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 8, 2000 Scotland to Sweden

Our Leg 8 crew joined us Monday in Oban and we set sail immediately for Fort William, making it into the first lock of the Caledonian Canal with an hour to spare before the lock keeper knocked off for the day. The lock keeper advised us we best fill up our tanks with Highland water here as it is 80% water and 20% Scottish whiskey.

Our eager Leg 8 crew at Corpach Sea Lock, entrance of Caledonian Canal.

Neptune's Staircase, The Caledonian Canal,
near Fort William, The Highlands of Scotland.

Rick's wife Carole had invited Amanda to go to dance class with her and Rick and his sons Rory and Michael took us to a favorite local pub/restaurant.

The Caledonian Canal was a trip. Imagine a string of picturesque mountain lakes, connected by a series of locks and hand-dug canals, cutting right across the Highlands of Scotlands. We passed four 70-80 yr old Dutch cargo canal boats that had been converted to cruising B & B's, complete with kayaks and bicycles as well as several chartered small sail and power boats.

Barry securing our bow at Fort Augustus, Caledonian Canal.

Midway we stopped at Fort Augustus for the night. The canal only operates 0800-1700, and this allowed us to hike and explore the village of 600, and the crew the chance to check out Scottish music at one of the pubs.

Sept. 14, 2000 1330
58.13N, 3.08W Log: 41,039 Baro: 1007 Winds: SSE @ 19kts
Beam reaching @ 8.1kts Visibility 1-3 mi in occ showers

North Sea Challenge!

We're charging up Scotland's NE coast in bumpy conditions with visibility low enough to hide three oil rigs, five miles off our starboard beam.

Last night at 1700 we entered the North Sea after two exciting and dramatic days transiting the Caledoneian Canal through the Scottish Highlands. Yesterday at this we had a magic moment as we motored slowly under the shadow of Urquhart Castle in Loch Ness. A piper in the castle ramparts was playing a slow melody that quickly changed to a quick Scottish tune as Amanda danced the Highland Fling on the aft deck.

Amanda dancing the Highland fling in front
Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland

Nessie raising her flowery head alongside Fort Augustus locks

Urquhart Castle, Loch ness Scotland

After locking out through the final lock, we spent the night in a small marina in Inverness Harbour, leaving at 0600 this morning for the 73 mile passage to Wick, the only semi-safe deep harbor on this rugged NE coast. The seas are lumpy enough to turn a couple of our enthusiastic crew green about the gills.

In these conditions we never turn our 24 mile Raytheon radar off. It is mounted at the nav station, angled toward the companionway so that it is visible from the cockpit, aft cabin or nav station. It is giving clear returns of the three Beatrice Oil Field platforms, as well as the two tankers that passed by in the fog. We are plotting every hour on Imray Chart C-22 and every half hour when we are within three miles of shore. I have MaxSea electronic charts running with a portable Garmin GPS 12XL on my Toshiba 4020 Satellite laptop except for when I'm using the laptop for INMARSAT-C, as I am now. For depth, wind direction & speed, boatspeed we are very pleased with our Autohelm (Raytheon) ST-50 series instruments.

It may sound like a lot of gear, but having cruised 60,000 miles with minimal electronics (I didn't even have a VHF radio on Mahina #1, my Vega 27 that I sailed from 1974-76) it's sure nice knowing where we and the obstructions are, whatever the visibility.

That brings you up to date, except for telling you who are adventuresome crew are that signed up to cross the North Sea in September!

Rolf Forssander, 44 is a Swede who recently sold his offshore oil rig support company in Louisiana and has purchased a Hallberg-Rassy 39 from Magnus Rassy from whom we purchased MT. Rolf's new 39 is due to be shipped in October, so he's very excited about our arrival in Ellos and about extended cruising with his wife Lisa, once his youngest is off to college.

Rolf practicing celestial navigation on last day at sea.

Barry Henson, 41 is an Australian who now lives in New Jersey and is a learning consultant. He plans to purchase a boat to sail back to Sydney with his family in three years.

John Guy, 59 is a financial planner from Indianapolis who has just ordered a Cabo Rico 45 and is planning a circumnavigation with his wife Chichi once their youngest is off to college.

Carl Nielsen, 64, breaks all records as this is his fifth expedition with us. Carl sails an Orion 27 out of Portland, Oregon and knows how to enjoy life.

Sept. 17, 2000 1800
58.55N 2.42EAST! Log: 41,288 Baro: 1003 Winds: SSE 17-25
Closehauled @ 6kts, confused seas, wind against tide, 350' deep

Neptune, on our final ocean passage of the year, across the North Sea, is not letting us finish without a fight. We'd been having a leisurely sail since leaving Orkney so not to arrive in Stavanger, Norway before dawn. Later after reading in Adlard Coles Norwegian Cruising Guide that Egersund was a better landfall we'd altered course, meaning more miles to sail and a daylight arrival. Sadly the weather also changed with the arrival of an active cold front bringing 28-32kts and forcing us to sail closehauled into confused seas. We are now racing to make landfall before the 994 mb low center catches us.

Sea traffic on this area is incredible; at 0200 seven ships echoed on the radar, each tracking in a different direction! In morning fog Barry caught a glimpse of an oil rig and we observed four others on radar.

It's unnerving being 120 miles from land in 350' of depth and experiencing alien currents. Now I understand what our North Sea cruising buddies have to contend with!

To bring you up to date, our arrival at Wick in the NE corner of Scotland was tense. The narrow harbor entrance was only visible at one half mile and was on a lee shore. Once inside the breakwater/wharf the harbormaster motioned us to raft to a 35' motorsailer. The other option was to tie to the rough & slimy wall and deal with a 15' tide. We carefully moored to the yacht and after a pub dinner we met the owner, an energetic 80 yr old sailor, farmer and local businessman.

Over a cuppa he told us heartwarming stories of Wick in its heyday; launching the lifeboat through horrendous surf to rescue shipwrecked fishermen, the sturdy women who worked the now obsolete herring factories and himself leaping fences in single bounds after having sliced off his hand in the harvester at night.

Kirkwall Harbour, Orkney on a less crowded day than when we arrived.

The following day we sailed 40 miles to Kirkwall across the shallow and treacherous waters of Pentland Firth where currents up to 9 knots sweep between Scotland and Orkney Imray chart C-68 gave excellent coverage.

Kirkwall's tiny harbor was chocka with ferries, fish boats and small pleasure boats. We'd been told Kirkwall is famous for it's hospitality and when we checked out the harbor we had a number of guys following us around on the wharf above saying, "You can tie here to this ferry, or over there to that little fishing boat!"

Amanda shook her head, saying she didn't feel it would be prudent for MT to be sandwiched amongst the Orkney fishing
fleet. We U-turned deciding to anchor in the bay. No sooner had we gathered speed when the assistant harbormaster screeched his
car to a stop, jumped out and yelled, "You can fit on the other side of the wharf!" We spent the night tied to a formerly sunken landing craft.

Yesterday we toured several Neolithic villages and standing stones. Skara Brae, a 5000 yr old preserved coastal village, discovered in 1850 when the beach eroded, was amazing. Next to it Skaill Mansion overlooks the wild and rugged coastline. Built for a bishop in 1620, it's now a museum. Inside Amanda enjoyed a break from the past and outdoor winter, chatting with the staff about the opening of the Sydney Olympics they were keenly viewing on TV.

Leg 8 crew fascinated by recently discovered prehistoric dwellings.
Orkney Islands, Scotland

We had a quick explore of the busy 16th century Kirkwall, and it's narrow streets, dominating Cathedral, Bishops and Earls palaces transported us to another era. Upon leaving as we sailed past the 1848 (modern according to the locals) Balfour Castle and out into the North Sea. It seemed as if this hauntingly desolate land was playing a farewell Highland tune.

Sept. 25, 2000 1233
57.56N 8.44E Log: 41,602 Winds: E 17-20kts Seas: 2-3 meters
Motorsailing to windward @ 5-6kts under double-reefed main

Closing in on Sweden!

Our Norway landfall was made difficult by increasing east winds, but we were able to lay Stavanger harbor entrance. Once snugly moored at the visitor's dock in the center of the attractive city, it was impossible to tell that it was blowing 40kts outside.

Stavanger harbour outdoor market. You can see Mahina Tiare in the distance.

After relaxing for a night, we had a fast sail back out Stavanger channel and then beat our way south to Tanagen, a delightful harbor with a pilot station and a few boating clubs. We remained storm bound for three days as a 1037 mb stationary high over northern Sweden created a "squash zone", compressed isobars resulting from several deep low pressure systems pressing up against the high.

On Friday our crew rented a car to check out the next harbor 36 miles south, Egersund. We discovered a picturesque fishing port with a narrow but well-marked entrance and huge waves offshore along the coast.

On Saturday the winds had moderated to 28-32 knots and we forged our way south, detouring through Egersound for protected water, then ending up that night at Rekefjord, a tiny village centered around a mining operation.

Yesterday (Sunday) we had a rough slog along the coast with 25-32 knot headwinds and very rough seas, mooring in Mandal, Norway's southernmost town for the night. The main street runs along the harbor and has continuous guest moorage. What a treat to just walk across the street to a fun pizza and jazz restaurant!

We got an early start this morning for Ellos, Sweden, now 10 miles away. The pesky high pressure is actually moving towards us and has the lows moving back to the west, opposite of their normal direction of tracking.

The Skaggerak, the body of water between Norway, Sweden and Denmark is shallow, full of current and is living up to it's reputation for being nasty!

Our final expedition is scheduled to end today but since the crew have several days before their flights, we agreed to stop and enjoy last night tied up instead of bashing to windward. Several different forecast predict the winds to diminish to 10-15 knots tonight, which would be welcome here!

Originally we had planned to end in Gothenburg, 40 miles south of Ellos, then Amanda and I would sail back to Ellos where we will store Mahina Tiare at the Hallberg-Rassy yard for the winter, but due to headwinds, our crew have volunteered to take the bus to Gothenburg.

Oct. 2, 2000 1120
58.10N, 11.27E Log: 41,718 At Hallberg-Rassy yard, Ellos, Sweden

Wow! Another season (our 11th!) has flown by. We slowed down for a dawn arrival into Ellos fjord, a narrow and rocky channel. Our crew were keen right to the end grabbing the opportunity to practice celestial navigation as the sun peeked between the clouds as we crossed the Skaggarat, the water between Norway and Sweden's west coast. The last night provided the most challenging ship avoidance exercise of the year as we counted the lights of 23 fishing vessels and ships at one time. Trying to decide where each of them was going was difficult as the fishing boats frequently changed course to tend their nets.

Sunrise over Orust Island, Sweden. final landfall of our 2000 season

It was exciting pulling into the same harbor where Mahina Tiare was launched nearly four years ago. Rolf was beside himself with excitement - he didn't even take time for a shower before he was up to the boatyard, examining his new HR 39 which was getting her bottom painted. On a quick boatyard tour Roland Olsson pointed out the HR 42 going to repeat expedition members Marcel and Tania from Oman and the HR 53 on it's way to Page and Pearre who sailed to Rarotonga with us.

Still smiling at the end of our 11th year of sail-training adventures
Note the gorgeous Fall colors in Ellos, Sweden.

Amanda and I have been busy washing and cleaning everything and every part of Mahina Tiare for the past week, getting her ready for winter storage here. In just an hour we are due to have the mast pulled, and I must first pull the satcom and radar antennas, so this will be the last satellite log update of the season.

John scrubbing salt off genoa in preparation for MT's winter storage
at Hallberg-Rassy yard in Sweden.

In just a week we'll be back home, so if you have any enquiries regarding our exciting 2001 expeditions, email us at:

We are excited to have several Norwegians and Swedes signing up for our coastal expeditions next year. If you want to receive maximum navigational anchoring and sail-handling opportunities, consider Legs 1,4 & 5. If you missed our Cape Horn and Antarctica expeditions and have a strong and rugged adventuresome streak, consider our Spitsbergen legs 2 & 3.

For our European expedition applicants who can't easily attend our Weekend Offshore Cruising Symposia, we recommend that you purchase the coursebook, The Offshore Cruising Companion an study that thoroughly before joining us to help bring you up to speed before the expedition.

We invite all of our North American expedition applicants to join us at one of our East or West coast symposia.

We hope you've enjoyed sharing our adventures this season. If you'd like to be added to our new "Auto-Send" list for each satellite log update, drop us an email with your address and a note.

Good sailing!

Stay tuned for more exciting adventures!

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