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Bodø to Scotland – Homeward Bound

Little mooring pier in norway

29th september 23 – 16th october 23

So whilst Nordnorskmarine were giving the boat some care and attention Steve spent a few weeks in the UK and Denmark visiting family and friends, returning to Bodo to relaunch Snowbear on the  25th September. He then had a couple of days to get the boat launched and ready to sail and with Sarah busy turning her life upside down in Copenhagen.

Picture of boat Snow beat coming back into the water

Steve needed to make room for Mark and Niall who were joining as crew for the passage back to Scotland..

Selfie of the 3 guys

After some familiarisation, food and beer we were ready for departure on the 29th. The weather forecast for the journey south to a point suitable for crossing the north sea was favourable, but it was not looking very good for the crossing back to the UK, but we had decided to get to at least Alesund, and possibly continue to Bergen.

Picture of marina in Norway
Little mooring pier in norway

We arrived in Alesund on 5th Oct and were keeping a close eye on the weather, high winds and waves were forecast but on the back of that some more favourable weather was emerging for a crossing to at least Wick, and possibly Inverness.. it was tight and would need us to depart into some steep but dying seas, and at the end of the passage we may face some building headwinds, but this was our opportunity, and we did have some contingency because the first 40 NM we would be close to the Norwegian coast and we would pass within 30 miles of Shetland, 25 miles from Orkney.

We checked out of Norway the next day at the police station, and headed South protected initially from the 40 Knot westerly winds by Gurskøya and Sandsøya islands. We arrived at our intended point of leaving the protected coastline when it was still blowing right on the nose and the sea state was a mess so forward progress was at best a couple of knots.. We took a sensible decision to seek shelter in Bringsinghaug mole harbour on the island of Kvamsøyaand and after a few scary moments of being blown sideways across the tiny harbour we were securely moored alongside allowing us to take a few hours rest before proceeding out to sea at 7:00 the next morning.. (Gone are the days of 24hrs of daylight)

The passage across to the UK was as expected, variable winds on the beam most of the way across, we needed to motor, or motor-sail a few times and had an alarming emergency to deal with when the engine overheated, the cooling water intake hose had split allowing air rather than water to be drawn into the raw water pump, disintegrating the impeller. An uncomfortable time followed for Steve with his head in the engine room in a pitching and rolling boat but in less than an hour the engine had cooled, the hose repaired, impeller replaced, old impeller bits found and removed from the heat exchanger, coolant refilled, the engine was turned over and restarted good as new..

The wind eventually shifted to be right on the nose just as forecast but not before we were well within the moray firth and we then arrived in a blustery Inverness marina in the early hours of Oct 10th.

Mark had planned to leave the boat here, so the following day Steve and Niall headed for the Caledonian canal entrance, winds were still in excess of 30 knots but once in the canal we had some shelter, the return passage along the canal was quick and we shared most of the locks and bridges with a small fishing boat that was travelling from Newcastle to the west coast for some scallop fishing.

Fishing boat that was travelling from Newcastle to the west coast for some scallop fishing

Unfortunately on the last morning in the canal the “lord of the highlands” an oversized hotel boat, collided with us when we were moored and waiting for the wind to settle before exiting the canal, we suffered some damage to the brass rubbing strip and teak railing so there was an exchange of details before proceeding.

The following day we departed the Caledonian canal and headed for the Crinan, we knew that we would not make it in time to get through the first lock into the basin but we had arranged to berth inside the lock chamber.  The Crinan Canal was due to close for the season later in the week so there were limited staff working, however after a slight delay the staff decided to help us through all the locks so our transit into Loch Fyne was very 

We arrived at Portavadie Marina on 16th October.

Steve said goodbye to Niall, and started preparing the boat for Sarah rejoining at the end of the month, and preparing his apartment in Tighnabruaich for letting.

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