Below are all the reports from Diana & Stein's first year on Whiteadmiral:
February 15th - Crossing the Atlantic - Two days to go!
Position Sunday February 15th 12 GMT: N? 13 32,6’ W 55? 10,2’, 259 n.miles to go. EWNE F5, rough seas, clear sky
(overcast later). Several heavy squalls last night - the rigging becoming cleaner all the time!
We have been at sea now for 13 days, a fast ride in the trade winds, with a strong northeasterly breeze blowing
faithfully day after day. The sea is rough, and has given us a chance to judge how our new catamaran compares to
our old ferro-cement monohull in big seas. The advantages are that we sail horizontally with no heeling, and go a
bit faster, the disadvantage is that it is quite bumpy, with an occasional crash when a large wave smashes up
between the hulls. All in all we are pleased with her performance, we manage to live fairly comfortably on board,
although Eli complains a bit about the sudden movements, and we feel very safe. I am finally losing my fear that
we could be tipped upside down by a large wave, as catamarans have a theoretical possibility of doing.
The days have gone quickly, with lots of reading, sleeping, chatting, sunning ourselves, some repairs and
maintenance, singing and Trivial Pursuit, sending and receiving mail on the internet and the daily tasks of
preparing food, eating and clearing up. We have been lucky with the fishing, two dorados and a big tuna fish
giving several meals with various fish dishes - fried, baked, mixed with rice or with pasta. The fresh vegetables
are now running out, but with the help of tins, the remaining onions and potatoes, and still plenty of cheap
Spanish wine, we have no complaints about the cuisine.
With daily runs of between 126 and 157 nautical miles, we are now pretty sure to arrive in Barbados on Tuesday
morning, 17th February. The average speed through the water so far has been 5,7 knots since leaving Mindelo. We
are not very daring sailors, prefer to reef early and have too little, rather than just the right amount of sail -
especially at night. We’d also like to arrive in Port St Charles with all sails intact! Thanks to our helping with
the rowing regatta, and knowing one of the owners of the private development at Port St Charles, we are lucky to
have been given a berth in their lagoon. Although life on the rolling sea has been pretty good, we must admit that
we are now looking forward to our landfall, especially the boat lying in absolutely flat water at Port St Charles,
fresh bananas and tomatoes and a jog on the beach!
Pictures today are Stein working on the anchor winch (not yet sorted…) and Frode and I enjoying good books in the
February 12th - Crossing the Atlantic. Click here for postition.
Position 12 GMT: N 13? 44,4’ W 47? 30’. We are 708 n.miles from Barbados, in a few hours we will be two-thirds
of the way. Conditions are gentler with a moderate E breeze, warm and sunny in the cockpit. We are sailing
butterfly style with 2 genoas. This we tried last night with less success, the wind started gusting just after we
got up the second sail, and when taking it down again, it fell into the sea, the sheet getting caught under the
port hull. Stein was preparing for a night swim, but Frode managed to get it freed, and we got both sail and
ropes on deck and stowed without any damage. Not a performance to be proud of, but another experience richer - we
now know how not to take down a genoa!
Today's picture is of the SW lighthouse of Sao Vicente taken Sunday February 1st 1 1/2 hours after leaving
Mindelo. Impressive building with a track to a nearby village cut in the cliff high above. But we never saw any
lights from it...
February 11th - Crossing the Atlantic. Weather improving. Click here for postition.
Position 12 GMT/UTC: N 13? 49’ W 45? 24’; 830 n. miles left to Barbados at a course of 269? T. Wind is from ENE F5, occasionally F6, moderate-rough seas. Nice trade-wind cotton-ball clouds for the first time. Above the horizon W of us are receding squall clouds reminding us of another uncomfortable night with squalls and cross swells. It was difficult to have normal amount of canvas up due to the rough sea and big wind speed variation - 12-29 knots! But conditions improved gradually during the wee hours of the morning and this afternoon life on White Admiral has in fact been very pleasant! So we have been able to get on top a few chores. There are always a longish list of maintenance, repairs and improvements. The anchor winch is not working properly; the leak in the portside water-tank has worsened. But difficulties in getting the port engine starting were sorted out yesterday. Some clothes are washed. Next we need more baggy-wrinkles (anti sail-chafe device). Meanwhile we have all enjoyed a lot of reading. Today Eli has finished John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, part 1, Diana is on page 696 in W. M. Thackary’s Vanity Fair, I’m reading another Steinbeck: Pastures of Heaven and Frode is finishing Knut Hamsun’s Markens grøde (The Fruit of the Land). A number of other books and magazines have already been consumed since leaving La Gomera. Such luxury! Other activities in spite of rough seas are a daily Trivial Pursuit (simplified to asking questions from the cards). We do two rounds, takes about 45 minutes. Eli has the current record of 20 correct answers. (Why is she not senile like other 88 year olds?!). And the guitar and song-books also usually appear around supper-time. Today the last of the tuna was off and returned to the sea… Dinner was instead another of Diana's popular sailing-voyage concoctions; risotto different goodies added. Heated, tinned peach, cold sardines and mussels added separately. Red or white wine. Mushroom soup for starter, tea/coffe with biscuits & cheese and nuts, raisons & chocolate after. A nap is almost compulsory after that sort of meal…
Before finishing, a special note of thank-you to Trudi in Barbados for daily e-mailing the weather. She and/or husband Ian have been doing this one way or other for us every time we have crossed the Atlantic since 1977! She also sends occasional news, including from yacht Svoboda, also associated with the Ocean Rowing Regatta (check the web-site). They have experienced 45 knot squalls and a wet laptop PC, so have more reason to complain than us. From the coast of Brazil and heading for the Antarctic (!) she also relayed greetings from Staale on Rozinante. Also thank you John for editing a voyage site for us (click here). John is like us a real Galapagos enthusiast whom we hope to meet there later this year. He is heading for Terra del Fuego 13th , so the final data-entries of our daily positions will be added when he is back on March 1st. Bon voyage, John!
February 10th - Crossing the Atlantic. Halfway report!. Click here for postition.
Position today at 12 GMT/UTC: N 13 55,4 W 43 11,7; 959 n.miles to Barbados. Rough seas (heard it before?), F6 from ENE, noirtherly swells. Overcast, lines of squall clouds behind. At 6 minutes past our local midnignt (GMT-2 hours) we were halfway between Cape Verde and the north tip of Barbados with 916 n.m to go. Also during the night the moon cleared up and this morning the good visibility confirmed that the Harmattan is now behind! And please, will you stay there! - The Harmattan (Cape Verde) and Calima (Canaries) are names for the dusty, warm wind from Sahara. So now we hope we have had our fair share of sticky, brown dust. Frode and I spent some time washing decks and coachroof and cockpit yesterday, but it will take a lot of Barbados showers to clean the rigging... Last night was again too bumpy for Eli who spent most of the night on the setee. At dinner today Frode produced a bottle of Dubois Sec, a Spanish champagne to celebrate halfway. And the meal? Our fifth meal of tuna, the second of tuna casserole. That it tasted even better than before is a credit to Diana, main chef. We still have some in the fridge, but may go for something else tomorrow, maybe try for a dorado. Eli sticks to her ham or corned beaf, anything but fish as long as there is warm gravy and potatoes to go with it! After dinner we had the first rain for 3 1/2 months, followed by a squall hitting 29 knots, so it's been in and out with the roller reefing. Just now we have a storm jib up on the baby stay in anticipation of more squalls. But the rain only lasted a few minutes, so my shower had to be from a bucket on the port steps. Yesterday we were visited by a beautiful Tropic bird, otherwise little life to be seen apart from flying fish and the occasional storm petrel. We're travelling too fast, I suppose.
February 9th - Crossing the Atlantic. Click here for postition.
Position 12 UTC/GMT today: N 14 06,6 W 40 47,5 1099 n.m to Barbados. Wind at F5-F6 from ENE, seas still rough, 3/4 overcast sky with what looks like could develop into squall clouds, but no rain yet. We have not seen proper rain since Graciosa, late October. In fact, a proper shower shall be most welcome as the Sahara dust is still settling and giving every surface, especially to windward, a dirty, brown stain. But the visibility has improved. We have quite big following waves, in
addition occasional trains of northerly and south-easterly swells that make infrequent monster-waves. They shove us around and can thump the "abdomen" (thebott om between the hulls) so hard that cups hop on the table! Even spilt a little wine during dinner yesterday! But having said all that, last night was very much better than the night before and we all could sleep reasonable well. Especially Eli was grateful, the night before she slept mainly on the settee in the main cabin... We are still eating tuna fish and enjoying it. Diana also marinated a batch of tuna cubes in vinegar and coconut milk, salt & pepper.
It tastes like poisson cruz, the National dish of Tahiti, and keeps well in the fridge. Just add lime, cubes of taro and some lettuce and we're in the Pacific! Yesterday was a Chinese tuna-dish, today is a fish-and pasta casserole tuna-dish. We eat this about 2 pm local time in order to have a glass of wine and wash dishes in daylight.
Yesterday I sent a low resolution picture of the now famous tuna. I will continue to add some pictures during the trip and resend them in good quality when we reach shore. With this speed, just over a week until we arrive! Halfway-mark should be passed about midnight during Diana's watch.
Best wishes from
Stein & crew
The two pictures included: The elusive village/anchorage, Ihla Brava on Feb 2nd and Frode displaying our now much worn and shortened flag on a rare occasion (we're saving it for Barbados!) on Feb 5th to celebrate his grandson Frederick back in Arendal, now all of 5 years old!
February 8th - Crossing the Atlantic. Click here for postition.
12 noon position today: N 14 25,7 W 38 32,3. 1230 n.m. to Barbados, F6 from ENE, very rough seas. Partly overcast, mixture
of low cumulus and high mare's tails, but less of the latter than y'day. So we hope the wind will decrease. Hazy sun, poor
visibility due to brown dust settling everywhere together with a fine salt cover. We had a very uncomfortable night with
wind hitting 31 knots and a lot of crash and spray, slightly better now. The genoa is reefed to aonly a small area up front,
still giving us 6-7 knots.
February 7th - Crossing the Atlantic. Click here for postition.
Position 12 UTC today: N 14 37 W 35 56. 1382 n.m. to Barbados at 270 degrees true. Wind F5-F6 from ENE, rough sea, but less
northery swell today, meaning less cross swell og slightly more comfy aboard, not som many kicks in the belly! During the
night reefed genoa, today whole genoa. Some high clouds, v.hazy sun. 26 degrees C in the sea, 3 more than in Cape Verde.
Very poor visibility and a fine brown powder settling everywhere, especially on the windward side of the rigging: The Sahara
dust originating 1000 n.m. or more E of us! -In Cape Verde known as Harmattan, in Canaries as Calima.
Lots of flying fish and last nigh a big tuna fish: 72 cm long, heavy torpedo of a fish, about 15 kg!
So it's fish for several days starting with supper last night - wonderful taste! Fridge comes in handy now. Thanks for positions on the
rowers both Tatiana and Trudi. Not likeely that we will see any out here, we are too far S. Amazing progress of the four
(Queensgate), we are looking forward to meeting them in Barbados!Glad the straddlers are hanging on-they ill get there too!
February 6th - Crossing the Atlantic. Click here for postition.
At 12 UTC today we were at N 14 43 W 33 34 with 1519 n.m. to Barbados. 1/4 of the way between Cape Verde now behind!
Seas were rough, winds from NE F5-F6, hazy sun, partly overcast. Lots of flying fish, but nothing on our hook. Seen
dorados, so anticipating a fish meal soon! Since y'day only sailed with genoa, which we in fact reefed just now due to a lot
of heaving about. Difficult to do jobs, but managed to sort out a small leak in the diesel tank top (Frode) and put a new
Spinlock sheet-stopper on portside deck (me). Diana as always turning out nice meals, but the last bit of green lettuce from
Mindelo vanished today... Eli peels potatoes and dries the dishes and enjoys the red wine and makes sure we reef in time!
All well aboard, best wishes to all from Stein
February 4th: En Route to Barbados! Our Visit to the Cape Verde Islands.
Sao Vicente and Santa Antao
It is Wednesday afternoon and already we are 260 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, since 1975 an independent republic of 400.000 soles inhabiting 10 very barren, but interesting islands. Nearest neighbours are Mauritania and Senegal in west Africa. At least 400.000 Cape Verdians also live abroad in North America and Europe, mostly Portugal, the original mother country. The islands are poor, the average standard of living low by standard assessment, but the climate is pleasant although very dry, the general health is good and people are extremely friendly. Unemployment in places is as high as 90%. This is evident by the many men sitting or hanging around looking for casual work or chatting, playing cards or just doing nothing. Some are evidently poor and beg for money or food, but the majority are clean, well dressed and well behaved. Hardly anybody is overweight, a marked contrast to the Spanish folk and tourists we left behind in La Gomera. Communication with the locals is not easy as their creole language is unique to the islands, a few speak a little English or understand what little Spanish we (mainly Diana!) muster. But to this fascinating archipelago we happily rolled in on Wednesday 28th January at 6 pm. We had left San Sebastian also at 6 pm 6 days earlier, but the journey in fact took 6days and 1 hour, having lost one hour en route by going south-west. The log read 837 n.miles, a fast but bumpy passage in mostly rough seas. Thank goodness wind and waves were mostly heading in our direction, although swells from a bad storm far north kicked us about quite a bit… After furling the genoa and starting the engine, we entered the protected bay of Puerto Grande where we were met by two dark-skinned men in a neat little rubber dinghy. Umberto was in his 30’s, his smiling assistant Sidney only 15. They directed us to a good anchorage beside ten or so other visiting yachts and offered to look after the boat and us, remove garbage, help with laundry and collecting water and generally assist in every way during our stay. Price: 10 Euros daily. We accepted this without bargaining, although heard from other boats that the normal price was 3 Euros/day! However, we got on well with our two helpers, and they were always available during our 4 days in Mindelo, Sao Vicente Island.
By the time we had the two anchors and plenty of chain properly set, the boat and ourselves tidy and rowed ashore, it was getting dark. This short row was quite hard with all four of us in the little rubber Avon, because although the water was flat calm, strong gusts of wind come tearing down the valley behind Mindelo. On the sagging, half-broken jetty, partly wood, partly concrete, Sidney waded out to support us and look after the dinghy while Umberto led us along a badly lit road paved with black stones of various shapes. Down a dark alley with a few dark-skinned men hanging around, we came to the tiny Pico Pau restaurant, named after a wood-pecker. The furniture was very basic, but the walls were covered with greetings and praise from many visitors, and 70 year old Lima and his young assistant indeed served excellent food and wine at a reasonable price. (We returned for another feast two days later, but this time the meat-eaters were not so impressed. The fish was excellent both times.) This first night ashore gave us a worse impression of poverty than proved to be true and we discovered that Mindelo has a reasonable infrastructure, colourful cement houses, no open sewage, a couple of nice town squares with palm trees and a reasonable variety of shops. Many shops were tiny and much like I remember from out-of-the-way places in my childhood, others had self service and modern computer-based cash registers. In a town of 40.000 we found no less than 4 internet cafes close to the harbour and one had the most modern machines we have seen anywhere. These cafes often have phone booths where locals came for overseas’ calls. Clearly only a few Cape Verdians have their own telephones and practically all have family members living abroad. In fact, money from relatives abroad is only surpassed by foreign aid as an important source of income. Once upon the time these islands were infamous for its busy slave trade, now the only export of importance is fish and shellfish. But the islands produce various crops for their own use, and the indoor market is abundant and colourful and well worth a visit. The large forests that once grew on these islands are all nearly gone, so has most of the soil, and the remaining landscape is barren, steep and forbidding. Yet it is strangely beautiful. Lack of water is a major problem. Sao Vicente has solved it by building four plants for desalination. We had to pay a little for this water, but found it to be excellent - better than in La Gomera!. So development is gradually taking place, a lot due to an adoption system by several European countries targeting a particular island. And as far as West African states go, Capeverdians have a high standard of living!
Eli decided that the bus drive back in hilly La Gomera was more than enough for a person scared of heights, so she remained on White Admiral when Diana, Frode and I took the morning ferry Mar d’Canal across the straight to the large island of Santa Antao (a 50 min rolly ride). We were joined by Robbie and Peter on British yacht PR2, neighbours also from La Gomera. Together we hired a driver with a mini-bus for five hours of sightseeing. It started with a 36 km long and incredible drive across the central mountains to the more fertile north side of the island. Several stops for photographs en route, of course. The whole day’s outing, including the ferry and lunch at a restaurant in Sol cost each of us 3600 CV Escudos; about 35 Euros. It was worth every penny! The roads are all paved with the same, smallish volcanic stones we saw in Mindelo, and it meanders through a landscape filled with incredible vistas: a huge crater, small farms dotted across the crater floor and on terraces in the mountains, donkeys carrying cans of water and loads of hay, ladies with baskets selling round, flat cheeses made from goats’ milk. At nearly 2000 m elevation the road repeatedly had steep cliffs down both sides! In this high interior are remnants of forests that survived the slave trade period, and along part of the north coast they have enough rain and water to grow thirsty crops like bananas and sugarcane. (In most of the islands it only rains in September-October.) In Paul we visited a farm that included a tiny rum factory. Here time appeared to have stood still for 400 years, that is in fact also the age of the Brazilian mill where the sugar canes are pressed for their sweet juice. This machinery is driven by two huge wooden arms 8 hours daily by pairs of oxen doing four hour shifts. A man has to walk beside the oxen all the time in this never-ending circle. Two men sit below the wooden arms in the middle and feed the canes twice through the metal press. This primitive mill produces 500 litres of juice daily, nine months per year! From the juice is made several products, possibly the most interesting being the fermenting brew in wooden casks later to be distilled to Capeverdian rum called Grogcap. Everything from growing the canes and raising the oxen to distilling and bottling the brew and selling it is done on this small farm. The owner, Ildo Benros Silva, showed us the whole process and let us taste the rum (drinking from coconut shells from palms also grown on the farm) and also demonstrated other products like molasses and a honey-like treacle. Very sweet and very tasty! We were the only visitors present at the time, but apparently Silva has enough such casual visitors to sell his entire production. (No need to advertise!). And the price? - One litre of rum cost 4,5 Euro! (40 Norwegian kroner!) The Silva family had run the farm more or less in the same way for generations, motorised farm equipment was still unknown. But the only son lives in USA and is not keen to carry on the hard work and the farming tradition. I wonder who is the happier of father and son? Dad in his 60’s certainly looked both healthy and contented. For someone keen on photography Cape Verde is unique! Not only are there fascinating motives everywhere, but the people actually like to be photographed! (Not always the case in the Caribbean!) And with a digital camera one can immediately display the picture taken, often to the laughing delight of the locals.
Back to Umberto & Sidney: We discovered their professional secrets the first morning after returning from shopping - our dinghy was gone. But it was not stolen, simply being “looked after” by Sidney as he helped other yachties in the bay! So the neat boat they motored about in when we first arrived was not Umberto’s after all, but another one that he and Sidney had in their custody and sort of recycled in order to do their job. But they always kept an eye on the jetty or their signalling friends ashore in order to pick up returning owners whenever needed. Like most other yachties, we let them just get on with it, but as our rowing dinghy is slow and not very attractive to potential thieves, we kept the outboard engine bolted to the transom of White Admiral! We also discovered that the pair regularly slept aboard unattended yachts in the bay, partly as job, partly for home. We don’t think Sidney had another home alternative on the island, but Umberto lived with his young son at his mother’s place in Mindelo. Mum appeared to have adopted his son.
When we sailed Sunday afternoon, February 1st, we headed for Fogo, 120 n.m. south. We waved goodbye to our young friends, now wearing nice Docksider shoes size 42 left from the boat’s previous owners (fitted perfectly!), and we had given them some sweets and muesli bars, and clothes for Sidney’s mum back on a farm in Santo Antao.
Fogo and Brava
Some years ago with my son Robert I saw a film about a boy on Fogo, and reading about this volcanic island in the Atlantic Islands’ guide book very much made us want to visit. The volcano on the south side last had an eruption in 1996! The crater is 8 km in diameter and it is possible to drive to the rim of the crater at a hight of 2800 m - not to be missed!
The seas south of Sao Vicente were as rough as before, if not worse, genoa alone was quite sufficient. The next morning we saw the impressive shape of the island with 30 miles to go, and at 3 pm we gingerly approached the harbour. Huge breaker cascaded across the outer break-water recently built through German aid. The harbour behind was tiny with a couple of crafts moored to large buoys, but the seas seemed fairly flat. There were no ships along the solid-looking quay to our port side. The town is 3 km away and the harbour very bare with not a single house, only a few rusty containers. Not too inviting. But two boys signalled that we could lay along side the quay. We approached very slowly using the engine to make sure we were parallel to the concrete wall. Closer in the surge back and forth increased, under hesitation, but encouraged by the waiting boys we got a few lines ashore. But it soon was apparent that the strain on fenders, rope and bollards was enormous and after 5 min of frantic rope-work and driving with the engines and trying to avoid crashing into quay and huge, black tires hung as fenders we managed to push off with no major damage other than to our nerves. Sweating I motored a few metres out to the so-called anchorage, but Diana walked up to me and hissed: I want to get out of here! Thank goodness someone keeps their common sense even when a goal is close... So we headed for the next and final possible landfall, Ihla Brava only 15 miles due west. The anchorage in this bay is possibly the most majestic we have ever seen. A tiny, pretty village lined the beach, small, painted boats were drawn up and there were several clusters of coconut palms. And above it all huge cliffs, many with man-built terraces. There was not a single vessel to be seen in the bay, the sea was far too deep to anchor and all along the beach were crashing, white breakers. No jetty or quay. Not that we would have made another attempt… So all we could do was to film and take pictures in the twilight. While we were doing this lamps were lit along the beach front and the road to a small air strip a little further south. A large moon climbed above the island. So no more Cape Verde islands this time, but Brava and Fogo are islands we hope to visit maybe as ordinary tourists one of these days.
As we turned the boat and meant to retrace our own wake out to safety, we must have been pushed too far north and the depth abruptly went from 40 m to 2,6 m. Nearly gave me a heart attack! The electronic map was for the first time not accurate. According to it we were up in the hills behind the village and the sketch in the guide book did not show a shallow were we were. The swells lifted and dropped us as we moved slowly back to 40 m again, big sigh of relief. Then 3,5 m! But almost immediately 80 m and gradually deeper and soon we were out in open safety (wonder what that bottom looks like?). Farewell Cape Verde Islands; you friendly, forbidding, beautiful and scary place. Barbados and 2000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean ahead!
25th January: Halfway to Cape Verde!
It’s 17.30 in the afternoon; the position is N 22? 21’ W 20? 25’, we have 15-18 knots (F4-F5) breeze from NE, a moderate sea with the occasional cross swell and white horses. The crash of waves hitting us between the two hulls is getting rarer; in fact it is quite gentle compared to the first couple of days at sea. At 18.00 is will be 36 hours since we left San Sebastion, La Gomera, and in a couple of hours we will have halved the 800 n. miles’ distance to the island of SaoVincente in the Cape Verde Islands. Diana is just now taking out two loaves of bread from the oven; a most wonderful smell is wafting through the cabin… The vacuum-packed mixture for this bread is a left-over from my Atlantic row in 2002, so ends up being consumed where it was supposed to. Eli, Diana, Frode and I have just enjoyed the presence of a large pod of at leased a hundred smallish, bottle-nosed dolphins. They were all around us and swam almost packed between the hulls with the ones behind looking like they were queuing to get to the favourite spots around the bows. Eli prefers not to venture to the bows when we are sailing, but there were so many playful animals around the cockpit area that she also had excellent entertainment. Earlier today we also saw a large sea turtle, we have also seen our first storm petrels and one Portuguese-man-of-war – that most infamous stinging jellyfish. Yesterday morning we found a small squid that had jumped all the way into the middle of the fore deck. In fact when the others had fried ham and egg for breakfast, I had fried squid and egg! It is so good to see that here is still plenty of life in this ocean... We have also caught our first dolphin-fish (not to be confused with the dolphin whale), known also as dorado or in Norwegian as gullmakrell.
But life wasn’t always so easy aboard. For the first two days of this trip we had very rough seas, a lot of wind and movement accompanied by crashing and banging. The poinsettia fell down and for the second time had its pot shattered. Fortunately the inside pot is of plastic so at least we were spared earth spilling. A boat may not be the ideal place for potted plants… Inside the kitchen cupboard the glasses were having a merry time, and on opening the door to calm the clanking one wine glass jumped to its instant destruction. But personally we have not suffered any injuries, Diana has served excellent dinners and nobody has been sea-sick. But we have kept thinking about our friends in the Atlantic Rowing Regatta are getting on… At 11 am, the morning after we left, we had a surprise call over the VHF by Canadian solo rower Louis in Moose on the Moove. He was at sea anchor, had seen us only a couple of miles away. So we had a chat and encouraged him to press on since the wind and the seas were mostly following. It is interesting that we could not see him in spite of me climbing halfway up the mast and knowing exactly where he was. He even gave us a compass bearing. Illustrates how these 7 m boats get hidden by the seas. We must have passed quite close to a number of other rowers later the same day; we put out calls on the VHF regularly, but Louis remains our only contact so far. We do hope they are all well.
That day, 23rd, was also Frode’s birthday. His family had sent with him several cards and presents, Diana baked a carrot cake and with a glass of wine, e-mails from home, and a little extra from the crew, Frode was very happy with the day.
The strong winds and rough seas have been a good test for boat and crew. One functional detail we are very pleased with is being able to reef the main sail and finally take it down if necessary with the wind remaining behind. Normally with the type of rig we have it is necessary to turn the boat into the wind (and waves!), but with a new outside sail track system of low friction cars, the luff of the sail does not jam with the wind pressure. Since stowing the main we have sailed first with a reefed genoa, and then as conditions have eased the whole genoa and finally this afternoon with a genoa poled to each side. This is known as sailing wing-to-wing, or butterfly - very suitable for a boat named after the White Admiral butterfly!
La Gomera 22nd Jan 2004: Atlantic Preparations for Rowers & Sailors
We had a short day sail to La Gomera on 3rd January, 17 n.miles across the channel from Tenerife. This started off quite gently, but as is often the case between these islands, the wind picked up suddenly and it became fresh and bumpy for the last couple of hours, so it was nice to round the huge breakwater of San Sebastian into calm water. We have since been tied up in the sheltered marina here, able to enjoy the comfortable life with electricity from land and hot showers nearby. We have now bought two small, electric cooking plates, and with the water-boiler and toaster which we already had, it is almost like our kitchen at home! San Sebastian is an attractive, Spanish town, with friendly people, small restaurants and shops, nice to be away from the tourist ghettos of some of the other islands. The local people seem to be fond of fiestas and two nights have been full of loud music, people dancing and singing in the streets, many dressed in traditional folk costumes, all very entertaining except that it goes on until abut 5 a.m. right beside the Marina la Gomera! One evening as we made our way to a restaurant, we found ourselves in the middle of a solemn, slow-moving procession following a large cross, with a band playing funeral music. It felt quite moving; maybe it was some kind of remembrance for loved ones.
The main reason for staying here so long has been a rowing regatta organised by the Ocean Rowing Society (www.oceanrowing.com and www.oceanregatta.com ), which started on 20th January. The finish is in Port St. Charles, Barbados, about 3000 n.miles and 40-100 days away! As we both have experience as ocean rowers we have been busy helping in different ways with the preparations. Stein has sorted out various technical problems, becoming an expert on water-makers and sea-anchors in the process. I have daily run The White Admiral Café for two weeks with about 20 rowers and helpers for lunch each day; self-service sandwich making, coffee/tea and waffles for 1 Euro; beer and soft-drinks 50 c!
Ragnvald and May Britt on Mayra have also been enrolled as volunteers, Ragnvald doing carpentry work and other jobs on a couple of boats, and May Britt washing the dishes in our “cafe”. It has been interesting to get to know the rowers, relatives and organisers, also a few veteran ocean rowers who came to join the fun. Kenneth Crutchlow, who is the director of the Ocean Rowing Society is a big, friendly extrovert who makes everybody feel welcome, and with large dinners at local restaurants, free-flowing wine and speeches of mutual praise, the atmosphere has been great. We were a bit nervous about the start on Tuesday, as White Admiral was the starting-line marker and the final line-up was under “the strict guidance” of Stein, but all went as planned, and the 13 boats were off at 11 a.m. sharp, accompanied by a cannon blast from the Norwegian ketch Kragerø. One boat with the Zimbabwian-Spanish Brett & Scott had too much to do and only got away today, making it 14 boats racing each others for Barabados: 7 doubles and 6 solos. There is also one four-man team, Queensgate, trying to go for the record in rowing across this part of the Atlantic: 35 days! (French El Mondiale with 11 men.) An equally big challenge for the four will be to remain good friends throughout this epic journey. (Their boat is not much bigger than the others.) Two days out they have already made amazing progress.
There are two interesting Norwegian yachts in the harbour, the above mentioned Kragerø, one of the original Colin Archer - designed gaff riggers, which its owner Olav Bjørshol has restored with love and care since he bought it in San Francisco in 1996. It is a massive yacht of 40 tons displacement and with 40 years of service as a life rescue boat along the south-east coast of Norway (1920-60). Check www.rs32kragero.no for more details. The other traditional yacht is Fraternitas from Arendal, a 66 year-old 12 - Meter racing yacht (actually 18 m long) with elegant lines, it also lovingly cared for by its owner Knut Frigstad.
Today we are leaving for Cape Verde Islands, which should take about a week. We have had to replace the propellers, as the old ones were damaged by galvanic corrosion, and are now crumbling round the edges. It was difficult to get the original parts, but we have got reasonably good replacements, had some new washers and bolt made at a local workshop, and Stein has got them both put on safely. He used his diving suit as the sea is now fairly chilly, but he still managed to become pretty blue around the edges! Our crew-member for the Atlantic, Frode Filseth, arrived 3 days ago, and as an old sailor, has quickly made himself at home, sees what jobs have to be done and gets on with it – a good able-bodied seaman. Frode has crossed oceans with us before.
The sun is shining, the weather forecast promises a good north-easterly breeze, and White Admiral is looking forward to spreading her wings again on a longer sail.
Los Gigantes, Tenerife 2.januar, 2004
Christmas Eve began on a sour note in the cash-desk queue at the hypermercado in Santa Cruz, when I found no purse in my hand-bag! It must have been lifted out at some point when I had it slung over my back and was preoccupied with getting the Christmas goodies. I had to leave my basket of food, run back to the boat for a new Visa card, and cancel the first one, before being able to return for the shopping. Fortunately I never carry too much with me, so I only lost the one card and about 70 Euros, but I will take more care to carry the bag in front of me in the future. The next source of irritation was that nobody seemed to be mentioning that they had got a Christmas greeting from us, and we realised that the large bundle of letters which we posted in Maspalomas, Gran Canaria on the 4th December had not arrived, so much for the Spanish postal service! We are just beginning to hear now that family and friends are receiving them, so at least they are not lost, but we are sorry that they are so late.
Anyway, the day quickly improved as we toasted in Christmas with a glass of champagne with new friends May Britt and Ragnvald on Mayra, and later our Christmas meal of giant prawns (langustinos), which served with toast, white wine and mayonnaise/sour cream/dill mixture (brought by Robert), were almost as good as our usual lobster. Good to have Robert with us, but we missed the rest of the family at this time. Christmas Day dinner was shared with May Britt and Ragnvald, traditional turkey meal, made simpler for the small boat oven by buying turkey breasts and drumsticks and putting chestnut stuffing between them, tasted great! The evening ended with a Christmas concert, which took place, amazingly, in the harbour, five minutes walk from the boat. This is a yearly occasion, with a huge parking area transformed into a stage and seating for nearly 20000 people. It is free, and televised to the whole of Spain and the Spanish speaking Americas. This year the star was the Jamaican baritone/base singer Willard W. White, who sang a lot of old favourites like Old Man River and If I were a Rich Man. Towards the end he was joined by soprano Sine Bundgaard from Denmark. They gave a wonderful rendition of songs from Porgy & Bess and finished with I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, with the huge crowd waving sparklers, and artificial snow being shot out over us. It really felt like a festive Christmas, and we didn’t miss real snow at all!
Robert had got the idea he wanted to see Mount Teide onTenerife on a motor-bike, and the next day he and Stein went off together to Puerto de la Cruz to try to hire bikes. Unexpectedly there was a week’s waiting list. so instead ended up at Loro Parque zoo, watching shows with performing dolphins, sea lions and parrots. The park takes part in an international project to save the endangered gorillas and many endangered species of parrots and claims to have the biggest collection of parrots in the world. Having studied the countless cages of these fascinating and beautiful birds for about two hours, Stein and Robert believe this to be absolutely true!
We said good-bye to Robert on the 27th, as he left at 5.30 in the morning in a taxi for the air-port. Apart from enjoying his visit, it was good to get our data problems sorted out. As a result of his enthusiasm and nocturnal efforts we now also have the white admiral butterfly, our yacht’s name and the Norwegian flag cut out of cardboard and can tag marina walls wherever this is a custom. Well done, Robert!
Eli had a sad experience here. We rented a car one day, and called in to see her old friend Lily Hoelfeldt-Lund, who has lived in Tenerife in the winters for many years. In fact we had visited her first in 1977 when we were circumnavigating in Red Admiral. We had not managed to get in touch by phone, and our fears that something was wrong were correct, she died three months ago at home in Grimstad. At nearly 90, Lily was the last of Eli’s childhood friends from Trondheim. However, we were all pleased to meet the friend and gardener Rolf Sander, who visited us on the boat with another Norwegian friend Lille-Gerd Hansa Arnesen and her mother. This lady, Gerd Ottesen Hansa, will no doubt keep the record for a while as our oldest visitor, she is 99 years old! Sharp as a whistle, and able to walk along the pontoon and up the steps on to White Admiral!
We got in one last concert before moving on, a popular New Year’s concert which was taking place on the 28th December. There were no tickets left for this, but the general rehearsal on the 27th was open to the public, so we had a good seat absolutely free, and enjoyed the choirs and the wonderful soprano, just as much as if they had been in evening dress. So that is our cultural void filled up a bit, after five concerts in Santa Cruz.
We decided to move round to the west coast of the island on 29th December, as the weather forecast was good, NE breeze, force 4-5 maybe periods of 6, sounded as though it might be a fresh sail. We left before dusk, got up the genoa in the light breeze, but thought that would be enough if it freshened. We were certainly wise, as within an hour we were racing along with the sail half rolled in, the wind a steady 35 knots, and occasionally gusting to 40. With sharp, short waves, this gave us a pretty wild and at times scary ride. We discovered that the auto-pilot needs adjusting, it didn’t manage to steer as we surfed down the waves, so we had to take turns of hand-steering. Fortunately this was only for a few hours, and as we rounded the South point of the island, both wind and seas subsided. We anchored about 1 a.m. just outside the harbour at Los Christianos. Going to bed after a few hours of steering in a force 8 gale certainly beats going to bed after sitting watching TV!
I wouldn’t recommend Los Christianos to anybody for a holiday, unless they are fond of Blackpool - crowded beach, crowded shops, gaudy pubs, game-halls and restaurants and hordes of British. One day was enough for us, on New Year’s Eve we moved up the coast to Los Gigantes, taking with us our friend, journalist/editor Roger Diss (The Western Sun newspaper), whom we know from our previous visits in connection with rowing, his son Greg and a friend, Mark Chambers. This was a totally different sail, with light breeze and sunshine, we were able to enjoy the relaxed 3 hour sail/motor-sail up the coast, eating, drinking, fishing (with no luck) and sunning ourselves. We are now anchored just outside the harbour at Los Gigantes, an anchorage that is only tenable in fair weather. We are the only yacht here, feels rather exclusive lying under the steep, majestic cliffs. This town is where Stein and his partner Arvid Bentsen in 1997, then Elisabeth and me in 1999, set off on our Atlantic rows, so it brings back a lot of memories.
We are looking forward to an exciting year in 2004, setting off for Barbados later this month, cruising in the Caribbean, summer back in Norway, later going through the Panama Canal into the Pacific. We send all our good wishes to friends and family for the New Year, with all the challenges it will bring to us all. Happy 2004!
Happy Christmas from Santa Cruz, Tenerife, 23rd December
After a long spell of sunny, hot weather, the skies are now grey, with a light rain falling over the yachts in the Marina de Atlantico here in the capital of Tenerife.
This is a big, sheltered marina, right in the middle of Santa Cruz, with the bustling city just a few minutes walk away.
We stayed a few days longer than planned in Gran Canaria, as Stein’s cousin Gunnar Hofstad from Trondheim got himself a last minute cheap charter trip offer and came to visit us. He arrived with gifts of two whole Norwegian smoked salmon, 3 bottles of Stein’s favourite pickled herring and two packets of goat-cheese; very generous and very popular! Unfortunately he managed to leave a little spruce-tree which he had got for a surprise Christmas tree in Trondheim air-port! After he was installed on board 12th December, we decided to move to Puerto Mogan which we had decided was the most charming spot on this part of the coast, but again we found our catamaran was too big to get a place in the marina. We anchored for a few hours just outside the harbour to have a walk around the colourful town also called Little Venice, but as the wind had changed to SW contrary to the weather forecast, the anchorage became bumpy and unpleasant, and we decided to move back to the anchorage off Anfi. We stopped briefly en route in Puerto Rico. Again no room for us, but we happened to be in just as Rozinante left for Brazil and the Antarctis: Safe seas and following winds, boys! We would also like to mention a remarkable Swede we met a few days earlier, but forgot to write about in the last report. He is Ulf Gudmundsson and sails alone on Kå Hånes. This yacht stood out among the large and luxurious yachts the marina is full of. It is 19’, less than 6m long, weighs 800 kg and has no engine. In the past he has sailed solo twice around the world and five times across the Atlantic. Past yachts were named Sjøluffarn and Malaika, each successive yacht shrinking in size. The present plan is to sail to the large island of Puerto Rico in the West Indies, put the boat on a trailer and park it in the garden of his house on that island. His wife is originally from there, she and their two boys are now in Sweden but will join him when he arrives. Ulf seems like a powerful and patient person and we assume he also has a very patient wife!
We did manage to get into Puerto Rico (Gran Canaria!) a couple of days later, in the same spot as we had been a week earlier. From here we did some walking in the hills behind the town and had a day sightseeing by bus. The tour was sponsored by a German firm selling sheep-skin products, so although the bus-trip is cheap, one has to sit for an hour or so listening to how health-giving it is to sleep in lambskin bed-clothes! We weren’t too convinced, but we did buy a cushion to make the night-watches more comfortable. The interior island of Gran Canaria is also pretty barren, but spectacular and even beautiful, we had a trip to the highest point of the interior (1949 m), with breath-taking views over the island. We also had to marvel at the work involved in building roads along the steep cliff-sides…
We had been thinking about buying a wind-surfer to have on the boat for a while, and we got what looks like a good buy from the German instructor at a nearby hotel, so that is now installed on board – take note all keen wind-surfers!
After saying good-bye to Gunnar, we were ready to sail the 50 nautical miles to Santa Cruz on 17th December. To make sure we would have a daylight arrival, we left the well-lit Puerto Rico marina at 5 a.m. There was a very light NE breeze most of the way, and we had a pleasant motor-sail, arriving late afternoon. From the sea, the main landmark here is the new concert-hall with its white curving silhouettes, obviously inspired by the Sydney opera house. It is always good to enter a friendly marina where the staff meets you, and this happened here, with two employees guiding us to a berth, and helping us to tie up. The experience here has been quite different from the tourist scene, with Spanish again the main language, cheap restaurants with good. local food and a wonderful chance to catch up on some culture, which has been sadly lacking in our trip so far. We had already heard about the new concert-house, and ordered tickets for an opera gala on the 19th December, in addition we have been to a concert by the youth orchestra of Tenerife, with a programme including Dvorjak’s new-world symphony, and one with a visiting French orchestra and choir playing oratorios by Handel and Bach. This was exquisite, and we were fascinated both by a contratenor who made one wonder if he was castrated, and a beautiful woman conductor who used no score!
Our younger son Robert arrived on the 20th, to spend Christmas with us. We were thinking of sailing down the coast of Tenerife with him, but after hiring a car and looking at all the harbours down the coast, we will stay here for a few days more as there is nowhere suitable for a catamaran. Also we have for several days had southerly and easterly winds bringing brown dust from Sahara (known locally as the calima), while the west coast is being pestered by large swells. This has brought May Britt and Ragnvald on Mayra this way again after a rough sail from Los Gigantes. So now we shall try to get some Christmas spirit, the fruit-cake is made, and large prawns (langustinos) ordered for Christmas Eve dinner. Robert brought Norwegian sour cream, mayonnaise and fresh dill for our traditional shell-fish dressing!
We will be thinking of loved ones whom we will miss, and wish all friends and relatives a very happy Christmas and new year 2004
Anfi del Mar, Gran Canaria, Nov. 18th 2003
The morning after our arrival at Playa Mujeres, our old friends on “Gambit” sailed in from Gibralter. We have known Don since we lived in Barbados in 1978, and partly inspired by us, he has become a long-distance sailor with wife Susan and daughters Joanna and Rebecca, 13 and 9 years old. As the boat name implies Don is a good chess-player, so Stein and I didn’t dare to play him, but worse for our self-esteem was that both daughters, even the younger one, beat us both several times! Otherwise we had a good time together playing on the beach and watching some of their large selection of films aboard their beautiful 53 foot catamaran (Don’s investments did well, he retired at 35!).
We sailed on together on Sunday, 9th November to Gran Tarajal on the east coast of Fuerteventura, a very pleasant day-sail in a light breeze. The only drama was when the gennaker, our light-wind sail, suddenly fell down with a thump onto the deck, and partly into the sea! Stein and I raced to pull it in, thankfully with no damage. On examination, the splice on the rope holding up the top shackle had loosened, not something that we had done, and Stein soon had a new, stronger one made. Best news of the day was that Petter Solberg became world champion in rally driving! As our son-in-law Hugh works for the firm that emloys Solberg this made it extra exciting.
Gran Tarajal is a small fishing village with little tourism, black volcanic sand, a few restaurants on the tiled sea-promenade, and a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. We were tied up in the harbour on the inside of the sea-wall, which seemed nice and secure the first day, but we discovered when the wind blew up from North-East that there was a big surge in the harbour, and we had to get up in the middle of the night and add some longer ropes to hold the boat steady. The next night also gave us a surprise when a tap burst on the rather exposed water-pipe, gushing water at full force over the deck! Stein managed to tie it in place temporarily until the harbour officials came and turned off the water in the morning.
On Thursday 13th November, we left with Gambit on an overnight sail to Gran Canaria, another light sail, for the first time having both genoas poled out butterfly style, thanks to getting a new genoa boom from Gibralter which Don had bought for us. On Friday morning we sailed along the touristy south coast of Gran Canaria and anchored off the large tourist development called Anfi del Mar. A last day was spent paddling their kayak and getting beaten at chess before we waved good-bye to our friends on Gambit, who left for Barbados. The same day more friends arrived here, Frode and Susanne Filseth with daughter Anne and her family. They have a time-share in the Anfi development, so although Frode is a sailor, this time he is enjoying two weeks of luxurious land-lubber life. They have what long-distance sailors need most, a washing machine, so our pile of dirty sheets and towels are now clean and folded away.
Tomorrow morning, Stein and I are going on a five day trip to London and Norway; a chance to see family, especially our little grand-daughter Hedda, and to attend our good friend Christian Platou’s 60th birthday party in Drammen. Unfortunately we are here at the worst possible time, as all marinas are full with yachts waiting to cross the Atlantic. Despite our pleas, and help from an American yachting-shop owner with good contacts, no marina will even look at a catamaran, so we will have to leave White Admiral at double anchors. Good to have Frode nearby to keep an eye on her, it was in fact he who sailed her to Kristiansand from Germany when we bought her two years ago.
So we are off for five hectic days of socialising. Keep fingers crossed that there are no storms on Gran Canaria before we are back next week!
Playa Mujeres, Lanzarote, Nov. 6th 2003
It’s time for another update from the Good Ship White Admiral. - And Happy Ship White Admiral, I may add. In fact being in the Canaries with some of the best climate on the planet, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find things to complain about…
I suppose I could complain about the wind: It is often too light when we sail and too strong when we are anchored!
This is being written from Playa Mujeres, almost as far south on Lanzarote as one can possibly get. Punta Papagayo, the south point, is a mile to the south-east, and Punta Pechiguera, another prominent headland, is about 5 miles to the west. The lighthouse (faro) at Pechiguera is like a straight pencil standing 55 m tall, one of the tallest we’ve seen anywhere. We anchored here last night in a slight NE breeze, too little wind for us to unfurl the sails on the short 8 miles trip from Puerto Calero. The sky was cloudless, but visibility not so good, as the easterly winds always seem to bring dust and sand from Sahara, less than 100 miles from here. (All miles referred to are nautical, i.e. 1852 m.) As we lowered the anchors we were surprised to find the French yacht Estel next to us. For nearly a week we also shared anchorage at Playa Francesa on Graciosa. On our first evening there I was playing my clarinet in the cockpit, finishing with Lullaby of Birdland, and on packing away the instrument heard the same tune expertly played on a guitar from Estel!
Graciosa fully lived up to our high expectations. However, spear fishing is no longer permitted, so the easy caught dinners back in 1977 could not be repeated. Instead there is protected marine life for more people to enjoy. The colourful parrotfish is always fun to watch, but my favourite sighting this time was a docile, bottom-dwelling 1,5 m long angel shark. And as for trying to catch fish in the normal way from a boat, luck or skill was not on my side, the two small lizard fish were returned to nature... But the two small supermarkets and the baker at La Sociedad were surprisingly well stocked and chicken was cheap! A second trip to Arricife, capital of Lanzarote, by Diana and I also replenished the larder.
The weather turned sour again while we were at anchor at Graciosa. The NW wind brought back the rain showers, gusty, strong winds and big swells. But the sun is never far away in the Canaries even in bad weather and the surfers especially enjoyed good conditions off the headlands near our anchorage. Skin-diving confirmed that our main anchor was well dug down in sand and that we were safe even if rolling a bit. So Diana and I continued to do a lot of walking and some jogging while at Playa Francesa. Going for our favourite brown rolls (pane integral) to the baker’s at La Sociedad was a 40 min brisk walk in each direction. Near town we would pass the huge racing catamaran Llampec Grillat drawn high up on the beach for repairs. Her anchor chain broke in a westerly gale in January and made her quickly drift on to the rocks.
Another memorable walk was around the top of the extinct volcano Monte Amarilla near our anchorage. From the brim we had a spectacular view of Graciosa and the north of Lanzarote. The camera was used in all directions. We have put five of these pictures together digitally and hope to show the panoramic view as soon as we get it off to webmaster Martin in Oslo. (The last lot of pictures had to be sent by snail-mail.)
One afternoon, while still moored at the pontoons in town, Eli decided it was her turn to do some sightseeing and so she rented a local taxi to drive us around the island. All cars on Graciosa, the few taxis included, seem to be old Range Rover jeeps. Yes, you guessed correctly; the roads are dirt tracks and very rough, to say the least. We humped along to Pedro Barba, the other settlement NE on Graciosa, but this old fishing village is now only a vacation and weekend village for owners in Gran Canaria. All the 530 Graciosa inhabitants now live in La Sociedad (also known as Caleta del Sebo). So Pedro Barba, although beautifully maintained and with more vegetation than elsewhere (automatic irrigation, we noticed), is a ghost town on weekdays. On the west coast of Graciosa the seas have carved out some spectacular stone bridges. Here are also long beaches of yellow sand, most of it airborne from Sahara! This sand is also seen in patches across the entire lower part of the island, contrasting markedly to the black and brown lava that dominates the higher landscape. The island is extremely barren, but still display surprising variation in colours. For example at the southern base of Monte Amarilla there is an ochre-coloured cliff face off the beach.
With the wind and the swell Eli decided to stay aboard the six days we were anchored at Playa Francesa. But she was not idle, and we now have a strong and snugly fitting cover for the outboard engine and all the towels have tapes for hanging them on hooks. She sees to the repairing of all our clothes and gets vegetables prepared before dinner. Lately she has also decided to get familiar with the Taylor stove. This is a three-burner paraffin stove needing pre-heating with alcohol, a bit of a fiddle which Diana and I are happy about as it is safer and cheaper than gas. But it takes some getting used to and if you spill alcohol or are too late in lighting the paraffin after pre-heating, some interesting pyrotechnics may occur! But as Eli made us her famous chicken fricassee recently we will no doubt see more of her dinner-making in the future. On questioning about her situation (luxury or prison?), she says she misses some friends and solid, flat asphalt for walking, but does not miss the Norwegian winter! She feels secure, sleeps better here than at home and is happy with the cuisine as long as she has a boiled egg for breakfast, salami and her home-made Italian Salad (cole-slaw) for lunch, and for dinner a glass of red wine, please! Good red wine here costs one Euro or less per litre, cheaper than juice or milk, and is not difficult to provide…
We were sorry to leave Graciosa, but on Nov 3rd raised anchors, visited La Sociedad and the shops for a last stocking up of the pan integral, and motored the 34 n. miles to Puerto Calero. This is a bit of a show-piece as far as marinas go, with brass bollards and man-hole covers, first class materials used in all the construction of pontoons and quays, and an attractive backdrop of small shops and restaurants. Among the buildings are lots of palm trees, including coconuts with fruit! These made us feel we were already in the Caribbean. Several other Norwegian boats were in the marina, the two nearest made us feel quite small. One is the luxurious motor-yacht Saga of Oslo belonging to billionaire Petter Sundt, the other a 20 m long ex-Italian yacht Il Moro De Venezia IX of Grimstad. Grimstad is a small town not far from Kristiansand, our home-port. On this yacht live Are and Vigdis Jonassen with their daughter. She attends the English school in Puerto Carmen. The beauty and cleanliness and general quality of the marina is much attributed to the work of the multi-artist and architect César Manrique. His name comes up in a lot of contexts on Lanzarote and Graciosa. He pioneered the now widespread conservationist attitudes that prevail in the islands, and he is also given the honour for Lanzarote becoming a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1993. Tragically, Manrique died in a traffic accident about the same time.
We had a day-trip to Puerto Carmen, enjoyed the menu-of-the-day lunch at El Marinero restaurant, but it was too much food for even me to finish. And when I saw all the fat, half-naked white and pink tourists waddling the streets of Carmen, it did not improve the appetite. We were happy to buy yesterday’s Norwegian and English newspapers, but otherwise glad to get away from this busy and rather gory tourist machine.
Our second day at Puerto Calero was spent on boat-work; washing clothes and boat, cleaning and waxing, even some oiling of wood. We took full advantage of water and electricity included in the daily cost of Euro 37!
That was yesterday. Where we are now it is free to anchor, the water is clear and clean, 23 degrees centigrade, and good for swimming and snorkelling. The beautiful beach inside is uninhabited, but fills up during the day. Being partly a nudist beach it also offers a good focus for the student of human anatomy. You see, we are trying not to forget our Medicine!
Last edited by reports on 18 Aug 2006 11:04 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Posted: 18 Aug 2006 11:03 pm Post subject: Continued
Isla Graciosa, Canary Islands, 25th October 2003
We are now safely tucked up in the small marina of the most Northerly inhabited island of the Canaries, Isla Graciosa, as a near-gale, pelting rain and heavy, dark clouds make it a good day for writing and other indoor pursuits. Randi and Terje Haga from Stavanger on yacht Mirandi have just had breakfast with us, leaving us ten tins of Norwegian sardines from their large supply, a good present for Stein with his fishy tastes!
Our stay in Porto Santo had to live up to high expectations, after two previous enjoyable visits, and didn’t let us down. The place has become a bit busier, more facilities for yachts, but also now a fee for anchoring in the harbour basin, although not expensive. The island is fairly barren, after centuries of damage by rabbits and erosion, but trees are being planted to try to retain the top-soil, and there are fantastic views from the fairly accessible peaks. Stein, Andreas and I had a day-trip, walking round the craggy Eastern shore, then climbing up the East side, over the mountain tops (516 m), and back down to the harbour, a good seven-hours training! We had a wonderful lunch perched high up on the top crags, with panoramic views over the south part of the island and to Madeira, and tame lizards enjoying our left-over bread-crumbs and mango-peel!
Thursday, 16th October was a sunny day with a nice, fresh north - westerly breeze, looked right for a day-sail to Madeira.
Previous experience in crowded Funchal, with sailing-boats rafted up 5 or 6 at a time did not tempt us again, so we headed for the new marina, Quinto do Lordo at the Eastern end of the island. I had phoned the previous day to find out where exactly this marina was, and was amused to be told that we just had to sail to Madeira and we would see it first thing! After a good, 4-hour, fresh sail we rounded the eastern point, and sure enough, after a short while, we saw the new molo and mastheads behind from a long way off.
The marina was built in 2002, is in the middle of nowhere, not many boats, and we were welcomed by two friendly officials who helped us tie up, and drove us up to the office to check-in. Again, the disadvantage of a catamaran is the high cost, and this was another marina with a 51 Euro/night charge. Plus electricity!
Since our last visit together to Madeira in 1989 (Stein was there with Elisabeth in 1995), when the weather was poor, we have dreamed of a good walk along the levadas, the amazing irrigation system, with channels built all over the fantastic, steep mountains. The first day we took a bus-trip to Funchal, partly to get information about this, and partly to see the town and part of the coast-line. Looking at the crowded harbour and the rolly anchorage outside made us glad that we had not sailed there, although it was pleasant to sit and eat snake-mackerel (espada)at a restaurant overlooking the boats. The colourful market with its abundance of fruit and vegetables was also worth a new visit. We collected maps, bus time-tables and poor information at the tourist office, and planned the next day’s levada outing. Being optimists, we planned to go on one of the routes “for experts only”, found out that using buses would not give us enough time, and arranged with a local taxi-driver, Alfredo, to be driven to the starting place and picked up later at the finish.
We (Stein, Diana and Andreas) marched off in good spirits, but soon found out the sad facts that our map was hopeless, that there were lots of unmarked paths and levadas, and that there were no sign-posts, so that at every junction we became more unsure of where we were! At one point we were surprised to hear the sound of a brass-band, and following the music, we found a party of French tourists who had been driven up by truck, sitting having lunch, being entertained by a local group of musicians. We enjoyed a few melodies, admired the lovely lunch-spread (but got no invitation to join them), and asked for directions, which they could not give us.
However, the day became a fantastic experience all the same, walking along some of the levadas built on steep mountain sides with spectacular views. We admired the feat of engineering to build all these tracks in the impossibly steep hill-sides, with tunnels through the steepest parts, where we had to shuffle, stooped along in the dark holding on to each other, as we only had taken two rather poor flash-lights. Twice we followed a track for 2 or 3 kilometres, hoping we were back on the dotted line on our map, only to find that it came to an abrupt stop and we had to retrace our steps. Fortunately we had Alfredo’s phone-number so could let him know that we had to be picked up at our starting-point, nine hours after our departure. A great day, despite not finding our way!
Three nights was enough in Quinto do Lordo marina, and on 16th October, there was a good breeze in the morning, so we decided to start the passage to Graciosa in the Canary Islands, about 270 nautical miles. The weather was not very stable, but with a fairly high barometer, and nothing nasty forecast, we got on the way. Fortunately, shortly before departing Andreas discovered that there was a paraffin leak from the tube between the tank and the stove, so Stein replaced this before we left. There is always something to be fixed on a yacht, good to have a handyman around!
Shortly after leaving, the wind died, and most of the trip was either motoring, or sailing gently with winged genoas, until the last day when the weather became more blustery with several rain-squalls. One of these was quite vicious, with a sudden veering of the wind and backing of the sails, causing us all to race out in the pelting rain. We got the mainsail down quickly, then discovered that the fishing line, which we had forgotten about, was entangled in one of the propellers. Another swim for Stein, fortunately no damage done. As dawn broke on the 22nd, Graciosa lay in front of us as expected (what magic the GPS is!) and we sailed gently into the passage between it and Lanzarote, then motored into the harbour of La Sociedad.
The only sad thing about arriving was that Andreas had now to leave and get back home to work. Andreas has been with us for three and a half weeks since Figueira da Foz. He is an easy-going, good-natured member of the crew, who has made the night - duties easier and was always ready to help with whatever had to be done, whether it was setting sails or washing dishes. We are also grateful to him for introducing us to Piri-piri! (A Portugese pepper-sauce.)As we ate our last squid meal together at one of the local restaurants, we got chatting to a Norwegian at the next table, Jørn Dybdal. He is from Larvik, but has lived in Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen for 15 years. He is a surfing enthusiast who spends most of his holidays looking for the perfect waves. He was taking the same ferry as Andreas back to Lanzarote, and kindly offered to drive him to the air-port. We stood waving on the breakwater as the ferry with a huge shark’s face motored out of the harbour. Goodbye, Andreas!
Since then, Stein and I have had a good, long walk on Graciosa, which is quite spectacular in good weather, with clear seas and the steep cliffs of Lanzarote creating an impressive background. But it is a god-forsaken island as regards vegetation, scarcely a blade of grass among the arid sand and rubble. Yesterday, with Eli, we had a day trip by ferry to Lanzarote, with a rather hair-raising arrival in the little town of Orzola, where it is almost impossible to see that a ferry could get in through the breakers. Stein has found another job on board, the starboard engine is knocking a little, and he has decided it is time to replace two of the flexible engine-mounts. This was the main purpose of the trip to Arricife, the main town on Lanzarote, where we actually got the right parts at first attempt! Before returning by bus to Orzola we also did some stocking up at a SPAR Hiper Mercado next to the bus station. The new mounts are being put in place as I write.
Having arrived safely in the Canary Islands, our main sailing goal for 2003 is now achieved. Ahead are three months of slow cruising in the warm and varied islands favoured by European holiday – makers. I can think of worse places to spend the winter!
Porto Santo, 14th October
It was just after 10 o’clock this morning when we anchored here in Porto Santo, the most easterly of the Madeira Islands. A friendly official came out in a boat and suggested a better place in order to avoid the wash from the daily ferry from Funchal, so we used another 10 minutes to move another 100 m. It was a calm, sunny, warm and altogether beautiful day. But the cliffs of Porto Santo just north and east of the harbour are steep, brown and bare and a little forbidding - the result of heavy soil erosion. But the locals are slowly winning the battle as they hunt the rabbits and plant trees by the 1000’s. The peaks in the middle of the island are green and the vegetation does seem to extend further down the hillsides than when we were here in Red Admiral in 1989 and 1995. Strange how unwise lumbering coupled with patient grazing by sweet little rabbits can cause such massive damage to an island…
Our passage from Lisbon was one of the calmest and most windless ever. We covered the 490 n.miles in 4 days and 18 hours, motoring probably 80% of the time, and were very grateful for having both our engines working perfectly. Good supply of diesel also helps, although these 18 HP Yanmar engines are very economical. When we topped up the tank in Nazarè with 150 litres, we worked out an average consumption of each motor of 0,74 l/hr since leaving Eastbourne, south England. A lot of that is idling just to power the AC invertor and charge the batteries, so when we refill here in Porto Santo, we can find out more accurately how much it takes to propel the boat at our normal 5 knots.
Our last five days in mainland Portugal were divided between 3 days at anchor in Cascais and 2 days in Doca de Alcantara, a marina in Lisbon. Cascais was free, but the marina at 51 Euros daily is the most expensive so far on our trip… In Cascais we met up with many more yachts making their way towards the Mediterranean or the Canaries, the latter, like us, planning to sail on for South America or the Caribbean.
White Admiral is built in Kappeln, NE Germany and was most happy to have alongside another German-built, Norwegian-registered boat; Plan B, a new Hanse 37 with Jan Kalstø aboard. Jan joined us for dinner one evening. He is from Sandefjord, where I grew up and where my mum Eli still lives. Also Diana and I know Jan from a long time ago when he and wife and two small daughters were off in a home-built 28’ gaff-rigged yacht (a Randø). They were hoping to circumnavigate, but the self-steering and general sailing ability of the boat were a disappointment, and the journey ended in southern Spain with the boat stored on land. The marriage also hit the rocks. But now the daughters are grown-up, Jan is an even more experienced and knowledgeable yachtsman single-handling a fast boat where everything seems to work perfectly. So it looks like Plan B will work out better than the plan A!
On our way from Cascais up the river Tagus 7th October a large vessel from the American Navy crossed our bows. It was the USS Carter Hall, a transport and docking ship (known as an LSD) on the way home with marines and equipment after nearly 8 months continuous service in the Persian Gulf, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The ship was accompanied by USS Nashville, and we found both docked not far from our marina. So in the evening Andreas and I went for a walk and talked to the good-looking, female officer at watch near the gangway. She thought there would be an “open boat” for visitors next morning, and not wanting to miss this rare chance, Diana, Andreas and I duly arrived at 10 a.m. But nobody else had turned up! Why? It transpired that the persons due to arrive were employees from the American Embassy - not just any old yachtie! However, the embassy personell were late, so the officer in charge, lieutenant D.K. Amaral kindly gave us the VIP tour!
On entering the deck there were, of course, security checks and we had to leave our bags with the MP. Being asked to prove his identity, Andreas took out a 25 year old card made for him as a joke. Diana noticed what he did and started to sweat! However the MP just noted his name and the picture similarity and returned the card with a salute and “That’s fine, Sir!”(The card can be viewed in today’s’ picture collection.) Lieutenant Amaral gave us a thorough and fascinating tour. Although strictly a support vessel armed only for defence, the USS Carter Hall carries many items for modern warfare. Among the many trucks and amphibious vehicles we noticed three modern tanks like the ones used in the recent war against Iraq. They carried rather sinister names painted on their turrets: Famine, Pestilence and Death!
Diana, Eli and I were in Lisbon in August last year in connection with my solo row to Guyana, South America. We managed to do some sightseeing, but missed out on the Oceanário opened in 1998 as part of the Expo 98 World exhibition. This time we set aside half a day, but could have had more - the Expo area is huge with many other interesting exhibits and buildings. The Oceanário has an amazing collection of sea life from all major seas of the Earth, and even displays Antarctic penguins and North Atlantic birds like auks and puffins, not to mention a pair of playful sea otters. All were amazingly well presented - a masterpiece in exhibition and education. Visiting aquariums will never be the same again…
Back in Belem, where my row started underneath the famous Explorers’ Monument, we were warmly greeted by Carlos Pais and the others at Os Jeronimo, our favourite restaurant from last year. We agreed on a last lunch there on October 9th before setting sail for the Madeiras. We discovered that Carlos had never been in a sailboat and offered him a ride to Cascais, 10 n.miles down the river. I don’t think we have ever had a more enthusiastic and grateful crewmember! He deserved it, the steak for Eli, the chocos (squid) for Diana and the bacalao for Andreas and I were all superb. Not to mention the Os Jeronimo Vino Tinto da Casa!
This latest sail of nearly 500 n.miles was very gentle and more of a challenge to the cooks than to the captain! And a lot less tiring than my row last year, I thought as we crossed my wake west of Cascais… But there is always something to see and to do at see. The nights were blessed with a clear, full moon and the days with little wind and rather too much sun. So we stopped the boat and enjoyed a refreshing swim miles from anybody and anywhere, including the ground below – 4000 meters, according to the chart!
At 3 am one morning on Andreas’ watch, there was a huge bang from the deck, giving poor Andreas a shock and causing Diana and I to jump up from their sleep and rush out to see what had happened (Eli slept soundly through the commotion). The mainsail and boom had fallen down, but no major damage resulted, and after dawn I spend some time aloft to fix a broken halyard. Also we caught two fish; a large dorado or dolphin fish (gullmakrell) and a smallish Jack tuna. The dorado is the fastest and most beautiful of all the pelagic fish, only it loses its blue and gold colours as soon as it dies. It is also very good to eat and provided us with superb meals for two days.
It cannot be denied that sampling the local cuisine is an important part of cruising. Today Andreas insisted on a taking us all to a three course lunch in Porto Santo. So we went to Restaurante Baiaha in the only town here, Vila Baleira. Suffice it to say, a great meal was had by everyone and a taxi was necessary to get us back to the harbour. Diana and I tried two dishes new to us: Limpets for starter and snake mackerel for main course. The limpets were small and not much different from snails, but the snake mackerel (espada) was a culinary delight and much to be recommended! And the dessert of Spanish melon with Madeira wine was sweet and intoxicating.
Ah, it’s a tough life being a modern sailor!
Cascais, Portugal. October 6th.
We arrived back at the boat in Figueira da Foz on 23rd September, accompanied by Stein’s mother, Eli. She is nearly 88 years old, but has taken on the challenge of sailing with us until next June, rather than being alone in her home in cold winter Norway.
A couple of days later we were also joined by Andreas Hauge, somebody we have known for a total of three hours last summer, but who was so keen to do some sailing that he has taken a chance on doing it with relative strangers.
The main job to be done on White Admiral before setting sail again was to fix the leak in the portside saildrive (gear/propeller unit). The boat had to be dried out at low tide, and with the help of a friendly mechanic, Jacinto, Stein managed to get the job done before the next high tide. Jacinto also drove Diana a long way in his sports-car to buy paraffin for our Taylor stove, typical of the friendly Portuguese. We were befriended also by a retired PE teacher and past football star, Augusto Roche, who has played for Portugal eight times. We met him at a local restaurant devoted to the Sporting football club, with photos and souvenirs on the wall, and where a whole meal with as much food and wine one can possibly consume costs a fixed 7,5 Euros! (Thank you, Augosto, for showing us how to eat grilled sardines properly!) He took us to his home for more wine after our first meal there, and before we sailed away, and after another memorable visit, he and the restaurant –owner José Antonio dos Santos drove us to a huge super-market to stock up. The Portuguese are certainly friendly!
Another pleasant meeting was with Norwegian Randi Danielsen, who with her Portuguese husband, João Henriques, has been restoring an old wooden, Norwegian double-ender, Navigador, for nearly 15 years. The boat is immaculate! Time passes quickly in a marina, with sailing-boats coming in and out, chit-chatting in various cockpits, swopping stories about interesting ports, weather conditions, and all the things that can go wrong with sailing-boats!
It is always fun to meet up with sailors whom one has met at a previous port, and in Figueira we had the pleasure of meeting up with one couple, Bill and Shian Carlow from Scotland, whom we were last anchored beside 24 years ago in Cooks Bay, Moorea in the South Pacific! As their boat Matata came in to the harbour, Diana took their lines without recognising them, it was only when they had thought about the name White Admiral and saw the Norwegian flag that they realised who we were, and we had a happy reunion, and remembered the fun we had had with our children so many years ago.
By the 28th, we were ready to move on, the weather was pleasant with a light westerly breeze, and we had an easy day sail down the coast to Nazare. The sea was full of dolphins who played round the boat, not so pleasant was the large amount of fishing buoys in the sea, one of which we managed to pick up on the rudder. Stein had a quick swim to free it, luckily no damage done. We also saw a large mola-mola, a strange, dish-shaped and tail-less fish that the locals told us predicts bad weather.
Nazare is a rather noisy, smelly fishing harbour, mostly to be remembered for the harbour-master, Captain Mike Hadley. He is an elderly English mariner, friendly and helpful, but absolutely in charge! He is mostly to be seen pacing around the pontoons, chewing on his pipe, telling boat-owners where to tie up, and ordering those who have not secured properly to tighten their ropes! The weather turned nasty after we arrived, and we were stuck for five day before the gale blew over. This gave us time to do some walking and cycling in the area, and we spent one day visiting the main places of interest in a hired taxi. Most noteworthy are the impressive cathedral of Batalha with the tomb of Henry the Navigator, and the beautiful old walled town of Obidos. We also went to see were the fish was delivered and the efficient way it was auctioned. Shouting and sign language is a feature of the past, remote controls and the world of data has moved in.
On Friday, 3rd October, the wind had veered to the west, the sun was shining, and off we went to the Island of Berlenga, a bird sanctuary a few miles off the coast. We had to motor-sail most of the 25 nautical miles, as the wind soon died. As we approached the island, we saw that the sea was alive with fish, and our new crew-member Andreas, pulled in seven fat mackerel in less than 20 minutes!
Berlenga looked very inhospitable in the dusk, with steep cliffs all round, one small settlement up on the hill-side, and an old fort perched on the rocks. We were a bit unsure about the anchorage but did decide to anchor in 15 metres, in quite a swell from the south. We managed to take a brisk walk ashore before sunset, up to the lighthouse on the top of the barren island. Despite the rolling, the mackerel tasted wonderful, Andreas proving himself to be a good cook as well as fisherman.
As soon as dawn broke the next morning, we took the dinghy ashore to have a look at the fort. It was built on a heap of rocks off the main island, its massive walls protecting a small monastery. It was exciting to row among the grottos and forbidding rocks, and wonder at the amount of work to make such a large monument in such a difficult and isolated place – obviously not well-paid labour!
Getting up the anchors before breakfast involved some extra work, as the second anchor and chain remained on the ocean floor when Stein’s splice between an old an a new rope gave way…
This meant a second trial of the new diving equipment, which again worked well and the anchor was soon aboard. The wind had freshened during the night, and the sail to Cascais with winged genoas was an exhilarating sail, with an average speed of 8 knots. Approaching Capo da Roche, mainland Europe’s most westerly point, we recorded a new record of 15,3 knots as we surfed down a wave - time to take one of the genoas down!
Now we are at anchor in the harbour at Cascais, near Lisbon, rather rolly, but secure. Today we have been on a bus-ride to Sintra, to a beautiful area both scenically and historically, especially known for its forts and castles. Tomorrow we will sail up the river Tagus and spend a couple of days in a marina in Lisbon proper before we take a longer sail in SW direction to Porto Santo and Madeira.
Weddings and other celebrations. Figueira da Foz , Portugal, Sept. 25th
As it was getting dark Tuesday 23rd we were safely back on our White Admiral. Our floating home had been lying here in the marina for exactly three weeks, but apart from a fine layer of dust, the boat was perfectly OK. And so were we! The 14 hour long journey started at 5 a.m. at Elisabeth & Hugh’s house in London, via taxi to North Terminal, Gatwick, BA plane to Madrid, TAP plane to Lisbon, taxi to Arco Seco bus-terminal, Lisbon, a three hour bus-ride to the town of Figueira da Foz and a short taxi-ride to Marina da Figueira da Foz. With nine pieces of luggage and various bits and pieces it was quite an expedition !
“We” this time is, in addition to Diana and I, is my mother, Eli from Sandefjord, Norway. During these weeks of absence all three of us have had a busy social itinerary in Canada and England: First one wedding, next day a 90-yr birthday party, the weekend after a 35 year medical reunion (all this in Canada), finally last weekend another wedding in England. The first wedding was between Craig Young and Jaime Hill Sept. 6th in a beautiful vineyard on the Niagara Peninsula. Perfect weather. Craig is Diana’s nephew and although Scottish by birth has lived most of his life near Toronto. Diana’s Norwegian-inspired contribution was a song to the newly weds, and we were all present with our children Elisabeth, Martin and Robert. Martin and Eli received a lot of attention being dressed in Norwegian bunad – our national dress. Feeling myself more or less Scottish by adoption I had hoped to wear my kilt, but my baggage got lost in Madrid and only turned up after 10 days, long after I had given up ever seeing it again and a week after purchasing a dark suit at the The Bay in Oakville Mall. Having also lost our video camera at Heathrow, the trip out was not without problems…
The 90 yr old is Diana’s mum Isobel, for the last six years also a Canadian resident. Her daily bridge and crosswords seem to keep her mentally very agile, and both she and Eli came with us to Windermere House for Diana’s medical reunion. Many from her Glasgow Beta Club Medical Year 1962-68 work in Canada and so they decided to have this 35 year celebration at lake Rosseau, Muskoka County. It took us three hours to drive north of Oakville. A lot of the summer-houses along the quiet lakes of Muskoka belong to people from Toronto - real estate here is among the highest in Canada. Shame, I wouldn’t mind a wee cottage at the shores of lake Rosseau…
Back in England for our main event: The marriage of Elisabeth to Hugh Chambers in the quaint village of Quainton near Aylesbury. Among the many guests were quite a large contingent of Norwegian family and friends. The wedding and the reception all went better than we could have hoped, and Diana and I felt extremely proud and honoured. I of course had the enjoyable duty of escorting Elisabeth up the isle in The Church of Holy Cross and St. Mary. Everybody did their jobs as planned and hoped, from the vicar Martin Partridge to the flower decorator Sonya! And Diana and I contributed with another song and with speeches each, all much appreciated. And the bride was beautiful, the bridegroom handsome and the parents and the two grandmothers were touched…
Figueira da Foz, Portugal, September 2nd
The south-westerly gale and pelting rain that had kept us overtime in Muros finally abated on Friday 29th August - a good birthday present for Stein (now 5. In the morning we got the two anchors up without major problems and were relieved not to get them caught by the abandoned moorings that stopped our French neighbours (Largo), a few days before. So after a solid breakfast we could motor sail out to sea keeping a good distance from the rocky coast. We had slight, variable winds and huge swells, not a good combination even on a broad catamaran. Diana definitely did not fancy any of the fresh, fried mackerel I caught for lunch…
Towards the evening the sea was settling down and life aboard became easier. We even had the gennaker (blister) up for a couple of hours, but the average speed was only 3 knots. On Saturday we had this big and colourful sail up for a record12 hours in gentle, following winds. With the sea now almost flat the boat was amazingly still and comfortable.
In the early morning mist 31st August we motored into the marina in Figueira da Foz, our first Portuguese harbour. Being a major shipping harbour we were checked by customs and immigration. The officer did not speak any English, so a representative from the marina translated, but he was friendly and his service was free.
The marina in the F. da Foz marine, however, is far from free and being a catamaran we have to pay 50% more than fellow monohulls… Since we are leaving the boat for a month we do get some rebate, but the marina seems very safe and that is most important.
Like in La Coruna, in F. da Foz were several Norwegian yachts. We had seen Salka Valka from Bærum before, now we got to know the crew. The owner is Hans E. Velle, who together with girlfriend Tale Seldal and friend Martin Andresen is doing a one year trip around the Atlantic. Salka Valka has an interesting history. She’s a 44’ ferro-cement ketch originally built in England 1979, and famous for the circumnavigation done by her lady skipper Durita Holm from the Pharoe Islands 1994-97. Check their website www.salkavalka.no for more details! Aboard for a visit was also Tale’s dad Finn. He was catching a plane home next day and the boat was behind schedule, so as they sailed out Finn moved to White Admiral for the night. He is a man with a busy mind and kept us entertained with his philosophical and artistic attitude to life.
Another Norwegian boat is Embla from Dyrøy in Troms, north of the Polar Circle. Trom Hansen and Ninna Hind have no rush and no definite plans. Already they have been sailing for more than a year after leaving Arendal, where they last worked as teachers.
2nd September we got up at 5 a.m., had breakfast, varnished the floor as we slowly backed out of the cabin door, locked up the boat and patted her and lumbered up to the bus station in the old town. We were on our way for a very social time in Canada and England – we’ll be back to White Admiral on 23rd. September.
Muros, Spain, 28th August. Waiting for better weather.
The sail from Finisterre here was a very gentle one on a beautiful, sunny day giving us the chance to try out the gennaker for the first time on this tip. This is a light, multicoloured sail of 108 square metres, and looks great when the wind fills it, but soon becomes a sorry sight when the wind dies. After working out which rope went where, we got it up and sailed along in the lightest of breezes at 4 knots. The pleasure was not to last long though, after about 15 minutes the sail was collapsing in the still air, and we got it back into its sausage-shaped bag, and went back to motoring.
Muros was our fist port-of-call in Spain 26 years ago, and we felt a bit nostalgic anchoring in the bay. The town is just as charming as we remembered, though has become a bit busier, and the sea-promenade modernised. The old, narrow streets, small shops and fish-market with its tempting array of sea- food and unfamiliar fish seemed to be as before.
Not long after arrival, the French boat beside us were going to leave, but could not get their anchor up. After pulling with them without success, Stein had the chance to try out his new diving-gear, and went down to have a look. In the murky water, he found they had picked up three old mooring anchors, which were entwined in their chain and it took him quite a while to first get the anchor unshackled, then their chain untwined. The sea-water is cold here, despite the mild air temperatures, and he was pretty blue around the edges when he was finished. The French couple showed their gratitude with two bottles of French wine - merci!
We shared a fish-meal the first evening with Mike and Jenny from another catamaran, Sunlady, whom we had met in La Coruna. No idea what the fish were, but they tasted great. We have since tried the local octopus, which we managed to get quite tender in the pressure cooker. We learned form the locals that dipping it three times in and out of boiling water first, makes it easy to skin and that certainly seemed to work. After cutting it up, simmering it in olive-oil with garlic, onion and tomatoes, the rather ugly beast became a really tasty meal.
We meant to leave here two days ago, but after a surprisingly bad weather- forecast, have been stuck, with a South-West near-gale blowing across the bay. Not conditions for getting South. There is no sign yet of an improvement, the barometer is still falling, but we hope it must get better by tomorrow. We have a plane to catch in Lisbon in five days, and hope to find a safe marina
in that area first.
Anyway, we have enjoyed the bonus days here, a few more jobs have been done on the boat, more shelves in the cupboards, water-pump working better, clothes ironed, always something to be done. We also have had time to take a bus-trip to Santiago de Compostela, the old centre of European Christianity, with its wondrous cathedral and old town centre full of museums, convents and churches. There were a lot of tourists including many pilgrims with their characteristic walking-sticks, and we realised why when we got to the cathedral. It was built in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, with fantastic Romanesque statues and incredibly ornate altar decorations in gold and silver. One could easily become religious in a pace like this! We were very glad to have taken this trip.
Today the weather doesn't even tempt us to go ashore. The rain is pelting down, the wind howling and the bay quite rough. Anyway, we will have to take a trip to do some shopping, and will go to the Internet café to see if the forecast gives us any hope of sailing tomorrow
Rounding Cape Finisterre in a Gale
From Ribadeo 17th August we had a gentle overnight sail, partly motor-sailing in light winds to the city of La Coruna, about 80 nautical miles further West along the North Spanish coast. As we motored into the harbour, we saw Rozinante lying at anchor, with three young men on board who had also left Kristiansand about the same time as ourselves. They had come by a different route through the Caledonian Canal and down the Irish Sea.
We anchored to one of the yacht club buoys, rather expensive at 16 Euros a night.
The main reason for coming here was to try to get the propeller seal for the starboard engine which we need to stop the water-leak (into the gear oil), and much of our time was spent in a wild goose-chase looking for a Yanmar agent. No luck.
La Coruna is a bustling city of 250.000 people, with imposing buildings, busy harbours and endless bars and restaurants. Obviously the Spanish spend more time eating and drinking out than we North Europeans. We invested in new SCUBA diving equipment for Stein, as the prices seemed competitive, something he needs for safety reasons, it occasionally being necessary to check or even rescue anchors, although he does also happen to love diving and spear-fishing. So that is a big birthday present for him. Together with the new Avon Dinghy and 2.5 HP Mercury outboard which we bought in Guernsey, that should be the last of the major expenses, at least as far as equipment is concerned.
The Real Club Nautico, where we were moored, turned out to be a particularly good place to have a meal, an excellent three-course meal overlooking the anchorage, at 5 Euros each! When we finally realised that nobody in La Coruna could get us the spare part for the engine, we suddenly got tired of the busy city, had been to the impressive San Anton archeological museum and the Torre de Hercules, oldest lighthouse in the World, and at 2 p.m. on 20th August, decided to get going. We sailed along the coast to the fishing village of Corma. It was a perfect day, warm and sunny with a fresh Northerly breeze, and the 30 nautical miles took us 4 hours on a broad reach. Great sailing, the best so far of the trip.
Corma is a delightful place, a prosperous fishing village, with the harbour full of well-kept small boats, colourful houses, water-front with palm-trees and murals, and fine, sandy beaches, one of which we were anchored off. In the middle of the bay were several floating pens for mussel farming We tried some of the local shell-fish at the nearest restaurant, the Miramar, shared a plate of langustinos (large prawns) and one of navajaros (clasp-knife shells). With a bottle of Rioja, this tasted great.
The next day the wind was quite blustery, and thinking it might be a local phenomenon, with gusts down the mountains behind the beach, we decided to sail on round Cape Finisterre, also wishing to finally get around this north-west corner of Spain. Once out sea, we realised that the wind was no local phenomenon; there was a fresh force 6-7 breeze, gusting to force 8. We decided to use just the genoa, and that was more than enough as we bounced along at 8-9 knots in the rather steep waves. As the wind freshened, and the sailing got more exhilarating, we reached our record so far of 14.4 knots - time to roll in two reefs! We hoped that once round the Cape, we would find calmer conditions, and motor into the anchorage North of Finisterre village, but not so, as we sailed round, the wind kept freshening with gusts of 35 knots! The whole bay was covered in breaking waves, and we realised we would have to take a large tack East, then beat back to the anchorage. We were crashing along, dusk was coming, but we made it to the beach. Stein had a bit of work with the two anchors before he was happy that we were safely stuck in the rolling anchorage with the wind howling down the mountain behind us. Anyway it was great to be at anchor after a hard sail, and we enjoyed our dinner of fresh fish, prawns and mussels from the local fisherman in Corma.
Stein had visited this anchorage 8 years ago when he sailed here with Robert, Elisabeth, and friends Vidar and Anders Jacob. They had loved the place, and Stein was keen to show Diana this beautiful spot. The great thing about sailing are the constant changes, and after the tough arrival, the next day brought sunshine and a light breeze. We have now (22nd August) had a long walk out to the famous lighthouse, lunched on pulpo (octopus), salad and red-wine, enjoyed the views and picked brambles along the dirt road on the western (Atlantic) side of the peninsula and are now about to take a dinghy trip to explore the next bay.
Life indeed has its ups and downs, it becomes ever so evident when you are cruising...
RIBADEO 16-17th August.
Bursting to try out her newly acquired Spanish, Diana immediately took the boat papers and went off to check-in. At the Club Nautico across the harbour, the barman looked friendly and she had her first conversation. “Buenos dias, es la oficina de la marina aqui?” to which he raised his eyes and replied, “No.It’s closed.” Well, at least he understood! After a sleep, we came back to the office, where to Diana’s delight, the official spoke no English, and she was able to register our arrival in broken Spanish. The fee for the harbour here is based on size measured in square metres, not a good system for a catamaran! Then we were off to see the town, which is a bustling harbour town, built on a hill, with narrow streets and old buildings. We happened to arrive on a Fiesta day, with the inhabitants out in the streets to watch various processions, which seemed to be partly religious and partly carnival. Some were carrying the saint San Roque on their shoulders, two were walking under huge costumes about 3 metres high of a man and woman in local national dress, with other masked figures dancing around them. Groups of children were also in colourful national costumes, accompanied by rows of marching bag-pipe players and a drummer. Regular, loud bangs were also part of the Fiesta. Really a fantastic welcome to Spain, and we felt privileged to be so entertained. With lunch of calamares y pulpo (squid and octopus; old favourites) in a local restaurant, with red wine at 6 kroner (50p) a glass, life felt pretty good. Stein is also impressed with his wife’s Spanish vocabulary and occasional complete sentences, and a bit frustrated at his own sieve-like memory. He has not given up, however!
Apart from catching up on sleep, jogging and walking, most of the rest of our stay was used for boat-work. Stein spent some time up the mast, improving the system of lazy-jacks and replacing the chafed main halyard, while Diana carried on getting cupboards into order, and cleaning the toilet which was still suffering after the septic-tank overflow in Guernsey. It is now sweet-smelling again.
The weather is pleasant and calm with occasional showers. Not so good for quick sailing, but on a forecast of a light northerly breeze, we set off on Sunday evening (17th August) for La Coruna, where we hope to get the spare part to stop the water-leak in the starboard sail drive (gear unit). A large school of bottle-nosed dolphins met us half an hour out from Ribadeo, a welcome dinner interruption as we sailed slowly along the north coast of Galicia.
With both the North Sea, the Channel and the Bay of Biscay behind us, we really feel we are well on our way, are beginning to unwind and enjoy our new life-style as floating vagabonds! Neither of us so far feels like getting back to work!
Beating the Bay of Biscay.
The rest of the English Channel took us 19 hours of partly sailing, partly motoring. Tried not to use the starboard engine due to the gear problem (water is still entering, presumably around the propeller shaftl) and very glad that motoring with only one engine still gives us reasonable progress ; 3-4 knots at 1800 rpm. Until we were past France we had mostly light or non existing winds, mostly slight, undulating seas of scattered seaweed. Occasionally we were engulfed by dense patches of fog with as little as 50 m visibility. Fog is a bit frightening out at sea, vision is impaired and even the behaviour of sound and noise altered. You never know what might be appearing ahead of you. But we made good use of the radar in addition to keeping a good lookout.
Another unpleasant aspect of sailing in the Channel is the strong tides. We regularly had 2-3 knots either with us or against us in spite of the tidal charts, which seldom indicate anything stronger than 1 knot. Only a few hours after passing Oessant lighthouse off the western tip of Britanny were we properly out of the tidal influence. It is here the depth drops from the 60-70 m in the outer Channel to more than 4000 m in the Bay of Biscay! In this area we were thrown about a little as we crossed a belt of tidal rips – like a river out at sea.
Second day out from Guernsey, Tuesday 12th August, became a bit of a wildlife day. First of all we had visits of a Red Admiral butterfly, discovered several moths as stowaways, spotted a pilot-whale (grindhval), lots of majestic gannets (large birds with long, pointed beaks, eye markings that make them look like masked criminals and they are expert divers) and caught five mackerels on the line towed behind (used a Norwegian “harpe” with several hooks) . That catch together with lots of other goodies from Checkers and Marks & Spencers in Guernsey made for some particularly good meals en route. However, we soon realized we would not make it to Cape Finisterre (NW
in) as planned as our old “friends” from the North Sea, the South-westerlies, were there again and giving us a hard time. Thursday night had us reefing the mainsail and a lot of crashing into winds and waves, but Friday we decided to ease the sheets a little and just to head for the nearest Spanish harbour. We had no detailed map, but there are very few dangers off this coastline and we do have an up-to-date Macmillan Reeds Nautical Almanac. This miracle of a book has hundreds of European harbour sketches, waypoints and navigational advice and warnings. We decided on Ribadeo on the West side of the river by the same name. Best to arrive in daylight, so Friday night we for once had to shorten sail in order to reduce the speed! Just before sunrise we were 5 n.miles from the mouth of the river when the wind disappeared and heavy rain for about an hour obliterated the wonderful view of lighthouses against a backdrop of rolling hills. The radar again helped us, but also picked up much of the rain and the rain-filled clouds around.
At 8 a.m we motored underneath a huge bridge and a few minutes later tied up inside the pleasure craft harbour of Ribadeo. Only a French and a British yacht were tied along the inside wall reserved for visitors. One of the French jumped up on the quay in his boxer shorts and obligingly took our lines – merci beaucoup! Pero hombre! wrong language, when in Spain, speak like the Spaniards! How we tackled this part will become apparent in the next update. Meanwhile, we were very happy to have crossed the last of our three worrying stretches of water. Half the Channel and most of the Bay of Biscay in one go and in just four and a half days? - Nae bother –no problema!
Guernsey - farewells and engine problems.
Only 6 n. miles divide Sark and Guernsey, but the fog hid it until we were just outside St Peter Port. We had timed the tides and could cross the bar to Victoria Marina and for the first time were alongside several other catamarans. Back to city life, with traffic racing past the marina, and a shop-lined boulevard just above the boat. The Balfour family treated us to a restaurant meal that evening, before they had to pack bags the next morning and prepare for the return to work. We helped them trundle their luggage along to the streamlined ferry to England and took our tear-dripping farewell, it had been fun having them on board. Now we had to get ready for the passage over Biscay. A large shopping was done in a dream of a super-market called Checkers which had absolutely everything, including an Internet café,. There were piles of dirty washing to be done at the marina’s laundrette, and Stein decided to put in the new hatch in the kitchen, which we had ordered a long time ago in Norway, but had only arrived on the day of departure. It was of course not the right size, involving more work to make the space round it smaller, but the end-result is a great improvement, with much more light into the galley. Robert and friend Marianne had also to get home, and we had another visit to the ferry terminal the day after. Robert has been with us since Norway and been a great asset on board, so we will miss him.
White Admiral felt large and quiet with just two of us on board, after having been nine for a week. We had hoped to leave the same afternoon, but decided to take an extra day to try to sort out the oil problem in the engine, seems like some water gets into the gear-oil in the sail drive unit of the starboard. engine. The local Yanmar dealer had unfortunately not got the required seals in stock, but Stein hoped that changing the oil and cleaning the area round the seal might solve the problem. On Monday morning, 11th August we motored into the drying out bay where we had placed a buoy the night before and tied up to it to wait for the tide to fall and leave us high and dry. Then Stein had about four hours to get the job done, before she gradually floated up again on the next tide. This is one of the advantages of having a catamaran! Late afternoon we were ready to go, and motored out of St. Peter Port, giving a tow on the way out to three French lads with engine trouble on their boat Panic. It was a gentle afternoon with almost no wind, so we hope Biscay will be kind to us. Spain, here we come!
Sark: Carless island of butterflies.
We had almost exactly 24 hrs in Havre Gosselin on the tiny, fascinating island of Sark. It was buying the August edition of Yachting Monthly and reading about the island that made us want to visit it. Sark consists mainly of a flat, interior plateau which houses about 600 scattered residents, but the numerous guesthouses reveal a much larger summer population. From the sea the island looks hostile and barren surrounded by sheer cliffs, but on the plateau are lush farms and a pretty village with flowers in abundance. The village appears nameless, but you find most facilities needed along The Avenue. Even a vet and a GP and a flower-decorated Nat West Bank. Cars are not permitted, only horse-drawn carts and bikes for transport. Like being transplanted to another age… Well, it must be admitted that the occasional tractor was seen on the many dirt tracks that criss-cross the island. A perfect island for walks and views, lots of brambles to eat on your walks if you don’t stop for tea, scones and cream at the many houses where these and other goodies are offered. On the east side is at Creux Harbour, like on Alderney, another massive and ancient stone breakwater to admire. Diana and I also saw more butterflies on our two long walks than anywhere else we have been in Europe. And there are lots of birds.
The youngsters enjoyed fishing, swimming and picking brambles and when we left Havre Gosselin we had all five of them in tow behind the boat for a few minutes.
Thursday 7th August 1350: N 49 26 W2 23. Havre Gosselin, Sark.
The small islands of Sark and Alderney were exciting new harbours for the Hoffs, but Anne & Alastair had good memories of past visits. - Especially Anne who first arrived in Alderney on her dad’s yacht when she was nine. Anne is from Weymouth and this is also the town to which the entire population of Alderney were evacuated prior to the German occupation in 1940.
We made good use of the afternoon and evening in Alderney. A long jog was an efficient way of seeing most of this rugged island and its delightful, tiny “capital” village of St Anne. The many bunkers and heavy fortifications built by the Germans remain a grim memory of World War II. The old fishing harbour also have impressive, massive stone walls – a much more attractive way of applying stone skills and of peacefully employing people.
Low tide before evening dinner saw the youngsters running on the beach and swimming back to the boat through long, floating seaweed (as pleasant as being grabbed by numerous wet and eal-like fingers, according to Laura). Navigator and skipper had minor shocks on discovering a rock, or possibly a wreck awash no more than 10 m from portside… So before we sat down for dinner we had to re-anchor a little further out. During the night the wind swung from NW to NE. Had we not moved we almost certainly would have drifted across and possibly onto this obstacle. A reminder of the old rule; never anchor further in than others!
The youngsters discovered a bonfire and beach party ashore and spent a considerable part of the night underneath the stars. In spite of all the sand they brought back to White Admiral and their bunks claimed they had a great time!
By morning the stars were all gone and a thick fog enveiled everything , but with GPS and radar aiding us all the way we navigated safely past the treacherous rocks off the north point of the island, then just outside the scary Alderney Race, were tidal currents can cause terrible conditions in strong winds. When we picked up a mooring 20 miles later the sun had managed to burn a hole in the fog. Robert got the dinghy ready and started rowing people ashore
Wednesday 6th August 1324: N 49 43 W 2 12. Braye Bay, Alderney, Channel Islands.
Anchor down in 7 m off the long, white, beautiful beach of Braye Bay. All the buoys for visiting yachts behind the massive stone breakwater at harbour entrance were taken except for the one furthest away from the jetty. Too far to row. There were many yachts also at anchor and we felt a little insecure about were to best find a safe spot. We did in fact first motor around a little to see if there could be any nearby rocks or shallows; the tide was due to drop another 3 m or so. With nine persons wanting to go ashore, one small rubber dinghy and no outboard engine we did not want to be farther from land than necessary.
The 30 n.mile-trip had taken us about 6 hours of motoring in slight headwind, but we timed it to fit withg the following tide from Cherbourg past Cap de la Hag. The tidal rips near Alderney are infamous, so glad to be in as the morning haze gradually developed into quite heavy fog patches.
We had only got into Cherburgh after dark, also here all the berths for visitors were taken, but the Harbour Master let us kindly ie at the pontoon for yachts waiting to be lifted out of the water, provided we left early. (That fitted fine with the tides, but only permitted Anne, Diana and I a very short morning jog while buying croissons and baguettes.) At night Alastair had taken us all to a pub. On the way we passed a medieval church and a bigger-than-life size bronze statue of Napoleon on a fierce-looking horse. There was no doubt that we were in France.
At Alastair’s pub they brew their own beer. One way to have this dring served is to have it brought you as a “giraffe” – a tall glass cylinder with a tap. I suppose to make you drink more and also to give you the feeling that you are running your own table-sized pub! Giraffes appeared not to be a threatened species in Cherbourg…
Eleanor and I were quite tired and returned to the boat before the others. I also had a nagging worry about the gear oil in the starboard engine. - While on the subject of alcohol, this oil no longer looked its normal sherry brown, but more like egg liquor. Had water somehow got into the sail drive propeller unit?
Tuesday 5th August. Cherbourg, France: N 49 39 W 01 37 (In the Western hemisphere!).
We arrived here at 2145 after an overnight sail from Eastbourne, a passage of about 110 n.miles in NE winds, F3-4. Motored out from the locks after dark at low tide, wind against us, and we crawled through the narrow and shallow passage about 2130. The echo-sounder recorded down to 2,3 m depth! And with a swell, this felt a little hair-raising, but we slowly sea-sawed out into safer waters and could try to set the sails. The main sail was for some reason very hard to raise, we settled for one reef and genoa , this did not work well dead down-wind, our correct course, so decided to broad -reach on port tack towards France during the night. This was fast, 8-9 knots, but did not get us much nearer the destination until we at dawn took down the mainsail and got up the old genoa, the port being loose-luffed, the normal, self-furling genoa on starboard set on a pole (first time we tried it in real conditions!). This improved our speed and also the Autohelm (electrical pilot named Otto II) did the job splendidly. With the crew having now increased from 3 across the North Sea to 9 across the Channel, we had plenty people to choose from when allocating night watches, although some are better qualified than others… Robert is still with us, now joined by Marianne from Trondheim + the Johnstone/Balfour family of five from Blanefield, Scotland: Anne & Alastair with children Adam, Eleanor and Laura aged 10-17 years. Apart from Adam, they have all sailed with us in the West Indies on more than one occasion. Anne, a journalist from Herald, Glasgow, in fact sailed with us from Antigua to the Azores in 1982 when we were finishing our circumnavigation and Robert was just two years old; 21 years ago…
Our week in UK was most enjoyable and several train journeys gave us peace to get on with some books. Authors to be mentioned are John Steinbeck, Iris Murdoch and Ellen MacArthur. Diana’s also working on her Spanish verbs and I on the Spanish CD linguaphones. Tuesday 29th was spent on the boat doing various jobs, but we still managed an evening jog and a trip to the nearby cinema: “Bruce Almighty” with Jim Carrey. (I have not laughed so much for a long time!) Wednesday was spent shopping and visiting our daughter Elisabeth in London (fiancée Hugh was at work). Next day back on the train all the way to Glasgow to stay with Linda & Rune Molvik in Barrhead. On arriving at Glasgow Central we discovered to Linda & Rune’s amusement, our amazement - and embarrassment - that it was Thursday and not Friday! So we had an extra day with nothing important to do! Linda, being a school teacher, was off work and very happy about this, thank goodness. Out of this first-in-our-lives mistake came two memorable pre-breakfast jogs around the Barrhead Golf Course and seeing Diana’s cousin in Gourock. Saturday the four of us attended the wedding of Anne & Jason in Stirling. Holy Rude church is as big as a cathedral and dating back to 12th century. The bride’s parents, Jane & Tom Macdougall, are senior members of the church. Tom is Diana’s cousin. Time to catch up with lots of relatives of Diana. Wedding and reception was blessed with perfect weather, the only shower fell as we were seated for dinner. Rune and I were both in kilts although we are both Norwegians, very appropriate for the ceilidh – the Scottish country dancing that finished a perfect occasion. I was very proud mastering the Dashing White Sergeant, the Gay Gordons and Stripping the Willow! (Duly guided by my wife, I must admit!)
Returning to Eastbourne Sunday night our new crew were all installed on White Admiral. Monday morning I had a work-out at the local Fitness Centre while Anne & Diana went jogging. After various preparations for sailing a large amount of shopping was brought aboard. For dinner we were 11 persons and duly thankful for all the space on this great boat. The two extra evening visitors were Elisabeth and good friend from Greenwich, Yvonne. Diana’s sea food pasta followed by strawberries was enjoyed by everyone!
Next time we see Elisabeth and Yvonne will be for Elisabeth & Hugh’s wedding September 20th!
Final job before are entering the lock was topping up the diesel tank with 43 liters. We had motored a total of 62 hours after leaving Kristiansand, i.e. an average burning of 0,6 litre of diesel per hour – these twin Yanmar engines appear to be very efficient!
July 29th, 2003. Eastbourne, UK
It feels great to be safely tied up in Sovereign Marina, Eastbourne ( N 5747 E 0019) on the South coast of England after a pretty tough North Sea crossing. After the gale on the 25th, there was one day with really good sailing, when the wind was more Westerly and we could actually sail on course for a few hours, but typical North Sea conditions soon returned with more South Westerlies, and we have had to beat to windward the rest of the way. The Dover straight is a dreadful place with rough, choppy seas, strong currents and lots of traffic, so we were glad when we were safely through that. We tacked back and forwards along the English Channel yesterday, and reached Eastbourne about 8 p.m. The marina here is totally enclosed, with entrance through a lock, has good facilities and friendly peope and feels like heaven after our pretty tough passage. We celebrated our arrival with an anchor dram of summer aquavit and a visit to a Mexican retaurant with good food and loud Spanish sounding music. In our euphoric state it seemed great! Anyway our first passage has been a good test for both White Admiral nd her crew, and we have all survived with not much damage, jut a few stitches need to be put in the sail where the pocket for a batton has chafed a little. Good to have the first leg behind us, especially the notorious North Sea, and feel that we are becoming long distance sailors again. We shall now be land-lubbers for a few days, visiting our daughter Elisabeth and fiance Hugh who have just moved home in London, and going to the wedding of cousin Tom's daughter in Scotland. We set sail again in a week, with our friends the Balfours on board for a short holiday, where we go first will depend on the weather, but hopefully in the direction of Spain and warmer
July 25th, 2003. North Sea
Headwinds all he way so far, some gentle spells, but mostly tough going; a real shake-up trip across the temperamental North Sea. 75 hrs after leaving Kristiansand we are at N55 14, E 1 50, about 100 n.miles from England somewhere S of Newcastle. We have a southerly gale, 30 knot winds and big seas and are crashing along under minimal canvas. Some drips here and there, but everything functioning fine. Appetite good, foodmaking difficult, just had dinner of Real Turmat freeze-dried dinners left over from my row last year. "Best meal so far this trip!" according to Robert (cheeky!).
Drying clothes in front of the heater and preparing to take the helm from Robert, unless Diana insists on her turn - she's asleep. Not sure where we will land in England right now, wind's supposed to go westerly, so maybe we can head for the Channel and Portsmouth after all - and another gale forecast for that area!
Best wishes Stein, Diana & Robert
July 22nd, 2003. Kristiansand, Norway
Diana and I are moving aboard our catamaran White Admiral tonight and hope to set sail for a new circumnavigation Tuesday 22nd. That will be on the day 26 years since we set off with Elisabeth (b 1972) and Martin (b 1973) from Bergen on Red Admiral in 1977. (22nd July is also Robert's 23rd birthday!)
Right now we are desperately busy getting out of work/clearing offices, clearing the house for renting (to Eliane and Marcelo Tomchinsky), selling the car, getting our cat Opus a new home AND getting a boat ready! Robert and one of his friends will sail with us to S. England. We hope to take 4-6 days, should be in Gosport Marina, Portsmouth by July 28nd.
After visiting Elisabeth and Hugh and their new house in Kensington we go to a wedding in Stirling, Scotland, Aug 2nd and back down by 3rd for sailing that day or the next for Cape Finisterre, NW Spain. Joining us then are the Balfour/Johnstone family (Anne & Alastair with kids Laura, Elenor and Adam).
But for the next part of the story; keep tuned to our web-site (after it's announced, I mean!)
Best wishes, Stein and Diana