Day 2 25/06/19
GPS: 056 31’ 73 North
005 47’ 31 West
It’s been a tough, first two days of our voyage. On Monday, the voyage crew joined in the afternoon during a huge delivery of ships stores – enough to see us through the next 3 months in fact (It can be difficult to get re-supplied during the Tall Ships Races.) I haven’t stocked Nellie so full since our Cape Horn Passage in 2013. As the voyage crew arrived they were greeted with “Join the handling chain!”.
We had a quick intro into ship-board life and a safety briefing followed by a cracking chilli and rice. We got shore leave, but most went to bed.
Today, we finished our training and seamanship aspects of ship life. We had lunch and left Oban in bright sunshine seeing the glorious colours of the heathers on the hillside as we went.
The plan is to weather Cape Wrath as soon as possible and pick up the westerlies and make as much distance towards Norway as possible. It’s a tight schedule.
So, we motored over to Ardtonish Bay and anchored there to do the mast climbs for everyone who wanted to.
We had tea (good northern folk here giving our meals their proper names), upped anchor and motored off west past the entrance of Loch Aline heading off to round Mull and head north.
Its brilliant weather just now, and as my watch gets ready to stand their first sea watch at 0400hrs, we’re making sure we don’t freeze on our open deck.
Aft Starboard Watch: Mike Travis W/L, Ellen Johnson, Neil Abraham, Anne Rutter, and Alasdair Kirk Patrick
PS: We were on the 0400-0800 watch. Not the easiest of watches to stand, usually due to leaving the comfort and warmth of your bunk for the cold and windy deck. But this morning was spectacular. We were treated to a pink tainted pre-sunrise sky wrapped around the peaks of the Cuilin mountain range. Then, quite suddenly, from behind one the peaks, the sun started to rise amid its aura of brilliant orange light changing the colour of the sea and the mood of our watch. From then on, the watch was a dream!
So, everyday the sea will give each man new hope, as sleep brings dreams of home. Can’t wait for our next couple of new days.
Our first watch at sea and we saw dolphins and whales. We had a lot of fun. Everyone tried a turn on the helm and the look outs were keen to spot more wildlife as well as shipping. After the morning meeting we had ‘Happy Hour’ on deck.
We took part in the first mate’s talk about how to set sails. We had hoped to set sails but the wind was in the wrong direction. The swell of the sea increased and this caused quite a few people to get seasick.
Luckily they are now on the mend.
One man down, but still ready for our next watch. We all came up with lots of layers of clothes as the wind was quite cold. With the help from the Aft starboard watch, we adjusted the square sails to make it more comfortable for everyone. It was much appreciated that Stephen came straight from mess duty to help as we were shorthanded. The ship was behaving according to weather, i.e. very choppy.
However, the whole watch came together half way through and we still had lots of fun and good laughter.
After breakfast and the morning meeting, all the watches worked together and set all the sails on the fore and the main mast. This was done in less than an hour! After an early lunch, we were on watch from 1230-1600. Once again, everyone had a go at the helm. The second officer, showed Stephen and KIrsti how to calculate the winds, the waves ( the state of the sea and the swells) while John was at the helm and Marion and Marita kept look out. All they saw was a Norwegian fishing boat.
Now we are getting ready for bed as the next watch starts at midnight.
Forward Port: Marita, W/L, Marion, Stephen, Kirsti and John.
Day 8 & 9 30/06/19 & 01/07/19
Current position: 58 37’ 70 N
09 06’ 25 W
It had been a cold and grey voyage over the last two days. A bit of grind of ship routine ad continuous motoring chasing ever evasive winds. On the morning of the 8th day we had cleared to oil and gas platforms and set a more direct course for the Skagerrak and the Baltic Sea entrance.
The atmosphere on board was muted due to the announcement from the JST concerning the future viability of the Trust, but the ship had to be crewed and we got on with it. We had been lucky with wildlife on this trip, but today some of us saw something quite possibly special. We sighted the ‘blow’ of a whale off the starboard side. But threateningly, we also saw a pod of Orca, quite likely on the hunt.
The night watches were foggy and damp with the 04:00 watch being blanketed in thick fog despite a brilliant sun trying its best to burn the fog off. But finally, we reached the Skagerrak and Norwegian coast. The sun appeared again, it was warm, and spirits began to lift. Being Sunday, it was quite a lazy day aboard Nellie, with Richard our Captain, taking a morning service.
We motor sailed on.
We pushed on to make our pilot pickup point off the town of Arundel. A very impressive pilot cutter appeared out of nowhere, transferred the pilot, and ran a ring around us to give us a once over then disappeared back to port at a great rate.
By now we were sailing.
We continued coasting along a hazardous and rocky coastline, passing inside the Tromlingene nature reserve, while a lot of residents motored out in boats to take pictures and wave to us. So, on we sailed between the islands of Boroya and Sandoya in brilliant sunshine and strong fair winds. We sailed into Tvedestrand Fjorden. It wasn’t a dramatic fjord of towering mountains surrounding our passage. But was a green and pretty mix of mainland and lots of islands. Beautiful (holiday homes?) houses clinging on to the water’s edge each with its own boat or mooring. The Norwegian flags flew everywhere.
We turned left and right, and squeezed through a couple of tight passages until we reached our anchorage. We had sailed a torturous route under sail only. But the finale for our huge audience in their boats or gardens was to be enacted. We sailed onto our anchorage.
Our cack-handed crew stood up to the challenge, and braced, hauled, handed and worked like billy-ho so we could drop our anchor north of Asker. All without the use of our engines. Sam was our ace helmsman for over two hours under the pilot. Some goin’ for an Australian!
During our fjord passage, the pilot was ecstatic! He had been a 1st Officer on a couple of sailing ships himself and I believe he was enjoying the challenge of this difficult passage himself. He reckoned that it was over 100 years since a square rigger had visited this part of the country. Furthermore, it was the first visit of a British square rigger since 6th July, 1812 when a British man o’ war, HMS Dictator, chased a Norwegian warship into the bay, ran out a stern anchor and ramming its prow into soft mud before broadsiding the helpless ‘Najaden’.
To finish off the day we had a Marco, Carly, Ian and Jenny B&B and a couple of boat rides around the bay.
What a fabulous day.
And Nellie’s spirit still has a huge amount to offer.
Aft Starboard Watch: Mike Travis W/L, Neil Abraham, Alasdair Kirkpatrick, Ellan Johnson, Anne Rutter, and Charlie Hatcher and voyage crew.