Hot Chocolate...Inverness to Stromstad Sweden .
Trip Start Apr 23, 2012
3Trip End May 05, 2012
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Clachnaharry was the last lock leading to Inverness Firth.We could see Kessock suspension bridge 5 miles ahead.There was very little wind so we motored for the first while.We had full rig up at 1700 hrs on my watch. There were several large ships in the locality most of them coming and going from Cromarty Firth.There seemed to be Gas Rigs under construction in there.The night was cool and I was a bit apprehensive about going out into the busy North Sea.It has a bad reputation.Our Skipper had fished from the Faeroe Islands to the banks south of Ireland and was familiar with the area.Sunset was nice and red and the night was very bright.Around 2300 the wind died away so we had to put the donkey on again.The forecast was in our favour and if anything there was to be a lack of winds for the next few days.The Gas fields began to appear just off the North West Highlands and there always seemed to be activity around them,tankers,support ships etc.There was plenty of wild life around, the common scoters,male,and the velvet scoter, female were in huge numbers and would wait until the last minute to dive out of the way.I timed one set of them at 45 seconds under water.
The sunrise was fantastic with a beautiful red sky.Many photos were taken.It was great to have the first night over us and I didn't mind having the 0300-0600 watch, in fact it is one of my favorites. The oil fields at this stage were all around us and I counted 13 of them.
The skipper got a chance to use his Sextant and take a few noon sights.I had a look through it lining up the horizon with the high sun.The last time I experimented with a sextant was on the way to Porto Santo just before we were hit by Hurricane Vince in 2005.We were well of the mainland at this stage but could see the outline of the Orkney's in the distance.Our heads were not working properly either, it was pumping out but not pumping in to flush so we had to make a bucket from an empty diesel drum for catching some sea water.Luke made a pasta dish for dinner which was nice and tasty.All the joys of sailing.The wind picked up in the afternoon so we were able to get the sails back up.
The day started off dull and overcast and misty.I counted 8 Oil & Gas fields around us including the Birch Field.The Piper field was also visible. In 1988 there was an explosion on Piper Alfa Platform killing 168 workers only 63 survived.It was originally a oil platform and later converted to a gas platform.It produced 10% on the North Sea production.It was the worst offshore disaster ever and while I was working several safety modules on the disaster were shown to us.A 30 inch pipe ran 128 miles to the Orkney Islands carrying the oil and gas for possessing.
In the afternoon swallows began to land on the boat to rest and would fly right into the saloon.There were some smaller birds landing on the boat as well that we couldn’t’t name.I made a stew for dinner enough for 2 days and included everything in it.There were no complaints when it was served up.We were now only 65 miles from the Norway coast and there were no gas fields in view.My watches were 0600 and 1500.and were quiet enough.
Tuesday 1st May. I I was on the early watch and there was very little traffic around.The night was cold again but the 6 layers did the job.The swallows in the cabin made a right old mess so we hunted them out.Id say they were exhausted and wouldn’t’t survive anyway.We found a dead one in the hand basin in the heads.In the morning we began to see more traffic coming and going around the Norway coast.The ship “Azura” came very close to us.We were surprised to be able to pick up a mobile signal so Greg phoned Matt and gave him a ETA.Matt in turn booked us on Ryan Air flights from Oslo for Fri and Sat.When we went to make the porridge for breakfast we discovered that the gas had run out.Greg asked us not to log it. I remember asking him in Dublin if we enough and he said we probably had but would check it again in Scotland.Oh the rest of the trip wasn't going to looked forward to.There was crunchy cereal there that I nibbled on occasionally and we had plenty of fruit so we wouldn't starve but we would miss the hot drinks.In the afternoon the wind picked up and conditions got fairly choppy.There was a lot of traffic around as we were approaching the traffic separation zone so we adjusted course to get out of their way.Again we had a lovely sunset and its amazing that they are all so different, that’s why I like to admire them. Sunset was at 20.19.I tried some cold stew for dinner but it didn't do anything for me so I settled on a sandwich instead.By nightfall we were only 20 miles off the Norway Coast sailing parallel to it.
Wed 2nd May.
Again I was on watch at sunrise which was at 04.25.and very little traffic to be seen.Conditions were calm again and we were down to our last spare drum of diesel.The snow on the Norway coast looked picturesque.We heard a Mayday Relay on Channel 16 but couldn’t’t understand what they were saying which was a pity.We didn’t’t reply but I logged it and our skipper wasn’t impressed.We didn’t’t have any paper charts so relied on the lap top and gps receiver attached to it to find our way into Stromstad.We arrived in at 1800 hrs which was great not to be trying to find our way in in the dark.Sailing boats were heading out for their mid week race as we were coming in as well as a ferry heading off to Norway.There were 3 marinas in town and plenty of space so we tied up in the closest one to the town.There were miniature yachts been raced close to us and it seemed to be competitive enough.It seemed to be a popular sport.It was great to on land again and after a shower, shave etc we were off for some hot food.While dining we spotted a couple going on to the pontoon looking at the boats and discovered later it was the boats owner.He left a note on the chart table for us and said he would meet us the following day.