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My Greatest Experience
En gjenforteling av et lykkelig barndomsminne.
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I was born and raised in Tønsberg, but after my eighth birthday, we wanted to do something completely different from our everyday life, before we were to move back to Fredrikstad, where both my mother and father are born.
We therefore decided to set off on the adventurous sail down towards the south of Spain and then straight over the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean’s. Neither of us had any sailing experience and, as I’m sure you can imagine, we were quite nervous, but still extremely excited, before we sat out on our own little adventure.
Our boat was a beautiful little Hardanger-yacht – an exact copy of Ronald Amundsen’s ship Gjøa which he used to cross the Northwest Passage. S/Y Anna Marthine was made of ferrocement and wood, and everything was handled by hand, which made the trip a whole lot more trilling and we never know acutely what could happen.
We sold our house, and while renovating the boat, we rented a cosy and friendly house were we celebrated a traditional Norwegian Christmas. We waved goodbye to friends and family on 21th of July and sat off towards Fredrikshavn, where we stayed for just one day before we continued down the east coast of Denmark.
After two day we arrived in Ebeltoft, where you can find the world’s biggest wooden ship, Jylland. It was magnificent! Ebeltoft was a very nice and cosy town. It reminded me of the old town in Fredrikstad with stoned pavements and proved watchmen, who kept an eye on everything. A few days later we sailed to the small island of Samsø, and though we only stayed here for one night, we could easily see that it was a calm and peaceful place.
We had a very pleasant experience while we were sailing from Samsø to Ramsø. A small gray-black whale, which was about 1,5 meters of length, accompanied us. It was so charming, and came up to breed now and then, and was just a few metres away from the boat at all times. In addition to the towns and islands mentioned above, we visited a few more, which were just as appealing as any other.
We then sat the course towards Germany and Kiel, and we sailed through the Kiel-canal, so that we wouldn’t have to sail around Denmark. The canal has locks on both ends, because there is a height difference between the two oceans, Skagerrak and the North Sea. The trip through the canal didn’t take more than one day, but the scenery was incredible with green and lush woods on both sides and hundreds of snow-white swans floating by the shore.
We reached Lowestoft in England a few days later. Lowestoft is a very pleasant, medium big, bathing city, where you could find every thing you need within waking distance. We continued our journey along the south coast of England and visited among others, Dover and Falmouth.
After a few weeks we left England and sat of into the Bay of Biscaya. We had heard many frightening stories about this bay, but none of them came true on our crossing. The voyage took us five and a half days. Through out that time we got to experience how unbelievable and wonderful it can be out on the open ocean. We had company of dolphins on numerous occasions and they can’t be said to be anything but amazing. They were so playful and it seemed like they were having a blast, while jumping up and down through the water surface.
Thereafter we reached the harbour of Bayona in Spain. We had been looking for summer and here it was! It was a beautiful place and the harbour was situated beside a beautiful old castle. In the middle of the castle it was built an old fashion magnificent hotel. We then sat of towards the British colony Gibraltar.
We had now been on the go for a while and we began to wonder if we really wanted to cross the Atlantic. Thanks to lack of money and the time it would have taken to cross, we deicide to spend the winter in Spain.
Our plan was to sail directly to Gibraltar, but we had to make a forced stop in Portimao in Portugal because of engine problems. Portimao was a very nice place and is absolutely worth visiting. Right beside were we lay, was a beautiful beach, and we visited this beach every day and bathed in nice warm water.
The beaches on the Algarve-coast are very beautiful. The beaches are kilometres long with white sand and are spitted up by big rocks, filled with holes, which stretches out into the ocean.
About 423 metres over Gibraltar lays the Gibraltar-rock. It’s partly covered with forest and is mostly of calciumrock. We saw the famous monkeys which live all around the mountain, and they were so cute! Several of the monkeys had small babies, who were even cuter then the grown-ups, with their wrinkled faces and small hands with small brown nails. The monkeys had several food- and waterstations, so they were being taken good care of, and that isn’t so strange when the legend says that if the monkeys leave the rock, Gibraltar will again be Spanish. The monkeys are tailless and are called “Barbary Macaques”.
We visited a lot of towns on our way towards Altea, among others Torrevieja. One of our most frightening experiences, we experienced on our crossing to Ibiza. The sailing started smoothly with three knots and in the evening it just got better. We sailed with five knots and had a slope off 15 degrees. But when the night came it just went faster and faster. We now sailed with 7,5 knots and the slop has increased to 30 degrees. What made it even worse was the fact that the wind had changed direction, so that we had to change the course to get the wind from the other side. We got the boat up against the wind and began to take down sails, something we should have done earlier, but if the wind hadn’t changed direction we could easily sailed directly to Ibiza. After an hour’s fight against the elements my father and a friend of my parents finally managed to change course and began the surfing towards San Antonio on Ibiza.
In addiction, we visited an island called Isla Conjera, which I will never forget. The island had a lot in common with “Missingene” near Fredrikstad, but the mountaintops were much higher – the highest was about 62 metres. There were an incredible amount of lizards on the island. For every metre we walked small green lizards ran around our feet. The scenery was beautiful and it was very vigorous considering it being such a warm place. As well, the ocean visibility was magnificent. Taking a bath was like swimming in an aquarium. Hundreds of fishes in every colour of the rainbow and in all sizes swam around us.
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We passed the winter in Altea. My dad began to work, and my mother and I spent the days doing homework and taking long wakes with the dog Carmen. We collected Carmen from a place for ownerless dogs in Benidorm, and she is such a bundle of fun. She is beautiful and is the apple of my eye. Our adventure ended in July 2000, one year after our adventure began, when we went back to Norway.
I think the trip was absolutely fantastic. There was of course times that were tough, but it was over all a great experience, and we experienced an endless amount of exciting and magnificent things. This trip was the main reason for us moving back to Spain later. The only down side was that I felt like I didn’t get as much out of is as I would if I had been older, but despite this it was magnificent!
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