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-- May 12th to 18th, 2024 --
After sailing along the Norwegian "Riviera", the Sørlandet, Saltimbanque rounds the southernmost tip of the country, leaves the Skagerrak for the North Sea, and reaches the famous west coast.
More sun-drenched photos in our Photo page

235 miles sailed
250 miles since the start
Our stops, click on the names for more details:
Vestre Bolæren (pontoon)Ildverket (stern anchor) Stråholmen (anchored)Homborsund (pontoon)Kristiansand (port) - Egersund (port)
13 May : Dragsund – Ildverket (42M)
As soon as we leave, we already have our eyes riveted on the first difficulty of this trip: passing the southern tip of Norway and its capes that accelerate winds and currents (Lindesnes, Lista). It must be said that until that point, we will be on familiar ground and we would like to be done these first 150 miles as soon as possible. But before even starting, we hit the first obstacle: a total absence of wind within a radius of 80 miles around Oslo, and for as long as the forecasts can see ! "Junior", our engine will have to rise and shine from the start...
We leave early because Junior, however young and in good shape, is not very fast. And so we start on the loooong fjord of Oslo. A new weather twist at the exit of the Drøbaksund: the mist... Already mediocre when we woke up, visibility now drops below 50 meters: not the best when it comes to crossing a large corridor of ferries commuting continuously between Moss and Horten! Modern electronics come to the rescue: we receive the AIS positions of the ferries live on our smart phone, which allows us to pass without any problems - using the sense of hearing more than sight! Of course, the mist dissipates a few minutes later, offering a beautiful sunny afternoon... and the promise of thermal breeze at the end of the day!

And at this point we were still seeing something...

Quick break on the Bolærne islands
Poor Junior has been poot-pooting around tirelessly for more than 8 hours, so we offer him a little nap break on the charming island of Vestre-Bolæren. Then as soon as the wind seems to pick up, we set off again – finally under sail – between the beautiful pink rocks of the Vestfold.
After much hesitation as to which island to call our own, or which beautiful piece of granite to stick Saltimbanque on for the night, we set our sights on Ildverket. Anchor at the stern and nose on a small wooden pontoon at the foot of a cliff, no one will disturb our sunset - with the exception of a few sheep!

Alone on Ildverket
14 May : Ildverket – Stråholmen (31 M)

Pretty calm... plenty of time to admire the lihthouse!
Yay, this morning there is no mist! Of course, there is no wind either, but to that we were psychologically ready. On the agenda for the day, continue – with the engine – our quest in search of the lost breeze...

We wish to limit the duration of this sonic ordeal to around eight hours and are therefore looking for a destination around thirty miles away: heading for Jomfruland, or rather its little sister Stråholmen.

The navigation is noisy but very pleasant under the warm sun. We see many seals and porpoises on this glassy sea, but have no luck at fishing. We see the snow-capped peaks of the Telemark mountains too, in shorts and a T-shirt from the cockpit!
8 hours later, the anchor drops into 4 meters of water flat like a mirror. No other sailboats, 2 kayakers and their tent on the pretty little island, countless birds peeping, it’s as bucolic as it gets!

In theory, it would be the time for a Saltimbanque shower: swimming, washing with special seawater soap, then rinsing with fresh water using a sprayer. With this sun and 22-23 degrees outside, it would be tempting too … but we are still very early in the season and the sea water is barely 14-15… So it will be a Japanese shower instead, with a water in a bucket and a small bowl to pour it over sparsely. The advantage on the other hand is that our “fridge” against the hull works perfectly :o)

We even take the time to prepare a nice dinner based on leek-pie. Life as “saltimbanques” is fun!

A mirror-like Stråholmen
15 May : Stråholmen – Homborsund (56 M)

The spi is really the sail we need with this morning's weather!
No more ripples on the water in the morning than the previous evening but we are hopeful of catching up with the wind today. Junior starts to complain, this morning he's all fussy and refuses to settle down to his cruising speed if we don't bring him there very gently. He’s demanding!

Once our engine is satisfied, we stubbornly make way south. 3 hours later, it is undeniable, there is a breath of air... the absolute weapon to capture it is our large spinnaker. The blue and yellow bubble inflates, the boat accelerates, we turn off Junior, silence returns... We're under sail!
We will keep the spinnaker until the end of the afternoon, all the way to Arendal, when the wind and a very annoying stiff easterly swell pick up enough to make us seek shelter behind the barrier of the skjærgård. A few hours of goosewing sailing in the mineral labyrinth later, always under the sun, we reach the visitor pontoon in Homborsund.

Approaching Homborsund lighthouse from the skjærgård

We must be off-season...
We are spoiled for choice when it comes to docking, we are the only boat. Cheers to sailing off-season! We spend a very good night on this free and easy-to-access pontoon, delighted to have finally made good progress on our route.
16 May : Homborsund – Kristiansand (22M)
Now that we have found the wind again, we need to avoid having too much of it... it is East-North-East (very favorable for us) and it is currently strengthening a little too much at the southern tip of the Norway. We can only target the town of Kristiansand to wait for a more reasonable weather window.
So off we go, under genoa alone this morning, first between a few rocks, then on the open sea. Damn, the swell has gotten a lot stronger since yesterday! Not that high (0.5 to 1m), it is very short (4 to 5 seconds per period), therefore very steep and very sideways too, which makes navigation uncomfortable.

Uncomfortable and impressive, as we chose the option “as short as possible, close to the rocks”. But the passage is scrupulously marked, we know it well and everything goes smoothly. The wind really starts to pick up however, as we begin to turn west along the coast and ride the swell at more than 7 knots with only half the genoa...

Sailing with solely the genoa is the perfect way to run downwind in the skjærgård
The port of Kristiansand is not exactly sheltered from the east (read: not at all) and we are beginning to dread the docking manoeuvre... We approach cautiously, checking well before the quay that the engine is powerful enough to beat against the wind: yes, it is, first good news! Second good news, the new marina is equipped with multiple pontoons to which it is very easy to moor. We have not been back here since the reconstruction of the marina, destroyed in 2021 by... an easterly storm! The rest of the manoeuvre is a little tricky but we are finally well moored, just in time as the wind continues to pick up...

There are lots of people and much excitement in Kristiansand. So much noise for us who haven't seen anyone since Dragsund! We focus on our primary needs: groceries shopping, a shower, and some more weather analysis. No window until the next evening, so the only thing to do is go to sleep.
17-18 May : Kristiansand – Egersund (84M)
May 17, national holiday! The streets fill up with people in traditional costume (the Bunad) and processions of children (the atmosphere is different from the military parades of our July 14th here…). But the most impressive procession undoubtedly remains the continuous and uninterrupted queue in front of each and every ice cream shop in the city! It is still very hot for the season, several records are broken over the country.

Bunads and flags, a typical 17th of May in Norway!
Laure takes advantage of the free time to go running in the surrounding area while Camille feverishly checks the weather every 5 minutes. The fact is that it is still blowing a lot from the East, more than 30 knots in gusts as per the readings from weather stations along the coast... The forecasts are however unanimous: the wind should drop suddenly in the evening to settle East 3-4 Beaufort throughout at night then soften the next morning before turning to the west in the afternoon. By leaving just when the east wind drops a tad, we should be able to optimize this beautiful downwind window. We are preparing for strong wind for the first few hours, and above all for a night in uncomfortable swells…

Missing the trade winds?...
Here we go, we leave the pontoon without incident despite a few gusts, and head south under genoa alone. As soon as we leave the shelter of the islands out of Kristiansand Bay, the swell is there, shaking the sail and the stomachs (luckily Laure has her anti-seasickness patch on). The wind on the other hand is already weakening. We look a little disappointed at our genoa flapping with each wave... then we remember that, a long long time ago, on an ocean far far away, we had found a solution to this kind of situation: the pole! It takes a few minutes to remember how to rig and fit everything – but here we are: the genoa no longer flaps, Bob the windvane can steer, the sun is setting slowly… in short, it’s not that bad!
The Norwegian coast passes by, we have now reached the deep sea (more than 300m) and the swell is starting to lengthen and settle down. The downwind ocean current strengthens to reach 1 knot and significantly improves our average. Maybe this passage won't be so unpleasant after all?

That's it, the Oddknuppen lighthouse is behind us, it is the southernmost point of Norway. We can untangle the genoa and luff to follow the coast which goes back towards the North. The boat settles into a crosswind speed, the swell evaporates, no doubt broken by the land now to our wind, and we glide in silence under the stars. The passage of the Lindesnes lighthouse, so much fantasized about during the months of preparation this winter, takes place in magical, almost surreal conditions...

The sun sets right behind the very southerly tip of Norway

The physionomy of the shore radically changes after Lista
And we sail on, now in the North Sea: we have left our good old Skagerrak stomping ground. We head towards Lista, the next cape. The wind begins to die down and time drags on until we pass the lighthouse.

Behind Lista, the landscape changes. The low boulders of the skjærgårds have given way to a high rocky coast cut by small fjords. From one of them blows an unexpected northeastly breeze for another hour or so. It is only around 8 a.m. that the forecasted calm sets in, forcing us to call upon the engine again.
We approach the island of Eigerøy, behind which lies the port of Egersund, our destination. To reach it we have to sail a few miles in a narrow channel between the island and the coast. On the port side a construction site for the oil industry, on the starboard side a huge fishing vessel, in the middle a fisherman on a tiny boat who seems to be hauling in cod non-stop… on the port side lumber ready for export, on the starboard side a few more fishing vessels… no doubt, we have arrived to Western Norway!

Arriving in Egersund!
The marina, popular with foreign sailing boats too, consists of one pontoon. You can pay for the place spontaneously on your phone, or to the person from the local yacht club who comes by in the evening. Otherwise everything is free. We take the opportunity to do laundry which will dry in a few hours in this indecent sun.

The atmosphere is definitely more simple and authentic than on the “Riviera” of Sørlandet. Even the procedure for a shower is not quite the same..

In Kristiansand you needed to:
- Pay for the berth from the touch screen machine and enter your phone number
- Receive the receipt by text message to have the bathroom door code
- Download an application to your phone
- Pay for the shower through the application
- Take your phone with you in the shower
- Start the shower through the application, which will stop it after 7 minutes scrupulously counted down

In Egersund you need to:
- Enter the shower
- Press the button to start the shower

On the left side the procedure for showering in Kristiansand.
The same procedure in Egersund on the right side!
This seems like the perfect place to recharge our batteries before heading off to explore this brand new world in the coming days: Vestlandet!
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Your messages:

Kariine - 01/06/2024 11:55:53
Un joli début de voyage qui m'a fait naviguer un petit bout de chemin avec vous.

Kirstie & Neil L’Escale - 21/05/2024 14:11:10
What a beautiful beginning to this season’s adventures! It feels like a great balance of some weather and navigational challenges, just enough to get you back “into the swing of things”, with the reassurance of familiar surroundings and the bonus of glorious sunshine. Long may the joy continue ;-)

la mamou - 21/05/2024 02:38:10
Que de belles photos !un joli début de voyage ;-)

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