telenor but no luck).


When pulling items out of one of the washing machines, a young woman asked if I was off the American boat that just pulled in. She was off the other one that Max had spotted when we pulled into the harbor, and one we were planning on stopping by. Molly and Christopher along with their sons Porter and Jack on s/v SILA were our first American boat we’ve met since leaving Ipswich in May. It felt a little bit like a homecoming.

Molly and Christopher had started and ran a school in Leadville, CO, which mixed academics with wilderness adventure attracting students for a semester course from all over. In 2013 they decided to take sabaticals from work, sell their house, and with their two young sons take off cruising for two to four years. They left from France where they had purchased their boat, sailed to the Caribbean, circumnavigated South America and even sailed to South Georgia and back. They then recrossed the Atlantic early spring, headed to Ireland and were now cruising this area.

A job interview was on the horizon for one of them so they weren’t sure of their future plans; but, after sailing to South Georgia, this family didn’t seem fazed by tackling the North Sea or English Channel later in the season. They obviously were cautious but also excellent sailors.

We thought of Lily sailing with her mom Jayne and Paul and thought how great it would have been if these two families could have met up. Perhaps in the future they’ll be sharing a harbor. Hope so! As it was, we hoped we’d meet up with them ourselves since both JUANONA and SILA were going to be hopping down the coast; but, we might keep missing them as they were leaving early the next morning.

Wednesday, August 5

We woke to rain as forecasted. We were finishing errands and then hanging out at the museum for wifi and a tour, and possibly lunch.

The tour began with traipsing to some buildings, some replicas and several originals, which explained those who had lived here before. Like Kjerringoy, this had been a fishing village and, similar to Kjerringoy, one merchant’s business interests generated livelihoods for the rest living here.

Some of the buildings created wonderful nesting perches for gulls, of which there are plenty around.

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Both Max and I felt we could have skipped most of the buildings having seen Anna Elisabeth’s estate on Kjerringoy; but, I did enjoy the homes where Rorvik’s merchant family and some employees lived. There was a definite difference between the two houses, one having low ceilings and small rooms…

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The other high ceilings and large rooms.

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The large house has a cafe for the month of July and is available for functions. The kitchen is huge with the old stove on display and its built-in waffle maker (which all Norwegian kitchens seem to have).

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Back inside the museum itself we wandered through time using audio guides automatically cuing up explanations as we passed exhibits beginning with early man and culminating in current times.

All of this was interesting but what I was really looking forward to was our late lunch. We had decided to splurge and, after checking menu and associated prices, ordered fish & chips (Max) and chicken salad (moi); and, both were absolutely fantastic. Definitely well-worth being our only restaurant meal to date in Norway.

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One last provisioning stop (this time for dry goods) and we prepared for leaving the next morning.

Thursday, August 6


We were able to sail the last four hours, which was a nice change from motor-sailing. We pulled into a small island’s harbor where we docked next to a huge catamaran. It was a little dicey docking due to having a heavy wind pushing our stern towards the rocks, but we managed to rein in JUANONA and hunkered down for the night.

Friday, August 7

After walking up to the community center and back we decided we might as well continue on. The island felt deserted with most of the small number of holiday cottages uninhabited.

However, there were black guillemot , and I shot a video of one that didn’t seem to show any fear as I carefully approached where it was hanging out on the boulders making up the jetty. I love how their orange feet splay backwards as they take off, similar to Puffins.

Watching it then return with food, I was curious where it was going, so I put the video back on and realized why it had been hanging out there. It obviously was tending to its baby hidden underneath some of the rocks.

We then jumped on JUANONA and headed for our next island port.



Three hours later we reached Sauoya. We thought about anchoring on the west side of this island but, after checking the depth and the size of the cove (quite small and a bit crowded feeling with one large fishing mooring), we opted for the little harbor, which promised some pontoons and a wooden fishing quay.

After tying up on one side, we checked the depth knowing the tide had several feet to go out. At this point the only sure way to verify water level all around the boat when docked was using a makeshift depth sounder:  a shackle on a string. Sure enough, where we originally planted JUANONA seemed a bit too shallow so we moved to the other side after checking out the depth.

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With JUANONA secured we walked up the road a bit to see if there was anything else to explore.

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Finding only closed up cottages, we turned around and started back down to the dock. As we came around the bend Max saw a man sitting in the quiet of his garden enjoying a beer and a cigarrette. He was very friendly and after a five-minute conversation we decided to continue it on JUANONA.

His name was Tommy, and he with his family lived on this island up until four years ago. He and his wife moved here in late 80’s getting lots of press because it was so unusual for a young couple to emigrate from the mainland to such a small island. There was a post office, a church but no stores and just a few other families, primarily second and third-generation summer residents.

Although his grandparents had lived there Tommy and his family were welcomed at first. Like many small communities, these islands were closed-minded to newcomers. But Tommy and his wife persevered and proceeded to make a living. The first five years they bought and sold fish (earning one of the best reputations for their fish among Parisian restauranters), later they switched to raising some sheep, opening a pub, and generally trying to bring vitality to this small island. Sauoya and neighboring Halten had been huge fishing magnets back in the 1800s up to the early 1900s, hence the large church on Sauyoa (could seat over 100) and the community center on Halten.

After 20 years they decided to leave. Their children, now 12 and 16, were going to a small school on a neighboring island, and the older one was getting bullied due to a disability. They relocated to the mainland where Tommy actually became a contestant on one of Norway’s most popular shows, the reality program called “The Farm”. And, he won (!) in 2011.

Now he was back visiting with his son staying at the house where his grandparents had lived and now owned by a cousin. His wife, now in a medical field, was working and his daughter attends school and would never come back to this place due to memories of the bullying.

We thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Tommy as we’ve had with all the Norwegians we’ve met.  There’s a gentle graciousness with which they welcome strangers to their land.

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Saturday, August 8

We had decided to stay another day so we thought we’d try our hand at fishing, only this time from land. Climbing up and down across the rocky and lumpy ground, no one was around except we did attract attention from a flock of sheep.

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Finally making it to the other side Max tried for a bit

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but no luck, so we made our way back passing through the farmyard of the largest house (no one there)

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with its emblem of the sea eagle over one of the out buildings. We had seen a pair when coming in here the previous day. Always love watching these majestic flyers, and, here in Norway, we’ve been fortunate to see these birds in the wild.

Not quite ready to give up on fresh fish, Max tried his luck off the ferry pier.

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I’d like to say we were successful but a back-up meal was a chicken & mushroom risotto dish  (yes, that canned avian item again).

We walked back to JUANONA, which was sitting rather low due to tide having gone out.

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Well, the risotta tasted good but not when two hours later I felt an odd stirring in my tummy. Opting to sleep out in the main cabin with the wastebasket next to me was a good decision, for I soon was heaving.

Max gallantly offered to remove the basket and bring me a fresh one but I was okay for I just would heave, then put the bag out in the cockpit, reline the waste basket, and hope I was done. Four relinings later I was ready to call it quits. I didn’t have any more to offer the vomit god. Furthermore, by this time, Max’s stomach wasn’t feeling so good. And, so now both of us were sharing the can.

By 2:00 a.m. we both collapsed on either side in the main cabin. And, the cockpit was lined with white bags. So much for that risotto dish…

Sunday, August 9


Instead of the 4:30 a.m. rising, we got up at 9:00 a.m., both feeling a bit woozy from our episode earlier that morning. But, the forecasted head wind didn’t appear, so we decided to leave for the next port.

Heading out we saw some of the sheep perched on the opposite side of the harbor. Tommy had told us the sheep were different from other kinds for they could stay out all winter (!) thanks to their fat, which surrounded the organs versus being marbled through the muscles. Also, their fur was so thick underneath their wool couldn’t be used in most modern factories. Sounds like a great niche sweater to me! :)

So, with a final shot of the sheep, we headed further south.

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Our original destination was Mausundvaer but due to winds being favorable we ended up 20+ miles further at Veilholmen.

Entering this island’s port is a bit daunting because you feel as if you’re hitting a dead end with no turning room.

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We had some happy watchers whom I caught peering at us from the above, two-story, white building on the left as we turned the corner, so I snapped their photo.

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As we made the final sharp turn into this scenic little harbor, Max saw SILA! We happily tied up behind them and later got more of an oppotunrity before and after dinner to share stories and plans.

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What was really cool is they had met Jo Breen, a young woman we had first met in Ipswich last September when she was on Paul, Jayne and Lily’s boat s/v DELPHINUS. Jo was crew on one of Skip Novak’s boats down in the Southern Ocean, and SILA had shared several meals with Jo in South Georgia. Like our friend Steve Keener has said the world is a small ball.

Monday, August 10

Knowing we had some really strong winds forecasted for Tuesday, both boats wanted to be a bit further south but also in a protected harbor. We could have remained in Veilholmen but decided to get a bit further down the coast. So, SILA set off in the early morning

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while we stocked up on some fresh provisions then also headed out.

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Another day in fairytale land with more to come :)


Cruising in Norway: Heading south PART II




Friday, July 31 

In spite of grayness in the morning air and sky we decided to hike to the hole in the mountain and to the tipping rock, both sites noted by other cruisers as worth seeing. To ensure we understood exactly how to get there we stopped by the little grocery store where we met a woman who had graduated 20 years ago from Fordham. She had grown up on this small island but had attended college in NYC. She told us how every ten years she returned for her reunion to keep in touch with her friends. The life she must have led during her college years must have stood in stark contrast to living on a small Norwegian island close to the Arctic Circle. Wondering if any of her college friends had visited Bolga, she replied no and it would be quite a shock to their system if they did. I could understand that.

Armed with a laminated trail map she let us borrow, we set off for the short walk and hike partway around the island. New sign posts also helped us find our way to the short climb up to the hole in the mountain.

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Once again Max went a bit further while I awaited at the foot of the ladder (I’m the little white dot at the very bottom of the crack). The views were as expected:  beautiful.

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From there we walked through a pasture and along the coast reaching the tipping rock. Max acted out a muscleman routine while I filmed his prowess.

After conquering the rock, he had to sit on it.

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I tried but wasn’t as successful in terms of really getting it to bounce around, yet I had already proven my strength by hauling around a HUGE egg-shaped rock…

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and had sat on mine as well :)

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At many hikes Norway leaves a log book, and we duly recorded our names while looking and finding Dick and Ginger’s of s/v ALCHEMY from a year ago.

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And, one of my favorite was the intro to the one at the tipping rock:

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Knowing we wanted to reach Engen to see the glacier everyone raved about, we returned to JUANONA and motored-sailed during which I asked sailor man Max to pose with his sailor man boots. Why he puts up with me I don’t know, but, believe me, I’m awfully thankful.

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Before we left Bolga we had seen a huge cruise ship go by and, upon arrival at Engen, the same ship dwarfed the tiny dock (to the left below) as the liner sat at anchor.

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As we approached the small pontoon, some sailors beckoned us to toss them our lines (always a pleasure to have happen!), and we found ourselves in the enviable position of meeting fellow OCC’ers (Ocean Cruising Club), the Scharowski family, Markus, Sibylle, and Nicolas from Switzerland cruising the summer on their boat s/v DESPINA.

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After giving us some information about the glacier hike (Sibylle, like me, was also afraid of heights and leary of knee damage, i.e., I liked getting her input…), Max and I grabbed two of the bikes you rent using the honor system and set off. Along the way we passed hordes of cruise ship passengers, some smiling and others seemingly anxious to return to the ship. The crew, on the other hand, flashed us genuine grins to our shouted ‘hellos!” and “hi-hi’s!” (the Norwegian greeting, which I love) as we flew by.

Svartisen, or Black Glacier, is Norway’s second largest ice field composed of two glaciers, an east and west. The name comes from the oldest snow and ice, which is noticeably a lot darker than the newer.

Well, we reached the glacier and it was truly magnificent, even in the graying light in which we viewed this behemoth ice mound. Scratches from the retreating ice marked the rocks, which undulated down the hill.

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There were three paths supposedly marked in either red, white or blue. Unfortunately, we took the red as it seemed the most direct and was supposedly not too bad. Hah! I made it up to where the iron poles ended

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while Max continued on the unmarked climb to actually look down on the glacier and then walk right up to it. His photos belie the size which is far more massive than the pictures show.

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To clarify my fear of heights to the lucky ones unafraid of self-induced altitude, my trepidation comes not only of going up but also of coming down. So, my MO seems to be watching Max’s cute little butt going up and waiting for it to come back down. Hence, all the dots of moi at the bottom of the view…

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Not only did he return elated but also with glacier ice cubes, which he kindly shared :)

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Reaching the start of the road back we noticed our bikes had somehow pedaled themselves away. The idea of someone taking them was shocking for we had experienced nothing but honesty and openness during our months in Norway. All I could think of was maybe it was the group of teenagers who passed me while I was waiting for Max. About a half-mile down the road we found them on their kickstands posed for our use.

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By the time we cycled back, had our celebratory drinks with _____ year old shards, and ate a simple dinner, it was almost midnight. Another, memorable full day in beautiful Norway.



Saturday, August 1

We said our good-byes to the Scharowski family, wishing we were all heading in the same direction. Unfortunately, they were going north, possibly leaving their boat in Tromso for the winter. The bane of cruising, saying good-bye almost as soon as you say hello. We truly hope our boats can share another port.

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In spite of the cool temps, Max and I donned appropriate duds associated with a warmer climate as we crossed the Arctic Cirlcle on the way south to our next port.

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Unbeknownst to us a globe marked the approximation of exactly what we were commemorating; so, once that was discovered, I made poor Max stand to attention again with that in the background. At least that’s what I said was why.

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Motoring down the fjord into a small offshoot, we glided into the beautiful Nordfjord with tumbling waterfalls and a forested shoreline. The view was breathtaking.

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We anchored in a quiet spot where our friends Jon and Cindy Knowles had been the year before after they, along with ALCHEMY, had actually climbed up ONTO said glacier (!). The Knowles mentioned you could see the backside of the glacier, and we saw it playing peekaboo through some of the mist.

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There was evidence of some summer inhabitants with an improvised dock and pontoon but no life other than birds and fish and, what we discovered the next day, an occasional otter or seal (could only see a gray fuzzy head plowing through the waters leaving a slivery wake).

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As Max said it was one of the prettiest anchorages of our trip, and it was a perfect spot for our planned event the next day.

Sunday, August 2


We left Nordfjord but not before a heartfelt ritual for a dear friend, Billy Weinschenk. He had passed away in his sleep the night of July 28th, and, knowing we couldn’t attend the gathering occurring on this Sunday, Max had fashioned a ship in Billy’s remembrance the night before.

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We read the poem Colleen’s mom was going to read at the service, one that speaks to Billy’s love of the sea, ‘The Ship’ by Charles Henry.

Then we ‘skaaled’ our friend with some cognac Smokey had given Max the Christmas before, and gave Billy a Viking burial at sea.

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He will be, and is, truly mourned by many as witnessed by the continuing outpouring of love and support being sent our friend Colleen. Here’s to a wonderful man who shared his life with humor, grace, and dignity. We know he’s undoubtedly charming those angels in heaven as we write this.

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Leaving Nordfjord we began our journey to another anchorage 50 miles away.

While motoring along we espied a Coast Guard boat coming up behind us. Remembering they had appeared to slow down when they had seen us a month or so ago on one of our legs, we made the boat shipshape in the event they boarded.

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Sure enough I heard the VHF radio crackling and the Coast Guard hailing the sailing vessel JUANONA. Fortunately, it was only a courtesy call as Max assured them we were fine.

This was the second time we’d been addressed by a country’s official patrol, the first being off the coast of England where we were actually boarded. Nothing like a government authority to make one stand to attention and to breathe a sigh of relief when any inspection was over and approval was granted. The Norwegians are looking not just for drugs and possibly immigrants but also alcohol, and we know two friends whose boat was boarded in the Lofotens. Fortunately, they didn’t have any over the legal import limit.

Eight hours later we ended the day with some wonderful sailing, and entered a narrow cove and anchored for the night. The rain kept us boat-bound but we could still appreciate the pastoral view of sheep grazing on the little island surrounding us.


Monday, August 3


As we left Hjartoya Max pointed out the famed Seven Sisters eclipsed by the morning clouds. We would have loved to have seen them in better light but had to leave them in order to reach our next island at a decent hour.

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With sunny skies and a nice breeze on the quarter we sailed through skerries (scattered group of small islets) and past beautiful beaches and innumerable coves and inlets all the way to Moyhamna – one of the nicest sails of the entire summer.

This island features Torghatten mountain, the much larger and more well-known ‘hole in the mountain’. As we came up to the island Max spotted a glimmer of daylight through the mountain wall.

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We tied up at the local dock with some small motor boats located on another pontoon being our only neighbors. Leaving JUANONA we began our walk to reach Torghatten.

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This time there was a paved road right up to the short hike leading to the hole. Ah, my type of hike.

Torghatten seemed to be a popular destination with a campsite close by and cars filling the small parking lot. The climb was a short one, which opened up into a cathedral-high opening. In the first photo below there’s a guy standing below the entrance in a blue shirt, just to give you a perspective.

To me Norway is a landscape made for fairytales, and Torghatten serves as another example.Yes, this is definitely a hole in the mountain, one possibly made by a giant putting his fist through.

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You entered only to use a wooden stairway to step carefully down to the bottom

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where looking back you’re dwarfed by the light from the east

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while a vista beckons you to the west.

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We exchanged cameras with a young Swiss couple for portraits, then we made our way back passing cairns left by other visitors.

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The walk back was shorter thanks to the Swiss couple mentioned above who stopped to offer us a ride. They let us off at the road leading to the little marina.

While strolling back in summer warmth we shot photos of a yellow bumble bee in purple thistle,

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a fluffy orange, catnapping cat,

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and, a curious ewe.

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With the sun still high we took glorious refreshing showers in the cockpit and settled in the for the night.

Life was loverly in the utmost.














Cruising in Norway: Heading south PART I

And, so it begins. The days were getting shorter and sadly so was our time in Norway. Knowing we wanted to be far enough south to take advantage of good weather and a short passage back to the UK within the month, JUANONA’s bow pointed to lower latitudes. Some key places to visit still remained, but these stops were balanced with a focus on getting some miles under our hull.



Saturday, July 25

After Betsy boarded the ferry for Bodo we returned to JUANONA and left for a small anchorage down the coast a bit. The day was a bit gray but still an easy motor to this cove, which, if the temperature had been truly summery and the sun out, we’d be swimming for sure.

It was a gorgeous anchorage where we were soon joined by two other boats.

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A walk up the hill and back for the JUANONA-at-anchor shots followed by a dinghy ride (with Max carefully emptying out his shoes)

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to a sailboat wearing a British flag. We figured out that the friendly couple aboard must have been paying guests to the one-answer captain standing behind them. She, the captain, didn’t seem eager to have us trolling around her boat, so we rowed back to JUANONA and left her in peace.



Sunday, July 26

When we were in Tranoy, Elisabeth, the young clerk at the grocery store, told us this small town was a must-see; so, we were looking forward to our stop here.

Along the way we spotted one of the few foreign cruising boats we’v seen, with hearty waves exchanged as we noticed the Canadian flag.

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Here I learned yet another lesson on how I should NOT be handling dock lines. As the wind was blowing her off the pontoon as Max was landing, I jumped off with the bow line while leaving the spring line (mid-ship one) staged for a quick grab. Well, I got the bow line on but in grabbing the spring line I had managed to have it over, not under, the lifelines causing the lifelines to flex unnaturally. Max by this time had hopped off to handle the stern line but not before I saw his disappointed look as he turned away. Oh boy. Another fun time with Lynnie docking. But, all was well after we secured her, just lesson number 283 in what NOT to do. (Max edit: Lynnie got her  comeuppance a couple days later when I managed to hop off the boat with the stern line… oops!)

The town itself is small but well-preserved. We were welcomed by Arthur who ran the municipal dock. He and his wife had moved to this idyllic spot after years of vacationing here from Sweden on their sailboat. They now owned a house as well as several of the holiday rorbus or cottages, which he said were frequented by family and friends quite often.

The clubhouse with the usual showers and head also had excellent wifi access as well as a washer and dryer and a sitting room with a kitchenette. Heaven for hanging out while clothes and bedding are cleaned.

Monday, July 27

We had read about the living museum and had asked Arthur about it. He told us Kjerringoy had earned the reputation of being the most important trading post in the area during the 1800s. This mercantile heritage was thanks to four people:  a father, a daughter, and the daughter’s two husbands; and, our morning destination was this museum. But, first, a treat…

The day before I had also inquired about any bakery selling cinnamon buns, whereupon Arthur smiled and told me there was an excellent one up the road. So, armed with warm and fragrant rolls, we strolled towards the museum.

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Anna Elisabeth ’s father, Christian Lorentzen Sverdrup, began the business of brokering fish in the early 1800s, buying cod and herring from Lofoten and northern fishermen, then salting/drying the fish and selling them south.  When he died in 1829 his daughter’s first husband, Jens Nicolai Ellingssen, built it up as fish profits rose.

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As the trading boomed, Kjerringoy and this merchant family created a small economic community with a ship’s chandlery, provisioning store, as well as all the services required to run a large estate (bakery, laundry, etc.). They even even hosted visiting judges for settling legal matters.

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When Ellingssen died in 1849, his widow took up the reins and continued growing the business. She eventually married a young clerk, Erasmus Zahl, who had been assisting her with the business, and Kjerringoy continued its commercial prominence, riding a boom in herring prices.

Although Zahl and his wife managed to acquire huge wealth, his later investments in other enterprises  weren’t as successful. Anna Elisabeth died in 1879 and Zahl in 1900. Yet, what they accomplished in and for this small port town is remarkable, and our time spent at this open-air museum was well worth the visit.

We wandered among the various renovated buildings after watching a well-done film introducing us to Anna Elisabeth and her life in the 1800s. I was impressed and also couldn’t imagine holding down the fort among such a male-oriented environment. Yet, she managed, partly from picking the perfect partners as well as being of such pioneering spirit.

After an hour we headed back to JUANONA following a path through the woods

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passing an unusual sculpture, more testimony to Norway’s efforts to bring art to everyone,

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and coming to a display of what made Kjerringoy such a vibrant community in the 1800s.

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Untying our lines with a lot less trauma than when we arrived, we left for our next port, a small anchorage just 13 miles away.

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Tuesday, July 28

After an easy motor the afternoon before, we had anchored in this remote cove and woke to a day that slowly grew into a bright blue sky.

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Again, if it had been warmer weather we would have easily considered swimming. And, later, I would gladly have traded a dip in these cold waters over what we did end up doing, which was finding our way across the ridge to the tiny port on the other side.

As my sister once said during a hike many years ago ‘you may not realize this but i stopped having fun awhile ago’. That statement summed up my experience of tramping over marshy lumps while battling pesky flies as we searched for the path to the other side of the hill.

Like the chicken crossing the road, because ‘it was there’, in my opinion, that was not a good reason to cross.

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Max later said it’s the most he’s ever heard me swear. Fortunately, I found my stomping so ludicrous all we could do was laugh, for it was a beautiful day, it was a gorgeous anchorage, and we were in Norway. Only the ‘walk’ sucked.

Back to our shore we gazed again at the pristine view and then boarded JUANONA for our next destination, Bodo, a major city in this northern part of Norway.



We reached it easily and found a clear spot along one of the pontoons (we had been expecting to raft most of the time at these pontoons due to July and early August being many Norwegians vacation time).

This time I was ready to perfect my docking technique, so as Max neared I hopped off with the bow line and, after securing that, focused on picking up the spring line correctly. Max Jumped off to tie the stern line only to see it slip off JUANONA. He had forgotten to cleat it to JUANONA’s stern cleat. No harm done as the weather was calm and no other boats in our way. Lesson number 284 was learned, and both this docking experience and the one in Kjerringot only reinforced that both novice and experienced sailors make mistakes.

We had two errands here, which is really why we stopped:  getting to a Net.Com store to figure out why our wifi wasn’t working; and filling our propane tanks used for cooking.

Both were accomplished with Max doing the propane and my doing the Net.Com; and, both of us had found the Vinmonopolet in the mall and both had purchased bottles of wine to atone for our docking trials.



Wednesday, July 29

With nothing left to do in the city we left for a town that Dick and Ginger on s/v ALCHEMY and Sue and Kevin on s/v ISLANDER II had said was a great place for both hiking (to a hole in the rocks) and boat facilities (laundry and showers :).

As we motored through a glassy sea

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and by picturesque coastal homes

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Max noticed (we were constantly checking transmission fluid leakage) a larger puddle than normal under the transmission.

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Fortuitously, Bolga featured a noted marine repair shop, and, once there, Max managed to find the shop just as it was closing. No problem. The daughter-in-law called the owner who immediately came to his store to help Max.

Thursday, July 30

Not only did the man help Max at the shop on Wednesday, but, in pouring rain the next day,

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he came over to JUANONA and helped Max re-tap the threads to the dipstick.

The conversation was interesting because he didn’t speak English and Max didn’t speak Norwegian; but, for some reason, the back-and-forth seemed to make sense. There is something refreshing and earnest about just carrying on as if each understands the other.

In short order, the transmission was repaired,

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and as Max followed him back to his shop, you could definitely tell who was used to the rain.

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Yet, another example of how Norwegians offer visiting yachts amazingly warm welcomes. And, another reason why we’ll miss this country when we leave.