Monday, January 18, 2016

Winter planning

Jenny in Lofoten (OCC Jan Isaksen)

I spend the winter thinking about where to go and what to do the next summer. Living here in the west of Ireland makes it difficult because that's the best time at home as well. Do we really want to leave our flower gardens, berry patches, orchard, vineyard and vegetables to someone else to tend while we go off on adventures via sea?  That's always a hard question to answer.

Last year I planned a trip to Spain, painstakingly plotting a route to Vigo and Bayona and back up again, with a potential walk along a section of the Camino.  I had all the plans in place when I learned that Alex broke four ribs on a delivery from the Azores to Ireland. I was heartbroken. No sailing for me this year. We managed only a few short days with the lousy weather we had. The trips from Galway to Clew Bay and from Clew Bay to Killybegs were the most memorable of the year.

This year, we're looking at going north to Norway following the Cool Route. If our boat is already in Killybegs and we leave from there, the distance to Bergen in Norway is only 644nm. So taking a direct non-stop route, we'd be there in 5 days.

Distance644 nautical miles
Vessel speed6 knots
time4 days 11 hours

I've been using online distance calculators but they are not ideal.

  • is good for shipping and basic estimates but not planning small boat routes
  •  Marine Traffic's beta site Voyage Planner is excellent!  But it doesn't let you place your own points. It does those for you based on prior vessle's tracks. 
Marine Traffic's Voyage Planner shows Killybegs to Bergen Norway as 637 nm and brings us inside the Outer Hebrides and Orkneys, perfect stopovers en route. 

But what if we wanted to follow the Viking trail? Then we would hop along the island trail so perfectly strung out to assist venturing by sea. 

If we wanted to maximize our time in Norway and join up with the Ocean Cruising Club's Arctic Rally, we'd hop straight up. has lots of information on Norway.  That's my next job. To study up on what to do when we get there. By the time it is time to go (late May), I hope I'll have it all figured out. Let's hope it works out this time. No more broken ribs allowed!

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