FOLLOW US!

                                                      FOLLOWING US It was possible via the SPOT messenger, but since we are home again, I have replaced this with the map showing our final route (roughly!). There will also be additional photos added in the appropriate sections.

map of route round russia 2014

 

Homecoming to Vaerftet, Skive on Sunday 7 September 2014

We set off at 6am from Lemvig, in darkness, and made it to the Øresund bridge in time for the 0845 opening, with some help from a NW wind, some engine, and Lasse’s good helming. The bridge opens every half hour, quarter to and quarter past the hour, and is called on Channel 16. It was a quiet day, though the wind was in our favour, such as it was. Passing by Nymolle, Mors, Glyngore (Glenure), Fur, and Hvalpsund was revisiting places visited before and enjoyed. The Limfjord Rund rally/race starts tomorrow, and we enjoyed seeing the opld boat ‘Thomas’, an open wooden gaffer, and its stalwart and enthusiastic crew sailing past Fur on its way to the start at Logstør. We were nostalgic about our own participation in that a couple of years ago.

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One of the Limfjord Bridges

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Lasse and Birthe, Crew for the last leg to Skive from Tananger.

What a nice surprise to see Lars and Helle sailing out to meet us on the approach to Skive! And wonderful to see the ‘welcome home Aldarion and crew’ sign at our mooring place in the boatyard. Even better that Ole and Edward were there and that Helle and Lars had flags up, and champagne and cake waiting for us, at which point, Gunnar and Poula arrived to join the welcoming party. And they had cooked a nice meal for everyone at home, which we enjoyed with good wine and chat. What a great homecoming! We also managed to get the sails off dry, and packed off for small repairs to Birthe’s sewing shop. It’s a shock to stop, but also great to be back safely and with no major problems.

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Lars and Helle meet us on approaching Skive! We do silly things like toot our foghorns!

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Look carefully, and you’ll see the welcome poster on the dock!

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Time for Champagne and Cake! Thanks to Lars and Helle.

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The welcome party!

In all it stacks up to4,047 nautical miles, and about 1,000 hours of sailing over three and a half months including rest days, climbing days, etc.

Fascinating the see unspoilt Russia, and to know how ignorant we are of the country and its people in the ‘West’. Totally terrifying that warmongers on both sides can consider conflict. What we experienced day to day was the kindness of ordinary people, like the young woman and her son – she was a teacher in a small village on the Belamorsk canal – who came with Champagne and local crafts as gifts, or our friend Olga in Arkhangelsk, who devoted a whole day to helping us get everything done before having to leave Russia before our month-long visas ran out, and hosted us for lunch in her charming flat! Always wonderful to visit Sweden and Finland and Norway as well – some of the best sailing grounds in the world from the point of view of places to see and visit, unspoilt landscapes and places, and surprisingly few sailing boats, especially north of Bergen.

Farsund to the Limfjord in Jutland, Denmark

Yesterday morning at 0740 am I wrote: We just arrived at Thyboron in West Jutland after a 21 hour sail from Farsund in Norway. This nearly completes our rundt tur of Scandinanvia and through Russia.thanks to all who crewed and helped in so many other ways! 4,000 nautical miles. Three and a half months! The wind was easterly, mostly E or S of E, and about Force 4 or 5, but waves coming off the land later as we approached Denmark, so it was a remarkably easy sail, even if we used the low revving engine a lot to push us through the waves. It was also a fine starry night with a half moon for the first half. Quite a few fishing boats especially between the norwegian and Danish EEZ, and the usual train of cargo ships heading for the Baltic. With the AIS these can all be seen in advance, and their course, speed and destination found, so avoiding them is much easier thank it used to be! I have added this to my list of ‘essential kit’.

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On reaching the Limfjord, we decided to rest up in the delightful small town of Lemvig, about 10 miles or so from Thyboron. Unfortunately it poured much of the day, with thunder and lightening. However. we all needs rest and sleep after the long night sail.

Today we left early, reaching Oresund Bridge in time for the 0745 opening. we are now sailing with all sails up, including the tops’l. Gunnar and Poula have invited the whole crew plus Lars and Helle and Ole for supper tonight, which is wonderful. We expect to arrive in Skive, our final desination this year, by 1700 today.

 

 

 

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anger to Farsund

One of the frustrating things on a grand tour is waiting for the next leg to start, in this case waiting for new crew in the form of Birthe and Lasse, who arrived early Wednesday morning off the new LNG propelled ferry from Histshals in Jutland, and caught a bus directly to the small boat harbour in Tananger. Before that, I had to go to Stavanger to sign something and post it off to EUP. I also had a nice visit from friend Rhys Evans on Tuesday, and we caught up. He also tuned the Ukelele and strummed a tune or two. Stores, water and diesel were also all topped up before leaving about 9am on Wednesday 3rd.

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Rhys Evans in Tananger

Unfortunately, headwinds from the SE were forecast for the next few days, so we resigned ourselves to tacking south with engine assistance. But it is slow and long! We crawled down to the pretty harbour at Egersund the first night, and stayed just north west of the bridge in a new marina, so far with unfinished facilities. A peaceful night, and well sheltered. Danish food and wine brought by the crew!

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Lasse and Birthe heading south

We started early on Thursday 4th, and continued beati ng and tacking south around Lista, reaching the delightful but very expensive marina in Farsund by evening. From here we plan a night crossing to Thyboron, the western entrance to the Limfjord, because easterly and even north easterly winds are forecast from about midday on 5th, and until Saturday morning. It means that we now expect to be back in Skive by Sunday evening 7th.

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Farsund

Floro to Tananger (Stavanger)

John writes: David and I decided to sail further south on 24/8 to the very pretty village of Askvoll, where Lisbeth would arrive by the fast ferry from Bergen later on the same day. Askvoll is where I got my wind generator repaired on my first sail to the Lofoten islands four years ago, and we called there on another occasion. It is also were my former Masters student Miriam comes from, and where Gavin Parsons did his MPhil research from SMO on Skye. It has good facilities including showers, water, diesel, shops etc.. We had a good sail in mostly light winds. Lisbeth arrived in time for dinner on board, and we had a couple of card games after.

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Askvoll, from the Guest Pontoons

On 25th opened to a perfect sunny morning, if light on wind to start with, although it picked up later from the north, and Lisbeth got some good helming experience. We also saw another vast sea-eagle today. We dropped anchor on the other side of Sognefjorden at the landlocked anchorage of Ramsvik on south Husaroya. We anchored there with Karen, Tom, Bob and Mary in 2011, and it was the same kind of weather then. A beautiful dark night when every star and constellation in the sky must have been visible to the naked eye, and twice the normal size!

The 26th was another perfect morning, and we caught three nice fish on the way out of the anchorage, which we later enjoyed for dinner. We got sailing around midday after a windless morning heading through the narrow fjords towards Bergen. Then a good sail down to Bergen with a favourable tide. We arrived around 1830 and had a good evening together.

Lisbeth with the three nice Mackerel

Lisbeth with the three nice Mackerel

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Crew reading time!

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On our way south.

David left early next morning to catch the bus to the airport, and the crew were all sad to say farewell. We had some more sleep before going to pay the extortionate harbour fees, and buy the very costly card for the less than adequate facilities! Bergen is decidedly inefficient and overpriced compared with everywhere else we have been now and previously! But it was a very nice morning, and we did the shopping, got more charts, and visited NILF offices (fruitlessly as it turned out: john was supposed to pick up, sign and post a publishing contract there but the post failed us). We also got expensive fresh fruit at the extravagant ‘fish market’, which is a real tourist rip-off.

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Bergen. The Rosenkranz tower, built by Scottish masons is third from the left.

We left Bergen after lunch and picked up fuel at the fuel pier before heading south to a perfect little anchorage at Søvig on Hufterøya, later moving to the private pier belonging to a kind local former fisherman, below his house, rented out to a musician. Lisbeth and I joined him after a supper for a wee dram, although Lisbeth stuck to Elderflower cordial!

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Søvig

Another perfect, starry and peaceful night. Next morning we caught two fish – a mackerel and a saithe, on the way out of the anchorage. This was a slow day, with light contrary winds, and mostly adverse tide. We sailed for 12 hours, finally anchoring in the perfectly sheltered anchorage of Hellevåg, where Helene and Isabelle held crab races while sailing with Karen, Petter and I. Nice fish dinner, and a photo-viewing and a couple of card games later we turned in for an early’ish night.

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Hellevåg

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Lisbeth in for a swim

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Next morning, 29th, we had a swim, cold but invigorating. The day opened to a red sky, but little wind for the first hour or so, then a vigorous SE wind coming off the land which allowed us to sail close hauled as far as Haugesund before lunch. We stopped here for some stores and chatted to a Norwegian in a Trimaran that he had just sailed solo and fast from the Shetland islands. However, (curiously, having crossed alone from Lerwick) he was looking for crew to continue round to Oslo fjord. After a visit to the library to borrow a couple of movies we sailed on down Karmoysund, past Hakon Hakonsen’s 13th c. ‘Olav’s church’ built near King Harald Fairhair’s old farm at Avaldnes, and then into the small town of Kopervik on Karmoy Island, where we moored alongside the harbour wall for the night. Here was the first hydraulic lifting bridge in Norway – Stromsund bridge – now in its third or fourth form. The bridge opens to an inner harbour, and is manned 24 hours. However, we remained in the outer harbour.

Saturday 30th was our last sailing day on this leg and the forecast was for strong headwinds, so we sailed through the sound to Austdjupet and then between Vestre Bokne and Austre Bokne and then into Boknafjorden and finally Kvitsoyfjorden before approaching Tananger. We caught a nice mackerel in the sound between the Bokne, but lost nearly all of the rest of the fishing tackle to what we presume was a much larger fish that ate the rest of the mackerel on the line! The strong winds never materialised, although heavy rain did. But we had a very quiet sail into the harbour, arriving in good time to settle in and pay dues before rewarding ourselves with a shrimp risotto! The sky cleared and the rain stopped. What a nice sail we had together from Trondheim to Tananger – about 420 nautical miles direct, but actually longer than that by the route we took. Mostly favourable winds, and often quite good winds that suited Aldarion – i.e. not headwinds! Also mostly sun, with only one day of serious rain. Lisbeth learned more about knots and sailing, and proved to be a good helmswoman too. On Sunday 31, Lisbeth left for home, and John remains waiting for Lasse and Birthe Ebdrup who arrive at 7am on the early morning ferry from Hirtshals on Wednesday. We then hope for fair winds to sail back to our destination – Jutland in Denmark – over 4,000 miles after leaving in May.

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Lisbeth leaving for home.

Trondheim to Florø, 18 to 22 August

Amelie unfortunately had to go back to work in Belgium on 17 August, and David Gundry joined on the late evening of 18 August. John had a struggle to find gas in Trondheim, eventually discovering that there was none in the town because of fire danger. He then took buses to and from the Propane Centre in an industrial area south of the main town.

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David, heading south from Trondheim

This, shopping and boat cleaning took most of the day. On 19th we got up at 0545, brewed some tea, and left to go through the Skansen rail bridge before the flow of trains prevented its opening. Although there was little wind to start with, we had good sailing between about 8am and 1230, and with favourable tide in the morning we made a good distance of about 67nm before anchoring for the night in the snug little hole of Storøya, opposite Edøya. With wind gusting, and forecast, and a tight space, we nevertheless put down two anchors.

 

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A good wind from the north west!

Next day, 20th, we were later getting going, 0800 to be exact, but had a terrific sail south in a N of W wind along Hustadvika, until 1800, when we anchored in Vaulen, Midøy, inside the relatively sheltered Harøyfjord, and north of Alesund. Today we had fast and exciting sailing with large waves, and covered about 63nm. On 21st we decided to sail to a harbour close to Stattlandet, some 30 miles. This was Fåsnavåg on Bergsøya, a delightful small, very sheltered harbour. There were many small one or two men fishing boats long lining for mackerel o the way in, and David discovered that one of them had delivered 4.5 tonnes of mackerel to the local ice plant that evening. We had also caught 4 nice ~Mackerel en route (actually 5, but one escaped!), which we had for supper as well as lunch the following day. The other adventure was that we were locked in a garage through which one had to pass to have a shower and visit the toilet. We eventually managed to alert a passer-by, who got the responsible person from the restaurant to let us out! On 22nd we set off early-ish (0700) for Statt in light winds, but approaching Statt headland the winds picked up nicely from the North, and again we had great sailing round the notorious headland and into Sildgapet, reaching Maløy by 1300.

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David at the helm in wind and waves.

After looking at a small anchorage south of Rugsundøye and deciding it was too tight, and with nasty gusty winds, we continued towards Florø, arriving about 2030, to tie up in the marina. We have had some good winds on this leg, and excellent fast sailing, but with less sun and of course harder work with two of us. We earned a day of rest which, having discovered the local beer festival, we decided to spend in Florø. Tomorrow we will sail the short distance to the very beautiful Askvoll, where Lisbeth will join us in the evening for a whole week, an event both David and I are looking forward to.

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Shipyard, north of Maløy

Bødø to Trondheim, 356 nm.Part 2 (from Brønnøysund)

After a night stop in Nesna, we have reached Brønnøysund on the 11th after a long and nice sailing day. John tried to see his friend Sigurd Siem at his pier when we arrived, but there was no sign of life, so we continued to the town harbour. The next stops we made after that were all incredible and very beautiful, it is not so easy to summarise.

On the 12th, we left Brønnøysund to sail to Leka were we borrowed bicycles after a nice dinner (all dinners were delicious by the way – John adds, whoever was cooking them!). We cycle to see the sunset but the most beautiful thing we saw was the high big yellow moon on the way back to the harbour.

In the morning, we left quite early in order to have time to visit the marine museum in Rorvik. On the way we saw a sea eagle passing just in front of us! Arriving in Rorvik, we could even moor just in front of the museum which we have visited quite quickly because it was closing at 3pm!

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Fisheries Museum, Rørvik: well worth a visit, and has a small pontoon just outside it! Designed by an Icelandic Architect, with a motif of sails.

We took a rest in the sun and decide to go to a place John had never been before: Sorgjaeslingen. This should be one of the most beautiful places in the world. It had cost us a little stress to reach the pontoon because of the shallowness of the water there, especially because I thought the measurement was made from the water surface, I was not aware the measurement device was located near the bottom of the hull. This village has several islands. There is a tourist guide during summer and a souvenir butik open from 11 to 12 and 18 to 19h. There were not many other tourists, maybe just one couple so it was really quite incredible!

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The guest pontoon, remote Sòrgjeaslingen

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Amelie in the guest chair, top of pontoon gangway!

The next haven we reached on the following day was Skjernvoya. We had a really nice day sailing with an average speed of 6 knots or more and lots of waves from behind, giving us a real surfing feeling, really nice! John chose this particular wavy day to bake his wonderful cake and a new bread, both so delicious!! Later in the evening, in a shallower part with rocks, John told me to start fishing and I caught 5 Mackerel in less than 5 minutes; 2 escaped and we freed the smallest. Arriving at Skjernvoya, we thought nobody was living there but when I went out for a walk after dinner, I met someone! He told me he was working for the Marine Harvest Fish Farm, as well as doing some fishing in his own boat. It is just amazing to think people are actually living in this lonely place.

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A happy skipper, with wind!

The 15th of August was also a nice day to sail in the morning. It was a bit more difficult in the afternoon but we finally reached Uthaug on the Orlandet peninsula at the end of the day.

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Amelie, happy about those fresh mackerel again!

The 16th of August was our last day sailing but we had only a little wind, good for us we enjoyed so much the previous day! It takes quite a long time to cross the Trondheim fjord but the scenery is really interesting and we saw several dolphins playing near the boat, really nice!

In Trondheim, we decided to moor in the city harbour. It was a really good choice because it is really a unique experience to be on a boat in a city like this. It was a challenge to moor but we did finally easily.

This sailing trip was really one of the best experience I have had in my life, I feel lucky John proposed me to join and to have spent such a great time together!

From BODO,  where Gill and David sadly left the boat and Amelie Joveneau joined, Amelie is the guest editor for this section. We sailed on 8th aug to Fugloye in perfect weather.

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Fugløye island is magic, we have not seen lots of birds but being there provided a feeling to be on another planet for the scenery and the beautiful light which we experienced during our stay. At night we could enjoy a temporary pub settled there on the beach for an international (very serious) climbing festival. We therefore had some drinks there under the midnight light with our temporary neighbours, a nice couple coming from Bodo. In the morning, we woke up for a nice swim before heading to Tonnes, just below the arctic circle.

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Swimming in Fugløye

The journey was marvellous with glaciers on one side and an endless sea on the other. A nice wind was often allowing us to sail at the speed of 6 knots. On the way to Tonnes, John caught 6 mackerels in less than 10 minutes.

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We barbecued 2 of them the same evening and froze the rest which had been filleted and frozen (the 11th). Actually, we still have about 2 to eat. On the 10th, we were willing to sail for Sandnessjoen but we took the wise decision to stop in Nesna, expecting to have more wind the next day and this is exactly what happened. We left Nesna quite early expecting to reach Bronnoysund before the night; which we reached after a long 10 hours sailing. We had some really nice moments of speed sailing at 8 knots but also a few parts with little wind. This is really part of the challenge and somehow the interesting reality of sailing in this part of the world: so many local phenomenons interacting and making it difficult to predict where and when the wind will coming from.  On the way we saw the 7 sisters and were sailing next to Vega for at least 4 hours. Today, 12th august, we are planning to sail to Leka.

NUTSFJORD TO BODO Aug 5th to 8th

Gill continues…

On arrival in Nusfjord we explore the interesting village where visitors arriving on foot or by car have to pay to enter (almost as much as the harbour fee!) There are loos and water on the quay but no showers. The whole village is preserved as a museum of fishing with rorbuer, smithy, sawmill, old fashioned shop etc. There is a nice contrast with a modern architecture project of an outdoor spa designed and built by students of Oslo University. John’s bakes his next cake – Gill really likes this one as it reminds her of her mother’s fruit cake.

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Nusfjord, from our mountain hike!

The weather is wet and misty next morning but forecast to clear and David has researched a walk on the rando-lofoten website downloading the map onto our i-pad. John starts a loaf of bread and we set off together with a picnic by mid morning. John finds some excellent walking staves (discarded snow poles?) by the roadside. We borrow them and replace on our return.

Climb through lovely woods and out onto bilberry covered rocky and mossy terrain. Gentle gradient and nothing too tricky and soon we reach the first summit with awesome views – Nusfjord village to South, Nappsstraumen to East and Flakstadpollen to North. Picnic here then return for a relaxing afternoon baking bread, writing the blog, reading and eating a delicious dinner.

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John and David on top of the world, John with one of those nice staves.

Gill and John both awake listening to howling winds and rain during the night making us fear a bad crossing to Bodo. Glad we have turned the boat around already and stowed the dinghy onboard. Tea at 6:0 and leave at 7:0. There is a choppy messy sea and no wind when we get out of the fjord. Wind when it does blow is from every direction but the one forecast and the first 3 hours are uncomfortable with pitching, rolling and flapping sails. Then at about noon there is wind and we steam along on a reach until we reach the islands off Bodo. Moored up at 5:45 – a long day and a very long walk to the state of the art facilities from our pontoon. Credit card needed for showers so that means another long walk there and back!

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Aldarion, somewhere!

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Moored at the inner guest pontoon, Bødø. Fast county ferries in the background.

 

John shops and meets Amelie. Mary and Adrian arrive and we all celebrate our reunion with John’s garlicky chicken,some bubbly and lots of lively discussion about honey and matters environmental social and political.

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John, Gill and David in or near Bødø

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John, David and Amelie in Bødø, enjoying a crew change lunch! 

Friday is a beautiful sunny morning and we are well rested. Carve up the jobs. David repairs folding bike tyre, Gill does laundry (easy in this place!), John changes oil and impeller, Amelie provisions for the next leg. Lunch together on Aldarion then wave off J & A while G & D hump heavy bags ashore. Just capture the boat sailing off into the gorgeous blue. Stop to rest at contemporary art gallery with 2 good exhibitions then make our way to Bodo Hotel.

DIARY TROMSO to BODO Monday July 28th to Thursday August 7th   John, David Hilton and Gill Stowell (who writes this blog and sits around looking beautiful!) Moored at Kabelvaag   Monday was a bad day for changeover both of Aldarion and David & Gill’s Campervan. We all spent the day doing laundry and shopping and cleaning in the rain!   Dinner on board with Gill and David’s friends Mary and Adrian (who arrived at Tromso by air from UK) was the best part of the day. We heard stories about John’s Russian adventure and about our scenic drive from Exeter to Tromso in the best weather ever in Norway.

 

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Aldarion in Tromso, Town Pontoon

Tuesday We like the new sleeping arrangements on Aldarion….. Leave for Finnsnes at 12:30 in fine sunshine and light winds and are surprised that tides do not seem to be in our favour after all. The sail takes longer than expected and the marina has no space on visitors’ pontoon so we squeeze into a finger berth and find ourselves locked out of the marina facilities by padlocked gate.

Aldarion in Finnsnes, Hurtigruten behind

Aldarion in Finnsnes, Hurtigruten behind

Wednesday Move to the town quay before breakfast and collect repaired genoa from Stig’s workshop. Sail and motorsail to Dyroy anticipating thunderstorm that never happens. Exciting half hour approaching 18 metre bridge with 18 metre mast. Nice protected anchorage off Dyroy with church onshore. We re-lay the anchor in deeper water. Heavy showers for our short walk ashore. Lovely swim on our return to the boat.

Thursday Rain when we woke early so back to sleep and then noticed around 8:30 the bow seemed lower than the stern and yes we were well and truly aground on falling tide due to drift and change of wind direction settling us onto the shallow bar!

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Speechless!

Three embarrassed yachtmaster theorists soon found plenty of entertainment in trying to float off using kedge anchor and line ashore. To no avail! We had to wait patiently for the tide of course and were afloat by 12:45. Good sail in Force 4 to beautiful Helløy anchorage recommended by Stig. David caught 3 mackerel just before we arrived although 1 slipped back so fish supper to crown a very good day.

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Does not include the one that got away!

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Beautiful sheltered anchorage at Helloya

 

Friday Aug 1st Our 34th Wedding Anniversary! Left early. A seal popped its head up to say hello. Good sail until we turned into the channel for bridge before Sortland. Long dull motor down to Sortland. Town quay had water but nothing else so we ventured down to the marina mentioned in Judy Lomax pilot book. Shallow and no space so back to town quay. Met Anna her father and taxied to her farm 8km N of the town. Opened the bubbly and started chopping for the best fish soup ever! Looked for cloudberries after dinner – few and unripe. Very wet weather when we returned to the boat.

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Sortland, town pontoon, handy for the wine monopoly!

Saturday Very sunny morning. Visited Anna’s cousin Ragnhilde’s exhibition of lovely turquoise paintings in the house where Anna’s father grew up. Lunch on board with Anna and father eating the organic lamb produced by Nils and cured by John. Left in glorious weather at 15:45 for anchorage North of Raftsundet. I caught dinner of 3 mackerel which we enjoy in a peaceful anchorage at Hanøy.

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Anne and her Father on board for lunch.

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Gill with some fine mackerel for dinner.

Sunday Exciting voyage down Raftsundet. Got the tides spot on this time and make 9.3 knots in the narrows from 6.4 previously. Detour into Trollfjord where we can touch the near vertical rock wall. Birds possibly guillemots. Lovely rock patterns. No wind. Motor down to Svolvaer and beyond to find Nyvågar marina. Great place with showers and laundry. Also museum, aquarium and lovely Kaarl Epsilon art gallery. Walk to Kabelvagn easy but better if you find the shortcut footpath.

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Fast tide in Raftsund, we are doing 9.3kts!

 

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Entering Trollfjord.

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Aldarion alongside the rock wall, coming out of Trollfjord.

Monday Hot humid day. David and Gill go walking to Tjeldbergtinden. John gets the bike out. D&G enjoy great views and can see Aldarion from the top at 367 metres. Bus back to Kabelvagn and celebrate the climb with beers and shrimp sandwiches at the excellent pub sitting in the sun. Find the shortcut this time and enjoy evening sun and John’s marinated roast beef.

Moored at Kabelvaag

Moored at Kabelvaag

Tuesday Thunderstorm during night. Cloudy still start as we leave at 8:0 for Nusfjord. Looks like a long motor but then the wind picks up and we get some great sailing, plus rain, fish (3x Sei) and exciting arrival at Nusfjord at 3:30. Not much space in the harbour and lots of wind but no other yachty visitors!

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Safely tucked into Nusfjord by the cod liver oil factory.

24-27 July, Hammerfest to Tromso We had a good wind this morning – quite strong against us in the beginning but eventually we got some very good wind, hitting 8 knots at which speed we ring the bell on Aldarion J This leg was longer than expected, partly due to contrary (or no) winds, partly due to a delay caused by a fish-farm food bag around the propeller off Oksfjord, which Karen managed to cut free after we tied up. Karen impressed us all by diving down with a knife in the cold water, still fed by glaciers. We had feared the worst and contacted the local boat yard, but luckily the event only delayed us by about 3 hours or so. This is big, stark, grand country. There are sudden heavy squalls, and the wind changes direction as one follows the fjords south and west.  We start off early from Hammerfest, crossing to the commercial harbour to fill with water, where we are delayed by a ferry doing the same. There seems to be only one water pipe accessible! The first night we anchor in the SW corner of Lokkerfjord, beneath two small mountain streams that plunge down the steep mountain sides, after a long sail in tricky winds. The Fjord is deep, but there is relatively shallow water inshore below the streams. Here there was also a reindeer catching pen, and some sheep grazing with bells – the first we have seen since arriving in Norway. We awake to a fine sunny morning and enjoy an al fresco breakfast in the cockpit. The problem with the bag around the propeller appeared as the boat slowed dramatically just before the entrance to Oksfjord, so we were able to go into the small town harbour under sail, and there discover what the problem was and, luckily, fix it, thanks to Karen’s diving skills and tolerance of cold sea water. We later find a good spot to fish among the rocks, and Karen and Ottar catch 4 Saithe for dinner within a few minutes. We eventually anchor behind the mole in the well protected and pleasant small harbour of Seglvik. Here we note the salmon nets on the way in to the harbour. Next morning we cross to Skjervoy, getting a sail in to the harbour, which is very pleasant. We got showers in the local sailing club, and filled water and diesel at the small marina. There was a wine monopoly, visited by Ottar and Kirsten, and a well-stocked Coop store, as well as a small chandlery, both visited by John and Karen. After lunch, we sailed off again around the north of the island and hit headwinds. However, later we cross south of 70N for the first time since 17 July, and it immediately feels warmer! However, we are surrounded by high mountains with many small, and some large, glaciers. At 2000 we tie up to a finger pontoon at the mole harbour in Nordlenangen, a working harbour used by the shrimpers. Here we see signs of haymaking and silage bags for the first time. On 27 July was awake to another fine morning and set sail for Tromso. A beautiful sail, and with a good wind for the last stretch into Tromso, although chased by some cold mist from the NW, a hazard of the North. We moor around 1730 at the finger pontoon in the town harbour, in front of the Clarion and Rica hotels.  Tricky tidal flow experienced on the way into the pontoon.  We enjoy a good roast chicken and wine before Kirsten and Karen catch the bus to the airport for their flight to Oslo. Sad farewells, but it has been an amazing sail (if too much motoring!)  around the far north of Norway. We have seen Puffins, and many other birds, whales, porpoises. We caught fish easily. We have seen very dramatic scenery, and something of the Sami people and their way of life, much changed as it is today.  We also saw how important the coastal ferry – Hurtigruten – and the municipal system is to the maintenance of the small communities here in the North. Some are surviving and even thriving, but many seem very run down. The fish processing plants are closing and work and value-added moving to China, as a result of bad policy decisions and obsessive following of free market ideology. Suddenly, Tromso seems like a huge and prosperous metropolis! The first ‘large’ (70,000 people) town since Arkhangelsk! DCIM100GOPRO bilde (9)  bilde (13) bilde (10)                           bilde (11) bilde (12) DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO 23 July – Hammerfest and crew chang Alasdair, Philomena and Cathel left us in the morning departing for Tromsø and back to Scotland. Alasdair and Cathel were the insurance for John to do this trip – they are always willing to do the hardy trips – the long nights and the cold and windy days. They have been of unvaluable help on this trip. John and Karen got a bit of time on their own to do the needed household issues like cleaning, washing, shopping and airing things – and the day was good for this, the shops close and the mood good. Ottar and Kirsten arrived after 5 pm in the afternoon ready for the next leg to Tromsø or a bit further. Good with a local pilot – Ottar of course knows Northern Norway as his own pocket and its policy and history – interesting and fun. 21-22 July – Honningsvåg to Hammerfest On 21 July we crossed to the Statoil/Shell terminal on the other side of the harbour in Honningsvåg to take on diesel and water. The friendly man on duty was a little late in arriving, but the mission was successful! We stop en route at Burstad where Cathel has a swim, and others have bucket baths. We luckily found a wonderful little anchorage with an abandoned village although still some few houses seemed to be used as holiday houses and a little sauna by the bay with all equipment. There were a couple of reindeers there and nicely rounded slate to take home on the beach. So peaceful! We anchor there for the night, and Cathel cooks a Chorizo stew that we all enjoy. Next morning we set off in light north winds and that cold mist which chills the bones.  We arrive Hammerfest (Norway’s most Northerly town) in the early afternoon and easily find a good space on the town pontoon, which – as ever here in the far North – has no water or electricity. Skipper retires to bed with sickness and bad tummy, and the crew does the work.  We change crew next day, when Alasdair, Philomena and Cathel depart for Edinburgh via Tromso and Oslo. Sad farewells after such a long and sometimes exciting trip from Arkhangelsk with Cathel and Alasdair. Later in the afternoon Ottar Brox and Kirsten Danielsen arrive and settle on board. The day is spent cleaning, washing, restocking, having a good shower in the Hurtigruten terminal below the Harbourmasters office, and doing the laundry (washing machines in the same place a s the shower, and key from the Isbjorn club/ tourist office next door. Showers are free. We are impressed that the tourist office had el-bikes for rent! Unfortunately John did not feel well the next day – seemed to had got some kind of food poisoning or water poisoning – but after a days cleansing he was on his feet again. It did imply a thorough cleaning and evaluation of the hygiene on board. Hammerfest as the most northern town does not represent itself from a nice architectural spot but it was the first place with showers and washing machine at the pier – at the Hurtigrute waiting room – it was just incredibly nice with hot water for once and get things washed properly.   bilde (8) SONY DSC bilde (7) SONY DSC bilde (3) SONY DSC DCIM100GOPRO 19-20 July – Arriving Honningsvåg and North Cape We had a good sail from Mehamn – five sails on for much of the crossing to Honningsvåg. We had showers in the local hotel, bought some rolls in the local bakers, and also had a chat with a man who was there fishing with his son, who was catching his young persons quota, a scheme to encourage young people to join the fishing industry. This was introduced due to poor recruitment of fishermen. The man lives in Kirkenes now, but was born in Mehamn. We arrived in Honningsvåg inner harbour around 1900 after a nine hour sail. Later we moved to a free space on an adjacent pontoon, which was more relaxing given the spring tides. Honningsvåg – the town centre at North Cape is a little tourist metropol at the far north with the largest amount of cruise ships arriving in Norway – more than 100 per year, we saw 3 different ones while there for a day. However only more more sailing boat arrived when we were there and still no real facilities. It is nicely located in a sheltered bay on the south side of Magerøy (Meagre island) and so it is. On Sunday 20 July we enjoyed a ‘day off’, hiring a car and visiting North Cape, which was too expensive but something that had to be done. The mist cleared and we had a wonderful sunny day, Karen even taking a swim in a small lake by a Sami shop en route to the small village in the north west, where we also enjoyed a very good fish soup lunch. This is a busy harbour with two visiting cruiseships at any time, and of course the Hurtigruten. But there are very few yachts – only one other when we were there. Here are 5 sami families during the summer seasons with their on average 300 reindeer each. At the small sami tourist place that we had a stop at twice – first time for a little shopping and chat with the young sami owner who´s family made very nice leather bracelets with tin hand..sislery … . Second time we stopped was for Karen to have a bath in the nice sunny lake – pitty she could not convince the others to the same. The North Cape exhibition srite and centre – we later learned – had recently been sold by the municipality to the Rica hotel chain! Which we of course all found rather a short term economic thinking. However North Cape showed itself at its best with large clear views to the North, a nice exhibition of the history from 1664 where the first British ship came around to explore …. And lateron how scientists went up there in the 17th hundred and the King Oscar II of Sweden-Norway in 18… after which the Kings View was named. Funny wise the center also has a little golden Thai exhibition due to visits from the King of Thailand. The contrast to the Thai style was the little Chapel – with mosaics and clean Nordic style. The highlight however was the visit to Gjesvær – the most Northern village – with a fantastic natural harbour – and where there are arranged bird trips to a rock north of. Two small restaurants with beds etc. and open the three summer month every year. We had a nice fish lunch at the one run by a local young woman and of course with a nice Polish waiter who loved it up there – and had a great little greenhouse with flowering strawberries, rasperries and wine – not sure it all will ripe though. The village has 9 children in school and 7 in kindergarten. The second  highlight was all the reindeer with their calves on the island – although it some places looked rather overgrazed. The vegetation is so scarce and slow growing up here. Cathel had a climb in the early eve and we all enjoyed a nice meal planning for next days departure filling with gas and hopefully water. bilde (1) bilde (6) bilde (5)    bilde (4) SONY DSC DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO 17. and 18. July – discovering Berlevåg and sailing to Mehamn Those small villages do not have much more than the bare essentials, but they are always relatively colourful and they nearly all have a small local museum. In Berlevåg we visited the local museum, among other things seeing a film about the building over several decades of a large mole to get a safe harbour using techniques from both Spain and latest from France, namely vast concrete tetrapods. These knit into each other and dissipate the force of the waves. And just recently Berlevåg won in the lottery – as a local woman told us – winning 120 mill. NOK for building a new harbour to be able to have larger fishing vessels, a new school and a wind turbine park. However they also face a huge dropout from high school here in the north partly because the youth have to leave home for high school, often growing up too early, getting partners and children. Later on we would learn that one of the instruments to try to keep youth in the North is an youth fishing quota, which allows them to earn 50 000 NOK. WE also managed to get a nice large halibut (kveite in Norwegian) from the fishing sorting industry! bilde We set off for Mehamn in the afternoon, for a shorter distance and arrived around 8 in the eve after a calm but rather boring motoring afternoon in the Arctic – brhh!!! It is cold up here. We were lucky to find a little hotel to get a shower in the morning in Mehamn and also seeing some dried cod on the rails. Else they do not like Røkke up here – who bought up the local fish processing industries, now exporting the fish to be processed in China and elsewhere and therefore now having a NAV office instead!! 16. July, departure to Berlevåg We had prepared ourselves culturally for the visit to Berlevåg watching the “Heftig og begeistret” (“Cool and Crazy” in the English version) DVD borrowed from the local library in Kirkenes – and it still is a very good film, humble to the local people, honest, fun and interesting!- and Yes we were ready for leaving now. Weather was good and the sea was calm so when the tide was high we left Kirkenes out through the long Varanger firth to the Barents Sea with some wind but a calm sea. We did 90 nautical miles taking us 18 hours with at maximum 5 sails (the genoa, the small jib, the mizzen stay, the top sail and the main sail) and the 40 horsepower Volvo diesel engine. On our way we were lucky to see a breaching whale and also a lot of seagulls, puffins, fulmar, skua, terns etc. We arrived 2.30 in the night through a double mole and found an empty place to moor alongside an old pier among all the fishing boats.   14-15 July, storm bound in Kirkenes We are storm bound in Kirkenes for a few days, so we enjoy some local walks, a visit to the excellent Borderland Museum, shopping, restocking, and another swim and sauna! The crew also help John to clean the decks, and the Hutchisons hire a car to visit the National Park. There is diesel at the pier as well as water from a hosepipe, and electricity if you have a long enough cable! After an aborted attempt to leave, we are joined by Peter and friend on board the German Frers ketch Freya, who sailed the same route as us, partly with RUSSARC. We are also visited by Øivind, the assistant Harbour Master, who has a girlfriend in Arkhangelsk, and we were happy to exchange news and views. He is a frequent visitor to Arkhangelsk, and travels there mainly by air from Murmansk.  a little mountain hike in Kirkenes / with a beard  bilde-3 Sunday 13th July. We finally get good sailing in a strengthening NE wind all the way into Kirkenes, where we tie up at the guest harbour. Karen and Philomena are already there, but first we have a visit from the police, acting for immigration. All cleared in, the ‘girls’ arrive and we set off soon for the hotel where they have arranged showers for the smelly crew, as well as a meal at the hotel. We are all quite sleepy, but also happy and grateful.   bilde-2 8. July to 13. July – Arkhangelsk to Kirkenes, through the White Sea and the Barents Sea Arkhangelsk is a long way up river from the sea, with much evidence of past and present forest and forest products industry, log floating, etc on the way up and down. It took us about 8 hours from the channel marker, well outside the delta, to the town centre and Solombola Yacht Club where we were moored alongside the ex-navy cutter, Belamorsk, now privately owned and with a very friendly and helpful crew of three. Alexander, Vladimir’s local agent and friend , came down river a fair way to meet us and show us the way into the yacht club, which needs local knowledge. First challenge was finding showers and a meal, and we solved this at the nearby hotel, some five minutes walk from the club. The club did not have a water hosepipe or diesel, all of which had to be carried or otherwise entered by hand into the tanks. In all, we entered 240 litres of diesel and 220 litres of water, giving us more or less full tanks for the long trip to Kirkenes. The weather picked up with a good deal of sun, so we got hot accomplishing the tasks. Alexander was not well as a result of his divorce, but he did show us his 60 year old Djekstra-built boat, Snark, which his is restoring. A fine old wooden hull originally built as w lobster fisher. Our friend from the Nordic Council project, Olgo, was also very helpful with translation, organisation and in many other ways including interpretation at the harbour office, shopping, and taking us to her wonderful old flat in the wooden building for lunch on the last day, when Alasdair arrived (without bag, lost en route by Aeroflot). We also met Olga’s friendly son and daughter. Water for drinking is typically supplied in large 20 litre bottles which are taken back. The water plant is close to the harbour and delivers. We had a tough day on the 8th dealing with harbour master (who needs to sign papers to allow exit), finishing othert tasks and small repairs, enjoying Olga’s company, and dealing with Alastair and Cathel’s arrival around 1pm. Aeroflot had succeeded in losing Alastairs bag in Sty Petersburg, and they will need to send it to Tromso if it turns up. WE had arranged to leave the yacht club with pilot on board at 1600, which we did, and motored downstream (much faster as the tide was also favourable most of the way) arriving at Pier number 1 (the lowest pier in the river) where the customs and immigration officials came on board to complete the necessary clearance procedures. Lots of use of Aldarion’s official boat stamp, which is an essential item of equipment here. We set off from the Pier again at 1930, and raised sail on the way to the channel buoy, getting some good sailing out to the ‘throat’ that joins the White Sea and the Barents. A good sail until turning up the throat, and after that a very rough night into sea (against tide) and with a strong-ish headwind! We are three persons on board, so we take it in turn to sleep for 3 hours, so that two persons are always ‘on’. The night is light being 65N and we get strong wind and rain in the early morning. While reducing sail (taking a reef in the main), the big Genoa blows out, with a large tear in the lower end of the leech. The weather is too rough to tray to take it down and put the smaller foresail up on the roller, so we reduce sail and suffer a heavier helm. The trip north through the throat involved some long tacks – sail was essential, as the engine could not drive the boat more than about 1.5 kts in the adverse sea conditions we found there. So we were all very relieved to enter the Barents sea proper on 11 July, and with that to have some sunny and clam weather to change the foresail, and do other accumulated tasks. But we are still only half way to Kirkenes in the morning! It is a long 500 miles! It is also cold, sine the winds are often northerly, and we have devised strategies to keep warmer such as wearing everything we have and partially closing the canopy! However, we do eat well despite everything. The wind is also variable, and while we do get some sailing, we are often close hauled, and need the engine to make progress with our schooner rig. To lighten us, we see a walrus, and several whales, also spouting, as well as a greater number of various sea birds. A seagull becomes a resident on the gas bottle holder on the stern for an hour, resting and enjoying some of our cured lamb!       Or at least fat of cured lamb! At some points we get a mobile phone connection when close enough to human habitation, and Karen finds a sail repairer in Tromsø to tackle the Genoa. We will send it from Kirkenes on the Hurtigruten ferry, and collect it when we reach Tromsø.It is comforting to have this connection, as well as the VHF check-in’s with Coastguard who are all along this coast. When we eventually reach the entrance to Murmansk late on Saturday 12 July, we find a large nuclear submarine behind us, keeping an eye on our near entry to a prohibited area. The event encourages us to pay attention and keep well clear of such areas, which are numerous around the peninsula of Poloustrov Rybachsy. Which separates Russia from Norway, Murmansk from Kirkenes. We have not had a shower for 5 days now, and look forward to this in Kirkenes, where Karen and Philomena arrived on Sunday 13th July.   While in the Murmansk area we think of the sailors who lost their lives north of here in the nuclear submarine accident some years ago. Approaching Kirkenes in a favourable wind, John contacts Vardø radio on the VHF to find out how to enter Norway (customs and immigration), and they in turn provide contact details for the harbour master in Kirkenes. Harbour master tells us to go to the small (2 boat) guest pontoon behind Prestoya where the immigration authorities will meet us. This happens in due course, and a policeman comes aboard to check our passports etc. He tells us that the Customs may come next morning, but there is no sign of them! We have nothing to declare in any case, having finished almost everything on board! Karen and Philomena join us and we later head into town for showers and a well-earned meal at the well-appointed and friendly Arctic Hotel.           A long and well-earned sleep is enjoyed by us all. Tuesday 8th July. Alas, there is no sign of Alexander, who must be ill. John decides to call friend Olga, who not only comes to the rescue but also gives us a nice lunch in her flat in an old wooden building in Solombola, about 10 minutes from the boat. We zoom arouynd by taxi, collect laundry, visit the harbour master, arrange a pilot to take us the Pier No 1 where we later clear out of Russia, Monday 7th July – Preparations for the White Sea in Arkhangelsk, find large 20 lite drums of water which are duly delivered to the boat, do last minute shopping, and keep us all smiling. That process continued even when Alasdair and Cathel arrived, A without his bag, which Aeroflot lost between St Petersburg and Arkhangelsk! Olga even found a nice thick sweater for Alasdair, knitted by her Grandmother.  What a day. At 4pm the pilot arrives and we head off for pier number 1, which is 2 hours down river than close to the open sea. This time the tide is mostly with us! Karen leaves early morning for a flight to St Petersburg and then on to Copenhagen. John fills diesel for some hours from 20L drums, with help from Dimitri on the MTB. Dimitri also helps John to find the right oil-filters for the boat at a motor spares market at the other side of this long, long town. John cleans the boat and washes floors. Then John has to go to the harbour masters office with all the boat and crew papers to get the leaving formalities completed. The harbour master explains that his permission only lasts 24 hours from the time of signing, which means 6pm tomorrow the 8th, unfortunately one hour before John has earlier told the Customs and Immigration officers we would clear out for Kirkenes! So its back again tomorrow at 2pm to get an extension. Arkhangelsk is a long way up river from the sea, with much evidence of past and present forest and forest products industry, log floating, etc on the way up and down. It took us about 8 hours from the channel marker, well outside the delta, to the town centre and Solombola Yacht Club where we were moored alongside the ex-navy cutter, Belamorsk, now privately owned and with a very friendly and helpful crew of three. Alexander, Vladimir’s local agent and friend , came down river a fair way to meet us and show us the way into the yacht club, which needs local knowledge. First challenge was finding showers and a meal, and we solved this at the nearby hotel, some five minutes walk from the club. The club did not have a water hosepipe or diesel, all of which had to be carried or otherwise entered by hand into the tanks. In all, we entered 240 litres of diesel and 220 litres of water, giving us more or less full tanks for the long trip to Kirkenes. The weather picked up with a good deal of sun, so we got hot accomplishing the tasks. Alexander was not well as a result of his divorce, but he did show us his 60 year old Djekstra-built boat, Snark, which his is restoring. A fine old wooden hull originally built as w lobster fisher. Our friend from the Nordic Council project, Olgo, was also very helpful with translation, organisation and in many other ways including interpretation at the harbour office, shopping, and taking us to her wonderful old flat in the wooden building for lunch on the last day, when Alasdair arrived (without bag, lost en route by Aeroflot). We also met Olga’s friendly son and daughter. Water for drinking is typically supplied in large 20 litre bottles which are taken back. The water plant is close to the harbour and delivers. We had a tough day on the 8th dealing with harbour master (who needs to sign papers to allow exit), finishing othert tasks and small repairs, enjoying Olga’s company, and dealing with Alastair and Cathel’s arrival around 1pm. Aeroflot had succeeded in losing Alastairs bag in Sty Petersburg, and they will need to send it to Tromso if it turns up. WE had arranged to leave the yacht club with pilot on board at 1600, which we did, and motored downstream (much faster as the tide was also favourable most of the way) arriving at Pier number 1 (the lowest pier in the river) where the customs and immigration officials came on board to complete the necessary clearance procedures. Lots of use of Aldarion’s official boat stamp, which is an essential item of equipment here. We set off from the Pier again at 1930, and raised sail on the way to the channel buoy, getting some good sailing out to the ‘throat’ that joins the White Sea and the Barents. A good sail until turning up the throat, and after that a very rough night into sea (against tide) and with a strong-ish headwind! We are three persons on board, so we take it in turn to sleep for 3 hours, so that two persons are always ‘on’. The night is light being 65N and we get strong wind and rain in the early morning. While reducing sail (taking a reef in the main), the big Genoa blows out, with a large tear in the lower end of the leech. The weather is too rough to tray to take it down and put the smaller foresail up on the roller, so we reduce sail and suffer a heavier helm. The trip north through the throat involved some long tacks – sail was essential, as the engine could not drive the boat more than about 1.5 kts in the adverse sea conditions we found there. So we were all very relieved to enter the Barents sea proper on 11 July, and with that to have some sunny and clam weather to change the foresail, and do other accumulated tasks. But we are still only half way to Kirkenes in the morning! It is a long 500 miles! It is also cold, sine the winds are often northerly, and we have devised strategies to keep warmer such as wearing everything we have and partially closing the canopy! However, we do eat well despite everything. The wind is also variable, and while we do get some sailing, we are often close hauled, and need the engine to make progress with our schooner rig. To lighten us, we see a walrus, and several whales, also spouting, as well as a greater number of various sea birds. A seagull becomes a resident on the gas bottle holder on the stern for an hour, resting and enjoying some of our cured lamb!       Or at least fat of cured lamb! At some points we get a mobile phone connection when close enough to human habitation, and Karen finds a sail repairer in Tromso to tackle the Genoa. We will send it from Kirkenes on the Hurigruten ferry, and collect it when we reach Tromso.It is comforting to have this connection, as well as the VHF check-in’s with Caostguard who are all along this coast. Hen we eventually reach the entrance to Murmansk late on Saturday 12 July, we find a large nuclear submarine behind us, keeping an eye on our near entry to a prohibited area. The event encourages us to pay attention and keep well clear of such areas, which are numerous around the peninsula of Poloustrov Rybachsy. Which separates Russia from Norway, Murmansk from Kirkenes. We have not had a shower for 5 days now, and look forward to this in Kirkenes, where Karen and Philomena arrived on Sunday 13th July.    While in the Murmansk area we think of the sailors who lost their lives north of here in the nuclear submarine accident some years ago.

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Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th July – Olga’s tremendous help to get us ready! Luckily for us, our friend Olga arrived back from the country and immediately offered help, John being in a panic about all the things to do, and not knowing how to do them in time (our Visas ran out on 8th July!). Alasdair and Cathel arrived on the morning of 8th, and Olga invited us all to her nice wooden flat for lunch, a good chance also to meet her son and daughter. That was in between shopping, fixing laundry, making arrangements with the harbour master, customs & immigration regarding clearing out of Russia, finding and filling water and diesel (drums), and all the other small things such as finding fresh oil filters and fuel filters and changing them, and of course the oil. In the end it all went well, and we were all amazed that we were able to sail exactly on time at 4pm on the 8th when the Pilot arrived to guide us downstream to the Pier No 1, where the officials met us and cleared us out without problems.

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The old wooden building where Olga’s flat is. Olga Alasdair and John in the photo, taken by Cathel.

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View of the Promenade, Arkhangelsk. A pleasant city on a wide stretch of the river.

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Abandoned wood processing plant. There are many plants, including one large new wood pellett plant, and signs of log floating on the way downstream.

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One of several commercial piers near Arkhangelsk

 

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Entering the White Sea again after clearing out of Russia

Sunday 6th July – Crew leaving in Arkhangelsk A gorgeous hot sunny day! Sergey helps to ensure that we get diesel and water, both of which are low! Karen and John shop. Sergey, Rory and Tia prepare to leave the boat. Suddenly it seems empty! We eat together in the evening- another BBQ. Vodka is becoming a habit! Sergey leave for the 9.30pm flight to St Petersburg and Rory and Tia depart for their hotel. Sergey – our Russian speaking sailor – was absolutely essential to the trip, especially for language and dealing with the authorities and paper work. We could not have done it without him, even had the regulations not made it a requirement. bilde bilde-3 Saturday 5 July – Entering the Arkhangelsk firth There is no night to speak of at this time of year, and the red sky is visible the entire night. Seals pop up to investigate from time to time, and puffins motor by. It takes until after midday to enter the long channel into the northerly river in the large arkhangelsk delta, and we slowly wind our way upstream, eventually being joined by Alexander in a motor boat, who guides us further upstream to Solombola. We tie up against an ex-naval MTB type made of aluminium at the nice small sailing club. A tough sail for all, we decide to see showers and something to eat in the nearest hotel.   bilde-13 bilde-2 bilde-4 Friday 4 July – Overnight sail from Solovetskij to Arkhangelsk We set off for the overnight sail to Arkhangelsk around 1pm after various duties. It is a fine day, and although the wind is light and the sea very calm we sail at up to 6-7 kts at times with all 5 sails set for some of the time. We see a white whale (beluga whale) when leaving, and again later in large numbers between the island of xxx and the mainland, where there is a shallow channel. The channel is shown aas having cardinal and other marks and buoys on the C-map of the white sea, but it does not in fact have any! bilde-5 bilde-6 Thursday 3 July – A day at Solovetskij John and Karen have early rain baths on deck in the morning and try to funnel the rain into the water tanks without much success. Yet it dries up and turns into a lovely day! Rory and Tia find good showers We visit the hugely interesting and surprising Monastary, into which the aristocratic St Peter poured so much resource and entrepreneurial ideas and drive, with a dry dock, fresh water lake, canals, etc. Anna was her guide, and she proved her worth as a historian, which she is. There are about a thousand people living on the islands, many of whom came as scientists of one kind or another. The monks were curious about Aldarion and came down to visit. Karen and John have a ‘Banya’ (sauna) in a nice small hotel which we like. We eat a BBQ together, but late! bilde-14  bilde-12  bilde-11  bilde-10 bilde-7  bilde-8   Wednesday 2 July Decide to set off for Solavetsky Islands, and find fairly strong NE headwinds on the long channel out, which takes forever! Eventually get sailing, but then a storm approaches and we reduce sail in anticipation, Rory spotting strong winds approaching while at the helm. The storm comes with heavy rain, thunder and lightening and flukey winds, and lasts a long time, almost to Solovestky, which we reach in mid afternoon, seeing the impressive minarets of the monastery in the mist. The mooring situation is difficult because of a visiting ‘Commission’ and Sergey and Skipper take off with the harbourmaster to view a totally unsafe small pontoon, which we refuse. The weather improved, the harbour master is persuaded by Sergey to let us stay and we hunker down for the night with the canopy on and heater to warm us up. We eat at the nearest hotel which provides splendid fresh cod.  bilde-9 Tuesday 1 July Our last day on the Belamorsk canal proper ended with a lot of paper filling below the bridge and above the sea lock at Belamorsk. The forecast being for advserse winds, we decided to stay the night at the pier of the harbour authority, for whom many forms were duly filled in. belamorsk village house with loo and vegetables  customs office in belamorsk   Monday 30. June – Belamorsk, village visit and hosting locals Set off from a nice anchorage again – so easy to anchor here and such nice places, very peaceful with no noise and no artificial lights, although the Northern latitude gives us sun nearly the whole night. Most of us had bucket baths in the morning, very refreshing, and we also aired the bedding and did more laundry while in fresh water. The soft blue bucket is very useful and has also become our laundry sink, and it works perfectly. Another thing is that Karen realises that Belamorsk lake water gives a very silky hair! Anyhow we had agreed to have a stop at a village today as Rory and Tia have seen very many birch trees and locks but are missing a bit of local culture. So in the afternoon the skipper finally accepted to moor at a small, awkward, pier and Tia, Rory and Sergey went off for a walk, see the surroundings and find a shop. Karen and John were visited by a young woman – Oksana with her two sons – Misha and Slava, who went home for gifts of Russian champagne, dried Aborre (small lake fish), and some local crafts made by Oksana. The Aborre is very good with beer. Karen made tea and biscuits and Misha had chocolates, while we enjoyed some small chats in difficult Russian X English! The village of 2000 or so people has a school with 200 pupils where Oksana teaches, her husband works on the railway, oldest son is working in Petrazavodsk, Slava is off to college and Misha is in first grade. The village has a couple of food shops, one with a lot of hardware, and a pharmacy. And then there are the locks, but a paper pulp plants have closed down and also a sawmill, so it is not a prosperous rural area. The kindness of local people here is always amazing and wonderful. The dinner was a nice BBQ with the pike-perch stuffed with herbs by Tia and Rory, potatoes and dressed with dill, garlic and other herbs. Very nice and delicate. The smokers saw a very nice, if rather red, rainbow in the wee hours. And we saw the Russarc group passing by in the late evening. Next day we found they had stopped below the 14th lock for the night. Oksana and her two sons visiting  Tias perch with potatoes and parsley Sunday 29. June – on Belamorsk Canal What a nice morning! Setting off at 9 am for the next locks. This days’ highlight was the shopping we the crew were allowed to do! Sergey and Karen climbed from the top of the lock and went on land into a large shed where a small shop was hidden / so we got some essentials like milk, tomatoes, Pentalini, rings, some delicate small Russian cakes and vanilla ice cream recommended by the shop lady! And a couple of the lock men wanted us to buy fish / suppose they add to their income / so we agreed and they came then in a small boat after leaving the lock with a large perch although frozen! We are looking forward to a nice BBQ perch stuffed with herbs tomorrow eve! Else the Garmin GPS-plotter suddenly stopped to show the depths, but the route is well marked with markers and line pointers as well – so easy to navigate on the sometimes shallow lakes, canals and river. We managed at some point to scratch the bottom of the lake when forgot the sailing direction showing white and red at port and starboard side respectively. … Had a nice chatty eve – after outside dinner – discussions about democracy, Scottish independence, Johns book and Swiss democracy – as Sergey said after vodka, wine and whisky the talk and the discussion get into politics!  locks2  locks Saturday 28. June – motoring on Onega and entering the Belamorsk canal We motored on and on and on and on up Onega, with no wind, passing lots of forested islands and sometimes with some small villages on them. At the end of the day the entrance to the Belamorsk canal finally appeared and after a bit of waiting and Sergey communicating with the lock keepers (proudly bearing Kalashnikov’s!) we went into the first lock. We got pretty soon well organized with two ropes out from each end of the boat and tied at the middle to one hook in the lock. Rory is good to throw and tighten the ropes! And Sergey communicates on the short wave radio. We did 5 times 2 locks before we found a large peaceful pier in the birch forest. It turns out that they are doing up the Belamorsk canal – started off by Putin in 2011. We see that they are doing nice maintenance on the canal houses, new windows etc. painting the porches in the lock, new light etc. More transport on the canal is expected in the future with a warmer Arctic, an opening of the North-West passage and people moving North. We were also told that they are investing in hydropower utilizing the energy from the lock processes to produce energy. Down in the Galley Tia eventually started cooking – again a delight with Sergey’s three fish caught the evening before with a delicious tomato type sauce and rice, all Bryden family are just good at cooking and food is important for all of us. Ended with some French cheeses which T and R brought from Charles de Gaulle airport on their way. a nice sunny anchorage Beloved Russian food Small salty rings, Small bread biscuits to dip in tea or coffee The noodles / pentalini Vodka Kilka Potatoes bought in the villages Fresh fish from the lakes Lobostokk to “spice” Friday 27. June – Kizhi Islands and Lake Onega It was a beautiful calm morning with full sun so the spirit was good when we set off for heading further North on lake Onega with Kizhi Islands as the first stop. The sails went up although with the engine going as there was only a small wind – beautiful island landscape in Onega which must be a paradise for birds and we also so the Caspian terns again as well as a lot of swallows. The Simrad GPS-plotter with use of C-map is a fantastic devise for navigation. We can stand up in the cockpit and see all marks, depths, ships around us if they have a satellite sender and of course how Aldarion cruises in the water. The helmsman shifts around between the crew but at the challenging bits the skipper himself prefer to be on the tiller! Anyhow some small fishing boats, some small settlements mostly with wooden houses / and here in Russia many of the old style houses are rather squared with a wide gable and several windows facing towards the river or the lake. We meet also a lot of these river cruiseships either coming with tourists from Moscow, St. Petersburg or the hydrofoils from Petrazavodsk. Suddenly we see the large wooden cathedral with the clock tower and the a bit smaller Protection church in the horizon with a lot of the wooden onion domes. The Kizhi island is a UNESCO heritage site and a living museum and Kizhi was historically a large merchant place as well as having a Ting and a religious centre. We arrive and eventually get a place along an old pier to moor with local help. Now we are at a touristic spot with a lot of visitors and some few souvenir shops. So we entered and paid the tickets and went around to see how Russian large peasant farmers and smaller farmers, blacksmith etc. lived in the 19th century . The churches magnificent craftsmanship is said to be the pride of local joiners. We saw large farmhouses with their interior and some locals working there doing tasks like weaving, wood carving, black smithing etc. Outside there would be a little field and a boat of two, some fishing gear, places to dry hey and a banya (if black it means the banya is without a chimney). Also some of the houses had no chimney which according to Rory is due to impregnation and better keeping of the wood. The whole island and the people working there as museum guides, making crafts or selling coffee is a museum but then also a place for work and a place to live. Anyhow weird to be a tourist – in a way we all felt well being back on the boat after the visit and a few shoppings. After some few hours more motoring and some sailing we anchored by a little bay and had a delightful dinner – Russian barley, grape and parsley salad with meatloaf and a vodka as a predinner drink. We all love vodka! Sergey went off fishing on an island and the morning showed some few fish! Kizhiri island  tia Petrazavodsk Wednesday 25. and Thursday 26. June Two tasks were on the list for Wednesday: stocking the boat with food, water and other needs and going to the Akvatika swimming pool with water slides, jacuzzis and saunas. Shopping is a complicated business with needed help for translations from Sergey, finding ourselves around and there are always long dialogues for planning things like getting a taxi or finding the right meat or whatever. However the boat was stocked and we got nicely heated and exercised in Akvatika. What luxury not to need to turn the water off immediately, having a shower and getting warmed up in a sauna! Later on Sergey, Tanera and Robin went hunting for water, filled large bottles transported them put into backpacks on the foldable bike. Basic needs. Girls got their diaries done – with some help of granddad so we all got sorted. The day after it was crew change but Tan and Robin first helped us with the boat, carrying more water, cleaning, etc. We then went for diesel to a place 5 km south of Petrazavodsk where we met the Russarc and Daniel who again wanted us to join his expedition! We suspect he thinks Aldarion would be a nice advertisement! This former oil terminal is a good harbour and the only one with a diesel filler pipe at the pier. However, it did not have a water pipe! All is transacted in Russian, and we don’t know what we would do without Sergey on board. The girls mentioned their highlights on the trip – being the swim in Svir, the visit at Tatiana, being on the boat, seeing the bridges opening in St. Petersburg at night etc. and they sang again and again “Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver” and so many other songs. Such a highlight to have these girls on the boat. Having Tanera, Robin and co has really just been great. We all met in the evening in a Karelian restaurant, including Tia and Rory who now will join the boat until Arkhangelsk and who had arrived at 3am after a long train journey from St Petrsburg. The forecast is good, so we will leave early tomorrow morning for Kizhiri island.  story reading  crew  a quiet moment Tuesday 24. June, lake Onega in storm and rain Just a very long tough day with heavy wind, lots of rain, seasickness and 13 hours with engine on and 4-5 sails up. Polliadh and Veyatie were both first very happy with the roller coaster departure, jumping up and down. However soon they appeared more bleak and ready for the sink – Tanera dealt with them and had eventually to get up on deck to refresh her own health. Karen thought she could manage but also got sick and were lying down like V and P most of the trip. Good that John, Robin and Tanera are more robust! They had to cope with the rain, the wind and the many hours. Tanera suggested to go to Petrazavodsk instead of Svir – a wise suggestion and so we arrived searching for a marina or similar 21-22 in the eve – after dinner we got into bed around midnight and we all slept until late morning. rough day  rough   Monday 23. June, Svir and on to lake Onega A good start of the day with some few calm hours on river Svir and later on with a long and good sail on lake Onega with a good North Eastern wind. We headed for a potential diesel station at the Western bank, but the place was still in development and no diesel for us. Anyhow we had got an extra can by Tatiana and Nicolai, so no problem. Anchored at a nice spot on the Western side of Svir beside another school ship type sailing boat with a lot of youth on board “the young sailor of the North” belonging to Karelian Oblast. Had again a very good eve enjoying the dinner on deck, Robin and Sergey went off with the dinghy to an island and came back and put out the fishing, with only a small catch in the morning though. During the night the wind increased.   swim in svir  sergey plants   Sunday 22. June – the most quiet peaceful eve at the river Svir Left not too early which is easy from an anchorage. Had a just wonderful day on Svir with small villages, and eventually very much birch forest and very high birch trees. The highlight of the day was the first swim in Svir. Tanera, Veyatie and Polliadh went in first, later on Robin and last Sergey that eve. John and Karen are proud of the boat bucket wash every morning and decided to have their swim as a morning bath. … We anchored at a just wonderful peaceful place by an island where Sergey went over with the dinghi to collect mushrooms. He came back a couple of hours later with a nice collection of plants and non-eatable mushrooms… even a nightingale was heard! Today was also the day of our first kefir-processing in the sun on deck with a slash of kefir in some sour milk. Next morning it turned out to be a nice treat! The late dinner needed a little treat before dinner so Robin created a nice piece of toasted hleb with sprat alias kilka in Russian alias brisling and with lovage alias lobistokk alias løvstikke / a very good treat (actually a very Danish taste!) Robin made BBQ on Johns great BBQ to hang on the rail – so everybody had a great dinner on deck with wine, good food, later on fried bananas with melted chokolate and a dash of brandy! Nice adult chat to end the eve.   Visiting Tatiana and Nikolai in Keso…. Saturday 21. June Also Robin and Tanera’s 11th Wedding anniversary celebrated late eve with Champagnskaya This was the day we visited our new Russian friends Tatiana and Nikolai. Tatiana and Karen met in Pskov about a month ago and Tatiana invited us to visit on our trip – so a lot of phone calls were made during some few hours of motoring on Svir in a beautiful landscape with lots of villages, dachas, large ugly iron carriage vessels, lots of sawmills, wood being transported (exported to Germany and Finland) we were met by a waving Tatiana on a small pier welcoming us. After first tying up on the other side of the river we were advised to anchor, not letting young vodka drinking Russian men be too curious about the boat! Tatiana rowed the cabin girls and Karen to her and Nikolai’s home just by the river! The two girls were so confident coming with us; they loved immediately the goat milk, the small neat cakes, the rough surroundings with all the animals, presenting themselves “Menya zavoot Veyatie” and lots of “spasibas”. Tatiana and Nikolai have two houses, the old dacha and a new home they both were building for themselves, for their new life in this community. Tatiana is a veterinarian and Nikolai an engineer, both still working, they also have a subsistence household with lots of vegetables, animals (goats, a horse, cats, a dog, ten sheep, hens). Also a VW style 4 wheel drive military transporter in which we all went to Pedpazaroy to see a bit of landscape, town and shop – with lots of sweeties and vodka. Tatiana and Nikolai are very, very nice and great hosts, and live just the right sustainable way I think we all more or less felt! V and P loved the fresh goat milk – we all did actually! Nikolai barbecued some mouthwatering pork outside, and fed the animals, while we all had beer and dried fish from the river. The dinner was served inside and with the pork we got lots of fresh herbs, tomatoes, potatoes from the garden, all served with some tastes of vodka / finalizing with Tatiana’s 9 species of forest herbal tea! They have 3 children who are studying in St. Petersburg, where they also lived until 8 years ago. They bought this dacha and are now making it their permanent home and renting out the older of the two houses for summer guests. We had good and fun talks as far as one gets when most things must be translated through Sergey or some simple German between Nikolai and Karen. Pollaidh and Veyatie were also very delighted by the small handmade animals made by Tatiana’s mother (babushka) and were given several when we left, to their joy. We returned to the anchored Aldarion in Svir presenting itself from its most beautiful side in this evening with “red sky at night –shepherds delight”, laden with homemade borst soup, extra fresh herbs for it, fresh goat’s milk and memories of a wonderful visit. We are all welcome here whenever we like. Such a visit is a highlight that beats everything, we only found we did not have enough ways to say thank you to our hosts! New appearances on the food front are “Lobistokk” (løvstikke), goat milk, vodka is delicious, and the forest herbs used in Tatiana’s tea whose secret we still have to unravel – we only know that raspberry leaf was one of them… Bridges and locks as well as municipal small demoliated harbour piers are all contacted ahead either through Vladimir or/and Sergey. There are always several messages going back and forward and we also learned that the decision maker changes during the week, e.g. Saturdays no one can take a decision, but with a bottle of vodka a lot of things can be organized and in the end it is rather easy. And there are no other large expensive plastic motorboats to be aware of, which is relaxing! IMG_0690 IMG_0674  IMG_0682 IMG_0685 IMG_0686vegetables and vvodkavw trip in russia banya The first bridge on Svir and the first lock Friday 20 June Setting off early in rain which rather quickly stopped and we gradually got into the Russian rural riverside landscape with birch forest in marshland, small villages in between pretty houses leaning to one side or the other, of timber, wood or what ever goes and painted partly bluish, greenish or even pink as the hydropower station at …. The first bridge – a manually managed bridge, which we eventually first understood during the waiting time. Time spent together with the Rusarc expedition with Daniel the captain of the leading yacht, Peter I. They do a race to Novaja Semja every year and guide some 4-5 boats to Archangelsk on their way. Tough crew, no doubt about that, ready for more challenging weather and sea than lake Ladoga, which for us also was just a piece of cake! First lock appears and of course these locks always are challenging, mostly because you do not know what the system and the rules. Experienced from last year we were equipped with a board outside the fenders, ropes at both ends, a boat hook and Robin, Tanera, Sergey and Karen placed at different spots. However only one rope was allowed to be tied to the lock side, so we had to push and hold to keep Aldarion off . However we later learned that a ‘springer’ is best, as suggested by the captain of Peter I, we put out two ropes from the bow and stern, tied to the same point on the lock side, which can be adjusted from the boat. After the lock we found a little simple municipal pier with a small shop, a kind of tourist hut area or for school children or … Sergey will tell us later… an arrangement established from 1917 onwards … got nicely settled in a sunny eve with a good meal (think it was the fish from Lake Ladoga and owen potatoes), got a boat bath (at least some of us!). Later on John, Veyatie, Pollaidh and Karen explored the village with people enjoying their small gardens and community on a lovely June evening. my holiday v derevne DCIM100GOPROpetr I   DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO wood banya Ladoga Thursday 19. June No rest on this boat! An early start at 6am, to cross Lake Ladoga (emphasis on the first syllable), the largest lake in Europe, covering 188, 000 km – more than 4 times the size of Denmark from west to east. The winds were a bit on and off, however we got 3-4-5 sails up and had up to 7 knots sailing in between, not bad. Aldarion is so beautiful with her sails up – not least against a clear and sometimes blue sky! The trip was long, the girls got bored – a bit of cabin fever started to arise! How many bracelets of rubber rings can you make, how many books has Veyatie brought to read, how many songs can you sing, how many domino games with dad can you play and how many drawings can you make. School is over and it’s holiday, and here they are left with little space, a diesel engine running and 7 people on a 38 feet sailing boat! A pillow war in the evening down below when the others are on deck was the solution! Good fun and after a good meal, and some sweets, then off to bunk and hammock with big smiles. It is such a pleasure and good fun to have Pollaidh and Veyatie on the boat – positive, chatty, ‘singy’ and acrobatics can also be done in the ropes, on the tiller, through the hatch and up again. We now anchored for the first time at the beginning of the river Svir at a small village (Derevne in Russian) on a calm, sunny and beautiful late evening, ending the 14 hour passage from Ladoga to Svir. There were lots of small fishing boats, and even some campers, in a marsh area – a paradise for migrating birds – very beautiful and calming, nearly meditative. We managed with Sergey’s help to get next evening’s meal fixed as we got a couple of fish from one of the boats when they returned around midnight. v tired reading DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO fishing in ladoga Slisselburg Wednesday 18. June Slisselburg fortress or Oreshek in Russian has a long history from early medieval times, being sometime in command of the Swedes who conquered the area early 1600 and sometimes the Russians, even the Germans were here. It was used as a gulag in the late 19th century, and early part of the 20th, and then Stalin used it as a prison for revolutionaries, many who were bright intellectuals who had played important parts in the October revolution in 1917. A poor reward for their efforts fighting for better conditions for the people under the tough Imperial regime. After our visit to the castle, we discovered a small café on an old barge, newly opened (or not quite opened) and run by a young couple. We had some beer and the girls some ‘soc’ (juice) and tried to ignore the delicious smell coming from their barbeque!   DCIM100GOPRO swedish-rissia accoord kafe at slisselburg@ St. Petersburg, Thursday 12. June to Tuesday 17. June This became a much longer stay than planned. Anyhow this made room for better preparations for the tour. Lots of food was needed, small things to be fixed on the boat, Vladimir came along and last things negotiated and then on Monday everybody was very excited to get off. The cabin girls Veyatie and Pollaidh went to bed and by 12 we set off heading first for filling with diesel. Of course we, the new – and still a bit unskilled – crew lost a fender, but skipper John has enough of these, so not a big thing. Next task was to pick up the pilot at 1.30 before the first bridge and then …a drama… the bloody gear box stopped working … no possibility to move either forward or backward. So in the early hours of the morning in St. Petersburg we then got stuck, tying up at an old barge full of holes and unsafe places, with confusing messages in different languages, a crew with different kinds of skills, and uncertainty about how to solve the problem. The night departure was extended and the next day’s task was to do the repairs put mostly in the hands of the men on the boat with Sergey and Robin as the skilled mechanics… After tours in town to workshops, on internet etc. we finally departed Monday eve in dry weather – it was a magical scene with all the bridges opening for us and for all the larger commercial tankers, barges, towing vessels and other shipping. The Hermitage and the Winter Palace took a long time to pass. Tsar Peter had large thoughts about the city and himself and built an incredible palace on the Neva, to the cost of many suffering ordinary people. BUT the tour through St. Petersburg was stunning and kept us alert and awake despite this being the second night with very little sleep. The journey went on and on, and eventually, in the early morning, with rain pouring over us and still with John at the tiller, we fortunately had to wait at a bridge for 3 hours, and everybody headed to the bunks for a couple of hours sleep. We continued on, with seemingly endless forest on either bank, with few houses, commercial boats and barges carrying huge stacks of wood and other cargo, and large river cruise ships, either passing us or meeting us until we finally arrived at Slisselburg, where we were lucky enough to be able to tie up at a pier on the island (cost: one bottle of vodka!), the site of the fortress known as Oreshek or (Noteburg by the Swedes) built by Russians and later fortified by Swedes. The evening meals were great pleasures, kedgeree (a variation renamed Lagoda Stew for the Aldarion recipe book!) , sausage stew, and pork in a delicious sauce.. We all feel healthy starting off with porridge, teas and eventually getting fresh herbs and vegetables also from dachas etc. … but have then to finish off the day with crisps, wine and whisky! bridge opening  10514707_10152257717088123_1788505707758105991_n castle st petbrg DCIM100GOPRO taneras lunch with johns lamb Monday 16 June. Tonight we leave St Petersburg, have been tourists since arriving last Thursday. Also numerous small duties to accomplish, and hurdles to overcome. We changed crew on Friday, when Alasdair, Cathel, Doug and Preeya departed from the boat and Tanera, Robin, Veyatie and Pollaidh (‘cabin girls’) joined for the next fortnight or so, along with Karen who joined us on Saturday pm. The two cabin girls immediately scrubbed the deck! Vadimir looked after us very well while we were based in the Central River Yacht club, at the tip of Petrovsky Island, where facilities were ok – with water, electricity, loos and showers, and a lot of restaurants. The problem was noise every night except the last – from numerous fashionable night spots that have gravitated towards the sailing clubs in recent years. There are also conspicuously rich people around here, as well as very pleasant ‘normal’ sailors. But evidently an increasing number of large plastic motor palaces, and several very expensive cars and bodyguards! I think we will be very happy to be sailing inland to the rural areas. We also discovered that we had a problem putting the new C-MAP set of maps for Russian inland waterways into the Simrad plotter, eventually working out – with the help of Lars and Kaare in Denmark, that this was because the software had not been updated since purchase three years ago. Fortunately help was to hand in the form of Varvara (Barbara) Okhrimenko who handles Simrad (among other) here is St Petersburg through her firm Zora-Yacht and who came along with the updates and fixed everything in time, for free! Varvara has a Hanse yacht and has sailed to Bornholm. From Kotka, Finland, to St Petersburg, Russia. Tuesday 10 June to Thursday 12 June. On Tuesday 10 June, crew shopped and saw the sights, including the working wooden boat museum where Doug and Preeya saw an old Nicholson being restored. Skipper went to get essential documents copied for the Russian authorities. Kotka, although an industrial town, has many nice parks, at least one going back to the time of Catherine the Great. The flowers and shrubs were looking well. We set off after lunch, and being without wind motored most of the way to small fishing village at the south end of the island of Kaunissaari (60deg20’.6N; 026deg46’.3E), which turned out to be charming in every way – good if simple facilities, an interesting and unusual fishing museum, good walks with no cars, and a good restaurant where we had a good meal of salmon soup followed by excellent horse!   On Wednesday 11 June, we set off in another fine sunny morning towards the small island of Haapasaari, where the Finnish marine border post is located. A lovely reach towards the SE in SW winds. We moored there at the refuelling dock in the inner harbour (quite a shallow and very narrow entrance), had lunch and the crew had a walk while the skipper took an afternoon nap. We motored around to the customs quay at 1700, and cleared out of Finland soon after. Good winds blessed our sail towards the Russian border (where we raised the Russian ensign and tried to call Coastguard on Channel 16 without success) and traffic separation scheme, which we joined around 2230, sailing east towards the entry point at the old Naval port of Kronshtadt. We mainly sailed, which many accompanying cruise ships, cargo vessels, and others, overnight, arriving at Kronshtadt at 0930 on Thursday 12th, where we tied up at the Passport control and customs quay. Good friend and CA representative Vladimir Ivankiv join us there soon after and helped us with the entry and clearance procedures, which were surprisingly painless if fairly detailed and lengthy. Thanks to Vladimir’s warning in the Baltic newsletter or CA magazine, we avoided the fate of the Australian last year by having a typed list of prescribed medicines on board, signed and stamped by my Doctor, Magnus Ursin, and also signed by me on the Aldarion stamp, specially designed for such purposes by Tanera, who joins us with Robin and my grandchildren tomorrow! Ah, these stamps are important in Russia! We then proceeded via the shallower channel (short cut) from Kronshtadt to the Central River Yacht Club in St Petersburg, where we tied up on a pontoon on the west wall, opposite the club house. Vladimir was there to help, with a young man from the Club. We are settled here for a few days for crew change, stores, sim cards, money, and all the other things needed before heading North on Sunday or Monday. Sergey, our obligatory Russian speaking sailor, but also now friend as well, will join us for the passage through Russia, which is wonderful.     DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPROFDCIM100GOPRO Idyllic Pool, Bockhamn, Finland                                       Great Crew in inner leads of Finland DCIM100GOPRO  DCIM100GOPRO   Sorry to see Thea leaving us in Helksinki!                     Doug at the helm after Helsinki DCIM100GOPRO Moored in Bockhamn Finland On Sunday 8th June we refuel and 10’ish and after that set off eastwards. However, the wind died completely as the sun got higher, and eventually we rly on the motor to take us to the idyllic pool of Bockhamn (60deg16.1N;026deg00.0E) where we tie up bows in, stern to a buoy. It is BBQ weather, and we have some excellent Helsinki beef. There are dry toilets ashore, but no water or electricity. Monday brings a good wind from the west, and we put up all five sails and sail for about 9 hours east to the town of Kotka (60deg27.45N, 026deg57.19E)where we tie up alongside the guest finger pontoons at the sailing club harbour. Here we enjoy a sauna and shower, and an excellent Thai meal cooked by Doug and Preeya. Excellent sauna but, as seems to be fairly common, the wifi does not work! The reason for coming to this industrial town is to have the documents needed for Russia copied 4 times which seems to be what is needed, Today, Tuesday we plan to find a quieter harbour for the night before heading for Haapisaari where we check out of Finland on Wednesday afternoon and head for the border post at Kronshstadt, just outside St Petersburg. The winds are forecast to remain in favourable quadrants, mainly westerly. Visby Götland to Helsinki, Tuesday 3rd June-Friday 6th June (two nights at sea). We fuelled up in Visby (pumps at the NW corner of the harbour, and operated by the marina office in visitors section) around lunchtime and set off in damp cold fog for the North of the Island, rounding Färō island and passing between between Färō and the curious island of Gotska Skanda to the open Baltic around 2300. The sea was as nearly ever ‘Balticly’ troubled, and the wind, originally in our face, eventually picked up from the SE, as forecast, and gave us at least some fast -if cold – night sailing towards the NE. Sky cleared in the morning, but the wind also dropped. John and Thea took the first and third watches and Alasdair and Cathel took the second and fourth. Crossed into Estonian waters around 9.30am on Wednesday 4th June and raised the Estonian flag an hour later. Engine supported sailing for most of the day with wind east of north east, but the wind picked up during the afternoon and we sailed between 5 and 8 kts for a while before it moved northerly and we were headed more west before deciding to tack up the west and north arms of the traffic separation area. Eventually we cross back to Finnish waters. Much shipping going out of the Gulf of Finland in the early stages of the night, and much coming in in the morning. What a blessing the AIS is. On reflection, however, we should have avoided tacking into wind and sea, which became very slow and lost a lot of time, and sacrificed easterly progress for northerly progress, after which we could have followed the calm inner leads. At 2015 we moor between Store Svatrto and Lilla Svarto in the inner lead between Hanko and Helsinki. Sunny warm morning, and we all had a quick swim – much needed after two nights and days at sea. We weigh the anchor at 0835 on Friday and head for Helsinki, arriving at the HSK (Helsinki Sailing Club) around 1230. Welcomed first by the very helpful harbour master and then by our friendly club HLR, Eric von Troll. A very nice spot to stay with excellent facilities built about 3 years ago, and close to Volvo, Chandlers and K supermarket. Thea left for Denmark in the afternoon, and Doug and Preeya joined the crew. Eric came aboard for a while. A quick trip to the Volvo workshop, chandlery and supermarket for spare parts, food, etc. Saturday is a day for sightseeing, repairs and stores, and it is mostly a fine sunny day, although there was some rain in the morning. We replace the choke (stop) cable, but have a lot of improvisation to make to get it to fit! We also replace the sender unit for the fuel guage in the header tank and get that working. Finally, we try to stop the leak in the heads pump, if with only partial success. On Sunday we refuel and 10’ish and after that set off eastwards. However, the wind died completely as the sun got higher, and eventually we rly on the motor to take us to the idyllic pool of Bockhamn (60deg16.1N;026deg00.0E) where we tie up bows in, stern to a buoy. It is BBQ weather, and we have some excellent Helsinki beef. There are dry toilets ashore, but no water or electricity. Monday brings a good wind from the west, and we put up all five sails and sail for about 9 hours east to the town of Kotka (60deg27.45N, 026deg57.19E)where we tie up alongside the guest finger pontoons at the sailing club harbour. Here we enjoy a sauna and shower, and an excellent Thai meal cooked by Doug and Preeya. Excellent sauna but, as seems to be fairly common, the wifi does not work! The reason for coming to this industrial town is to have the documents needed for Russia copied 4 times which seems to be what is needed, Today, Tuesday we plan to find a quieter harbour for the night before heading for Haapisaari where we check out of Finland on Wednesday afternoon and head for the border post at Kronshstadt, just outside St Petersburg. The winds are forecast to remain in favourable quadrants, mainly westerly.June 2nd. Moored safe in Visby, Gotland, with strong NE winds forecast, so have a lazy day sightseeing in this lovely hanseatic town. Another cold clear sunny day with N winds. We are all impressed with Gotland, where the special Gotland sheep fleeces come from with very tight curls – good for winter coats, but very expensive! Here we get internet access again, as well as luxuries like a shower and washing machine. We even plan to eat out tonight! DCIM100GOPRO The crew in Visby! Looking happy as usual! DCIM100GOPRO   In the old 13thC Abbey, Visby. ADCIM100GOPRO   In the Visby Botanic Garden. Thea with Gotland wool hat on! DCIM100GOPRO   Wooden tree stump sculpture of the great botanist Linneus in Visby Botanic Garden.   DCIM100GOPRO The sea wall, part of the old city wall, Visby, with ceramic and bronze scultpure, artist not named. 1st of June, an early rise in Bergkvara, Oland and sail north to the north tip of Oland island in light northerly wind. Then tack across to Visby, Gotland, arriving late evening after a mainly good sail with NNW to N winds, some engine assistance. Another great day – cold and clear with sun.   DCIM100GOPRO Sailing with sun and wind! Few things are so perfect. Up early again on Saturday 31 May and head for Kalmar, where we tie up at 0930 after 22nm motoring (no wind!). Shop and shower. Crew investigates this fine small historic town with its fine Castle where the Kalmar Treaty was signed in 1397, joining the kingdom’s of Sweden, Denmark and Norway. The Bishop of Trondheim (Nidaros), whose territory also covered Orkney and Shetland at the time, sent a Scot to represent him at the event. The Chandlery stays open until 2pm on a Saturday, so we also acquire 2 extra gas bottles. On Friday 30th May we set off at 0540am in a good NW wind, and mostly sail across to N of Utklippen on the SE corner of Sweden with all five sails drawing, and making up to 8kts. We then continue more northerly into the Sound of Kalmar and moor in the small harbour of Bergkvara, Gorpen. Peter helps us in to a bow mooring, and we invite him on board for a dram later. Another glorious – but very long – day’s sailing, covering around 85-90nm. On Thursday 29 May we set off at 0620 to clear the south coats of Sweden. Lightish winds unexpected, but from NE, so we sail, but get pushed south somewhat. Arrive late pm in Simnishanm. Filled water tanks etc. Monday, 26 May. Quick shopping in the morning for some emergencies. Thea Maria Winther came aboard. We set off in light winds and sun for the Fastelbro bridge and canal, a short cut around the SW tip of Sweden. Held up at the bridge for just over an hour because of rush hour? Eventually exit canal around 6.10pm and head east, stopping in Gislövs Lage east of Trelleborg, southern Sweden. Held up there for 2 days because of NE gales. Pleasant village and harbour, with small shop, and some fine old fishing boats, preserved by a local society. Hold up and wind forecasts mean that we will not get to Bornholm on this trip. Anholt Island to Copenhagen, and on to Sunday 25 May. Another great sailing day, with favourable winds and sun. Arrived in Christianshavn, central Copenhagen, around 10pm, and quickly turned in, for another quiet night. Copenhagen Opera House viewed on arrival. DCIM100GOPRO Aalborg to Anholt Island in the Kattegat, Saturday 24 May. A very nice reach across to Anholt in a good SW wind, and blue skies. Another royal send off from Karen’s aunt Vibeke, who brought fresh morning rolls at 6.30 am or so! Plenty of room in Anholt, where we spent a quiet night. Anholt Island’s Ferry from Aldarion:- DCIM100GOPRO   From Skive to Aalborg, Friday 23 May We (myself, Alasdair & Cathel Hutchison) had a royal send off after a stormy night with wind and thunder etc. from Gunnar, Poula, Lars and Nils, helped by a nip of ‘Gammel Dansk’ . Under engine gong into a northerly wind, but sails up after turning into the Logstor channel, and all the way to Aalborg. In Aalborg, Ole visited for some time, and fixed the sailmail on the SSB radio, which allows us to get and send short messages, get weather faxes and grib files while our of range of land and above the arctic circle. The send off from Skive!  foto foto-2 foto-4  DCIM100GOPROMoored at Kabelvaag

16 thoughts on “FOLLOW US!

  1. This week we (John and Karen) are in Denmark and I will help to put Aldarion in the shed at Vaerftet, Skive for the winter, masts off. We have acquired a new AIS machine for next year, which transmits our details to other ships in the vicinity as well as receiving theirs. An important reason for this is that there can be fog in the Baltic sea in early summer as warm winds pass over a cold sea.

  2. Well, Aldarion is still in the water. There were strong winds from the west and north west this week, and in the Limfjord that means high tides at the easter and southern ends, including Skive. The boat was well secured, and sails were already off and dry, but we could not get to her as the water was higher than the pier! She will come out as soon as the water levels return to normal and the wind abates, which ought to be in the next few days.

  3. Poula says:

    Pls look at Visby, and at the citywall. Take a walk in the City centre where no Cars are allowed. Visby is an old hanseatic town and definitely worth visiting. Best wishes Poula and family. – and say hello to to alasdair and cathel

  4. We arrived safely in Visby, Gotland, yesterday evening after a good sail from Oland. We will take Poula’s advice and spend the day exploring this beautiful town. The sun is shining and we are looking forward to our 48 (or so) hour crossing to Helsinki when we get favourable winds.

  5. From Visby Götland to Helsinki, Tuesday 3rd June-Friday 6th June (two nights at sea).
    We fuelled up in Visby (pumps at the NW corner of the harbour, and operated by the marina office in visitors section) around lunchtime and set off in damp cold fog for the North of the Island, rounding Färō island and passing between between Färō and the curious island of Gotska Skanda to the open Baltic around 2300. The sea was as nearly ever ‘Balticly’ troubled, and the wind, originally in our face, eventually picked up from the SE, as forecast, and gave us at least some fast -if cold – night sailing towards the NE. Sky cleared in the morning, but the wind also dropped. John and Thea took the first and third watches and Alasdair and Cathel took the second and fourth. Crossed into Estonian waters around 9.30am on Wednesday 4th June and raised the Estonian flag an hour later. Engine supported sailing for most of the day with wind east of north east, but the wind picked up during the afternoon and we sailed between 5 and 8 kts for a while before it moved northerly and we were headed more west before deciding to tack up the west and north arms of the traffic separation area. Eventually we cross back to Finnish waters. Much shipping going out of the Gulf of Finland in the early stages of the night, and much coming in in the morning. What a blessing the AIS is. On reflection, however, we should have avoided tacking into wind and sea, which became very slow and lost a lot of time, and sacrificed easterly progress for northerly progress, after which we could have followed the calm inner leads.
    At 2015 we moor between Store Svatrto and Lilla Svarto in the inner lead between Hanko and Helsinki. Sunny warm morning, and we all had a quick swim – much needed after two nights and days at sea. We weigh the anchor at 0835 on Friday and head for Helsinki, arriving at the HSK (Helsinki Sailing Club) around 1230. Welcomed first by the very helpful harbour master and then by our friendly club HLR, Eric von Troll. A very nice spot to stay with excellent facilities built about 3 years ago, and close to Volvo, Chandlers and K supermarket. Thea left for Denmark in the afternoon, and Doug and Preeya joined the crew. Eric came aboard for a while. A quick trip to the Volvo workshop, chandlery and supermarket for spare parts, food, etc.
    Saturday is a day for sightseeing, repairs and stores, and it is mostly a fine sunny day, although there was some rain in the morning. We replace the choke (stop) cable, but have a lot of improvisation to make to get it to fit! We also replace the sender unit for the fuel guage in the header tank and get that working. Finally, we try to stop the leak in the heads pump, if with only partial success.
    On Sunday we refuel and 10’ish and after that set off eastwards. However, the wind died completely as the sun got higher, and eventually we rly on the motor to take us to the idyllic pool of Bockhamn (60deg16.1N;026deg00.0E) where we tie up bows in, stern to a buoy. It is BBQ weather, and we have some excellent Helsinki beef. There are dry toilets ashore, but no water or electricity.
    Monday brings a good wind from the west, and we put up all five sails and sail for about 9 hours east to the town of Kotka (60deg27.45N, 026deg57.19E)where we tie up alongside the guest finger pontoons at the sailing club harbour. Here we enjoy a sauna and shower, and an excellent Thai meal cooked by Doug and Preeya. Excellent sauna but, as seems to be fairly common, the wifi does not work! The reason for coming to this industrial town is to have the documents needed for Russia copied 4 times which seems to be what is needed,
    Today, Tuesday we plan to find a quieter harbour for the night before heading for Haapisaari where we check out of Finland on Wednesday afternoon and head for the border post at Kronshstadt, just outside St Petersburg. The winds are forecast to remain in favourable quadrants, mainly westerly.
    sorry I could not edit this in!

  6. We spent last night in the small harbour at the south end of Lautissaari island where there is a small fishing village. Also a good restaurant whete we ate out last night. It’s a fine sunny morning for a sail to the border post on the island of Haapassaari where we’ll exit Finland later today.

  7. Anne Birgitte Rønby says:

    Hi John and crew.
    Can see you are all doing fine and it is great fun to follow you. ⛵️
    Henrik is in Mexico this week and half next week.
    Mads looking after Fort “Kastellet” in Copenhagen the next 24 hours.💂
    Frederi is having English speaking exam tomorrow and Lasse is having a written English exam tomorrow.😰😰
    The garden is green and everything is growing fast so I am busy.🌼🌼🌼
    Bet you are looking forward o see Karen this weekend. 💓
    Have fun.
    Anne Birgitte

    • Thanks Anne-Birgitte! Yes all went well so far. Change crew today – karen arrives, as well as tanera, robin, veyatie and pollaidh my fearless granddaughters! Doug, Preeya, Alasdair and Cathel leave, which is sad. Thea, who left in Helsinki got top marks in her philosophy exam after sailing! So it certainly did no harm! We are looking forward to proceeding north through the rivers, large lakes and canals of Russian Karelia etc. Love to all, john

  8. Peter Baumann says:

    Dear John and Karen,
    Sitting looking at the ever changing Kattegat as we do and enjoy every summer, we are not free from envying you your voyage through Russia – sounds exciting and partly as a field visit for you John.
    All the best for the rest of the route.
    Lobestock (or løvstikke) is traditionally called “Maggi urt” in Denmark – taste a Maggi soup and you will understand.

    Yours aye
    Hanne and Peter

    • thanks Peter and Hanne! Indeed it is an adventure, with many surprises, and much time taken up in solving small problems! But also many very friendly and helpful people to help solve them. Vodka (in large bottles) often helps! Karen will try to update the blog, but meantime we are in glorious arctic summer weather here in the lovely town of Arkhangelsk, and will set sail tonight at 1900 for Kirkenes in Norway, where we hope to arrive on friday or saturday. The forecast is reasonable for the next five days, although winds from all directions and not always very good for sailing!

  9. Apologies for silence! We sailed past the northernmost point of the norwegian mainland yesterday and are now sailing to Honningsvaag on Mageroy island. Everything going to plan! More blog soon! John

  10. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this blog loading?

    I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  11. Peter Baumann says:

    John,

    It has been fascinating to follow you – not least in the periods with no news! (what has now happened to them?). We wish you fait winds over the last leg to Denmark.

    Greetings from Chicago

    Hanne and Peter

    • Dear Peter and Hanne, well i think it should be fairly complete, but i have a few gaps waiting for faster internet connection! Have an enjoyable stay in Chigago , and don’t catch the blues! I hope to be back in jutland by next weekend. Yours aye, john

  12. Peter Baumann says:

    Chapeu! And welcome back – glad to read that you seem to be in good shape. Congratulations on a grand exploit.

    And when will we see you in Copenhagen for a civilized meal and a good bottle?

    Yours aye Hanne and Peter

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