So far, the journey on Pyxie has not just been about the sailing, but also about the people we’ve met.
Sure, I set out on this journey solo, but I’ve always planned on having crew on board for some of the legs. The first of these would be the rounding of Lindesnes, also called the Cape Horn of Norway. It’s the southernmost point on the mainland, and it’s all north from then on.
Pyxie, Poesi and me hung out in Mandal for a few days, waiting for the wind to turn and especially for Ingvild, our first crew member, to arrive. Me and Ingvild had never met before. The bravery she showed in simply taking a chance, packing her bags and joining me does indeed say something about her character. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better crew member! Ingvild turned out to be super easy going, totally capable of anything I asked of her and absolutely in love with the sea. We had tons to talk about and hit it off immediately. She’s the kind of physiotherapist I want to go to, extremely smart, smiles a lot, dances a lot, loves water sports and has bruises from riding racing horses. She doesn’t realise it, but she’s a honey badger! In other words: Looks cute and innocent, but is totally badass. Guess who ended up steering the boat around Lindesnes while I just faffed around?
After spending time as beach bums on Sjøsanden with a bit of hiking (a.k.a. running up hills and doing burpees) thrown in for good measure, not to mention a few epic meals, we got ready to set out. Well, not until the boat neighbour has a look at the electrical engine, she reminded me. A beautiful Najad with a friendly family arrived next to us the night before, and the dad immediately lit up when I told him I had an electrical inboard. He really wanted to inspect it, and I always value it when experienced sailors take a look at Pyxie’s systems. I’ve had some issues, not with the engine itself, but with the battery monitor, some seriously toasted cables, a faulty regulator to the wind generator, my refrigeration … the list goes on. As a part of the lucky streak that seems to befall Pyxie after her renaming, the curious neighbour turned out to be an electrician specialised in marine systems. And he pretty much insisted on fixing everything. I wasn’t about to protest that, and Ingvild gladly ran about town, locating new parts. Am I the lucky one or what?
I felt like giving something back and did the very Norwegian thing of going to Vinmonopolet, where I found an aptly themed Thor Heyerdahl aquavit for my friendly electrican and his radiant wife. Such great people! That’s how I want to be when I grow up. They had been liveaboards on a boat pretty similar to Pyxie before they got kids, and seemed to be enjoying life and sailing to the fullest. I think enough sea and sun and wind can cause faces like theirs – bronzed and slightly freckled with small creases around the eyes from smiling. I am absolutely certain that they will have wonderful voyages their whole life, and that their kids will grow up to be capable, radiant people with an affinity for salty air and salty hair.
So, with all systems primed we went for a slightly shorter leg than planned. But oh, was that ever a good idea! Smooth sailing with the breeze from just the right angle up to Båly, a fishing harbour and the entrance to Spangereidkanalen, the canal that allows smaller vessels to skip rounding Lindesnes. Well, they haven’t thought to make lift bridges, so no sailboats can go through. That’s quite all right, though. I wanted the experience of rounding the bend. It’s another milestone for me and Pyxie. As a bonus, we had the best time in Båly. For some reason we had noticed that there was a seaside hotel, and I figured they had to have a spa. Umm, correct! So instead of braving through some heavy winds the next morning we splashed around in a jacuzzi with a sea view.
We set out for our rounding of the cape in the afternoon instead, with perfect conditions. Sure, it was raining cats and dogs. But that just added to the mystery and ruggedness of the lighthouse on the rock of Lindesnes. If the skies had been as pristine as the seas it might have felt a bit like cheating. We had another great sail with wind from astern and a gentle swell, swooshing us past at 6-7 knots. And just as we got inshore towards Farsund the wind died down. Well, I knew that from the forecast, but it was a blessing to reach just far enough before it happened. We ran the engine and she purred like a slightly introverted cat. Electrical engines are very quiet, you see. As we approached the harbour Ingvild threw out a fishing line and caught no less than four mackerels all at once. Happy cat and happy fish soup followed as we moored in lovely Farsund.
Having Ingvild come with me reminded me of my own experience of crewing on a boat. I sailed with what has become one of my favourite couples in the whole world, Elisabeth and Anders, from Kiel to Falmouth. They sailed on to the Caribbean, and I went up to Bear Island. We’ve been friends ever since, and while sailing down the coast of Norway I got the opportunity to visit them in their new house and new life in Lillesand, celebrate Elisabeth’s birthday and especially see her beaming with twins in the making. Funnily enough another couple with twins is the wonderful couple I bought the boat from, Espen and Svenja. And they were just around the corner too, in Homborsund. So I’ve had a trip full of friends so far, both old and new. I’ve met my old boat neighbour (another Espen!), and got to use his berth in Son. I sold a windvane that didn’t fit on Pyxie to Peder in Risør, who also promptly fixed a free berth for me, and helped me out with all kinds of errands. And in a magical anchorage called Udvår I moored longside with a Danish couple of the very best kind, helping me repair my torn-to-pieces sprayhood and offering me little presents and stories from their voyages. And let’s not forget all my wonderful landlubber friends who help and support me on the way. I love all of you!
Now Ingvild has taken a bus to Kristiansand and I have the blues. No, just kidding, it’s fine. That said, Ingvild is more than welcome back any time!
And right at the end here, a little bit of yoga hippie flower power philosophy: We are all the lucky ones.