April's and John's Cruising Adventure .. May 6th .. May 13th, 2003 with Jerry and Karen Eaton

  On Monday we took the train from Lago de Como to Bergamo, the bus to the airport and Ryanair to Hamburg Germany and finally to Stockholm. (Whew!) Actually, it wasn't Stockholm, but a town 100 km South called Nichoping. Ryan air considers anything on the same continent as "close".
  The following morning, we trained in the rain to Stockholm with the intention of staying overnight, but the cold and rain convinced us to get back on the train and head for Gutenberg hopefully to find Jerry and Karen Eaton on their brand new boat called "Blue Heron".

April quizzed me on the high speed train across Sweden, "How exactly are we going to meet up with Jerry and Karen?"
  Fortunately, my magic cell phone made contact with Jerry on the boat literally 15 minutes before we arrived in Gutenberg and he made the 10 min. walk from the boat to the train station to meet us.

Unfortunately, I didn't get credit for the just in time arrangements.
  The "Blue Heron" was docked next to the Oslo Opera House.
  We moved into our luxurious accommodations where we nested comfortably for a week, cruising North from Gutenburg to Olso.
  Jerry and Karen had been invited to dinner by Bengt a Swede who had sailed with them to Gothenburg. He invited us to come along and we had a delightful time getting to know both he and his dad.
  While the girls shopped for whatever women shop for, Jerry and I spent a few happy hours in the local Maritime museum. It was particularly fun in that they let us wander all over numerous ships including a destroyer, a submarine, a cable tender, an offshore light ship and more.
  We met back at Blue Heron in the early afternoon and prepared to get under way, which is actually pretty easy in this boat. We motored out the channel on a beautiful, but cool afternoon.
  Once we cleared the channel, we had enough wind to hoist the sails. Actually, on this boat one doesn't hoist anything except wine glasses after tying up for the night.

The sails are roller reefed which means they unroll from the mast similar to a window shade. This allows one to sail almost single handed while remaining protected in the center consul.
  The sailing from Gutenburg to Marstrand that day was sweet. Although we took the outside route, the seas were relatively calm and the wind steady. After tying up in for the night, Karen and April made a gourmet dinner.

We could do this!
  Wednesday we awoke to another fine day. Jerry and I reconnoitered for boat supplies while the girls went to the market. Our destination was Smogen which was about another 50 miles north. We motored out the channel and found good wind and a bit of a sea. Actually, the wind became more of a good thing and the sea rose up to get our attention. We had a choice between hiding out in the inland route or going outside which was our decision. Blue Heron was clearly in her element and performed beautifully.
  Jerry was a pretty happy camper by the time we tied up late that afternoon. Actually, late afternoon is pretty late at Latitude 58.
  Smogen is a delightful town which like other towns is awaiting the summer tourist rush and it appears as if there is a considerable amount of people at times.
  Karen and April outdid themselves again at dinner and we tucked into our cozy v berth to be rocked to bed again.
  Thursday turned out to be another nice day. We toured Smogen in the morning and fired up the boilers around noon and headed onward to Stromstad. We cleared the harbor to a medium sea and less wind than the prior day. Still, we remembered to "look at the horizon" and get fresh air to avoid the motion sickness that seems just around the corner at times. As the day wore on the wind shifter around from the South and we sailed downwind with the main tied off the Starboard and the jib boomed out the port. Blue Heron loved it as did we.
  Our surprise entering the harbor was there seemed to be no room at the inn. We elected to take the last anchor buoy about a ¼ mile from the town dock. This was ok with us since that meant we could play with the dingy. We launched that and motored about the harbor in search of dinner. We ate at a very fun restaurant which was what one might call authentic. The food and spirts were fine and the four of us motored back to Blue Heron in style on glass smooth seas, clear skies and a beautiful crescent moon.
  Friday we awoke to very strange noises and a lot of motion in the middle of the night. I remembered distinctly tying off the anchor buoy with a new, super stout line, but it was only one line and we were really getting pushed about. What will happen if the line parts company with the buoy? Will we know we are adrift? Morning brought a whole lot of wind and some rain, or was it ice. We had our breakfast, all decided a hike on the island would have to wait until the next trip and hid out in that beautifully warm comfy cabin. Finally, Jerry and I donned our foul weather gear to address the single bow line issue. Although we felt pretty secure, the weather seemed to be picking up. We got a second lasso on the buoy and retreated to the cabin to plan. Actually, we succeeded in fixing the weather fax which allowed us to get a fax from the weather station. We were pretty pleased with ourselves even though the first fax we got was an ice report. We did determine that the wind was supposed to abate in the afternoon and made plans to head out which turned out to be the case.
  We motored out since our course was dead into the wind and elected to keep motoring as we turned North. After all we said, we need to run the motor to charge the batteries and make water. And even if this boat is highly automated, one still has to venture out on occasion to handle sails and such, so we cruised comfortably to the town of Hanku and tied up at the town pier. The next day April and I hiked about the town and very large fort which we couldn't seem to break into. This town like the others was awaiting the Summer rush, but is was fine to be there in it's crowdless environment.
  Saturday morning we embarked for Olso which was to be an all day trip up the fiord. The wind and seas were calm so we motored most of the way and were able to watch the scenery on both sides as we cruised further and further Northward. Although we didn't have the thrill of sailing or the attention required of navigating, the trip up the fiord was very medative. We would watch for our next green or red channel marker which would happen along at their own time. We would watch the towns slide by, maybe other boat traffic going about their business, with not a care in the world.
  It was very exciting, but a little sad when Olso came into view. It signified the end of a very wonderful experience and we would be leaving our friends. How would they every get along without us .. now with a whole weeks worth of boating experience.

We felt so bad leaving "Max", the trusty GPS navigator and "Auto" the autopilot, Jerry and I decided they should have a playmate.

  For those who are interested, The Blue Heron is a Hallberg Rassie 43. It displaces 28 tons, is 43 feet long with an 11' beam. It has a 55hp main diesel with a bow thruster for added maneuverability. Although the old salts would probably chafe at this, it is very handy. The boat also has a generator, an absolutely wonderful furnace and a water maker, although I never ran across a still. I've told you it has roller reefing sails and a whole cadre of electronic winches. For navigating it sports a wonderful GPS, navigation map system which ties nicely with the autopilot whom we call "Auto". Auto will steer a GPS track, a heading or an angle to the wind. The Raytheon moving map is awesome. One can zoom in, zoom out, get the depth, find obstacles, channel markers or become totally lost in the process. But at a comfortable 5 to 8 knots one has time to sort it all out and be comfortable. What else? The workmanship and quality of construction is outstanding, as were our hosts.