arctic adventures

pleased to say that i made it back to mallorca safe and sound, all in one piece. after leaving palma on the 5th september, we finally arrived back here on the 21st, 16 days later.  The trip north took around 12 hours in total, three different flights from spain to denmark, denmark to norway then the last flight north into the arctic circle to a military airfield come airport, a shared runway with F15’s.  the temperature when i left mallorca was 35 degrees. 12 hours later, in the arctic we faced temperatures of just 14 degrees. chilly for me but positively summer for the local norwegians.
we stayed for a day in Bodo and prepared the boat for the trip. the current engineer took me through a hand over as he was leaving the boat after a couple of days in bergen and then we were set to leave.
we pushed off from bodo in good time, hoping to head south and catch good weather on the way down. around 24 hours into the trip (vague i know but i lost all track of time ) while i was on watch with one of the other crew, we managed to blow out a stay sail at 04.30 . a little dramatic but not a major problem, we just had to haul it back out of the water, relatively straight forward with all of the crew on deck. as we were heaving, the sea pulled the sail away from us and one of the crew was caught between the sail and the safety wire, almost severing a thumb clean off. suddenly i was aware of just how vulnerable we were. The injured were tended to below while the rest of us hauled the sail in and made it safe. Skipper altered course for Trondheim and also called a life boat to meet us to take the injured crew off to hospital. a couple of hours later, the rescue boat reached us and we transfered two crew across. as they sped off toward trondheim and a waiting ambulance, we plodded on at our normal pace.
we made trondheim a few hours later and made repairs to the boat where the stay sail had broken and also some damage to our hull where we came into contact with the rescue boat. we also said goodbye to the normal engineer and hello to another member of the delivery crew.
A day later, we refuelled and headed off south once more, cruising through some amazing norwegian scenery.
when we finally hit the north sea, i was in awe at the amount of oil rigs, and also educated as to how far south they actually went. i always thought the north sea was above scotland but i had a well overdue geography lesson. we sailed the full length of the east coast of the UK and passed through the channel in the dead of night heading for the northern tip of france and beyond biscay.
For many years, i had been told that biscay was a formidable place. i was a little aprehensive about crossing it, we would be exposed for two days, a long way from land but in reality, it was a beautifully calm place. i have no doubt it could cut it rough but for my first crossing, it was almost flat calm, a water skiiers dream.  it was here that our first stow away appeared, a small bird on the aft deck, absolutely exhausted from his travels so i fed and watered the little blighter so that he could continue on its way.
we were heading into northern spain, basque territory, to re-fuel when we hit thick fog. scary shit! visibility just metres in front of us and the same to the side. navigation purely by radar and the AIS system. of course we made it safely to harbour and refuelled but hit the fog again as we left to continue south.
soon we would be cruising the portuguese coastline and for the first time ever, i saw my home from the water. Cape St Vincent and the lighthouse, the cliffs at the end of europe, sagres and the rolling hills up to my house were all visible.
I also saw gibraltar for the first time, albeit covered in thick smog from all of the shipping that was waiting there.
we then had to plug across the med, which i did think would be the easy leg of the journey but it appeared to be the heaviest section. with the wind on the nose and a wind swelled sea, we had to slow down a little but it was still a lumpy sea, the boat slamming through the wash, made sleep impossible and hard to concentrate on anything much at all. all at a time when we could feel the end of the journey was close and we were all ready for the shore.
finally we made it to my second home in the med and i was glad to see the place, just had to make the boat good then head off to the hotel to meet jess!
authors footnote. the author would like to acknowledge that this passage is seriously lacking in writers creativity. i had to put something down quickly or i might not have bothered at all. i will redress the balance this week as i get inspiration from being back on this drug infested island. stand by

Have a moan - the beers are on me !!

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