Sunday August 11, Arendal Norway
An interesting couple of days’ journeys since my last post. On Thursday we left our anchorage right after breakfast, raised sails and headed for Gothenburg, an old university town and the second largest city in Sweden. Winds were not helpful, Force 2, so not really moving the boat with any speed, so on with the engine expecting our motor-sail to cover the 70-odd nautical miles by late evening. As the day drew in with our boat speed hovering between 4 and 5 knots it was clear that it would be very late evening or early morning before we arrived, so picked a very nice anchorage about 3 hour’s sail from Gothenburg and tied up for the night.
A beautiful evening with a gorgeous sunset, and good weather forecasted to continue for the next couple of days. Had dinner, watched the sunset and an early bedtime, no watches as we were at anchor.
Friday morning was beautiful, limpid blue sky and water and light winds. We are anchored in the midst of a little archipelago, many of the islands of which have brightly painted summer cottages erected, the overall effect being very like Georgian Bay. Planned to raise sails after breakfast and point for Gothenburg but the water was warm and calm and a number of crew decided to go for a swim around the ship. Put the ladder over the side and 7 or 8 of the crew dived in, water quite warm, about 21C. Then an easy sail into Gothenburg, arriving at about noon and tied up for the next couple of days.
We were very pleased to discover that the weekend was the occasion for Gothenburg’s annual Culture Days Festival. So after tidying the ship, J and I, along with a couple of voyage crew, had a cheeseburger and fries at a restaurant next to our mooring, we had all been dreaming of this for the last week, and caught a water taxi into Gothenburg city centre. The city is very neat and clean, lots of historic buildings, the very large university and many parks and green spaces. J and I walked for a couple of hours, listening to concerts, jazz groups and choral groups that were performing at a variety of venues. I then found a shady bench in a very large park next to the Festival site, got out my ereader for a relaxing couple of hours while J continued to explore. He returned to pick me up in the park at about 6pm having covered more than 12k during his explorations and we set out to find a restaurant for dinner, having linked up with another member of the crew who joined us for dinner. Found an extremely good French/Swedish fusion restaurant and had a fabulous dinner, chanterelles on toast as a starter and a rare filet of beef in a demi-glace sauce with very fresh local vegetables and a very good bottle of Croze-Hermitage. Caught a 10:30 ferry back to our boat and left J and the other young crew member to explore the night life, getting past my bedtime!
Blue Clipper was designed and built in Sweden and the naval architect who built her lives in Gothenburg so the next morning, Saturday, the crew of Blue Clipper took the designer and his family for a sail, first time that he had sailed the boat since it was built. J and I chose to have a last morning in Gothenburg so we walked for a couple of hours, enjoyed a very good lunch, bought some freshly roasted coffee and other supplies to make our coming week on the boat a little more interesting and then headed back to the boat at 1:30 for our passage to Norway.
Weather has changed very quickly since last evening, heavily overcast and winds and seas rising, so we’re going to make a run for the Swedish coast and the town of Arendal which has a very protected harbour and a good shelter for the weather that’s approaching. We had a choice to wait until this morning, Sunday, and make a day sail out of the 95nm passage or make a run overnight and put watches in place throughout the night. The winds which have been quite light up to now are expected to rise to Force 6 or 7 over the next couple of days with the seas and waves growing with the rising wind. Grace, our captain, was quite concerned that if we left the passage until the following day, it would be extremely uncomfortable in the seas that we are likely to meet. An overnight sail, even though it meant keeping a midnight and 4am watch, would be much more comfortable, so that was the decision that we all agreed to. Equally as importantly, the southern coast of Norway is listed on the nautical charts as Dangerous Waves since the water is very shallow and with onshore winds, eg winds from the South or SW, the waves can build very quickly to a considerable height. Onshore winds also make this coast a pretty grim lee shore which means that you need to put lots of sea miles between your boat and the shore. For all these reasons we decided to make an overnight run for Arendal.
We were on the 9pm to midnight watch, the easiest from a sleep perspective. The winds and seas had been increasing during the afternoon and we were maintaining a steady 7.5 to 8.5 knots but our watch is the unlucky watch; while we are on the helm the winds are almost guaranteed to abate and, true to form, this occurred again. Over the course of our watch the seas rose and we were rolling and banging our way along but the wind dropped significantly and when the midnight watch took over from us we were only moving at about 5 knots. However after I fell into bed I could feel the boat’s motion change, and during the night, a very uncomfortable one with the boat rolling and pitching, we sailed into heavier seas and rising winds.
After about 3am the ship became very noisy, we were heeled well over and seas were washing up over the starboard side. This continued for the rest of the night and when I came on deck at about 6:30am, we were blasting along at about 10 knots, having occasionally sailed at 12 knots and the seas were coming over the bow. However the entrance to the harbour was a short way ahead and by 7:30 we were in the harbour, all sails down, anchor dropped and crew dropping with tiredness.
Scrambled eggs for breakfast, strong coffee and a restful day ahead.
Stay tuned, more to come!