Monday September 15th was slated to be the start of the circumnavigation. I was joined by Frode Bergsvik, who also crewed on the trip for Amsterdam to Norway; in addition Lauren Hutchinson was making a first time appearance on a catamaran. Our departure day went pretty much as planned. We got up in the morning, did grocery shopping, topped off the diesel tanks and finally at 2pm motored away from Stavanger in search of wind that would bring us to the Netherlands.
The forecast promised easterly winds, which would work very well for us. As is often the case the forecast was wrong. We got southerly winds. The strength was as forecasted, but the wind was blowing directly from where we wanted to go. This meant sailing as close hauled as possible. Progress was hard won, because we had waves, wind and current against us. We fired up an engine to assist and then managed to creep the speed up to somewhere between 3 – 5 knots. It wasn’t pleasant, because the sea was building and the North Sea is no fun to be with increasing waves. Otto the autopilot was my man and he worked overtime to keep us on course. In the end it proved too big a challenge for him and he packed in and shut down. With the waves directly against us, we were hardly making any progress. We tried to get turn Otto on, but a fuse had blown and we couldn’t find out where the fuse was located. Trust me when I say that it’s no fun to search behind cupboards, bulkheads and every odd end of the boat looking for a small box where the fuse is located. We weren’t even entirely sure if it was a blown fuse, but hoped that it wouldn’t be anything more serious. In this commotion I managed to sacrifice my lunch and dinner to Poseidon and wasn’t feeling entirely on top of things. We made the decision to head back to land, to sort things out. Lauren and Frode hit the sack while I had the night watch. We headed for the closest port which turned out to be Egersund, about an hour south of Stavanger by car. The waves were knocking us around quite a bit, so I decided to furl the jib. It had received a lot of beating when Otto was having difficulty steering prior to giving up, so letting it rest a bit would probably be a good thing, right? … Wrong!
From where we turned, it took us approximately 10 hours to get to Egersund. We arrived tired, but in good spirits. We tied up next to the police station and went to work on Otto. It took exactly 1 minute after I had spoken to Gideon about the location of the box to get Otto back again. I ran a diagnostics test and everything was good, so we were basically all set to go. That’s when I took a look at the jib. It was ripped. When I say ripped I mean RIPPED: From top to bottom, pretty much directly along the part that a sail maker in Ijmuiden had strengthened it. It was disheartening. The sail maker that had strengthened it had told me that the sail was old and that it could break the first time I used it, or it could last a year or two, so it wasn’t a huge surprise. I talked to Gideon and we agreed that he would get a new job sewn in South Africa, which he could hopefully bring with him when he returned to Amsterdam in 10 days. My biggest problem was that it would be very tough to sail to the Netherlands without a jib. After doing a bit of thinking I decided that if we had northerly winds, we could forgo the jib and use the gennaker instead. Northerly winds were forecast in 6 days, so we decided to chill out and wait for proper winds.
6 days gave us plenty of time to get acquainted with Egersund. To my surprise it proved to be a super convenient place to stay with the boat. You only have to pay mooring fees during the summer, so we got to stay for free. On top of that they didn’t charge for water, electricity or internet, so it was a prefect place for us. Another thing I really liked was that there the city is so small, that everything was within walking distance. This proved to be a big boon when we were restocking the boat and fixing the bilge pumps. Oh, yeah … the bilge pumps which I thought I had fixed crapped out again, so we were sailing without any means to get water out of the bilge short of doing it with a bucket. After having spent 2 days in Egersund, we decided to head up to Stavanger, to chill there. We jumped on a train, leaving the boat safely tied up in the middle of Egersund.