Sunday, 9 September 2012


Winter in London
Summer in Norway

While it is generally easy to find a day of settled weather in the North Sea, as we headed into September it was getting almost impossible to find the three days of suitable weather needed to get to England easily nonstop under sail.  We were looking for a wind not from the southwest (the usual direction here) and not too strong.  Since the alternative was a seemingly endless series of day trips through Denmark, Germany and Holland, we scurried to untie the lines when a frontal passage offered near gale northerlies.  It was a rough passage at first, but the wind soon faded to a perfect strength and the weather guessers promised it had the staying power to get us down to England.

Local sailboat on the River Orwell
Three days later, we were resting in the September warmth of Lowestoft, the furthest east point in England, roughly five months after the chilly day we had left the place northbound.

Now with a short distance left to our wintering spot in central London, all pressure is off.  Travel days are few and short and rest stops are long.  We now find ourselves in Ipswich after a crowded weekend sail up the River Orwell and here we'll bring our blog to a close for the year.  We feel no need to add our pictures and text to the libraries of comment available on London.  Everyone already has - or perhaps should have - their own experiences of that vibrant city.

We now look forward over the winter to socializing with the many British friends we've made and with friends at St. Katharine's Dock.  Mary Anne also looks forward to a harpsichord course over the winter and playing with musician friends.


Tuesday, 28 August 2012


One of the images permanently burned into my head from Norwegian travel posters is of a hiker precariously perched high above a green sunlit fjord filled with dark blue water.  While Cecilie, one of our friends from the Norwegian boat Opportune couldn't promise sunshine, she did offer to drive us to a trailhead and walk with us to the sort of spot I imagined.
Mary Anne and Cecilie on the trail

Since Cec was most free on weekends, our mechanical delay in Ålesund dictated a week of long days to reach Stavanger, her home town by Friday.  As this rushed travel took us through world class scenery along a different route than we had used northbound, the experience was not unpleasant at all.  Mary Anne even found time to swim most days in what I consider to be perishing cold water. 

The pictures tell the story of the walk. A 2 hour uphill trek leads to a large flat slab of rock, amply populated, defying gravity 600 metres above the dark blue water of Lysfjorden stretching away nearly forever.  Cecilie took us on a route above the usual trail so that our first view was of the Pulpit Rock [Preikestolen] rather than from it. The walk along parts of the trail produced a few nervous heartbeats but it was all worth the pain.
Cecilie and Mary Anne on edge

Christian Radich
It was a delight to be tied up in the very center of Stavanger with the Norwegian tall ship Christian Radich and a number of others adorning the quay.  Unfortunately the beauty of the spot came with an excess of popularity!  We had no sooner tied up than the authorities required that we point at the quay rather than lie alongside it to allow room for a large collection of visiting boats.  The day after our walk, a strong wind rendered the visitors' departure difficult and we were then required to move back alongside the quay.  On our third morning, a large petroleum conference led to our having to leave at 6am.  Mercifully, the wind and sea had calmed by then for our short trip to peaceful Tananger where we now await the [relatively speaking] perfect conditions for our departure back to England.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Boring Days

Looking down at Ålesund
Tied-up in Centre-town

Ålesund is a very beautiful town (see photos). We've enjoyed walking up the hill and the terrific Museum which this city offers. We've also managed to purchase our needed supplies and fuel and we found a great spot to tie up. However, this little blurb-blog is about the boring days (everyone has them). Along with the exciting days and great photos of memorable places, we spend many, many rather boring days. 

Boring Days in Town:
For me, a boring day is one in which we need to do housework and repairs under much more stressful conditions than we would in “ordinary” life. This happened when our engine parts arrived and Larry replaced the anti-freeze pump. With its compromised  bearings and a leak, it had become a priority on the fix-it list. If it failed at an inopportune time, we'd have to shut the engine off immediately and start drifting into ... rocks, obstacles, other boats? So we’ve stayed here for 5 days waiting for the parts, fixing it in port yesterday … and today we’ll pour the antifreeze back in and test it by motoring away in a southerly direction.

Lion's-Mane Jellyfish in  Ålesund
Yesterday and today qualify as boring days. This has been made more obvious because the community around us has erupted into joyous celebration with a 60s Festival – the partying in the boats rafted to and around us lasted from noon until 4 (or even 8) in the morning. It would have been fun to join in but duty called. Added to that, prices here in Norway for a rather ordinary bar/restaurant are 160% of what they would be in Bridges (one of the more expensive Vancouver restaurants) with concert tickets of a commensurate cost.

Boring Days at Anchor:
Honingdal Anchorage
Honingdal is dull after Torghatten. BUT among its unseen beauties: just the right amount of muddy sand to trap the anchor itself  but not the chain. This means the deck isn’t showered with mud as the chain winds itself up. We avoid the slimey bouquet of kelp which often presents itself  as the anchor mounts the deck (kelp doesn't like sand). It’s also a fine depth for anchoring – just 14m (50 ft). We just love a boring anchorage.

Of course, we are hopeful that the repair was a success or we may have to stay much longer. And  there won’t be loud music to belay the boredom.

Monday, 13 August 2012


Sunset at sea

Traversay III typically moves at a speed between 5 and 6 knots - about 10 km/h.  At this jogging pace, an 8 hour day would only move us along 80 km or so.  This is a fine pace for sightseeing and is slow enough that problematic navigational concerns rarely surprise us but, in terms of the size of a typical country or ocean, it is S L O W.

When night navigation is easy, our solution is to travel around the clock and eat, sleep and fix things while moving along toward our destination.

Gunnery observation bunker at the Ergan - WW2 fortress
Torghatten was the last northern touristy spot we had planned to visit.  For some days before arriving there we had noted that on August 6 the wind would shift NE for a couple of days providing the perfect opportunity for a sail offshore down the coast.  This would crush 5  or 6 days of coastal travel into 2 and deliver us to Bud, a coastal town near where friend Eva lives. We first met Eva in Cocos-Keeling on Opportune and recently shared the Norwegian national day with her in Molde.

Bud has a well preserved German fortress from WW2 built into a hillside overlooking the town.  The museum, naval guns and tunnels provided a historical diversion before a shared dinner with our friend.  Eva had been serving as crew on a Spanish sailboat for the summer on a cruise of the Scottish islands and had lots of stories to tell about her experiences on that trip.


A few of many many waterfalls
Geirangerfjord is a particular highlight of this part of the Norwegian coast.  While the very touristy town did not interest us enough to draw us ashore, the countless waterfalls pouring down the vertical walls of the narrow channel are stunning.  Additionally, our cruise up Geiranger and back was graced with a rare sunny day to make the green and rock of the fjord walls even more spectacular than usual.

 To add even more color on a human scale, grazing goats and tiny farm houses cling mid-height on the cliffs with seemingly no route up or down save ancient cableways rigged down to the shore.

Monday, 6 August 2012


Traversay III with Torghatten Mt 
Bunny on the trail
View through the hole
There are many versions to the story of this holed mountain - one states that a giant troll was besotted with a beautiful female troll as she bathed in the icy sea. He galloped along and tried to abduct her - failing that, he decided to kill her and shot an arrow at her. The King of  the mountains deflected the arrow with his hat ... hence a hole in the hat-like mountain. The troll-ess and her 6 sisters were turned into a mountain range.

View back to Brønnøysund
Permeable mountain!
We travelled throughout the day yesterday arriving around 1700. Anchoring in a nearby channel, we had an early dinner, inflated and launched the dinghy and set off for the mountain in the evening. It proved to be a wise choice as during today's sunshine, the mountain was peopled by a number of ant-like humans. There were VERY few other ants when we reached the apex around 2000hrs.

We've left the land for a few days and should get to our destination - Bud - on the mainland NW of Harøysund. We hope to sail and we expect to arrive sometime on Wednesday.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

What No Puffin'?

Our travels today took us past the spectacular mountain island group of Træna. There's a radar station atop with a road-tunnel passing right through the middle and up to the station.  Of course, the views of Traena are spectacular even on a dark day like today. Church Cave (with the pulpit inside) - 'Kirkehallen'  can be clearly seen as you're leaving that island to starboard.

 The beautiful Brittle Star photo was taken by Larry during our dive yesterday at Gasvær and forms a contrast to the darkness of the day above the water!

After Traena we travelled on towards the eagerly-awaited puffin colony at Lovund. Larry and I have tried and tried to take puffin photos over the years and have never been too successful. Puffins appear to be the most laid-back birds in existence, but they manage to evade the camera at the last second and our numerous photo attempts have joined our tail-less fish in the archives. After a long long day we could not locate a useful dock to tie up to in Lovund, so we're still motoring (endlessly) and will be for another hour or two. As for the rumoured puffins - we have not seen ANY on the water!

Puffin ... a Linda Thom photo
Fortunately, Linda (with the assistance of husband Don) sent us a terrific puffin photo just 2 days ago. It didn't want to join the other birds in Linda's Bird Blog (see July 12), so it's here - thanks Linda and Don!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Buddy Boating II - Boats and Places

Bacchus under sail
Opportune leaves the anchorage at Hopen

Fleinvaer, Mainland Norway

Rock climb in Djupfjorden
We've left the Lofoten Islands behind, but here are a few photos of the boats and the places we visited in Lofoten. We met our friends at Gullvika (see May blog)

Our next stop was at Svolvaer on Austvågøya Islands (see previous). Kjetil, Rune and Jackie tried some rock climbing at Djupfjorden. 

Henningsvær – we anchored outside and our friends tied up mid-town. 

Our last glimpse of Opportune was as she left the beautiful anchorage at Strømøy.

Mid-town Henningsvaer
Mountain view from Stromoy

Buddy Boating - friends and new friends

Bacchus sails into Svolvaer
Guro - captain of Bacchus

We recently spent 5 days “buddy” boating with a group of friends we’ve met through Rune and Opportune. We rarely seem to indulge in this pleasure as we’ve  tended to travel a little further and faster than the boats we’ve met. It was so nice being able to have friends here in Norway. We went out for dinner together, were invited to their boats and invited them over. Here are a few pictures and words gleaned from what we learned about them.

Skippers, Crews:
Trav III, Opportune & Bacchus at the dock

Skippered by Guro – she fell in love with sailing after an Atlantic crossing on Opportune. She'd been living in Alta for some years when she decided to buy and live on her own boat. Her specialty is Media Studies … she’s worked teaching, as a journalist, as a photographer (for Norwegian TV) and speaks Norwegian, French and English. As crew she brought along the very experienced Lene. Lene and her cousin Cecilie did an Atlantic circuit together – two women alone – some years ago. Guro’s other crew – the exuberant Tonje – had NEVER been on a boat until the day before we met her at Gullvika.

Jackie, Lene, Cecilie, Kjetil, Tonje
Opportune: You’ve heard about her and skipper Rune ( see previous blogs)–  As crew he had Kjetil -  a skier, rock climber and adventurer who earns a living in a supervisory capacity checking oil rig safety. Kjetil had joined Opportune in New Zealand during their Round-the-World cruise. We talked about about the Canadian ski movie “All I Can” – every Canadian and skier should see this movie – produced, edited and filmed by the Sherpa gang hailing from Calgary.

 Cecilie was able to take a week off from her job in the construction industry to join  up with us and Opportune – also seeing her cousin Lene (skipping out for a few days from her work as a government prosecutor). Jackie beautifully rounded out the crew of Opportune … she’s a fellow Canadian on a brief respite from her job in the medical industry in  HOT Brampton Ontario. She was quickly learning the way of boats from the other Opportunes.  Both Tonje and Kjetil favoured us with their piano stylings while they were aboard Traversay.

We've been back on the mainland for two days now. Traversay has seemed a little lonely without these attractive and fun younger people around.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Outwitting the Wind

 The weather became turbulent as we sailed back past Meifjord and entered the north coast of Norway. We had to leave Bårdfjord on Seiland Island as sudden westerly winds tried to shepherd us towards the rocky beach. We were glad we’d kept our rope reels - purchased in 2006 from Martin and Anke (“Just Do It”) in Valdivia Chile. They have been unused since our travels South, North, South and North again in Patagonia. These 100m ropes roll out quite easily when anchored on the solar arch. They hold the boat in place when strong wind changes loosen the anchor’s grip or when a narrow anchoring compass would allow the required length of chain to carry the boat onto rocks. In Patagonia, convenient trees usually offered themselves up as cleats. In Norway, iron T-stakes were hammered in years ago by long-gone mariners and can still be used as tie-ups.
Larry attaches final rope

We chose to hole up in Indre Pollen - a beautiful little spot shallow enough to lay down our anchor, girdled about by wind-defeating high mountains and with nearby beautiful flower-topped islets. We knew we’d be safe once we installed the reels and got the lines ashore. Our inbound passage was attended by a ewe and her lambs. After that, we relaxed and enjoyed a welcome visit from Rune (and former Opportune-ist Cecilie) who appeared on a fast-moving R.I.B. on Saturday evening. During the outbound leg we were out-sailed by a gorgeous sea eagle high above us.
Indre Pollen islet with flowers
Rune and Cec arrive ... 

... and leave on R.I.B.
After dinner last night, we snuck out while the wind rested and travelled all night to get here to Skjervøy at 0530 this morning (much helped by the Midnight Sun). The wind will  come back in strength later today, but it can’t get at us here at the dock – ha ha! - we’ll be able to buy some provisions and get our laundry cleaned. When it next relaxes its vigilance, we’ll hurry along to meet up with “Opportune” and its crew on a repeat visit to the Lofoten Islands.

Approach to Skjervøy   

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Leaving Svalbard

As we leave Longyearbyen, we wanted to post five of our favourite glacier photos!