A stormy week in Tromsø

We have been storm-locked in Tromsø for over a week. It has been a great experience and even though the snow has fallen on the peaks surrounding us we are far from tired of this city, it is still time for the crew of FF Ella to head in the southern direction. On our northbound journey we didn’t have near as a great experience of Tromsø. Back then it was snow everywhere, the harbor here is crazy expensive and everything was closed due to the corona situation.

Sailing here, was close to impossible due to the growing finds featured by the leftover from the storm Sally far far away from here. Therefore we engined our way through the fjords enclosing Tromsø city. We had put an add online to beg any good soul to provide a safe harbor for us to ride out the coming storm and within hours we had a great offer from a good guy. He had a spot in the down-down bay that was sitting unused for the coming weeks. We realize that these kind of harbor-lets don’t have the most positive recognition among harbor-masters but he obviously must have accepted cause we are still here a week and a half later.

The winds have calmed down and today is the last supposed day of rain for as long as the forecast can tell, meaning we will have some great sailing weather for the coming week. But firstly it is time to reflect on our visit in town.

Arriving, the Goddess left us straight away. She had arranged a few days on solid ground before flying south to start her new job inland. We were however offered a ride to the bar where her friend works and was offered a couple of beers to celebrate some pretty great weeks at sea. On our way back we got to experience walking in Tromsø by night and although not the biggest city on earth it do offer most of the perks of larger nests. A great variety of shops and bars, hotels, university, walking streets parks and restaurants.

The people we have met has proved to be very friendly and helpful. A week ago we met the Captain, Captain Per, of a catamaran and was offered a daylong hire to crew on a tour with five fishing-tourists. It, of course, sucked for recruit Balto to stay back in the boat all day, but he managed well as we navigated an 8 meter wide catamaran safely for the first time in our lives. It was a our second great experience of our stay.

We have of course, walked the streets a whole bunch. It is a nice place to just walk around, despite also offering some elevation whenever your turn your no out of the city center. We went back to that bar we visited the first night one evening and what do you know, another round of beers headed our way. To top it off we met the sister (and father) of previous recruit Morten back on FF Harry a couple of years ago and Gin&Tonic was a fact. Morten’s sister invited us to share two entire bottles of Sake back in the boat and what-do-you know – we had to spend the entire next day ridding ourselves of a pretty numbing hungover.

Skipping ahead a couple of days the storm really hit Tromsø for real. We were still a few nautical miles north of where the worst of the storm hit, but we had to deal with quite a few strong winds and some heavy rain. FF Ella handled it as a queen and we had no problems, except starting to run out of movies to watch. Another problem was starting to rise; the crew was for real starting to need a deep cleaning and we settled around the problem solving table once again.

Balto loving to wait out storms.

The solution proved to be found on the internet. We discovered that aside from a whole bunch of gyms and other sportly facilities, Tromsø have recently built their very own miniature water-world. Despite its compact size the place offered everything from saunas and steam-baths to hot tubs, slides, an outdoor pool and a full Olympic sized pool. Once again we had to leave recruit Balto behind to watch the ship while we went on adventure, but we have never returned cleaner to the boat, ever. I believe the last time I was swimming anywhere was back on Malta over a year ago. A bit strange maybe for someone living their life onboard a boat. This is however Arctic waters and I think I can speak for both Captains when saying that we prefer warmer waters.

See you later Tromsø!

As mentioned, the snow has started to cover the mountains around us, meaning we are sort of running out of time if our goal is to escape the worst of winter. But is it? We’ll see. For now we are recharging all batteries and getting FF Ella shipshape for departure. All I know is that there is no other storms in the horizon, but they tend to come quickly. Let’s just find out where we end up next.

Captain Jack

Under the Northern Lights

We topped our tanks of diesel and had a great evening with visiting recruit Marirus and his Juliet in Øksfjord. Next morning while Captain Simen was still sound asleep we started on our voyage toward Tromsø where the Goddess is supposed to fly out from sometime this week. The day was among the best we’ve ever had onboard. The sun required t-shirts, sunglasses and happy faces. Although there was no wind and we had to engine our way, passing the island of Loppa and the infamous Lopphavet, which supposedly offer some hard to handle weather at times. We know nothing of this which the Goddess can swear to as she took a bath in the dinghy, towed behind the mother ship.

By the time sunset was on the schedule, we had anchored in a small bay with an open view to the Barents Sea outside. Dinner was made and also the decision to continue due to an uncertain weather-report of strong winds both to our North and South. We don’t kid around when it comes to weather, besides the crossing we had to do wouldn’t be much pleasant in rain. Therefore, once we had re-attached the anchor, we set course into the night. The moon is skinny these days, and offered an amazing view of a starlit sky above us as we made our way through plankton-sparkling water. Then, out of the darkness around us, the most amazing Northern lights set fire to the sky in green, purple and all in between. It continued into the night as we found a small harbor, and we could rest after a 13 hour voyage, leaning into the Troms part of Troms and Finnmark county.

We made the choice to sail directly to Tromsø. The forecast for the coming week is building up toward some serious indoor-time. According to the weather gods we are welcoming a new great flood this week, and needless to say this do not comply with great enjoyment at sea. As we sailed toward town, or engined, I should say, as we had headwinds and currents against us the entire day – we got a message from a great guy named Rikard, offering us a place to put our ship since his boat would be gone for the coming weeks. We gladly accepted since we, to be honest, is on the super-budget part of this journey.

This is our second visit to Tromsø, and the city is proving to be much better without snow and everything closed down due to pandemics. When we arrived, we were met by Morten, the doorman that has offered to take the Goddess to the airport, also offered the two Captains a couple of brews at the bar he makes his living. We like beer and let Balto stay behind to contemplate by himself for an hour or two.

We have already had time to do a bit of sightseeing and are rapidly approaching the coming days of rest onboard. There is also a few plans to clean up the ship, ourselves and get some new fixes in order before we continue. But I am also looking forward to reset and prepare for the continuation of the expedition next week.

Captain Jack

No more plans

In the afternoon of one of these days in history we left Hammerfest behind. We had eaten well, saved up some energy for our journey forward and was ready for new adventures. As we started the engine we had ourselves a nice little picnic in the cockpit. We had no intentions of stressing our leg. And so we sailed into the island of Vinna a few hours later.

Balto taking a breather

At Vinna there is some old ruins, speaking of previous inhabitants. According to our sources in Hammerfest, there used to be plenty of buildings here, even a school at some point. But all that is left now is a few concrete walls and a very well built molo protecting the small little bay where life used to prove it’s worth. I must commend this old time people. They brought back the wood from the houses, shipped them back the way we had just sailed and rebuilt their houses on mainland. Life at Vinna wasn’t sustainable then – but I picked a whole bucket of blueberries. New seafarers had planted a mooring-buoy for visitors as ourselves and besides the ruins, the island can pride itself with a nice rock-beach we spent hours looking for nice shiny rocks between tons of ocean plastic and other trash, way to much for people like us to even start cleaning up.

The ruins at Vinna Island

Our next destination was across Sørøysundet and onto the island of Sørøya where we had set our eyes on a sweet little place called Grunnfjorden. I must admit, when we had checked this place on the map it looked like a much smaller bay, being way more protective for winds other features the world is presenting us these days. It was of course beautiful, but as Captain Simen climbed his mountain and the Goddess hiked to better grounds for internet-services – while this guy was oiling teak and sneezing his ass off, we had silently decided that Grunnfjorden was no place to be anchored in the forcasted gales heading our way.

Pipe up life!

Balto the great sailor puppy is settling into his new life at sea. He now jumps fearlessly between our ships and have left the curse of seasickness behind (at least on the calm waters we have been journeying lately). He is even starting to accept that the deck is a perfectly acceptable place to take a shit. He doesn’t mind spending hours on the water, but has no problems with running around the wild nature that these part of the Norwegian kingdom offer to the world map. Balto now have a passport, and once his rabies-vaccine is fully operational in about 3 weeks, he can travel anywhere in the world he want as a free pirate puppy!

The Goddess that have just moved into her new pink city apartment, desirable smaller than her previous house, told us proud great stories of how she has rid herself with her many boxes of rocks. I’m happy to report that she has indulged in now creating an entire now collection of shiny rocks of many colors. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she choose to catalog the entire selection of northern Norway’s minerals. Time will show how many rocks the airline will allow her to carry onboard. I’m picturing a hell of a fight at the security check-point, nobody should come between a Goddess and her precious stones of magical powers.

Besides sailing a bit further South to hand the Goddess over to the airline in a week’s time – this ship has no longer any planned route for the future. Sørøya was as far as our planning made it. From here it will be sailing without a destination for many days to come, and in some ways I suppose this is where the adventure can go in any direction (except North).

I’m happy and a bit scared. Mostly scared about not having completed the installation of our diesel heater that is our only real source of heat when winter comes around. I believe the problem is how to get the exhaust out of the boat. In short we need a longer exhaust-pipe which is not to be found amoung trash on any amazing beaches, as it need to be metal and fairly bendable, and yes it would sink. Once this part is in place, and as far as I know everything should be working just fine. Captain Simen has done a great job installing the whole escapades of cables, machinery and pipes. May I remind you that FF Ella was already a hot mess of things, stuff, cables and wiring in all and every direction.

That would be it for this little update, I wish you a pleasent day and would appreciate if you shared our travles with one or two of your amazing friends!|

Captain Jack

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A weekend in Hammerfest

I have to recommend a visit to Hammerfest. Not because it has the most beautiful backdrop, the town in itself is a bit dull – but the people living here is an adventure in itself. There have been nothing but smiles and goodhearted people from the minute we arrived. Several times a day we’ve had visitors coming over to the boat to have a chat. We left Bekkarfjord in the afternoon and had a great five hour sail toward this port of call, marking our most Northern point of this adventure.

One great guy in particular, a great man named Ken, took very good care of us. The Goddess, of course, met a friend from southern Norway while drinking her morning coffee the first morning and ended up going on a solo adventure with the dingy to shower in a hotel room across the bay. We on the other hand still needed to clean up and Ken who had gotten our business-card messages me on Snapchat, inviting us over to do laundry, take a shower and eat breaky.

One of FF Ella’s well-doers had sponsored a bunch of wine the evening before, so we accepted Ken’s offer to relax in his crib for a while. The Goddess took on the responsibility to launder while we soaked. Our last evening we headed out to play Bingo before eating a reindeer-pizza at one of the towns great pizza places.

The main reason for us coming to Hammerfest was to get Balto to the vet. He is overdue for his second vaccination and is also in need of a passport. This and buying vegetables is today’s mission before we leave town. Upon hoisting the sails we have no idea of when we will see civilization again. There is no plan for our next port of call. We will however set course for Sørøya, the largest island in the county and the fourth in Norway.

A bit of a short update this morning, but there is plenty to do before we set sail, we need to get ahead of the wind as there appear to be a small low pressure heading this way.

Captain Jack

Prospecting for gold

Exploring the great green mountains of Bekkarfjord, Seiland have given this expedition to nowhere an exploding start. With no cellphone or internet coverage, green as far as you can see and a perfectly round moon raging in the sky above us we had the most amazing visit. This Captain even climbed a steep mountain requiring me to make use of all four limbs in my hunt for gold and diamonds.

Balto was of course ecstatic to have this great huge playground to himself and was not to stop up the steep hills. The Captain’s had their work cut out for them following this wild animal. The first evening was spent with freshly caught fish and vegetables prepared by the Goddess on the fire while we stargazed and enjoyed the full moon in the sky. Even the Northern Lights paid us a visit as we were warming up for a day in search of gold and diamonds.

Bekkarfjord is an entrance to Seiland National Park established in 2006. It contains a rich variety of minerals that makes this island an truly green and rich of species-island. It is capped by a glacier and I couldn’t visit this place without climbing at least one of it’s many peaks. So after breaky the second day I packed my bag and took on the supersteep climp up the hills behind the boat. The tall grass made the hike a hard one, but after and hour or two I could enjoy the wast landscape on top.

There was blueberries as far as I could see and even some cotton-fields I wandered around for quite a long time, hiding from the worst of the wind between the different hills surrounding me. I had a snack and enjoyed the little bit of time to myself while the others enjoyed a slow awakening down by the water.

The decent was just as steep, but equally beautiful. I would like to recommend anyone that have the chance to visit this place. It is truly an experience.

Down at FF Ella, life went on as usual. We caught a fish and had ourselves a fairly quiet and calm afternoon in the windy sun. The fjord is somewhat famous for it’s wind. But we didn’t find it particularly problematic, since the winds were even warm enough for this captain to try out our new USB-shower. Saving fresh water onboard I concluded this mission with a salty scrub from the ocean.

The next, and what proved to be our last day, in Bekkarfjord was great. We had decided to spend the day prospecting for gold and possibly diamonds. But although this place is packed with minerals there was no signs of either. We started by checking four small waterfalls in the bay next to the boat, but the water-flow here was not enough to get a good trial of our river equipment. Instead we relocated to the other side of the fjord, where the large rivers ruled.

The prospecting Captain Simen

To get there we had to make use of our dingy and it’s cute but amazing electric motor and concluded that this part was an adventure in itself. Herders had passed by all morning but we felt safe to set up a prospecting camp up river. Also here, we ran into no luck. The black volcanic sand made it hard to work with the dirt we dug up. We had to conclude that if there was any gold on these locations it was just specks and not worth the man-hours we put into it.

To leave on a high note we decided to move on. We packed our stuff and set off into the sunset. Catching the evening breeze in direction North.

Captain Jack

Drydocking for repairs

We have finally left the great city of Alta. We haven’t moved far, only about 5 nautical miles south to Kåfjord. We arrived on the top of high tide and smoothly arranged ourselves in the drydock owned by a very nice man answering to the name Helge. As you might have gathered from previous posts dear FF Ella was in need of a good scrub and a temporary permanent fix to the damages we acquired during last winters storms.

Dealing with a tide-dock require a certain level of patience, so we gave ourselves some free time before the hard work started. I, myself, managed the ropes onboard as the tide did rest of the work. Captain Simen went out fishing dinner, the Tubby Goddess attacked the rusty parts with a steel brush and deckhand Marius helped out in all areas just as the job description says. Cadet Marius was just on loan for a few hours and left us around four a clock just as we hit solid ground underneath the keel and Captain Simen returned with two cods, one for Balto the impatient and utterly bored Balto and a nice bigger one for the humans.

We have scrubbed, sanded and brushed all the rust away. The Goddess have painted all spots with her favorite color pink from a bottle of rust remover that yours truly rode his kickbike into town to buy early this very morning. She then washed away all the pink and painted the areas white (making the unpianted areas look extremely dirty) in short, the whole ship is ready for a new coat and this will be on our list, and hopefuylly get done before the big freeze hit us in a few short weeks. Captain Simen cooked an amazing, dinner with flouercoaed kod with pataoes and herb-butter from our greatly growing sortiment of fresh drying herbs. The meal was very much needed before the continuation of our hard labor. I myself spent the time changing anodes and making sure that the propellar-fix could handle whatever we need it to the next couple of months. Sadly the parts we had ordered did not arrive in time to get into our projects this day.

Helge was nice enough to borrow us his preasure washer, which again made us realize exactly how dirty and in need of some new paint FF Ella really is. Our new friend Anders, that we met while out celebrating Captain Simens birthday the other day, swung by to say hello and so did Marius’ father with some mail that had arrived after our departure from Burfjord some time back.

Captain Simen has spent many hours installing our new diesel heater. In our already tight spaced boat, to install something like this is a huge task, but even though I’m sure it was a big hazzle he had some good fun doing it. It will be totally amazing to be able to provide our own heat onboard, without having to depend on expensive electrical harbours along the coast. I suppose it won’t be long before they close down for the season and we will once again be left to pay high fees for something we soon will be able to provide for ourselves. Captain Simen has also installed a new solar regulator to accommodate the solar panel that we have not yet installed.

Tonight we will tie ourselves to a dock here at Helge’s. I haven’t really asked him but since we will be leaving early tomorrow morning and there is space available I guess it won’t be a problem. We are tired and pleased with ourselves. We have done great work all day and tonight, in an hour or tree we will be leaving the drydock.

One for the team!

I forgot to mention that we had the most amazing sail here. There wasn’t much wind, but we were licking sun and having a nice breakfast in the cockpit as we slowly moved toward Kåfjord. It is truly good to be back and traveling. Our next destination is Bekkarfjord on Seiland National park. Make sure to follow us there, I believe the plan is do prospect some gold and explore this National park that I have heard so much about.

Captain Jack