We left Whitehills Marina with much trepidation. The previous evening’s discussions had left us both uneasy and nervous: about where we’re going, the North Sea, Oil rigs and their exclusion zones and how we were going to navigate the tight turn out of the harbor and into a gusty breeze…
We left on the afternoon’s rising tide at 4:00pm. Hurdle number one turned out to be a bit of a no brainer – as we exited the harbor without any problems – and we then set about putting up sails in the large swell that was running following the last day’s pounding with heavy wind. With main up, we turned towards Norway and immediately turned off the engine and were doing 6 knots in no time flat – with just the reefed main.
A nasty cross sea lead to a rather unpleasant ride on day 1 as we would fall off one wave and rise up on the next – leading to some serious queasiness that fortunately was maintained in check with adequate doping of Stugeron. With genoa out, we were soon bounding away at 9+ knots in a 15 knot beam reach.
What a busy waterway! We threaded our way between oil rigs, support vessels and various other marine traffic. Things were made more difficult by the stiff breeze that developed and at 11:00pm we shortened sail, opting to furl the genoa and bring out the jib. Easier said than done in the building breeze – and we struggled for a while before realizing a mis-coiled furling drum was preventing an easy furl – so we headed straight downwind and attempted again – with success. We were now sailing on small jib and double reefed main and still doing 9 knots!
During our first night I was hailed by a guard vessel and warned to stay more than a mile away from two vessels identified as having limited maneuverability. I was trying to thread the needle between them – having limited maneuverability myself and since they were only 2 miles apart, it was taking some doing – and the guard boat was suspicious. In the end the Guard Vessel acknowledged that I had sufficient room to execute the plan and he even offered information regarding one of the vessels that was helpful in successfully getting ourselves clear of the big buggers!
We zigged and zagged through the two slow moving vessels and then multitudes of other floating targets including many rigs with oil flares blazing. What an impressive sight!
Come 4pm on the second day, our first 24 run showed we’d logged 200NM – all of it under sail alone. The next 24 hours produced a similar number in 196 NM – we were screaming! As we approached the Norwegian coast things got tricky – the wind veered to dead downwind – never an easy point of sail and with traffic it was made considerably more difficult. However, we managed to navigate through the gap between Norway and Denmark, where the wind promptly disappeared and we’ve been motoring for most of the way since then.
We got to watch a beautiful summer solstice sunset – which carried on going right through until dawn!!
Only sighting of Norway…
We saw a waterspout – and managed to avoid it!
We’ve decided we’ll stay in Copenhagen for a couple of days at least and then head to the South East coast of Sweden and then up the east coast, taking in Oland and Gotland Islands and some of the very small islands along the western coast. Hopefully we’ll get as far as Stockholm before heading back south, probably via Lithuania, Poland and then Germany as we exit the Baltic via the Kiel canal. That’s today’s plan at least!
Copenhagen has been a nice visit – we got the tandem out and felt like a part of the city as we bicycled from sight to sight. The bike paths here are fantastic and drivers totally respect them. We’ll be leaving later today for Bornholm…
Pictures to follow when I have better internet.