S/Y Babette Sails to the Caribbean

S/Y Babette sails to the Caribbean, carefully avoiding the Pirates, and then sails back again to Norway.

The crewmembers: Shannon
About the crew:
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See more of our photos at www.flickr.com
(Want to read the posts in chronological order?)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Hurrah!


4am: We mark a new x in the chart, this time in "Norskerennet". A bright, sunny day is already dawning. As gentle winds push us towards the Norwegian south coast.

1pm: Land! The coast is a blue shadow, jagged on the horizon. Soon layers of hillsides, still in blues, appear. Then solid, bare granite of neighboring Egersund and the Sokndal coastline tells us we're really and truly in Norway. Last seen: the 7th of July, last year.

We fire off a barrage of sms messages to friends and neighbors as we approach land. Finally we enter Hidra Sound, our blue-carpet gateway to Flekkefjord. Just a few more phone calls to make. One is to Annelise Kleven, at Waage, on Hidra Island. Not in the house, so we leave a message.
But, surprise, surprise! Before we can wink an eye we spot a motor boat speeding our way with a bright blond head and a waving flag, "Hurrah! Hurrah!", "Welcome Home!" It's Annelise, who else!

Sunny, blue skies, the fjord full of holiday motor boats and crowded cabins. Summer green hills are a cozy collar around the white clapboard, red-tile roofed town. We approach the "Tollbod Brygga" dock, where we left, one year and five days ago. Now we can see a little group of flag-waving friends, including "Bestemor", Karen, 92 years old.
In we glide slowly in, our bright and cheary signal-flags and all our various guest-flags flying. Get the ropes ready!

In just a short minute we'll be stepping ashore!

1 comments:

Blogger Deepak Gopi said...

Hi
sorry friend I dont know the language
but I found this blog a beautiful
piece
All the best

Thursday, August 17, 2006 4:04:00 PM  

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Our last full day at Sea

The short, light nights of the North, what an improvement on the twelve hours of pitch black night in the Caribbean. And there is the yellow-orange glow of oil platforms, like a lit path across the North Sea. "The 40's", with the Buchan oilfield first. The "Armada" is the last rigg on the British side, just down the road from the Norwegian platform, "Varg". Now we're in Norway!

The winds lighten up a bit. Force five and six, the same sailor's gale we have every afternoon on the South coast of Norway. I make our very last sea-dinner of the trip. Lamb chops, with onions, mushrooms and potato-boats. All wok'ed together in the big skillet. Rosemary and mint jelly, of course.

Tomorrow, Flekkefjord.

1 comments:

Blogger Orhan Kahn said...

I like that photograph.

Friday, August 11, 2006 12:59:00 PM  

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Maybe gale winds, force 8

A fine, sunny morning. Flat seas. We read the NavTex weather warnings and listen to the Aberdeen Coast Guard. They agree that strong winds, maybe a gale will meet us out in the North Sea. But more or less following winds aren't so nasty. And look at the calm flat seas! So, armed with new stugeron seasickness tablets, we set sail.

Under lee land we have full sails out, even some motor help. But soon we've put in a reef. Then two. Then pulled down the whole main sail. And half the genoa. We're still roaring along at over 6 knots. We'll be home in no time.
The waves aren't high, but best to spend most of my off-watches in the bunk while waiting for my sea-legs. Soup for dinner.
And busy night-watches with lots of North Sea cargo traffic.

The British oil platforms lighting our way.

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Mary, 90 years young

Covesea Village revisited. It's been one year and two days since last we were here. Since than Mary Hovenden has had her 90th birthday. You remember, it was she who had to inform these ignorant sailors, us, that on the day we left Norway, terrorists had blown themselves and fellow underground passengers to bits in London. And we who wondered if she was going on about The War!
No. Mary H. is as bright and with it as ever. We had a pleasant, but short visit with her and sailor-daughter, Janet. We'll have to continue our conversation later...in Norway?

2:30pm and we're sailing. Out of the fast-sinking tide at Lossiemouth towards MacDuff. Where we can come and go in any tide we wish. A gentle, windless motor-sail, we arrive at 7:30pm. Quickly we secure "Babette" to the high, green-slimy harbor wall. And cross the street to the pub for a meal accompanied by the last of the World Cup football games. France looses to Italy, by one penalty goal. Time to put our Trinidad and Tobago supporter gear on the shelf.

Tomorrow morning we cross our last sea of the journey. The North Sea to Norway.

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Catching a tide to Lossiemouth


6am, says the alarm clock. Not quite civilized: yawn. But we have a date with a tide. We're off and sailing down Loch Ness towards Lock Clachnahary . Try repeating that one three times on your vhf radio!
Another wool-and-rain-gear day. Later, blazing sunshine between cool showers. Where did I pack down the shorts and t-shirts? We leap-frog with the enormous Canal cruise-boat, "Lord of the Glen". Its stern's been cut off so that it should fit exactly into the locks, like a huge bear's paw in a glove. Today, again, it jumps the queue right ahead of "Babette".
In any case we're down and out of the sea-lock at a quarter to four. Now, salt water lapping about "Babette", we're again at sea. Carefully we thread our way out across the bay from red to green buoy. The whole bay varies from under one meter till maybe three. A wading pool.

Finally the cluster of grey stone buildings appears: Lossiemouth.The entrance to the harbor is too shallow to go through, two hours each side of low tide. We arrive at sunset, 10pm.

At high tide.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Leapfrog with "Lord of the Glen"


Chirp, chirp. Mooo. Plenty of company out here in the pouring rain. At Cullochy. But no lock-keeper.
Suddenly the Canal's biggest customer, "Lord of the Glen" arrives like a medium large village. Its inhabitants hanging over the railings of the upper decks, goggling. Priority customer. They get to pass the queue, us, and into the lock they squeeze.
But at 8:30 we're also locked down. Then on to Loch Oich, Kytra Lock, and, finally, Fort Augustus.
In Fort Augustus we meet up with "Noravind". Last seen, including their two kiddies, up on Pico, 2,351m, in the Azores. From volcano-hike-organizer Cpt.Steinar is now wedding-organizer for Norwegian, "Don't Worry". Never a dull moment. Joergen from "Vanvara" will perform the ceremony, a captain's privilege civil wedding, at Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness. A romantic outdoor wedding. We hope it doesn't rain and the mosquitoes are all busy elsewhere.

We have a good meal at The Bothy. And celebrate one year at sea. It was a sunny, quiet morning, July 7th in 2005, when we slipped our lines at the town dock in Flekkefjord. While, as we sailed out into the North Sea, bombs exploded in the London underground. It would take a week till we learned about the mindless attack. By then we had sailed into Lossiemouth.

Where we hope to be again, tomorrow.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Up Neptune's Staircase


8am. A reasonable hour. "Adventura II" and "Babette" are lifted up the sea lock. And who do we see? "Vanvara"! Last seen in The Azores. And now with no motor. Well, not quite true. They've jury-rigged their 4hp dinghy outboard on the stern and whizzed across still waters at top speed, 3 knots. Comfortable here in the canal.
Now, at Banavie, we're at the foot of Neptune's Staircase, eight locks in a row. But the push-button type, no heavy wooden doors to shove open, unlike Crinan. We're up at the top in a jiffy. And, Per Arne, with hang-glider along, on "Adventura II", is even further up. Up our mast. Retrieving our genaker halyard. Now we're ready for following light winds over the North Sea. (light, following? The North Sea?!)

And we're off. Leaving the other Norwegian boats behind, we hope to make it to Augustus where "Noravind" is helping to celebrate "Don't Worry's" wedding, and we can get a meal at The Bothy pub. How many locks and lochs can we do today? In rain and fog, in full foul weather gear we climb the locks and sail the lochs: Gairlochy Locks, Loch Lochy, Laggan Locks and swing bridges. We get through Aberchalder Swing Bridge and. Full stop. Cullochy lock will open tomorrow morning, 8am. Meanwhile, between the bridge and the lock, we have the whole rainy, pine-lined canal all to ourselves.

Hello! Anybody out there?

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Following the fjords to Telford's Caledonian Canal


Tide tables and gps waypoints: we're out in the salty Scottish fjords again. A sunny day on flat waters. Pulling us along in their tidal flows. Look, "Babette"'s doing 8 knots! We plow into great flocks of terns and guillemots feasting mid-fjord. To port we have Jura Island, to starboard, Kerrera in the Firth of Lorn. Then, up the Lynn of Lorn, inside the Isle of Lismore. And into Loch Linnhe. Reading the charts is like reading poetry.
The blue hills in the distance grow into steep mountains. The fjord narrows. And becomes Corran Narrows rolling under us at a great rate. Now we're against the tide, but manage a couple knots in the right direction: forward. Watch out for the ferry! It's ping-ponging back and forth across the Narrows.

And here we are, 6pm now, at Fort Williams and the sea lock. Which has closed down for the evening. The rickety pontoon looks more or less like a Huckleberry Finn raft. But no fear, we're invited to tie up along side a sturdy Norwegian (Florø) sailboat, "Adventura II". With five year old, Alice, big sister, Tine (16), and her girlfriend onboard it's a lively boat. And friendly. We wish them fair winds, and hope to hear from them next year when they sail south on their big adventure.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Do-it -yourself Canal


At 10am we're locking up. Good-by salt water and tidal flows. "Sedna" and "Babette" step up, lock by lock, into the do-it-yourself Crinan Canal. We get expert assistance from "British Waterways" lock-keepers to get us started. Then we're on our own. Huffing and puffing, pushing and pulling. The heavy gates creak open and we crank the watergates up and down. As in Watergate. Of the more famous C&O canal.
The landscape looks oddly familiar. After cactii and aloe in volcanic slopes, Tobago's rain forests, blue hydragias of the Azores, we're back. Back to birch. And pine, and oak. And cool, wet days. And low-flying swallows to feast on the mosquitoes.

At lock number 8, Caialbaan, we're at the top. Blue mountain ranges in the distance, cows munching cud canal-side. Very pastoral this inland sailing.
So, downhill. From lock 9 to 13 we crank and push, opening and closing water chambers til we're down at a Marina just short of the sea-lock.
It's here we take farwell with our sometimes sailing companion, "Sedna". We've sailed tandem since the Azores. And up along Ireland. Now, between canals, our ways diverge. Over a piece of "Sedna"-concocted chocolate cake we recap and wish each other fair winds and hope to meet again.

Tomorrow we sail to the next Scottish canal: Telford's great Caledonian.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Argyll to Starboard



Brrrrrrrrrrring. Even earlier. 3:30am, says the merciless alarm clock. Time to abandon cosy warm quilts and face the damp cold predawn. We're off to Scotland, heading for The Crinan Canal. First over to the Firth of Clyde, up inside the Isle of Arran, Kintyre to port, Argyll to starboard.
The light winds predicted go up to 30 knots, so we reef the main. Fog makes for extra interesting sailing. "Sedna" pops in and out of the fog, just a half nautical mile in front of us. Peek-a-boo!
In Scottish waters a long fjord cuts into the tattered coastline as we de-reef. The mist and fog in the Irish Sea have vanished. A bright sunny day emerges here on the other side as we peal off layers of wool and waterproofs. Out with the two reefs. Motor sailing. Then sail. Motor. Sail. The winds come and go. And we have our sights on Ardishaig and hope to get into the Canal Basin before the locks close at 7pm.
We arrive at 6pm and before we catch our breath we're secured and fendered in the sea-lock.

Going up?

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Battleships, new and old


The Tall Ships Festival in Belfast is spread about the docks and city. So we didn't manage to see some of the events we were looking forward to, (African dance, historical street-theatre...) being at the wrong place at the right time. And the Seafood Fair was apparently cancelled. But we got to board two warships.

The first was a newly built model of an Admiral Nelson era ship. A cannon-ball shooting square-rigger. "The Grand Turk". Built in Turkey. It stars in "Hornblower" and "Longitude". It's a good replica, except they've cut out a whole deck, a gun-deck, to provide extra standing headroom and comfort for film crews.
Next, the modern navy. A serious looking German torpedo boat with a variety of lethal more-or-less smart weapons spread about the deck. And, tied along side, is a smaller British mine-sweeper. Guarded by a machinegun-armed crew, as kiddies and grandpas tip-toe past down the gangway.
On our way back to the "Bridge End" Railway Station we pass huge gable-end house murals. These depict fighting heroes of this protestant neighborhood. There are Catholic murals and Peace murals, too. Happy the day when they join the Berlin Wall and become mere tourist attractions.

Click, click. Now they're in the "Babette" album.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Drums in Belfast


July 1st. It's not the victory/defeat, depending on your viewpoint, in the Battle of the Boyne, fought on another 1st of July, back in the 16-hundreds, that they're marching for today. No, today it's just a ca. 90 year old battle. World War I's slaughter and maiming of a million young men at Somme. The good news: finally the protestant North and the Catholic South have laid wreaths together in France. Now let's hope they can do more of the same in home waters.
Apropos: We were at the Ulster Museum today. A fabulous exhibit, extensive, well put together, interactive, called “Conflict: The Irish at War”. From the megalithic pre-Celts to the wall-divided city of Belfast. The panels and exhibits dissect and analyze the Irish participation in any number of wars at home and abroad. The exhibit is extended by popular demand. I could've spent more time there if the museum hadn't closed at 6pm.

Which gives us the opportunity to observe another battle. At a pub. England is mired down in battle with the Portuguese, in Germany. World Cup enthusiasts are cheering on their warriors. Mostly for Portugal!? A very few for England, and no animosity in the pub. Standing room only through two extra periods and the penalty shoot-out. Giving Portugal the battle's only fatal shot. Ronaldo's. Football battles, however inane they may seem, tend to have fewer casualties than the ones with pikes and guns. Football hooligans may not be a Sunday school class. On the other hand, the young men, dead and wounded, of the trench battles at Somme, had they marched 10 abreast, would have made a long, grim parade.

It would have taken two years for them to march by.

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Friday, June 30, 2006

Pea Soup


Brrrring! The alarm clock sounds in a dark, icy Babette. 4:30am. And it's time to catch a tide. "Sedna" and "Babette" are up and out at 5am, heading north to Bangor, near Belfast. We’re soon enveloped in a clingy wet blanket of fog. Hot oatmeal porridge helps.
The wind is from behind, but weak, so we motor to speed things up. Even with some help from the tide this will take us about 13 hours. In the fog. The radar tells us that "Sedna" is a mere quarter nautical mile dead ahead. But we can't see her, swallowed up in the swirling mist. The big "light-boat" is blaring fog signals at us, just a half mile off to starboard, just as invisible. Fishing boats and their net-buoys suddenly appear. Then disappear into the tight grey noose of fog surrounding us. While cargo ships pass on the radar screen, unseen.

Magically the fog lifts just before the tricky part, Donahgadee Sound. Blue skies overhead and a retreating ring of low ground fog. As the pizza sliiiiides out of the oven. Just saved from landing face down on the floor. We gobble pizza while navigating the inner Donaghadee Sound, Copeland Island now visible to starboard. Magic Rocks, Deputy Reefs, and two red buoys to port. And the tide is with us.
At 19:00 we're safely inside the huge Bangor Marina. Side by side at place Echo 18 and 19. "Sedna" and "Babette" have put another 90 nautical miles behind. And we're that much closer to home waters.

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Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Dublin Day


We start off in the Temple Bar area for a pub lunch. "The Oliver St. John Gogarty Pub". Try saying that after a pint or two of Guinness! We ordered a big serving of their good Irish stew and soda bread. And Guinness. Just in case we can't remember what country we've now come to. And just to make completely sure, at the neighboring table there's a group of three playing Irish tunes on flutes, fiddle and guitar. Yup, we're in the Emerald Isle.
If you don't recall hearing of this Mr. Oliver St. John Gogarty, he was not just a poet-revolutionary-politician-surgeon-swimmer-pilot. He was also the sometimes great friend, sometimes worst enemy, of James Joyce. He made a legendary daring escape from execution in prison swimming the icy Liffy. And he wrote poetry admired by W.B. Yeats.

And all this leads us to the Dublin Writer's Museum. We cross the Liffy, by bridge, no swim today. March down the broad O'Connor Street up to Parnell Square. The boulevard has a pedestrian walkway down its center, adorned with statues of famous citizens. And now also accompanied by huge silly-looking bronze bunnies. Skinny, leaping, crouching rabbits with large floppy ears.

There's another noticeable addition to O'Connors: "The Needle". Stretching up into the stratosphere, bright shiny silver. An easy landmark, and great meeting place. Of course this is where Ørnulf and I get separated. As I wait a half hour for him to show up again he walks all the way up to the museum. Without looking back.
Reunited at Parnell Square we wander through Ireland's literary history from the Book of Kells to Nobel Prize winning authors. Swift's "Gulliver's Travels", Brian Stoker's "Dracula", Thomas Moore, Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Becket and, of course, W. B. Yeats. And the great James Joyce. Most of these modern writers are represented in the museum with their typewriters.

No personal computers. Yet.

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