There’s some debate over pistachios, whether they’re worth the effort. Like lychees or those tiny Sardinian crabs. Or the bowls of nuts mum puts out every christmas subtly laying the nutcracker down next to them. Generally, a handful of nuts is grasped with the expectation that with a tip of the head they can be rapidly consumed, thus satisfying whatever craving or hunger pang initiated the reach to the bowel. But pistachios are a completely different ball game. Each one is separately wrapped in it’s mussel-like shell, open (ideally) at one end. They take seconds to peel for delicious flavour. But I don’t tend to reach for them in the shops. The shells make a mess, they’re time consuming to eat and not particularly filling as a snack.  Not that they aren’t delicious, it’s just a balance in my busy life. But then there’s a delivery leg (that’s what we’re calling it apparently). Apparently a delivery trip on a sailboat involves picking a direction and pursuing it like a donkey with a carrot tied in front of it’s nose, for several days, rain or shine, wind or waves. When you’re sat on deck with nothing to do apart from watch the waves go by. And peel pistachios. You’re not particularly hungry and feeling a little bit nauseous, just enough that you can’t do anything productive (like write blog entries). Pistachios suddenly become fascinating. And even more delicious. Trying to work out which ones were bad before opening them was the biggest challenge. A difficult one too as they aren’t like mussels where if they don’t open they shouldn’t be eaten. Sometimes the closed ones are the most satisfying – probably because they’re such a nightmare to get into… Anyway, Cap’n Haddock didn’t seem to notice the bad ones (or he didn’t get any). He just kept on going… Maybe there’s a life lesson in there. Don’t fret about the bad nuts. 

That was definitely a much-needed skill for the delivery… I can barely remember how it started – I think we sailed a bit. We headed out to sea. A long way out it seemed. Then we goose-winged the Genoa and kept going out. The wind was meant to shift to the SW so for some reason it made sense to go as far out to sea as possible so that when we came back in we wouldn’t be pointing quite so SW-erly… The problem with this logic, is that we would’ve had to sail an extra couple of hundred miles to get the right angles. 150 miles at least. OK maybe 100. After a couple of watches thinking going out to sea was a good idea, we gybed and realised we could make the same angles we wanted more comfortably and pointing inland again. This was, of course, because the wind had changed direction. Little did we know… 

I think this was us saying goodbye to Bodo

Anyway, we did alright for wind, probably a day of sailing in total of our 3-day trip (Saturday night through to Tuesday afternoon). Unfortunately the last 2 days were spent going straight into the wind. This was alright, manageable, when the breeze was light and there wasn’t much swell. Even the rain was alright. Here’s a wet, happy captain Haddock somewhere en route. 

 Then the wind picked up for our last 100 miles, bang on the nose, and with it, the swell. Our speed dropped to 3-4 knots and my stomach churned with every wave. Imagine that feeling of riding a roller coaster, slow it down and then make it last for 30 hours rather than 30 seconds. It was pretty miserable… My ability to shake off the bad pistachios diminished substantially. Even in my sleep apparently. 

We made it to Alesund eventually. Minus much of my sanity and some of Captain Haddock’s patience. Fortunately he has a very large supply. The sun shone at points and the scenery was dramatic and bold and beautiful as always. 

Alesund was sunnier and warmer than last time and also much busier! Apparently June is the time to cross the North Sea, or venture up from the Netherlands. 

We wondered around, visited the chandlery where the owner recognised us from last year, and had another hearty meal at the XL Diner (still better than it’s name, although the menu hasn’t changed at all). 

A little gem to finish this post.. You know you’re becoming a cruiser (instead of a sailor) when:

– You don’t want to gybe too close to land as you may have to gybe back again later

– It’s all about getting to the destination as fast as possible

– A reef stays in for 2 days because the wind might pick up

– And if the second reef goes in that’s it for the rest of the trip because ‘we wouldn’t want to go through that again’

– When you go back to places you know because there was that really good restaurant that we ate at last time

I think we’re starting to fall into bad habits… Or we just need a really good night’s sleep. 3 days at sea, big swells, rain, wind on the nose and a touch of sunshine, it’s time to rest our weary heads.