2004 Tall Ships

Tall Ships Race Series - First Leg Antwerp-Aalborg


Skipper and Crew Details for the voyage
Skipper: Andrew Halcrow  
Crew: Ian Jamieson Don Farquhar
  Willie Simpson  
Voyage Crew: Pauline Watts Bryan Watts
  Ross Couper Grant Nicol
  Stewart Grains Charlotte Wright
  Laurie Goodlad Tommy Hughes
  Glenn Tonner Liam Drosso
  Peter Nicolson

Thur. 15th July, Lerwick. Leaving day!

The wind and rain had been lashing on the window during the night so it was a welcome change from the forecast when we woke to find a blaze of sunshine and and a fair wind. Couldn't be better! Yesterday had been a day getting stores onboard. Stocking up on food for the trip, diesel and water were topped up, new laundered matress covers onboard. That only left last minute shopping for today, bread and milk. Sailors began to arrive, a collection of stringed instruments were passed down the hatch. A big African bongo drum was stowed somewhere....somehow..

A large crowd of family and friends were down to see us off.

We set sail at midday with final farewells and a fair wind, fiddles blazing south through the harbour and the start of the 600 mile trip to Antwerp. Because of the rules of the Sail Training International Tall Ship Races(formery called the Cutty Sark Tall Ship races) 50% of all on board must be aged 15-25 inclusive. We have nine youths and two adult voyage crew + four Swan crew members. Among the youths are three musicians who have been sponsored by Shetland Arts Trust to promote traditional Shetland music abroad. On this leg they are the amazing fiddle players, Ross Couper and Stewart Grains and fast fingered guitar player Grant Nicol. On the second leg the excellent pianist Neil Georgeson will replace Stewart and for the third leg another talented fiddle player Mark Laurenson will replace Neil.

The means of puting this page on the internet is entirely dependant on getting a decent phone signal, so updates while we are racing may not be possible. But we will try to make them as regular as possible.

Fri. 16th July.......Underway...

The wind fell away gradually and by early morning it was glassy calm. We dropped the two headsails and were motorsailing over a flat North Sea. North Sea calm
A school of 6 dolphins came to check us out and play around the bow wave. Dolphins at the bow

Charlotte: Up bright and early and it was definitely worth it. The cloud cleared enough for us to watch the sun rise and dolphins joined us at around 0500 hours. They were clearly visible in the bluest (and flatest!)ocean I have ever witnessed After a brief snooze it's back to life on the Swan - food, music and plenty to do!

Laurie: Just got soaked by a wave trying to look at dolphins! Saw some this morning when it was flat calm looked brilliant. In the middle of the North sea on the way to Antwerp. Hi Lisa!!!! Hi Sarah!!!!! xxxx

Grainzy & Grant John Baille Nicol Jarvie o' da Heights: Aabody mair or less drookled eftir tryin ta hae a skoyit at da dolphins, except me (Stewart) cus i wis tryin ta un-wipple me life-jacket doon below; so nae dry drarrs required as far as am concerned!! Nicol is wringin fae da snirlie ta da taes. Onywye, wir watch dastreen wis fae 8pm ta midnght an eftir bein up aa day an nae neebs we wir fairly blyde ta get a guid corn o sleep fur 7 or sae oors. Willie Simpson fae Whalsay (no relation ta Homer) had scranned a bag o Hake aff da Alison Kay an aabody glippit dat doon wi a guid helping o maelie tatties an lumps an dadds o lightly salted lurpak clatchable gree fur added texture. Grant even hed a light sprinkling o peerie but muckle puckles o ready chappit peppercoarns. Mmmmmmm. Added delight. His face said it aa bairns. Eftir da very sam watch, Ross wis geen an faan by wi aa his claes on an wis lik a dried up skyumpie ready ta be baaled ida bogie fire, but he got himsel re-Couper-ated wi a 500ml can o vitamin T. A peerie tyoon on da wye doon
Wir hed a braly guid tune daday eftir dannir time learnin new tunes etc, followed by a peerie scar o oil-rig spotting, which is catching on around these parts of the North Sea. (SG & GN).

18th July

We were off the mouth of the Westerschelde in a fresh south westerly just as the darkness came down. The sea ran off as we moved in the river and soon we were in flat water. Antwerp is about 45 miles inland and is one of the largest ports in Europe. We had a fine run upriver overnight passing huge container ships on their way to the sea and massive complexes/factorys where the work never stops, the reek from them belching out into the night sky. Stars covered the clear sky overhead. The Antwerp docks stretch over a huge area and are all sheltered behind lock gates.

19th July

We got to the first lock at 5am as the daylight was coming in and were able to get straight through and into the docks. First day in Antwerp
As the sun climbed and the temperature rose we peeled off the heavy North Sea gear and pulled on the T shirts, shades and shorts from the bottom of the bag. Sleeping bags and pillows were hauled out for an airing and soon the deck was covered with them.

Sat 24th July


Da Spretland Times

It’s dannir time so wir tuckin intae a corn o Belgian maet, cheese, pizza, loff an juice. Da sun is been beatin doon fae we raise dis morning aboot da foreside o 8 o’clock as we spok Phlegmish, rifted, crecksed, spret at an took on whilst makkin ready ta set aff fae da Bonapartdock whar we wir tied up neest ta a Polish boat caad “Kapitan Glowacki”. Da dregs o da crew dat wis been oot fur a final finale spree boarded da ship ta fin Peter speakin ta twartree o dir crew, so we (no names ta protect da guilty) took wir new 12 euro case o CrapPils lager an offered dem dat. Da brucks o da case is remaining daday minus 1 drunken at 11am ta quench da trist whilst pentin da capstan.

Half da deck is been clerted wi a coatin o oil dis mornin as da musicians played an array o ‘lullabys ta clatch ta’.

Raw Scooper wis provin difficult ta reesle earlier on as da culmination o female sailors an hard liquor took its toll on da debateless peerie oorick o a fellow. He’s fun energy reserves fae somewhar ta manage ta lay himsel oot on deck an generally get in da rod o Brian da Painting ClatchMaster General. Da spree dastreen wis a mixed affair. Spoons an William gud ta hang loose at “Hang(ov)er 26” (muckle building fur da sailors ta glip drams an schleps pan-foos o mussels). Meanwhile, Me, Raw, Nicol, Peter, Marc (wir liason officer) an Charlie attended a spree on da Esprit (pronounced ‘a-spree’). We spok ta a screed o Irish eens aboard an drank a modicum o peerie “aluminium breakfast size” cans o lager. Dan nature took its coorse an we hed ta disembark da yacht ta ease an impending grething requirement.

 Newsflash: Me and my co-writers for the Spretland Times have been informed by reliable sources that if Glenn’s goings on are revealed on this broadcast he will take thunderous flailing swapps and with strointing ferocity will labber us to da bowsprit wi a roond-moothed shivvel a his right haand an a left-handed tushkar a tidder. So it shant receive an airing as we are fairt.

Laurie, Tommy an Liam gud ta dir local haunt which wis a Mexican place caad ‘Tropical Grill House’ as it wis da hidmaist night here an somehow or anidder dir favourite waitress got lifted by da authorities “Politie”. Dey wir forced dan ta opt fur a scar o italian fodder. On anidder note, Laurie is been keeping a diary o events on dis hole trip. We ir convinced it wid win Gold at da coveted Hams o’ Roe Post-Rooing Literature/Crö stenklin awards weekend. Peter is joost wakened fae a neeb – he appears ta be pintled an spret. (Close: SG / GJN / RAC) Thank you for takkin paice fur a peerie start an skoiting at dis lang winded insertion / rambling / rant. We are staying da night in Breskens doon by a sooth banks o WesterSchelde (pronounced ‘Waster Skeld’). NEEST

25th July

The start line was 26 miles from Breskens so it was an early 0530 wake up and underway.

The sun was just coming in as we headed out. A lot of other ships had either spent the night at anchor or in ports near the river mouth so there was a convoy of us motoring out. We got sails up and there was just enough wind to keep us moving. We had a good start and were over in first place but Astrid Finne was soon past and into the lead. The wind picked up from the west during the night and we had some good sailing making 7 to 8 kts straight towards the finish line. We have to call in twice a day to Race Control to report our position then they come back with the placings of all the ships. After 36 hrs we were 4th in class and 8th overall out of 72 ships.

The wind wasn't to last though and it fell away until we were wallowing in a glassy calm with sails slapping and mast hoops jangling.

We were on the edge of the Texel traffic seperation scheme, a maritime dual carriageway that seperates shipping coming and going into some of the huge contenental ports. We took down the mainsail and mizzen and drifted with the tide around in a circle all night. We were too near the seperation scheme to chance anchoring or we would have done.

27th July

We got the sails set again at 0430 in a light westerly force 1 and were at least moving albeit at 1 to 2 kts. By the morning schedule we were 8th in class and 46th overall. Someone else had found the wind we were looking for during the night. We sailed on till early afternoon and a message came from Race Control to say that because of the conditions they may shorten the race by a day to allow all the ships to get to Aalborg in time for the 4 days there. We had commitments in Aalborg and with 300 miles still to go to the finish line, we very reluctantly made a decision to retire from the race. If we had sailed on the end of the race time we would have missed the first of two important receptions we were to hold for Danish companies onboard Swan in Aalborg partly to promote Shetland produce and to promote Shetland music. Shetland Smokehouse and Valhala Brewery were two Shetland sponsors for these events. Shetland Arts Trust are sponsoring the music for the entire Tall Ships event. From here we would motor up to Thyboron, at the west end of the Limfjord, throught the Limfjord and on to Aalborg. We should get there on the evening before the events start in Aalborg. We got the handline and caught a big bucket load of mackerel during the day and had an onboard BBQ at night to compensate.


Tall Ships Race Series : Second Leg Aalborg-Stavanger


Skipper and Crew Details for the voyage
Skipper: Andrew Halcrow  
Crew: Ian Jamieson John Leslie
  Ian Devonald  
Voyage Crew: David Watt Ishbel Raffle
  Ross Couper Grant Nicol
  Stewart Thomson Charlotte Wright
  Laurie Goodlad Tommy Hughes
  Glenn Tonner Margaret Devonald
  Neil Georgeson


Our first day in port began with a thick fog that lay over the harbour and wrapped our neighbours masts in a grey cloud. Was this the end of the fine weather? I could hear voices fae the heat of yesterday saying "Yis, weel pay fur dis yit.." But no, by 9am the sun had burned it off to leave us with another scrocher. We had a busy day ahead of us. As well as checking in with Race Control and ordering water, diesel, gas, meeting our Liasion Officers (we had two) we had to buy and prepare food for a buffet that afternoon for Danish Company, Krogstrup Consult. So there was a lot of running round and we were still preparing food when our first guests came onboard at 2.30. The lads were there to play for them but they had also taken along their own musicians so there was no shortage of good music onboard. It all went well and our guests went away having sampled some Shetland music, food and hospitality. We were all well impressed with the show Aalborg had laid on. There was plenty of music to listen to, lots to see and do, and everything was within easy reach of where the boats were berthed. This was how it should be. It reminded me of Lerwick in 1999 and was a good second to there...Small details made a difference like the van that came round in the morning to collect all the dirty laundry and return it clean the following day. Often there are only washing machines available for the crews to use and someone has to stay with it until the cycle is done. The queues mean that some people try to do their washing either before breakfast or after supper in order not to wait half the day. Our Liasion Officers Henrik and Christian were excellent as well and seemed to get by on 2 hours sleep each night.

Rock Salt and Nails were due to play over the four days the fleet was in port but the fog at Sumburgh looked like scuppering the whole thing. It lifted long enough to allow them to get through but all their instruments were in Copenhagen or somewhere.....Nevertheless they borrowed from here and there and got on stage in time for the first gig. They went down a storm and did so every night they were there. The lads joined them on stage for a few sets on the last two nights and they did Shetland proud. On the final night they finished with the Danish national anthem and there was not a dry seat in the house.

We also had to do a second buffet as a birthday party for a local woman, The new crew arrived off the Norrona with fresh supplies of smoked salmon, smoked mackerel and other goodies from Shetland Smokehouse and we also had a case of assorted beers from Valhala Brewery in Unst. It all went down very well indeeed. Our guests much prefered the Valhala beers to their local ales and many said that the smoked salmon was the best they had tasted. The lads were there as well to fire off a few sets, this time joined by Neil Georgeson on keyboard who just had time to throw his bag onboard, wolf down some dinner and start playing.

The four days there fled in and before we knew it we were slipping ropes to set off in the crew parade. Another glorious day with the sun belching down. Henrik and Christian sailed with us in the parade and we stopped off at Hals to slip them off. We were sorry to see them go and had space allowed we would have taken them onboard as they had become almost part of the crew.

A final farewell to our great Liason Officers Henrick and Kristian. Thanks lads!We left from Hals and stuck our bow out into the Baltic. A light NE'ly and flat sea. We had considered going to Gotenburg in Sweden but it was going to be too far out of our way so we made Lillesand on Norways south coast our first landfall. Glenn bought a peerie dinghy and christened her da Riven Swab and a fine craft she was for 5 quid. We spent the day in Lillesand and went round to Kristiansand for the night. In Mandal we had Antwerp Flyer and Jens Krogh outside us. Laurie, Tommy and Charlie shew their crews how to do a Strip the Willow and soon the pier was hootching wi them in a big birling session.

The following day the beautifully looked after local boat, Tordenskjold, led a convoy of around 20 boats through a very scenic route between Mandal and Egersund. Once again it was hot and most of the crew were either relaxing on deck, taking in the scenery or catching up on washing laundry. We spent that night in Egersund and left next day in a real downpour that lasted well through the morning. We stopped off at Tannager for lunch then onto Stavanger for the evening. Time for a crew change again. Most of the folk onboard had been together since we left Lerwick and the boat had become a way of life for them. Now a new crew would sample another four days and nights of sprees and merriment. The charter flight tomorrow would whisk the new crew in and the old hands out and back to Shetland again.


Tall Ships Race Series : Third Leg Stavanger-Cuxhaven-Lerwick



Skipper and Crew Details for the voyage
Skipper: Andrew Halcrow  
Crew: Ian Jamieson Willie Pottinger
  Roger MacDonald  
Voyage Crew: Alistair Brown Colin Sinclair
  Ross Couper Grant Nicol
  Robert Leask Jimmy Work
  Martin Work Campbell Brown
  Gilbert Inkster Mark Laurenson
  Sam McEvoy


So another new port, new sights to see and new people to meet. One of the first visitors was our new Liaison Officer, Sverre. He was to be a great help to us in the following days and was always efficient and cheerful. Sverre and Alyson The flight taking in the new crew and taking out the old eens was held up by fog at Sumburgh so the four who were flying back were forced into enduring another night of revelry in Stavanger. A shame for them but there was nothing they could do about it... Raws family were over for a few days and it wasn't long before they were onboard and firing on all cylinders! On the Sunday morning the news came that the flight looked ok. The four who were flying home packed up the last of their gear and caught the bus out to the airport. The new crew flew in from a cool Shetland to the heat of Stavanger and the sweat was breaking on them before they were hardly 5 mins out of the airport. The harbour in Stavanger Stavanger was as well organised as Aalborg had been. They had a good word with the Met man and ordered up some ideal weather, up to 30 degrees some days. There was plenty of music to listen to and lots of stalls along the quayside to visit and to buy souvenirs. Stavanger was more maritime orientated than either Antwerp or Aalborg and a lot of work had been put in to get older traditional vessels in port for the four days. There was boat building on the quayside, both big and small. A local boat builder was building a clinker built dinghy and there was a stall where youngsters could build model boats and sail them in a pool. There was something there for all age groups. The boat builders of the future.

Da Spretland Times – Volume 3

August 11th: Da Swan arrived in Stavanger on Friday o’ last week, ony ta fin screeds o’ folk wanderin aboot da pier seein aa da various attractions dat had been laid on fir da gaddery o’ boats at wis dere. Dat nite wis an eventful wan wi ivry een punishin dir livers wance ageen. Wi haed a spret (in da musical sense,) dat lestit fur maest o’ da nite. Ian o’ Tagon (on his wye hame,) decided dat goin ta wan last pub wid be a scheme… Da ony sneck is dat on tap o his peerie mootie drinks tab, he hed ta stenkle up a new pailing dat he shalled on a wayward, gravity induced, tiddley ower winkie moment fae his restin shair apudda veranda. Dis was acceptable due to Ian an Shirleys 30th wedding anniversary celebrations fur which Ian spruced up his heed wi a grain o’ hair shearin. Dey also wir braaly guid tae da crew in leavin twa cases o’ cauld beverages on da table fur thristy revellers. We wir biddin’ tae twartree pairties on Saturday nicht, ee wis a moraless “toorie-kep” pairty, an da idder wis a Belgian “chocolate” pairty aboard da “Antwerp Fleeyer” (Latin neem: Antwerpus Flyerous Crexious Phlegmis). So in true unselfish Sheltie style wi attendit baith wi guid investigative journalistic intention tae report da on-goins. Da Swan crew & musicians invaded da Belgian boat an leeshed at wi furiously paced tune-age dat gud doon weel wi da neighbourin crew an invited guests. We loused intae dere ample quarter o’ a tonne o’ Belgian chocolate stores, likely glipping mare as wir quota! Wan eyewitness account reported various unken folk doin what could ony hiv been described as a cross atween da trowie dance an da stank dance apudda wheelhouse ruuf.

Twa or tree o’ wis gud on a muckle leg spretting spaegie-fest o’ a mountain climb up Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) a Sunday. Neil ‘Chords’ Georgeson wis braaly exciteable an sprickly be nature, setting off at pace oot ower broos an stanks tae get da maest o’ da spectacular scenery. Da sun wis firin doon aa day scouderin wis ta da point o’ pushkered-ness, certainly no a day fur castin paets! Layin ower an looking doon da edge o’ da muckle stane wis an experience Grant described as “nearly tae rival a venture doon da Sneck o’ da Smaalie”. We were aa gluffed whan Neil whapped a slice o’ cheese oot o’ his sandwich ower da edge, an hit blew up ower da croods o’ touristy folk wi da draft, landing neest tae a Polish fellow. Den we were mare gluffed whan he picked it up an glipped it doon! Laurie “Golden Diary Award Winner – Crö Stenkelling runner up” Goodlad amazingly managed da whole hike wi a sprained ankle, so Tommy didna hitae kyert her aff da hillside lik a bag o paets. Da new crew eventually appeared oot o’ da Sumburgh mist in Stavanger on Sunday an got settled in tae da swing o’ things braaly shun, as da auld crew departed intae da sunset. Laeter dat nicht da young eens gud tae da tail end o’ da Muckle Crews Pairty tae let whit wis left o’ da hair doon eftir playin tunes aboard da Swan. Much Trowie dancing and limb flailing was apparent on da dance floor fae Raw and Bailey Nicol, this eventually culminated in impromptu fruit flingin affair (chapped up maet layed on fur fantin’ sailors). Couper got a sark-foo of saft fruit segments fae a guid piece awa. Nicol came out almost unscathed until a chunk o’ what appeared to be high velocity pineapple saw da end o’ da wenglit plastic beverage receptacle an soaket him fae da eyebroos tae da snirlie once more. Cue more lit-nicht scrapin o’ tunes an plenty vagueness… …Gentle recovery followed on Monday wi Mark, Raw, Martin, Campbell, Jimmy, Sam an Robert gud tae show aff dere pool playin prowess wi da official Crew Friends (very friendly dey wir too…especially wi Martin!). Aabody wandered aroond da streets tae da soonds o’ Sams jungle drummin fur da crew parade at tae-time followed at nicht be da end o’ da festivities wi da fireworks. Norways answer to Britney Spears appeared on da Swan in da early hours as maest sensible folk wir headin aff tae bed, he loused intae ‘Skelp Me Baby Wan Mare Time’ wi varying degrees o’ success on da high notes! However he did amuse an impress wis we some Norwegian folk/pop renditions an banter although maybe no his drummin skills. If anyone keyns wha dis fellow might be, please inform da noise police aka Willie Pottinger. We left Stavanger yesterday after a week of braaly non-stop spree, shenanigans an oncarry, oh quaat!! Daday has been a skeen riving affair wi da swelterin haet. Da high point o’ last nicht wis whin wi reached twa knots under sail ida race, we aa hed tae haad on tae wir keps…! Spent maest o’ daday driftin an tryin fur mackerel tae pass da time. ( Nicol, Couper & Laurenson ) Neest.

It was an excellent day for the Parade of Sail, enough wind to set sails and the sun shining down from a clear blue sky. It seemed like every pleasure boat in Stavanger had come out to see the fleet off. Gibbie put the fishing line over the side while we were waiting and caught some mackerel for a supper. The race for our class - Class B - began at 6.30pm. The race wasn't a direct line from Stavanger to Cuxhaven but had a waypoint in the middle of the North Sea to increase the distance to 380 miles.

We had a good start and were over the line in second place to Morning Star. The wind was fair and we slipped along well in company with the rest until the faster boats slowly pulled ahead and the fleet began to spread out. The calms that had dogged us in the first race came back to haunt us again. The wind dropped until we were at a standstill like a toy boat in a basin of water. The fishing line Gibbie had hung over the side was hanging plumb. For 24hrs the wind was either calm or no more than a force 1. The next 24hrs our max wind was force 2. Our boatspeed during that time was either zero or 1kt occasionally reaching the dizzy heights of 1.5 kts. Meanwhile Jens Krogh from Aalborg, who was in our class and ahead of us, had found a light breeze and was in the lead making a steady 4kts.

As we neared the waypoint the wind steadied to a NE force 3 and a few hours after rounding the waypoint it picked up to a splendid F4-5 and we were clipping along at up to 7kts at times. That next day (Fri 13th) we had some of the best sailing so far, fair winds, good speed and blue skies. Ideal conditions. It made a welcome change from what we had before and gave the crew a chance to see Swan sailing well.

We closed on Asgaard 2 when the sun was well west and the lads came on deck to play them a set of reels as we went past. We were too far apart for them to hear us so we held the VHF up to the band for a blast of fiddle frenzy. "We want more!" came back from Asgaard! The lads fired off again and the crew of Asgaard were soon seen birling on the afterdeck. A great moment. Had this ever happened in the Tall Ships races before? We'll need to see them again in Cuxhaven for another session..
The wind wasn't to last though. Gibbie went below to make a cuppa at 9pm when we were making 7kts. In the time it took the kettle to boil and he came up with the cups we were wallowing along at less that a knot. It was as if someone had switched off the wind for the night and turned in.

Aug. 14th: Because of the light conditions the course had been shortened by 5 hrs to allow all the ships to get into Cuxhaven in time for the opening day. At 2.30pm any vessel which had not crossed the finish line was to pass on their position at that time to Race Control and make good speed for Cuxhaven. At 2.30 with 94 miles to go our position was logged, all sails except the main were lowered, and our trusty Cummins was fired up.