PROGRESS REPORT No. 15
Sunday Morning. Sept 11th. On anchor in Hamnbukta, south side of Soroya.
Last Friday the wind went easterly, giving us grand sailing along the cliff
coast of Finnmark and North Cape. Twould remind you of the north side of Achill.
Going south into the fiords, we spoke to Norwegian 'control', all very comfortable.
Then-our electronic chart system crashed.
Islands and fiords all round, our paper chart was on a minuscule scale,
intended for passage planning only. Brass dividers, wooden parallel rules,
sharpened pencils, the paraphernalia of traditional navigation were brought into
play, but on this chart of little detail covering all of Norway. Two hours
later, good man Gary, he had our backup electronic chart system working.
We would have managed on the paper system, but anxiously.
The lights of Hammerfest called enticingly around midnight -- we resisted
and kept going. The forecast was poor and we wanted to make ground.
By 06:00 on Saturday, seas were crashing over our bow, as now south of
Soroya Island, we were into open sea. A ferry passed us, we were down to two
knots, with 40 miles of open waters before us before we would be into confined waters.
A sheltered bay lay 4 miles away. We made for it.
Our anchor chain rasped on the seabed. The anchor must not be biting!
It was Jarlath who discerned that the anchor was holding and that the chain
was merely dragging across the stony bottom as gusts swung us this way and that.
Here we lie, while the wind whistles in the rigging.
A stream plunges down to the shore 100 metres away. The hills rise around,
the tops dusted with fresh snow. The outside thermometer shows 4 degrees.
In our cabin the Dikenson stove burns, it's warm and snug. Hammerfest Radio
was surprised that, in this location, we could reach them.
We wait for better conditions, reading and chess-boarding.
We're approaching Tromso.
Later yesterday morning we said that the wind seemed to have eased and that
we'd go outside and have a look, and we did and we kept going.
The emptiness is gone. All night we passed lit up villages and small
lighthouses on rocks and headlands. We navigated the twists and turns with
care, passing vessels big and small in both directions.
This country lives afloat.
In Tromso, Brendan Minish, Eoin McAllister and Tom Moran are waiting to join us.