Genevieve may be resting in Georgia, but I was barely back home in NY before setting off on another sailing adventure. This time aboard Mahina Tiare III, starting in the Scottish Orkney islands and heading across the boisterous North Sea to Norway, then up the Norwegian coast to the far arctic north. John and Amanda Neal’s Mahina Expeditions is a renown sail-training experience geared towards gaining serious offshore sailing knowledge and experience.
Prior to the Norwegian odyssey, John and I decided that we would combine my journey to the Orkneys with a nostalgic side-trip to Scotland, specifically the Isle of Skye, where my family went for many Summers when my sister Karen and I were but lambs. With Karen joining, we rented a small remote croft right next door to the place we used to stay 35 years ago. The weather treated us well and we had a wonderful week in Skye with a side trip down to the stunningly beautiful isles of Mull and Iona. Then John and Karen returned home, and I made my way to the remote Orkney Islands to meet my crew mates aboard Mahina.
For 21 days, 6 of us toiled and were tested by the grey North Sea, the challenging Norwegian coast, and John and Amanda’s demanding curriculum. Daily, we sailed the boat hard, and had lessons and tests on such topics as celestial navigation, splicing, route planning, winch maintenance, diesel engines, communication options, going aloft, etc, all while charting, navigating and sailing the boat up the craggy Norwegian coast. The further north we went the less darkness there was, until right around Alesund–close to the Arctic Circle–nighttime did not happen at all and we had 24hours of daylight, sunshine even.
Norway is absolutely beautiful and a wonderfull place to sail. The deep, steep-sided, greener-than-green fjords are fascinating places to see and the Norwegian people are friendly, calm and very welcoming, particularly to seafarers. Each town had an open guest dock for us and many supplied great shower and laundry facilities for a modest fee…very modest compared to the US and considering the prices for everything else in Norway were quite far from modest!
One of the biggest challenges of the trip was being on a boat with 7 other people for so long…but although I missed some privacy and longed for a coffee (as a real training vessel, Mahina is caffeine and alcohol free at all times!), I had a wonderful time and learned so much about how to safely run, look after and operate an ocean-capable sailboat, work as part of an energetic crew, and make do without Earl Grey and a G&T! And Mahina Tiare III, a Haalberg Rassy 46, is a beautiful sailboat…but don’t tell Genevieve.
On return, I discovered John had had an equally fun time. Alone. No boats. On land. Without me.
Check out Norway trip at Mahina website http://www.mahina.com/leg16/1.html