August 31 – 5:30 pm…. I thought it would never come. Actually, the traffic was so terrible as we drove home from Tananger to catch the train, I was afraid that it would come to soon, and we wouldn’t make it to Stavanger Havn for our cruise on the three masted sailing ship, the Statsraad Lehmkuhl.
I picked this brochure up on the ship – I guess you can tell we made it after all.
As we raced along the dock (OK, I did, and David tried to catch up with me, as I have a morbid fear of being late), the ship came into sight…… isn’t it wonderful, even without canvas billowing. I felt like all it needed was a pirate flag flying to complete the fairy tale.
We filed on board, and soon found my friends, Sue and Angie and their husbands. The men went for refreshments while we tried to find a table, or at least somewhere to sit. the deck was covered with a large canvas, and there were a lot of people underneath – and even more below decks. I think the tourists stay on deck, and the Norwegians stay below, as that is where the food is. That’s OK – we were there more for the thrill of being aboard a tall ship than food or drink (although that was much appreciated as well).
We made sure that someone stayed at the table while we went exploring. The men had lots to talk about (work, or course – rival oil services companies). We ladies discovered that we could go up at the back of the boat where the steering wheel was. Even docked, the breeze was strong and cool.
Pretty soon we were on our way. The cruise took us out of Stavanger harbour to the north, through various islands, and then back home by 10 pm. There were small whitecaps, but with the weight of the ship, you couldn’t feel any movement… good for those with a tendency to being seasick. The cruise was strictly under engine power, as it takes a lot of people to handle all those sails, and they would need the main deck clear to do it. All of these ropes and more are used to manage the sails.
Sue and Paul – relaxed. The beginning of a great weekend.We went down into the galley to pick up our dinner – traditional Norwegian fare of herring, shrimp, bread and mayonnaise. Angie and James come from Louisiana, so they knew all about peeling shrimp, and under their tutelage, we were soon peeling shrimp pretty competently.
There was a live band on board as well – Eric “Slim” Zahl and the South West Swingers. They were very close to our table – and they were good. The played quite a variety of music, but lots of Blues and swing. It was great. We all bought their CD…. and I’ve played it several times.
As it was getting towards sunset, we went up on the foredeck. Here is the ship’s bell. It was the night of the blue moon – the second full moon of the month. The skies were clear and we had a good view of it rising over one of the islands.
Now for your history lesson. This ship was built in 1914 as a training ship for the German Merchant Marine, christened the Gross Herzog Friedrich August. She was taken as war booty by the English in World War I, and in 1921 was brought to Bergen by former minister Kristofer Lehmkul. There, she was also used as a training ship, until being seized by the Germans and used during the World War II. Again, she served to train sailors in Norway until 1966. She is now run by a foundation, and is still used as a training ship. She has over 40,000 square meters of canvas, and is 98 meters long. the highest mast is 48 meters above the waterline.
The six of us – Paul, James, and David – in his new capand the three that planned it and dragged them there. Me, Angie and Sue.Finally, the lights of Stavanger burned brightly through the darkness, and our historic cruise was over. Goodbye to friends and off to catch the train back home. Thanks, Angie, for letting us know about it.What a wonderful way to spend a Friday night in Norway!