In the afternoon of one of these days in history we left Hammerfest behind. We had eaten well, saved up some energy for our journey forward and was ready for new adventures. As we started the engine we had ourselves a nice little picnic in the cockpit. We had no intentions of stressing our leg. And so we sailed into the island of Vinna a few hours later.
At Vinna there is some old ruins, speaking of previous inhabitants. According to our sources in Hammerfest, there used to be plenty of buildings here, even a school at some point. But all that is left now is a few concrete walls and a very well built molo protecting the small little bay where life used to prove it’s worth. I must commend this old time people. They brought back the wood from the houses, shipped them back the way we had just sailed and rebuilt their houses on mainland. Life at Vinna wasn’t sustainable then – but I picked a whole bucket of blueberries. New seafarers had planted a mooring-buoy for visitors as ourselves and besides the ruins, the island can pride itself with a nice rock-beach we spent hours looking for nice shiny rocks between tons of ocean plastic and other trash, way to much for people like us to even start cleaning up.
Our next destination was across Sørøysundet and onto the island of Sørøya where we had set our eyes on a sweet little place called Grunnfjorden. I must admit, when we had checked this place on the map it looked like a much smaller bay, being way more protective for winds other features the world is presenting us these days. It was of course beautiful, but as Captain Simen climbed his mountain and the Goddess hiked to better grounds for internet-services – while this guy was oiling teak and sneezing his ass off, we had silently decided that Grunnfjorden was no place to be anchored in the forcasted gales heading our way.
Balto the great sailor puppy is settling into his new life at sea. He now jumps fearlessly between our ships and have left the curse of seasickness behind (at least on the calm waters we have been journeying lately). He is even starting to accept that the deck is a perfectly acceptable place to take a shit. He doesn’t mind spending hours on the water, but has no problems with running around the wild nature that these part of the Norwegian kingdom offer to the world map. Balto now have a passport, and once his rabies-vaccine is fully operational in about 3 weeks, he can travel anywhere in the world he want as a free pirate puppy!
The Goddess that have just moved into her new pink city apartment, desirable smaller than her previous house, told us proud great stories of how she has rid herself with her many boxes of rocks. I’m happy to report that she has indulged in now creating an entire now collection of shiny rocks of many colors. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if she choose to catalog the entire selection of northern Norway’s minerals. Time will show how many rocks the airline will allow her to carry onboard. I’m picturing a hell of a fight at the security check-point, nobody should come between a Goddess and her precious stones of magical powers.
Besides sailing a bit further South to hand the Goddess over to the airline in a week’s time – this ship has no longer any planned route for the future. Sørøya was as far as our planning made it. From here it will be sailing without a destination for many days to come, and in some ways I suppose this is where the adventure can go in any direction (except North).
I’m happy and a bit scared. Mostly scared about not having completed the installation of our diesel heater that is our only real source of heat when winter comes around. I believe the problem is how to get the exhaust out of the boat. In short we need a longer exhaust-pipe which is not to be found amoung trash on any amazing beaches, as it need to be metal and fairly bendable, and yes it would sink. Once this part is in place, and as far as I know everything should be working just fine. Captain Simen has done a great job installing the whole escapades of cables, machinery and pipes. May I remind you that FF Ella was already a hot mess of things, stuff, cables and wiring in all and every direction.
That would be it for this little update, I wish you a pleasent day and would appreciate if you shared our travles with one or two of your amazing friends!|
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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 are preparing for our next expedition. Our ship is currently being fitted for another adventure as you read. It will still be a few weeks before our departure, but we’ve had some great luck – Since we arrived at our previous destination at 70 degrees North the boat ran ashore. It was a mess, and totally not our fault. But since we had made sure to insure our beloved boat everything has worked out (so far) as good as it could.. In short the total cost of the rescue and fix of the boat have cost at least the double of what we paid for it, which in return have provided us with some awesome new features to ensure safe journeys for the future.
For the next weeks we will be working for Captain Simen’s mother at her very own campsite named Arctic FjordCamp. The very reason we made this journey north instead of heading toward Sweden as of the original plan. And of course that wouldn’t be the smartest decision as 2020 proved to be a pretty much scandal for the entire world population. Corona is here and although we seem to be slowing down in the care for it, it keeps growing and is currently airborne. Bad news of course, but until further notice life goes on and it would be stupid not to prepare for it.
We are trying to think forward and despite how much we love living in the arctic, doing it for family is proving to be a bit of a hazzle for two free pirates trying to live their own lives. In short, we are most likely heading south before the end of the year, and we’d better get FF Ella ship shape, cause it will be a long run. (Yes, we could never come up with a new name for such a perfect ship and have decided to name it after the previous owner and builders mother; Ella. However we are attaching the ‘FF’ meaning forskningsfartøy in Norwegian and ‘research vessel’ in English, as our first boat – The FF Harry. Read harryfloats.com.
I’m proud to inform that we have repainted the inside, gotten new bedding, plates and cutlery. A new handheld VHF, ropes, fenders, a new propeller, plenty of important other stuff and not to forget an oven to keep us warm all year long. It eats a bit of diesel and cost about 30 cents an hour to run, but in the long run will save us for any extra costs of having to stay in expensive harbors for electricity on our way south.
How far you ask? We don’t know yet, but we have a dream of going back to Foxen in order to enjoy the amazing landscape and fresh waters of the pirate waters we know way to well. This is just a short update, I would never dream of letting you be in the dark for too long. Hope to see you follow us.
We have arrived at our latitude, 70 degrees North. We do have another short day tomorrow, but that is basically just crossing the fjord in time for low tide. Since the tide around these northern waters during full moon easily vary about tree meters we have to be there at low tide in order to unload the ship without running the risk of get stuck until the next full moon tide next month. There is no dock at our destination we will have to anchor outside our new home at Arctic Fjordcamp.
We spent a resting day in Tromsø. It was nice to collect the energy needed for the last haul. The captains got almost 24 hours alone onboard before we had a crew-mate join us for the last couple days of sail. Captain Simen’s little brother, Marius, who also traveled with us on the FF Harry and later visited us in Malta had decided to join for the last days.
From Tromsø we sailed for ten hours and we have now plugged into our last guest harbour for this expedition. The choice fell on Skjervøy, about 20 nautical miles from our goal and final stop for now; Storeng, Burfjord. It will take a while to soak up all experience from this sail. Our trip-counter is currently 1620 nautical since Fredrikstad and about 2850 in total since we left Västerås. That’s about 5300 kilometers sailed, a quarter of the distance between the north and south pole.
So far I’m impressed by the landscape we are moving into. Tall great mountains, plenty of fjords, and snow that could easily serve an entire winter Olympics for decades to come. I must admit it felt a bit sad to sail away from the blooming spring in the south a few weeks back but sooner or later I’m sure it will follow us here as well.
All that remain is to thank all of you readers for following us through this amazing experience. This blog is officially taking a brake, awaiting new and crazy adventures to come. I’m sure you will find hours of text from earlier blogs. Thanks again, it has been fun.
Until next time, sail safe and enjoy the small things in life.
We are getting dangerously close to our destination. In just a couple of days we’ll be in Burfjord. The place we’re going to spend the next chapter of our lives. But not all of us is going that far and today the Goddess left us in Finnsnes. She found a friend she hadn’t spoken to for 25 years and we sent her off with our blessings. The time we’ve spent together since Trondheim will never be forgotten. The moments are endless and the adventures has been what most people in this world dream about.
After leaving Maurnes we tried to follow the meteorologists advice of cutting our days short by half the day, but once again they were far off with no chance of redemption. They said storm – we got sunny beautiful silent water all the way. Way off, they should be ashamed of themselves for making us listen to this crap everyday. Do they think that people on land just believe all the crap they spew out every day? Let me tell you this, it’s correct about 25 percent of the time, meaning it’s pure guessing all the way. I understand weather can be hard to predict, but please stop hiring people with no experience in weather whatsoever. Ask the fishermen, they are way more accurate.
I’m sorry, had to rant about the weather again, but I always get disappointed when people I trust repeatedly lie to me. Point is: We’ve had the most beautiful days at sea. The sun has been shining and life has been absolutely great! The Norwegian landscape is constantly amazing, even for us people that have lived here forever. I can only recommend this journey for anyone that is searching for something else. Something you can remember forever and probably also be the only one to understand.
A letter from the Goddess
Thanks a lot.
This is my big thank you to the guys I’ve adopted as my brothers from another mothers. Our journey begins with me and Jack being colleagues in Lillehammer autumn 2016. Jack moved his caravan from Lillehammer camping to my garden when the snow melted. Simen moved from Alta to Lillehammer in may 2017, and their life together started as couple started.
This two pirate-brothers of mine is the most lovely, caring, funny, blood sugar hunkers in my life. But the three of us together makes the best life three people can have in a sailboat for three weeks. No one where killed because we makes the best of every situation, respect and love each other enough to make personal space in deep understanding for each others personality. This is the deep reason in my heart why i love you.
This three weeks made the journey of my life! 13th of march i traveled by train from Lillehammer to Trondheim to get onboard Ella, and set sail for the northern coastline of Norway. This is a journey I’ve been dreaming for many years . But never could i dreamed that it would be in a sailboat with my brothers . Never could i dream that it would be like this at all. This came out to be much better that i ever could dream about.
The first stretch from Trondheim to Rørvik we spent 22 hours on sea. The longest stretch we did. I got seasick, I puked, and puked and puked till the hole sea was spinning around with me, i felt so cold that i thought i was going to freeze to death, but i survived, and three weeks of magic started.
At this point after three weeks in magic, i’m not able to pick one moment because I’m stunning for the first time in life i think..
In the blogs that Jack has written while i have been onboard, hi has written about the goddess, my name is Line Gudinne, Gudinne means Goddess in English, and it is my middle name. Onboard I made myself a nickname Tubbie Goddess. Because the color of my sailing-suit was red, the shape of my body is more round than thin, i felt like the red Teletubbie and my middle name is Goddess and so we got the Tubbie Goddess.
Tomorrow, Monday 6th of April, three weeks and one day after we met in Trondheim, i am leaving you guys in Finnsnes. I am sad because it is over, but i am very happy that you gave me this journey for life.
From the deepest of my heart i will thank you, wish you all the best in your new life on land in a part of Norway you two haven’t lived together before. New adventures, new journey and new beginnings.
Don’t forget to feel free to be the best of you, og with the flow in the name of love.
Blessings from the Tubbie-Goddess
Tomorrow we’ll be hitting Tromsø gently. Probably. And then just a couple of days more and we’ll be at our final destination. It’s not over until it’s over, and we’ll be fighting till the end. The currents we are facing tomorrow is some of the strongest of the nation. We’ll have to be careful to hit the at the perfect timing with the tides. Let’s see how that turns out.
It’s snowing again. Hard and relentless. But it’s okay cause we are in the magical land of Lofoten and Vesterålen where the mountains are heavily surrounding our boat at any time. Like a tall amazing backdrop that stretch for the sky – we just had to explore this further, so we did! But first we had a nice long break-day in the city of Svolvær. The journey ahead wasn’t very long, but our goal was set, we headed for the even more magical place of Trollfjord.
On our way we streamed our voyage live on twitch. Because of this we sailed much slower than we would otherwise. But had a whole bunch of fun on our way! Lucky as we are the sun followed us most of the way and a bunch of people got to corona-watch our journey for a few hours.
In the tourist season many big ships go here. It’s a tiny fjord on the fjord-scale but hot damn is it nice. As you enter you are imitatively swallowed by tall and taller mountain on each side. The side of the mountain go straight up and this time of the year big ships are prohibited entrance due to heavy rock-slides. We made a slow but certain entrance ourselves by pushing aside flakes of ice, screaming for echoes and flashing boobs to the trolls living in the valleys within.
We had decided to spend the night. Although the fjord doesn’t offer much of places to anchor or any electricity for our frozen bodies despite being home to an entire power-station that steal away plenty of the charm by being exceptionally loud all day and night long. In the south end however there was a place and it was perfect for spending the night. We dropped anchor and for the first time ever the Goddess had a real anchor-beer to celebrate.
It was then time to slay our fish. Another first for the Goddess. She had slayed fish before but nothing as big as this one. After hacking her way through the large bones it was cooked and eaten along with potato, carrots with an overload of melted butter. We are after all in the waters of fishing season numero uno in Norway, the Skrei is in town. After a meal like this any healthy sailor will fall to pieces if they don’t go visit lala-land shortly after, and since we didn’t have any heat to speak of except the flame from the stove, we did.
The next morning we got a start on the engine pretty fast. It was time to leave the Trolls behind and set course for “the blue city” of Sortland. To get there we had to pass through Trangstrømmen, which translate to ‘the narrow current’ and in order to make it through we had to hit the tide as the current was going North. And we did just in time, good thing we didn’t sleep in further. The alternative would have made for an extremely slow passage.
In Sortland the Goddess invested in kebabs for the crew before she ran of to buy some new warm underwear. Not long after, we were off to cross the fjord to Maurnes were they supposedly had a better guest harbour. Captain Simen spent the time watering down the deck with salt water to melt the snow. Little did we know that a storm ha taken out the electricity but we made ourselves feel at home by borrowing a private dock and settled in for the night.
We’ve had the most amazing crossing over Vestfjorden, the fjord between the mainland and famous Lofoten. For the first day in weeks and right after a night filled with harsh winds from the North we woke up to a sunny morning, close to no wind and the most silent water I’ve seen since the port of Trondheim. We were in the middle of a larger storm-system but only idiots wouldn’t make use of a whole day of blue skies to Explorer some of the most stunning nature the kingdom of Norway has to offer.
First we tried to tank up in Hellsundnes, but of some reason they had removed the automate for paying so we had to resort to our very last dunk of diesel. We truly haven’t been this low since leaving Fredrikstad way back in February. Shit let go, we filled her up and sat course West toward the City of Svolvær.
The cruising across was a day to remember. We saw some great sea eagles, and tons of other big birds, the small islands and reefs made up the first couple of hours before we surfed on lazy waves across the fjord, enjoying a warm cup of coffee as our destinations grew lager in front of us. Of course, this was the perfect opportunity for the Goddess to take her topless picture – flashing all of Lofoten in one go.
Now, Svolvær is a pretty popular place for travelers whenever there is no corona-virus going on, but so is Bergen and Stockholm, and none of these big cities charge as much for a night as the guest harbour of Svolvær. I won’t even tell you the price in case you end up in an anaphylectic shock.
The city itself was as quiet as the rest of the world this time of life but back in Mandal we met this bartender that knew a guy living here and how can you not follow up on such a lead. By the help of social media I had tracked the guy down weeks ago and invited him over for a beer. He arrived just as we had finished our meal of potatoes in souse with economy fishcakes made by the Goddess. It turned out to be a great welcome from a guy actually born and escaped from Fredrikstad years ago. It’s a small world.
Other than this, we stayed an extra day yet another time to get a bit bored onboard. The first morning I made my way over to the harbour office and purchased tree gold coins, buying us each seven minutes of hot water. Nice and clean for the first time in a while we could lean back an relax for a while.
A neighbor fisherman knocked on the boat and asked for some help to thread a cable. I willingly got dressed and five minutes later I took home a huge kod in reward. This will be a nice little future meal for the crew.
Tomorrow we’ll be leaving. But first the tanks will have to be bunkered and we will be on our way toward Tromsø. I believe we have picked the nicest route there. It will take an extra couple of days, but this is also one of the most amazing parts of the adventure.
Aside from all the amazing experiences life on a boat gives you – there are basically two types of days onboard. Of course there are variations of all sorts like crew, location, mood or weather. Being liveaboards on a sailboat is probably still the best thing I’ve ever done. Ever. As we only have a few weeks left of this two and a half year adventure, or to divide it further; since packing our bags and leaving our shitty apartment on Malta, the time has come to start contemplating. In a few weeks we will likely be back on solid ground for who knows how long, and I can’t help but to feel a bit uneasy about it.
A minor storm, hopefully the last one of the winter, is raging outside. It woke me up at six this morning. Of course, this is something you will get coming when sailing arctic waters in the cold season and we have been prepared for this. It does however slow us down and present us with some extra days at port. Except from being a bit more costly due to our hang to cook interesting meals and maybe even get a beer or two, we are far more tied to the boat because of the shitty weather and the ongoing pandemic.
Along our way, since we acquired our first boat a few years back we’ve had plenty of different people traveling with us. Putting the right people together is essential and not everyone turned out to be right ones for us. We believe in giving people chances, some was fit for a while, others not at all. Some I will always welcome back. To live and travel on a boat you need to be open, true and honest. You need to give your crew-mates the space they need and be respectful to all the differences. You better also have the ability to forgive, laugh and play. The hardest crew we’ve had to work with is those who have not been pulling their weight. Onboard with us we try not to order people around, but want each crew to find their own tasks and in that way find their place. There are always things to be done and unless you have been in situations like this before you better get settled fast.
I imagine it hasn’t always been easy for our recruits to find their place. Since we already have our routines and tasks in automatic place, the only thing they could do in the beginning was to follow orders. Because – even though we let the democracy have it’s say, that’s not really how it works. On a ship there is a hierarchy where the Captain have the final word – And this boat have two.
The tasks comes down to a few very important things. There is the planning of the route, stops and destinations. We have navigation, weather, fuel and maintainance-planning. We need to think about safety, food, storage, cleaning, crew-scheduling, budget, health and electricity. Many of the things that on land fall into place pretty naturally, changes everyday onboard a boat.
Still I would think we have been very lucky with the people we have brought onboard. And I believe that most have been having a great time, just like us. Travelers are after all usually up for the action. Friends have become better friends and new friendships have been made. We can’t forget the reason for our choice to sail in the beginning; We wanted to travel. Both Captain’s have great experience on the subject, but we have usually been tied to our backpacks. After years of backpacking I suppose most travelers would be looking for a door to close behind them, not just the zipper of a tent. The urge to travel is still there, but in order to get anything out of it you need to get your rest, to have the time to take a brake.
Imagine yourself traveling constantly for ten years of your life, but not had a good chance to step back and reflect over your experiences. Ten years of life is a long time to contemplate in one sitting. I would think that such a situation could put any healthy mind into depression. Many a traveler before us have trapped themselves in a loop of traveling for too long, where stepping out of it can brake a person or damage the soul. I’ve met many such people and they are no longer happy, they’ve lost touch of sort. In order to travel for real you also need to pull it together once it’s over. When traveling like we do however, although you still have to think through the experience as a whole when it ends, the defragmentation is done as you go. I truly believe that on long adventures such as this, you will benefit much more by travelling slowly. It’s important to remember that any journey, no matter how long, eventually comes to an end.
Back to our different types of days onboard. The first one being the days we are on the move. Our sailing days. I wake up bright and early and get the coffee going. Now as we are three onboard, the Goddess also get up and we have a quick snack and get going. The days route was planned the night before so it’s easy to just smack on the electronics, start the plotter, start the engine and leave the dock. Captain Simen need to sleep a bit longer in order to function so he’ll take the next shift. Then there is the morning shit-chat over the coffee or me talking to the seagulls when we are two-handed. Depending on wind we try to sail as much as possible but we can’t get around a pretty hard use of the engine as long as we have a goal in the end. As the day go on we are enjoying the mountains, fjords, birds and more coffee.
When it’s time for lunch, Captain Simen is usually up and we eat in turns. This way everyone can get some time inside where it’s much warmer and in case of rain you can get changed and dry off. Unless there is something special going on, we plan to spend about 6-8 hours on the water. That gives us another 30 nautical miles or so under our belts. Once again we take our sailing suits off and go inside to heat up and maybe have another snack. Then there is time for exploring if the weather is good, showers if the marina is open (which it rarely is due to the pandemic) or, if it has been a hard day – pure relaxation.
Then there is time to fix things on the boat, do some shopping and prepare for dinner. To wind off we can watch a movie or a show, play a game or read a book. We have to plan the route for the next day but sooner or later it’s time for bed.
The second type of days is the the ones at port or resting days. In these instances it is mostly due to weather. We have a certain limit for how much wind we like to sail in. Many of these days we would still go out if we could sit inside to steer or I guess, if it was summer. We don’t care too much about light rain or snow, but when the wind hits more than 10 meter/second, it’s raining or snowing hard and when the waves surpass 3 meters in height we find it more comfortable to wait. Today is such a day.
Some days we have some work to do, either online or on the boat. Many times the weather is not so bad in port even though it’s raging outside so we often have the chance to explore or go for walks. Usually there is an internet-connection that let us watch series, movies, play games or just plain out go online exploring. It’s alright to have these days once in a while, but if there is more than one in a row things tend to tense up. If the reason for our stop was purely because we wanted, I guess it would be different, but the case is that this usually happen because there is no reason to be outdoors. It get’s good old boring, very fast.
The variations of our days are as everywhere else endless. But the basics are the same. A good cup of coffee in the morning, some type of action during the day, at least one home-cooked meal, some entertainment and sleep. All I can think I would want different was a better mattress. The one we have is typical boat – foamy, way too thin and not really made for long time use. But it’s way better than sleeping in a tent, it’s the price I have to pay. Especially since I no longer have to carry all my stuff in a backpack every morning.
Everyone should travel. Everyone should have the experience in life of exploring culture and to see how close but different our cultures actually are to each other. I cannot stress enough how important I believe it is to actually feel this difference. There are people in this world that never leave their village, people that never get to discover anything outside their country. But how are you supposed to make sense of a world you only know from a distance? I’m not sure if I believe that seeing is believing, but to recognize that what you get presented as the true world through a screen in your living room – is only a part of the whole picture. It’s not necessarily wrong or fake news, but a picture that do not satisfy all of your senses, instead it gives your brain a chance to fabricate the rest of the story (like human brains like to do) and this will never give you the full picture of the world you are part of. In order to really understand – you have to get out there. To feel and to understand that you are in symbiosis with it all.
Going ashore in a few weeks will be another adventure. It’s been a long time since I had to consider everyday-things and that will be an adjustment. It is however something I know I can handle. Even though I’m moving to a part of the world where I have never had any roots, that’s nothing new either. I and all of you are very able to adapt remarkably to any moves or changes. My experience make me sure that I have nothing to fear. Changes may feel unsafe or scary, but they don’t have to be. We are humans and our instinct for survival is extremely well developed. Sometimes we just have to be pushed over the edge to realize it.
It’s not over yet. Let the storms come. It’s time for breakfast. I’ll take a slice of week old bread with egg. Sunny side up. And coffee.
This adventure is going a lot faster than we had anticipated. Based on our previous experience from our voyage between Stockholm and Norway we had calculated much more time spent in the country with the longest coastline anywhere. We still have a bit to go, but have arrived in Bodø, about halfway from Trondheim. Truth is that we most likely will complete the journey a whole month ahead of schedule. We could of course have taken more time, gone sightseeing and all that but it is winter and cold, the world has closed down due to a pandemic, and somehow the world is not as big as we might have thought a few months ago.
We are seeing magnificent mountains and are constantly surprised to see where people have built their houses. Some on remote islands, other in places I would never dare to live seeing the highest of mountains looks like it’s going to crush a whole village at any time. Unlike the Swedish coast, the people of Norway are still very much settled and live their lives here. The fishing industry is well established, although the few fishermen we have spoken to tell a story of having to go dangerously further and further out at sea with their small boats due to less fish.
The Goddess, having spent the last twenty years in the inland of the kingdom, are enjoying the view of the horizon of the Norwegian sea. While the two Captains are more focused on the mountains surrounding us, having spent the better part of the last few years in flat lands.
From Sandnessjøen we have made two stops. The first in Tonnes, in a marina looking like it would be a popular destination for pleasure boats in the summer. A little further out they have a wonderful small little village with a store and minor businesses. Clamped in between high mountains it felt like a wonderful little place to live for those interested.
Next stop was Ørnes. A bit larger than Tonnes, with several stores and plenty of more houses. Also this place was restricted by the pandemic but we took a walk and got some cheap canned tuna for the journey. Once again we settled in for a nice meal and an early evening. The next day we continued to Bodø, the so called capital for this part of Norway. On the way there we passed the Arctic Circle – we have officially sailed to the arctic latitudes of the planet. To me this was a huge feat, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I humbly feel like I’ve earned the bragging-rights by crossing this line during the cold winter months in snow with frostbitten fingers.
Once again we will take a few breather-days and continue after the weekend. It’s supposed to snow quite a bit for a couple of days and the wind will make it hard crossing a couple of the fjords needing to be crossed before we enter the protected waters of Lofoten.
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.