Riding out the gale
We always knew that after leaving Rørvik timing would be key. Why else start a passage in the rain at just after midnight? Our proposed route took us 60 or so miles across Folda; one of the most exposed sectors of the Norwegian coastline and one notoriously subject to dangerous waves in a blow. The forecast suggested a brief weather window when the wind would swing more favourably to the north-west before returning in some strength later in the day to the south-west. By then we hoped to have re-entered the Trondheimsleia - another inner lead between the island of Hitra and the mainland with the benefit of some protection from the worst of the sea. Once there, our intent was to make our way as far west as possible, against the wind, await a subsequent anticipated drop in the wind strength and then set out for UK.
And that, roughly, is what has happened over the last couple of days. What we had not expected, and nor had the Norwegian weathermen it seems, was the strength of blow we experienced once inside the Trondheimsleia. Just after midnight on Friday night, in unfamiliar darkness, the wind had reached gale force from the west and it was rapidly clear that it would be impossible to make any progress against it. In similar circumstances north of Ny Alesund we had just had to slog it out. In this case, there were other options available. Ducking into a local side fjord we selected a sheltered bay from the chart and stuck down our anchor and lots of chain. A couple of local fishing boats who had been shadowing us for some time out along the Trondheimsleia made the same decision at precisely the same moment and headed for home too. Feeling vindicated, safely secured and dry, with the heater on, we watched and heard the wind howl from the protection of the cabin.
It took over 24 hours for the wind to drop and it was not until Sunday morning that we upped anchor and set out once more into an altogether more benign Trondheimsleia; albeit still in the persistent drizzle that has dogged us all the way south along the coast. We may be wrong but whiilst UK. at least, has basked, we don't remember really enjoying any sustained sunshine since 24 June in Spitsbergen's Magdalene Fjord.. That said, the forecast for UK is now anticipating unpredictable storms and heavy rain at the end of the week. Not long after that both of us have commitments we have to be back for. We have therefore tempered plans to return Atlantis all the way to Plymouth at this stage and will be looking for a safe mooring for her for a month or so before we get a chance to broach the final leg of this journey home to the Tamar. As at Monday afternoon, favourite options, on the basis of the forecasts we currently have, cost, future accessibility and security of mooring etc lie on the west coast of Scotland.
We have therefore set course initially towards the Shetland Islands and have made good time in a brisk north-easterly. Whether we stop there or not will depend on progress and the forecast over the next 24 hours. Meanwhile, with a poled out genoa, one reef in the main, a big but regular following sea and, at last, in sunshine, Atlantis is surfing regularly at speeds of up to 10 knots - that's fast for her! It doesn't get much better than this. In a mile or so we shall lower neighbour Betsy's handmade Norwegian courtesy flag which has flown at the spreaders since the end of May.