By Stein. For the corresponding pictures; see Gallery 47
This is written in early November aboard White Admiral. We are at anchor in Caye Caulker, Belize, where all is well with White Admiral, Diana and I. We also have family visiting for two weeks; my mother Eli (who will be 93 next month!) and cousin Stein (“St. Buster”) who also were with us a year ago in Panama and San Blas. The wind is a moderate breeze from NW, an unusual direction for this trade wind region, but the sun is shining and the sea a nice temperature. Also the village of Caye Caulker is really charming. But more details on our present voyage in the next report. For now I will concentrate on a recap on nearly 6 months back in Europe.
Elisabeth has a baby on our anniversay!
This summer’s highlight was definitely the birth of our third grandchild; Elisabeth’s and Hugh’s son in London: Finn weighed in at 4.2 kg when he first saw light Tuesday 15th July. He has been a healthy and happy baby and a pure joy to parents and grandparents alike. At the age of five weeks he also visited his great grandmother Eli at her cottage in Veierland to officially mark his Norwegian roots!
Finn was actually born on Diana’s and my 40th wedding anniversary, so his parents could not attend when we celebrated the event 18th July in Kristiansand, but we could not have wished for a better anniversary present! The next day, Saturday 19th was Johan’s big day (Johan is Martin’s boy and our grand-child nr two) when he turned four. This was celebrated attending a Captain Sabeltann live musical performance at Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park. Sabeltann is Johan’s hero and favorite pirate!
40 years as a medic.
Another 40th Anniversary was when Diana’s Beta Club Medical Year (1962-1968) gathered in style at Turnberry Hotel, Scotland in October. About 75 of 180 attended, partners in addition, for a week-end, so a good and nostalgic time was had by one and all! (Except maybe for some devoted golfers as the planned tournament was called off due to rain…)
Working in both ends of Norway.
Otherwise the summer, as usual, involved a lot of work and on-call duties. For the fifth summer running since quitting private practice and starting part-time retirement/sailing, I did my four months as a locum (fill-in) consultant at Sørlandets Sykehus, Kristiansand. This time alternating between the Departments of Pulmonary diseases, Infectious diseases and Cardiology. I was a bit rusty on the infectious side, what with recent development regarding HIV and AIDS, MRSA and the use of antibiotics, but with an excellent nursing staff and good junior doctors, I learnt a lot and found it fascinating.
Diana divided her work between the Eye Dpt. in Arendal, and private practice in the small town of Mo I Rana in Nordland County close to the Polar Circle. That is a long way from Kristiansand, as I found out when I had to use three different planes to visit her for a week-end in August! Nature in Nordland is breathtaking. From her office window Diana had a view of a big blue fjord, dark mountains and the silvery Svartisen Glacier.
Mo I Rana may be a smallish town, but being the only ophthalmologist for miles and miles (five hours drive to the nearest colleague in Bodø!) Diana had plenty to do, but was able to take the week-end off to visit the outer islands of the Helgeland coast with me. We drove along spectacular fjords and took the ferry from Sandnessjøen to Dønna. Here we stayed overnight and explored the outer skerries by road and multiple bridges in the car and the highest peak by foot. The climb to the top of Dønnamannen was among the most strenuous we have done. We started at sea level and were grateful to find a rope for the last 50 m close to the peak. At 858 m elevation we recovered with sandwiches, chocolate and hot tea. Between the drifting clouds we admired glimpses of the hundreds of islands scattered along this shallow coast. Sometimes, hopefully, we will return in a boat and with plenty of time, as the weather here can be unpredictable. But fish and shellfish are plentiful; the locals friendly and waiting for good weather should not be difficult.
Planning old age (with more debt?).
Our work brought welcome income; an essential for our lifestyle since 2003. Also, in September things looked good regarding selling our house in Kristiansand, prices were the best ever, so we decided to start the process of moving nearer Oslo, something we’ve been planning for a long time. We had already looked at several places near Drammen and Sande, when in late August the “dream flat” by the sea close to Drammen and next to good friends (Dagmar and Christian Platou) came up. We made an offer, had to make a couple more as others were also interested, and we got it! Then we prepared our house for sale and put it on the market. And what do you think happened next? - The bottom of the market fell out!!
So it looks like our move was badly timed and may cost us dearly. But whatever happens to our finances and future sailing and travelling, in February 15th next year we take over our new home and move nearly 300 km north-east from Kristiansand, where we have lived since we finished the circumnavigation on Red Admiral in 1982. We will then be much nearer our son Martin and his children Hedda and Johan in Oslo and my mother Eli in Sandefjord and the cottage at the island of Veierland in the Tønsberg Fjord.
Otherwise the summer had the usual trips to Veierland and Oslo, seeing our grandchildren grow and develop. Hedda at six is now enjoying the first class at school.
In September Diana had four days with her girlfriends Fiona, Liz and Sandra in Bourgogne, France. These four are girlfriends of more than 50 years’ standing having attended Hutcheson’s Grammar School for Girls in Glasgow 1953-1962. Needlessly to say this was another memorable and nostalgic get-together!
At the age of 63 keeping fit is probably more important than ever, but it gets a little harder each year… I concentrate on rowing and biking. At the World Masters Rowing Championship in Tarkai, Lithuania in September I had an enjoyable long week-end, but did not win anything. However, in cross-country biking in Birkebeinerrittet in late August, a 91 km race from Rena to Lillehammer with 12.000 participants, things went better. Here I surprised myself with a new personal best. This was due to all the help I had from my two sons: Robert and I trained a lot together for nearly four months and Martin gave me a lot of technical advice as well as better parts for my Nakamura bike. And all three of us did well in our respective age-groups and qualified for “the Mark”.
A journey to friends and family.
Diana’s and my journey back to White Admiral in Rio Dulce, Guatemala in October was a detour of two weeks in several countries. We had planned the trip for a long time and had booked the planes months ahead. Had we known about our new financial situation, we would probably have arranged less ambitious circuit... However, we’ve now enjoyed seeing lots of family and friends and have no regrets! We started off in Scotland with Diana’s Medical reunion in Turnberry. While in Scotland we also saw Diana’s half sister Linda with husband Rune in Barrhead, her cousin Tom with Jane in Ayr, cousin Diana with her Kenny in Gourock and our friends Anne and Alastair in Blanefield. From Scotland we drove via Lincoln, England for a reunion with Aunt Joyce and Donald before staying with Elisabeth, Hugh and young Finn in London. Robert is also in London presently, and with him and girlfriend Olga we enjoyed the “Cav & Pag” dual opera (Cavelleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci) at ENO (English National Opera) and visited the British Museum.
From London we flew via Miami to Barbados. This island east in the Caribbean Sea is where we have lived and worked for two periods in our lives and have also rowed to, sailed to and visited numerous times. Last time was in 2004. Barbados is as beautiful and busy and touristy as always, but to us it is also where good friends the Goddards, Jordans, Smyths and Mackenzies live. Maureen and Doug Mackenzie we had already happened to see in London a few days earlier. Wendy and Harold Goddard gave us a bed and a relaxed household for three nights. They have now sold their catamaran Kiskadee. Like us, they sailed around the world with three children nearly 30 years ago. We first met them back in the Solomon Islands in 1981.
Other old sailing friends from way back are Martha (“Kiki”) and Russell Wheelock in Belverde, Texas. Their yacht was named Islita. We first met them in Bali, Indonesia in 1981 and like the Goddards on Kiskaddee we sailed together and took more or less the same route via islands of the Indian Ocean, South Africa, St. Helena and Brazil to Barbados. We had not seen Kiki and Russell since we parted in Barbados, May 1982. We did, however, make a valiant attempt to see them 11th September 2001 when we were in Los Angeles, California and about to go to the airport for a plane to Texas when the terrorists stuck the Twin Towers in New York… They have been great correspondents and for 26 years we’ve been exchanging letters, pictures and e-mails. This time we made it and had two wonderful days with them in their house, built by Russell and decorated by Kiki; a true 68’er and Hippie by heart!
Detouring about in USA takes time and flying from San Antonio, Texas to Miami took us via Charlotville (a beautiful airport) and the need for a stop-over in Miami. Finally, October 17th Continental Airways flew us safely to Guatemala City and another stop-over before the five hours’ bus-drive to Rio Dulce. But shopping in the City is so much better than at the Rio, so we were able to board the bus with bags of items like blue cheese and brown flour.
White Admiral was well and sound in Monkey Bay Marina and thanks to the work of Ephraim, the top-sides and the stainless steel have never been cleaner! Three days later we were ready to set off down the river for the small town of Livingston at the coast, and next day north to Belize, or British Honduras as it was known in my school days.
But that is another story.