By September of 2014, Freja was well under way and each part of the boat (cabins, saloon, galley) was now recognisable. We had visited the yard twice during the summer to keep up with the build and discuss the decisions we had to make by the end of September.
One of the issues we discussed throughout the spring and summer was how we could make the boat lighter. Not that we were going to race. We were just trying to compensate the extra weight in the shoal keel.
John Eustace shows us the progress on the deck build.
The chest of drawers for the foot of the bed after varnishing.
The base of the saloon table after varnishing. We love the exquisite quality of the cabinetry.
One of the on-going discussions was about the rigging, obviously a heavy component on the boat. Carbon or aluminium mast? Halyards made of Dyneema or carbon? Dyneema for lifelines? We were in discussions the entire Spring and early summer with Peter Kohlhoff, who works with Future Fibres, a supplier of carbon fibre products for racing sailboats. Peter was en enormous help in educating us on the properties and merits of these materials.
To make a long story short, we did not go with a carbon mast and halyards. This was partly because of the high costs (mast), partly because we would have been the guinea pigs as the first Discovery to go with carbon fibre halyards. We had a sense that Discovery didn’t feel 100% comfortable with it.
The saloon slowly taking form
We did go with a carbon fibre boom, which was much less expensive than we imagined, as it’s a relatively simple piece of engineering. I don’t remember how much weight weight we saved, but suffice it to say that I can carry the boom alone on my shoulder (I’m a 163 cm (5’3”) petite woman). It takes 3 strong people to pick up and carry the aluminium version.
The nav station and sofa area taking form.
We racked up an enormous weight savings by choosing Dyneema instead of steel wire for all of our lifelines. It’s a huge savings because we wanted four lifelines strung instead of the normal two. Why? Because of our dogs. We didn’t want to use netting, which in neither easy to install, nor remove, nor very elegant. And it turns that awful shade of rusty yellow after a few weeks of exposure to salt water.
John Eustace, Discovery’s owner care manger, came up with the surprisingly simple idea of stringing four lines made of Dyneema. The space between the lines would be so narrow that our dogs (medium and large-sized) couldn’t slip through.
Discovery ordered our stanchions to be made with four thimbled holes. Each thimble had to be as smooth as laquer to prevent chafing on the Dyneema lines. Each line would be much stronger than its steel wire size equivalent, but would be prone to chafing damage if the edges of the stanchion holes were sharp. We ordered Dyneema for the two spinnaker halyards and the topping lift as well.
Finally, we ordered a carbon fibre wheel, which saved us about 10 kgs. The important thing about the lighter (less than 1 kg) wheel is that it’s much easier on the autopilot.
All in all, we saved around 130 kg on deck. It may not seem like much, but it’s equivalent to two people, after all.
The beginnings of a galley
The deck has now been epoxied to the hull.
Stemhead being installed
We ordered LED lighting in and on the boat. We thought this was a given these days because of the energy savings, but there are still people who prefer halogen. We did not order underwater lighting, nor up-mast lighting, which are both relatively cosmetic. We did order LED strips to be installed along the edge of the cabin top to give us lighting on the side decks if we need it. It also serves as a way to find our boat if we’re in a crowded anchorage. We ordered a 24V aft deck floodlight mounted on the antenna pole, LEDs mounted into the bottom edge of the boom (to provide light for the cockpit) and a floodlight on the mast to illuminate the foredeck.
The stern rail has now been fitted in. Notice the life raft holder.
The drawers and cabinets in the galley have now been installed
The forward cabin, almost finished
Inside the boat, we followed the advice of our friend Leon (see this video series in which he discusses creating space with lighting) and had Discovery install LED mini-strips underneath stairs, closets, lower cupboards, and along the edges of the ceiling. It makes the boat feel cosier and even feels bigger at night, as the light reaches normally dark corners.
An important piece of equipment you need when installing an LED lighting system is the voltage regulator. LEDs do not like voltage spikes and when subjected to them constantly, they will die an early death. So, if you want your LEDs to have the 20-year lifetime promised on the box, install a voltage regulator.
The owners’ cabin (aft) taking form
Our voltage regulator comes from the Swedish company Båtsystem. Here is their argument for installing a voltage regulator: “LED lights are sensitive to voltage spikes and should not be exposed to voltage over 12.5V. While charging the batteries, however; the voltage is considerably higher and spikes are also experienced when using heavy loads such as when using a windlass. Therefore, it is important to protect your LED lights. This is either done by making sure that the LED lights have built in stabilisers (typically 8-30V) or, even better, to install a DC-DC stabiliser, which continuously ensures a voltage of no more that 12.5V. This is especially important on 24V boats and when installing LED tapes, which do not have built in stabilisers.”
The voltage regulator for the LED lighting has been installed over the nav station
The heads adjacent to the owners’ cabin
Another important decision was our life raft “situation”. Since Discovery custom makes the life raft holders on the stainless steel stern rail just aft of the cockpit, we needed to decide on what brand we wanted and how many. Since we had two dogs at the time, we thought it best to order two 4-man life rafts than one 8-man. Our thinking was that if we really needed to bail, other crew members, would not want to share a life raft with 2 large dogs! In addition, if we were alone, with no other crew members on the boat, righting an 8-man life raft would probably be close to impossible.
The boarding ladders on each side of the boat, the davits and the winches are now fitted.
We chose the Viking RescYou Pro life rafts after reading and seeing (video) a test on Yachting Monthly. We liked that the life raft used “emergency yellow”, that florescent greenish yellow colour that is used on the hoods of all brands of foul-weather gear. We also appreciated that the Pro model is blue on the inside, which is said to prevent seasickness. It has vinyl transparent windows on each end, which help you keep the horizon visible (seasickness prevention).
The two “doors”, one on each side, have double zippers that come up from the bottom, so you can increase your freeboard in case of heavy seas, without having to close up the raft. You can have a relatively high freeboard and preserve the ventilation in the boat. The is also important to prevent seasickness. Finally, the shape of the two entries cuts into the roof, so that if you need to be rescued by helicopter, you won’t need to jump into the water to receive the rescuer.
The steering pedestal has now been fitted. Here you see the twin autopilot controls side by side (white covers). The small black joystick in-between is the remote for the Furuno Chartplotter which will be mounted on the cabin top, next to the companionway.
Concerning life rafts, you should look at the video from Yachting Monthly that tested what life is like in a life raft. After watching this, you will definitely keep in mind that you should always be stepping up into a life raft, not down!
After a wet voyage rounding Lindenes, we were happy to finally come into the port town of Farsund. First task: dry everything out! We had to rinse and hang all of the cockpit bench cushions as well as our life vests, foulies and boots as they had gotten a thorough drenching throughout the day.
Drying out the cockpit cushions at Farsund marina.
The marina was empty except for one other boat that was planning to make the passage down to the UK and then onwards for a circumnavigation. They had bicycles and skis (!) lashed to the deck.
Beautiful Farsund marina on a calm and sunny morning
The marina is quite handy as it’s next to a supermarket — and one of the state-run liquor shops in case you’ve run out of wine or beer. I wouldn’t advise the purchase of anything stronger as it’s tremendously expensive here in Norway (liquor tax depends on the level of alcohol).
Regina Laska docked just in front of the grocery store
Farsund has preserved it’s small town charm — we were impressed that the new architecture blends in perfectly with the older buildings from the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Everything is built in wood, obviously an abundant natural resource here. It provides for some nice walks to explore the town and the neighbouring forests and fjords.
Beautiful little fishing boat docked at the fishing quay in Farsund
Farsund marina information panel
We also had a short lesson in maintenance and repair after breakfast. Things will break and wear out on your boat, even if it’s brand new, we learned. Leon told us we’re lucky that we complement each other in our skills. Jacques has the hands-on mechanical skills and I have more of a “geek” skill set. If anything electronic stops working, I can trouble-shoot and usually find what’s wrong, and if anything mechanical stops working, Jacques can do the same.
Lesson in maintenance aboard Regina Laska
We learned to have lots of spares on the boat, high-quality tools (the cheap ones will rust quickly) and a good method for organising them. Nothing is more frustrating that not finding the part or the tool that you know you have — somewhere.
Next stop: Kyrkehamn/Hidra
As we left the lovely town of Farsund, we noticed the first signs on deteriorating weather towards the west — bands of wispy cirrus clouds that warn you of a warm front coming through and usually rain within 24 hours. Best to take full advantage of our last sunny day!
Coming out of Farsund, you can see the cape of Lindesnes in the distance on a clear day.
To get to Kirkehamn (Church Harbour)/Hidra, we had to round Lista Point and sail north through a narrow fjord. The entry to Kirkehamn is quite dramatic. As you approach, you come closer and closer to a lone white wooden church perched on a hill at the end of the fjord. It seems as if that church is the only thing in the harbour. When you actually get to the harbour at the end of the fjord you notice that it is actually a large fishing village. We imaged that many of the houses you see at Kirkehamn are actually summer houses, as their couldn’t be that many fishing families here.
During our sail, we learned a little trick for rolling in your mainsail when you’re running before the wind. What you need to do is position yourself so the wind is 180° directly behind you. Haul in the mainsail sheet so the boom is stationary, and then furl in as usual. Works like a charm.
We docked at a small marina on the opposite side of the harbour from the fishing boat harbour, Isbua marina. We were the only boat on this cold but sunny day. At this time of year (first week of May) the marina was free of charge, but no electricity, nor WiFi was available. The “season” there begins around mid-May, after which the fee is 200 NOK including electricity and WiFi.
Isbua marina at Kirkehamn
After securing the boat, we decided to go for a hike to the top of Hidra Island. The views were breathtaking!
The view from the top of Hidra
The island is home to a large flock of multi-coloured sheep. As it was spring and lambing season, we saw lots of little ones. We hoped they appreciated the wonderful ocean views of their island pasture.
Black lamb on Hidra
The sheep on Hidra have a beautiful sea view
Kirkehamn to Egersund
The cirrus clouds of the yesterday did indeed foretell rain within the next 24 hours. We woke up to a heavy downpour. After a warm and hearty Swedish breakfast (herring, liver paste, crispbread, eggs and coffee) we went seeking fresh fish for our evening dinner. We were in a fishing village after all.
We docked in front of the “fish hall”, where the morning’s catch was brought in, sorted and organised for sale. You need a fender board for this as fishing boat pontoons are not made for fibreglass hulled sailboats. Norway is not know for being a low-price country, but I can tell you that buying fish directly from the fisherman is a real deal. It’s fresh off the boat and 5 times cheaper than buying it at the supermarket or even the marketplace in town.
We left Kirkehamn with the goal of arriving in Egersund early enough to do some grocery shopping. We now had lots of fish but not much else. The visibility got increasingly worse throughout the day and it was easy to forget the past 5 days of brilliant sunshine. As we entered the channel of Egersund, we had a lesson in using the Furuno radar overlay on the chart plotter. This way, you see the AIS IDs on boat that are transmitting, and you see the radar signatures of boats or other things that are not transmitting an AIS signal, all on top of your chart.
The marina in Egersund is well-protected at the end of the eastern branch of the bay. But be careful — a small river empties into the bay at the visitor’s pontoons and the sideways current can be two-three knots depending on how close your place is are to the mouth of the river and if it’s been raining. The marina is also just across the road from a shopping centre with a large, well-stocked grocery store. There’s also a pharmacy, a liquor store and a veterinarian close to the marina.
Facts about the guest harbour in Egersund:
Prices (as of March 2016):
up to 39 ft: 200 NOK
40-50 ft: 250 NOK
51-60 ft: 300 NOK
61 feet and over: 500 NOK
Facilities included: water, electricity, toilets, showers, Wi-fi, laundry (washer and dryer).
Telephone: +47 481 52 573
Motoring through the channel that takes you from Egersund, towards the north and then west around the island of Eigerøya
Egersund to Kvitsøy Islands
The voyage from Egersund to Kvitsøy would have been lovely but for the rain and mist. Our visibility was around 2 nautical miles.
The marina of Ydstebøhamn on Kvitsøy.
Kvitsøy is a group of islands on the outer coast, not far from Stavanger. During the summer, it’s full of vacationing Norwegians, but during a rainy, chilly first week of May, it’s pretty much guaranteed to be empty. It’s a wind-blown place, being out in the north sea and totally exposed to the worst westerly storms. As as result, there are no trees on the islands. There’s lots of grass though, which makes the many resident sheep happy.
Map of Kvitsøy at the marina
We didn’t see a single person as we motored to the single marina in “town”. We were happy to be in the warmth of the boat, eating a hearty dinner cooked up be Leon and drinking good wine – in this case, a bottle of our own Merlot 2010.
View of Ydstebøhamn from the marina
The marina at Ydstebøhamn is really well-protected from wind and waves as it’s tucked up in a tiny harbour. Facts about the guest marina in Ydstebøhamn:
Position: N59 3.647 N – E005 24.168 E
Price (as of March 2016): 100 NOK.
Facilities included: water, electricity, toilets, showers, Wi-fi. There’s a small grocery shop and a few galleries that are open during the summer.
Telephone: +47 51 73 63 10.
Summer cottages at Ystedbøhamn
Kvitsøy to Lysefjorden
We were full of anticipation – we were going to visit the beautiful Lysefjord today! This fjord is famous for the Preikestolen (Pullpit Rock), cliff that stands over 600 meters (2,000 feet) over the water. It’s wide and flat at the top, making it a perfect place to be photographed with the mountains and fjord in the background. Visit this page to get directions for hiking up the mountain to reach the Pulpit Rock.
The weather had not improved overnight and we were off to a drizzly start. After an hour of sailing we began to approve the environs of Stavanger, a lovely city know for being the centre of the oil industry in Norway. Not that there are many oil platforms around Stavanger. It’s more because it’s the centre for the provisioning of the special materials, ships and know-how for the industry and the headquarters for the Norwegian State-run Oil Company Statoil. We say lots of strangely-shaped boats and barges around the harbour.
Fishing boat leaving the harbour of Stavanger
We passed the outer harbour of Stavanger on our way to the Lysefjord. Dark grey clouds, almost the colour of asphalt, hung over the mountains. Amazingly, the rain stopped as we passed Stavanger. There were even a few holes in the cloud cover, providing striking contrasts with the swollen grey clouds towards the inland mountains.
Mountains and entrance to the Lysefjord in the distance
At we turned northeast into the Lysefjorden, the wind turned against us. In the fjords, you wither have the wind at your back or on the nose. We started the motor for our trip up the fjord. The landscape is as you would imagine — sheer granite walls that continue into the water down to a depth of over 400 meters (over 1’300 feet) in certain areas. No anchoring in the fjord! The weather was slowly improving as well, and we saw more and of the sun shining through gaps in the cloud cover.
In the Lysefjord
The Lysefjord is one of the shortest of the famous Norwegian fjords at only 42 kilometres, so you have ample time to sail up and back down during a single day. The marina at the entrance of the fjord at Forsand is small and cosy. It’s located close to the only bridge that spans the fjord.
Bridge that spans the Lysefjord
The price for Regina Laska (15 meters) was 200 NOK. Water, electricity, toilets, showers and laundry facilities are included. There is a fuel pump next to the marina, but if your boat is longer than 15 meters, you won’t fit into the slip. Leon only just managed, with his skilful boat handling, to squeeze Regina Laska in the slip. The village grocery store is located next to the fuel pumps — convenient though rather small.
Lysefjord — Stavanger
It’s not a long sail back to Stavanger, so we allowed ourselves an extra hour of sleep and were up at 8.30 instead of 7.30. By 10.00, we were on our way. This time, the sun was kind and stayed with us. Dark clouds hung above the hills and mountains, but above the waters, the skies were mostly blue.
Sailing towards Stavanger
As we approached the inner harbour of Stavanger, we noticed two immense cruise liners that completely dwarfed the 3 and 4- storey buildings next to them. One was the Celebrity Eclipse (a great name, since the boat eclipsed half the Stavanger harbour) and the other was the Azura from P&O Lines. We were going to have to enter the marina by motoring between them. It was a surreal experience slipping by a boat that has an air draft of about 40 meters, and that’s not including the smoke stacks.
Approaching Stavanger’s inner harbour – notice how gigantic the cruise ships are next to the buildings!
Motoring towards the Vågen marina in Stavanger
The Vågen marina in lovely Stavanger, Norway
Our coaching cruise had come to an end. After of week of private coaching in “big boat” handling, we felt confident that we could handle our future boat. “Slow is pro” is the slogan etched into our brains after practicing harbour manoeuvres under motor. We also profited from Leon’s experience in refitting boats to change and add to our list of the equipment we wanted on our future Discovery 55. Here’s a partial list:
A second, totally independent autopilot as a backup (mentioned in our previous post).
A Furuno satellite compass more accurate than a fluxgate, and, according to Leon, make the autopilot more stable. Your radar images also get a shadow so that you the course of the boats that radar has picked up. Furuno says that this is not for sailboats, but many Scandinavian sailors have it.
I’ve mentioned Leon Schultz in several previous posts (here and here). Leon is an RYA Yacht Master Ocean Instructor as well as a boat-refit consultant. We thought it would be a good idea to do a week-long “coaching cruise” with Leon to learn big-boat handling. He often does “getting started as a cruiser” courses for couples who are ready to buy a new or larger boat, but perhaps want to try manoeuvres under the guidance of an experienced instructor.
We had never handled a boat longer than 42 feet, or heavier than 9 tonnes and needed to prepare ourselves for our new boat (55 feet and 23 tonnes). Leon’s boat, Regina Laska, has a hull length of over 48 feet and displaces about 17 tonnes. It has a similar hull structure and keel to our future boat. Perfect!
Arriving on Leon’s Boat, Regina Laska on a chilly May morning.
We set off on the 1st of May, a beautiful but chilly day on the island of Orust, Sweden. Our week-long cruise would take us directly over to Norway at around the same latitude. It’s normally not a great idea to start off with a day-long passage on open waters (seasickness!) but we had a weather window that would enable a lovely reach over to our first anchorage on the southern coast of Norway.
Leaving the marina in Ellös, Sweden
We both already knew how to sail, so the coaching didn’t cover that — what we did learn on the first day was how to think like a cruiser instead of a “week-end and holidays sailor”. Things like being kind to your sails and equipment, the virtues of continuous maintenance and checking your equipment every day.
We also had the chance to get to know and use the Furuno constellation of electronics Leon has on his boat. We found his Navnet 14-inch chart plotter was easy to use, and easy to see, even with sunglasses and from an angle.
Passage over to Norway
Arriving on Norway’s southern coast
Leon had integrated a bottom-discriminating sounder. This echo sounder, while not essential, is nice to have when anchoring up, especially in the evening when you just want to get it done without trying 20 different spots. It scans the bottom and tells you if the bottom is sand, mud, rock or gravel. You still have to test if your anchor is holding by backing down on it as you normally would — it’s just nice be be able to pass up the spots where the sounder shows rock or gravel. It certainly came in handy on our first night. We arrived at our anchorage at around 22.00. The skies were not completely dark, but we didn’t have a lot of light. As soon as the bottom discriminator showed us mud instead of rock, we lowered the anchor. And it held, first try! We were hungry so Leon, an excellent cook, got down to preparing dinner for us.
Our anchorage in Gamle Hellesund
Leon is a fantastic cook!
The sun greeted us with it’s full force the next day. After a leisurely Swedish breakfast in the saloon (it was still quite cold), we were off for another day of sailing the beautiful south coast of Norway.
Gorgeous, but cold weather and beautiful scenery along the southern coast of Norway.
On our way to the anchorage at Olavssundet.
Our goal for today was to reach the anchorage of Olavsundet (Ny Hellesund) early enough to have a walk on the islands and have a sauna. Yes, Leon has a steam sauna on his boat! You can buy one yourself – Båtsystem in Sweden makes them. You need to install the “steamer” so that that tube comes out in the cockpit, and you hang up the vinyl sauna tent at the helmsman’s end of the cockpit. It got really hot in there, despite the outside temperature of around 6° C.
The steam sauna is the blue tent at the back of the cockpit.
The island of Helgøya at the anchorage provides some breathtaking views of the sea and the anchorage – it’s worth the dingy ride to shore.
Our anchorage (between the islands of Helgøya and Kapelløya) at Ny Hellesund.
The sun continued to shine — what fantastic luck we were having as Norway is not famous for entire weeks of sun. Perhaps it’s the microclimate in the south? We weighed anchor with the goal of reaching Farsund – our first stop at a marina and an opportunity to practice big boat handling under motor.
The beautiful weather continues as our third day begins
Leaving for Farsund and the cape of Lidesnes (Norway’s Cape Horn)
The wind had turned to a westerly direction so we had to decide weather we’d motor for awhile or tack down the coast. We were here to sail, so of course we said, “we’ll tack!” The wind speed had increased as well to a steady 25-29 knots with gusts up to 38. It was a sporty and wet voyage with both sails reefed.
At lunchtime, we hove-to, to be able to use the galley in a safer way. We were far enough away from the coast and not near the shipping lanes. As it was quite cold (about 8°C) and very windy we wanted a warm lunch and decided to make some fish soup. Regina Laska heaves-to perfectly and we noticed the famous “slick” the hull and keel makes on the windward side of the boat. After two bowls of hot soup and a cup of coffee, we were really to take on the Cape of Lindesnes.
The Cape of Lindesnes is called the “Norwegian Cape Horn” because in hard weather, it’s a bit of a challenge. There’s a Gulf Stream current that comes up to the north coast of Denmark, hits Sweden and then goes back out west via the south coast of Norway. It was about 3 knots in speed and meeting 25-29 knots of westerly wind to the east of the Cape when we were there.
It’s also where the Skagerrak and North Sea meet, causing strange localised currents. Finally, this part of the coast rises from a depth of about 200 meters to 20-30 meters near the coast, creating the energy to form big waves. The area around Lindesnes, especially the stretch between Lindesnes and Lista, is known as a ships’ graveyard. Sorry there are no photos, but it was far too wet and rough to take out my camera!