Travelog from the Atlantic Ocean
Trainee Unni Borge has sailed across the Atlantic with Statsraad Lehmkuhl. In this travelog, she shares her experiences from the 30-day voyage from Las Palmas to the Caribbean.
Ever since I sailed across the Pacific with my family on the S/Y "Vestørn" in 1995, I knew I also had to cross the Atlantic. The dream was to sail over on own keel, but that did not happen. When the opportunity came with Statsraad Lehmkuhl, I knew this was my best chance.
But I had no idea about this when I saw the TV show NRK Sommarbåten on Andenes and Melbu in Vesterålen this summer.
Fair winds from Las Palmas
We set out from Las Palmas on October 4 in a calm northwesterly breeze, with little sea traffic. We set sail and the ship glided elegantly through the sea. Almost no one was seasick, and I who had worried about this, for no reason at all! In the first days we had 12 sails up, and received full sailing ship training. When full-rigged, Statsraad Lehmkuhl has 21 sails up. We were divided into three watch teams; red, white and blue, and I got blue watch. Then I work from 08 to 12 in the morning and from 20 to midnight in the evenings.
Eventually, we hit the trade winds and set the course 270 degrees towards the Cape Verde Islands. There were no planned stops between Las Palmas and Curaçao, and we stayed outside the 12 NM limit, so we did not see the islands.
We are 142 people on board: 109 trainees who have bought tickets for the voyage, and the rest crew and volunteers. There are a majority of volunteers from Denmark, as the Danes have their own full-rigged training ship, and the seamen in training need sea service for their further education. Many of the Norwegian seamen in training come from the school ship Gann.
After approximately two weeks of smooth sailing we got strong wind and had to reduce the sailing. We sailed on only the lower top sails for four to five days before we increased again, with more on the main and formast.
The captain hosts a short information session on the front deck every day at 15:15. Here we learn about the distance, speed and course. And also some news from Norway, and preferably especially the weather at home. By the way, it is 29 degrees here, and we have salt water showers on deck every day.…
142 persons from 10 different nations
We are 10 nations on board, and we speak a lot in English. The crew is divided into two banjers, one with room for 70 hammocks and the other has 37. I live on the smallest banjer, and since it also is the cefeteria, we have to rig down our hammocks every morning before we go on duty. Routines such as sleep and food are important. The sun is merciless out here, and one must make sure to get enough fluid and salt. Sunscreen and hats are important.
Everything that is unfamiliar takes some time getting use to. And sleeping in hammocks is probably a little unfamiliar to most people. But if you are tired enough, you sleep well. The hammocks works as a gyro, so you do not notice much of the ship's movements. The hammocks hang tightly, and you can´t be prudish!But after a while, it becomes completely normal to see fellow trainees in their underwear and listen to them snor. It's like being young again and being at camp.
After a few days we put out the fishing line, but had to be shifted and reinforced as it got worn out when we got when we got the first dorado on the hook. In less than a week we got a dorado of 33 kg, a swordfish of 77 kg, and a tuna of 55 kg.
Torodd from Bergen then wrote this poem:
Oh – help me God to catch a fish so big
that even I, when telling of it afterwards,
may never have to lie.
The ship produces its own fresh water and we all the water we need on board. Statsraad Lehmkuhl is currently on The One Ocean Expedition, which focuses on sustainability. 2021–2030 is the UNs Decade of Ocean Science and the expedition is a recognized as a part this. There are researchers and stunedt on board from scientific institutions, such as The Institute of Marine Research. Samples are taken regularly, and small buoys are put out for research purposes.
Before I went on board, I received information that there is a radio amateur station on board, and therefore made an agreement with other radio amateurs for a fixed schedule, ie we have an agreed band / frequency and fixed UTC time for communication. Unfortunately, it turned out that the antenna tuner on the radio was removed, and thus we had to look for other solutions. We tried to shorten the antenna to a quarter-wave antenna on the 20 m band, without it working. Luckily, the helmsman was a free radio amateur, and had put in a good word for me so I was able to borrow the ship's radio station on the bridge / cutlery. I met only goodwill and positivity from the helmsman and captain on duty, even though I came there twice a day and to use the radio. The first week was a good signal from Norway and I had several QSOs.
Excerpt from the diary a few days ago: «We sit on the ground, and sing shanty. It's dark, but we get light from the full moon and a beautiful starry sky. We sail on the stumps in a light gale - life is nice here and now. " It's nice to be without a mobile, internet, alcohol, TV and everything we usually surround ourselves with. But modern man can not do without satellite to send this travel letter.
Now I´ll sit on the forecastle for a while and enjoy my free watch. Arrival in Curaçao is in ten days. Tomorrow I hope to have the opportunity to climb the rig, up to the upper top sails 12 meters above deck - that is to say, if I dare!