Monday 9th July 1520 Byonoya (Bear Island) 74:22.5 N 19:10.7 E
Monday 9th July 1520 Byonoya (Bear Island) 74:22.5 N 19:10.7 E
We are now around a third of our way home to Tromso.
Distances as follows, because we are beating it’s around a multiple of 1.6 miles more than in a straight line.
A weekend spent cruising.......??!!
“Any more jobs to do on deck Patrick before I get my kit off?” Comment from Mary.
“I need to get my leg over” comment from Virginia.
“No, no, no I’m robust” from Lorna as she offered to cook Kirsty baked beans (which L hates!!)
Discovered by William Barnetsz in 1596 during his attempts to find the North East passage, people have taken advantage of its natural resources since then. From 2002 it has been a protected nature reserve. Firstly walrus hunting, almost to extinction, by the English in the 1600s (3000 animals from 1603 - 1612). Russian Pomors hunted and trapped polar bears, walrus, seals, foxes and birds as well as collecting eggs and down in the later part of the 1700s. From 1818 more walrus extermination took place, with the Norwegians joining the hunts, and in 1908 a land based station for whaling was built in Kvalrossbukta. This was the bay in which we anchored for several hours today and we could see clearly steam boiler on the beach (oil extraction). We also saw plenty of nesting sea birds (amongst the largest in the northern hemisphere and very reminiscent of St Kilda, foggy and mysterious) There was an attempt at coal extraction in the early 1900s and since 1947 there has been a Meterological station manned by nine people who change crews twice a year. In many respects it seems like a miniature Svalbard!
Of course an anchorage was a highlight. The secondary (? Primary) highlight was that Daniel and Peter fixed the heads (toilet). We had been using a bucket for a few days due to pumping problems and it was great to have a fully functioning system once more.
We left vestvika outside Hornsund at 1400 on Friday and we were beating much of the time for 42 hours. Some heavy winds (only 20 knots or so but hard work on a beat) and a lot of slamming into waves, rendering the forepeak cabin impossible to sleep in and Virginia corresponding unhappy. The watch system worked well but the galley slave became grumpy, tired and eventually sick.....however, meals were produced and consumed by some, although Daniel existed on marmite sandwiches and Kirsty on rice cakes. We eventually worked out sleeping arrangements so that I wasn’t feeling like I was in a torture chamber and things picked up. We didn’t see much wildlife, it was often foggy, but we made good progress and were ahead of all the sweepstakes on time of arrival at Bear Island. Kirsty cooked a beans and egg breakfast on arrival and Lorna, Virginia, Daniel and Mary cooked another couple of meals and sorted out some stowage so the things we need and like are more accessible. We set off again with a couple of watch and galley changes and in good spirits after some extra sleep, ready for the next leg to Tromso where there will be a major crew change with 5 of the 7 of us leaving. So Mary has joined me as galley assistant so she can take over when I leave the boat for ten days.
Wednesday 11th July 0900
78 23.3 N 20 31.9 E
Stage Two of the journey home or “Fifty Shades of Grey”
Sky, sea, winches, mugs, mood, hair, skin, mast, wheel, instruments, sea gulls, waves, dishwater, bilge water, fog, light cloud, dark cloud, rain, mizzle, spray, wave tops, more grey hair, grey beards....but finally as land is sighted the sun is out, the sea has moderated and we are a happy crew on holiday. The cameras are out. Barents Sea 1 Kirsty 0.
The memories of the last couple of days have not yet faded but suffice to say there have been scary moments, sickness, tears, very little sleep, odd food at strange times, and a bonding of the team as various members at different times went through bad patches. Sea Fever has kept us safe but taken too many waves head on and a few alongside. Worse for the “sleeping crew” than for the sailing crew. The Young team of Peter, Mary and Daniel had a few moments, Mary’s helming language was truly eloquent, but after a couple of watches she was enjoying the heavy weather helming and pleased that she might be beating Peter E on sailing mileage. Daniel got into the swing of it and helms a straight furrow in stormy waters, not batting an eyelid. (He’s a farmer) The B team of Patrick, Virginia, Lorna and occasional appearances of Kirsty kept strong with Lorna’s cheerfulness (she advises 1/4 stugeron daily!) and Virginia’s food. The galley closed soon after we left Bear Island and a new menu of smash and cheese, mac and cheese, scrambled egg, porridge, toast and marmite or honey, Lorna’s cake and Virginia’s chocolate biscuits was introduced once we were all over our queasiness. Patrick scored zero points when he commented than the packet macaroni cheese was the best meal he’d eaten all week. Mary won’t make or eat dal again......but Lorna loved it.
Highlights were dolphins swimming with us and an eventual sighting of land by Daniel. We saw plenty of ships including a Norwegian stealth ship (no AIS) and heard word of a Russian war ship on the radio, mysteriously lurking in the fog. We avoided tankers and fishing boats who annoying changed course and speed frequently. We put reefs in, occasionally we took them out, and we had up to 30 knots of wind. We were beating all the time and somewhat overpowered, putting reefs into the jib as well as the main. But all the time eating up the miles little by little. Eat, sleep, sail, repeat. As I write this we are finally horizontal and there’s a holiday feeling with a few hours to go to landfall, a rest there, and a final 10 hour sail later tonight to Tromso. Most of us are unsure whether it’s morning, noon or night and say “good morning” several times a day when waking up crew members, whatever the time it is.
Some of us are not sure why are doing this. Others think we’re too old and one thinks she’s too young. Patrick, whose dream this is, thinks we shouldn’t be doing it, are lucky to get away with it, and looking forward to a beer and pizza at Pepe’s. But seriously, Patrick and Peter have been especially heroic and remained calm in many adversities. With water in the bilges we have yet another issue to resolve at landfall and no doubt the boys will investigate this whilst the galley girls will sleep. We, in turn, have provided continuous food whilst they sort out the navigation, engineering and teach us to sail in a heavy sea. I guess we have all had to draw on inner resources and gain strength from one another and survive on almost no sleep. It’s so tippy and noisy down below that rest is the best we can get, and some of us waste more energy worrying about the boat so that sleep is impossible. It has been an experience that several of us might have preferred not to have had, and we’re not sure that our characters needed building, but out of the experience we have forged friendships and learned lessons, and will enjoy the simple experiences of life even more. We were all immensely grateful to Daniel and Peter for fixing the heads at bear island because we have enjoyed the delights of a proper heads (Toilet) and not needed the bucket!!! One small comfort amongst the adversities.
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