Tall Ship Tales
Interview with Jarle Flatebo, Captain of the Sorlandet
Feb. 4, 2006 10:00 AM
Bondage on Board
wonderful thing about the tall ship community is how it creates natural
bonds between novice and seasoned sailors and tends to span the
different nationalities and age groups so you are sure to find yourself
in an interesting international environment. The common language on
board is usually English or sometimes German, depending on the mix of
people, and the handbooks are in English.
What Awaits You?
will be thrown into a real sailor’s way of life – learn about canvas
and ropes, splices and knots, stand sea watches, undertake rig deck
galley work, and sleep in a bunk in shared quarters. Don’t forget your
sleeping bag! There are three watches and each sailor does four hours
on and eight hours off. Everyone must pull his weight and your effort
is essential to successful sailing maneuvers, which makes it all so
fulfilling. Don’t be put off by the hard work because the experience
has so much to offer, and “Nine out of 10 participants express a wish
to return,” says Captain Flatebo. “People come on board with the right
attitude to have fun and learn.” If you play a musical instrument bring
it along! Singing songs below deck is renowned. The Sorlandet
is not a passenger ship; you embark as a trainee and take part in all
duties on board under command of the crew, from lookout to galley duty.
For true sailors it’s a dream come true to be helmsman on board the
queen of the European tall ships.
Harrowing Ship Stories
really is the stuff of adventures stories. Jarle told me of how he and
his crew saved the lives of a father and son, whom they found clinging
to a life raft, after 10 hours adrift and 10 emergency flares. “I was
scanning the sea, north of the entrance to the British channel, and saw
them. They were very lucky they were not struck by a passing ship
because their boat had sunk in the middle of a very busy passage used
by hundreds of commercial vessels (800 average daily),” he recalled.
Jarle explained that they were not detected by the modern ships, whose
high tech radars and screens failed to notice the tiny Dutch pair.
“These instruments only interpret reality. In this case the old
fashioned but effective method of observation out on deck was what
saved them.” He is of the opinion that technology is valuable as long
as the basic sailing skills are learned first. “Feeling the wind and
watching the sea teaches you a lot and tunes your intuition,” he says.
Working with and in harmony with nature are skills guests on board can
expect to learn. “I have never had any problems or serious accidents as
captain of the Sorlandet,” he adds reassuringly.
A Ship’s Salary
Sorlandet earns her keep by means of several activities, and chief
among them are harbor festivals (approximately eight per year). Jarle
explained that these open days to the public are an excellent way to
gain publicity for the tall ships in the foundation, but regretfully
they take him away from sailing because they are harbored in ports
around the world for weeks. Other moneymaking activities are chartering
trips for individuals (she sleeps up to 70 guests) and also to private
companies, many of which use the sailing experience as a team-building
exercise for their staff. For parties in port or fair winds day trips,
she takes 150 guests.
Voyages of the Future
parting I asked Jarle what other exciting plans he had. The reply was
no less adventurous than I imagined for an old sea dog bitten by the
travel bug. “I leave from Monaco to Africa and then I’m off to Brazil
with my son to captain a crew,” he smiled. It seems tall ship sailing
is an addiction fathers don’t mind their children having.
Captain Jarle Flatebo
Mariner O. Jarle Flatebo is Norwegian but has been based in Monaco
since 1989. He is registered in the Mediterranean Principality with a
licence for “consultancy in the cruise industry, commercial navigation,
and other projects within the maritime field, including the purchase,
sale and construction, technical and commercial management, and
chartering and financing of maritime constructions.” He holds a Master
Mariner Class 1 certificate to the STCW ’95 Convention and GMDSS,
including the ISM code course. He is a long-term member of The
Propeller Club, the Monaco Yacht Club, and a Board member of the Monaco
Marine Arbitration Chamber. While Captain Flatebo served as Master on
board the Sorlandet won the prestigious Cutty Sark Tall Ships race in 2003. Since YV&C spoke to Captain Flatebo he has jumped ship and is now serving as captain of the Sorlandet’s sister ship the Skoleskipet Christian Radich.
Stiftelsen Fullriggeren Sorlandet foundation organizes trips for
individuals as part of a crew at a rate of 120€ per day. Students under
25 benefit from a 10 percent discount, as do families (minimum three
persons). The primary aim of the foundation is to promote the heritage
of the tall ships and to give participants an experience of traditional
square rig sailing and life at sea, while preserving the ship through
an active and purposeful use. The Sorlandet has the capacity to sleep
70 guests. She is 65 meters long, weighs 499 gross registered tons, 560
HP, and has a speed of 8 knots. She has a permanent crew of 17 persons
during the sailing season, a figure that is reduced to two to four
persons during the winter season.
For information on the other two tall ships in the foundation, see www.lehmkuhl.no and www.radich.no
Merit list of recent tall ship races
1980: Skagen-Amsterdam No 4
2003: Riga-Travemünde No 1 (Baltic Sea)
2004: Stavanger-Cuxhaven No 4
2005: Newcastle Gateshead-Fredrikstad No 5
If you wish to sail the Sorlandet check the Web site for the 2006 summer sailing schedule at www.fullriggeren-Sorlandet.no
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