Tuesday, June 16, to Thursday, June 18
Because north winds were forecast for the following week, we decided to skip the Shetland islands (our planned next port of call) and head straight to Norway, our ultimate destination for this summer. The winds would be good for for the next two days (direction and speed) then lighten up on Thursday but still favorable direction (west).
So, early Tuesday morning we left Peterhead at 4 a.m. with our course set for Alesund, Norway. It’s not as far north as we wanted but at this point we’d be happy just to be anywhere along the coast of Norway.
And, I can’t leave this port town without, once again, commenting how exceptionally gracious and warm these folk are. From the town librarians who helped us with our wifi to the guy who saw us with our load of groceries and insisted on driving us back to the marina to Charlie the car rental man who shared some good road trips with us to Billy at the marina who made us feel at home just from his huge smile and Scottish Burr. These harbor towns are amazing in their hospitality.
The weather was beautiful Tuesday as we made excellent time, reaching seven knots with the wind directly perpendicular to our sails.
And, I made sure I had my crackers just in case I got a bit of queasiness.
Throughout the day Max doublechecked weather and course while we settled into our watch routines.
Believe it or not, there is a body (Chris) hidden in that bedding. We have similar snaps of our crew Ricardo (to Flores, Azores) and Steve (to Falmouth, England) from our crossing last summer :)
The few obstacles we had to avoid were the oil and gas rigs sticking out of the ocean waters. Like the wind turbines we saw off the coast of the UK, these large, metal, man-made structures just seemed odd to be poking up out of something so natural and fundamental as the sea.
Because we’re so far north, night watches were almost twilighty, which always makes it easier for me to keep my eyes open.
Wednesday, our second passage day, dawned cool and gray; and, for those who want to know what it’s like, it’s like a whole lot of nothing at times.
But, then it’s pretty spectacular to be out there surrounded by the North Sea with two other people and your boat watching the steely waters. A few gulls come sweeping by eyeing you while continuing their soaring highs and lows. You’re part of a vastness that goes on and on and on.
And, it’s pretty wonderful to go below where the heater’s on.
Once again we were thankful for our AIS as we were hailed by a ship towing seismic cables. He told us we needed to keep a minimum of two miles (from his bow and sides) and five miles (from his stern) to ensure we wouldn’t be in his way. Happy to comply, we tracked him and his accompanying ship via the AIS.
On Thursday we were hoping to make Alesund by 9 p.m., and, we motored for most of the day as the wind slowly died.
We were excited to see our first glimpse of Norway in the early evening, and we were all thinking of hot showers (if you notice, we have the same clothes on Thursday night that we left in Tuesday morning), celebratory drinks, and a full night of sleep.
Then, the engine starting acting up–no cooling water coming out of the exhaust. So we quickly killed the motor and unfurled the jib while Max began problem-solving. After an hour, he found the culprit: the impeller wasn’t spinning. With a quick repair (thankfully, JUANONA has tons of spare parts), we were able to head to the harbor.
Max raised the Norwegian courtesy flag and our OCC burgee as the three of us just gazed in awe at the coast appearing out of the clouds.
We docked with no problem in this very protected harbor,
then pulled out the bubbly compliments of Anne and Peter in Ipswich and used flags that Max’s sister Krissy had given us a year ago to decorate our cocktails.
It was a perfect ending to a good passage.
And, with a visit from Frank Cormer, Ocean Cruising Club’s Alesund Port Captain, our first morning here, we feel really welcomed and oh so glad to be able to cruise in this lovely land.
Tomorrow night we’ll be celebrating Summer Sailstice (www.summersailstice.com) by watching a huge burning bonfire with a whole bunch of Norwegians.
At least that’s the plan :)