No claps of thunder greeted us on the tarmac as we stepped off Ryanair at Haugesund on Tuesday. In fact, it was fine Norwegian spring weather with a "frisk bris" from the south-west. Trevor's daughters, Millie and Laura swiftly negotiated the passport staff, while those of us with older knees, Mike, Trevor and JK, brought up the rear. Soon we had a completely full baggage cart, with all sorts of interesting contents, including some half-price "Christmas" Aquavit. However, the full force of the Norwegian Police and Customs Department, all four of them, and their dog, were waiting for us as we made our way through the green channel - and this time, they ALREADY had latex gloves on their hands when they stopped us.
The girls had gone on ahead, so we hailed them back to be responsible for their contraband, while we chatted to the Officers, who were clearly surprised by the large pile of bags, apparently owned by two gents who were clearly "bus pass" holders, and their tall and distinguished looking apprentice. "Oh, you are going on a yacht? To where? - Did you say to Holland? Then why are you going via Finland? Don't you like our Norwegian hospitality?"
We assured them that their Norwegian hospitality had been second to none, and, fortunately, none of them had served in the marine department, so didn't ask any questions about the boat and the date of its entry into Norway.
Our bags went through the X-ray machine one by one, irradiating joints of beef, home-grown rhubarb, water geyser heat exchangers and Freight Rover track-rod-ends alike. Perhaps all their sailing arrivals carry such goods with them! Nothing more was said and we and all our imports passed into the taxi we took, for the ultimate time, towards Storavik over the Royksund bridge.
On arrival at the marina, we split into teams, with Mike and Laura cajoling 96 Torlon balls into the four rows of bearings that are supposed to live in the jib-reefing-swivel system, but which have had a nasty habit of making a break for freedom during 2008. Trevor and Millie emptied the lazarette of porta-potties, kedge anchors, petrol cans and warps, and then began to re-assemble the steering gear using the spares brought from the UK. JK was soon up to his elbows in bits of gas water heater, jubilee clips and fibre washers that wouldn't seal, in fact, the whole boat was a complete mess! Five hours later, we were sitting down to good old english roast beef, yorkshire pud (should have left it in a bit longer) and Norwegian veg, all our jobs having been completed, with the genoa fitted and rolled, the lazarette re-packed, and the water heater producing hot water on demand.
Yesterday, we said goodbye to the Seilforening, left our keys to the clubhouse for our friend and Commodore, Mr Eide, lashed a deflated Hermione to the foredeck (come on, keep up, the dinghy is a "Quicksilver". Quicksilver is Mercury, Mercury was also Hermes, but its a boat, so it must be female) and made our way south to Skudeneshavn with a nice force 4-5 westerly breeze and jib and mizzen bowling us along at 6-7 knots. Both Millie and Laura proved themselves excellent on the helm, though a mildly worried Mike did ask Laura if she would mind if he "had a go" for a minute or two when a small trawler looked like he might be taking us to market along with his fish quota. We scraped ourselves off his bows, dodged a ferry or two and We were a little late arriving, but had time for a stroll in the old town and a visit to the Mega Coop, as well as purchasing a couple of new dinner plates to augment the green melamine ones from 1972, several of which have now been araldited back together, and one of which has disappeared altogether, last seen off the west coast of Ireland, I believe.As we returned to the yacht, moored at the head of the inlet by the sailing club, a dutch yacht arrived and berthed nearby. Rob and Heidi accepted our offer of a schnaps, and soon we were hearing of their trip up from Amsterdam, on their way to Tromso, and about their new yacht, Hester, a recent one-off Van der Stadt design pilothouse cruiser, most beautifully fitted out, mainly by Rob himself, and even with curtains to the huge bed in the forecabin! These dutch guys know how to impress a girl, obviously!
Its at this point you ought to check out our last postcards about Kvitsoy, to have a look at the photo of the sea surging up the whale-back rock that obstructs the entrance, leaving only a few feet of deep water to navigate through, into the calm lagoon beyond. You can find it by clicking here, while Robin's eloquent words on the topic are to be found here. (quite a big file, so don't give up) However, with 3/5ths of our crew hors de combat, and a very nasty 3m high swell bashing the rocks, JK decided to turn away at the last moment and to go in the longer way around, to the south and east. Even that passage was quite impressive, with a 50-yard wide pass through seas breaking heavily on rocks on both sides. It was very nice, as always, to be snugly berthed alongside a nice bit of "tre kai" with showers and loo a few yards away.
Today (Thurs), Mike and Trevor walked up to the traffic control station, which looks like the bridge of a grey "stealth" aircraft carrier and came back with a forecast that indicated we were likely to get a veer in the wind from south easterly force 6 with rain to south westerly force 5-6 with sun. So off we went at the crack of noon, after a fine bacon and egg breakfast and a visit to the coop for various vittles. As we left, we remembered we had forgotten to pay for our overnatting, but it was too narrow to turn around, and we were already late departing. We hadn't actually got right out, when we began to feel the strength of the wind - it was going to be "on the nose", 25-35 knots. So we turned right around and came back to our parking spot - also re-discovering the 2-pin bit of the cable which had got left behind on our first departure! Crew sentenced to 5 lashes each, punishment to be carried out when we reach the equator.
Then we went for a walk out to the western shore. Did you see the old fashioned lighthouse in the card we sent in 2005? It's still there, and this is JK and the girls trying to turn the windlass to raise it further.
First competition for 2009 - what are we doing wrong?
Mike was taking the photo, and, it being really windy and him a former airline Captain, he spread his arms hoping to take off. It's funny how things happen here - back in 2005 Jim and Peter suddenly began flying through the air - some of which we managed to capture on camera
Today, Trevor began doing the same thing - except he got rather higher, and chose a less forgiving ravine to jump across. Here's a picture of him in mid air. We were not sure if we should send this to his doctor, who is treating him for a large number of debilitating ailments, or to the Norwegian tourist board, to advertise the enervating effects of the Norwegian sea air.
Just got the following off the Navtex: "24-hr fcsts viking forties cromarty forth tyne dogger s6 to gale 8, ocnl sev gale 9 in viking and utsire, veer sw 5 to 7. rough or very rough, ocnl high at first in viking and utsire. squally shwrs, mod or good." The bad news - we are still in Kvitsoy! The good news - we have free wi-fi internet, all facilities within 150 yards, and its Friday night that all Norwegians go out and let their hair down!
Tomorrow, if the weather lets up, a (by the sound of it) rough passage southwards towards Egersund.
Until next time
Laura, Mike, Millie, Trevor and JK