We checked the forecast and it looked good so we sailed out of Aberdeen at 1600hrs on Tuesday 24 June bound for Kristiansand in Norway. The winds were around 20 knots and apart from a spot of motoring in the middle we had a great sail. We threaded our way through rigs, platforms, workboats and a few fishing vessels. It is a busy place.

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During the passage at around 0200 hours I saw a mass of lights above the horizon and thought that it must have been a very large installation but when I checked the radar there was nothing there. It was the famous Northern Lights of Aberdeen! Sunrise and sunset at sea are often a highlight of nights at sea because of the uninterrupted views coupled with unusual cloud formations. Check out the photo below which was taken at 0400hrs  on the morning of 25 June at latitude North 58 degrees. It never really gets dark but stays as twilight between 2300 and 0300hrs.

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In the morning of the second day at sea we were joined by dolphins for the best display of the voyage. They played in the bow wave and would roll onto their side to check that we were still looking – we captured a video clip of them, but until we get it loaded, here are a couple of photos.

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We cruised into Kristiansand Harbour around 2230hrs after a passage time of 54.5 hours which was better than expected as we had budgeted 60 hours. After a well-earned drink at Patrick’s Irish bar we returned to Meg and slept like babies. The next morning I reported to the Marina office and paid the mooring fees which compared to the price of a beer in a bar were very reasonable – 250 Norwegian Krona per night (NZD 45), compared to one 500ml beer in a bar at 89 Krona (NZD 16.5) – ouch! It is like drinking your own blood!

The people that we met in Kristiansand (including three young men on a yacht that were all totally trashed) said we must take the Blindleia passage to Lillesand as it was very pretty. So I bought the paper charts, as in places the passage is less than 10 metres wide with rocks all around. Check out the chart.

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This is a real navigation challenge and had Graham and I were fully focused on the charts. We had met a young couple (Camilla and Martin) the night before who were very keen to sail as far as Lillesand with us so they were our Norwegian guides.

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What a stunning area! You could catch fish from the deck of most of the houses. We sailed under a road bridge that has a minimum air gap of just 19 metres and our total mast height including hull is 17.90 metres! Mike has a GoPro camera and took some time lapse video which we will upload soon.

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Lillesand is very cute with all of the houses built in timber and painted white. Lots of flower baskets decorate the streets.

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Camilla’s sister Alesia who had driven from Kristiansand joined us for dinner at the Beddingen Restauant that has “the best fish soup in town.” They all left for a party on the island of Lyngor and we enjoyed a quiet drink while a rock band cranked it up in the centre of town – it was festival weekend.The night finished when a local called Oud and a chopper pilot Freddie Mueller from Stavanger joined us aboard Meg for a couple of whiskey’s as a night cap. Freddie had grown up in Lillesand and said it was a pity that he could not take us ‘crab picking’ as it was not dark enough. On a black night you take a spotlight and a net and scoop up crabs as they swim around.

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The next morning was a perfect day and all of the locals were out in shorts and T-shirts. The town square was filled with food tents and people everywhere. We left in the late afternoon for Arendal a little further north up the coast. It meant going out into the open sea and then picking our way back in through the rocks to the harbour. After the challenge of Blindleia it was a piece of cake!

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Arendal has a large church and spire that looks as though it was built by the same craftsmen as in Kristiansand as the spires are the same pitch – very Gothic. We were able to dock in the central harbour which put us in the thick of things. In fact within 3 minutes of tying up I had an ice cream in my hand as the stall was two metres from the yacht. That evening an Ocean Race boat came into the harbour and the motors would have any petrol head positively fizzing at the bung! The crew and passengers cranked the stereo up to full noise and then joined their friends in the bar who were already trolleyed. How would you deal with this situation…. You are in a bar having a great time but you have a little puppy on the boat who needs looking after….. The answer is you attach a fishing float to the puppies collar (so that he won’t drown) and bring him into the bar so he can enjoy the party too!!

Next morning Mike went for a 13 Km run out to Tromoey where they were running a big band event that was expected to draw a crowd of over 20,000. He said it was tent city. As it had started to rain a lady offered him a lift back to the yacht. The people that we have met have been very hospitable.

We left Arendal at 1830hrs on Monday 30 June en route for Gothenburg, Sweden.

Goodbye Norway.

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