Ocean Lady – Adventures in North Sea, part 2

Sailboats, as well as larger ships, are absolutely undemocratic places. Decisions are not voted on, although sometimes they can be discussed. The final decision-making power as well as the responsibility always lies with the captain. And that’s how it should be. The only one who can nullify the carefully weighed decisions of the captain is the holder god of weather. You can plan departure for next morning, but if there is no wind or it’s blowing from wrong direction, then you have to wait and grow patience.

I sailed two legs in a row on Carissa. First from Bergen to Lerwick in the Shetland Islands and then back to Stavanger in Norway. In Lerwick, I grew my patience between two legs and finally I was already anxiously waiting to get to the sea. The reason was that due to the winds we arrived in Lerwick ahead of time and for the same reason we were able to leave with a new crew and skipper later than originally intended. Fortunately, we were able to get to know the nature of the island, its present and past, as well as the old and charming town of Scalloway. The captain’s original plan was to head for the Orkney Islands, located north of Scotland, but there was no suitable wind, so in the end it was necessary to take the helm in hands and turn Carissa’s bow towards the east and Norway. This turned out to be the best solution in the end.

As a whole, Shetland was the most interesting destination for its nature and history. The island group once belonged to Denmark-Norway thanks to the Viking excursions, but the Danish king gave it as a dowry due to lack of money when his daughter married the King of Scotland. A repossession clause was wisely added to the handover protocol. Today, the people of Shetland are upset that oil was found on the continental shelf. Denmark can no longer afford to buy them back, and they cannot become part of the Nordic countries, where they feel they belong as descendants of the Vikings. We said goodbye to the Shetland Islands with a quick visit to the port of Old Skerries and after a few hours ashore we headed for a night sail to cross the North Sea. At first it was calm, but towards evening and night wind got stronger and we could sail on the waves, oil rigs shining far away and guiding the way.

The officers had prepared well for their leg and had checked out in advance interesting and worth visiting guest marinas in the Norwegian archipelago and on the coast. Bekkjarvik, the first landing site after crossing the North Sea, was really charming. We arrived there with round eyes like Moses in the promised land. Restaurant, cafes, shops, showers, toilets, electricity and garbage bins, ATM and pharmacy, all just a few hundred steps from the pier. And when you wanted more steps, you don’t need to do anything else but race with the sheep on the mountain trails. The other places to stay were also the most excellent, for example the small village of Espevaer at the bottom of the bay, sheltered by a rocky island. The village was once a important fishing center, today a haven for 70 year-round residents, which comes alive with summer residents when summer comes. The village warmly welcomes all new residents in order to maintain its viability.

Perhaps the most confusing place to stay was found at Skudeneshavn’s guest boat pier, which was attached directly to the wall of the restaurant. We arrived at the harbor after the fog had wrapped it in its soft veil. Beautiful buildings, well-kept houses and yards, cafes, restaurants, boats, ships and piers. Only people were missing, no one anywhere. We were like in huge scenes. For whom is all this set up? I guess the truth was that we were on the move in the off-season. During the short and intense summer time, Skudeneshavn is a paradise for boaters and wealthy retirees, otherwise a strange deserted town.

We got to enjoy the most breathtaking scenery at the end of the trip in Lysefjorden. Mountains, forests, waterfalls descending from the mountains like a veil of water, barren rocks, mountain walls reaching for the sky and of course the famous Preikestolen or Pulpit. From its edge, several eager selfie-takers have grabbed their most impressive and at the same time their last picture.

Our sailing trip ended in Stavanger, Norway’s oil capital. Next to the harbor is an interesting oil museum, which tells how Norway has changed from a poor fishing and farming country to a rich oil country in 50 years. And how all this has changed Norway, and not always in a good way. But I’m sure the Norwegians can handle it, it’s easy to cry your sorrows in the front seat of a hybrid Mercedes or an electric Tesla.

Once again, warm thanks to skipper Paula, Elina and Satu, and team Riitta, Merja-Riitta, Elina and Maija. What an amazing amount of know-how, experience, knowledge and skill, as well as the desire and ability to share it, in addition to humor, warmth, funny stories and shared moments, and above all friendship. I very much hope to meet you again in BR (party cruises).

Team: Skipper Paula Rissanen, 1st mate Elina Ihamäki, 2nd mate Satu Pitkänen, crew: Maija Koivukangas, Annamari Kurki, Merja-Riitta Liljeroos, Elina Sillanpää, Riitta Strandvall
Route: Lerwick – Out Skerries – Bekkjarvik – Espevaerin – Skudeneshavnin – Lysefjorden – Stavanger
Writer: Annamari Kurki