Let's start with the winner of our first competition: it's Jane "Miss dairy-maid of the year" Stanley, who knows her Skruelag from her Scrumpy, and suggested "Straw" for getting cows into calf. Actually, that was her second attempt - her first suggestion "Bull", being ruled ineligible, as we just ate it with yorkshire pudding! And very fine it was too. Our postbag bulged with other entries, but as Jane requested that her prize should be to be first in the power shower with JK next year as we cross the arctic circle, she was bound to win anyway!
When we woke up in Stavern, it was as if none of the previous three days weather had ever existed. The sky was blue (not dirty grey); the sea a limpid translucent thing - horizontal - not hurling itself against our cockleshell; the wind, a zephyr from the north rather than a wild beast from the west. So we made the most of it, and motored off to the southwest pretty sharply, before it changed its mind!
Along the way, we gradually sorted out the yacht - Christine and Gill did a great job of removing all the engine oil not only from the stuff that had fallen on the floor during the crossing and got blackened, but also from all the myriad bags and boxes of "engineering stores" where the black tide had risen and got into everything. JK hacksawed into his laptop power supply and flushed it out with boiling water, finally fixing the place which was arcing at the input socket by soldering on a new lead. Jeff had bought new fuses for the bilge pump and this was tested, and the strum plate was lifted and relocated to reduce blockages. Michael de-bananaed the upholstery. The fixed forestay and the storm jib was de-mounted and stowed away and the spinnaker brought out in its place!
Risor was reached around Happy Hour and we raced to replenish a few supplies just before the shop didn't shut at 5pm. Our passage plan from Denmark was that Risor was the worst we were likely to do on the way over - so we were now two, if not three days behind schedule. However, it was a lovely evening and the hill to the north of the town was beckoning us to climb up it, so we postponed the cocktails and did so. The blackberries were in season at the top as we stood (panting) above the white-painted rock and admired the town below.
Then we carried on the same walk that JK, Vaughan, Jane and Dick had taken in June, which took us up past the German wartime fortifications and beside the two lakes. As we sat on a bench by the second lake, a couple of Norwegian nereids came to join us and were soon diving and jumping in and out of the water and having a lovely time, as all kids should. Us oldies made our way back to the yacht, debated whether to carry on another 7 miles to Lyngor, and.....
...... decided against. A beautiful moon rose between the islands offshore and we enjoyed a pleasantly relaxing evening. Was this the Mediterranean? It could have been!
The following day we left before breakfast and set all the canvas. With a few revs as well, we made the 25 miles to Arendal by lunchtime, where 80% of the crew did a bit of sightseeing and some more shopping while JK went in search of an unsecured WIFI connexion. "Madame R" and "Sara" sounded promising network names, but didn't cut the mustard when it came to a bit of serious uploading. The cafe across the street looked promising as it had two computers for the use of clients, one of which wasn't in use. In a few seconds the yellow wire was unplugged, plugged into the laptop, and megabytes of the last postcard were on their way to your very selves! Then I realised this was a Red Cross Charity cafe, where all the assistants were volunteers, which is probably why I got away with borrowing their connexion. By way of amends, we all went back in and bought coffee and cheesecake, in order to support the cause.
By the early evening we had a nice force 4 in roughly the right place and we did our first bit of real sailing - that's where you do it quietly, without using any fossil fuels, and actually go in the direction you want to go in! How lovely! As we approached Lillesand we were tacking up the approach channel and following in a fleet of yachts who had been out for an evening racing. We didn't go right in, but stopped on the seaward side of town and anchored up in a pleasant pool, with the odd green flashing light and a few seabirds for company.
Having run out of water the previous evening, we needed to pop in to Lillesand to refill. We took the opportunity to visit the hardware store for some hinges to replace those on the little lockers where the fishing tackle etc live, and next door at the Kiwi for a bargain deal on frozen prawns (£2/kg - and there's a lot of prawns in a kg) and potatoes for baking. We were amused to see that the only veg exported from the UK was baking potatoes wrapped in foil. We bought the Norwegian ones.
As we were preparing a final pot of coffee before departing for the Blindleia and points southwest, an old gentleman with an ebony walking stick engaged us in conversation from the quay. He was English and on a cruise, and now on an excursion by coach to Lillesand. However, while the others of the group were walking the town, he had slipped away to look at the boats (as you do). Ninety four, and living on his own in St Albans since his wife died three years before, he clearly had some stories to tell, so we invited him aboard and proffered a morning whisky. He had owned a Wayfarer dinghy for many years and sailed out of Aldeburgh on the east coast, but had not got into sailing cruisers and found the interior of Voltair much to his liking. The whisky finished, he accepted a postcard of Voltair and was clearly going to astonish the rest of his group with his little adventure! The last we saw of him was him being rounded up by a small search party on the quay. We all hope we can still get into trouble and out of it again at age 94!
The trip through the Blindleia was as beautiful going south as it had been going north. However, we didn't stop to go into Kristiansand, nor pause to pick up the buoy we had shared with the Norwegian from Frederickshavn, but continued the extra 20 miles to Mandal, where we got in and berthed by at sunset, in the river above the town. Christine had visited Mandal in 1988 and had gone swimming off Sjostrand (reputed to be the best beach in southern Norway), so she was keen to repeat the experience. The next morning at 07:45 two more nereids were seen off the coast, but these were talking English!
Scrambled eggs for breakfast after the swim, and then we mended the anchor retaining pin, which the previous crew had left in a poor state of repair, and setoff in a light rain to round Lindesnes, the southern-most part of mainland Norway. This we did by lunchtime in a quite rough sea with 1m high swell and waves on top, the wind blowing its usual NW force 5, so we headed inshore to Korshavn for a breather.
The rest of the long 45-mile day to Kirkehavn was completed in rough seas and a headwind, as before. We got in at 21:05, somewhat after this sunset, which presaged, as did the forecast, an even windier day to follow.
Yesterday was that windier day, but as you must be pretty seasick by now with all this swell and waves, just let me say we managed to outrun the worst of the storm, and despite the wind never going south of west (as had been universally forecast, and which would have helped considerably), we made the 67 miles to Tananger, just south of Stavanger, in just over 11 hours. Casualties along the way were Gill's lower back, which got bruised in a nasty cockpit fall, Jeff's stomach, which gave out just short of the half way mark, and Christine's whodunnit, which ended up on JK's bunk together with her cup of tea.
We have now "caught up" with the planned schedule, having covered 400 miles in eight days! So we're having an easy day in Stavanger, and hoping to do the Prekestolen walk tomorrow (various bruised bits of anatomy permitting).
Love to all back home, from a battered but surviving Christine, Gill, Michael, Jeff and John.
P.S. We had another competition for you, which (we thought) involved knowing the norwegian for "pooper scooper". However, the joke backfired on us, since we now realise that "baerplukker", which was on the small plastic and metal scoops in the hardware store means ....... well..... go on then...... what does it mean?