Sunday – Tuesday, June 19-21
With a favorable forecast we departed Vlieland at 11:00a to begin our three-day passage to Norway.
Outfitted with my faithful scopolamine patch to offset any seasickness, I only felt a wee bit queasy viewing the breaking waves ahead.
As we rounded the eastern tip of the island JUANONA quickly began gyrating as the wind against current did its thing. Fortunately it only lasted an hour and then smoothed out enough where we didn’t feel we were riding a bucking bronco. My knuckles turned to red from white and we were happily on our way.
With a single-reefed main sail we settled into a routine.
As the day turned to night we began our alternating watches. Generally, this means a schedule of three hours on, three hours off; however, we practice a lot of leeway depending on how tired or awake one of us is. I have to say I believe this is the first, two-person passage where I got plenty of sleep, as did Max, which was heavenly. It also meant I wasn’t as grouchy as I easily could be.
Another first is using the aft berth for our off-watch time. Even when it’s just the two of us Max and I typically sleep in the main cabin with lee cloths (like on previous passages).
So, it was a nice change to not have to do a contortionist act to enter and exit one’s berth.
Late evening, Max added a second reef to the main (which means we shortened the main sail to a third of its full-size; this was due to a forecast of up to 30 knots of wind).
The winds did pick up on Monday at midnight as predicted, and poor visibility made our AIS and radar helpful crewmates as we avoided the usual North Sea obstacles of wind farms and gas/oil rigs.
To me it’s always eerie to come upon those structures out in the middle of the sea looking like some stalking, alien preying mantis ready to pounce on some poor vessel who gets too close.
For those of you who wonder what the heck we do all day when on watch, the following will give you an idea of what it’s like to be hooked in…
and keeping an eye out for something, ANY thing that would provide a diversion from seeing waves go up and down and you with them.
So, here’s looking forward…
and, here’s looking aft…
Our preparations for 30 knots of wind proved to be overly conservative since they didn’t really get much above 25 as we coasted through our second day of passage-making. We took out the reefs and added the motor to augment Mother Nature’s lessening wind.
A rare sighting of a fellow sailboat provided a moment of kinship as we hailed one another across the water. They were also heading to Norway only a bit further north.
As the day moved into night we benefited from being this far north on the eve of the Summer Solstice. At 10:00 pm it was easy to spot more rigs and buoys arising out of nowhere in the middle of our passage.
My Tuesday early-morning watch was accompanied by dolphins feeding under and around JUANONA.
And, as we neared the coast of southern Norway fishing boats began to appear more regularly.
With the sun out the temperatures rose and we began to shed the woolies we had donned early Sunday. (Yes, we had both been wearing the same items ever since we left three days earlier…)
My long johns, having been a gift from my husband for Christmast 2013, are something you’d find on a Dr. Seuss creature
while Max’s were a bit more sedate.
With relatively quiet shipping lanes (unlike heading to Ijmuiden) and a calm cockpit day, Max enjoyed a book given to him by my brother
then hoisted our flags: one for the country in which we’re cruising (called a courtesy flag); and a yellow one (called a Q flag, which, in the olden days identified a ship as under quarantine until the authorities visited and deemed the ship and crew healthy enough to enter port).
I love seeing this as it means I can stop silently asking my childhood question ‘are we there yet’ and begin to salivate at the thought of some fresh-baked goods being part of my future.
Finally in the early evening we sailed into the protected harbor of Egersund, one of Norway’s southern cities.
Our fourth passage of the North Sea had felt seamless as we sailed and motored through three days of easy weather. Maybe I’m getting use to this, who knows? But, I do know as we both switched from passage-making to exploring, we were eagerly awaiting the formal beginning of our 2016 summer cruising.
Norway here we are!