Our journey to the distant and inhabited land of Patagonia didn’t bring much treasures. Sailors rarely used this route unless it proved to be absolute necessary. Instead the ships were often dragged across land further North, but Captain Bloodspatter was fully motivated to take us the long way around. Me, personally was happy to make the journey. The landscape was amazing and there was no abundance of food. Plenty of fish held the Goddess and the rest of us working the galley quite busy and well fed. For the longest time we had been plundering, robbing and living the good life. This quiet part of the world offered us some time to get the Black Rock back into ship shape. New ropes were fixed and wooden damage repaired. The sails were mended and every part of the ship was washed to squeaky be clean.
By the time we were supposed to navigate around the fearful Cape Horn Bloodspatter made another decision. We were not about the head North as planned but rather keep sailing South. No ship had ever dared this journey. The seas this far South was known to be a killing one. No ship had ever returned from their try to keep navigating passed these latitudes. Some of the men were understandable concerned about our Captains plans, but none dared to speak against Bloodspatter. Blæik had the crew prepare the ship, everything was tied down and our ever growing treasure was secured in place. Over all the men was excited, for all we knew there would be gold growing on trees on the other side of this journey.
Our expectations were short lived. It took us at least two weeks to overcome the vast ocean between Cape Horn and land on the other side. As we went on the temperature plummeted to far beyond freezing and the waves stood taller than our ship. They were so huge that we disappeared in the valleys between then, lost all wind before slowly raising to the top of the next mountainous swell. Eventually the waters calmed a bit, only to be replaced by floating chunks of ice almost running us down at all times. The nights were the worst. We had half the crew working shift just to keep an eye out for the dangers ahead. But turning around was not an option. Captain Bloodspatter had put his mind on the possibility of land on the other side and it turned out he was right.
One morning we finally arrived at what we figured must’ve been land-fast ice. The disappointment among the crew to this vast landscape of only ice and nothing else but some strange walking birds we’d never seen before was given. The land we encountered had no vegetation. No nothing but ice and snow. Blæik was set to organize an expedition inland to search out any secrets this mysterious land may have to offer. I was picked to be the one managing the food for this expedition. The Goddess had to stay back along with Captain Bloodspatter to ensure that some crew and our treasure survived our arctic visit and search for larger treasures. But it was pretty clear that we were the first humans to ever see this land. There was no way anyone could survive the climate we were entering. Dressed in clothes sown from polar bear fur we started the long walk inland, only following our compass needle in a strict Southward position.
It was 1608, I had already been sailing with the Black Rock and Captain Bloodspatter for four years. Despite what you might have heard our crew were, unless there was someone before us, the first to ever visit the South Pole. We didn’t know this at the time of course but it would take another 300 years before Roald Amundsen made the journey in the year 1911. I have always been puzzled to how they didn’t find our flag on this expedition, they must have ignored it and taken the honor or it could of course have been overcome by the extreme weather this landscape at times will offer. And we didn’t find any treasures. At the point were the needle abruptly turned the other way and we was startled by what had just happened we had walked for many days without seeing anything but ice, snow and nothing else. We didn’t dare to continue and was sure the crew back at the ship had been waiting long enough, and with this our flag was planted, a solid Jolly Roger was firmly placed and we started to backtrack along our own tracks.
We reported back to Captain Bloodspatter after having been stuck in a storm for many days. Our makeshift tents barely kept us alive and one of our men walked into the white to never return. Bloodspatter didn’t seem to take to hard on us not finding any treasures. Strangely enough he seemed happy just to be the first one to cross over to this strange land of only ice and snow. While we were gone the rest of the crew had caught a whale and was busy boiling down the fat to oil we would use to strengthen the wood in our ship later. It also offered a huge feast onboard. And not having eaten for days upon our return we all indulged in the meal offered to celebrate our safe return.
The very next day we started our journey heading North. None of us were looking forward to the journey, but it seemed like the Gods had decided to be nicer to us on our return. Only some minor storms slowed us down a little otherwise it was a pretty calm journey until we finally saw land ahead to starboard and was on course toward Santiago de Chile. It was only days before we started to see other ships again, which we hunted down and plundered for all their precious silver and gold.
Sharks circled our ship. The Goddess had for a moment forgotten what latitudes we were at, and had without thinking thrown a bucket of blood from our last polar bear right out the window. Sharks are known to be attracted to blood, and this must have been something very special to them, because now they were literally boiling water in the water around us. But a good pirate knows how to take advantage of any situations so quartermaster Snorre had immediately ordered all the men on deck to load the weapons. Here came the dinner served into our laps, and there was nothing left from our last bunking in Nova Scotia weeks before. The veterans around me sat in a chorus with a shanty about a lone sailor finally getting a long-awaited shark fin soup.
We had arrived in the infamous Caribbean where the plan was to plunder and take with us as large treasures as possible. Captain Bloodspatter, who most of the time stayed in his cabin, now strutted barefoot on deck in the hottest sun I had ever experienced in my life. The Captain was inspecting the work of the crew. The order was that the ship should be golden clean and ready for battle before the Goddess had finished the crew-dinner. Tonight we were going to work, the last two days we had been lying behind a large merchant ship. They had certainly discovered us a long time ago. But Bloodspatter had the great pleasure of tormenting the sailors on board the merchant ship who in the end didn’t have a chance against our proud ship and 150 dirty pirates.
Captain Bloodspatter steered our ship close to the merchant ship and the men under deck fired a series of canons that immediately put the small defense the merchant ship had out of play. Before they had sighed for themselves, our crew did what they could best and the whole crew was tied with any rope we could get around the mast on deck. A couple of men who had not survived the fight were thrown into the mirror-clear sea to the great joy of the remaining sharks who had been circling around us all day in hopes of more polar bear blood. While the merchants sat stiff with fear, held captive by twenty of our men with sabers and rags, the rest of us worked to empty the ship of goods and gold. Their ship’s crate was full of gold-coins and among the goods we found a whole bunch of exclusive goods we were to take with us and sell for gold in the first port. Our crew howled and cheered over the amazing catch, soon we would be given land leave. This meant that we finally got to go ashore and enjoy life as a free pirate for a few days.
Being some of the first pirates to roam these waters, the defense was low on the islands we visited. When at bay we acted as regular traders or merchants and nobody thought to ask questions about the filthy look of our crew. Being that we spoke a whole different language I suppose the locals thought that was how our people behaved. Or they knew the truth but didn’t dare to ask questions. Either way I truly enjoyed being free and to see the culture in the villages. The crew were given each a few pieces of silver and the men was quick to spend them in the bodegas, shops and markets. I spent my first hard earned silver on some of the local fruit and a great dinner of freshly cooked fish and strong pints of beer like I’d never tasted before. It was exciting to walk around the villages. Their huts was nothing like back home in Norway, built on stilts and with open holes as windows. The villagers were all nice, even nicer when you turned out to be a potential costumer. Our crew quickly grew popular among the locals and at the last night of our stay we were having a great party at the dock. Everyone was invited.
Months flew by, and it didn’t take long or many plunderings at all before the word of pirates in the waters had gone out and merchant ships were no longer sailing our waters. It was time to give the area a brake and move on to our next location. We headed to the South Atlantic ocean and to the land of the rain forests. Our treasure down in the cargo hull was now starting to grow for real. Our plunderings had earned us more coins than I was able to count. The Captain had now shifted focus to land based targets, besides this was the land of pearls and diamonds in plenty. For weeks the crew were set to dive for these special treats. It was a dangerous task, cause the waters were infested by sharks and other monsters the crew didn’t dear speak of.
We continued into the rivers leading to the wild forests of Amazon. Captain Bloodspatter had heard rumors that these forests was ruled by Indians who used gold for everything. We were not to leave these woods before our ship was filled with tons of their treasures. The nature here was simply extraordinary. Never have I ever experienced anything like it. Just thinking about the sounds that surrounded us as we silently rowed our ship against the rivers currents. There was no real wind in the river, our sails were rendered useless and pure muscle power was used to make any progress upstream. It was a long way, for weeks we worked our ways deeper into the forests. It was tiresome and after a while many of our men fell sick with fever. Now pressing on with a short crew it got even harder. At night we had to sit down and keep watch for large animals threatening from the dark. There was snakes long as our ship and small fish that could crawl up your butt if you jumped in without protection. But at day it was also beautiful, all the colors of the plants, birds and wildlife none of us had seen before. When we encountered a school of monkeys I even saw how Captain Bloodspatter had to fight to hold back a smile. One of those monkeys took a liking to the Captain. From that day it should be called Balto, following Captain Bloodspatter day and night.
Our new crew-mate, Balto, would prove to be quite a savior before we should leave the Amazons. One day we had finally arrived at the land of the tribes we had been seeking. We had no indication that these people were friendly and Bloodspatter had us guard the ship night and day. One morning we quickly understood that we had come to the right place. Unfortunately not in a good way. As the crew awoke we found the guards dead on deck. Seven men was shot down to warn us to stay away, all with a single tiny arrow each. There was no doubt that the arrows had been poisoned, cause no small weapon like this could cause harm like this. Although being tough men, none of us had seen poison being used this way before. This could prove that our new enemy was not as innocent as we had hoped and far more dangerous than what we had expected.
By that very afternoon, Captain Bloodspatter had come up with a plan and our crew prepared for battle. We all knew that this was a fight that not all of us would return to enjoy the treasures from – but we are pirates, and this is what we do. We knew we must have been watched so there would be no point of sending in a survey troop. Instead we had decided to attack with full force, all men was expected to be first in line. Hopefully this was the only tactical maneuver our enemy did not expect. I was not at all convinced that I would live to see another day, this was nothing like attacking a ship on the open water, here we did not have the advantage of controlling all the factors in play.
As we were sneaking through the dense jungle the constant humming of noise suddenly came to an abrupt stop as we crawled out on an open field. It was as if the world had stopped, for weeks we had heard the constant noise from all the insects, birds and animals around us. Suddenly there was nothing. Not a sound, not a movement. Minutes went by as we hid in the bushes. Then at the same time hundreds of arrows came shooting out from between the trees, followed by the equal number of half naked short men only dressed in leaf-underwear.
Captain Bloodspatter yelled out to stay hidden. We did not possess weapon to shoot or throw and were only equipped for closeup combat. As our enemy started to come toward us Balto the monkey suddenly appeared behind them. And he wasn’t alone. Hundreds of his monkey-friends was also attending the party. And they all attacked at the same time. They jumped the under-dressed enemy who got so confused and turned around by this surprise-attack that it gave us a chance to leap out from our hiding and attack from behind. Now de-fanged from their poisonous arrows and with only a few spears left to protect themselves it took no more than a few minutes for our men to slaughter a large portion of them in the most horrible pirate ways. It was a bloody fight but we had gotten the upper hand thanks to Balto the monkey and in the end we had a small group of men defeated and surrounded.
Afraid that we were going to exterminate their entire village their leader now willingly took us back to their huts and let us plunder what we could carry of their gold and precious stones. They had a whole pile of them in all kind of colors, and as you can imagine everything in the village had gold adorned to it. Even their cutlery and plates was made of shiny gold. I had never seen so many treasures in one place and by the look of it, neither had Captain Bloodspatter. Now with Balto back on his shoulder he was sitting down in the middle of the pile our men had collected in the middle of the village. It took the entire rest of the day and the next to carry it all back to our ship.
The day after this, after having stocked up on fruit and all the food from the villager’s farmland and a couple of goats, chickens and other strange animals we’d never seen before; we hoisted anchor and started on the week-long journey back down the river. Now being able to use the steady stream of water to propel us the entire crew had some amazing days onboard the Black Rock. Captain Bloodspatter was generous with food and rum as he was taking count of our haul. But despite how big of a treasure we had just filled our ship with, it was room for much more. This is after all the story of how the greatest treasure of the world came to be – and our journey was far from over.
At this time, and for the hundreds of years to come, it would be associated with bad luck to include women as part of the crew. But Captain Bloodspatter was, as I said, a man ahead of his time, and although the gender distribution was limited to a single woman on board, she had at least an officer's position as the ship's cook. Myself as the newest recruit, was immediately set to peel potatoes and turnips. This suited me very well and gave me plenty of time to get to know what it was like to work for Captain Bloodspatter on board his ship, which I quickly learned was called 'Black Blood'. It was also a great help that the chef, who the crew only called the Goddess, was exceptionally talkative when it came to life onboard.
The Goddess was a colorful person who made my first weeks on board to a little adventure in itself. She was loud and noisy. If any of the crew complained about her burnt lasagna, she gave them a slap in the face, and no one dared resist the one who served three meals a day. The blame for any burnt meal was placed on the ship's used equipment. Which, admittedly, was well used, but as a galley boy, I was constantly witnessing how the Goddess constantly dreamed herself away from her job and fell into her memories of chalk-white beaches in the warm Caribbean, which she had obviously put her love on.
Initially, the Captain had decided that we should use the Norwegian coast while we were after all on these domestic tracts. Then we were to set course for the frozen Greenland and on over to the land of the Indians, which today is known as America. No matter how long the Norwegian coast is known to be, it will be small in the big world picture. In a couple of short weeks we had passed the coast, or what at that time was worth taking with us. After passing Tromsø, a small trading town along the northern coast - where we by the way witnessed the local people conduct a series of witch burnings, as we loaded the ship full of provisions for the long trip that lay ahead of us. I noticed on the crew that the voyage we now embarked on was not a dance on roses. Only those with the greatest courage would set course Northwest before the ice had really let go in the waters to the North. The captain, on the other hand, was determined to reach the land of the Indians in good time, so we could plunder their valuable treasures while the population was still tired after a long and energy-exhausting winter.
The time aboard had probably been harder at the beginning if it wasn't for that I quickly got me a friend. The young man that the first night stood next to me proved to be my closest allies. His name was Simen and was also quite new among the crew. He had only been on board for a few months and was in many ways as new as myself. When I arrived on board I took over his job in the galley, but for dinner there was still a great need for help in the galley, and then it was the sim we called. Now, Simen was upgraded to the night watchman, that is, who was responsible for keeping a watch at night. Therefore, we shared the bunk, Me and Simen, I had the bunk at night and he had it during the day. The time in between, when we both had time off, we spent together. He was from Denmark and had been brought in to the crew the same way as myself.
The other pirates on board were also nice to me. All in all, the days went fast, and before I knew it weeks had flown by, and we had to dress in fur coats to keep warm. Having hunted a couple of polar bears in the area around Spitsbergen and Bjørnøya we sailed onto the amazing land of Greenland. Here were just a couple of places where humans would reside, and it was not necessary to plunder them. They volunteered from what they had left of both clothing and food to escape Captain Bloodspatters cruel ravages. Up there in the north, it was about surviving, and for the natives we were the biggest enemy one could ever imagine.
On our Southbound journey, it proved to be quite the adventure. The winter storms had yet to let us rest and the sea we experienced on the western side of Greenland was a furious one. The Goddess swore and had her words with the Gods above as she cooked for the crew. Not only did we get burnt food, but also plain potato soup scooped from the floor. No one dared to complain, the Goddess forbid it, and one evening she threw one of the crew overboard after having complained about hair in his polar bear meatballs. The man was never seen again and Captain Bloodspatter just laughed when he heard the news. Lesson learned; You never complain on the one that feeds you.
Our next stretch was long, cold, and not exactly filled with a lot of events. Mostly we saw open water and ice in the distance, analytically a whale but we had no space onboard to take on such a large animal for food. Eventually we did however pass by the straight parting Europe from the American continent. The currents here was ravishing, but our crew and our proud ship held together, and not long after we entered land of Nova Scotia. Our fight-ready and hungry crewmen did what they do best by pillaging and rob the villages we encountered for anything of value. Already I could see how our storage of gold and treasures of all kinds were growing in our treasure chamber.
Simen, the Goddess and myself proved to be quite a team. In time we learned to let her know minutes before the food got burnt, and after a while she decided that I should graduate to a real cook instead of peeling potatoes. Instead we got one of the young slabs called Morten to help out with the peeling. Morten was a quiet guy, and one who was obviously not really a man, but he dressed like one and acted like one and we all treated him as one - and with that my thoughts were that he was happy. Now in the latter days we understand more of this, but at the time of the 1600-hundreds a person like Morten was perfectly normal to be part of an including crew like ours. Simen was busy doing his night shift jobs. But i was forever happy when he crawled in next to me and fell asleep holding me tight.
At sea, our days very much was the same over and over again. I was happy the days where we had calm seas and we had good winds to take us where we wanted. Between the storms we made rapid progress toward lands I'd never even known about before my recruitment. I seldom offered my family back home a thought. It was hard to think about, but I had promised myself that I send mother and father the gratitude I'd receive. Somehow. Simen had it much in the same way, but unlike my own mother she had made resistance and Bloodspatter himself had killed her in front of his eyes. He had therefore developed a certain grudge against the Captain that would later come into play.
Blæik was keeping a tight ship. Along with his strong and musculus officers Varg and Snorre, who were twin-brothers, he made sure that everyone was taking care of their responsibilities. Varg was the strongest fighter onboard, the one responsible for training and execution of our heists as we went along. He was not a man to go against and the crew had grown a deep respect for his fearsome persona. Snorre on the other hand took care of provisions and the logistics of our long weeks at sea. He was the one to make sure that the Goddess had enough potatoes for her infamous horrible potato soup, and that enough gunpowder was stored below deck.
Knowing your place was the most important rule. And the barrels of rum didn't make it easy on long passages. Once a man I'd never talked to before picked a fight with me. And if it wasn't for Simen that night, I'd be speaking to angels that night. The drunken man jumped me as I was crawling into bed. He pushed me against the floor and said he was ready to relieve me from my pain. I hadn't felt any pain at all and was surprised by the mans accusations. But the man insisted I had a whole lot of pain and it wasn't before Simen jumped out of our bed with his knife ready to attack that I understood that the man himself was the one in pain. Sadly he never got to explore this pain further, cause both Simen and Varg himself made sure the man never lived to see another day.
Other than these minor mishaps, life onboard went on smoothly. Once you learn that your life ain't worth a thing on its own you were set up to succeed and with this I started to play my role as a pirate for real. I believe this is the first time I thought that I'd be able to off another man without feeling regret. Since then I may have killed hundreds of men and women. I've never killed a child, but then again, never been put in a situation where this was required. I was, and am to this day, a full blooded pirate. In modern times I am not necessarily proud of my doings, but not ashamed of them either. You have to live your life by the cards you are dealt, and these was mine. At the time.
The general rule onboard was this; As long as we made more than we spent, Captain Bloodspatter was happy and the crew was well taken care of. But while sailing the stretches of nothing but nature and ourselves we started to feed on each other. Just in the first couple of months onboard I saw many a crew go down in favor of the stronger opponent. At times the crew behaved as wild animals and as part of the crew, now counting well over 150 men, I bettered be careful on how I played my game. But things were about to change, we were heading for the Caribbean, a land I'd never heard of. But since the Goddess spoke so warmly about it, I warmed up and had expectations that I never felt disappointment of. From my inexperienced and newly acquired pirate's view.
I was not very old the first time we were told about the ravages and warned against standing in the way of the cruel Captain Bloodspatter. He ruled all the world's oceans, and is to this day the most infamous pirate captain this world has ever seen. One could say that Bloodspatter was ahead of his time for the world had barely had time to launch its first ships before him and his pirates claimed the oceans as their dominion. That you have not heard more about this ravaging Captain has its natural explanation in that the stories I am now going to tell have been hidden away for centuries. Hidden from a world that has not been ready for the story of Bloodspatter and his men, of which I am to this day still is part of.
My name is Captain Jack. I was of course not always a Captain, and for many years I sailed under the flag of the horrific Captain Bloodspatter. To this day, I still wake up with the nightmares of the many robberies, looting, and horrific events I was made part of at the time. It is many years ago now, many more than a human life really should count. This also has its explanation, but we will return to it later. Let's start with the beginning. I was 14 years old, the year was 1604 according to the Gregorian calendar, which at this time had not really taken root yet. The world was ruled by several calendars and the year can therefore be many others. I lived with my family in the middle of a long fjord somewhere along Norway's long coastline.
Life at that time was quite different from today. Norway was a poor country, and it was a struggle to survive. On the other hand, the population was something completely different from what we could imagine in our wildest fantasies, so it often took weeks between each time we met people, or the neighbor at all. My father was a farmer, like most people in our region at the time. I had abnormally no siblings, but my mother was a seamstress and took care of the village clothes. Based on this, I worked long days in the fields and in my young life knew little about the world outside our small little fjord. In 1604, Norway was part of Denmark, so we paid little attention to life outside our small community. King Christian IV had never set foot in our part of the country, and it was unlikely that he would ever do so.
We lived so secluded that one night when we heard cannon shots as we ate our dinner, we were immediately assured that the world had come to an end. My awakened father must have understood more than he told us, because it did not take many minutes before he had housed us down in the basement and rattled the door behind us. Admittedly, we had nothing to steal, we were far from rich and hid no treasures worth stealing. With us we grew potatoes and herbs, beyond that we hunted and fished what we needed to survive the long cold winters. The basement was a small dark room we used to store the crops, but this spring there were only a few of the fjord year's potatoes left in the boxes along the wall. We therefore had plenty of space in the minutes that followed, and that would forever change my life.
After the first bang from what father now told was a cannon, there were several loud bangs. In the distance we heard men singing, and father watching the ventilation hatch kept me and mother informed of what was happening outside; A group of men had boarded a light boat and were now rowing from a large ship, larger than father had ever seen, heading for the village that lay down by the water some distance down in the fjord. Dad had always insisted that we live outside and now in retrospect I understand that it was precisely because of events like this, that had made him think in such ways.
"If we are lucky, they will not come up here," muttered mother.
She looked terrified. I was also afraid I had never seen her like this. Not father either, but unlike mother who was shaking in a corner, father looked for weapons to protect us if it should come to that.
"Who's coming?" I wanted to know.
Mother and father exchanged glances. Mom shook her head, but Dad ignored it and turned and grabbed my shoulders. I had never seen him so intense.
"The captain of the ship out there is called Captain Bloodspatter." He said, holding my gaze. "He's the worst pirate the world has seen to this day, and he's most likely come here to recruit young men to join his crew. I'm probably too old for him to want me, but you... 'He hung the rest of the sentence in the air.
Only now did I get really scared. A feared pirate had come to our fjord to kidnap me. It was my first encounter with human evil in stark contrast to our otherwise quiet everyday life.
"But, why me?"
"Look at yourself boy, you are strong and muscular and have a youthful strength that are the best qualities at sea. You're the perfect crew for Captain Bloodspatter and his men. We have to stay hidden until they move on. "
Dad returned to keep an eye on us and told us what had happened down by the sea.
'Now they have come to the pier. None of the villagers are to be seen yet. I hope they have managed to hide. If the pirates get one of them, they'll definitely talk about Jack. "
The last thing he said to my mother, but a look at me told me everything I needed to know. The fact was; that I was the only one of my age in the village who even came close to fitting the description my father had given of men who hired Captain Bloodspatter. There was simply no one else within a mile of my age. Just then it slammed again, a crash on the outside told us that our house had been hit by a cannonball.
"I forgot to blow out the light," hissed my mother. "They see us a long way from here."
We knew we had lost. There would be no point in running to the forest and we had of course left the weapons inside the house. There it was dark and forever far to the nearest good hiding place. Besides, wolves or other wild animals would either eat or reveal us. Our best opportunity was to lie hidden. But even Dad understood that the battle was lost. Fate was not challenged at this time, and we all three knew that my poor mother would not be able to run far with her health. Our best hope was to stay hidden and hope that the pirates thought we were gone - despite the light we had standing in the living room.
Mom cried and held me close to her. For twenty minutes we lay quietly and hoped that everything would pass without any further problems. Dad reported from the window. They had set fire to the inn, and we heard the screams of the villagers right up to us. Then it was quiet for a long time before a shot in the door made mother scream loudly.
"Come out right away and we'll save your lives. We're only interested in the boy, we know he's in there so do not try.
Dad looked so lost on me and mom. I got up.
"No," cried Mother.
Suddenly I had grown up. I felt in my whole being that the rest of my childhood was over and that the only thing I could do to protect my family was to take responsibility by going with the pirates. That was the only thing that could give my parents a chance. I turned to them.
'I have to go now. Father. Mother. I promise to come back. "
Even though I pretended to be tough, I could not stop any tears from pushing myself forward. We held each other's arms for a moment and then I turned towards the door, one last look behind me was the last I ever saw of those who had given birth to me and let me grow up to be the strong young man I had now become.
I opened the door and went out into the yard outside. The pirates stood in a semicircle waiting. They each held their own torch, and muskets to the side. They were not threatening while looking at me.
"Here I am." I said in an overly bright voice I did not recognize.
A tall man with a large saber in his belt took a step forward.
"What's your name, young man?" he asked
"My name is Jack," I said, which was true, "Please leave my family alone, and I will be with you." The last with a slightly clearer voice, I really had to steel myself and push everything forward against I had to be able to prevent the voice from bursting.
"You have my word." Said the man with the saber. "You seem to be as strong as we have been told. Do you agree to sail under Captain Bloodspatter until the day you die of old age or fall in battle? »
I swallowed hard. "Yes, I do."
Two men came up on both sides of me. The pirate who had spoken came walking towards me and tore my shirt open. Another came forward with a steel. A staff that had been warmed by the torches they were carrying. The glowing wand was brought to my chest. The little I had left of pride was the only thing that enabled me to bite into me the scream of the pain I felt. It smelled of scorched flesh, a smell I have unfortunately felt so many times since and seconds later the part over the heart mite was a smoldering wound of burnt skin, where one could see the contours of what today stands as my first tattoo, a letter, a red-hot B that would forever make me one of Captain Bloodsplatter's men.
Not long after, I crawled up a rope ladder, aboard the ship that would prove to be my home for years to come. I was no longer afraid that the pirates were out to hurt me, the man with the saber had kept his word and did not hurt either my mother or father. The worst thing about it all was that I now had to leave the fjord I had grown up in. The only place I knew on earth that until tonight had been a safe and good place to live.
The man with the saber climbed after me. When we got on deck, he stood to assess me from head to toe.
'You should probably do well. My name is Blæik, remember that, it's me you will answer to onboard. The captain will soon meet you, so keep your mouth shut and just answer the questions you get."
I was still a bit confused and quite exhausted after everything that had happened, but I nodded and watched while the rest of the men climbed on board. Each of them nodded to me as they climbed aboard the row.
They were hard-boiled sailors, but somehow I realized that most of them had been in the same situation as I was now. Don't get me wrong, these were top-notch pirates. The most dangerous men who would ever sail the world's oceans. But the mark on my chest, which was still hurting so bad I thought I was going to black out, must have made me already one of them. Now all that remained was to meet the Captain himself.
There was silence between the twenty men who lined up on deck while Blæik patrolled the row of pirates. When he was satisfied with the crew, he lined up and announced that the crew was ready for inspection.
I was already dumbfounded with admiration. I had always imagined that pirates like this would be wild and uncontrollable. But there was no doubt that there was strict seamanship and discipline on board.
Up the stairs from the deck we heard heavy footsteps. I saw how the crew sharpened, and the young man who seemed to be about my age next to me began to tremble a little.
A tall man with a long big beard slipped out on deck. His eyes glazed over the crew as he took heavy, slow steps across the deck. Captain Bloodsplatter, at last he stood directly in front of me and stared down at me with a watchful eye.
"So you're your new recruit?" Bloodsplatter lifted off the part of my torn shirt that covered the burn I had received just a short time ago. "I see Blæik has taken care of the inauguration already. Good."
"He was very cooperative all the way, Captain. No problems arose."
"Well. What is your name, boy? ”
'My name is Jack, sir. Captain." I managed to say in a fairly stable voice.
"So. Jack. You are, from what I understand, the only one on these funnels in this forsaken fjord who is fit for serve with me. You will follow Blæik's order, otherwise I promise to set the course directly back here and wipe out the whole village." A trembling finger in the direction of the flames from the inn told me everything I needed to know. There was no doubt that these were not empty threats. And I had no plans but to follow orders. With a final nod, the Captain went ahead and ordered Blæik to raise the anchor.
The story tell that hundreds of years ago, while pollution was not invented and the oceans water still seeped into what today is known as the inland waters of the Swedish Kingdom and Foxen – a group of pirates was left behind to guard a great treasure. They were to guard a truly unique collection of gold and glittering minerals collected from heists, robbery’s and gruesome piracy all over the world. Their fearsome Captain Bloodspatter himself had given them the task of protecting their legacy at any cost while the rest of the pirates went back out to search for even greater treasures.
Years went by without a word from Captain Bloodspatter or any of his crew. And the pirates left behind was never going to abandon their given assignment. As if the magical land of Foxen had put a curse on the inland pirates, they stopped aging, and lived to see wars come and go, experience pandemics and global warming while only making sure of the one thing Bloodspatter would forever keep them accountable for, to watch over the biggest treasure known to have ever existed.
East in the waters of Foxen, South of the Bridge to civilization – right next to West Bird Bay and to the North of the troll-fences in the South is where you might be lucky enough, but not secluded to, catch a glimpse of the inland pirates. In their very own little bay called the Super Secret Pirate Bay, you might be one of those selected few to grab a good old warm meal or a very cold pirate beer on a hot summer day from their secret hide. You can always try to call on them, but I wouldn’t put a bet on them showing up until you are truly ready to accept the consequences…
One thing is for sure. The treasure will stay hidden until the day the fearful Captain Bloodspatter return to Foxen, breathing or not – And until that day the remaining, broke and drunken pirates of Foxen will do everything in their power to protect their waters like they have done for hundreds of years.
While we are prepping the boat for sustainable life throughout the winter, by drying meat and fruit, cleaning and repairing – we are also awaiting the arrival of the Goddess, our deckhand for the next few weeks. We have asked her to treat this part of her voyage as part of this excursion and to document her travels for the blog in the name of holistic research. I took the liberty of translating the text from Norwegian but with this I leave the keyboard to Goddess for the remaining of this post.
First Travel Letter
My journey from Lillehammer to Alta takes place on land. First stage Lillehammer-Trondheim, completed by train on Wednesday 26.08.2020.
It is very special, good and a little mixed with joy. I have never in my 45-year-old life made such a journey. It feels a bit like “the child’s first journey”, as the saying goes. Never traveled so far over several days neither domestically nor abroad. I have dreamed of doing that. Heard about long flights to Asia, America and Australia. Told about inter-rail with long train journeys, but always only been a distant dream for me.
NOW IT’S HAPPENING! Now it’s finally my turn to complete my journey in my own way and fulfill a dream. For many years I have dreamed of having a driver and car with me, taking the Hurtigruten one way and driving the other way. That Hurtigruten has been replaced with FF Ella, only gives the dream the last touch I myself had NEVER dared to dream of.
To have the opportunity to join from Trondheim to Finnsnes in March-April together with “my brothers from another mothers”, was something special. Even though they both invited me, and we had and have had the bond we have. I did not really think so, and did not dare to trust that I actually mean so much to them as it is now clear that I do. Something I am unbelievably happy about, and will appreciate until the day I no longer leave my mark on the earth’s surface.
This is also an anniversary trip for me, in June it was 25 years since I moved to Alta and in September it is 25 years since I moved to Lillehammer. Have not been back to Alta at any point during the passed 25 years, I have longed and dreamed, to experience what now finally becomes a reality. In ’95 I flew north, making this my first flight ever. I flew to Alta.
The first flight of my life was then; A flight from Værnes (Trondheim), stopover in Bodø, on to Tromsø, change planes in Tromsø and so on to Alta. Had of course heard a lot about how damn easy it was to take off … Oh I was going to take off 3 times and change planes. There was no problem.
I knew no one had heard of anyone ever, who had never been to Alta before moving there. Oh, the feeling I had when I stood at the luggage belt at Alta Airport on day in September 1994. I was 19 years old, and the feelings they should have really been felt by everyone. Did not know which direction I was going out of the airport, so small I have never felt either before or since then. Orienting oneself alone in a completely foreign part of the world should really be felt by everyone.
So today the journey started back, from the inland’s deep and narrow valleys with mountain ranges, as the only county in Norway without connection to the sea and coast, to my childhood county via Dovrefjell with majestic Snøhetta, Trøndelag. Accommodation with a fantastic friend and her family, in historic Trondheim, in one of the city’s oldest and best-preserved apartment buildings in Holstveita on Hosptitalsløkka. Here you can find the only intersection with Trondheims / Nidaros’ oldest cobblestones laid in this way, the oldest electric street lights. In other words; Lots and lots of old history.
It is very special to travel in this way, you get to see the cultural landscape and nature in Norway in a close way, while you actually get there quickly. In Gudbrandsdalen, the patching of houses is the old building tradition, but we do not see much of that further north. In Trøndelag, we have a very special type type called “Trønderlånn”, this is often a long narrow house, which was most often built as a farmhouse on medium-sized and large farms. See pictures of different Trønder loans I saw on my trip.
Oppdal is known for producing slate for the whole world, and has its own hotel built in Oppdalsskifer.
I have been holding a turtle for the first time in my life, despite the fact that I have always been very fascinated by the creatures of these times, who have been similar in evolution after evolution. The turtle is physically living proof that one can endure age after age, as long as one is true to oneself and one’s flock. So it means a little extra to enjoy a turtle on my own time travel.
The next stage will be the longest of the trip from 07.15 to kl. 22.55, but then I will not continue until 13.10 on Friday 28, so I look forward to it.
The Tubbie Goddess fulfills dreams in her own unusual, weird, quirky way; But it’s my way and my life, I love it!
You’re Blessed, The Tubbie Goddess
Second Travel Letter
Stage 2; Trondheim – Fauske by train. Starting at. 07.48-16.52 and bussing on to Narvik from kl. 18.09 to 23.30.
This is a stage I would describe as spectacular! Starting with a coastal landscape, then the agricultural landscape is followed by the coastal landscape on Helgeland, then the whole thing is topped with raw and harsh Saltfjellet before it again turns into a coastal landscape.
These physical changes in the landscape, gave me physical images of life, now on the time travel of my life. My life has at times been experienced raw and harsh as Saltfjellet, beautiful and lush as the agricultural landscape emotionally charged and chaotic as the coastal landscape.
Getting this from nature’s changing landscape does something to me. There is no doubt that this is a time travel in one’s own life. Feels the title “Back to the Future” is very descriptive. I physically travel back to a place that have meant a lot and given me a lot during the time I lived there. Then to be part of something new in the present that gives me new energy and memories to build the future on.
It’s big, it’s amazing, it’s great, simply.
Well ahead in Fauske, there was dinner at Jernbanekaffeen, the dinner of all time bought from the menu: old salt saithe with carrot stew and bacon. A dish I grew up with, and have lots of childhood memories with. Absolutely fantastic to buy from the menu for the first time in my life. I grew up with my grandfather fishing for saithe and making salted saithe from it myself. Grandpa fished and made lutefisk himself for Christmas as well.
Here my original plan has changed, because I wanted to visit mother-Alta Iris, in Målselv on this trip as well. But there are no buses from Bardu/Målselv to Alta on Saturdays, otherwise the arrival of Alta would be on Sunday evening at 22.15. Too late, and too little time for me to see Alta again. That’s why I continued to Narvik by bus when I was so well underway.
Went off the train at 16.52 and the bus continued at. 18.09 toward Narvik. On this trip we took the ferry between Skarberget and Lødingen. I got on this trip’s first boatride. I could not then just sit in the bus, neida, I was the only passenger on the ferry who was on deck during the entire crossing. Should have arrived in Narvik at 22.55, but 30 min delay made the arrival time to 23.30, 17.5 hour after departure from Trondheim.
Very happy I had rented an AirBnB room, and hailed a taxi from the bus-terminal to the address. A great teen boys’ room with fantastic bed, access to shower, toilet and kitchen. Happy and delighted that the bus from Narvik to Alta would not run until 13.10. Plenty of time to sleep long and relax.
Went out take a walk to get lea on the body to get some fresh air. As soon as she fell asleep, her head hit the pillow, and she slept like a rock all night.
The next travel letter will be the stage Narvik-Alta and the reunion and surprise when Captain Jack and Captain Simen discover that I arrive at FF Ella one day before the appointment. Fortunately, Jack has told they would just be in the boat and relax. Hehe…
To be continuous!
You’re Blessed, The Tubbie Goddess.
Third Travel Letter
Narvik – Alta
In the old days, Narvik was called Victoriahavn, after Crown Princess Victoria who visited the place in 1887. Personally, I think Victoriahavn is nicer than Narvik, because I think it testifies to Narvik’s long history.
Woke up at 11 in Narvik, after a fantastic night, rested and ready for another race, and the last stage of this part of the journey. A good cup of coffee and a mårras-smoke on the stairs of the AirBnB apartment.
Captain Simen and Captain Jack still knew NOTHING about me arriving. Thought to myself; “Do I manage to keep it a secret until I arrive? The host must be careful and notice details in what I share on Facebook!” This was challenging, because of course I had to keep the others informed… A good shower and a calm start to the day was absolutely fantastic, after 2 relatively intense travel days with an early start.
It was piss rain in Narvik this day, I, the Goddess who wanted to wander around a bit to look around, had never been there before. But it was quickly replaced with breakfast at Steinovnsbaker’n at the Amfi center, which is the nearest neighbor to the bus terminal. A wise and good choice.
Here I found another culinary edible thing with a nostalgic twist, namely what we in Trøndelag call ‘Laupe’. In Narvik it is called for; Aniseed bun, something I must admit is more descriptive than the Trøndelag name. Aniseed bun with brown cheese is the best pastry I can get, preferably with another cup of coffee. So two aniseed buns with brown cheese and the thermos filled with coffee, became the way I should have on the last leg of this wonderfully spectacular journey of mine.
Over the magical Gratangfjellet I was once again captured by magnificent nature. A fantastic party that really lures me back for mountain hiking on a later occasion. But it may be stored in memory, then we will see what the future brings me.
The bus was a so-called double-decker, so I strategically placed myself on the second floor. Very wise choice for several reasons. Firstly I had a first class view and secondly I had fantastic company. My fellow passenger was a very nice lady from Germany who was living with family in Norway. She became very interested in what I was going to do and my choice of travel ways to get me North. She really enjoyed “traveling slowly” herself, whenever she could, and enjoyed it every single time. I think her description is very good, to “travel slowly”. Thinking that more people could have benefited from this. To just enjoy being on the go, no matter where you go. Then the whole journey will also be an experience. It is environmentally friendly both for us and our planet as well. For us simply to calm down, and we save the environment from extra emissions free.
This lovely lady lives on Tranøy in Hamarøy municipality. She gave me her contact information, so I could contact if I wanted in connection with the realization of “my islet dream”. She was also very fascinated by it; -Living all alone on an island between old northern Trøndelag and Finnmark, in the period October to March to get stormy, the light that actually exists in the dark and the possibility of northern lights.
The first bus change took place in Nordkjosbotn after a short stop, from here it was the same bus to the ferry quay at Lyngseidet. This trip also took place in spectacular nature with “Fjords and mountains” as tourists refer to Norway. Now there was a new crossing by ferry to Olderdalen. The most amazing ferry ride I have ever done. A surpass surrounded by the Lyngen Alps, Norway’s response to the Alps in Switzerland, Austria and northern Italy.
Oh who was the only passenger on the ferry who was on deck during the entire crossing do you think? – Yes, The Tubbie Goddess.
The bus trip from there became very special to me, my time travel was coming to an end, and I suddenly found myself on roads I had traveled on 25 years ago. Kvænangsfjellet, the last mountain pass before Alta, mighty and wonderfully beautiful nature! It was a quarter of an hour break in Burfjord, where Captain Simen and Captain Jack had lived since the last time we were on a trip together, 6 days after they left I was there. I began to feel the excitement by surprising them.
But where is the marina in Alta? I found the post on FF Ella, with a picture of the shipdog Balto. Where he lies with his snout on top of the note with the tip number to pay port fees. It said “Alta boat association”. Entered Google maps and searched, quickly found out that it was in Malmveien 18. Incidentally my near the center when I moved from Alta.
Got off the bus right at Bunnpris gourmet, went shopping with me a bit, then I ordered a taxi.
The taxi driver drove me to the guest harbor of the Alta boat association. I made an agreement with him that he was not allowed to drive until I had found the boat.
Went out on the first gangway, and there at the end on the left I discovered Ella. Went over and thought I should knock. But no, because out in the cockpit there they sat, together with two others they had a visit from. Captain Jack was eager to say anything, and in the middle of the story I shot “Yes, it seems so”.
They were just as surprised as I had hoped and wanted! Great and cordial reunion joy! I FINALLY got to surprise them, it felt really good!
The visit trudged home to their boat, my stout brothers joined me in the taxi and picked up my luggage, then there was a welcome beer in the cockpit of the dancing northern lights in the sky.
It is certainly unusual with the Northern Lights as early as the end of August, so then it was probably the universe that welcomed me back to Alta, for the last time I saw dancing the Northern Lights was just in Alta, of course.
Thank you dear past for all the experience I have gained, now I will live in the present and create my future on the wisdom of the past.
Remember; Enjoy the moments, they are the ones that are actually life. Sail safe through the stormy parts and life, where ever when ever.
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?