…of Rudders, Races and Ragtime
Skudeneshavn on Friday was a lot prettier in the bright sunshine of Friday than it had been in the low cloud and drizzle of Thursday. We had a walk around the narrow streets and quaint corners of the old town, bought the elusive chart 24 at the local bookshop, visited the excellent co-op and loaded our baskets with various varieties of pickled herring and some Tuborg.
We motored into the wind back up to the small bay where the Dresden wreck was located and Charles and JK dived it. A wonderful experience it was too, the ship tilted over onto its port side and lying on quite a steep slope. We swam down to the stern, dropped over the rail and into the inky gloom of the the space between the seabed and the port side of the huge rudder. Down to the bottom at 48m, through the gap between rudder and hull and then up to where the starboard screw had once hung. Charles looked upwards on the starboard side of the rudder to take this magnificent photo. Truly awesome. JK did some more posing for Charles around the stern rails and further forward with anemones and large “lump-sucker” fish but then it was time to surface and make to the north to collect Frank.
Frank duly collected, together with chicken and large quantities of gin, we decided F and JG should have a warm-up scalloping-type dive. The isolated danger mark just N of Kopervik looked good on the chart, with depths from 8m to 30m available to the divers. There seemed to be rather a lot of yachts heading towards Kopervik as the divers were kitting up on the foredeck and JK jokingly commented to the divers that he hoped they wouldn’t mind diving during a yacht race. As we approached the mark to put the divers down, a large yacht with a battle-flag on the forestay, under power, converged on our port side and hooted at us. As we had the right of way, J waved cheerily to him, pointed to the buoy where we were dropping the divers and also to our A-flag, and he passed under our stern. Divers down, he came back after a while into hailing distance….. Yes, he was the committee and starting boat for the race back to Haugesund, yes, the 50 yachts now approaching us from leeward were in earnest, and yes, the buoy where we had chosen to dive was one end of the start line! The line ran east across the sound, and yes, that was the direction we had suggested Frank and John should swim! It was a fine sight, a brisk force 5-6 northerly making the race yachts surge along as they jockeyed for position in the 15 minutes before the start, deciding which jib to put up and wondering what that idiot British ketch was doing messing around near the start line. True to plan, the diver’s red surface marker broke the surface 20 yards from a knot of yachts, but fortunately the divers themselves stayed submerged for another 10 minutes which gave a chance for the majority of the class starts to take place. It was only the cruisers who got the full benefit of John, Frank and a large bag of “klamshel” emerging from the briny.
We motored up into Haugesund following the race yachts and managed to sneak onto the end of a raft of six other boats beyond the bridge – thus becoming the “Siste baat” of the row, and no further berthing allowed outside of us. What do you think we had for dinner – yes, it was klams with ginger and garlic butter followed by klams baked with potatoes, carrots and onions, topped off with a cheese sauce and “egge” broken onto the top of the dish.
After dinner, around 10pm, we climbed across 12 sets of railings to reach the land and then perambulated around the lively festival scene, entirely failing to buy the £20 day tickets that were still on sale but with a very short sell-by date. We eventually found a non-ticket venue – the ‘Jesus Café’ a few streets back which was doing a roaring trade in coffee, waffles and polser together with a live trio. When they closed down around midnight, we split into two groups. Frank and JG went back to the boat for a kip, but ended up on the next door Princess 33 powerboat having a bit of a rave with Anneka, her husband and another couple, while Bob and JK went back for a bit more of the jazz trio and dancing aboard the Hydro ship. Migrating from there to another café at 01:30 and then similarly waylaid on the Princess en route to Voltair it was almost 04:00 by the time the last crewman was snoring away.
Saturday was another lovely ‘northerly’ day, with blue sky, sunshine and a brrrisk brrreeze. The town procession got off to a good start with “When you’re smiling” and, once they had passed us through the dense crowds, (a bit like viewing the Severn Bore), we nipped down a parallel street and back to get ahead of the procession again and again. By this time it was “Ice Cream – you scream” and the crowd were loving the costumes of the pretty blondes parading before the instrumentalists.
By the time the parade had gone all down the main street, turned through two right angles and come back all along the seafront, everyone was ready for a beer, so we retired to the yacht to regroup.
Time for a look at the chart, an assessment of the likely weather and sea conditions, and the next leg of our passage.
Catch you again soon – Bob, Charles, Frank and J’s G & K.