Monday, September 15th, 2008
When we sailed from Kristiansand we had fresh headwind which eventually died out to calm. Morning found us motoring along in light winds as we entered the fjord that would lead us into Stavanger. Soon enough breezes became fair and the Picton Castle was under full sail slipping along in a beautiful Norwegian fjord. Nice and slowly we sailed passing small villages surrounded by what seems to be stark wilderness. Jagged rocky islets, tall mountains far in the distance, it was hard to believe that we were sailing in the approaches to a not insignificant northern European city. Past small islands with sheep grazing on one side and on the other, the most modern port facilities for fantastic state of the art oil industry vessels.
We sailed into Stavanger harbour, got the ship turned around and moored with the crew doing a snappy job of it. The central part of the old downtown harbour is a fairly small ‘U’ shaped basin open to the north. Being quite old this bight is surrounded by very old buildings dating back for centuries, built with all manner of big wooden knees and what looks like basic log construction where they are exposed on the inside. Some of the buildings were over 700 years old.
Here we met Reidar, who sailed in this ship in the mid 1960’s as the Utstraum. He and many of his colleagues have been following the progress of their former vessel and were keen to see her once again. We also learned that many in Norway were big fans of the TV show that was filmed on our second world voyage, Tall Ship Chronicles, with the cat and I being recognized quite frequently.
This the part of Norway where fjords begin to get more dramatic as one heads north. The fellows from whom we bought the ship, Stale and Helgeir Kristofferson and their families would join us for the short trip to Kopervik which is pretty much where we picked up the Dolmar in 1993. Conditions were good for departing under sail so we sailed from Stavanger under full sail. The waters around here tend to be deep. On the plus side, apart from a few isolated rocks, as long as our yards are not dragging against a mountain we probably aren’t going aground. The steep rock sides to islands and fjords make for good radar ranges in poor visibility too. On the down side, there aren’t too many places to anchor for us, although there certainly are some.
By the middle of the day we were sailing up Karmsundet or the sound between the island of Karmoy and the mainland into Kopervik. Kopervik means Copper Cove, “vik” meaning cove. It is thought that this is how the Vikings got their appellation, “cove-ers” or people from the coves. There are ‘viks’ everywhere around here.
The ship and crew got a great reception in Kopervik. We had laid here for about three weeks in May-June 1993 just after buying the Picton Castle (then the Dolmar) just getting stuff sorted out and checked out at the beginning of this project. The Dolmar was based here (registered in Haugesund to the north) for many years so many folks who knew her here dropped by for a tour.
Stale has a new old ship with which he carries passengers on fjord tours. He was going down to Stavanger the next day to a rally of veteran steamships, so he invited anyone from our gang who wanted to go to come along. I think 15 Picton Castle crew went along in his 240 ton Gamle Sandnes. We had a nice stay in Kopervik and then we pushed on towards Bergen to meet up with a good sized fleet of sailing ships, mostly sail training ships and join the Tall Ships Races to Den Helder, Netherlands. The Kristoffersons talked me into taking the inside route along the fjords instead of going outside in the ocean. As the winds would be from the north and thus adverse this seemed like a nice plan and we would see some of the coast this way and exercise some piloting skills too. Bergen was 80 miles away with all the twists and turns.