No claps of thunder greeted us on the tarmac as we stepped off Ryanair at Haugesund yesterday. No naughty gusts of wind blew up the skirts of the delectable Norwegian lasses that followed us down the aircraft steps. However, the full force of the Norwegian Police and Customs Department, all four of them, and their dog, were waiting for us as we twiddled thumbs in the arrivals hall, with a completely full baggage cart, waiting for JK, who was in the “arrivals duty free” buying even more full strength alcohol to put us even further over the permitted limit. Fortunately, Jim’s IPS course came to the rescue: “I wish all the British Policewomen were as attractive as you”, he told the svelte officer, adding, unnecessarily, “I do love a woman in uniform.” And to the large Policeman, clearly of Viking descent, he said “What a magnificent belt you have on, but where do you keep your pistol?”. The Policeman had to admit that while he had ample ammunition with him, he had left his pistol at home. As we wheeled our cart through the ‘Nothing to declare’ alley, the dog strained at the leash towards Tony’s rucksack containing 2.8 kg of prime beef and Jim felt his gluteus maximus muscles twitch, as he heard the sound of the Policeman snapping a pair of XXL surgical gloves onto his immense hands....
But we got through, with our future dinners and without any stripping, and were taxied to Voltair in a trice – well it was a Mercedes actually, but it still swallowed the four of us and five large 15 kg bags, plus all the immensely heavy cabin baggage that Ryanair inconsistently allowed us to bring. The green “marina taxis” (wheelbarrows) helped us on board with the kit and, after the usual hour spent turning on cocks, storing stocks, throwing away old socks and correcting clocks, we set of for Kopervik via “The Low Bridge”. With the help of a friendly fisherman, whose guidance we (for some reason) trusted more than our new laser-beam bow-mounted rangefinder technology. We scraped under the bridge with a brush of the aerial but our wind-system and masthead lights intact.
On the wall of the Spar supermarket in Kopervik it says “Apning 09:00-21:00, Lordag 09:00-18:00”. Lordag being Saturday, JK was fully expecting to shop till we dropped before cooking dinner. But what it failed to say on the wall was that on Sondag the shop didn’t open at all! So we disembowelled the tinned goods locker until we found peas, sweetcorn and long-life milk, with which we made a passable dinner, (with ancilliary ingredients of huge chicken, spuds, onions and bread sauce mix). We passed out early, against the wall on the “tre-kai” (wooden quay), with the streetlights to keep us awake and the traffic to wake us up once we had fallen asleep.
Monday (the last day of the test match) dawned early, but didn’t really get going until the Spar opened. Then we had bacon sandwiches and, victualled, but beerless, set off to the south in a soldiers breeze from the north-northwest with only the boomed sails set. “Beerless?”, I hear you exclaim – yes! Beer there was in plenty in the Spar, but buying it was another matter! “Today is election, and we are choosing our new leader” explained the pretty blonde on the checkout. “It is forbudt to sell alcohol”. So that’s another way that politicians can make themselves popular in Norway – repeal this law!
As we approached Kvitsoy (see Robin’s first pc from the last trip) in a fresh force 5, (we won’t mention the ferry that aimed at us while we were avoiding the bulk carrier crossing our bows, as we rolled repeatedly through a 70 degree arc, throwing all the charts on the floor, again), the group of islands kept hiding behind the 3-metre high seas that were lolloping in from the west-north-west (it had backed a point or two). Perhaps it was a good time to douse the sails! Now, the passage, which Robin had so eloquently described earlier, requires a course of east-south-east, so a wind and building sea from the west-north-west is probably the worst possible conditions to approach the point of no return; urged on by a competitive crew we decided that there was (at least some of the time) a green gap in the mass of white water to the left of the Varde, so we went for it, and found it so.
The triumphant smile on Jim’s face as we entered the calm water of Reyvingsundet was eloquence enough.
Filets de Maqueraux Orientales was the first galley production after arrival (yes, we also had had to take in the fishing lines before we could take the sails down). The herring gulls got the first course of heads, tails, guts and backbones and the rest of us enjoyed some exquisitely fresh goujons with brown b&b and the last of the white wine from Orkney.
Leaving England on a nail-biting 180 for 6, and figuring that if we got back by 6pm CET we would either be able to listen to the victory celebrations or else a run-chase by the aussies, we set off for a walk to the north-west finding lily ponds, german pill-boxes, lots of plastic rubbish and some well-fenced sheep. We came back around to the two lighthouses – the old one with a brazier on the end of a rope and the modern one on a 45m high tower. Overlooking the two was the traffic control radar centre for Stavanger, which would have been more at home in a Star-Wars filmset than amongst the timber clad houses of Ystabohamn (for such was the name in which the settlement rejoiced).
We got back to the big green Sailor radio with its friendly round analogue dial and Long-wave reception at 6:10, in time to find Hoggard and Giles still batting and the ashes in the bag! Large G & T’s were poured all round in celebration, and shore power was connected. Dancing in the cockpit was permitted, but (yes it was Jim again) a touch on the helm produced a bang, a flash and darkness in the cabin, followed by computer shutdown on this Magic Postcard Machine. Fortunately, the shore-power hook-up had a re-set switch, so we were able to repeat the event and track it down to …… the wire to the large comforting red button to the left of the helm (which we had never known what it was for since purchasing the boat). A swift blow from a sharp knife severed the wires connected to the miscreant button, just as the boeuf in the oven was a-point and the legumes were suitably tender to a fork. “How long do you need?”, called Pierre from the galley. “Just another minute or two” replied the engineering team of Tony and JK. Reset the switch again, and hey-presto …. Bang-flash – went the wires for the fifth time. “Hmm” – said the techies. “Ring…ring” went the mobile phone. (Doesn’t the phone always ring when it’s least convenient? Poor Rachael at Kings School got the short end of JK’s slightly blown fuse.)
Then we investigated the main input circuit and found the real culprit, which was a worn cable shorting out onto the steel steering tube. Para-electricians performed emergency surgery on the copper arteries, and soon afterwards a fine and unspoiled beef dinner was consumed with considerable illumination, Grieg’s piano concerto on the hi-fi, the fridge running too and the batteries charging!
Tomorrow, if we can find our way out of here, a sail to Stavanger, friske fiske and perhaps a visit to the Oil Museum while the forecast force 7 blows past.
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Until next time
Jim, JK, Peter and Tony