After a fantastic summer season in the Lofoten Islands, we have just started to make our way south towards the UK. At this time of the year our sailing changes from day sailing and exploring to milebuilding trips. These provide the opportunity to mix coastal cruising with short offshore passage making. These trips are ideal to get a taste of round the clock watchkeeping and night sailing without being too far from land.
We were a bit of an international crew for our sail from Bodo to Bergen. Jackie and Michael from Switzerland who had previously sailed with us day sailing in Spain, Adapia and Mario from Italy who had previously sailed with us day sailing in Iceland, and Jonathan, who keeps his own boat on the west coast of Wales. All were new to long passages and overnight sailing and looking forward to the experience.
In 10 days we clocked up 734 miles in bite sized chunks! 2 passages each lasting 2 nights and 300 miles. The remainder of the miles coastal day sailing, and including a detour to the glistening glacier at Svartissen.
Our route from Bodo to Bergen takes us around Statt headland, Norway’s answer to Portland Bill. The pilot book is full of warnings about not rounding the headland in bad weather, and so when we received a forecast for SW8 and 9 we decided that we had to divert and wait out the gale. As the forecast went up to SW10, we realised that we had a long wait; it was third day lucky before we were off again.
Our delay meant we approached Bergen in the dark, through the very busy traffic lanes and we were all kept on our toes keeping track of the lights of other ships amongst the many sectored lights and oil terminals. Great practice and experience for those new to sailing in the dark.
The tiny harbour in the centre of Bergen was buzzing when we arrived, and continued to get busier. A-ha, Norway’s biggest pop band were playing live in the city centre, and by 5pm on Saturday night, boats were rafted 5 deep all along the harbour wall – we couldn’t have left if we’d wanted to.
The weather has now settled down and we are about to set off on our next sail, the 400nm passage across the Norwegian sea to Scotland, followed by a cruise through the Hebrides and Irish Sea on our way back to Plymouth. After Plymouth, we continue with milebuilding passages and coastal cruising right up until December.
Across the Bay of Biscay early October, along the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal late October, Southern Spain to Madeira in November and finally Madeira to Lanzarote the first week of December. If you wonder what passage sailing and watchkeeping are all about, why not come along and give it a try.