Category Archives: 2015 Summer Cruising

Sailing pause: Amble and environs

ROTHBURY

Friday, August 28

Ever since we landed in England I’ve wanted to go for a walk the way the English seem to do. They appear tireless in their pursuit of an outdoor stroll. It’s no surprise, then, to discover Tourist Information offices selling colorful printed maps for their county’s area, which is where I purchased for £2 at set of seven all within an hour’s drive of Amble.

Since we’re where King Oswald of the Northumbria managed to get himself killed and sainted, there’s a walk called St Oswald’s Way; however, that one being 97 miles, I convinced Max on a beautiful Friday morning to take a stroll based on one of the “Short Walks Around St. Oswald’s Way”. At 7.5 miles this one began and ended in at Rothbury, 40 minutes from Amble.

To make a 3-1/2 hour tale short, the first hour was delightful as we walked along a country road and then through a forested path.

Interestingly we saw posted ‘Farm Watch’ signs,

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which did wake us up from thinking we were immersed in a storybook countryside complete with a gaggle of geese

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and spotted ponies (or, with those sonar tubes maybe donkeys?).

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But, we quickly stepped right back into our reverie as we walked in the beautiful, sun-lit day.

That was the first hour. The second hour, not so hot… as we discovered the route was taking us through a ‘rough field’, one full of sheep, their leavings, and really no clearly defined path.

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Finally making it through one ‘rough field’ we found we were only in the warm-up of crossing unmarked fields as the third hour found us trying to discern the difference between a sheep hoofing a trail and a human (and Max tends to get lost anytime he loses sight of the ocean).

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At this point this Bo Peep was not quite enjoying the scenery or exercise; and, if a lousy, flea-bitten, mutton-chop, baaa’ing, four-footed, cud-chewing creature had crossed my path, I’d be envisioning it laying on a plate with a big branch of rosemary. Good thing they kept their distance.

At last we came to a spot where we gratefully spotted our destination from a hill top and

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stepped over our last stile.

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Cue the music:  once more our heads filled with lyrical tunes as we poetically gazed upon the wind-swept, heather-bedecked moors. Now, this was much more to my liking.

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The final thirty minutes was a cinch, especially since it was downhill.

As we peered at luscious, English gardens hidden behind elegant stone walls

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and watched some little girls play in the babbling stream,

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I thought it wasn’t so bad after all, this walking venture. Matter-of-fact, there just may be another “Short Walks Around St. Oswald’s Way” in our future; but, this time I may carry some rosemary.

 

MELROSE ABBEY

Thursday, September 3

Max had read about Melrose being where Robert the Bruce’s heart was buried, and, as you may know, he’s keen on disaster tours. If they include a desiccated body part, all the better (if you’re unlucky, one day I’ll relate the tale of the thumb in Sienna). To be fair, Melrose Abbey played a significant role in Scotland’s medieval history, so even if it was heartless (bad pun), it would still be worth a visit.

We were heading to Edinburgh airport and a stop at Melrose place would only add another twenty minutes of driving; so, it seemed like a no brainer to tour the Abbey, or ruins of the Abbey.

The drive, alone, along country roads was beautiful as we made our way up and down and around fields and through towns. Landing in Melrose I realized, once again, how many quaint settlements there are in Great Britain, and we were fortunate to, once again, find ourselves surrounded by a lovely town.

We made our way to the reception area where the woman asked if we were members of Scottish Trust. We said no, so she charged us the full ticket price. After we had paid Max casually mentioned that since we were based in England, we had joined English Heritage instead.  (We had joined last year thanks to some good advice from cruising friends, and the membership has more than paid off due the many sights we have visited.) The cashier immediately said there was an arrangement between English Heritage and Scottish Trust and we get 50% off the admission fee. Hmmm, I think we should have read our membership brochure more carefully.

Out through the ticket office/gift shop we stepped into the imposing ruins of Melrose Abbey, at one time the wealthiest abbey in all of Scotland.

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Melrose Abbey actually owes its initial glory to the Scottish King David I, the same guy who got Max’s ancestors up from France and northern England to support his rule. In 1136 he invited a group of Cistercian monks to settle on the border between England and Scotland. The monks, who strictly followed the Benedictine Rule of poverty and manual labor (evidently, more so than the Benedictines themselves) founded this Melrose a mile from where St. Aidan and later St. Cuthbert had established a monastery in the mid-600s. (FYI:  Not being very well educated in monkville terms, I finally looked up the difference between an abbey and a monastery:  an abbey is a monastery that has evolved from just living a monastic live to actually being part of a religious community, led by either an abba, for monks, or by an abbess, for nuns.)

The white monks, so-called due to their undyed woolen robes, secluded themselves from the outside world, and they were able to do so in large part because of an in-house group of manual laborers or lay brothers. The latter lived alongside the monks but prayed and worked separately, with an emphasis on work. Between being a monk or a lay brother, I think I’d pick being a wooly sheep as I imagine there wasn’t a whole lot of fun going on behind the abbey’s walls. And, I sure as hell wouldn’t be doing this:

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The abbey thrived, peaking in the 14th century thanks to ownership of the largest sheep farm in the region and the rise of the wool trade; but, then this community began to decline due to the Bubonic Plague (a diminished labor pool meant lay brothers found higher wages elsewhere), the Scottish Reformation (1525-60 when the firebrand John Knox’s protestant preaching coincided with influential nobles’ interest in weaning themselves from the age-old Scotland-France alliance), and Henry VIII’s dissolution of monasteries (1536-41). In 1590 the last monk died. Melrose Abbey lingered on but finally ceased to be in 1810.

But, back to the earlier days… Originally starting out with very simple lives and surroundings, the monks eventually became richer and richer thanks to the ‘pay-for-pray’ business (nobles paying for a better afterlife) and those ubiquitous sheep. Consequently, the buildings became more elaborate resulting in some of the best stone masonry work from those times.

We saw evidence in the delicate tracery of some of the windows (horizontal iron bars were only added during the 20th century for additional support)

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and the whimsical carving adorning the exterior walls and roofs,

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including the famous flying, bagpipe pig.

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Not only was the masonry exemplary but also, in some instances, signed by one of the masons who worked on the Abbey around 1400:

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We also saw one of the Abbey’s patrons who is possibly related to some friends back home in Virginia Beach:

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Unfortunately, the little museum was closed but the audio guide provided plenty of information that helped us follow the history and lifestyle of those who had inhabited these grounds all those years ago.

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It was becoming just a bit crowded (a bus must have dropped off a group) as noon approached but the grounds were large enough to accommodate those of us walking around with our ears glued to the audio guide.

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Just outside the cathedral’s walls we were directed to a stone marker where the infamous heart resides. The heart had been found in 1921 buried under the floor of the Chapter House, the abbey’s administrative office, and then excavated again in 1998 where a plaque identified it as Robert the Bruce’s; however, it’s equally likely it belonged to one of the abbots or a rich nobleman as the king’s heart probably would have been entombed at the high altar. Since no DNA exists for Robert the Bruce there’s no way to test if it’s his or not. But, it makes for a good story and a nice marker.

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Regardless of whose heart is buried at Melrose Abbey, it’s definitely worth touring. Just getting another glimpse of life way back when is fascinating, and, by now, you must realize I’m a history junkie.  :)

 

and AMBLE MARINA itself

Tuesday, August 25, to Sunday, September 6

When we landed with Iain and Sarah last May, We really enjoyed the people and the area; so, we had been looking forward to making a return visit on our way south to our winter port in Ipswich.

Heading into a familiar port means the mental list of questions you may have had prior to your first visit (from ‘how’s the docking?’ to  ‘where’s the washing machine?’) are checked off so all that remains is watching weather, winds, tides and ensuring there is a berth.

The 24-hour passage was rough but what a great place to land. It was nice being back and listening very, very carefully to Ben and Mick in conversations conducted in Geordie accents, accents derived from the ancient Germanic and Scandinavian language of the Angles.

Some memories of Amble will be…

The marina folk make you feel truly welcomed, even hoisting the country flags for all visiting boaters.

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The place is loved by birds, as well as boaters, as we discovered when waking up to a scene from Hitchcock’s movie THE BIRDS.

And, the tide was truly something to watch. The sill marked by the red-and-white pole at the marina’s entrance (on the left in photo below) kept water in during low tide, keeping the boats inside the sill afloat as if they’re in a bathtub,

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while high brought us fairly close to parking-lot height.

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One regret was not seeing some Orr’s Island friends, Cindy and Brad, who were in Ireland and later Scotland. Meeting up with folks from home makes our travels that much richer. And, their wanderings will be pretty spectacular considering the connections to Ireland and Scotland.

As we watch for weather, winds, and tides for sailing south we’re getting closer to our winter home, Ipswich; and, just like we had some great sailors heading north to Amble (Iain and Sarah), we’ll have another one aboard (Rudy) heading south to the Orwell River.

Soon we’ll be off pause and on play… after we check weather, winds, and tides… :)

Haggis Land with Judy & Doug: PART IV

DIRLETON

Monday, August 31

After another large breakfast (haggis-free in spite of enjoying the sample the night before) we trundled off to our last destination, Dirleton Castle, Judy and Max’s ancestral home.

Another blue-sky-bright-sun morning greeted us, and we drove south, crossing over to Edinburgh, then east towards the headland. We arrived and found ourselves in the lovely medieval town of Dirleton and the grounds of the castle.

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Judy and Max were related through their father’s side to the original builders, the de Vaux family, Anglo-Normans who arrived here in the 1100s, one of the many English families invited by David I, King of Scotland (1124-53), as support for his rule.IMG_3118.jpg

The de Vaux’s occupied their home for several centuries, passing it to the Haliburtons via marriage with a de Vaux heiress in the 1300s. Another marriage in the early 1500s brought the castle under the ownership of the Ruthvens. As one of the staff who greeted us mentioned, this castle was a favorite of a lot of women due to the females determining the lineage of ownership.

The woman who gave us our tickets and explained a bit about the property was pretty great. When it came up Judy and Max were related to the original owners, Max jokingly made a reference to the fact that, since this was their ancestors’ home, there probably would be some sort of benefit . The staffer smiled and asked which part of the castle he’d like to clean. Good comeback!

To reach the actual ruins we strolled through a beautiful garden.

Max later noticed this particular one had captured an award for having the longest herbaceous border. All you gardeners probably know what ‘herbaceous border’ means, but, Max thoughtfully asked and heard it’s defined as a collection of perennial plants arranged closely together in a riot of color and shape. It was stunning.

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And, it was another opportunity to snap a family photo of brother and sister.

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Wandering along a climbing path we made it to the actual remains of this 900-year-old structure.

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Always up for some light-hearted moments, Max re-enacted what could have been a possible event while Judy wisely stayed out of the fray. Considering Doug’s grandmother was born not too far from here, who’s to say his relatives didn’t visit the castle. They probably would have received a warmer welcome.

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The self-directed tour was easy and interesting because of the plaques alerting us in what room we actually were standing. More descriptive signs provided details about the specific room. Believe it or not, I find it extremely easy to get lost wandering around these tumbling buildings, so I’m always on the look-out for something to answer my silent question ‘so NOW where the heck am I?’.

One of the most imposing was the Great Hall, which was part of the original castle. Here, the de Vauxs would hold large banquets eating at one end on a raised platform overlooking their guests and staff. The display mentioned there was an emphasis on cleanliness and politeness, which they defined as not dipping your hands too deeply into the communal bowls and not slurping your drinks. Lovely.

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Underneath and carved out of the foundation’s rocks were the vaults holding the household’s provisions. Each separate storage area was under lock and key indicating the value of sustenance.

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Walking under the main gate to the ramp we saw the murder hole where defending troops would pour boiling water or oil onto the attackers. Not something I’d want to test by being first in line.

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Once outside, looking back at the main entrance we got a better view of the fortifications–this was, after all, designed to withstand sieges and attacks, and saw its share.

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After an hour we had completed our tour and headed for the formal garden next to the bowling lawn. Like many castles we’ve seen, Dirleton fell into disrepair through lack of use. In the mid 1600s the owner, Sir John Nisbet, moved to more comfortable housing in nearby Archerfield. However, the ruins became a folly, which is why gardens, such as the formal Victorian one below,

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and the splendid herbaceous one featured earlier, thrive here today.

Exiting the castle grounds we wandered around the town and to the church putting off our good-bye to Judy and Doug. Fortunately, we have more family and friends visiting in the future, which helps soften the leave-taking, but, you know me, I hate the good-byes.

We returned to the little car park nestled under the castle’s grounds. Judy and Doug were heading west, back to Glasgow while we were driving south to JUANONA. Fierce, heartfelt hugs were shared around and then we hopped in our car.

Our Haggis Land tour had come to a close but the memories can last forever.

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Happy anniversary (September 3rd!) and may you both have many, many more haggis explorations in the future :) xox L&M

Haggis Land with Judy & Doug: PART III

ST. ANDREWS

Sunday, August 30 (continued)

We left Dundee and polar explorations behind as we drove twenty minutes east to reach St. Andrews, the golfing mecca for those so inclined to chase a tiny pebbled ball around a holey lawn. I must admit, though, it was intriguing to be in such a fabled spot, and having someone with us (Doug) who understood the game made it even more so.

I had read Mary Queen of Scots played golf, probably dressed a wee bit differently than golfers today. Must have been a nice break from the politicking going on.

But, back to present day, which was gorgeous and warm, which only added to the beauty of this coastal town. With Rick Steves’ guidebook we began his self-guided tour by visiting the 18th green where we joined other tourists such as ourselves walking on this sacred land. Doug pointed out landmarks, such as the male-only Royal & Ancient Golf Club (women are allowed in on November 30th only when the Women’s British Open is played; thoughtful of them, isn’t it? At least, the non-profit club loses its tax-free status; yet, due to the wealth of the members that’s as significant as a gnat’s gnaw). FYI:  This club is not to be confused with the separate, but similarly named organization, the R&A, formed in 2004 to govern all but USA and Mexico’s rules of golf.

We strolled to a stone bridge over the Swilken Burn (the stream that meanders through and around the holes) where those who love the sport posed for portraits.

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Doug patiently stood while we snapped some photos

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while Max missed his opportunity to cross the creek, thus being stranded behind other photographers and their subjects.

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Once we were all together, we walked to the actual 18th hole

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where a small notice asked us to not walk there.

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Frankly, I was surprised they let us (and dogs) nonchalantly tramp all over this grass considering it’s used for one of the most prestigious tournaments ever created (as per golf afficionados). But, they did, and it made for easy trekking to our next destination, something my sister Betsy would identify as one of Max’s ‘Disaster Tours’.

Walking to the top of a hill to the Martyrs’ Monument, we passed by a bandstand with its Sunday entertainment

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and stopped to look back towards the golf course to the stretch of beach beyond used for the famous running scene in the movie CHARIOTS OF FIRE.

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Arriving at the monument shaped like an obelisk with a plaque designating it as the Martyrs’ Monument,

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we read how Scotland tossed quite a few people over the cliffs

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and burned at least four non-conformists all in the name of religion. I’d like to say thank god that’s not happening now, but, if I did, you’d probably wonder what rock I was living under.

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Getting our fill of the wonders of what humans can do to others, we strolled towards the main street through alleys.

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Exiting onto the main street, we passed an interesting street name, one where the sign keeps disappearing. Thankfully, it’s also inscribed in a more permanent manner. I kept pronouncing it with a short ‘i’ while Judy gently corrected me saying it’s a long one.

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Outside Sally’s Quad, the heart of St. Andrew’s campus, we came to another historical plaque, which commemorated alum and professor Patrick Hamilton, the first martyr of the Scottish Reformation burned at the stake on February 29, 1528. The actual stake spot was marked by the initials PH. Supposedly, if you stood on them, you’d fail your exams. Being a disaster spot, it was natural Max wanted to stand on them. Luckily the only tests he faced that day were which types of ale to enjoy later.

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A wedding had just occurred in the quad so we just ducked into the chapel for a peek.

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Back out and continuing our stroll we saw another of St. Andrew’s famous buildings, the place where Prince William (and, as Doug said, Kate) stayed while attending St. Andrews University.

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Just before reaching the end of the street, Max found another ‘x marks the spot’. This time the initials were GW for George Wishart, a Protestant preacher, who was tied to a stake and lit afire March 1, 1546.

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We reached the point of the harbor where the majestic remains of St. Andrews Cathedral anchored the end of town on a bluff. Between 14th and 16th centuries, St. Andrews was Scotland’s ecclesiastical capital. Which explains why all the roastings.

We also discovered that some of St. Andrews’ bones landed here (supposedly) in the 4th century when being transported from Constantinople. Due to this auspicious wash-up on the beach, the site was deemed sacred, and, voila, St. Andrews became the place to be and the guy, the country’s patron saint.

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After several hours of exploring by foot and enjoying the summery day and blooms,

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we were ready for a libation followed by dinner and our hotel, which happened to be thirty minutes to the west. We quickly found a pub, then our cars and drove to Glenrothes where Max had located some rooms that morning.

A large home now set in the midst of a suburb, the hotel offered a lovely area for another drink and a perusal of their menu. This time the haggis came as a main course described as ‘Haggis Stuffed Beef Olives.’ Not quite understanding how they found olives large enough to stuff with haggis, this became quite a topic of speculation, of which I won’t describe. Suffice it to say, at dinner, we DID try some haggis (a gourmet version:  a crispy and, must admit, delicious looking disk with no resemblance to the bulging beigey balloons seen the day before)


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and actually thought it was pretty good; but, once again, we all opted for more mundane fare for a main course.

With full bellies and dreams of haggis, we retired to our rooms ready for our next venture – a visit to a family castle.

 

 

 

Haggis Land with Judy & Doug: PART II

DUNDEE

Saturday, August 29 (continued)

We arrived at our B&B just fifteen minutes down the road from the Highland Games. After checking in and finding our rooms we soon ended up at the inn’s bar, soon enjoying pints of ale and wine.

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Cocktail hours evolved into dinner where I spotted what has to be someone’s prized marketing accomplishment:

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Whoever thought of calling an appetizer ‘Haggis Bon-Bons’ must have won the award for best oxymoron printed on a menu. The four of us thought of trying them and then opted for more sedate fare.

Sunday, August 30

Up and at ‘em with a full English/Scottish breakfast (save for the Blood Pudding which we graciously declined) in our tummies we rode to Dundee where Max promised a fascinating view of the first ship specifically built for polar explorations. Nigel, whom we met in Peterhead and who lived in Dundee, had mentioned s/v DISCOVERY, Robert Scott’s first Antarctica’s ship, was on exhibit in this city. From that day onward, this ship became a magnet for my husband.

Driving separately, we followed behind Judy and Doug

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until we started meandering through Dundee’s streets. No signs appeared for the polar museum, and at one point we lost one another. We managed to make it to the museum but no J&D. Max stood close to a confusing intersection

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until we finally decided to call using our satellite phone. Good thing for they were waiting for us at another historic ship down the way.

Reunited we started our journey of RRS (Royal Research Ship) DISCOVERY beginning with its construction starting in 1900. DISCOVERY was the first ship in the world built specifically for polar and Antarctica research and the last example of one still around.

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Dundee’s shipyard was one of two vendors bidding on this ship, being one of the few still capable of crafting a three-masted wooden sailing ship in this age of iron and steam-powered vessels. With an original quote of over £50,000, the final price was eventually reduced to just over £33,000. Fortunately, the adjustments didn’t affect the ship’s strength or performance as DISCOVERY took part in three major explorations:  The British National Antarctic Expedition 1901-04; The DISCOVERY Oceanographic Expedition 1925-27; and, the British Australian New Zealand Research Expedition 1929-31.

What is more interesting (to me) are some of the crew this ship carried during its voyages:  Captain Robert Falcon Scott; Dr. Edward Wilson (fifth from left below at the launch); Sir Ernest Shackleton (seventh from left); Tom Crean; Sir Alister Hardy; and, Sir Douglas Mawson. I know the names but Max knows their bios, trust me.

Although this initial voyage was a joint endeavor for scientific exploration between the Royal Society (RS) and the Royal Geographic Society (RGS), a military officer (Scott) was selected as commander. The choice of a military leader over a scientist caused some sour grapes between the two societies; but, RGS under the leadership of a former naval officer won this battle placing Scott in command. Surprisingly, but maybe not considering the time period, only one out of the 45 crew had polar experience, and it wasn’t Scott (it was the French scientist Louis Bernacci).

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The exhibit was well-done with displays providing detailed descriptions of just how RRS DISCOVERY came to be…

from the type and massive breadth of wood used in construction in order to withstand the pressure of bring stuck in pack ice

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to unique features such as the ability to lift the rudder and propeller inside the hull to avoid damage from the ice (or repair damage caused by the ice).

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One of the interesting design components were the salt boxes where rock salt was poured between the inner and outer hulls.

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If water seeped in, the salt helped preserve the wood. Judy mentioned their great-grandfather’s 32 ft sloop,  Juanona, after which our boat is named, also had rock salt poured into the bilge during winter storage. Hmmm… I wonder if a salty Smithfield Ham could have been part of our Atlantic Ocean provisioning.

Many museums create opportunities to engage youngsters’ interests; and, this one definitely catered to kids as Doug quickly proved his mastery of lading and unlading a ship’s cargo and balancing the load in the ship. Must say, it did look like fun.

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After perusing the unique design, crew biographies and descriptions of the voyages, we headed outside to explore the actual ship. It was big and it was definitely not something you’d find me on. All I could think of was what one’s day (and night) would have been like living on this vessel still smelling of tar pitch. The odor alone would have me slapping seasick patches on and soaking rooms (and people) with lavender spray. What some find bracing, my husband included, I find a wee bit too sailor-ish.

Yet, it is fascinating to walk the decks and below and think where this ship had been. The size of the wheels, both fore and aft, were impressive and we all took turns posing as salt-bitten sailors.

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Below Max pointed out some dry rot

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as well as the salt box slits.

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I roamed the officers’ quarters where I snapped shots of Shackleton’s and Scott’s cabins.

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Max went back aboard and below to take a photo of where some cross beams had been mounted from port to starboard along the entire length of the ship. They kept the hull from being crushed by ice. The beams were cut out during a later renovation.

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After several hours we were all ready to leave the polar region and head towards a much more civilized endeavor:  golf.

Haggis Land with Judy & Doug: PART I

BIRNAM HIGHLAND GAMES

Saturday, August 29

Max’s sister Judy and husband Doug had flown over from the US the previous week and set off on a Scotland road trip beginning in Glasgow. Due to weather and winds cooperating, we managed to arrive in Amble in time to rent a car and meet them on their loop to the eastern side just above Edinburgh. They had scouted out some local highland games, and we arranged to meet in Birnam mid-morning.

Supposedly highland games originated in Ireland in 2000 B.C.E. and migrated to Argyll and beyond in the 4th and 5th centuries via the Scotts. These were war games, which identified the best warriors amidst the tribes or clans. The games evolved into public festivals and continue to this day with some brief interruptions thanks to battles (1746 Battle of Culloden) and wars (WWI and II). Whatever the reason, all I know is we would definitely go again, not the least being it’s always nice to see men walking around in kilts.

We arrived just as the field became ringed by spectators and contestants.

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An empty bench was found

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and we began people watching as Doug perused the program labeled 132nd year vs. the publicized announcement stating 2015 was the 150th year.

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No matter, because, whatever anniversary it was, these games easily became one of the highlights of all our Scottish visits.

Under the constant hum and drone of bagpipes

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we watched track races (numerous dashes and laps, and don’t ask if we even knew who won which heat or final race), cheered on the occasional cyclist on bikes featuring no brakes and no gears,

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glanced at the dancers from both across the field and then up close,

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all while eyes kept returning to the big guys doing the heavy lifting.

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And, those guys were BIG. But, then again, their events all involved some sort of pushing dead weight through the air. The competitors must be chiropracters’ worst nightmares or, more likely, convenient retirement plans.

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We ended up placing imaginary bets all on the guy in the fluorescent t’shirt. With the competition beginning around noon and running until after 4:00 p.m. these strong athletes, about six of them, swung shot puts (heavy balls up to 26 lbs.) and tossed the hammer (metal ball around 22 lbs. attached to a wooden handle)  while proving not all go bare under those woolen skirts.

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The most iconic event is the tossing of the caber, a full-length wooden log. The sport involves balancing the pole while lifting it, running forward to gain momentum, then tossing it end over end so it lands as close to 12 o’clock (based on the competitor’s orientation) straight ahead of the tosser. Note that it takes three men to return it to the next tosser.

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During the festivities Judy and I strolled around the field enjoying the sights.

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At one booth Judy found some homespun wool and the woman who makes it. The proprietor graciously posed for a photo after having loaded up Judy with beautiful yarn.

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While I was standing there I overhead a woman saying she was living in London now but originally hailed from Virginia. Of course, I couldn’t resist so I asked from where. Turned out she was from my mother’s hometown, Charlottesville, and knew my mother’s half-sister’s (Carol’s) second husband, Herbie. The conversation politely ended when she confusedly asked if I was Carol’s sister. Time to move on.

Judy and I spotted some handsome gentlemen resplendent in their festival garb sitting in a wooden box.

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In conversation they told us they were judging classical bagpiping with contestants presenting three pieces (some as long as 20 minutes, and their selecting one to play). Judy discovered she had seen photos of one (the Scott on the right above) when his piping band had toured the states awhile back. Photographs of their visit are hanging in Blair Castle, which Judy and Doug had visited earlier.

Although we enjoyed speaking with them as well as their friendly banter, when returning that way on our circle back to Max and Doug, we pretty much kept on walking. As I have mentioned earlier, the pipes were the constant backdrop to all activity; and, as much as my skin becomes rippled with thrilling goosebumps when I hear them, I discovered there comes such a time where the haunting tones become whines. The next piper competing began playing a tune that neither Judy nor I could discern much variation so we slowly inched away from the area.

The weather featured almost as much variety as the games’ components:  from warm sun to cloudy skies to spitting showers. At one time we got all three at once, but we were prepared especially Max with his Hurtigruten oily on.

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After four hours of festivities and bagpipes, the natives were getting restless; but, the organizers knew they had an ace to play yet for no one was leaving before the Haggis Eating Contest.

Yes, that delectable gourmet item that is made with those ingredients we all crave–sheep pluck (heart, liver and lungs)–was featured as one of the last events of the games.

A line of contestants gathered at a table decorated with hats, jugs of liquid from beer to orange juice to water, and plates of individual, bulging balloons of haggis.

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The bell was rung and they were off

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and, well, choking this beigey-gray, oozing stomach-casing food morsel down. Various techniques were in play, even one (who turned out to be the winner) dousing his with water to make it slide down his gullet faster.

Needless to say I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the contestants, sort of like how I’m both fascinated and repelled by watching slithering snakes. The event was a feast for one’s eyes…

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until one fortunate soul took his last gulp and raised his hand as the first one done.

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With that we left to head to our B&B all with a finer appreciation of what it takes to scarf down a ball of haggis.

Cruising Norway: Heading south PART IV

HAHOLMEN

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.

ONA

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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RUNDE

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.

MALOY

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.

ROGNALDSVAGEN

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

RORVIK

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, Netcom.no 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).

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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

HALTEN

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.

 

SAUOYA

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

VEILHOLMEN

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

 

 

BOLGA

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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ENGEN

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.

 

NORDFJORD

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

BILLY

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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HJARTOYA

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

MOYHAMNA

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.

 

INDRE VETTOYSUNDET

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.

 

KJERRINGOY

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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OSTHOLMEN

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.

 

BODO

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.

 

BOLGA

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.