Saturday, 8 November 2014

Travel Report No 72: From Falmouth and Home

Travel Report No 72: Falmouth-Gosport-Kristiansand-Lier.            
For more pictures and captions go to: Picture Gallery No 72


Andreas had to leave on July 5th, the day after White Admiral arrived in Falmouth for a 5 ½ hour long train-ride to London before flying back to Norway. 

Andreas being made to feel welcome on the train to London by the conductor
Stein had a day on his own to do some work on the boat before Diana returned also by train, after a flight from Glasgow to London. She was happy with the rehearsals for the play, and also quite happy to have missed the sail over the rough and foggy Bay of Biscay! We were well behind schedule and keen to get back home to Norway, so spent just one more day in Falmouth, having a good walk around this nautical town with its big harbour full of boats of all kinds.
Diana is back and we are leaving Falmouth together.
On the morning of 7th July, we were ready to leave and for once there was a good, gentle weather forecast, fine for the two of us to sail along the Channel. We started off with good genoa sailing in a following breeze, but had to motor-sail as the wind slackened. Stein had a tummy bug the next day, with several visits to the head (=boat toilet), but felt better in the evening after a day mostly on camomile tea. The next day was mainly motoring, sometimes at a frustrating 3 knots when the current was against us, and at other times an enjoyable 7 knots when it was with us. This current was strongly felt along the whole English Channel and out into the first part of North Sea. 
Entering The Solent and passing The Needles of Isle of  Wight on starboard side. 
Fortunately we had it with us as we passed The Needles just west of the Isle of Wight, and we sped along the Solent to Gosport, which is just across the estuary from Portsmouth, and has huge marinas with plenty space for visiting yachts. We called one marina on the VHF and were immediately assigned to a berth where we tied up.

Gosport is not very interesting, but Portsmouth which is just a short ferry ride away is fascinating for anybody interested in maritime history. There is a large dock area, with various exhibitions relating to British Navy, the pride being Nelson’s ship “Victory” which of course we had to visit.  It is a huge ship of impressive dimensions and complexity built from 1759 - 1765 and has been reconstructed to show just what it was like in Nelson’s time at the Battle of Trafalgar, with information about life aboard for the officers and crew. Quite a contrast to see the difference between the ordinary seamen’s simple quarters (including their outside toilet in the bow, hence the name “the head”) and Nelson’s luxurious cabin and dining room! Since we were now quite near London we took the opportunity to visit Hugh, Elisabeth and kids, an hour and a half train ride from Portsmouth to Waterloo. 

Elisabeth's birthday on 9th July: Diana, Stein, Hugh, Soren and Elisabeth.

Soren is happy with the new T-shirt from Faial, Azores!
This was very suitable as it was Elisabeth’s 42nd birthday, and we were able to share the birthday dinner and cake, and meet the whole family and their lovey Brazilian nanny, Lili.  We were also able to deliver our birthday present on the correct date, a bag from the sail-maker’s shop on Man O’ War Cay in the Bahamas.
Leaving Gosport  Marina with Robert.
Fortunately Robert had agreed to sail with us across the North Sea to Kristiansand. He flew over from Norway where he was on his summer holiday, and Diana met him as he came off the Gosport ferry. The next day was 10th July and we wasted no time getting away as the weather forecast promised gentle weather for four days, but then a possible gale off the south coast of Norway - which we hoped to avoid. 


The Channel and the North Sea are very busy places, lots of ships, navigation buoys, fishing buoys, gas installations, oil-rigs and in the Thames Estuary even huge wind mill electricity generators. There are also shipping lanes which one has to follow or keep well away from, and even a virtual ships’ roundabout! 
Here are some of the obstacles in the Channel!
We counted about 30 of these monsters in this area alone. Fog affected the visibility.
This means a constant sharp look-out and frequent checks on the GPS as to our position, so we were glad to have Robert aboard to share the watches and split the night into three.
It was dusk by the time we left the marina, and just after we motored out, Robert noticed that there were lots of seagulls circling nearby and threw out a line on the fishing rod. Sure enough in a few seconds he had drawn in a good sized mullet, which Diana filleted to have for dinner the next day. The only catch since the Bahamas! As forecast there were light variable winds for the first three days, so we motored or motor-sailed, and it was foggy most of the time, sometimes so dense that we sat with a fog-horn at the ready, but fortunately did not need to use it.  We had one fright on the first day when we did run into the rope from a fishing-buoy and realized that we were trailing something very heavy! We got the sails quickly down and Stein and Robert had to lean out and cut off the buoy – hoping our rudder and the fishing gear was not too damaged!  On the fourth day the fog lifted, and a breeze blew up from west, giving us two good days of sailing in to Kristiansand. The sea was rough on the last day as the wind increased, and also because of the current just off the Norwegian coast, but fortunately the gale that was forecast did not quite materialize in this area.
Oksøy lighthouse!

Happy 46 years' Anniversary, Diana, and there is Kristiansand and friends waiting in the harbour! 
It was lovely to sail in between the lighthouses on Oksøy and Grønningen islands and into the protected water south of town, and the sun even came out as we got the sails down and motored into the visitors’ part of the harbour. It was July 15th, our wedding anniversary, 46 years since we were married in Glasgow University Chapel. (We have done and seen so much together and have so much to be grateful for!)  An old friend Bjørn Jordan had called and said he would make sure there was a free berth for us, which we were very thankful for when we saw that the harbour was full of visiting yachts and motor-boats sheltering from the strong wind. As we tied up we saw that as well as Bjørn, there were our daughter-in-law Tonje with mother Selle Marie and Aunt Karen, little grandson Oscar, old sailing friends Anne and Knut and Bjørn’s wife Annelise all waving flags and waiting to welcome us with champagne and a big cake made by Anne. A photographer and a journalist from Fædrelandsvennen newspaper were also present. Wonderful to be back in Norway!
Bjørn Jordan, Annelise Hordang, Knut Nilsen and Anne's kringle!

Dinner at Mother India! Stein "Buster", Diana, Knut, Robert and Anne.
After a hug from the waiting friends and relatives, we were in for another surprise when cousin Stein “Buster” from Trondheim (800 km away) suddenly appeared on the jetty! He had first driven down to Oslo to see his daughter, then on to Kristiansand to welcome us, so we felt honoured. After we all celebrated with the champagne in the cockpit, Stein Buster, Anne and Knut took the three of us out to dinner at “Mother India”, an old favourite from days when we lived in Kristiansand. It just got better and better being home!    
The article the next morning in Fædrelandsvennen was a bit exaggerated, but it was great because many our friends in the neighbourhood saw that we had arrived and were in the harbour and for the three days we lay there we had one visit after another. It was eleven years since we sailed from Kristiansand on White Admiral, although just five years since we moved from there to our present apartment in Lier, and we still have many good friends here that we try to keep in touch with. It was a pleasure to renew these friendships, and never have we been given so much champagne and strawberries!
Gun, Andreas and Gro.


Robert having gone off to visit old friends, Diana and Stein were ready to begin the journey along the Norwegian coast. We set off in the afternoon of 18th July, in beautiful sunny and gentle weather. The first stop at the fuel jetty reminded us that we were back to Norwegian prices, and that Norwegians are not always the politest of races as a motor boat sneaked in before us!
Tonje and Martin's "new" cottage in Frillestadkilen has a super setting.

Dinner of salmon, shrimps and salad on the terrasse: Tonje, Oscar, Martin and Diana
Martin and Tonje had bought a cottage last year near Høvåg in the south of Norway. We were really looking forward to seeing this place which sounded so lovely. It took three hours of slow motoring along the coast to get there, in and out of passages created by larger islands and small skerries, and in the perfect weather Norway could not have looked more beautiful.  Unfortunately the narrow channel outside where the cottage lies is at one point only five meters broad, not enough for our catamaran which has a breadth of six and a half meters. Martin came along in his dinghy to meet us and help us find a place to tie up. We saw a cliff face just outside the narrow point which looked perfect, and feeling sure the owners would not mind, we decided to tie up before asking. Just as we were finished, the lady of the house appeared for a swim and fortunately had no objections to us lying alongside her property. It transpired she had been to Diana as a patient many years ago! Then we were off with Martin in the dinghy to see the new cottage, which lived up to all our expectations, a white wooden house which they have had redecorated and a new kitchen fitted, and made even nicer with Tonje’s good taste in interior design. It sits on a promontory over the sea with great views from the terrace, and a few meters down to the jetty and bathing steps, a paradise for big and small!
Same place a couple of days later,  now with Diana, Soren, Finn, Martin, Oscar, Tonje, Hugh and Elisabeth.
For the next few days we had a family reunion, with Elisabeth, Hugh and their boys arriving in a hired car from Torp Airport near Sandefjord and Robert returning with our car. The great weather (best in man’s memory!) continued making it the perfect holiday. Highlights were a garden party at Aunt Karen’s cottage a short drive away, a boat trip in Sondre’s (Tonje’s brother) boat around the nearby skerries and to see a kayak regatta, and a trip to the Kristiansand amusement park, when Stein, Diana and Robert took the two small boys Finn and Soren for a day with pirates, car-rides, spinning cups and ice-cream!  On 22nd July, which is Robert’s birthday, we had a big get-together on White Admiral, with help to eat the two cakes from Sondre and his family.
Jorunn and Kåre Høyvik who let us tie up along their property came for breakfast.
It was time to move on, and after breakfast with the landowners Jorunn and Kåre Høyvik, we were joined on 24th July, by Elisabeth and family, Tonje’s mother and aunt and two of Aunt Karen’s grandchildren for a ride along the coast to Lillesand. The amazing summer weather was still holding, so it was a two hour sunshine cruise, with everybody sunning themselves and enjoying the scenery. Tonje drove along with Oscar to meet us in the car and Sondre came in his boat to take some of the others home. Lillesand harbour was choc-a-bloc with boats of all kinds jostling for a place, but we found a buoy to hang onto just off the jetty where we could lie safely for lunch.

Some narrow passages between Lillesand and Arendal

Frode at the helm as we pass a navigational marker.
We planned to reach Rørendal the same day. Here our faithful crew member Frode has his home at the sea, and had offered to let us lie on his buoy alongside his small sailing yacht for as long as we needed. As the weather was so fine, he arrived in Lillesand with his wife Susanne and old friend Johan Georg to sail there with us. We were also joined by our old sailing friend Anne Kollandsrud who has an optician’s shop in the town, and happily left it for the chance of a boat trip! We had to motor again as there was no wind, five hours along the coast, still warm, sunny and beautiful. The bay at Frode and Susanne’s home is sheltered and calm, and we could lie here safely, sharing the buoy and dwarfing their small sailing yacht. 
Third and final meal of the day in our White Admiral's spacious cockpit. Late dinner at Rørendal with Anne, Johan Georg, Frode, Susanne and Diana (and Stein behind the camera!)

We had a fish dinner on board before the others left us. For us it was time to get home after nearly nine months abroad, and the next morning Robert came with the car so we could all drive back home to Gullaug.


Three weeks later it was time for the very last leg of our journey home from the Bahamas. In the meantime Diana had been back in Scotland to take part in a play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which had been both great fun and a success. Stein had had a few days back at work at the Cardiology out-patient clinic in Drammen, before a quick visit to Edinburgh to see Diana, and also spent some time starting the repairs on White Admiral, with assistance from Frode.

Our oldest grand-children Hedda and Johan came for what was first a wet sail along the coast.
Now we came with our two eldest grand-children, Hedda aged 12 and Johan aged 10, who would sail with us to Veierland, where we wanted to see what the new owners had done with Stein’s family’s old cottage which was sold last year.  There was now a change of weather and we left on 14th August on a cloudy, rainy morning, 33 nautical miles to our first stop at the island of Jomfruland. The children have been on board many times before, and soon made themselves at home, lying in the netting near the bow reading Donald Duck paperbacks. It was a slow drive into a light head-wind and took most of the day, finally anchoring off Tårnbrygga on the west coast at half past eight in the evening. We had a fish dinner, and as the evenings were still long and light in these northern latitudes, had time for a good walk across the island and along the stony beach on the east coast.
The next morning we were up early to get to Veierland, and we motored off at 6.30 a.m. while Hedda and Johan were still asleep. It was a cold, clear morning, after a while a light breeze blew up and we could put up the genoa.  At 2 p.m. we motored into Krika, the bay in front of the old cottage and dropped anchor in 1.6 meters. 
But the weather was greatly improved the next day when we could anchor in Krikakilen, Veierland!

Dinner in front of our old cottage, Veierland, now with new owners and new looks. Johan and Hedda were upset last year when we sold the old cottage, but with Tonje and Martin's new "hytte" in Frillestadkilen near Kristiansand, we are forgiven!
It was quite a surprise to see that most of the trees around the cottage were gone, the ochre colour had been changed to grey-brown and the boat-house had been rebuilt! The new owners had told us we were welcome to visit, so we rowed ashore and went up to have a look. They were not at home, so we could only look through the windows and we found the inside totally renovated with open-plan style and modern furniture – a new generation has taken over! We hoped to see some of our old neighbours, but there was only life in one cottage across the bay and we went over to visit Sigrid and Geir who had visitors, but were happy to let us join in and served us the rest of their lunch.
Martin came to collect the children the next morning at the mainland marina at Engø, and we motored off to cover the last 35 nautical miles home. We hoped for a last sail, but there was no more than a light head-wind and we motored the whole way. We had arranged with the small marina where we live, Engersand båthavn, that we could lie in a double space with a pontoon between our hulls, and we tied up at 6.30 p.m.
Finally moored at Engersand not far from our apartment at ground level in the background.

25th September White Admiral is lifted ashore at Tofte.

"White Admiral" stored on land for the winter - and her owners are ready for some more travelling - but by plane, this time.
But first, thank you, you big, old "butterfly" for the thousands of sea-miles that we have sailed together!
With that our days of long distance sailing are over and that is probably the end of White Admiral’s blog. It is a bit sad, but we are getting older and have decided that we would like more time for other type of travelling, like mountain walking and visiting interesting cities and other parts of the World. We have had a wonderful eleven years - ten of them in the Caribbean - but have now had enough white beaches and snorkeling and challenging boat maintenance and repair. We will probably change next year to a motor boat, more suited to the Norwegian coast and not so big that it cannot visit Tonje and Martin’s cottage! 
Stein is not finished with the sea, however, he likes a challenge and loves it out there in the wide open blue spaces, and plans to do another ocean row in 2016, this time in the wake of the first ocean rowers, Norwegian-Americans Georg Harbo and Gabriel (“Frank”) Samuelsen, who crossed from New York to Scilly Isles in 1896.  Life is still an adventure!