Saturday, July 18, 2015

Race One - Belfast, Northern Ireland to Alesund, Norway

This sail was anything but dull!  It was one of the most varied passages I've had on board, hard to believe it was only 9 days long!  As the title says, this leg was one of the tall ships races for the summer.  Racing means sailing, not motoring, and sailing more aggressively than we might do otherwise.  We started off with a gentle sail out to the start line and a couple hours at anchor to avoid crossing the line too early.  Then once the race began we had strong winds, largeish seas and lots of seasick people.  While the winds lasted we kept up good speed, getting over 12 knots and holding 11 knots for an entire 4 hour watch. As the race went on the winds died down at bit, till they were almost gone at the end.  The exciting thing was that we amongst the leaders for most of the race and finished in second place!  As we crossed the line everyone was on deck, we cheered and blew the horn and congratulated ourselves on a job well done.  Of the three Norwegian tall ships Sorlandet is considered the "little sister" so it was quite a nice feeling to be second overall and ahead of the other Norwegian ships.  We also won the award for most international crew so quite an exciting time to be on board.

Crossing the finish line

As we left Belfast a bagpiper in a boat came by and serenaded us!
At the end of the race we were in the Arctic Ocean which may account for the cool weather we've been having.  Since we finished the race early and didn't have to be in Alesund right away we were able to take a trip into the Geirangerfjord.  Absolutely stunning!  Spent a day going down the fjord, a day at anchor and then another day leaving.  At anchor a bunch of us went swimming! Although we missed the "official" swim call Nadia & I did our own swim call during our afternoon break.  Yes, it was cold!  And now I can say I've swum above the 62nd parallel.

It was another full crew, 88 people on board as well as a new cook, Kerry, who joined us in Belfast.  Needless to say galley was not dull this leg.  Two of the people who joined for this sail were Sture's (captain) father and daughter.  They sailed with us last year as well, from Edinburgh to Kristiansand for the Class Afloat graduation.  This summer they were here a bit longer and I got to know them both more.  Ariel is 7 and is just starting to learn English at school, I am trying to learn a little Norwegian and having her around was a great opportunity to practice and learn some new words and phrases. She was quite patient most of the time though she was quite aghast at my attempt to roll my Rs and once pointed out that I clearly hadn't studied my "homework" (we drew pictures and labeled them in Norsk) when I asked her (again) the word for shoe.  Ariel happily tried many jobs around the ship and she came to the galley a few times to help bake treats for afternoon coffee. She also kept me busy knitting.  When she arrived I was knitting a hippopotamus for Maria, one of the volunteers on board, and Ariel was quite interested to see how it would look when finished so asked me daily if I would knit.  Once that hippo was finished I offered to make her one as well, warning her that it probably wouldn't be done before she left but I could leave it for her dad to take home on his next rotation.  Of course this was eagerly agreed to and it turned out I did have time to finish "Ida" before Ariel left.  So now my Norwegian vocabulary includes the words for hippopotamus (literally translated it's river horse) and knitting.

The rare Norwegian hippopotamus.  His name is Bruce.
Evening knit session on deck.
Baking with Ariel.

Alesund was another festival, smaller then Belfast which was nice as it didn't take half an hour of walking just to leave the festival grounds!  We had a couple deck parties and I was back to shrimp master for a couple days.  Other then walking around town I didn't really take the chance to see anything, but used my off time to catch up on organizing pictures, e-mails, Skyping and spending time with the crew.


  1. One of my favourite blog posts so far Laura!! Love the knitted river horse, it is very cute.
    Congratulations on second place to you and the crew :)

  2. This is interesting reading. I've been to some of the places you mention but not in a tall ship. Fascinated by the photos of the parts of the ship.
    I'll check in once in awhile.