Logan and Julien arrived bursting with enthusiasm and motivation in Wladyslawowo where Gordon assembled 3 crew members from Poland. With 6 crew members on board the trip to Copenhagen can be split into 3 watches with no stop-overs.
To get under way some final preparations including the installation of a radar, water heater and life raft kept the crew busy right up to when the bell rang for the depart, early evening on the 11 November...
But after 10 hours of great sailing, the bildge pumps gave up and forced a stop for repairs at Ustka. Robert, Jaceks cousin, who was our man with a plan which helped us buy the Norda and all the logistical issues, jumped in his car and drove halfway through Poland to, once again, help us find the right pieces and mechanic to make repairs. Our stay in Ustka took 2 days, we left with a favourable forecast of force 5 to 6 which finally turned into a force 9...
Despite all the set-backs, Gordon keeps smiling, he is extremely happy: after facing winds gusting over 90 km/h and waves of over 5 meters high, our new companion is up to the task ahead: The Norda is impressive in her stability, even in extreme conditions!
Extremely cold and tired, here we are, arrived in Copenhagen during the night of 14 to 15 November... with a little wink for those who, like Gordon and Andrée, loved the Danish tv series “Bron”!
It’s time to welcome 2 new crew members on board for the next step of the trip, Pablo and José, accompanied with the blue whale which is officially declared Norda's new ships mascott.
Unfortunately, winds of force 8 to 9 and occasionally 10 were sustained and even though the Norda can handle these difficult conditions, the crew however could barely stand up straight on the quay with the wind force... We ended up spending 5 days in harbour before setting sail.
We were finally able to take to the sea, only to spend the next 36 hours in complete absence of any wind and arrive at the entrance to Kiel canal... where we find ourselves being refused entry because of fog for 24 hours: everyone takes advantage of the delay to have some fun...
At the exit of the canal, the departure of Julien became the first sad moment of the trip so far. After 3 weeks on board it is hard to see a crew member, who, even though he experienced sailing for the first time, showed no fear in extreme conditions, was remarkably proactive, kept a constant smile on his face and most importantly is 100% reliable. The moment he stepped on the quay with his bag and bass guitar the whole crew were already missing him!
Except for Gordon, no member of the crew had experienced the strong tides of the North Sea... Such was that after 4 - 5 hours of sailing, we met with the famously renowned currents, which generate waves as big as they are short when the wind is against them. Marek, a confirmed sailor and racer, got taken over by panic and started shouting “storm, storm”... Mistakenly confusing the flashing light of a light house through the shadow of a rain cloud for lightning!
Doubt taking over the rest of the crew faced with the panic of a key crew member, Gordon decided to double back and return to Cuxhaven to calm the crew, all the while admiring the cloudless star soaked sky... The harbour master, with a smile on his face, explained his lack of surprise to the mini mutiny, confirming that these kind of incidents happen frequently with sailors from the Baltic with little experience in tidal waters.
So it eventually became time to change: originally planned for our Amsterdam stop-over, Oliver, Frédéric and Maxime joined us after some itinerary juggling, replacing the Polish crew and José, with his unique calmness of thought which the crew appreciated, and who had to return to Switzerland to work.
Ring a ring of roses in the North Sea ...
Gordon had always dreamt of seeing them, but not this close!
At entrance to the English channel, in the middle of night, the crew had to face a confused sea state creating waves around 5 meters high arriving from several directions. It was at this moment that the engine decided to break down, just in the middle of hitting a wave face on... and would not restart!!! At the same time the British coast guard announced an imminent gale force 8 warning over the VHF!
Two options presented themselves : keep our heading and sail to Cherbourg as planned or change heading and find a port which can welcome the Norda and her draft of 2.85 meters during low tide. It was the second option that Gordon choose after regrouping all the crew on deck and analysing the situation, wind, tides, speed, available ports and the crew's condition.
It's time to give or warmest thanks to Dover life boat crew who gave their free time to tow us into Dover at 3 am, but also to Olivier, thanks to who, Gordon could calmly manage the situation knowing that he could count on his abilities at the helm, to Fred and his refusal to feel fear, to Pablo, who never stopped surprising us by enticing our taste buds with his culinary art while crossing the North Sea, whatever the sea state, to Maxime who came on the Norda like a fish goes in water, and last but not least, to Logan, who was always present when needed and who astounded and made proud his father with his reactions!
The white cliffs of Dover
After 3 weeks in Dover, the engine is repaired and a new crew on board is more than ready to make the last step through the channel and the bay of Biscay! It was the greatest pleasure that Gordon was reunited with Logan along with Julien, back for a week of adventure with Constance. Lindsey and Paul, whom we met in Dover and who were interested in buying the Norda a couple of years before, joined us to see what they were missing... at least to Dartmouth.
After leaving Dover in calm weather, the crew on their third night got caught in a force 9 when all the forecasts were for force 4-6, forcing the Norda to take shelter in Dartmouth! This led to Gordon meeting the crew of two old Brixton trawlers and going on a crazy adventure for an evening.
Bad weather conditions all along the English coast kept the Norda from crossing the Channel and Biscay, originally planned for that week. Gordon ended up spending that time finding new crew, again...
The last step... Almost!
The Bay aptly feared
The Bay of Biscay, feared by mariners (aptly so!) turned out to be the most pleasant part of the trip.
Along with Ben, Benito, Olivier, Fred and of course Logan, Gordon could once again cross Biscay, known for its massive Atlantic swell creating waves up to 6 to 8 meters formed hundreds of miles away. But not this time: the part Gordon feared the most turned out to be very enjoyable and relaxing.
In fact, not only enjoying the calm sea and weather, the Norda and crew were escorted by up to a hundred dolphins during two days who came to ride the bow waves and show off their surfing skills.
It was under these conditions that we reached the Spanish coast without incident. After a short stop in Camariñas, we finally tied up the mooring lines in Rianxo, a small Gallician fishing harbour around 50 km south west of Santiago De Compostela, where we plan in restoring the Norda.
One day at sea somewhere between Poland and Spain
November 2014 to January 2015
A massive thanks...
To all those who accompanied and supported us through our first of many trips on the Norda!
In the end, three months were needed to move the Norda from Gdynia to Rianxo... A first adventure which wouldn’t have been the same without friends of old and those of new acquaintances all of whom unexpected but precious all through the voyage.
A thousand thanks to all and looking forward to seeing you on-board the Norda.