Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Mahina Expeditions offers offshore sail-training expeditions, offshore cruising seminars and boat purchase consultation.

Leg 4, 2001: Tromso, Lofoten Is.; Ellos, Gothenburg, Sweden

Click here or on a photo to see all the Leg 4 photos enlarged.

Our Leg 4 crew joined us in Tromso on July 31st as an intense 980 mb low pressure center passed north of us. As we have approximately 1,300 miles to cover in 16 days, we got underway after lunch and initial safety orientation, motorsailing to Hestoy, 23 miles south in driving rain with head winds gusting to 31 kts.

You would think that August 1st would have brought summer weather, but it didn't and we endured winter rains with gusts to 40 kts. At one point a fierce squall piled enough hailstones along the aft deck to make snowballs. Dalton, being a skier from Colorado naturally brought his ski goggles which were in hot demand from the helmsperson as looking to windward into 30-40 kt wind driven hail felt like having one's face sandblasted!

Expedition members learning the ropes.

We cut our day short, anchoring at Eidet, 69.05N, 17.11E, a small village we had stopped for a night in on our voyage north. Although we found protection from the seas, we were still being buffeted with 30-40 kt winds. Setting both the 75lb CQR with 250' of chain and the 44lb Delta on 130' of line and 50' of chain in 27' depths we stood watch all night and even though we never budged an inch it was still hard to sleep as we danced around in the squalls. For the first time in months, it actually got dark at night. It was strange, and I missed the midnight sun.

On Thursday, August 2, winds had moderated in the morning and the barometer steadily climbed to 1014. The sun made a welcome appearance and we had a great sail to Lodingen, 68.26N, 16.00 E where we found an empty new visitor's float and went exploring the picturesque town perched beneath magnificent mountains with sea views in all directions.

The following morning we had a smooth sail through some narrow passages to Svolvaer, 68.13N, 14.34E, the largest town in Norway's Lofoten island group. Soon after arrival, Gry and Erling Baera and their five-year old daughter Ingvild, dear friends who first told us of the Lofoten Islands in Fiji three years ago, came down to the boat for a visit.

When we visited Gry on our voyage northward, she was sorely missing Erling and counting the days until he would be sailing home to the Lofotens, eight months and 15,000 miles after she and her daughter had flown home from Hawaii, so that Ingvild could start school. Erling had fulfilled a life dream in the meantime, sailing from Hawaii to Cape Horn, Antarctica, Falklands, Azores and Scotland on their 45' steel cutter.

They told our adventuresome crew of a great restaurant where they could sample whale, reindeer, and other Norwegian delicacies and whisked us off for a visit in their little hillside cottage. It was great to hear their stories and new shore side dreams and catch up on news from our friends in Chile and Antarctica.

Saturday morning was windless, so we motored to Henningsvaer, the most authentic and colorful fishing harbor in the Lofotens.

 

 





Henningsvaer, traditional Lofoten Island fishing village.


Henningsvaer Wharf.

Here crew hiked and explored while we got another chance to visit with Gry and Erling and see the nearby harbor they plan to turn into a cruising and kayaking mecca with partners


Gry, Erling and John at their dock.

Karolina's concerned mother-in-law and friend pay us a visit.

We then motored in more light drizzle (where was summer?) to Reine, a small fishing harbor. We went exploring once tied to the ubiquitous (and free!) guest dock, first having slowly bumped aground a few boat lengths from another guest float. We had an embarrassing 30-minute wait for the tide to float us free but not without company. Minutes after we grounded, a local sailing boat glided up to us, saying that they had deep water where they were, half a boat length away. Just after saying that, they came to a shuttering stop, so they also decided to have dinner while waiting for the tide.

We are continually surprised how few pleasure boats we see in these spectacular cruising waters. In large towns like Tromso, Alesund, Bergen, etc. we generally see one or two cruising boats only, usually from Scandinavian countries. The locals mostly favor 30'-35' double-ended powerboats, usually made of fiberglass. Many of the fishing boats, even up to 80' have varnished wooden hulls with painted wood or aluminum deck houses.

 

Hollandsfjorden, 66.42N, 13.42E had been one of the most favorite stops on our voyage north and when we sailed into the deep fjord it appeared even more beautiful.


Hollandsfjorden Glacier.

The clouds, fog and drizzle cleared away and the afternoon sun turned the spectacular and rugged glacier alight with many shades of iceblue. Everyone put on running or hiking shoes and headed up the mountain, passing bell-ringing sheep and cows along the way, for a closer look at the ice. Once again there was a free and secure guest dock so we could come and go easily, without having to wait for the dinghy.

Our intention on Monday, August 6 was to sail offshore, 350 miles non-stop to Alesund. However, when clear of the coastal islands, we found that a combination of the .5 to 1.0 knot north-setting current (a continuation of the Gulf Stream that keeps these waters ice-free all winter) and the relatively shallow waters made headway into 15-20 kts very uncomfortable. When all but two of our crew had succumbed to seasickness, we plotted a new route that took us inshore through the scenic but twisting fjords.


Traditional viking sailing boat.

Navigation in Norway's inside waters requires constant vigilance. There is a ton of commercial traffic at all hours; thousands of navigational markers of all types, and many of the channels are narrow with rocks and reefs. Passing one mark wrong spells running into rock! We take navigation seriously and the navigator gets a real work out! With our revolving duty roster, each day a different expedition member is navigator. To ensure that we're prepared and ready to go, the navigator lays out the courses, distances and waypoints the afternoon before their day to navigate. Some days this takes up to four hours, with as many as 40 waypoints and 10 charts! After punching the waypoints into the Garmin 130 GPS, they then read them out for me to enter into the Toshiba laptop which is running Nobeltec and using Softcharts. This helps avoid errors as we instantly witness the route being mapped out on the electronic charts and can quickly determine any inaccuracies. The laptop sits next to the radar at the chart table and allows constant tracking of our course and navigation dangers. Occasionally, like when entering Alesund at 0300, I'll bring it into the cockpit so I can follow our progress while on deck.

At noon on Tuesday we stopped at Bronnyosund for lunch, fuel and a town visit before continuing on, gliding into Alesund, 62.28N, 06.09E, at 0300 on Wednesday. After tying to the empty fuel dock in Brodundet, the old inner fishing harbor that resembles Venice, we caught a much-needed five hours of sleep before exploring the vibrant town. Apparently though we had arrived during a social lull, as the locals whom we chatted with kept sadly reminding us we had missed the Cutty Sark Tall Ship's visit by a few weeksabut, they eagerly urged us to stay for the Norwegian Gourmet Festival being held soon.

 

August 10, 2001 1700 60.04N, 04.37E, Log: 46,212 Baro: 1014+
Broad reaching at 7.5-8.5 kts in 25-30 kt NW winds, seas 8'-12'

Surfing Southward!
Upon leaving Alesund at 1600 we planned to sail offshore to Bergen, 180 miles south, but when both Commander's Weather and Leon Shultz (Karolina's husband) suggested making more miles before forecasted southerly gales could thwart progress we reconsidered stopping. The payoff has been surfing at up to 9.5 knots, in (now) sunny skies, well offshore and out of the dangerous wave zones. The winds are forecast to drop from near gale to westerly Force 3-4 tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon, before becoming southerly, Force 5 Saturday night. If we keep this speed and the weather holds, we should reach Mandal, the southernmost town in Norway, 170 miles away before the southerly blow. Several of the crew mentioned that heavy weather experience was one of their reasons for selecting this leg. They're not disappointed, and it has been gratifying to see them, now free of seasickness, mastering ocean steering skills in impressive seas!

By the way, Karolina has been a huge help in securing weather information several times a day, from her husband Leon, over the messaging feature on her Nokia GSM phone and has had continuous coverage, even 20 miles offshore. Leon, also a keen sailor and no doubt a concerned husband, has been ringing the forecasters in Denmark and Norway as well as checking their weather websites. www.dmi.dk and dnmi.no and relaying the info to us.

Now I'd better introduce our intrepid Leg 4 crew!

Karolina Orn, 36 from Ystad, Sweden just finished a three-week sailing holiday aboard her Hallberg-Rassy 31 with Leon and their kids, Jessica age 7 and Jonathan age 5. The kids enjoyed being on the boat so much that they kept living aboard after they returned to their homeport. She and Leon run an ad agency for ship suppliers and dream of crossing oceans under sail, maybe on a HR 39.

Tom Kingston, 50 from Fergus Falls, Minnesota just retired from his wholesale clothing business. His sailing background includes racing Hobie Cats with his wife, Patty and a sailing trip from Denmark to Marstrand, Sweden. Tom is a quick learner and is considering picking up a new X Yacht in Denmark and sailing it back to North America.

Dalton Williams, 55 lives in Vail, Colorado and when not skiing is CIO for a bank. That means he keeps their computers working. Dalton is relatively new to sailing, but plans to retire soon and go offshore cruising for 3-5 years although his kids and friends at work think that is a crazy idea!

John Russell, 48 of Livingston, Montana has been bitten by the sailing bug and is looking for a boat for adventures. He and his wife Corina started www.rockymountaindesign.com, an interior design business 23 years ago. Now that their kids are 18 & 20 and off to college, John and Corina are dreaming of blue water.

Michelle and Joe Bayliss, both 39 and from the San Francisco area aren't dreamers, they are doers! Joe first called me in February with questions regarding the Island Packet 40 they were considering purchasing. Since then they sold their house, quit their jobs in radio and television, their sons moved out on their own, they bought the boat, attended our Weekend Offshore Cruising Seminar, took several intensive sailing courses on the Bay, moved aboard and sailed away to Mexico. Whew! That's a lot of changes in just a few months. They are living aboard in Mexico, but plan on sailing back to San Diego for some last minute outfitting before setting sail for the Marquesas and the South Pacific very soon! Totally into learning everything possible, they don't miss a single sail change and have filled pages of notes during our daily classes. We really enjoy students who are so motivated to learn and since we have many of the charts information on the South Pacific aboard Mahina Tiare now, we are able to help them plan their itinerary, passages and contacts in the different exotic countries they will be sailing to.


Crew photo after pizza in Mandal's festive street.

We'd like to invite all of you who have been following our adventures through this site to visit us aboard Mahina Tiare and to attend our slide show during the Hallberg-Rassy Open House, August 24-26. For more details, check the Hallberg-Rassy site, www.hallberg-rassy.com.

As we pressed south beyond Bergen our good winds held and only lightened for a few hours in the early morning on Saturday during which we motorsailed to steady the boat. We still could not believe our good fortune when we rounded Lindesness with NW winds and a 1017 barometer, phew, so different from our rounding last year when we had to claw our way around "the Nose of Norway" in day after day of gale force headwinds. While Amanda and I had been saying our thanks to the sea goddess for an easy passage others onboard were experiencing conditions beyond their sailing dreams and we later learnt of these two phone messages that Karolina had hurriedly whisked away in spare moments.

"24 knots of wind, Speed 7.5. Huge Waves. Only water and bread. At helm steering or berth resting."
On receiving this message her daughter Jessica had exclaimed that while Pippi Longstocking's father was being held prisoner by dreadful pirates, all he got to eat was bread and water.
The next message read "Now already 5 nights accumulated at sea. Boat speed 9 knots in 30 knot of gale force winds. 12-14 ft waves. Horrifying Delight!"

Our arrival in Mandal Saturday night coincided with the annual "Festival of the Sea", which one happy Norwegian explained is a giving of thanks to all the things in the sea which animals eat. Well, that didn't make much sense but judging by the flying shrimp shells, lined up empty beer bottles, sunny warm weather (for a few hours), travelling amusement rides, and two competing and very well amplified stages (one with belly buttoned go-go dancers and another with a sing-along-band) it was PARTY TIME!!! After our many days of difficult sailing we weren't quite in the party mood so we opted for an early pizza dinner ashore and the chance to catch up on our sleep in a marina several blocks away from the noisy festival center.

During the night the forecasted gale came crashing through but from the West not South so on Sunday we delayed departure until the winds in Mandal eased off for the 25 mile coastal passage to the city of Kristiansand. Even though the wind was only 20 knots we had large occasionally breaking following seas due to winds against a 1.5 knot current.

Kristiansand laid on its charms and with sunny warm skies so we peeled off crispy thermal layers, tugged on shorts and went adventuringa. As far as the laundry next to the boat harbor with swans a swimming, a wild profusion of flowers blooming and fountains flowing. Ah...civilization!


Kristiansand, our last Norweigian Port.

On Monday night we sailed 120 miles across the Skagerrak making landfall into the homewaters of Karolina's Bohuslan cruising grounds.


Karolina navigates in her homewaters

After a brief fresh shrimp lunch stop in the busy tourist village of Smogen we opted for a quieter anchorage in Lysekil near the home of Karolina's mother-in-law Eva. Tuesday morning we got an exciting visit from Eva and her 85 year old neighbor Harald. They'd been following all of Karolina's adventures through e-mails from Leon and couldn't wait to check that Karolina was safe and well. Eva has heard that we were doing class in the morning before leaving for Ellos so she dropped off applecake and quickly departed saying she didn't want to disturb Karolina's important adventure.

Ellos held a quick tour of the Hallberg-Rassy boatyard and our crew was treated to a sneak preview of the very sexy new HR 43, many thoughts were churning as crew considered placing orders because of the incredibly strong U.S dollar and 2-3 year wait list.


Crew tour HR Boatyard

Our evening moorage in the charming village of Gullhomen held more visitors and a tour of the island and house visit with friends of Karolina's. It was a wonderful insight into the magic of summer holidays on the Swedish coast and the love that coastal Swedes have for the sea.


Typical uncrowded Swedish West Coast anchorage.

Thursday, our last day this leg, started out in true cruising fashion with an early morning swim, yeah ha. Getting under way early we headed south enjoying the summer scenic wonders of clustered villages and classic wooden watercraft and sailing boats.

Outside Marstrand we took advantage of the fresh afternoon breezes and practiced man overboard and deploying our Galerider drogue. Even with winds gusting over 20 knots, each of our crew could get the Lifesling to our overboard newspaper head in under 90 seconds. The Lifesling is a true lifesaver, where the smallest person can quickly retrieve the largest person.


Tom deploys lifesling

Here's how we deploy our Lifesling using the Quick Stop Procedure:

1. Yell 'MAN OVERBOARD" to alert entire crew.
2. One person points to victim, never taking eyes off them.
3. Turn the wheel half a turn to windward, then DEPLOY BOTH LIFESLINGS, throwing inflatable one (not attached to boat) first.
4. Walk back to the wheel as the boat comes through the eye of the wind, not touching the wheel or sails. Once the headsail is backwinded, steer in concentric smaller circles until the Lifesling reaches the person in the water (or newspaper ball) and then
5. STOP THE BOAT by easing the jib and main sheets.
6. Carefully pull the Lifesling in until it reaches the swim step.
7. Be very gentle with person in cold water situations where hypothermia may exist.

It always amazes expedition members how quick and easy this procedure is. We strongly encourage them to purchase a Lifesling and practice this repeatedly on their own boats.

 


Tom and Michelle lay out our cruise to Marstrand.


Crew practising galerider drogue before arrival in Marstrand.

Marstrand is Sweden's yachting hub and this week is hosting the IMS European Championship. We were happy to find a quiet berth for the night on the outskirts of town and ferry over to the forted island for an evening desert of apple pie and last night crew farewells. We will get to see Tom (and his wife Patty), Dalton and Karolina and family again in a week at Hallberg-Rassy's Open House.


Karolina completes her expedition certificate by going up the rig.

Eager to see his lovely wife, Leon, had left home at Ystad at 4am Friday to arrive in time for breakfast and a chance to chat with other crew during his offer take their bags to the bus station in his car. We owe a big thank-you to Leon for providing incredible weather forecasts to Karolina at all hours, and he had four pages of questions typed up for us, as they are considering upgrading from their HR 31 to a 39 to go ocean cruising. It was wonderful to see how proud and excited Leon was that Karolina had accomplished such a difficult leg, and he was very apprehensive as to whether or not she would O.K the purchase of a new boat.


Karolina's concerned mother-in-law and friend pay us a visit.


John R. prepares to lower the main for the last time on this expedition

Marstrand at dawn - Sweden's yachting hub.


After crew left Friday morning, we sailed the entire 24 miles from Marstrand to Ellos with following winds. We chose the outside route for the first time and it almost surprised me that after having sailed 5,000 difficult miles in less than three months, we still enjoy the magic of sailing. While tying up in our now familiar spot, inside HR;s harbor, we were all smiles as it felt like a home coming.

Now with a week before the start of the Open House and boat show here in Ellos, we are hard at work, tarting up Mahina Tiare up with layers of varnish and wax and selecting the best of our sailing destination slides. We've also heard rumors of ex-expedition members visiting Open House from all over the world, so it will be exciting. Hope to see you here!

Hallberg-Rassy Open House
Since our last update on Aug. 17, we had a busy week, managing three coats of varnish on the caprails and four coats on handrails and interior trim around the galley and stairs. Amanda enjoyed daily lap swims at Hotel Sjogarden, next door to the HR boatyard and I ran the hills and woods around Ellos each morning. I was still vacuuming when the show opened at 10 am Friday morning, but Mahina Tiare was looking tops! Some of the comments we had during the show included, "Are you just taking delivery of this boat" and "Oh, I didn't know that HR did refits!" (They don't, but we work hard to keep her looking like new!)

The show was a packed-out success with over 25,000 people from around the world attending. Our slide show Saturday night was sold out long ago and we were delighted to share a table with Tom, Dalton, Claude, and Karolina from Leg 4, plus Tom and Karolina's spouses and Emil from Leg 5, as well as Christoph Rassy and extended family. Our slides of Spitsbergen arrived just before the show and it was breathtaking to see them projected on a large screen. By Sunday night we were both exhausted and many of the boats had already moved out of the harbor. Monday it was blowing 25-30 and as we completed our minor projects we watched the HR salesmen take dozens of people out for test sails on the demo boats. Particularly popular was the brand-new German Frers HR 43. Sporting an identical mast to the HR 46 and a more modern stern and underbody, rumors were flying that she is just as fast as the 46! It is a cool looking boat, and I can't think of a better design for two people. Fast, sleek, long waterline, sexy stern, tons of storage. Oops, I'm sounding like a salesman, which I am not!

Monday afternoon saw winds gusting to 45 knots as we surfed south to now familiar and favorite Marstrand, the lovely old resort island halfway to Gothenburg. Breaking seas to 18' (no joke!) at the exposed three mile stretch made for some overly exciting sailing, and after we tied up a three-hour long thunder, lightning, rain and wind storm clobbered the island. Tuesday brought winds in the mid-40's and we were happy to arrive and tie up in the exact same spot next to the Gothenburg Opera House by 1300. It was strange to be in the same slip that we departed from for Spitsbergen on May 15th.

 



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