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In this third module we give Nor Siglar a major overhaul and psyche ourselves up for the Big Atlantic Crossing.
But first we do some leisurely cruising in the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the British Virgin Islands before setting out on the first stretch from Antigua to Bermuda.
After one week of great trade wind sailing, we find that Bermuda is, as quoted by Mark Twain, “a heavenly place to be but a hell of a place to get to”. Surrounded by treacherous reefs, home to a virtual ocean cemetery, we battle through rough seas for 12 hours to cover the last 20 miles before making heavenly landfall in beautiful and sheltered St. Georges Harbour, where the national drink, “Dark and Stormy” awaits weary, but relieved sailors.
A virtual botanical garden, world-class golf courses, luxury hotels, pastel coloured English Country style homes with whitewashed roofs designed to collect rainwater into private cisterns, all characterise this tiny 35 km x 1 km island where we enjoy three weeks of R&R before heading out into the Atlantic again for the next leg to the Azores.
With a tropical depression threatening to derail us, we postpone the start by a few days, spooked by sailboats ahead sinking, some crew drowning, some getting rescued at sea. Our own crossing proceeds without major problems apart from the usual seasickness, a scary waterspout and an approaching hurricane, long and lonely night watches and close encounters with freighters on collision course in the black of the night. After two weeks of non-stop sailing, the lush and green island of Faial in the Azores provides us with much needed R&R before the last and longest stretch to Norway.
But first, there are repairs and maintenance to be done and a painting from Nor Siglar’s crew on the docks of Horta, which is the custom of visiting sailors. No painting means bad luck and who wants that for the next leg of their crossing? It certainly gives us good luck, as with a change of crew, we complete the relatively uneventful leg in three weeks, albeit with considerable struggle through the English Channel, where we battle fog, strong currents and busy shipping lanes, the most stressful challenge of our voyage to date.
Reaching the familiar North Sea, we feel we are almost there, but having to dodge a multitude of oilrigs and tack back and forth in stubborn headwinds between the south coast of Norway and the west coast of Denmark, doubles the remaining distance.
Frustrated but happy, we make landfall in Halden, Anne’s home town, having reached the first goal of sailing to our “old country” on our own keel all the way from our new country, Canada. So after a memorable Homecoming, we settle down to wintering aboard during the coldest winter Norway has experienced in years!
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