A stormy week in Tromsø

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Balto loving to wait out storms.

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

See you later Tromsø!

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

Captain Jack

Under the Northern Lights

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

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

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

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

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

Captain Jack

No more plans

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

Balto taking a breather

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

The ruins at Vinna Island

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

Pipe up life!

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

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

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

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

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

Captain Jack

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Drydocking for repairs

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

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

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

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

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

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

One for the team!

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

Captain Jack

Expedition: Complete

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.

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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.

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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.

Signing off,
Captain Jack

Sailing in Lofoten

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Captain Jack

Make the most of it

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Captain Jack

Crossing the arctic circle

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. 

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From the beach in Tonnes

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Captain Jack

Self-Quarantined

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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Captain Jack

The Magical island

I let the crew sleep in this morning. Shoveling snow on deck and the cockpit in the morning is not on the top of my list, and it’s supposed to keep snowing for the pressing 18 hours. This combined with what was supposed to be fairly strong winds from West is not the best start for a day at sea, no matter how much coffee you drink. If it clears during the day we may still make the trip toward Brønnøysund where they at least will have a flash of internet. However, while I was asleep the winds have turned a bit more from the North making the coming passage a bit longer than anticipated time wise, and since there is parts of the coast North of here we would like to visit – we are settling in for an early start tomorrow instead.

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We are docked on Leka, an island loaded with geological history and plenty of culture. Minutes after our arrival, while looking for signal on my cell to pay the harbour-fee I stumbled upon Gjermund, the on-guard ambulance-driver of the island. A very nice man with an instant invitation to show us his magical island, as long as he was in reach for for his response time being the only ambulance and all. Saying that health–care providers would gift us their presence in these corona times felt just amazing, but we made sure to keep the governmental recommended distance at all times.

Gjermund is born on the island, he probably know every name and story there is and was willingly sharing with the three of us. First he showed us the second largest tumulus in Norway. It is of course massive, but was plundered a few hundred years back and once stood much larger than what you will see today. We then continued on to a high point on the East side of the island where an old sailor that had to leave his profession already at the age of 16, came back to Leka after spending a year of sickness in Australia. He then started to build his paradise that has since entertained visitors ever since. Today there is a bunch of rock-huts now available for tourists. There is even a small hotel slash bed and breakfast and plenty of space for caravans.

The ride went on with him telling the story of a 3 year old girl that back in 1932, during a baptism was picked up by a flying eagle and taken away.  The whole island came together to look for the little girl. Gjermund took us to the city hall and introduced us to the mayor. And there in the hallway in an install, the little girls dress was hanging next to her little shoe. The dress was ripped by the eagle’s claws. The other shoe was the first trace they found of the girl. It was hours before tree men climbed the mountain and luckily found a cliff where the eagle had taken the little girl. She was alive and lived a long life on the island until she died just 3 years ago.

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Continuing our drive to the west side of the island he showed us a whole mountain of extremely rear stone. At least on the surface of the planet, this type of rock belong far down in the earth and is only present on the surface two other places in the world. Here at Leka you’ll find the largest occurrence of this family in stones. The freshest of the Norwegian occurrence is as old as ten thousand years. Interesting enough, that’s also how long humans have lived on this island. It’s called Olivin and is part of the Serpentine-family in the geological family.

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Gjermund let us off by the local grocery-shop where we got some essentials before making the walk back to the guest harbour. When we got back Gjermund had ended his shift, but his colleague invited us in for some coffee and chocolate sticks. The lady was telling us about a life as an ambulance driver and despite the restrictions with the virus going on we were invited to use the facilities. Which is very good since we are practically out of fresh water, also the restroom came in handy along with the access to the world wide web.

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This morning’s first view

I can only recommend you make your own visit when you come around this area. We will be go on direction North tomorrow. Today we have spent cleaning up the boat and de-ice the ship. An ice-heavy ship is slippery and unpractical for both crew and Captains.

I wonder what tomorrows mysteries will be.

Captain Jack