27 Jun 08
Day 0 (Friday, July 27)
Left from Skien around 12:30, and took the flight from Torp to Glasgow. In Glasgow I walked to the other train station and took the train to Perth.
In Perth I had a small dinner (fried goat cheese and sunblush salad) at a hotel restaurant, then took the train to Inverness.
In Inverness I arrived around 23:30 and went to my hostel. There were some people already sleeping in the room. I wanted to go out to have a beer, but a bouncer said I look tired so I went back to the hostel. My room had the most complicated shower system I have ever seen – knobs and buttons and temperature indicators. But with only one flaw – it didn’t work.
Around 01:30 my other room mates came to the room totally drunk and woke everybody up with singing and shouting. Finally they settled and went to sleep.
Day 1 (Saturday, July 28)
I woke up in the Highland Hostel in Inverness in the sound of seagulls and snoring. I realized that the complicated shower system actually worked.
I went out of the hostel and into Inverness. The town was lively on this Saturday morning. First I went to buy some souvenirs in a shop. I was chatting a bit with the lovely girl at the counter, and I bought a postcard and some small statuettes (Nessie and a Highlander with Pipes).
Then I went to the tourist information to find where is my ship. They directed me to the marina which was on the other side of the town. But Dyrafjeld was not there. I was looking around at the reception and asking the other Norwegian ships which I saw. I found out that Dyrafjeld had engine troubles and it was in the harbour.
At the marina there was the ETS Norwegian brass band waiting for the Arctic convoy (Scandinavian ships) to pass through the Work Locks. The Norwegian ship Anna Rogde was part of the convoy. Even if it was raining I was there taking pictures.
The driver of the Norwegian band was kind enough to drive me to the harbour. There I met with the Dyrafjeld crew. Later some more students arrived, and we were 14 in total (me, Carl, Thomas, Ingrid, Katinka, Torbjørn, Jon (captain), Jan, Ærling, Per, Ivar, Alex (cook), Ole, Simen), plus Kai who was with us for a few days only. Ærling was trying on his kilt.
In the evening me and the 5 students (Carl, Thomas, Ingrid, Katinka, Torbjørn) went to have some beers and dinner in town. I had fish and chips and Irn Bru (some kind of Fanta). After the dinner we went back to the ship and met with the crew who was going out.
Day 2 (Sunday, July 29)
It was Sunday. We went to the tourist information in Inverness to find out how to get to Fort George. We saw some Dutch people selling pancakes, and Torbjørn bought a plate of pancakes with whisky, which were quite good. Then we we took the bus to Fort George.
Fort George is still used as a military base. We had a picnic in the garden and visited the expositions, which were mainly about Cameron Highlanders.
Just when it began to rain we caught our bus and went back to Inverness. Then back to the ship.
Katinka was just learning and every ball that she hit was flying over the table. Then we got back to the ship.
Day 3 (Monday, June 30)
We got some courses in knots and navigation, then we tried the suits used against freezing temperatures. They feel like astronauts suits I think.
In the afternoon we went on a hike to Craig Dunain, near Inveness.
Day 4 (Tuesday, July 1)
They finally repaired the motor on Dyrafjeld, so we leave the next morning. I was mainly on the ship, and in the evening we watch "The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy" on a projector in the ship’s mess hall.
Day 5 (Wednesday, July 2)
Finally we are moving! We left Inverness in the morning and were breezing through the locks. At one lock I was speaking with the girl operator and realized that she is not Scottish but English, by how easy it was to understand her.
Then we entered Loch Ness. The captain let me to steer the ship for a while and it felt great to do that again.
In the evening we arrived at Fort Augustus where we spent the night.
Though it was raining we went for a sightseeing tour, where we saw mostly rabbits.
We came back for dinner, then went out to pubs. The crew went to The Botchy while we were stuck with Lock Inn. But we didn’t like the smell so we went back to the ship. I put my swimming suit on and went for a dip in Loch Ness (but only up to the ankles).
The others, being Norwegian, went for a swim in Loch Ness by jumping from the ship.
Day 6 (Thursday, July 3)
We left Fort Augustus in the morning. There were some locks right in the middle of the town, and everybody was looking at our ship and taking pictures and asking who we are and where are we going.
Me, Carl and Thomas were on the shore most of the time, dragging the ropes from lock to lock ("like slaves" as Jan was saying :). It was cool to try to catch a rope thrown from the ship.
We went through Loch Oich and Loch Lochy. The weather was changing, sunny and rainy. When it was sunny I realized that I did not buy the sun screen in vain.
We arrived in the evening at Banavie where we spent the night.
Close by there is Great Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis.
Day 7 (Friday, July 4)
We went in the morning through 8 locks down to Fort William. We needed to refill the ship with water, so we docked next to another ship, the Ocean Bounty. Then we waited in the sea locks at Fort William for the fuel truck. While waiting we were playing cards and going out to buy icecream.
Around 17:30 the sea locks opened into Loch Linnhe. It was almost the Irish Sea.
The dinner was greek-style, with lamb chops, tzatziki sauce and pita bread, plus a nice dessert.
From now on it should have been 48 hours to Dublin, with 4 hour shifts (sleep 4 hours, work 4 hours). It was so nice outside that I went to sleep only after taking tons of pictures. I was supposed to wake up at 00:00.
Day 8 (Saturday, July 5)
I woke up at midnight for my shift. It was not totally dark as I thought. I stayed in front of the ship for one hour to look if any ships are coming, but it was very hard to see anything.
I was sick when I began my fire watch. The ship was moving more now as we entered the open sea. All the lamb chop went down out of my stomach. There were other people sick on the ship (later I found out half the crew was sick).
I stayed on the steering wheel for one hour, but I was sick during that also. Then ship-watching for another hour until 04:00, when I went to sleep.
I woke up at 08:00 for my next shift. The ship was moving up and down, and the front sail was up. From time to time I was receiving a splash of sea water.
After the first hour I felt sick and went to bed. Per came in my cabin and told me I should not leave the deck without telling him, otherwise they might think I felt overboard. I asked for permission to rest and I was sleeping from now on, waking up from time to time to puke (although my stomach was empty and nothing else could come out).
During my waking hours I saw Alex gathering water from the kitchen with a ladle.
Around 18:00 Katinka woke me up and told me we reached land. The weather was so bad that the captain decided to turn to Bangor Bay instead, near Belfast. It was good to have stable ground again.
We went a bit into Bangor Bay, then returned to the ship to pack our bags. The plan was to take a train early in the morning to Dublin. The ship will continue to Brest from Monday on if the weather will permit.
During dinner the captain praised the crew for keeping cool during the open sea travel, and for not arguing that we missed parts of our trip because of the engine.
I went to sleep early while the others went to a pub in the town.
Day 9 (Sunday, July 6)
Woke up around 07:30. Me, Ingrid, Katinka and Torbjørn said goodbye to the others, then left with the train from Bangor Bay to Belfast, from where we took the train to Dublin. Thomas was taking the same trains but later that day.
On the train we were playing cards.
In Dublin we found the bus station, and I said goodbye to the others who were staying one more day in Dublin. I could have stayed also because I had another plane ticket for Monday, but decided to return home to relax.
At Dublin airport I met Nina who was coming back from a vacation in Dublin with Kurt and 4 other friends. They were nice to give me a ride to Skien, even if it was out of their way.