Risor and the fjords (1st - 8th August 2008)

By the time we arrived, Risor harbour was already pretty full of boats. Mostly from Norway but plenty from further afield including of course the good ship Sumara.

The festival runs for three days and is a combination of mutual boat admiration, a spot of racing taken with variable degrees of seriousness, singing and loads of drinking with most emphasis placed on the last two. The festival has a wonderful eclectic mix of all types of wooden motor and sailing boats; classic 8m and 12m yachts - including the King of Norway's, massive Colin Archers - more later, motor boats from 15 to 75ft, converted fishing boats, river boats, a folk boat, a Vertue and so on, even a coracle ... you name it they have it ... in wood!

Risor itself is a picture-perfect Norwegian Town. Traditional Norwegian buildings all built around a lovely natural harbour. Take this, add the boats described above, introduce some great weather and you have the ingredients for a wonderful 3 days.

Saturday was race day for the good ship Sumara. A serious event made even more serious because as the only British entrant we knew that we were flying the flag for good old Blighty. Our pre-match preparation was both intense and exhaustive - extensive tactical discussions running late into the night as we reflected on how we could drive that extra knot out of the good ship S - beer was our only sustenance but we bravely soldiered on.

The race briefing was held at 1100 LMT; Alasdair, Alexis, myself and Selma attended. The race organiser explained the course, weather, dangers to navigation and of course the start procedure. At the end of the detailed briefing we had absolutely no idea what was happening. As ever we cracked on.

The race was exciting in strong F5/6 winds. Great yachts thundered past us, several collisions, one near miss for us and one boat losing it's bowsprit, all jolly good stuff. Sumara, superbly skippered by Cap'n Flint and crewed by Alexis, myself and Jack did well coming in with a highly respectable 3rd place in her class. We thrashed two other boats neither of whom managed to start the race. One of them was seen vigorously bailing out shortly before the start but then disappeared and the other one never appeared at all!

The festival ended on the Sunday. Dad and Liam left for home and our new crew, Gordon McBride arrived. Our second crew mate, Jerry was not due out until Thursday so Ella signed up to fill the gap and sail along the coast with us. That night we sailed down the coast in tandem with Sumara to another lovely spot at Lyngor known as the Sailmakers Loft. A single pontoon immediately alongside a chandlery and pub must, by all accounts, be a good place to spend an evening ... and it was.

From Lyngor we moved further North to Arendal; in previous years we had anchored bows to against some rocks off a tiny island to the west of the town. We tried again in the same place but sadly there was not enough depth to get both Sumara and Brimble tucked in so we finally spent the night very contentedly against the town quay. As ever the beer was good but the effect on the bank balance devastating.

From Arendal we moved further down the coast to visit some friends of Alasdairs who have a cottage by the sea. We were met by Vidar and Anette in their motorboat while still about two hours sailing away - Ella was invited to join them rather than stay plodding along in the slow boat with the old folks. She signed up and was promptly man handled from yacht to motorboat before speeding off into the distance - as ever I reflected on my model parenting skills. We caught up a few hours later and moored just down the fjord; Sumara went along side the rocks using 'uber-fender' to keep clear and then we moored alongside her using a lightweight fortress anchor and 30m of nylon warp to pull ourselves off. It really was great. Vidar and Anette were perfect hosts and a great evening was had by all including Ella ... I think ... I didn't really see her until the next day.

The next day we slipped further along the coast to Lillesand where we picked up Jerry White and dropped Ella off. Our intention was to spend a couple more days in the area before setting off back to England but the long range forecast was for some pretty bad weather to move in to the south North Sea the following week so we thought if we left a bit earlier we might just beat it ... how wrong we were.

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