March 17 is St. Patrick's Day so I've been thinking about last summer's cruise to Ireland.
My maternal grandparents immigrated to Canada from Ireland before my mother was born. I still have relatives in Northern Ireland, who we keep in touch with, and Paul and I had nice visits with them while we were in Bangor, near Belfast. They were quite surprised that their Canadian cousin sailed over in a 49-foot sailboat to see them!
Sheryl with cousins, Drew, Mary and Robin Carlisle
Arriving by sailboat was a very special way to visit the homeland of my grandparents. They lived and worked in many different places in both the north and south of Ireland so it was fun to travel along the coast of the Irish Sea and stop by to see those places and imagine my grandparents as young people with hopes and dreams for the future.
Paul at the helm in the estuary at Waterford on the southeast coast of Ireland
Although Nana and Papa embraced their new life in Canada they never lost their love of “the old country” and my childhood with them was filled with Irish stories and songs as well as good Irish food. So in celebration of St. Patrick's Day (when everyone can be Irish for a day!) I'm sharing my grandmother's recipe for Traditional Irish Stew. It's not only a great meal to enjoy on St. Patrick's Day, but good anytime you need a simple comforting warm meal. It's especially good on the boat when cold weather cruising!
Traditional Irish Stew
Ireland's national dish is traditionally made with mutton (less tender sheep over two years of age which has a stronger flavour than lamb) but lamb is what Nana always used. You can also make this recipe with beef if you don't like lamb or it's not available. Nana also added carrots and onions and occasionally parsnips or barley but the true traditional recipe is said to be with mutton (probably neck bones, shanks and trimmings) and potatoes only. I think this hearty peasant dish was made with whatever affordable local ingredients were available at the time so feel free to be creative. Root vegetables add flavour and nutrition plus thickens the stew as well.
- 1-2 tablespoons of oil for browning meat.
- 2 lbs boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces or as you prefer.
- 1 large onion roughly chopped.
- 2 carrots peeled and cut into large chunks.
- 1 parsnip, peeled and cut into large chunks (optional).
- 3- 4 potatoes depending on size and preference.
- 3-4 cups of water or beef stock, enough to cover meat and vegetables while simmering.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Herbs of your liking such as thyme, rosemary, etc.
- Fresh parsley chopped for garnish
Heat the oven to 350F/180C/Gas 4
- Heat oil over medium heat in a large frying pan or Dutch oven. Add half the lamb pieces and cook, stirring gently, until evenly browned all over. Season with salt and pepper. Remove, repeat with remaining half of meat. If using a frying pan move half the cooked meat into a casserole dish and layer with half the vegetables. If using a Dutch Over return meat to the Dutch Oven in the same fashion layering with the vegetables.
- Stir in enough water or broth to cover the meat and vegetables saving any additional liquid to add to the stew while cooking to keep it covered. Cover the casserole or Dutch Oven with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 2 hours or more in the oven or until meat is tender. If using a Dutch Oven you can also cook this on the stove top by bringing to a boil then simmering at low temperature for an hour or more which is faster. A pressure cooker speeds up the process even more if cooking onboard. At home you can simmer it all day in a slow-cooker. Just make sure the meat and vegetables are cooked through. If you don’t like your vegetables mushy, you can add them half-way through cooking.
- When everything’s cooked but if stew seems too liquidy, leave lid off for a while and continue simmering.
- Serve piping hot in bowls garnished with fresh parsley.
Our cruise of Ireland
Paul and I began our cruise in Ireland on the southeast coast in Waterford and New Ross where we received a warm welcome from harbourmaster, John Dimond, and the New Ross Boat Club, and explored some of the Barrow Navigation with local power boater, Marty Murphy. Click here to see a Sneak Peek video clip of this from episode #92.
Here is an excerpt from the new Season 8 where we started north from England and sailed to Ireland. At New Ross we were befriended by local boaters and did a day trip on the Barrow. Then some good “craic” at the boat club!
Travelling the Barrow Navigation, one of Ireland’s inland waterways, with local boater, Marty Murphy
Hook Lighthouse at the entrance to Waterford Harbour, one of the world’s oldest lighthouses.
Sheryl exploring the old district of Temple Bar in Dublin, Ireland’s capital city.
While we were in Dublin waiting out a gale Queen Elizabeth and USA President Obama came to town so security was high.
Next we sailed to Carlingford Lough, a large sea inlet or fjord, a former Viking harbour, which marks the border with Northern Ireland which is one of the four countries of the U.K along with Scotland, Wales, and England. The Republic of Ireland is a separate sovereign nation not part of the UK.
A chilly summer. Sheryl at the helm in Carlingford Lough in Ireland in June.
Carlingford Lough is a mini-cruising ground and we had great fun with local boaters from the Carlingford Marina and Carlingford Sailing Club who included us in pub crawls, hillwalking and club suppers.
From there we continued north to Northern Ireland where we stayed at the marina in Bangor near Belfast for family reunions and a visit to the Titanic Exhibition at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum http://www.nmni.com/titanic. The ship was built in Belfast and, as the locals say, “She was all right when she left here!” April 15, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic. As a legacy many of the safety regulations brought in after the disaster such as the required monitoring of specific VHF radio channels allow us to have safe experiences while travelling the high seas.
More family get-togethers with the Hobson cousins Evan, Robin & Simon
Paul also made many posts about this cruise on the Distant Shores TV show Facebook page throughout the summer.
In parting we wish you a Happy St. Patrick's Day and
For sunlight after showers―
Miles and miles of Irish smiles
For golden happy hours―
Shamrocks at your doorway
For luck and laughter too,
And a host of friends that never ends
Each day your whole life through!
Irish Wish for a Friend
Sheryl and Paul Shard
SV Distant Shores II
Join our email list and get hints, technical articles and tips plus videos to help you achieve your cruising dreams.
- FREE 1/2 hour video on cruising the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas
- Technical Blog shows you how to deal with issues facing the cruising sailor
- Destination information from some of the world's best cruising areas
- Special discounts and promotions
New! Distant Shores Season 7 DVD - Channel Islands to Scandinavia + San Blas Islands
This 3-disk DVD set will be ready for shipping on September 7/11 so order today and be among the first to own the latest DVD in the Distant Shores series! For more information on this and all the Distant Shores DVDs we invite you to visit our online store.
Watch Distant Shores in Canada on Travel and Escape Channel starting November 1st
To all our Canadian viewers, we are delighted to announce that starting on November 1/11 the Distant Shores TV series will be broadcast across Canada daily Monday to Friday at 6:00 PM on Travel and Escape channel. You will find Travel and Escape on Rogers Cable 267, Shaw Cable 102, Star Choice 572, and Bell ExpressVu 527 to name a few.
Newsletter: Norway – Bergen south to Haugesund and Skudeneshavn
Sheryl with the city and harbours of Bergen below. Photo credit Paul Shard
The city of Bergen, our first port in Norway (see July newsletter) was to become our central base for cruising the west coast of this dramatically beautiful country. South of Bergen were several island groups we wanted to explore and north of Bergen we wanted to explore the fjords, especially Sognefjord, the world's longest fjord.
We decided it was best to go south first, then conclude our cruise of Norway in the north since departing from northern ports would give us the best angle on the prevailing northwest winds to sail back across the North Sea to the Shetland and Orkney islands north of Scotland where were scheduled to film the next episodes of Distant Shores later in the summer.
One of the challenges of cruising in Norway is figuring out where to go – there are literally thousands of choices! With the numerous barrier islands plus fjords off fjords off fjords, route planning can be a challenge. We did our research by first surfing the internet to find websites and blogs of other cruising sailors who have experience cruising here. This way we got a feel for common routes and “favourites” plus recommendations on cruising guides and other resources.
We found the most helpful cruising guides for our style of cruising was the Imray pilot entitled “Norway” by RCC Cruising Club Pilotage Foundation/Judy Lomax now in a second edition, and an wonderful e-book cruising guide which we purchased online at www.norwegiancruisingguide.com and downloaded onto our iPad.
The best and most fun way to research is to talk face to face with sailors you meet along the way and to go over the charts together marking good places and getting their opinions on decisions you've made merely through reading.
Paul carries an iPhone onto which he's downloaded the Navionics app which gives us electronic charts in a portable style. Then when we meet someone and they start talking about great places he can quickly bring up the chart of the area and mark a waypoint or suggested route. Wow! It's great and very inexpensive. We also have this on our iPad in HD version which we get through the iTunes store. It's great for planning. We use our Raymarine chartplotter for navigation which uses Navionics charts also but the mobile apps are good back-ups. Check out the Navionics website for more info on these mobile navigation tools.
Korsfjord Photo credit: Sheryl Shard
So with our route planned south to Haugesund, we cast off from the town quay in Bergen 60º24' N 5º19'E. It was lovely sunny day, a change for the rainiest city in Norway. Winds were light so for most of the morning we were motor-sailing but we were thankful for the quiet warmth and stunning surroundings where the snow-topped mountains glimmered in the rare sunshine.
Marstein Lighthouse Photo credit: Sheryl Shard
For about 3 hours we wound our way out through the fjords (Byfjord, then Raunefjord to Korsfjord) back towards the North Sea and, just before the Marstein light where we'd made landfall in Norway a few days before, we tucked into the tight but very protected wilderness anchorage on West Horgo 60º05.7'N 05º05.9'E. The anchorage here is very deep, 21 m (69 ft), but we carry 80 m (262 ft) of 3/8 chain and the forecast was for very light winds for the weekend, so we put out over 60 m (197 ft) which is 3 to 1 scope and were quite comfortable.
Anchorage at West Horgo Photo credit: Paul Shard
We spent the weekend swinging on the hook, cataloguing clips from the footage we'd shot earlier in Shetland and on the North Sea passage, updating our script notes, and making phone calls to arrange interviews and follow up story leads for our upcoming shoot in the Haugesund area, our next destination. We also scrabbled up the high surrounding rocky cliffs to get shots of the anchorage for the Distant Shores TV show and our magazine articles. It wasn't all work though. Paul actually took a break and went swimming. The water temperature was 15ºC (59ºF)! That is way too cold for me! Paul told me that after he got used to it he didn't notice the cold. I think it was because he was completely numb!
Sailing wing and wing Photo credit: Sheryl Shard
On July 4th we raised anchor, leaving Horgo and had a fabulous downwind sail to the port of Haugesund. Our route took us down Stokksund, the lovely channel or sound between the islands of Stord and Bømlø. We poled out the genoa and flew wing and wing down-wind, down-channel and down-current. Although the day was cool and overcast the universe came together for a lovely day of sailing.
Cruising on the west coast of Norway you often have good winds but flat seas due to the numerous surrounding islands. You just have to be prepared for strong unexpected gusts if the surrounding cliffs are high.
Once through Stokksund and under the bridge we enter Bømlafjord and then headed out into a stretch of open water called Sletta which is classed as a dangerous sea area due to the lack of shelter, great variations in depths – 2m to 250m – which can cause dangerous turbulence and strange currents. However, we had light wind with tide so it was no issue. We just enjoyed the scenery as we sailed gently along the coast.
July is high season and we were prepared to be rafted 3 or 4 deep against the town quay when we arrived in Haugesund but we lucked out and got a choice spot right alongside in front of the Maritime Hotel near the south bridge. The Maritime Hotel manages the showers, laundry facilities, etc. and collects harbour fees.
When we arrived a man from the Port Authority came down to say hello. He was an avid fan of the Distant Shores TV series which airs in Europe on Travel Channel and had recognized us and the boat as we came in. Being familiar with our programme, he had some very good ideas for local activities and projects to film for the show including the construction of the world's largest ocean-going Viking ship to be built in modern times that was taking place right there in the port. He made the introductions and we visited the building site to interview the skilled and passionate team working on this historic ship.
The ship is named Dragan Harald Fairhair after Harald Fairhair, the Viking king that unified Norway into one kingdom. The ship is a hundred and fourteen feet of crafted oak, twenty-seven feet on the beam, displacing seventy tons, a thirty-two hundred square foot sail of pure silk.
The Dragon Harald Fairhair will have 25 pairs of oars. It is necessary to have at least two people on each oar to row the ship efficiently. That will give a crew of at least 100 persons.
This magnificent ship is on schedule to launch in April 2012. Volunteers from around the world are being sought to train and participate in upcoming voyages. To learn more, visit their website at www.vikingkings.com
The next day we met up with Dr. Jostein Waage for more sightseeing around the Haugesund area. We met Dr. Waage in 2009 when we were filming aboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship “Explorer of the Seas” for Distant Shores episode 75 “Cruising in Style” (Season 6 DVD) on a voyage to Bermuda. He said if we were ever in Norway in Haugesund, where Dr. Waage serves as a city councillor, to give him a call and he'd show us around.
We had a great day together visiting Alvadnes, once the ancient centre of power on the North Way, where the name Norway comes from, and excavations are still going on. There is also great heritage museum and Viking Farm called the Nordvegen History Centre where we learned about the history of the unification of Norway and learned about Viking life from the knowledgeable staff who dress in period costume and demonstrate crafts and food preparation from Viking times.
We also visited an old copper mine at Visne and learned that the copper used in the building of the Statue of Liberty came from here. Who knew?!
Another astonishing tidbit from Haugesund and that the actress, Marilyn Monroe's, father (or would that be grandfather?) is supposedly from Haugesund and there is a statue of her on the waterfront right in front of the Maritim Hotel. Haugesund hosts a popular annual international film festival too.
From Haugesund we continued south down Karmsund between the mainland and the island of Karmøy to the picturesque, historic and very crowded (for good reason) harbour of Skudeneshavn. “Skudenes” refers to the ships used in the early 20th century in the herring fleet that brought prosperity to the town. The old homes and warehouses have been preserved and there is an interesting museum along with ilittle boutiques and restaurants. There are also nice walking trails, a park with bandstand, and a beautiful white sand beach. No wonder this is a popular destination for both boaters and landlubbers.
Skudeneshavn was our furthest point south on Norway's west coast. From here we turned back to begin the voyage north up to explore the world's longest fjord, Sognefjord, which I'll tell you all about in my next newsletter.
In the meantime, Paul has been postings lots of news and photos of this year's voyage as well as responding to comments and questions on the Distant Shores TV Show Facebook page. If you are Facebook user, please drop by and “Like Us”.
Enjoy the rest of the summer!
Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard Distant Shores II
Click here to check out our DVDs for more cruising adventures and tips!
Sign up for our newsletter
Distant Shores TV Show Facebook
Happy Canada Day to all our family and friends back home!
This year Paul and I are celebrating our national day in Norway at the town quay in Bergen where we are, totally by chance, rafted to another Canadian yacht, Milvina, owned by friends from Montreal who we haven't seen for several years. It was a serendipitous reunion when we sailed into Bergen and we have had a pleasant afternoon celebrating Canada Day with Neil and Helen and their son, Michael. We were lucky and got a dry sunny day. Bergen, the second largest city in Norway, is the wettest place in Norway with rain on average 260 days a year.
Paul and I arrived in Norway aboard our Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, on June 29 after a fast 24-hour 195nm passage from the Muckle Flugga light (60º51'N 0º53'W) at the most northerly end of the UK in the Shetland Islands to the Marstein light (60º8'N 5º4.5'E) on the west coast of Norway.
It was the best overnight sail we have ever had since at this latitude it never gets dark at this time of year! Getting up for my 0200 – 0600 watch was a breeze with daylight. Even on Paul's watch at midnight, he had twilight and could easily see all the North Sea oil rigs we were passing en route over Halibut Bank, Bressay East Ground, and Viking Bank. We also crossed Meridian 0º of Greenwich on this passage.
The voyage started off with light SW winds but then went NW and strengthened to 20-25 kts with a constant drizzling rain. Flying our small self-tacking jib and a reefed mainsail, we soared between the raindrops towards Norway!
Once we reached the Marstein light at the entrance to Korsfjord, we had another 25 nm to go within the very protected and stunningly beautiful network of channels and fjords (Raunefjord and Byfjord) to reach the historic port of Vågan in Bergen, once an important base of the Hanseatic League.
The old waterfront warehouses where Norwegian stockfish was once processed and shipped to ports all around Europe by the Hanseatic merchants based here, have been renovated into colourful boutiques and restaurants.
Whenever Paul and I complete a passage and arrive in a new country we always treat ourselves to dinner out. But eating out in Norway is VERY expensive so rather than something fancy we shared a salad, medium pizza and 2 beer – the total was 380 Norwegian Kronar (NOK) or about $71 US dollars! An order of fish and chips in a cardboard box with 2 coffees in paper cups would have been about $35! The exchange makes prices over-the-top for non-Norwegians like us. Better to buy good quality Norwegian food in grocery stores and cook onboard. Luckily we had been warned beforehand and had stocked up on lots of supplies in the UK too before leaving which will help make this cruise more affordable for us.
Dockage at the town quay was within reason at 150 NOK per night which is about $0.50 US per foot/per night. This did not include power. You pay by credit card at an Automat machine at the head of the harbour. The instructions are in English as well as other major languages.
Norway is not a member of the EU so as a foreign yacht we had to clear in with both Customs and Immigration. (We cleared out of the EU in Lerwick in Shetland and carried clearance papers but were not asked for them in Norway.) The Customs office in Bergen is right in the harbour across from the visitors quay so walking over with our ship's papers was easy. To get our passports stamped for Immigration we were told to go to the Police Station which is just a couple of blocks up from the Tourist Office at the end of the harbour. It took a little while to find the right person to deal with us there but everyone was very kind and helpful and eventually our passports were stamped and the job was done.
Now we were free to explore this lovely town with it's warren of old alleyways, historic buildings, bustling fish market and beautiful views from the top of Mount Fløyen 320m. We rode the Fløibanen funicular railway to the top to film the panorama. We also really enjoyed a tour through the Hanseatic Museum located in an 18th century merchant's house on the waterfront where we learned about the life and work of the Hanseatic League in Bergen.
The Distant Shores TV series is widely viewed here in Norway where it plays weekly on Travel Channel so in the few days we've been here we have met many fans who have recognized us and have given us warm welcomes. The episodes we are filming here will be broadcast this coming winter. (In the USA you can see Distant Shores on WealthTV)
So stay tuned for more adventures in Norway!
And if you enjoy Facebook, we hope you will “Like Us” on the Distant Shores TV Show Facebook page where Paul has been postings lots of news and photos of this year's voyage as well as responding to comments and questions.
'Til next time.
Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard Distant Shores II
Seasons Greetings & Notes on Sailing South Sweden
December 12, 2010
Sailboats in the small harbour at Utklippan off the south coast of Sweden
As I write to you today large puffy snowflakes are falling from the sky but we are warm and cosy. A yule log is crackling in the fireplace and Paul and I are decorating our tree to the sound of Christmas carols. Yes, we're back ashore in Canada for The Holidays as well as Boat Show Season. But I’m going to tell you more about cruising along the south coast of Sweden later on in my newsletter.
With all the travelling we do aboard our sailboat each year and all the accompanying excitement of constant change, new people, foods and languages, we find that being home for the Christmas Season it a pleasant and welcome pause. Being surrounded by familiar faces, carrying on family traditions with the people we love, and cooking and enjoying the comfort foods we miss while we're away makes us appreciate the all good things we have at home.
Travelling and living on a sailboat has taught us many things over the years. A few of the skills I am appreciating right now as the frenzy of this Festive Season starts to build is how to step back from chaos, simplify situations when you can, and take things slowly so you can arrive at your destination safely and comfortably. Whether the goal is reaching the far side of an ocean or getting the turkey on the table, the same things apply.
If you need to escape for a while and take a breather we have added some new things to the website to entertain and inform you:
My Newsletter for December, which you'll find below, continues our cruising adventures with a story about sailing along the south coast of Sweden and east to the Danish island of Christiansö. NOTE: If you are a subscriber please add email@example.com to your address book so that your spam filters do not block the mailings we send to you. Thanks.
New Boat Blog
Paul continues his Equipment Round-up with Part 2, the feature of the latest New Boat Blog discussing what worked and what didn't while cruising this year.
DVDs for Gift Giving – December Special
If you still need a gift for the sailor on your list we have an ULTRA SUPER DUPER CHRISTMAS SPECIAL for December – buy the Special Super Pack (includes all Distant Shores episodes Seasons 1 through 6 which is 14 DVDS) for just US $120 / CAD $120 and get our bestselling “Cruising with the Shards” DVD for free! This month only. Hours and hours of sailing fun! Need it fast? We can ship by courier. Order today on our new store...
It is our most sincere wish that you and yours are able to enjoy Peace and Tranquility as well as All the Pleasures of The Holidays this year.
Paul and Sheryl Shard
SV Distant Shores II
December 2010 Newsletter
Baltic Sea Sailing - South Sweden and Christiansø
I last wrote about our travels in my September 10th newsletter where I finished in Copenhagen, Denmark, so will continue from there...
We set sail from Copenhagen on Saturday July 24 around 10:00 am after a fabulous week moored along the quay in the Nyhavn Canal right in the heart of this beautiful Danish city. It was a grey overcast day but being in good spirits we were excited about moving on and beginning new adventures in another new country – next stop Sweden!
It's really not far. From Copenhagen you can see Sweden. In fact there is an impressive bridge, the longest road and rail bridge in Europe, called the Øresund Bridge which links the two countries. It is a 7,845 metre (25,738 ft) combined twin-track railway and highway bridge-tunnel across the Øresund strait connecting the Danish capital city of Copenhagen and the major Swedish city of Malmö.
The Øresund Bridge overlooks a large wind farm in the strait and we sailed past both the wind farm and the bridge on our way to the Fasterbo Canal about a 2 ½ hour sail eastwards from Copenhagen.
Going through the canal saves a little time when you're heading along the Swedish coast. There is one bridge that raises on the hour. Call on VHF 73 to let them know you are waiting to pass. Just about everyone speaks English in Sweden so communication is rarely a problem. We went through on the 2:00 pm opening and were through the canal and back out into open water 15 minutes later.
After a great sail - a beam reach with offshore breezes on flat seas - we arrived at the small port of Gislöv Läge which is quite shallow. We had to raise the keel to go in and although there were only 2 other cruising boats here we had to raft up since most of the tiny harbour is used by the local fishing fleet. It's not particularly close to a town or attractions of any kind but there is a small cafe and we were just looking for a place to pull in for the night and possibly hole up for a couple of days since there was some bad weather in the forecast for the next few days. Our day sail from Copenhagen was a total of 36.5 nm.
We did get some very strong wind the next day but since it was offshore, meaning flat seas, and the harbour at Ystad 23 nm further along seemed like a more interesting place to stay for a few days, we decided to head out and practice heavy weather tactics with our new Southerly 49 for a few hours. Paul has written about that experience in his New Boat Blog entitled Force 8 Sailing written on 01/08/10.
Sailing to Ystad was a good move since we had a couple of nice days there despite the wet weather since the lovely old town was just across the road from the harbour with nice restaurants, cafes, and shops to explore including a great chandlery where we got some additional charts, cruising guides and boat bits for projects we could do onboard in the rain.
Tuesday July 27 dawned sunny and bright but unfortunately without wind. However by then we were ready to move on so continued eastwards motoring along the coast past picturesque harbours and impressive cliff top Viking burial mounds that reminded us of Stonehedge. We then headed out into open water leaving Sweden briefly to make landfall in the tiny Danish island of Christiansö, 48 nm from Ystad.
Christiansö is actually a small archipelago situated approximately 18 km northeast of the Danish island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea. Its permanent population is 96 and its area is 39 hectares. This group of islands features Denmark's most eastern point. Christiansö is basically a fortress on a rock but is oh-so-pretty. The harbour is miniscule and by the end of the evening so many boats were rafted in you could almost walk across the harbour over boat decks. But Scandinavian sailors are the most considerate and tolerant travellers that we have met so it never seemed to be a problem if things got busy. We paid 36 Euros/night for our 14.9m sailboat.
On the morning of Wednesday July 28 the 5 boats in our raft peeled off and out of the harbour for another day of motor sailing. Our destination was the anchorage at Årpö within the Swedish archipelago near Karlkrona. Sweden has several large archipelagos made up of tiny rocky uninhabited islets called skerries great for cruising sailors.
Paul and I love to be at anchor and the islands here reminded us so much of the Muskokas at home in Canada. We hung out here for a few days exploring with the dinghy, hiking around the islands and catching up on writing and editing projects. I put Paul up the mast to check the rigging, much easier to do on Distant Shores II using the electric winch!
Although there was lots of room to drop the hook in the anchorage at Årpö the local boats always preferred to go bow to the little dock at the island and be close to their neighbours.
Sunday August 1st we sailed on to the town of Karlskrona to do a little grocery shopping. The town has an excellent Maritime Museum, chandleries and nice guest harbour. But we were keen to get back to wilderness places and headed back out into the Baltic the next day for the isolated archipelago of Utklippan which is basically a lighthouse and a few outbuildings perched on some offshore islets.
We arrived late in the afternoon to find a small harbour carved out of the rock.
Utlklippan is managed by harbourmaster Lennart Rovin. During the summer months his college-aged daughter Kajsa helps him greet sailors, maintain the harbour, the small youth hostel, a little shop and a small cafe.
The two are a great team and taught us a lot about the history of the island and the seal population that inhabits the outer islets.
Every night boats piled in to the tiny man-made harbour at Utlklippan and rafted up together. There isn't a lot of space to walk around but there's something really special about this isolated place and the sailors that seek it out. We made some good friends there!
Next time I'll tell you about great places we visited on the west coast of Sweden.
In the meantime, have a very enjoyable Holiday Season!
Sheryl and Paul
SV Distant Shores II
Today I am writing to you from the Swedish town of Motala, the capital of the Gota Canal. which we are transiting from the east coast all the way across the country to the west coast.
In this newsletter I will continue the story of this summer's cruise to countries of the Baltic Sea starting with another canal which we travelled through in June after leaving the Frisian Islands - the Kiel Canal of Germany. In German it called the NORD-OSTSEE-KANAL and according to the official website www.kiel-canal.org/english.htm it is the world's busiest artificial waterway and is the basis for trade between the countries of the Baltic area and the rest of the world. About 43,000 ships pass through the canal annually, not including small craft, so it is a busy place and makes an interesting 2-day trip in a sailboat.
The Kiel Canal runs for almost 100 km (about 61 miles) across the Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost of the 16 states of Germany which borders Denmark to the north, the North Sea to the west, and the Baltic Sea to the east. It goes from Brunsbüttel to Kiel-Holtenau and links the North Sea with the Baltic. An average of 250 nautical miles will be saved by using the Kiel Canal instead of going around the top of Denmark to the north.
There were lots of sailboats travelling with us flying mostly the German and Dutch flags and we all locked through together in Brunsbüttel, the first lock at the start of the canal, and then 2-days later went through the second lock at the end of the canal in Kiel. There are many marinas and sailing clubs to stop at along the way but we stopped at the sailing club in Rensborg, a pretty town with well preserved medieval buildings where we enjoyed the great Saturday market held in the town square.
When we popped out of the canal in Kiel there was a tall ship festival going on. Bands were playing, parachutists were dropping out of the sky, and there were hundreds (or so it seemed) of classic boats sailing in the harbour. It was quite an entrance to the Baltic Sea!
From Kiel we had a lovely afternoon sail up to a fjord called the Schlei, our last port in Germany. The anchorage was huge but there were only 2 other boats there. Meanwhile the marinas in the fjord were packed solid with boats rafted 2-3 deep! This was a situation we saw repeatedly throughout Scandinavia during the summer. Sailors here do not like to swing at anchor the way we do so we rarely encountered a crowded anchorage even in the high season. Everyone is happy to raft-up in marinas so no matter how crowded they are everyone is welcome and a space is found for you.
From Schlei we explored Denmark's south Funen archipelago first visiting the small rural island of Lyø where we were befriended by one of the families running a traditional dairy farm there. Their son, who runs the beach cafe at the harbour in the summer, was an exchange student in Canada for a year so we had lots to talk about. We also had a delightful visit to the Maritime Museum in Lyø which is run by Susi Hansen a ship's captain's wife who started this interesting collection in her kitchen and tells wonder seafaring stories to all visitors.
Next stop was Faaborg where we stayed at the marina there and learned much about the history of the harbour from enthusiastic marina attendant, Kim Ingerslev, who speaks seven languages and makes every visitor feel so welcome. There is a great 100-year-old smokehouse at the harbour, Faaborg Fiskehuset, where salmon and herring are smoked in the traditional way. We documented the process for one of the 13 new Distant Shores episodes we're filming this summer which will be broadcast in spring 2011.
A real highlight in this region of Denmark is a visit to the island of Æro to the harbours at Æroskobing and Marstel. We stayed at the commercial harbour in Æroskobing and rented a little electric car from the tourist office there and drove down to Marstel at the other end of the island to see the excellent maritime museum there. Æroskobing is an historic and picturesque “fairytale” village and we learned much about it from the wonderful nightwatchman tour given every night a 9 PM during the summer months.
We returned here a week later after picking up our parents at the airport in Copenhagen for a week's visit. We hadn't seen our families since the end of February and it was now July so we had a lot of catching up to do. From Æroskobing we sailed with them along the south and east coasts of Denmark stopping at many small harbours along the way to Copenhagen where we moored in the heart of the city in the Nyhavn canal. From here we could walk to all the city's major attractions and had a couple of culture-filled days visiting museums and palaces before they flew home to Canada. We finished our week in Copenhagen with a visit by long-time friend Charlotte Pedersen and her daughter, Kamma. We met Charlotte in Gibraltar where she had been working in 1990 and have stayed in touch meeting up in various countries over the years.
Next on to Sweden where we sailed along the south and east coasts which are full of delightful islands. I'll write in more detail about after our visit to the Southampton Boat Show this weekend. We'll be at the Southerly Yachts stand, berths 312-319, on Saturday September 11 and Sunday September 12 from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. Hope to see you there!
Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard Distant Shores II
Latitude: 55º 05'.6N
Longitude: 10º 14'.4E
First of all, a Happy Canada Day to all our family and friends back home! As Canadians, Paul and I are also celebrating our national day today but this year we are doing it in Denmark.
We arrived in Denmark last weekend aboard our new Southeryl 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, and are experiencing hot summer weather at last! We were starting to get worried since, up until a few days ago, we were still in full foul weather gear as we made our way here from England to the Netherlands, through the Kiel Canal in Germany, and then north to Denmark. But allow me to back-track a bit and continue our story where I left off last time...
After our shake-down cruise in May to the Channel Islands which lie off the coast of France we returned to England to the Northshore Yachts in Chichester Harbour to say goodbye to everyone there and have a few minor adjustments made to the new boat before we set off on our summer voyage to countries of the Baltic. Thanks again to the entire Northshore Yachts team for building us another great boat!
While we were there, Paul converted our main winch, a Lewmar 46 manual winch, to an electric winch, to make it easier to raise the mainsail. (See his discussion on this in his New Boat Blog) It's a huge sail and we realized we weren't using it as often as we'd have liked nor were we reefing when we should have since it was so much effort manually. Not good. So installing the electric winch meant another delay but well worth it!
Then the old boat sold and there was lots of paperwork etc. to deal with and then FINALLY at the beginning of June we got away. In celebration we dressed the boat with all the courtesy flags of the countries and colonies we've visited during our 20 years of cruising.
Our good friend, Wanita Gray, flew in from Canada just before we left and joined us for the leg to the Dutch Frisian Islands. Wanita is a very experienced offshore cruising sailor, a friend of 20 years through the Port Credit Yacht Club, and we have also served together on the national committee for the Extended Cruising course of Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons for many years so we're all happy aboard a boat together.
It was great fun to have Wanita with us as we made tracks along the south coast of England stopping at Brighton Beach,
then sailing past the white cliffs of Dover dodging the incredible amount of ship and ferry traffic in this stretch of the English Channel
as we made our way to Ramsgate where thick fog rolled in just as we arrived. (Yay to our Raymarine chartplotter with radar and AIS displays. We have an AIS transmitter too on this boat so the ships are very aware of our presence and we could literally see them adjust course long in advance of approaching us.)
After a lay-day in Ramsgate we made a night passage across the North Sea to Holland where we cleared in to the Netherlands in the port of Den Helder. We exchanged our British pound notes for euros and enjoyed a day of browsing the town, relaxing in cafes, and getting a feel for the country and culture. The town was stereotypically Dutch – spotlessly clean and orderly and everyone was riding bicycles. Everywhere we were to go in Holland there were excellent bike paths.
Our favourite experience in Den Helder was a visit to the Maritime Museum where we were given an interesting tour aboard a submarine by a volunteer who had once served on that very sub during the cold war.
From Den Helder we made an afternoon sail to the island of Texel where we began our cruise of the Frisian Islands which are a string of shallow sandy barrier islands along the north coast of Holland and Germany. Lots of shallow water so great territory for using our swing-keel. Although Distant Shores II is 49 feet long she only draws 2' 10" with the keel up. If you have ever read the book "Riddle of the Sands" by Erskine Childers the story takes place on a small sailboat in these islands.
When we arrived in Texel at the harbour at Ouderschild it was filled with beautiful traditional sailing boats giving school children heritage weeks aboard. We counted almost 50 of these boats with about 20 young people aboard. What a great experience for these kids!
We had pretty strong winds the next few days but in the protection of the islands the seas are pretty flat so we had great fun short-tacking up the narrow channels. The boat has a small self-tacking jib which made this really easy and fun.
The next island we visited was Vlieland, a very natural place with lovely long golden beaches and sand dunes.
There are excellent walking and cycling trails here, even out in the wild spaces so we rented bikes. Wanita and I opted for traditional bike and since we're both small needed kids bikes which cost us 6 euros each per day. Paul went for the fancy electrically assisted pedalling bike which was 20 euros a day.
From Vlieland, Wanita took the ferry to the mainland where she caught a train to the airport in Amsterdam, flew back to London and made her transatlantic flight back to Toronto the following day. The 2 weeks that she was with us just flew by and we all had great time sailing together, catching up on news from home, cooking and eating delicious meals onboard, and generally having a great time. Thanks to her for all the great photos she took during her visit.
We had some bad weather the few days after Wanita left so we anchored in the protection of Richel Island on the south side where we could dry out at low tide. It was like a moonscape when the water went out and we cocooned here writing and editing til the winds calmed and the sun shone once again.
Our Rocna anchor was totally buried after the experience! Good to know we have a good anchor that really grabs in when the weather gets foul.
The lovely island of Ameland with it's picturesque villages was our last stop in the Dutch Frisian Islands where we celebrated mid-summer night. We saw lots of seals around this island. So cute.
Next day we sailed to Borkum in the German Frisian Islands. As a welcome the harbourmaster at the Port Henry sailing club raised the Canadian flag in our honour. This was a nice tradition that was continued as we travelled through Germany.
Since it's Canada Day I think this is a good place to end. I will continue the story next time telling you about our transit from the North Sea to the Baltic through Germany's Kiel Canal.
Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard Distant Shores II
Vlieland, Frisian Islands
Latitude: 53º 17.877 N
Longitude: 5º 5.154 E
The last few months have been busy and exciting ones with the commissioning of our new Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, so over the next few newsletters I will be catching you up on all that's been going on...
We flew to England in early March after completing post-production on season 6 of the Distant Shores TV series and while in London visiting family we also spent a day at the Travel Channel studios where we filmed a number of promos for the new season and did an interview with Gareth Davis and Ginny Buckley, hosts of The Holiday Show. This is a great new weekly talk show on Travel Channel and this summer as we travel to countries of the Baltic filming new episodes of Distant Shores we will also be recording on-location interviews from time to time via skype for The Holiday Show. So if you receive Travel Channel check the schedule online for both Distant Shores and The Holiday Show at www.travelchannel.co.uk
After a few days in London we drove down to Itchenor on Chichester Harbour on the south coast of England. This is the location of Northshore Yachts, the manufacturer of Southerly yachts and it was here that we took delivery of our new Southerly 49 sailboat, Distant Shores II, on March 11th.
The weather was still pretty cold and gray in March so until we got moved on to the boat we stayed at the lovely home of Itchenor friends, Nigel and Elizabeth Pattison, who we'd met when taking delivery of our Southerly 42 a few years ago. We met up with them again while they and we were cruising in the Caribbean and stayed in touch. They are life-long sailors and delightful hosts who helped make our transition on to the new boat an easy one. They also introduced us to many of the their friends at the Itchenor Sailing Club and we especially enjoyed an evening there where one of the members gave an excellent presentation on his voyage to the Baltic which provided many useful tips and suggestions for our voyage this summer.
We had planned a month to complete additional boat projects we wanted to do ourselves, to have the factory fix any snags we came across during sea trials, and to move on board gradually so that we could really sort things out before beginning our summer voyage. But there were many delays primarily because the shipment of all our gear, bedding, cooking utensils, clothing and safety equipment from the Southerly 42 was delayed by several weeks! However the ship eventually came in and all our stuff arrived in good shape so by April we were enjoying exploratory sailing trips around the Solent area and several friends came to join us on weekends.
April 12 was Paul's 50th birthday. Starting another cruising adventure on a new boat was a wonderful way to celebrate it! He received many phonecalls, cards, e-mails and lovely gifts that day. Sailing friends, Vicki and Per, of SY Sunray arrived with a box of Baltic birthday goodies as a present. It was a great start to our summer's voyage and we had a fun weekend partying together and showing them around Chichester Harbour.
On April 28 we made our first night passage with the new boat, crossing the English Channel from Chichester Harbour to Guernsey in the Channel Islands off the coast of France. We had to time our departure and arrival carefully to work with the big tides and strong currents especially in the Alderney race where there can be currents of 8 knots!! There is also a lot of heavy ship traffic in the English Channel which we really had to be careful of so it was a challenging passage and good shake-down for testing out all our safety and navigation equipment. (See Paul's New Boat Blog for technical details).
We arrived in Guernsey in the late afternoon and spent only one night there since we were on our way to the next island of Jersey to participate in the Jersey Boat Show May 1-3rd. We would come back to Guernsey again afterwards to see more of this beautiful island.
It's just a half-day sail from Guernsey to Jersey but once again we had to carefully work out the tides and currents for departing and arriving. The tides in the Channel Islands are among the largest in the world with a range up to 11 m (40 feet)! The St. Hellier Marina where the boat show was to be held has a sill to keep enough water in the marina to keep the boats afloat at low water so there are only certain hours in the tidal flow that there is enough water to get over it. We timed our arrival a bit early so tied up at the waiting pontoon outside until the tide rose high enough for us to get into the marina.
The Jersey Boat Show is a small but very well attended show due to everyone's affinity for the sea in these islands. There were 5 Southerly yachts represented at the show including our 49 and Paul and I had an enjoyable time showing people our new boat as well as meeting fans of the Distant Shores TV series which has many followers in the Channel Islands.
Following the boat show we spent a few days exploring the lovely island of Jersey, famous for Jersey potatoes and Jersey cows (good ice cream here!). We especially enjoyed the many coastal walking paths, the Maritime Museum which had many creative and interactive exhibits, and the excellent War Tunnel Museum which told the story of the World War II occupation of the Channel Islands by the Germans.
After a few days we sailed back to Guernsey which also has a sill to be negotiated to get into the marina. We had just tied up when Adrian Heyworth, a fellow Southerly owner who lives in Guernsey, came by to say hello. He introduced us to his brother-in-law, Rupert Dorey, who is in the process of buying a Southerly so there was much talk of boats and cruising. Rupert and his wife, Rosie, and Adrian and his wife, Penny (the women are sisters) became our hosts and took us on a very fun outing to the nearby island of Herm.
Rosie's and Penny's parents bought the lease to manage the island of Herm which they did lovingly for many years before Adrian and Penny took it over when the parents retired. They are now retired and the island is being managed by another family. We saw puffins and sang to a seal and discovered the best place to dry out at low tide – Shell Beach. What a paradise! For more info visit www.herm-island.com
Returning to Guernsey we concluded our visit filming the Liberation Day celebrations which marked the 65th anniversary of the end of the German occupation. The parades, bands and choirs were spectacular with the crowning glory being a cavalcade of almost 100 privately owned beautifully restored military vehicles from the period of the occupation. The owners were in period costume and had come from all parts of Europe, including Germany, to participate.
It was a really great to visit the Channel Islands as a good shake-down for the boat. We look forward to the chance to return here in the future to do some more exploring and perhaps visit the island of Sark and Alderney which we missed on this trip.
From Guernsey, we sailed back to England and our base in Chichester Harbour to tend to a few tune-ups before the summer's voyage east. Next, I'll write about our voyage from England to the Frisian Islands where we are currently filming.
Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard Distant Shores II