Leg 8, 2000 Scotland to Sweden
Our Leg 8 crew joined us Monday in Oban and we set sail immediately
for Fort William, making it into the first lock of the Caledonian
Canal with an hour to spare before the lock keeper knocked off
for the day. The lock keeper advised us we best fill up our tanks
with Highland water here as it is 80% water and 20% Scottish
Our eager Leg 8 crew at Corpach
Sea Lock, entrance of Caledonian Canal.
Neptune's Staircase, The Caledonian
near Fort William, The Highlands of Scotland.
Rick's wife Carole had invited Amanda to go to dance class
with her and Rick and his sons Rory and Michael took us to a
favorite local pub/restaurant.
Canal was a trip. Imagine a string of picturesque mountain
lakes, connected by a series of locks and hand-dug canals, cutting
right across the Highlands of Scotlands. We passed four 70-80
yr old Dutch cargo canal boats that had been converted to cruising
B & B's, complete with kayaks and bicycles as well as several
chartered small sail and power boats.
Barry securing our bow at Fort
Augustus, Caledonian Canal.
Midway we stopped at Fort Augustus for the night. The canal
only operates 0800-1700, and this allowed us to hike and explore
the village of 600, and the crew the chance to check out Scottish
music at one of the pubs.
Sept. 14, 2000 1330
58.13N, 3.08W Log: 41,039 Baro:
1007 Winds: SSE @ 19kts
Beam reaching @ 8.1kts Visibility 1-3 mi in occ showers
North Sea Challenge!
We're charging up Scotland's NE coast in bumpy conditions
with visibility low enough to hide three oil rigs, five miles
off our starboard beam.
Last night at 1700 we entered the North Sea after two exciting
and dramatic days transiting the Caledoneian Canal through the
Scottish Highlands. Yesterday at this we had a magic moment as
we motored slowly under the shadow of Urquhart Castle in Loch
Ness. A piper in the castle ramparts was playing a slow melody
that quickly changed to a quick Scottish tune as Amanda danced
the Highland Fling on the aft deck.
Amanda dancing the Highland fling
Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland
Nessie raising her flowery head
alongside Fort Augustus locks
Urquhart Castle, Loch ness Scotland
After locking out through the final lock, we spent the night
in a small marina in Inverness Harbour, leaving at 0600 this
morning for the 73 mile passage to Wick, the only semi-safe deep
harbor on this rugged NE coast. The seas are lumpy enough to
turn a couple of our enthusiastic crew green about the gills.
In these conditions we never turn our 24 mile Raytheon radar
off. It is mounted at the nav station, angled toward the companionway
so that it is visible from the cockpit, aft cabin or nav station.
It is giving clear returns of the three Beatrice Oil Field platforms,
as well as the two tankers that passed by in the fog. We are
plotting every hour on Imray Chart C-22 and every half hour when
we are within three miles of shore. I have MaxSea electronic
charts running with a portable Garmin GPS 12XL on my Toshiba
4020 Satellite laptop except for when I'm using the laptop for
INMARSAT-C, as I am now. For depth, wind direction & speed,
boatspeed we are very pleased with our Autohelm (Raytheon) ST-50
It may sound like a lot of gear, but having cruised 60,000
miles with minimal electronics (I didn't even have a VHF radio
on Mahina #1, my Vega 27 that I sailed from 1974-76) it's sure
nice knowing where we and the obstructions are, whatever the
That brings you up to date, except for telling you who are
adventuresome crew are that signed up to cross the North Sea
Rolf Forssander, 44 is
a Swede who recently sold his offshore oil rig support company
in Louisiana and has purchased a Hallberg-Rassy 39 from Magnus
Rassy from whom we purchased MT. Rolf's new 39 is due to be shipped
in October, so he's very excited about our arrival in Ellos and
about extended cruising with his wife Lisa, once his youngest
is off to college.
Rolf practicing celestial navigation
on last day at sea.
Barry Henson, 41 is an
Australian who now lives in New Jersey and is a learning consultant.
He plans to purchase a boat to sail back to Sydney with his family
in three years.
John Guy, 59 is a financial
planner from Indianapolis who has just ordered a Cabo Rico 45
and is planning a circumnavigation with his wife Chichi once
their youngest is off to college.
Carl Nielsen, 64, breaks
all records as this is his fifth expedition with us. Carl sails
an Orion 27 out of Portland, Oregon and knows how to enjoy life.
Sept. 17, 2000 1800
58.55N 2.42EAST! Log: 41,288 Baro:
1003 Winds: SSE 17-25
Closehauled @ 6kts, confused seas, wind against tide, 350' deep
Neptune, on our final ocean passage of the year, across the
North Sea, is not letting us finish without a fight. We'd been
having a leisurely sail since leaving Orkney so not to arrive
in Stavanger, Norway before dawn. Later after reading in Adlard
Coles Norwegian Cruising Guide that Egersund was a better landfall
we'd altered course, meaning more miles to sail and a daylight
arrival. Sadly the weather also changed with the arrival of an
active cold front bringing 28-32kts and forcing us to sail closehauled
into confused seas. We are now racing to make landfall before
the 994 mb low center catches us.
Sea traffic on this area is incredible; at 0200 seven ships
echoed on the radar, each tracking in a different direction!
In morning fog Barry caught a glimpse of an oil rig and we observed
four others on radar.
It's unnerving being 120 miles from land in 350' of depth
and experiencing alien currents. Now I understand what our North
Sea cruising buddies have to contend with!
To bring you up to date, our arrival at Wick in the NE corner
of Scotland was tense. The narrow harbor entrance was only visible
at one half mile and was on a lee shore. Once inside the breakwater/wharf
the harbormaster motioned us to raft to a 35' motorsailer. The
other option was to tie to the rough & slimy wall and deal
with a 15' tide. We carefully moored to the yacht and after a
pub dinner we met the owner, an energetic 80 yr old sailor, farmer
and local businessman.
Over a cuppa he told us heartwarming stories of Wick in its
heyday; launching the lifeboat through horrendous surf to rescue
shipwrecked fishermen, the sturdy women who worked the now obsolete
herring factories and himself leaping fences in single bounds
after having sliced off his hand in the harvester at night.
Kirkwall Harbour, Orkney on a
less crowded day than when we arrived.
The following day we sailed 40 miles to Kirkwall across the
shallow and treacherous waters of Pentland Firth where currents
up to 9 knots sweep between Scotland and Orkney Imray chart C-68 gave excellent coverage.
Kirkwall's tiny harbor was chocka with ferries, fish boats
and small pleasure boats. We'd been told Kirkwall is famous for
it's hospitality and when we checked out the harbor we had a
number of guys following us around on the wharf above saying,
"You can tie here to this ferry, or over there to that little
Amanda shook her head, saying she didn't feel it would be
prudent for MT to be sandwiched amongst the Orkney fishing
fleet. We U-turned deciding to anchor in the bay. No sooner had
we gathered speed when the assistant harbormaster screeched his
car to a stop, jumped out and yelled, "You can fit on the
other side of the wharf!" We spent the night tied to a formerly
sunken landing craft.
Yesterday we toured several Neolithic villages and standing
stones. Skara Brae, a 5000 yr old preserved coastal village,
discovered in 1850 when the beach eroded, was amazing. Next to
it Skaill Mansion overlooks the wild and rugged coastline. Built
for a bishop in 1620, it's now a museum. Inside Amanda enjoyed
a break from the past and outdoor winter, chatting with the staff
about the opening of the Sydney Olympics they were keenly viewing
Leg 8 crew fascinated by recently
discovered prehistoric dwellings.
Orkney Islands, Scotland
We had a quick explore of the busy 16th century Kirkwall,
and it's narrow streets, dominating Cathedral, Bishops and Earls
palaces transported us to another era. Upon leaving as we sailed
past the 1848 (modern according to the locals) Balfour Castle
and out into the North Sea. It seemed as if this hauntingly desolate
land was playing a farewell Highland tune.
Sept. 25, 2000 1233
57.56N 8.44E Log: 41,602 Winds:
E 17-20kts Seas: 2-3 meters
Motorsailing to windward @ 5-6kts under double-reefed main
Closing in on Sweden!
Our Norway landfall was made difficult by increasing east
winds, but we were able to lay Stavanger harbor entrance. Once
snugly moored at the visitor's dock in the center of the attractive
city, it was impossible to tell that it was blowing 40kts outside.
Stavanger harbour outdoor market.
You can see Mahina Tiare in the distance.
After relaxing for a night, we had a fast sail back out Stavanger
channel and then beat our way south to Tanagen, a delightful
harbor with a pilot station and a few boating clubs. We remained
storm bound for three days as a 1037 mb stationary high over
northern Sweden created a "squash zone", compressed
isobars resulting from several deep low pressure systems pressing
up against the high.
On Friday our crew rented a car to check out the next harbor
36 miles south, Egersund. We discovered a picturesque fishing
port with a narrow but well-marked entrance and huge waves offshore
along the coast.
On Saturday the winds had moderated to 28-32 knots and we
forged our way south, detouring through Egersound for protected
water, then ending up that night at Rekefjord, a tiny village
centered around a mining operation.
Yesterday (Sunday) we had a rough slog along the coast with
25-32 knot headwinds and very rough seas, mooring in Mandal,
Norway's southernmost town for the night. The main street runs
along the harbor and has continuous guest moorage. What a treat
to just walk across the street to a fun pizza and jazz restaurant!
We got an early start this morning for Ellos, Sweden, now
10 miles away. The pesky high pressure is actually moving towards
us and has the lows moving back to the west, opposite of their
normal direction of tracking.
The Skaggerak, the body of water between Norway, Sweden and
Denmark is shallow, full of current and is living up to it's
reputation for being nasty!
Our final expedition is scheduled to end today but since the
crew have several days before their flights, we agreed to stop
and enjoy last night tied up instead of bashing to windward.
Several different forecast predict the winds to diminish to 10-15
knots tonight, which would be welcome here!
Originally we had planned to end in Gothenburg, 40 miles south
of Ellos, then Amanda and I would sail back to Ellos where we
will store Mahina Tiare at the Hallberg-Rassy yard for the winter,
but due to headwinds, our crew have volunteered to take the bus
Oct. 2, 2000 1120
58.10N, 11.27E Log: 41,718 At Hallberg-Rassy yard, Ellos, Sweden
Wow! Another season (our 11th!) has flown by. We slowed down
for a dawn arrival into Ellos fjord, a narrow and rocky channel.
Our crew were keen right to the end grabbing the opportunity
to practice celestial navigation as the sun peeked between the
clouds as we crossed the Skaggarat, the water between Norway
and Sweden's west coast. The last night provided the most challenging
ship avoidance exercise of the year as we counted the lights
of 23 fishing vessels and ships at one time. Trying to decide
where each of them was going was difficult as the fishing boats
frequently changed course to tend their nets.
Sunrise over Orust Island, Sweden.
final landfall of our 2000 season
It was exciting pulling into the same harbor where Mahina
Tiare was launched nearly four years ago. Rolf was beside himself
with excitement - he didn't even take time for a shower before
he was up to the boatyard, examining his new HR 39 which was
getting her bottom painted. On a quick boatyard tour Roland Olsson
pointed out the HR 42 going to repeat expedition members Marcel
and Tania from Oman and the HR 53 on it's way to Page and Pearre
who sailed to Rarotonga with us.
Still smiling at the end of our 11th year of sail-training adventures
Note the gorgeous Fall colors in Ellos, Sweden.
Amanda and I have been busy washing and cleaning everything
and every part of Mahina Tiare for the past week, getting her
ready for winter storage here. In just an hour we are due to
have the mast pulled, and I must first pull the satcom and radar
antennas, so this will be the last satellite log update of the
John scrubbing salt off genoa
in preparation for MT's winter storage
at Hallberg-Rassy yard in Sweden.
In just a week we'll be back home, so if you have any enquiries
regarding our exciting 2001 expeditions, email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are excited to have several Norwegians and Swedes signing
up for our coastal expeditions next year. If you want to receive
maximum navigational anchoring and sail-handling opportunities,
consider Legs 1,4 & 5. If you missed our Cape Horn and Antarctica
expeditions and have a strong and rugged adventuresome streak,
consider our Spitsbergen legs 2 & 3.
For our European expedition applicants who can't easily attend
our Weekend Offshore Cruising Symposia, we recommend that you
purchase the coursebook, The Offshore Cruising Companion an study
that thoroughly before joining us to help bring you up to speed
before the expedition.
We invite all of our North American expedition applicants
to join us at one of our East or West coast symposia.
We hope you've enjoyed sharing our adventures this season.
If you'd like to be added to our new "Auto-Send" list
for each satellite log update, drop us an email with your address
and a note.