Lucy and the New Dawn Traders

Fare Traded by Sail

Category: Douarnenez

Nowhere to go but Norway

We were scheduled to leave Stavanger over a week ago… Then it was yesterday… Then our departure was scheduled for this morning at 8am… Now it’s tomorrow, Sunday, at 8am.

We have been delayed in safe harbour waiting out the storms and depressions in the North Sea. Wave after wave of low pressures are crossing the Atlantic, hitting the UK, west coast of Europe and the North Sea.

When the Captain, Lammert, checked the forecast this morning, it was clear the swell was still high (we had thought it would subside by now) and a westerly wind was blowing directly into the fjord. If we had left we would have been beating against the wind, and sailing straight into Force 9 winds. So we are still stuck in Stavanger…

As the full crew was up early, we decided to go through sail drills, safety and a quick meteorology lecture from the Captain. We had a lecture from Steven in dousing the sails and sequence of hauling and letting lose lines to stow away the sails. Plus some quick tests on which lines are which. In heavy weather it’s so important to be able to carry out orders fast.

I took the opportunity to practice scaling the rigging and manoevering along the yards. We have harnesses to wear while climbing the rat lines and out onto the yards. Practicing ready to furl and unfurl sails on a regular basis out at sea. It’s one thing climbing the rigging in port… Quite another out at sea. Just a little bit nervous!

After lunch half the crew ventured off in the dinghy to explore a nearby island. After a couple of hours wandering around and through a forest on the island, they returned hampered with large bags of foraged apples, walnuts and rosehips. Biz is making rosehip syrup, while Francois has his heart set on making a french style apple tart.

Meanwhile I’ve been editing this website while reading a bundle of papers about ‘slow food’, the historic fish trades of Norway and the Via Querissima route established in the 1400s between Italy and Norway.

We have been gifted a selection of fine Norwegian cheeses and 2 different types of Aquavit AKA Akevitt. I’m planning a tasting and lecture for one of the days at sea when we have fine weather.

One of the aquavit’s is the famous ‘linie’ aquavit, which has crossed the equator twice, on the motor ship, MV Tysla. Maybe they would like a sail shipped emission free Tres Hombres line?!

The other is a rather special local Akevitt called Yggdrasil. Yggdrasil Akevitt is made from barley and the name stems from Nordic mythology about the ‘tree of life’.

I’m in two minds about whether to stow the Aquavit until the Atlantic crossing and break it open on the line or not…

This evening we were joined aboard by Eivind, who runs a local chocolate shop called Sjokoladepiken. Tres hombres chocolate is now stocked in Norway in Eivinds shop. So now Norwegians can enjoy organic chocolate sailed, emission free, from the Caribbean. Eivinds chocolate shop sells the most incredible Mexican style hot chocolate. It’s dark, spicy with a chilli kick. It’s been fuelling our evenings the last 10 days in Stavanger.

Hopefully this is my last post before France and Lisbon. Our next port of call will be Douarnenez, to collect 4 barrels of French natural wine from artisan natural wine maker Olivier Cousin. Then onwards to Lisbon to deliver our cargo of Klippfish and load a cargo of olive oil.

Please send us fair winds and following seas. Thank you.

Lucy, New Dawn Traders.

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Scuppered?

Sorry for the radio silence. A cat got my tongue. And the internet is switched off in this town for Mardi gras festival. Just back online now!

Before leaving Brest we got the news that the insurance doesn’t cover us to cross the Bay of Biscay. And we are unable to find out exactly where the bay starts and finishes in legal terms so we can avoid it. Which is currently stalling our passage.

WTF. You might ask. I did. WTF!!!!!!! 

Without, at the very least, crew insurance we can’t sail. Half the crew are employees and the rest of us our trainees so technically this is a workplace and thus we must have insurance should the worst happen.

The issue is that the Bay of Biscay is a dangerous place and most insurers put clauses in their marine insurance for yachts and ships excluding passage in the Bay of Biscay during the winter months.

We left Brest 3 days ago. The crew agreed that if we were waiting to renegotiate insurance the least we could do in the meantime was go sailing and celebrate Mardi Gras. So we loaded a cargo of wine and set out into the sunshine to skirt the coast of Brittany and head for Douarnenez, a rowdy little fishing port 3 hours sailing south of Brest.

We hoisted the sails after rounding the headland. This time we learnt how to use the winch to hoist the mainsail. The winch was formally a winch from a mine shaft in wales and is very heavy duty. It has an iron handle either side of the mast. However it is painfully slow to operate and I think I prefer the group hoisting with the ropes and the pins.

With the sails up all the problems we have faced melt away. For awhile….

We arrived in Douarnenez and moored up next to fishing boats and trawlers on the quayside. We had to keep checking the mooring lines to adjust the ropes with the tide. And our route off the boat was by a very narrow slippery ladder.

After a quick dinner of rice and satay curry we prepared ourselves for the circus of Douarnenez. Liberal amounts of face paints and eyeliner were applied. And a moderate amount of glitter.

It took some work to find the festivities. We stumbled across some pink pigs and a couple of transvestites that pointed us in the right direction. The bars were filled with throngs of men dressed as women and women dressed as men along with a heavy dose of Pirates.

Cripes have I travelled back to Dalston I wondered?

Much dancing and chanting ensued. Antoine, our crazy frenchman, stripped off and wandered around just in board shorts, bare feet and with a towel around his neck.

I learnt a number of rousing french songs and danced a number of jigs. We finally stumbled back to the boat around 3am to find it was high tide and the boat was several metres out from the quay. Having to take a huge leaps to get back on board. Nothing like a fraction of mild peril at 3 in the morning.

The next day pretty much nothing happened. Spirits were at an all time low. No news about insurance. No idea whether we are going anywhere. Stranded in the doldrums…

Yesterday was not much different. I tried to find an internet cafe. Went for a walk. Moped around with Martina and Antje. Made some flapjacks.

We toasted to ‘low morale’ at lunch and did some work on the RIB (our inflatable safety boat).

At 6.30pm yesterday Laurance, our Captain, returned to the boat with news that the insurance may be sorted. We are waiting for a call…

So that is where we are at. Once again.

Not the end of our tale I hope.

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