Yes, it sounds like the title of the Olsen Gang movie series – see Wikipedia. The Jonsson League is the Swedish counterpart of the Olsen Gang. There are also some similarities between today’s Jonsson League and the fictional Olsen Gang. We have gang leader Egon, who throughout the winter makes plans, buys spare parts and new gadgets. When winter is over, the plan is presented to the crew Keld and Benny. Now, everything is timed and organized, fixed and finished. This year, the plan was a summer cruise to Scotland, through the Caledonian Canal and north to the Orkney Islands in new large sailboat.
Egon expects Keld and Benny to show up at the right time and place — and dare those who stumble in late or mess up the plan. But they do — mess up and disturb the plan. As usual Egon becomes frustrated and calls them lousy amateurs, scumbags and porridge peasants or even worse things. Throughout the winter they have prepared the boat during every available weekend, sanding the bottom, inserting new instruments and new rigging etc. Yvonne has her very own agenda. She expects a cruise and journey on First Class, a taxi ride, a restaurant visit. She sits in a nice and cosy warm place with crosswords and knitwear under a large shaded summer hat. Thank God, the ship’s only common sense creature Børge is also on board. He/she keeps himself/herself outside any discussion and makes the best of the situation as crazy events evolve.
Does skipper Egons Plan hold?
The departure was on the 15 June 2019 at 11hundred hours! We only just came out of the harbour as a big thunderstorm passed over Copenhagen and the Gang. Of course this thunderstorm had the record in the number of lightning’s observed ever in Copenhagen. As you know, luck follows the fool, and the Gang passed unscathed northward through Øresund. Egon was obsessed and whipped us forward and straight ahead – the first night sail became a reality. The watch plan was set and the crew went on watch according to Egon’s Excel sheet schedules. Børge followed his own schedule. Egon overlooked his own place in the food schedule. However, he was as usual struck by luck, since Benny and Keld had prepared plenty of precooked food for at least two weeks at sea. The cruise passes through the waters of the Limfjord and the bridges open each time Rhumb Runner approaches – YES skipper Egons plan holds. However, when we reach the Oddesund bridge, we have to stop; the last opening took place at 22 hundred hours. This was because of a minor delay due to the fact that we had to bunk diesel in Nykøbing Mors. While filling up with diesel Egon discovers to his great horror that there is no engine oil in the engine and the watermaker is leaking. He reachs panic level 1, and there are no limits to how many amateurs, dogs, head bangers and porridge peasants that we have on board. However, the crew finds the correct engine oil 15W40 and the trip continues. After a minor grounding in the Cove north of Oddesund Bridge, through which Yvonne by the way safely and calmly sleeps, we find an anchorage and everyone sleeps quietly through the night.
Cowards and miserable Social Democrats
With renewed energy Rhumb Runners crew leave the anchorage at 06 hundred hours in order to reach the first bridge opening. In fresh winds, we sail past Harboøre’s heavy industry and wind turbines, through Thyborøn channel into the North Sea. At 10 Zero Zero we enter the North sea just as planned, timed and well organized – except that the seasickness finds its way to Keld, Benny and Børge – those porridge peasants, cowards and miserable Social Democrats, the skipper has seldom seen anything like it. Two and a half days later, the ship and gang are well located in Inverness Marina in Scotland. One day had to be used for sightseeing and shopping. Enormous amounts of the famous Scottish mosquito spray against midgets was bought and the first land based meal of the trip was consumed – Fish’n chips. Certainly, no one was disappointed.
The Caledonian Canal
That day the troubles begin. We enter the Caledonian Canal with all its locks. A thin throw line becomes a great success, rather than having the mega heavy mooring ropes that skipper Egon had prepared. However Benny and Keld grew with the task, and the lock keepers are indulgent. Scottish hospitality shows itself from its special side when the lock keeper guards kindly asks us when we would like to go through the next lock, and after preparing and being ready it turns out not to be possible. This happens time after time, and we must admit that it is probably because the Scots want to be welcoming and friendly and do not want to say things as they are. At one instance it went wrong. Egon thinks we have plenty of time before the next locking through a whole staircase of locks. However, while Egon is visiting the toilet, the lock keeper comes wildly gesticulating and shouting that we are to go to the first lock now! Egon half-finished and completely stressed gets Rhumb Runner into the lock. In the lock there is hardly any space left behind Rhumb Runner as the lock closes. Egon shouts at the keeper “forward please, forward please”. He was not popular with the lock keeper.
Yvonne on her knees
The weather shows itself from its best side as we get out on the west coast of Scotland. There are plenty of anchor coves. However, the only problem is that many of them are very deep and narrow. Finally, we find a nice place at Loch Creran. The paddleboard is inflated and on unsteady legs both Egon, Benny and Keld try it out. Even Yvonne seas herself out on the paddleboard on her knees. For young Børge, everything is much easier.
New team of Kelds and Bennies
After a few sunny days, it’s time for a change in crew and welcomming a new team of Kelds and Bennies. Oban is the ideal place to have a crew changing day. There is a train station and a large supermarket. Ports here in Scotland are not as we know them in Denmark. In Scotland there is an issue with the tide. Most town harbours have fixed mooring buoys and some places if you are lucky they may have pontoon bridges. It’s a hassle to buy food because you have to go with the dingy to get ashore, and the supermarket is often far from the harbour – if there is a supermarket at all. We sail out of Oban in hard winds and rainy weather. The next days, the seasickness is a faithful companion for Keld and Benny. The cold and the rain from the North Atlantic sets in with westerly winds. It is hard to cope with, especially since the new Kelds and Bennies have only taken clothes for on land summer holidays. Benny puts on a nice pair of rain pants and they remain painted on her the next two weeks. In the morning, there is congestion of crewmembers in the ship’s galley, where the heat from the oven and diesel heater is a great luxury. Keld copes with the problem of space in the galley by enrolling herself as the ship’s Pancake Baker and thereby having the right of way.
Tobermory and Saucy Mary’s Castle
On the trip to Tobermory, Yvonne tries out herself as crewmate. For a while, the knitting is laid aside and at one instance she quickly grasp the winch handle in order to pull the main sheet lashing point upwards. She shouldn’t have done that. As she releases the locking device the winch handle slips out of her hand, turns around at high speed while banging into her hand 3 to 4 times before she gets hold of it again – ouch – nothing broke. This is of course Egons fault, and a bit of Yvonnes confidence is forever lost. Egon, on the other hand, has an unshakable belief in the abilities of the remaining gang members Keld’s and Bennies ability to grab buoys, cleats and the like when it comes to mooring. These situations would lead to some shouting. I will describe a single Episode here. Kyleakin on the east side of Skye is a cozy little fishing port. We come to visit on a glorious Wednesday in fog and cool summer weather. The “visitors mooring” described in the mariners guide is not laid out. However, we find a nice free space on another local pontoon. An hour later, a friendly man passes by and draws our attention to the fact that there is usually a fisherman lying here and that he will be here soon. We move ourselves to the outside of another big boat that looks like it hasn’t been out sailing for years. Alas, from here, we are also thrown away by a local Scot and as he stated it was regrettable that the promised visitors mooring is not laid out this year. However, we are told that we can just sail across the strait where there is also a port. Yes well, thank you, however now it has become low water and we cannot get in or out of the harbour! As the next fisherman comes in – a moment after – with another boat attached to his side, we suddenly get very busy moving. Now the last option is a steel tourist boat with a lot of fixed chairs on deck but no mooring cleats. Benny helps willingly. However, directions given by Egon were not easy to understand and there was quite a lot of loud shoutling between Egon and Benny. The fisherman who had caused the shouting turns out to be a real Scotsman and comes over with a bag of newly caught and cleaned prawns. Egon acknowledges this with 3 beers in return, and tranquility is restored. The evening ends peacefully with a walk to the Saucy Mary ́s castle ruin.
Yvonne takes a quick decision
Egon’s skills as a planner come to the test in the tidal waters. On the route to Kyleakin, we have to sail through a narrow straight (Kyle Rhea), and here the skipper has miss calculated the tidal streams. We sail into the strait at the worst possible time with a countercurrent of 7-8 knots. The wind is behind us, and with the engine and the sail set, skipper Egon succeeds in maneuvering the ship through the waters with a speed of 1-2 knots over the ground, while a ferry crosses the strait. The nerves hung slightly outside the clothes on that occasion. With the prospect of continued fog/haze or rain and wind on the onward journey north of Scotland, as well as the arrival of yet another new team of crew members in the far north-west of Scotland, to which you can only get to on horseback, Yvonne takes a quick decision. We turn around and sail through the calm canal back to Denmark. It is simply not cozy to sit on the sun deck with a sundowner in this weather. The decision was made, and we know who decides in the end. The last team of Kelds and Bennies come on board in Fort Augustus. We have a glorious cruise with stops through Loch Ness, and soon we were out of the canal again. The North Sea showed its white teeth this time, but we made it across in good spirit. When the appetite came back again, we had a delightful fish menu in the “Æ Rø Hal” restaurant in Thyborøn. The rest of the cruise was day sails in the sun and summer weather. Now we are just waiting to know what plans Egon has up his sleeve for next year.