PART I: Starting our Norwegian summer adventure

SKUDENESHAVN

Thursday-Monday, June 23-27

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Egersund offered an easy harbor to recoup from three days at sea, which Dolly Doughnut also appreciated. Being tied to the main town quay, it was easy to hop off and on as we took care of the usual errands of cleaning bodies, clothes and boat as well as replenishing some fresh provisions.

Max had discovered a hint of “diesel bug” in our reserve fuel tank, and went in search of a more powerful anti-dote than the additive he’d been using. There was none available in the local shops, but when he asked the friendly guys on the rescue boat (the large white boat to the right of JUANONA in the picture)  they immediately poured him a bottle from their supply of what they consider the best product available. Many of the countries in Europe have maritime rescue services that are highly trained and widely respected, and we’re glad to know the “Redningsselskapet” as it’s called here in Norway is available if needed. Even if it’s not an emergency, these life savers come to a boater’s aid!

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After 36 hours of enjoying land, we left Egersund but not before Max had started to track down potential relatives. Since his great-great grandfather was born on the island next to Egersund, we inquired at the town hall where we could locate any of his kin. We ended up at a local church office where a kind lady entered into the search with gusto, printing out an address list of all in the area with the last name Assersen. Four postcards later,

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we left the harbor passing the naked woman statue’s back…

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and front…

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then turned north for a 50-mile sail to Skudneeshavn, a town on the southern tip of Karmoy Island.

What we’re discovering as we cruise around southern Norway is how different it is from the Lofotens, last summer’s north-of-the-Arctic sailing. There, when we landed in a town or at an anchorage, we often were the only souls exploring the shoreline. Our adventures entailed wandering through the natural landscape, like our anchorage in Gullvika,

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as opposed to delving into the cultural sites found around here. This summer we’re immersing ourselves in the history of this magnificent part of the world.

For instance, we actually sailed on the waters that gave this country its name:  Nordvegen (the “Northern Passage”) from which “Norge” or North Way comes. Kamroy Island sitting like a shield between the North Sea and the mainland comes from karmr (protection) and we sailed on Karmsundet, a shipping channel between Kamroy and the mainland, which is part of this ancient Nordvegen. Pretty cool.

It was an easy sail to Skudeneshavn, described as one of the best-kept small towns in Norway and an award-winning Summer Town. It’s also known for over 130 original timber homes and seafront wharves, which blossomed thanks to successful herring harvests in the early 19th century.

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The entry into the small harbor was stunning as we motored past brilliant white houses into the innermost harbor. We nestled into a space right in the town’s center, nudging aside a beautiful wooden rowboat at our bow while carefully avoiding the long bowsprit at our stern. Then we gazed around at the “White Empire Town”, a term often used to describe Skudeneshavn. (Interestingly, the city we left–Egersund–became known for homes painted a variety of different colors because soot from the porcelain factory, the town’s historical industry, wouldn’t show as much as it did on white.). Below is the view looking aft from our tie-up.

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Because we know the feeling of trying to find a spot when mooring space is limited, we welcome rafters when we see another yacht heading in with the captain peering around for a tie-up; and, that’s just what happened. A Norwegian boat came in and we invited them to raft with us. Which is how we met Lars and Asbjorn (and, Asbjorn, if you’re reading this, I apologize for I know I’m misspelling your name, which I hate doing!), friends who met when skiing in Utah in the mid-1990s and who also share a passion for mountain climbing.

Lars had purchased his boat two years ago and had lived on it with his wife and young son. Then they moved into a home ashore, which enabled him to start prepping his boat for a tour to Greenland, a climbing destination of his. I look forward to reading about this adventure as I have no doubt it’ll occur.

Lars’ pursuit of sailing in conjunction with climbing led to a discussion of the feats of Bill Tillman, another climber-sailor, then flowed into  Ernest Shackleton’s voyage to Antarctica followed by the importance of liberal arts (Asbjorn is a teacher in Stavanger and had initiated the school’s music band; he also just happens to look like Max’s son Chris who’s also a teacher).

While tossing thoughts back and forth, another boat came along with the captain looking for a mooring. The end result being three boats rafted side-by-side

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with Brits Judy and James joining in on the evening’s discussions. As I’ve surely mentioned before, this is definitely one of the joys of traveling.

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With Lars and Asbjorn leaving the next morning, the usual choreography occurred with captains and first mates doing the dance of releasing one boat while keeping hold of another.

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As you can see from the photo above it was a rainy day as forecast but this was offset by another wonderful evening of being with Judy and James.

By Saturday morning, though, we were once again neighborless as they, too, set off for another destination, heading south while we were planning on making our way further north.

After the grayness of Friday, this day sparkled and we used it to bus up to Avaldsnes, Norway’s oldest royal seat and the site of a medieval church and Viking Museum. But, more of that later. For now I’ll continue with current affairs, the next one proving just how small the world is. For what occurred almost defies belief.

After our day’s activities, we settled in for the evening. As he was cooking dinner, Max glanced out the galley window and noticed someone securing a business card to our rigging. He jumps up and shouts, “Paul!”.

Well, the abbreviated version of this you-won’t-believe-what-happened story begins with Max hoping to locate a friend from Maine who used to race with Max and his family. Max knew this childhood friend lived some where in Norway but, not knowing his address, email or phone number, didn’t have a way to contact him; so, we thought that was that.

But that wasn’t that. Paul, who lives in Stavanger, a city on the mainland, had just purchased his 23-foot sailboat. He had taken her out for a maiden cruise and thought he’d pop into Skudeneshavn having always wanting to sail here. (Afterwards, Max realized he had seen Paul enter the harbor.)

After docking he walked around town and then noticed the American flag. Coming up to the boat he saw it was from Orr’s Island and figured perhaps he might know the owners; and, it was in the process of leaving his card that the surprise connection was made. Another evening of celebration began. Paul mentioned that he had been thinking about Abbot (Max’s father) that very day, and the sailing lessons he had learned from racing with him.

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Once aboard we discovered we both had been at Bayeux (France) and both had been mesmerized by the 11th-century taspesty, enough so the scene on his ball cap matched the one on our pillow.

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One thing led to another and the three of us ended up at a local piano bar where live entertainment kept the place hopping.

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The next morning was a bit of a slow one for all. We waved a farewell as Paul left, planning on meeting up in Stavanger in a few weeks.

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With the sky now drizzling rain we set off on a self-guided tour of the town (after Max stopped communing with the local swans, which always reminds us of our friend Gracie who befriended a swan in Ipswich and upon whom she bestowed the name Frankie)

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using a route mapped out by the Tourist Office.

As we strolled down narrow, highly-piggly streets

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we admired the well-maintained homes in the old section of town… most of them white but not all…

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with some built into right onto the stone landscape.

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A standing bust and building, now a cafe, honors the father of the fog horn, Ole Christian Hansen (1850-1935). I had to have a photo of that since my Dad always said my nose blowing sounded like one. Must admit I couldn’t argue with him about that.

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Our last stop was seeing the mounted figurehead

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close to the entrance of a pretty little park where a moon stone,

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later discovered to be not from the moon but still notable being 800 million years old and most likely deposited here 10,000 years ago by ice.

On Monday it was time to leave. Wanting to top up our diesel we found a pump in the outer harbor, but no one was around. I hopped off JUANONA to see if anyone was in another building down the way only to find someone who kindly called another guy on his phone. In a few minutes someone came striding up to help us. He mentioned we could probably use our credit card to pay (as in the Netherlands, our credit card doesn’t always work here) but, if it didn’t, he offered to use his and have us reimburse him in cash. Now, this is hospitality.

Figuring it was safer to use his, we did just that and then settled up. Not only was this guy friendly and helpful, he also had a great sense of humor:  as the photo was being taken with me in it, he said he’d better not have the money out; and, if you don’t get it, don’t worry. But, it was a good joke on me!

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And, with that we left Skudeneshavn but not without wonderful memories of the town and the people we met.

Have I said how much I love this country? :)

4 thoughts on “PART I: Starting our Norwegian summer adventure

  1. Gus Wilson

    Did you see the sign in the park in Skudeneshaven with the Hedgehog (pinnvinn, I think). Your descriptions remind us of our good times, with warm encounters with people in those places. And the encounter with Paul is remarkable, and heartwarming,

    Gus

    Reply

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