Leg 4, 2001: Tromso, Lofoten Is.; Ellos, Gothenburg, Sweden
Click here or on a photo to see all the Leg 4 photos enlarged.
4 crew joined us in Tromso on July 31st as
an intense 980 mb low pressure center passed north of us. As
we have approximately 1,300 miles to cover in 16 days, we got
underway after lunch and initial safety orientation, motorsailing
to Hestoy, 23 miles south in driving rain with head winds gusting
to 31 kts.
You would think that August 1st would
have brought summer weather, but it didn't and we endured winter
rains with gusts to 40 kts. At one point a fierce squall piled
enough hailstones along the aft deck to make snowballs. Dalton,
being a skier from Colorado naturally brought his ski goggles
which were in hot demand from the helmsperson as looking to windward
into 30-40 kt wind driven hail felt like having one's face sandblasted!
Expedition members learning the
We cut our day short, anchoring at Eidet, 69.05N, 17.11E, a small
village we had stopped for a night in on our voyage north. Although
we found protection from the seas, we were still being buffeted
with 30-40 kt winds. Setting both the 75lb CQR with 250' of chain
and the 44lb Delta on 130' of line and 50' of chain in 27' depths
we stood watch all night and even though we never budged an inch
it was still hard to sleep as we danced around in the squalls.
For the first time in months, it actually got dark at night.
It was strange, and I missed the midnight sun.
On Thursday, August 2, winds had moderated
in the morning and the barometer steadily climbed to 1014. The
sun made a welcome appearance and we had a great sail to Lodingen,
68.26N, 16.00 E where we found an empty new visitor's float and
went exploring the picturesque town perched beneath magnificent
mountains with sea views in all directions.
The following morning we had a smooth
sail through some narrow passages to Svolvaer, 68.13N, 14.34E,
the largest town in Norway's Lofoten island group. Soon after
arrival, Gry and Erling Baera and their five-year old daughter
Ingvild, dear friends who first told us of the Lofoten Islands
in Fiji three years ago, came down to the boat for a visit.
When we visited Gry on our voyage northward,
she was sorely missing Erling and counting the days until he
would be sailing home to the Lofotens, eight months and 15,000
miles after she and her daughter had flown home from Hawaii,
so that Ingvild could start school. Erling had fulfilled a life
dream in the meantime, sailing from Hawaii to Cape Horn, Antarctica,
Falklands, Azores and Scotland on their 45' steel cutter.
They told our adventuresome crew of
a great restaurant where they could sample whale, reindeer, and
other Norwegian delicacies and whisked us off for a visit in
their little hillside cottage. It was great to hear their stories
and new shore side dreams and catch up on news from our friends
in Chile and Antarctica.
Saturday morning was windless, so we
motored to Henningsvaer, the most authentic and colorful fishing
harbor in the Lofotens.
Henningsvaer, traditional Lofoten
Island fishing village.
Here crew hiked and explored while we
got another chance to visit with Gry and Erling and see the nearby
harbor they plan to turn into a cruising and kayaking mecca with
Gry, Erling and John at their dock.
Karolina's concerned mother-in-law and
friend pay us a visit.
We then motored in more light drizzle
(where was summer?) to Reine, a small fishing harbor. We went
exploring once tied to the ubiquitous (and free!) guest dock,
first having slowly bumped aground a few boat lengths from another
guest float. We had an embarrassing 30-minute wait for the tide
to float us free but not without company. Minutes after we grounded,
a local sailing boat glided up to us, saying that they had deep
water where they were, half a boat length away. Just after saying
that, they came to a shuttering stop, so they also decided to
have dinner while waiting for the tide.
We are continually surprised how few
pleasure boats we see in these spectacular cruising waters. In
large towns like Tromso, Alesund, Bergen, etc. we generally see
one or two cruising boats only, usually from Scandinavian countries.
The locals mostly favor 30'-35' double-ended powerboats, usually
made of fiberglass. Many of the fishing boats, even up to 80'
have varnished wooden hulls with painted wood or aluminum deck
Hollandsfjorden, 66.42N, 13.42E had
been one of the most favorite stops on our voyage north and when
we sailed into the deep fjord it appeared even more beautiful.
The clouds, fog and drizzle cleared
away and the afternoon sun turned the spectacular and rugged
glacier alight with many shades of iceblue. Everyone put on running
or hiking shoes and headed up the mountain, passing bell-ringing
sheep and cows along the way, for a closer look at the ice. Once
again there was a free and secure guest dock so we could come
and go easily, without having to wait for the dinghy.
Our intention on Monday, August 6 was
to sail offshore, 350 miles non-stop to Alesund. However, when
clear of the coastal islands, we found that a combination of
the .5 to 1.0 knot north-setting current (a continuation of the
Gulf Stream that keeps these waters ice-free all winter) and
the relatively shallow waters made headway into 15-20 kts very
uncomfortable. When all but two of our crew had succumbed to
seasickness, we plotted a new route that took us inshore through
the scenic but twisting fjords.
Traditional viking sailing boat.
Navigation in Norway's inside waters
requires constant vigilance. There is a ton of commercial traffic
at all hours; thousands of navigational markers of all types,
and many of the channels are narrow with rocks and reefs. Passing
one mark wrong spells running into rock! We take navigation seriously
and the navigator gets a real work out! With our revolving duty
roster, each day a different expedition member is navigator.
To ensure that we're prepared and ready to go, the navigator
lays out the courses, distances and waypoints the afternoon before
their day to navigate. Some days this takes up to four hours,
with as many as 40 waypoints and 10 charts! After punching the
waypoints into the Garmin 130 GPS, they then read them out for
me to enter into the Toshiba laptop which is running Nobeltec
and using Softcharts. This helps avoid errors as we instantly
witness the route being mapped out on the electronic charts and
can quickly determine any inaccuracies. The laptop sits next
to the radar at the chart table and allows constant tracking
of our course and navigation dangers. Occasionally, like when
entering Alesund at 0300, I'll bring it into the cockpit so I
can follow our progress while on deck.
At noon on Tuesday we stopped at Bronnyosund
for lunch, fuel and a town visit before continuing on, gliding
into Alesund, 62.28N, 06.09E, at 0300 on Wednesday. After tying
to the empty fuel dock in Brodundet, the old inner fishing harbor
that resembles Venice, we caught a much-needed five hours of
sleep before exploring the vibrant town. Apparently though we
had arrived during a social lull, as the locals whom we chatted
with kept sadly reminding us we had missed the Cutty Sark Tall
Ship's visit by a few weeksabut, they eagerly urged us to stay
for the Norwegian Gourmet Festival being held soon.
August 10, 2001 1700 60.04N, 04.37E,
Log: 46,212 Baro: 1014+
Broad reaching at 7.5-8.5 kts in 25-30 kt NW winds, seas 8'-12'
Upon leaving Alesund at 1600 we planned to sail offshore to Bergen,
180 miles south, but when both Commander's Weather and Leon Shultz
(Karolina's husband) suggested making more miles before forecasted
southerly gales could thwart progress we reconsidered stopping.
The payoff has been surfing at up to 9.5 knots, in (now) sunny
skies, well offshore and out of the dangerous wave zones. The
winds are forecast to drop from near gale to westerly Force 3-4
tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon, before becoming southerly, Force
5 Saturday night. If we keep this speed and the weather holds,
we should reach Mandal, the southernmost town in Norway, 170
miles away before the southerly blow. Several of the crew mentioned
that heavy weather experience was one of their reasons for selecting
this leg. They're not disappointed, and it has been gratifying
to see them, now free of seasickness, mastering ocean steering
skills in impressive seas!
By the way, Karolina has been a huge
help in securing weather information several times a day, from
her husband Leon, over the messaging feature on her Nokia GSM
phone and has had continuous coverage, even 20 miles offshore.
Leon, also a keen sailor and no doubt a concerned husband, has
been ringing the forecasters in Denmark and Norway as well as
checking their weather websites. www.dmi.dk and dnmi.no and relaying the info to us.
Now I'd better introduce our intrepid
Leg 4 crew!
36 from Ystad, Sweden just finished a three-week sailing holiday
aboard her Hallberg-Rassy 31 with Leon and their kids, Jessica
age 7 and Jonathan age 5. The kids enjoyed being on the boat
so much that they kept living aboard after they returned to their
homeport. She and Leon run an ad agency for ship suppliers and
dream of crossing oceans under sail, maybe on a HR 39.
50 from Fergus Falls, Minnesota just retired from his wholesale
clothing business. His sailing background includes racing Hobie
Cats with his wife, Patty and a sailing trip from Denmark to
Marstrand, Sweden. Tom is a quick learner and is considering
picking up a new X Yacht in Denmark and sailing it back to North
55 lives in Vail, Colorado and when not skiing is CIO for a bank.
That means he keeps their computers working. Dalton is relatively
new to sailing, but plans to retire soon and go offshore cruising
for 3-5 years although his kids and friends at work think that
is a crazy idea!
48 of Livingston, Montana has been bitten by the sailing bug
and is looking for a boat for adventures. He and his wife Corina
started www.rockymountaindesign.com, an interior design business
23 years ago. Now that their kids are 18 & 20 and off to
college, John and Corina are dreaming of blue water.
Michelle and Joe Bayliss, both 39 and from the San Francisco area aren't
dreamers, they are doers! Joe first called me in February with
questions regarding the Island Packet 40 they were considering
purchasing. Since then they sold their house, quit their jobs
in radio and television, their sons moved out on their own, they
bought the boat, attended our Weekend Offshore Cruising Seminar,
took several intensive sailing courses on the Bay, moved aboard
and sailed away to Mexico. Whew! That's a lot of changes in just
a few months. They are living aboard in Mexico, but plan on sailing
back to San Diego for some last minute outfitting before setting
sail for the Marquesas and the South Pacific very soon! Totally
into learning everything possible, they don't miss a single sail
change and have filled pages of notes during our daily classes.
We really enjoy students who are so motivated to learn and since
we have many of the charts information on the South Pacific aboard
Mahina Tiare now, we are able to help them plan their itinerary,
passages and contacts in the different exotic countries they
will be sailing to.
Crew photo after pizza in Mandal's
We'd like to invite all of you who have
been following our adventures through this site to visit us aboard
Mahina Tiare and to attend our slide show during the Hallberg-Rassy
Open House, August 24-26. For more details, check the Hallberg-Rassy
As we pressed south beyond Bergen our
good winds held and only lightened for a few hours in the early
morning on Saturday during which we motorsailed to steady the
boat. We still could not believe our good fortune when we rounded
Lindesness with NW winds and a 1017 barometer, phew, so different
from our rounding last year when we had to claw our way around
"the Nose of Norway" in day after day of gale force
headwinds. While Amanda and I had been saying our thanks to the
sea goddess for an easy passage others onboard were experiencing
conditions beyond their sailing dreams and we later learnt of
these two phone messages that Karolina had hurriedly whisked
away in spare moments.
"24 knots of wind, Speed 7.5. Huge
Waves. Only water and bread. At helm steering or berth resting."
On receiving this message her daughter Jessica had exclaimed
that while Pippi Longstocking's father was being held prisoner
by dreadful pirates, all he got to eat was bread and water.
The next message read "Now already 5 nights accumulated
at sea. Boat speed 9 knots in 30 knot of gale force winds. 12-14
ft waves. Horrifying Delight!"
Our arrival in Mandal Saturday night
coincided with the annual "Festival of the Sea", which
one happy Norwegian explained is a giving of thanks to all the
things in the sea which animals eat. Well, that didn't make much
sense but judging by the flying shrimp shells, lined up empty
beer bottles, sunny warm weather (for a few hours), travelling
amusement rides, and two competing and very well amplified stages
(one with belly buttoned go-go dancers and another with a sing-along-band)
it was PARTY TIME!!! After our many days of difficult sailing
we weren't quite in the party mood so we opted for an early pizza
dinner ashore and the chance to catch up on our sleep in a marina
several blocks away from the noisy festival center.
During the night the forecasted gale
came crashing through but from the West not South so on Sunday
we delayed departure until the winds in Mandal eased off for
the 25 mile coastal passage to the city of Kristiansand. Even
though the wind was only 20 knots we had large occasionally breaking
following seas due to winds against a 1.5 knot current.
Kristiansand laid on its charms and
with sunny warm skies so we peeled off crispy thermal layers,
tugged on shorts and went adventuringa. As far as the laundry
next to the boat harbor with swans a swimming, a wild profusion
of flowers blooming and fountains flowing. Ah...civilization!
Kristiansand, our last Norweigian
On Monday night we sailed 120 miles
across the Skagerrak making landfall into the homewaters of Karolina's
Bohuslan cruising grounds.
Karolina navigates in her homewaters
After a brief fresh shrimp lunch stop
in the busy tourist village of Smogen we opted for a quieter
anchorage in Lysekil near the home of Karolina's mother-in-law
Eva. Tuesday morning we got an exciting visit from Eva and her
85 year old neighbor Harald. They'd been following all of Karolina's
adventures through e-mails from Leon and couldn't wait to check
that Karolina was safe and well. Eva has heard that we were doing
class in the morning before leaving for Ellos so she dropped
off applecake and quickly departed saying she didn't want to
disturb Karolina's important adventure.
Ellos held a quick tour of the Hallberg-Rassy
boatyard and our crew was treated to a sneak preview of the very
sexy new HR 43, many thoughts were churning as crew considered
placing orders because of the incredibly strong U.S dollar and
2-3 year wait list.
Crew tour HR Boatyard
Our evening moorage in the charming
village of Gullhomen held more visitors and a tour of the island
and house visit with friends of Karolina's. It was a wonderful
insight into the magic of summer holidays on the Swedish coast
and the love that coastal Swedes have for the sea.
Typical uncrowded Swedish West Coast
Thursday, our last day this leg, started
out in true cruising fashion with an early morning swim, yeah
ha. Getting under way early we headed south enjoying the summer
scenic wonders of clustered villages and classic wooden watercraft
and sailing boats.
Outside Marstrand we took advantage
of the fresh afternoon breezes and practiced man overboard and
deploying our Galerider drogue. Even with winds gusting over
20 knots, each of our crew could get the Lifesling to our overboard
newspaper head in under 90 seconds. The Lifesling is a true lifesaver,
where the smallest person can quickly retrieve the largest person.
Tom deploys lifesling
Here's how we deploy our Lifesling using
the Quick Stop Procedure:
1. Yell 'MAN OVERBOARD" to alert
2. One person points to victim, never taking eyes off them.
3. Turn the wheel half a turn to windward, then DEPLOY BOTH LIFESLINGS,
throwing inflatable one (not attached to boat) first.
4. Walk back to the wheel as the boat comes through the eye of
the wind, not touching the wheel or sails. Once the headsail
is backwinded, steer in concentric smaller circles until the
Lifesling reaches the person in the water (or newspaper ball)
5. STOP THE BOAT by easing the jib and main sheets.
6. Carefully pull the Lifesling in until it reaches the swim
7. Be very gentle with person in cold water situations where
hypothermia may exist.
It always amazes expedition members
how quick and easy this procedure is. We strongly encourage them
to purchase a Lifesling and practice this repeatedly on their
Tom and Michelle lay out our cruise to Marstrand.
Crew practising galerider drogue
before arrival in Marstrand.
Marstrand is Sweden's yachting hub and
this week is hosting the IMS European Championship. We were happy
to find a quiet berth for the night on the outskirts of town
and ferry over to the forted island for an evening desert of
apple pie and last night crew farewells. We will get to see Tom
(and his wife Patty), Dalton and Karolina and family again in
a week at Hallberg-Rassy's Open House.
Karolina completes her expedition certificate by going up the
Eager to see his lovely wife, Leon,
had left home at Ystad at 4am Friday to arrive in time for breakfast
and a chance to chat with other crew during his offer take their
bags to the bus station in his car. We owe a big thank-you to
Leon for providing incredible weather forecasts to Karolina at
all hours, and he had four pages of questions typed up for us,
as they are considering upgrading from their HR 31 to a 39 to
go ocean cruising. It was wonderful to see how proud and excited
Leon was that Karolina had accomplished such a difficult leg,
and he was very apprehensive as to whether or not she would O.K
the purchase of a new boat.
Karolina's concerned mother-in-law
and friend pay us a visit.
John R. prepares to lower the main for the last time on this
Marstrand at dawn - Sweden's yachting hub.
After crew left Friday morning, we sailed the entire 24 miles
from Marstrand to Ellos with following winds. We chose the outside
route for the first time and it almost surprised me that after
having sailed 5,000 difficult miles in less than three months,
we still enjoy the magic of sailing. While tying up in our now
familiar spot, inside HR;s harbor, we were all smiles as it felt
like a home coming.
Now with a week before the start of
the Open House and boat show here in Ellos, we are hard at work,
tarting up Mahina Tiare up with layers of varnish and wax and
selecting the best of our sailing destination slides. We've also
heard rumors of ex-expedition members visiting Open House from
all over the world, so it will be exciting. Hope to see you here!
Hallberg-Rassy Open House
Since our last update on Aug. 17, we had a busy week, managing
three coats of varnish on the caprails and four coats on handrails
and interior trim around the galley and stairs. Amanda enjoyed
daily lap swims at Hotel Sjogarden, next door to the HR boatyard
and I ran the hills and woods around Ellos each morning. I was
still vacuuming when the show opened at 10 am Friday morning,
but Mahina Tiare was looking tops! Some of the comments we had
during the show included, "Are you just taking delivery
of this boat" and "Oh, I didn't know that HR did refits!"
(They don't, but we work hard to keep her looking like new!)
The show was a packed-out success with
over 25,000 people from around the world attending. Our slide
show Saturday night was sold out long ago and we were delighted
to share a table with Tom, Dalton, Claude, and Karolina from
Leg 4, plus Tom and Karolina's spouses and Emil from Leg 5, as
well as Christoph Rassy and extended family. Our slides of Spitsbergen
arrived just before the show and it was breathtaking to see them
projected on a large screen. By Sunday night we were both exhausted
and many of the boats had already moved out of the harbor. Monday
it was blowing 25-30 and as we completed our minor projects we
watched the HR salesmen take dozens of people out for test sails
on the demo boats. Particularly popular was the brand-new German
Frers HR 43. Sporting an identical mast to the HR 46 and a more
modern stern and underbody, rumors were flying that she is just
as fast as the 46! It is a cool looking boat, and I can't think
of a better design for two people. Fast, sleek, long waterline,
sexy stern, tons of storage. Oops, I'm sounding like a salesman,
which I am not!
Monday afternoon saw winds gusting to
45 knots as we surfed south to now familiar and favorite Marstrand,
the lovely old resort island halfway to Gothenburg. Breaking
seas to 18' (no joke!) at the exposed three mile stretch made
for some overly exciting sailing, and after we tied up a three-hour
long thunder, lightning, rain and wind storm clobbered the island.
Tuesday brought winds in the mid-40's and we were happy to arrive
and tie up in the exact same spot next to the Gothenburg Opera
House by 1300. It was strange to be in the same slip that we
departed from for Spitsbergen on May 15th.