It’s been a while. Since arriving in Tromsø and leaving the Goddess behind the remaining crew have been in need of getting used to be back on the water and enjoy the way of the seas. It has been quite a journey and as these words are being hammered down we have already sailed south of Lofoten and is setting course for Bodø. Let me take you back a couple of weeks.
We spent a few extra days in the great city of Tromsø. An amazing stranger heard our cries for help and offered us a place to stay while the first storm on this side of summer raged across the country. Before we left we made sure to get ourselves a half day at the city’s new water world. Having had the best five showers of our lives we were ready to set sail again.
As the nomad-sailors we’ve become we had invited ourselves to dinner with our new friend Morten a few miles down the coast. Like many places in the North, finding safe anchorage is not always as easy as it sounds. But after introducing Morten to one of his neighbors that conveniently had a strong mooring we could safely take the small boat ashore and settle in for a great evening with great food, company, and a large collection of out of date beer. We also had a good chance to finally do some laundry. The party was so good we stayed with Morten for a whole extra day. The next day was a good relaxing day where we played instrument, painted pictures, built Lego and played the playstation. Ulf, Morten’s friend came by in the evening to talk about herbs and interview us for the radio-station he works at. New friends made, we once again hoisted our sails.
In our hunt for new places to take a shower we made the long trip to Finnsnes, with a quick stop in Gibostad to let Balto get his wishes fulfilled by hunting some birds and pee. Finnsnes, a town of which we visited on our journey North is a good place to spend a day or two. There is really not much going on, but they do have diesel, showers and NAV, a place good to visit if you need cash for the food and diesel to continue on. After a quick meeting we had once again restocked and bunkered for our journey forward.
We made the long journey to Harstad, a City we skipped on our way North to save time. Now we arrived right in the middle of a boat-party in the guest harbor. We were late for the sale of alcohol, but since my father studied in this city a few years back he pulled some contacts and we had him go to the store for us to secure a few beers to celebrate the weekend. It was a beautiful chaos of a weekend and we are happy to report a great stay in Harstad, so good that we also here stayed an extra day. To complete the stay we treated ourselves to a huge pizza at Milano restaurant and got up early next morning to leave before the harbor-master caught up with our missing port-fees.
We have not been blessed with good sail winds, so far, and on the next leg we also had some major currents against us. For an entire day we engined toward Tjeldsund, making only a few knots with max engine power. A waste of diesel of course but I had been misinformed regarding the direction of the tidal current, and well, it is what it is. We eventually made it to the place we had picked as our next port of call. Too late we realized to have entered a military area, I was in the middle of reefing the Jolly Roger when a couple of uniform came storm in toward us, explaining that we had passed way to close to one of their submarines and were to leave the area at once. Even we, don’t argue with the military, and even though it was already pitch dark outside we had to explain to the dog that his planned land-leave was pulled and it would take another couple of hours before he could get his evening walk.
Making dinner as we went, we had to cross a fjord in order to find a suiting place to stay. On the way there we finally had some good winds, sailing upwards of six knots, harboring for the night in Skarstad. Here however there is not much to see, but it was a nice quiet place with almost no cars on the road and only a couple of visible houses. To let Balto have some more shore-time we played the new norm and stayed an extra night.
Again, we are starting to look for showers, and a place to get coffee and therefore sat course for Korsnes. A small community, once the home of Knut Hamsun, with a nice little artistic village and a store. We were here for a couple of days, but soon enough it was time to go on, since Even the best places don’t always have showers for sailors like us.
That’s about the update I have for you this time. We are once again sailing and as the darkness once again is upon us we have sailed the entire day, and are now passing Steigen. We have found a harbor on the map, and it says there should be a shower there. Only time can tell.
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.
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.
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.
We have time these days to take care of things while being moored in Alta Guest Harbor. This is the second largest private harbor in Norway and they have a nice safe harbor with plenty of boats. All though there is not too many tourists in this part of the country, there is a small area for traveling people like us. The best about having time to ourselves is to finally getting things done. There is a free flow of creativity and time to enjoy life onboard the magical FF Ella.
Let me tell you a little story; This happened long before I was Captain myself, when I was just a lightweight sailor onboard a pirate ship. My captain was none other than the fearless Captain Skjeggstubb, and he was not a man you would end up in trouble with. He was known all over the world for being a bit of a tyrant who always got what he wanted.
Most of the time I stayed away from him, preferably on the other side of the ship because he could get very angry if someone walked in front of him. But even though he was quite strict, he was a good Captain and had many times saved the entire crew and the ship out of scary situations in several of the worst storms you can imagine. It was said that Captain Skjeggstubb could survive all the sea could throw at him, and so it came to pass that in spite of his cruel sides he was a great and respected man in all the ports we visited, or robbed.
At this time I was no more than twelve or thirteen years old, and that made me the youngest pirate on board. That’s why I also got the worst jobs. The hardest and dirtiest. Because I was so small and light, they often hoisted me high up in the mast to check that everything was fine. You can imagine how scary this was when the ship tilted from side to side in many meters high waves. It was purely like a huge carousel for one person, not purely a little dangerous. But I was determined to do everything I was asked to do, because ever since I was a little boy, even smaller than I was then, I was going to be a real Captain on my own pirate ship.
It was a very stormy night that we sailed sheltered on an undiscovered island in the vast Atlantic Ocean. The ship was on its way to the Maldives to help those who lived there relieve them of some of their gold. The Captain said we had more than enough space on board to help the locals with this, although it ended up with half of the crew having to sleep on the floor all the way home. That’s how Captain Skjeggstubb was, our treasures almost always came first. And since the crew were equally fond of gold and riches, we all agreed. For every gold coin we robbed, I was one step closer to getting my own ship, and soon enough I would be the youngest pirate captain to ever sail the world’s oceans.
We had sailed through the storm on 10 maybe 15 meter high waves for two days and the crew was quite exhausted. Captain Skjeggstubb navigated us in between steep mountains and into a small lagoon. The angry seas around us calmed down immediately as we sailed through the narrow mouth of the lagoon and in front of us an oasis appeared that made every man on deck stop his work just staring. Even Captain Skjeggstubb took off his storm goggles and lifted his hat to his chest. It was some of the most beautiful I had ever seen.
Large beautiful palm trees with coconuts dove over a chalk-white beach and the scrub jungle between the trees stretched far into the valley. From one side we could hear the faint rumble of a long, high waterfall running straight into the turquoise waters we had sailed into. The contrast to the storm outside was so great that several of the crew shed a tear. For even hard-boiled pirates like us, have to bow when you see something as beautiful as this place. I was sure this was what the men on board had described as paradise.
In the background of it all, a large pointed volcano rose and a faint streak of smoke testified that it was active and watching over the island we had found. But that only made it even more magical. The high mountains also made sure that it was not only completely windless, but even the rain seemed to slip past this place. Right above us, the sky had turned blue and the sun was shining on the drawn ship with an equally wet crew.
“Drop Anchor!” Cried Captain Beard. And so we did.
When the ship was safely moored, the Captain gave permission to go ashore, and it did not take long before 20 men lay on the beach across, while sticky wet clothes hung to dry in the trees behind. It was sent around large bottles of rum which they mixed with the milk from the coconuts. The chef had lit a fire and now he made a whole wild boar on a spear. Only Captain Skjeggstubb was left on board the ship as he used to. He rarely went ashore if he could escape. ‘It does not swing enough under the legs’ he used to say.
But the rest of us had the best day for as long as I could remember, and after the food was eaten, it did not take long before all the adults were drunk from all the alcohol digging the beach. Therefore, I decided to go on a voyage of discovery.
I wandered into the jungle and away from the beach. Trees and shrubs grew densely and it did not take long before you could barely make out the light from the sky above. There were large flowers in all kinds of colors. Everywhere there were strange birds of all sizes and between all of this I saw a snake, but I was not afraid. After all, I was a pirate, and pirates are not afraid.
I was just about to turn around and go back when a monkey jumped down the path in front of me. I had never seen a monkey before, but heard the others in the crew tell stories about them. They were supposed to be very naughty. This one just seemed curious, shaking his head and wondering what kind of guy I was for one. I told him. Said I was Timmy, soon to be the greatest pirate captain in the whole world. Then he gave me a round ball, a pearl. I had only seen these once before and they were very expensive. I assumed it was a sacrificial gift to his new friend. I myself only had a small purse in my pocket, it was almost empty, there were only a few coins there, not enough for a meal even, so I gave my new friend the purse. He became very interested in it and jumped for joy when he understood how to open and close it. And when I tied it around his neck so he could carry it with him, he wrapped himself around my neck and gave me a big hug.
We played together for a long time, it was the coolest playmate I had had since we left our home port well over half a year ago. We slammed between the trees and raced through the jungle. I had completely lost track of where we were and eventually we came out on an opening. Completely stunned, I stood staring, because in the middle of the square there was a huge pile of pearls, the pile was much higher than me and my new friend ran straight up the pile to throw the precious pearls over him so they rained down on us .
It was not so difficult to understand that this was his treasure. The shiny shiny pearls lay in the thousands and we both sat in silence looking at them while we showed each other some extra large and pretty. Think of everything I could buy with these pearls! I asked him nicely if I could get any of them, and he certainly understood what I meant because he held out a handful. I tied my shirt in my arms and made a bag out of it. Together we filled it to the brim with the treasure. He certainly did not mind so much that I took as many as I could carry. Besides, one did not even see on the mound that any incision had been made there.
It was as much gems in my shirt as I could carry the through the dense jungle, I could not guess my way back either, but the monkey ran in front of me to showed the way. When we returned to the place where we had met many hours earlier, the monkey stopped. He probably wouldn’t follow me anymore. I understood that we had come to the end of our acquaintance. A brief friendship I had never experienced before. We gave each other one last hug before the little friend disappeared up into the trees as abruptly as he had appeared.
When I got to the beach it was late in the afternoon and my pirate friends had just started to wake up from their sleep. It did not take long, however, before they jumped and danced around me when they discovered what I was presenting to them. ‘Timmy has found a treasure! We are rich! ” They hugged me as they threw me into the air and welcomed me back down again. “Get the Captain, he must see this!”
Not long after, Captain Skjeggstubb was rowed out to the beach. He walked towards me on the beach where I was standing with the huge pile of pearls in front of me. “Yeah Sailor,” he said, “I must say, a little of a treasure you have found us arrr?” I had already decided to lie, it would be almost impossible to trace back to the open plain and I would not take any more from my new friend more than he had already given me. That’s why I said, ‘Yes, Captain, Sir. I’ve been picking pearls for many hours. But I think this is all because I did not find more in the last hour. “
The captain measured me with his eyes, but I could swear I sensed a small smile behind his stubble. «Very well worked sailor! You deserve a reward for this, since you have been alone in this feat, I will give you every twentieth gem you have brought back to us, you deserve it. “ There was nothing to argue about, it was also much more than I could have hoped for. For all taxes on board were to be placed in the treasury and only divided among the crew when we returned to the castle in the home port. “It will also be a good penny for the whole crew out of this. You can thank Timmy here for allowing all your families to eat well for years to come. ” One can say a lot about Captain Skjeggstubb, but he really was an honest pirate.
Of course I was very proud. Not in my wildest fantasies would I think that these pearls were worth so much. Later in the evening, when all the pearls were counted, I had 37 gems in my bedside drawer. And there was a good atmosphere and party among the crew, everyone was happy with an extra bonus. The next morning the storm was out of the question and we sailed on to the Maldives where new adventures awaited, but that’s a story for another time.
It’s not necessary to tell you what I used my pearls for, is it? A few years later, I swapped about half of them into my first ship, and do you wonder which volcanic island I first sat course for?
The Norwegian winter is acting up again. Once again we have been forced to take a brake-day due to extreme rain. The forecast for today is 44 mm rain and a moderate gale from southeast. Even though we could probably press through, we have decided not to for the sake of the Goddess and the ship. This nasty weather is supposed to continue for a few days longer, but we are crossing our fingers that we’ll be able to make a move within a day or two. We are after all not going out to open water for a while. Then there is this pandemic going on, also making things a bit more difficult. We are very much in one of the safest places anyone can be, but it is proving hard to find both showers, bathrooms and specific stores. Lucky for us, we are a great crew together and enjoy good food, homey evenings and time to read. On Captain’s order we are self-quarantined and are avoiding contact with humans.
After leaving the magical island we had a long nice sail to Brønnøysund. On the way there we sailed pass “Torghatten” a mountain and beloved tourist-treasure known for it’s specific shape. We passed on the east side and from here it is hard to get a good picture, but I have found you a stock-photo for show.
The city of Brønnøysund is exactly in the middle of the kingdom. 840 kilometer from each cape. We had a chance to visit the mall by the dock and get some supplies. With bags full of food, beer and a brand new board-game we settled in for a nice Saturday evening onboard. Next day we slept in, and this combined with not the best of weathers made us decide to stay an extra day. Taking extra days in towns and cities these corona-times totally sucks since there is absolutely nothing to do except taking strolls and walking big circles around other people.
On our last passage between Brønnøysund and Sandnessjøen, where we are currently docked, we had a few minor setbacks. A sudden gust had our mainsail kiss the waves to the panicked screams from the Goddess steering the vessel. Although nothing was broken, except maybe a bit of the Goddess’s confidence, we suffered the loss of our newly acquired red ten meter mooring rope. With both sails hoisted, no engine started, and the weather acting up we risked far more danger than a rope is worth and decided the rope had to be an offer to the sea.
No more than half an hour later another gust triggered another scream from the Goddess, and another kiss of the waves – but sadly we were not that lucky. By this time had however lowered our main and was only sailing the foresail, but in return the foresail ripped apart from the headstay and a lose foresail in hard gust can potentially break your mast. It didn’t go that far, but the Windex on top of the mast snapped right off as the mast was brutally taking some major twitches before Captain Simen could get his safety-clip on, attach it to the fairlead and climb toward the bow to pull down the sail. In this crazy mayhem onboard we somehow also managed to break one of the windows in our sprayhood, but this was a quick but not so beautiful fix done as soon as we arrived in Sandnessjøen harbour.
We also retreaded the foresail and made our way to yet another mall where the Goddess got to spend some money for food and necessaries. Tired from a long and partly stressful sail we took an early evening after a very enjoyable burger and independent studies.
Yesterday we passed the 66 degree North mark – only 4 to go. A couple of more days sailing and we’ll be in Bodø. Whenever these rainy days have passed we are looking to see some really nice days of the sunny Lofoten.
The darkness swallowed our ship as we sailed into whatever was left of the cold clear night. I had spent hours planning our longest passage ever. To stay ahead of the coming storm we had to sail hard for the coming 24 hours, or risk being land-bound for as long as a week. Further up the coast we would be much more likely to keep sailing protected from the raging Norwegian sea. For the journey we had recruited a new crew-member; Line, the goddess traveled through our virus-infected country and arrived just hours before we left the port i Trondheim.
We have, as everyone else been very much restricted in our movements due to a certain virus that is currently taking over the world. Walking down empty streets in the third largest city of Norway on a Saturday night feels strange and at the same time somewhat calming. At the moment the borders to our country is closed for visitors and even within the country many quarantined zones make it hard for people to move around. So it was with the outmost luck that we got The Goddess onboard before all ways of traveling are closed down further.
As for our own protection we have gone into what we would refer to as a half-ass-quarantine, meaning we avoid contact with as many as possible and try to keep distance to everyone. This do not help us however when we are no longer allowed to use public spaces like showers and such, but the rules/laws are different everywhere and we’ll do our best to comply, but a sailor got to do what a sailor got to do.
Leaving Trondheim Captain Simen went to sleep while myself had my hands full teaching the Goddess the ways of the sea. Even they have to know the most important rules of the coast, the buoys and how to make out a safe lead-way. We had the basics down before sunrise and as later everyone was awake we spent a long and wonderful day at sea. I don’t think anyone could ask for a better first day in a sailboat than what the Goddess got served this morning. The winds were great, the scenery just amazing. None of us had any knowledge on anything this part of coastal Norway had to offer.
Then, of course, as the darkness once again rained upon us the storm started to catch us from West. The wind picked up quite a bit and so did the waves. Once the Goddess lost her inner compass the curse of the first sail got hold of her and she fed the fishes quite generously on multiple occasions. Hanging over the railing in between with certain sea-spray every minute or so – it went on for hours before she finally collapsed in her cabin a few nautical miles from our destination. We didn’t see her until next morning.
The Captains made sure the boat were safely in the guest harbour of Rørvik before we also went to bed. We had no rush, the slushy weather for the next couple of days gave us more than enough time to get back to our normal selves. Big kudos to Rørvik, this is the first harbour since Mandal with actual working showers and facilities. We all showered, did our laundry and the Goddess had fun with the dishes. We also got oil for the engine and talked the virus-closed pizza restaurant into serving us each a great good old burger. Even though this was probably a law-breaking meal according to a very frustrated owner, we had a good time – also probably the last dinner out in a while.
As this is being typed we have left Rørvik. We are fighting a 6 on the Beaufort’s, a strong breeze from the North making our planned daily sail about double in time. No problem for a ship like ours and tonight we’ll be docking at Leka, an island where people have been living for ten thousand years.
The lights form the city of Trondheim, established in the year 997, lit up the sky in front of us. We were sailing in the light from the stars. It was a bit chilly but we have come to accept that we have entered the parts of Norway where winter is still the standard. A few hours back the wind picked up suddenly an tore our foresail into shreds pieces. There was no way for us to save it. In the ocean outside a small storm was picking up and we now motored besides a whole school whales swimming toward calmer waters. We had of course forgotten about the tide and had therefore strong currents making the passage take double the time. Our decision to make the extra trip in the Trondheim fjord was done before we started out five weeks ago.
Trondheim means we have passed the halfway-mark. It meant we could visit Captain Simen’s grandma and gave us time to search out a new sail. It would be extremely hard to keep sailing north without a good foresail to accompany us. Now when the winds have finally started to turn in our favor. Also we were going to pick up an extra crew for the next part of this trip north. It still remains to see if she can make the journey here, but we are trying our best to make it happen.
As of right now, the world itself and our country is in a bit of crisis. The corona virus have totally closed down most of the cities. We’ll probably end up having to be a bit sneaky on our way from here. Shops, restaurants, services and other stuff are temporarily closed down. People are keeping to themselves and are nowhere to be seen. I almost felt privileged walking downtown Trondheim on a Saturday night with no other people outside. A random taxi and a few confused people were all we could find, if I didn’t know better I would say it was 4:30 Wednesday morning, not eleven at night on a Saturday..
We have met some friends and found a sail. I made a couple of calls and without much problems we found a sail that would fit. I really hope it will pass the first tests when we are back on the water. It looks strong, is a tiny bit shorter, but that might just be good as we are now entering colder temperatures. And as sailors we have learned that the cold winds are much stronger and harder than the warm summer winds.
Lucky for us we are not being in contact with too many people, as everyone else we are of course at risk whenever visiting a store or using a public bathroom, but we are crossing our fingers and hoping for the best. We are already stocked up for a month if worst should come to worst in the few weeks remaining. In short, we are probably in the safest place we could be. But the things going on might affect how long we will stay in the places we visit, if we are even aloud to dock when we get there. As of tomorrow morning we will set a steady course north. Trying to stay ahead of the new storm-system building outside of Iceland.
Captain Simen was sleeping in as usual as I started out from Haugesund. Little did I know that the little passage in open water straight in from the North sea would act up hard this early morning. But it certainly did, and for two hours I had my hands full while Simen was tossed between the walls in the cabin. It was rocking pretty bad until I finally was set in a position where I was able to hoist the sail to gain some stability onboard. As the waves came crashing one after the other we made a steady 8 knot ahead with only the foresail hoisted. It was totally amazing and at the end of the run I could see a rainbow pointing the way I myself was fighting to keep the snow out of my eyes and the ship away from the thundering shore on the starboard side.
First we sailed from Egersund to Tananger. We have, as you might understand, been getting pretty sick of waiting for storm-systems to pass and was eager to get some miles behind us. Tananger didn’t have much to offer as we moored. I suppose this is one of the places most people go in the summer or to work on the shipyards (or whatever they are) covering the entire bay. Once again we were of course lucky to arrive just as the snow came whisking into our faces.
In general I think the gods must be following this blog, cause they tend to make sure that we are safely tied to a pier before the skies open the daily waterfalls. Luckily February is over tomorrow, noting that this of course is a leap-year, and we are getting very close to spring. As we passed the Stavanger fjord however we finally hit snow. We are officially in waters where the snow is licking the salty waters of the ocean. Our wishes to reach green bushes and blooming hills are still a couple of months away and the truth may be that we have picked the wrong time of the year to experience these things along the Norwegian coast.
After spending a night in Tananger we made a huge leap. 54 nautical miles in 10 hours. It was great to do some sailing in the dark again. It gives me a special feeling to navigate by the lights. In some strange way, at least here down south I feel much more comfortable maneuvering the waters based on light-signals. this way I always know exactly where we are and there is little to no room for mistakes. At the end of the day we found a quiet little harbour in Klokkarvik that sadly had no electricity for us to heat our frozen bodies. We went to bed early.
Next morning, still frozen I started the engine and sailed off in some great shine from the sun. From Klokkarvik there was only about 2,5 hours to Bergen and it was done in a coffee. In Bergen they had electricity. And rain. And snow. Shitty weather as always and a wind that made us walk in thirty degree angles. Can’t expect anything else from the only city in Norway with more days of rain than anything else. But! It’s the end of the month, it’s Saturday and it’s the first extra day of the decade. I’m off to celebrate!
For the first time since we left Fredrikstad, it looks like the storms have given us a chance to make some real progress. Leaving Mandal felt great, but we didn’t get further up the coast than Farsund before the winds once again locked us in for a few days. We have been getting pretty good at playing the waiting-game and have once again survived a lock-down without developing too harsh of an cabin-fever. We are now working our way toward next big port of call and Norway’s second largest city – Bergen, sometime this week.
The fairly short sail to Farsund was a smooth one. We did of course not have any wind to sail in so once again we ended up motoring the whole way. It was a beautiful journey in some of the exact landscape that make thousands of people spend their summers here every year.
Farsund itself was pretty much closed down for the season. But they did have a free guest harbour, however it took us a while to find some electricity. After some walking around and a couple of phone calls to the right officials we found a spot in the local fishing harbour. We then took some time to do a few fixes on the boat before having a nice meal and went to bed. This was to be our home for the next tree days. I think I personally completed two entire series on Netflix while the other Captain did whatever he was doing on the PlayStation.
Before leaving Farsund we had a pizza-dinner the night ahead. This made sure we got a good night sleep and didn’t have to do any dishes. Something we found fitting since Captain Simen had just finished his two day project of cleaning all our stuff. The only thing we didn’t do was the laundry, but we sailed ahead bright and early next morning aiming to make this happen as soon as possible.
The morning came when we could finally venture on. Unsure of the weather on open water we didn’t plan to go too far the first day. 22 Nautical miles later we had found a little guest harbour in Kirkehamn which by the way literally means Church Harbour. This small little fishing village is home to about 120 residents and to our great amazement they had both free showers and a free guest harbour. We did however pay to use their laundromat, but this was a much needed investment. Kirkehamn was a quiet little place but if you’re into gaming – you may remember the place being mentioned in Red Dead Redemption 2 as a village where a mother and child was murdered. How much truth there is to the story is something I haven’t dug into. As for us the place was a quiet little harbour with no internet what so ever. It was the time to take a warm shower and find a new book to read. Luckily our library still has plenty of stuff I haven’t even looked at yet.
Next morning, actually it was almost midday, we continued north. As this particular stretch of Norway offer few places to stay and has no cover from the harsh weather in the Norwegian Sea we have planned it out so we can sail for about 6-9 hours a day and in a couple of days from now reach the city of Haugesund. Sorry Stavanger, but we will be skipping you this time around.
Today we had some great wind and finally got to hoist our sail. We did an average of 5 knots all day long and even though I called the sea rescue this morning to check on the weather and they said it would be stormy, we didn’t see a speck of it. We had pretty much calm seas and good winds the whole crossing. At the moment we are safe in Egersund, here we’ll take a slow and early evening before the long stretch to Tananger tomorrow.
Since Elsa – last weeks storm, took out our weather station completely I won’t be able to tell you exactly how bad it got this weekend. It wasn’t too bad and we enjoyed a couple of days getting to know Mandal. Not the biggest of towns but it left us with a good vibe and some great human interactions. We went out and had pizza for Valentines Day spending the last of the budget for the week. Right as the storm came swooping in, another northbound boat docked next to us. Also we had company from a local sailor awaiting good weather to cross Skagerak over to Denmark and ultimately down to the canary islands.
The couple’s ship came from Tjøme, just across the Oslo-fjord from where we started out. They had sat course for Svalbard, but where sailing in good time. Meaning they are planning to spend vacations and holidays until they reach northern Norway.
The weather makes it hard for us to plan ahead. After we spent a couple of days in Mandal we finally had one good day of sun and little wind. We used this little pocket filled with amazing sun to sail passed Lindesnes, and get started on our journey north. We have officially passed the most southern coordinates and the spirit onboard is high.
Then the gods decided it was time for some more heavy rain and even a bit of snow. We are once again awaiting some more sailable elements to take us over the next couple of days which also include the only non-protected waters until we hit Stadt, much further north. As long as we can get our asses passed Stavanger, we’ll have protection from fjords and islands to press on – even with some nasty winds or precipitation.
For now we are docked in Farsund. This is a smaller town than Mandal with less than ten thousand people. Their guest harbour is closed for the season, so we didn’t have to pay but this also ruined our plans of getting some laundry done. We spent some time figuring out the electrics, cause they seem to have closed it down due to a technical error somewhere. A phone-call to some officials fixed the problem and we are now able to make all the waiting-coffee we can drink.
Captain Simen took on him to seal the exposed steel Elsa did to our hull. We then made a quick fix by spraying the area with some simple white color and hope this will hold until we eventually get the boat in dry dock this summer. At least it should keep the rust away for now. The jerry cans with diesel have also made some damage to deck and had to be moved around on deck a bit. I wish of course that we’d have more space for stuff on deck but we’ll just have to make the best of what we have.
For now, it’s supposed to rain pretty much constantly for the next ten days. We don’t really have the liberty to wait that long so even though it will be wet, we’ll be sailing on as soon as the low pressure have passed and the waves are down at a respectable level. The exposed coastline up to Stavanger is long and I’d hate to have side-waves all the way. My dream is for the winds to turn north and give us a great long surf the whole way. One can only dream. Until then, Simen has connected the PlayStation and I’ll be working on some writing.
For the first day since we started our journey north, we’ve had calm seas and hail. Apart from the hail it was amazing to have the autopilot finally getting to do it’s job. Most of the day we enjoyed reading books and sipping a nice cup of coffee. We have this little camera pointing forward to see ships and other things that may get in our way and it seem to work fine whenever there is no rain or anything else blocking the view. We can sit at the chart-table and just pop our heads up to check for other ships once in a while. The sad news is that another storm is coming this weekend. We have to use the days between the storms effectively to get as far as possible, but then there’s this balance of taking care of ourselves, stay safe and enjoy the journey at the same time.
We docked in Kristiansand. It’s a fairly big city in Norway of well over a hundred and ten thousand people. Lucky for us they had electricity for heat. My hopes of filling our cans of water disintegrated as I almost walked right off the pier. The people running this place had disconnected the whole pier, no wonder there were no other boats around. Result was; we suddenly had our own little downtown island, cut off from the world with barely enough water for the super-important coffee next morning.
The trip down the coast to our next destination was short and sweet. We only did 24 nautical miles with an average of 4 knots. It was a beautiful day on the water, the best so far – probably what is know to be the silence before the storm. It’s not that I would ever complain about this horrible weather, but if the gods get what they want it will be shitty for the next 5-6 days. We can take a bit of wind, we can take a bit of waves, we can respectfully take some rain and even snow – but not all at once. Better stay put and await further orders.
In the last post i mentioned that Lindesnes is the most southern point of Norway, I’ll take this back, I stand corrected – cause it’s not. It will however be our most southern point on our venture north from Fredrikstad. The most southern point, and I learned this yesterday, is actually a small reef called “Pysen” and we passed north of it earlier today.
Mandal is a whole lot smaller than Kristiansand but have ten times the charm. There is only about 15 thousand people here, and they have all the amenities you could need in a small place like this. Time will show if its enough to keep us occupied during our stay. To get here we passed through an amazing archipelago with hundreds of cabins in all shapes and sizes. The people we have met so far have been most welcoming and we’ve found a great spot in the harbour. This is of course one of the best things about living onboard, most of the time you get to live in the down-town area of the cities you visit. This give you short walks to almost anything.
Besides reading a few books and drinking tons of coffee, we are settling in for a few quiet days in the boat. If we are really lucky we’ll even get to take a shower in the service house which for some reason stands unlocked. From here I have calculated about 20 active days of sailing to hit Trondheim. It’s a reach, but our working-goal is to hit Trondheim before March 15th. It’s possible to make it – but as we will be entering the Norwegian Sea whenever we start from Mandal we need to get the boat back to ship shape first. We are likely to encounter quite a few waves and there is still many weeks left of this years storm season.