We are sinking!

We are taking in water. This is really bad news. There has allways been some water, now there is too much to ignore. I was thinking we could wait a couple of days, maybe even weeks, before we took action. But at this speed that could turn fatal for spiders living on the lower decks. If my calculations are correct (and they usually are) we are increasingly taking in about 20 liters of water every hour. No human can make that kind of condensation. With a broken handpump and a very cheap bilge-pump, it’s getting critical. Now we just have to figure out where the frock this water is coming from. 

Searching the ship port to star, top to bottom. Yes, the wood is as old as the ship but there is only one small crack we can find and it’s well above water-level. also very bad news – Suggesting that one of us might have to go for a swim. We have ruled out leakage due to crash – we’ve been getting very good at not bumping into anything since we decided that FF Harry is a ship, not a boat.

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One posibility is that due to the extreme heat the last couple of weeks; the wood has dried and shrunk a little just at or below the waterline. If this is the case, there is not really much we can do until we get Harry out of the water. We are painfully aware that he would like at least one new coat of whatever, but our original plan was to do this in about five months. Also, the sudden change of intake the last 24 hours speak the story of something more calumniatory.

Our working-theory is not about cracks or crashes. Harry might be old, but his engine even older. In our own euphoric state of getting back to nature there might have been a slight neglect in reading the whole 96 pages of user-manual (of which some parts are written by hand next to some very dark black and white photographs). To be honest, we have been oiling and taking care of the engine in almost every way, but it seems we have forgotten to grease up the system. We knew it had to be done, but not at the frequency listed in the manual.. The grease-cup should be turned every 5th engine hour, and the rest of the system greased every 25th. After about 75 hours. We have turned the grease-cup once.

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If we are lucky, we haven’t broken or worn out anything just yet. Hopefully a good round of grease should take care of the whole sinking of our ship-problem. The parts needed is of course available if anything is broken. But getting them shipped to our floating location and paid for with our non-existant money, not to mention the whole mechanic proscess of figuring out which parts and how to replace them where – would be a lot more complicated to us than mending minor cracks.

This fight is not over. If you need a reminder – remember the title of this blog and then go share it with everyone! (Especially SABB-mechanics and rich people prone to donations).

Blubb blubb.

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Surviving abnormal hot days

Data recording weather conditions in our current whereabouts this time of the year is clear; The temperature since arrival in this beautiful landscape of Sweden is, and will for the foreseeable future be, 10 degrees warmer than the average of the last 10 years. This, of course, is just the way we are heading. April of 2018 was the 400th month in a row on planet earth with record high temperatures – and the cat really hates it.

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Simba finally standing still for a photograph

Lucky for him, most of the time – he’s a night hunter.  As soon as the sun disappears the temperature is cooling down to something somewhat more normal and I suppose more liveable for kitty-cats. Us, we are doing fine. Our camp nowadays gets some nice morning sun before whatever is left of trees from the beaver went to work, gives us shade all day long until the mild evening rays come along, bringing a couple of hours questionable heat before sunset.

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Justin Beaver has been busy doing his birch-thing.

Days fly by. We have no idea how the cold months of last winter could move slower than global warming in the 80’s and now we’re a week away from June (and total collapse). But there are some upsides to all this good weather – The plants are thriving! Our newly pirate-planted fields of vegetables, greens and not to forget the herbs are getting ready to explode into a firework of fresh organic edibles. Maybe not just yet… But sooner than expected and despite the end of the world and all that – in the short run, this is perfect.

Harry’s engine is loving the fresh-water. The wood, not so much. There is no rush but within the end of this year, he would probably like very much to dry-dock just a little bit. He could use a fresh layer of paint, oil, and other liquids. It seems like the previous Captain has been taking care just as much as needed. But the ship is old, only three years away from turning forty – Much more than you can expect from modern cruise-liners.

There are tons of other people using the lake, which of course is wonderful! We’ve seen dozens of Germans doing their canoe-thing, families are starting to spruce up their cabins for a new (record-warm) season, the locals have launched their flat-bottom fishing-dinghies and we’ve met our first new friends on this journey; two brothers from France. The older one (65) a highly educated medicine man quit his job years ago to work within holistic medicine and the younger one (61) is doing a canoe-trip of northern Scandinavia to figure out whether he will stay in Europe or return to India where he had been living for the past 35 year-ish or so.

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FF Harry resting after 3 hours of full sun

As you might’ve guessed. We’re back in Tøcksfors to divert some electricity. We are of course looking into other more wannabe-legal ways to charge our batteries, but we were powerless, broke and also we wanted to abduct some old tires to protect FF Harry from scratches back in camp. We’ll return to camp (and to have another amazing feast with our new French friends) tomorrow. Mission completed.

Our first campses

Thinking back on the last week or so.. We can’t help exploring the idea that this journey – this adventure – of moving onto “FF Harry” was the only right choice! Even the cat is starting to get the hang of having new spots to explore every day. As these words are written we are illegaly docked in Töcksfors – at the lower lock-station, stealing electricity. 

Of course we spent way too long getting ready, say our goodbyes and finish up the packing in Fredrikstad. Aslo we picked the road less traveled and ended up spending a good extra couple of hours getting back to our original sailplan. By the end of the day we descretly docket at the guest harbour in Halden, and decided to go to sleep. Ignoring the partystreet with the loud music and drunken fellow/Norwegians we docked next too. We should have known better.

The flying ship

Since we both recently claimed the title Captain – we are headed for a steep learning-curve. Finding ourself woken up by the alarms at seven in the morning, signaling the guy transporting us from Halden was thirty minutes early. He would be onsite half an hour before schedule. Since it was dark at our arrival we spent the half hour locating the specially fitted ramp used for the transport of boats to Tistedal and Haldenkanalen. Sadly the canal was still closed, not openeing until the end of may.

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“The flying Norwegianman”

There was some excitement of having the boat lifted from the water for the first time. We got to inspect the hull and it looked pretty good! A few scrapes and scratches, but nothing critical. What a relief, it could`ve been horribly bad. These things tend to happen when you buy a boat without taking a look at it first. But we scored, we are very lucky!

We had the pleassure of riding inside the boat the 43 minutes it took us to pass through hills and the deep forrest. The driver probably liked his privacy and we respectfully got to ride the most expencive rollercoaster we`ve ever heard of. Totally out of his element, Harry headed into the deep forestes of Norway in a speed he have never known before. 40 knots through bushes and halfway up raging trees and centimeters from powerlines. We measured the boat before departure and had 15 centimeters to spare. The catch would be only that none of the power-cords or powerlines had gained just a little bit of slack due to heavy snowfall this winter..

Camping and fixing

Except from a little whip from a tree, All went well. And in Østre Otteid we got back in the water, paid the man and set of to find an island for the cat to spend some time. Little did we know tha Simba didn`t actually like islands. Besides – why step out of the boat when he`s got the most fantastic room in the house?

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Simba being grumpy

We had checked out the map and sort of knew in what area we wanted to camp. From the island Simbatraz we located our area within the hour and set up camp. Now, Stora Le is a large pool of water and it seems we’ll have more than enough projects to take care of in the coming weeks.

Today is monday, and our plan is to go shopping everything we need for the coming two weeks. This is hard work, very hard work, in 26 degrees celcius.

9 hours later

Yep. Those degrees was indeed extremely hard. With Harry loaded, stocked and ready to embark, we now believe we have managed to purchase all neccessities needed for the survival of the next two weeks.

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“FF Harry” docked at the lock-waiting dock in Tõcksfors.

Status quo; Simba hunting the forest-creeps, Harry is silently resting by our homemade beaverwood dock. A strong sativa by the candle, our local owl is swirling among the trees. Bats are diving to catch tonight’s dinner-bugs in the shimmering light from our windows – and the two of us are pretty much ready to conquer to the magical world of dreams.

Truth is…. We haven’t really found our first real land-camp yet. All nights so far are spent onboard FF Harry, maybe we’ll hit the great spot tonight! This said – our internet is not good and blogging probably have to be limited to whenever we are visiting guest harbours or other places we can charge our tiny winy batterybank. But don’t worry, things tend to happen even when we don’t write about them. More to come!

Jack, Simen & Simba

Making our move

FF Harry is packed to the rim, the cat is freaking out, the trees are blooming, and we are ready to embrace our freshly acquired nomadic life! We are more than happy to liberate the summer of 2018. Bring on the challenges, bring on the joy and feel free to manifest some truly amazing weather! 

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The weather at one of our undisclosed planned campsites.

We’ve had a hard winter in Norway this year. There was measured to have downed somewhere over the rainbow of 700 billion metric tons of snow advancing the year of 2017. This of course make way for lot of melting-water in our lakes and rivers in the foreseeable future. We’ve been in touch with the companies running the traffic in the Norwegian and Swedish canal-system. Sadly the newly renovated Haldenkanalen can’t open their sluice-locks for traffic until May 26th and the locks in Sweden even later, as of now; June 11th (maybe a week earlier.)

This of course is not the end of the world to us, the worst possibly being the fact; we won’t get to see Haldenkanalen this time around. Also it makes our move a little more expensive. But in return we get to see Harry lifted from the water and may finally inspect his hopefully perfectly handsome-looking bottom. Multifrakt is transporting us by truck from Norways 29th largest city – Halden.  The date is May 10th, it’s Ascension Day, Harry is ascending to about 101 meters over sea-level. Into a new world of freshwater, cheap food and Swedish people.

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This was the last update written on my home-computer. In a few hours this machine will be sent to storage along with the rest of our belongings. I should actually get started, I just remembered – there are still ceilings to clean and landlords to please.

The Masterplan

There is no simple explanation for our choice of moving onto Harry. Or to set up camp on undisclosed locations. No explanation needed! Living outdoors is something we both want. This is not new to us, even though there is limited experience evolving being boat-owners. We are nature men and travelers by heart and the thought of slow-travel, with the chance of not having to actually carry our luggage, is what we are aiming for. Like a phlegmatic snail over troubled water.. 🙂 The ultimate goal is to find the way to continue our journey before winter once again rain upon us.

The weather is no longer a problem. We have our dry home in the boat! On board we can find all the tools needed, I guess we could build a small house if we wanted to. All the clothes, the food, the cat and the heat. We have two tents, sleeping bags and not to forget each other. Our only real concern was this:

What about the cash?!

We could probably get around the whole money-problem. And without boring you with our economical details, there shouldn’t be any problems – If our calculations are correct. But – in order for us to evolve and grow and let’s say invest in our future instead of paying bills – we’ve had to be creative with ideas on how to make our money. We also wanted replacements for the commodities we otherwise would waste money on.

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In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to consider this aspect of economics. Nor is it a goal of ours to become wealthy, if so; Just for the convenience of having someone take care of the manual-starting trouble we seem to have with Harry. The world is however not perfect. Fair enough, let’s deal with it. Best bet would be to follow this blog. You don’t need to ask about exactly how all these things are going to happen. We don’t know yet.

Lead the way

Even though we both find the activity of planning amusing, there is no real reason for spending hours of planning out our journey. We have tried to plan the content before without much luck. When traveling slow – like we want to (and are used to from our days with heavy backpacks in 26-degree shade) the plan quickly change. Whenever navigating uncharted terrain we prefer to take it slow and let the road, now also water, lead the way. What we however do spend time focusing on; our freedom, creativity and the amazing opportunity this journey represent. We want ourselves to play around with new and exciting ideas. In short: There is no master-plan.

Yes, we are making our own luck. We also want to learn how to get a closer relationship with nature, how to live more responsible considering waste and ecological footprint. We know we are dreamers. We also know that doing nothing about our dreams is not an option.

An all Norwegian boat

Moving onto a boat of 23 feet will never be an easy task when used to the comfort of showers, toilet, full kitchen, laundry-possibilities and so on. Just imagine trying to push all your belongings in a just a couple of boxes. then mashing these boxes down in the hull while making yourself believe that it should be as easy as THAT to get your stuff back up later.

Now – our boat was not that roomy when we got it. Especially on the inside. It soon became clear that we had to evolve this beast into something a little more of a mix between savage and comfortable. At the same time; more suitable for our ambition of living outside until King Winter or other climatic complications shut us down. More about our journey later, this post will be dedicated to our new home and proud ship – never before and soon to be christened – “FF HARRY”.

The Original

The boat was built in 1981, presumably on Onsøy, a peninsula and municipality that in 1968 merged with Fredrikstad. There is sadly little to no more information about the build or the builder. The materials used in the original is Norwegian wood wrapped around the iron engine-bars and aluminium top. We know that a large number of boats are built in Fredrikstad throughout time and therefore we credit our beautiful ship to the boat-builders from this part of the world.

The engine is a classic! I can’t find the exact year of this particular make, but was kicked to life by Damsgård Motorfabrikk  later named Sabb Motor established in Laksevåg, just outside Bergen in 1925. They first produced our engine in 1958. At the time; a four stroke 8 Hp, one cylinder diesel that later got upgraded to an 10 HP. They also made a bigger version; an 22 HP. Total make of the engines are about 20.000, and the makers are still in business! Even though the last engine at the factory was produced in 2001.

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ORIGINAL PROTOTYPE, BEFORE THEY ADDED SERIAL NUMBERS – Picture from Wikipedia: Av self – Eget verk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2575431

Necessary Mods

We had to make it our own. I can already smell the frustrated pirates lurking the marinas putting bad words to the new look of our proud ship. Understandable but luckily we are mostly carefree. The high culture of preserving the old and (must I say) awesome historical architecture of nautical wessels is very strong around the world. As should it be. Therefore we took our important steps not to damage the original structures while making our changes. Minus a couple of cuts and blisters it shouldn’t take more than about 45 minutes, two screws and some lifting to turn it back to it’s fainting glory.

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First we wanted more indoor space, we also wanted the ability to stand up. The amazing feeling of sitting aft navigating the sunset is romantic but sometimes very cold. Especially at night, bad weather or dirty rain. Besides – with our new addition to the boat it would be nearly impossible to keep a free sight of the water. The steering had to be moved – or we could dramatically die in a crash with an amazing superyacht – blinded by or own creativity..

The engine works for now. The starter does however not. We have to manually start the machinery. The dynamo is out too, meaning we don’t really have any way to make electricity. Bummer. Our solution was to get another battery and eventually we will buy a charger. For now we have borrowed the one of our Mister Fixit neighbor. Then there was all the other equipment.. Safety-stuff, ropes, oil, paint, diesel, lamps, heater and… of course new curtains.

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The previous owner made a box inside. He was also nice enough to leave us with something to sleep on. The electrical control board and wiring was outdated and we needed at least one new bilge-pump. The originally installed hand-pump seemed to only work if somebody used it.. There was no installed lights except from the port and starboard lanterns. A couple of the wooden boards were rotten, but nothing serious. We removed one of the benches outside which in turn gave room for our new cockpit.

A couple of chairs from a dinner table-set, some more free materials and parts from the internet, countless trips to a diverse selection of shops and boutiques, a couple of rounds with beer and a little help with painting from friends – and voila! You’ve got our boat!

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That was about what we have of story on “FF Harry” for now. We still have another full day of work on the boat. Then we’ll be free and happy go lucky! Depending on our ability to convince Simba, the cat, that boating can be a lot of fun.

Feel free to follow this blog. We’ll do our best to keep you in the loop!
Jack

The Journey of “FF Harry” Begins

Fredrikstad, Norway 03. May 2018
Thanks for joining us!

FF Harry is a wooden boat of ’81 with an aluminium top a Norwegian Sabb 10Hp diesel engine looking for new adventures. And boy did he get more than he barged for.

Now. The ship has changed. We were in need of more indoor space. After all this will be our home for the next months. The price 10.000 NOK (or about 1200 USD or 0.1312 BTC as of May 1th.)

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This is “Harry” the way he looked the day we picked him up in April 2018.

Like I said, we needed some more space and extra equipment. Another 800 USD was spent on upgrades even though we got most of the big stuff for free on finn.no. Which is also where we got the boat..

“FF” is a type of ship in the Norwegian ship registry. Meaning Forskningsfartøy or Research Wessel in English.

The plan is to sail into the lakes and canals of Sweden!

More info about the boat will follow. But for now, here’s some basic data:
Length: 24ft
With: Unknown
Weight: Unknown
Height: Unknown
Engine: Sabb, Diesel 10Hp
Tank: 43 ltrs.
Speed: Makimum 6 knots (we did 8,8 downriver)
Battery: 1x12V64 amp + 1x12V73 amp
Faults: Starter broken, dynamo broken, some simple fixes needed…

Wish us the best and follow this blog for updates!

Jack & Simen