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

Memoires of a puking Goddess

The darkness swallowed our ship as we sailed into whatever was left of the cold clear night. I had spent hours planning our longest passage ever. To stay ahead of the coming storm we had to sail hard for the coming 24 hours, or risk being land-bound for as long as a week. Further up the coast we would be much more likely to keep sailing protected from the raging Norwegian sea. For the journey we had recruited a new crew-member; Line, the goddess traveled through our virus-infected country and arrived just hours before we left the port i Trondheim.

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We have, as everyone else been very much restricted in our movements due to a certain virus that is currently taking over the world. Walking down empty streets in the third largest city of Norway on a Saturday night feels strange and at the same time somewhat calming. At the moment the borders to our country is closed for visitors and even within the country many quarantined zones make it hard for people to move around. So it was with the outmost luck that we got The Goddess onboard before all ways of traveling are closed down further.

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As for our own protection we have gone into what we would refer to as a half-ass-quarantine, meaning we avoid contact with as many as possible and try to keep distance to everyone. This do not help us however when we are no longer allowed to use public spaces like showers and such, but the rules/laws are different everywhere and we’ll do our best to comply, but a sailor got to do what a sailor got to do.

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Leaving Trondheim Captain Simen went to sleep while myself had my hands full teaching the Goddess the ways of the sea. Even they have to know the most important rules of the coast, the buoys and how to make out a safe lead-way. We had the basics down before sunrise and as later everyone was awake we spent a long and wonderful day at sea. I don’t think anyone could ask for a better first day in a sailboat than what the Goddess got served this morning. The winds were great, the scenery just amazing. None of us had any knowledge on anything this part of coastal Norway had to offer.

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Then, of course, as the darkness once again rained upon us the storm started to catch us from West. The wind picked up quite a bit and so did the waves. Once the Goddess lost her inner compass the curse of the first sail got hold of her and she fed the fishes quite generously on multiple occasions. Hanging over the railing in between with certain sea-spray every minute or so – it went on for hours before she finally collapsed in her cabin a few nautical miles from our destination. We didn’t see her until next morning.

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The Captains made sure the boat were safely in the guest harbour of Rørvik before we also went to bed. We had no rush, the slushy weather for the next couple of days gave us more than enough time to get back to our normal selves. Big kudos to Rørvik, this is the first harbour since Mandal with actual working showers and facilities. We all showered, did our laundry and the Goddess had fun with the dishes. We also got oil for the engine and talked the virus-closed pizza restaurant into serving us each a great good old burger. Even though this was probably a law-breaking meal according to a very frustrated owner, we had a good time – also probably the last dinner out in a while.

As this is being typed we have left Rørvik. We are fighting a 6 on the Beaufort’s, a strong breeze from the North making our planned daily sail about double in time. No problem for a ship like ours and tonight we’ll be docking at Leka, an island where people have been living for ten thousand years.

Captain Jack

Prepping for the Norwegian Sea

For the first day since we started our journey north, we’ve had calm seas and hail. Apart from the hail it was amazing to have the autopilot finally getting to do it’s job. Most of the day we enjoyed reading books and sipping a nice cup of coffee. We have this little camera pointing forward to see ships and other things that may get in our way and it seem to work fine whenever there is no rain or anything else blocking the view. We can sit at the chart-table and just pop our heads up to check for other ships once in a while. The sad news is that another storm is coming this weekend. We have to use the days between the storms effectively to get as far as possible, but then there’s this balance of taking care of ourselves, stay safe and enjoy the journey at the same time.  

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A serious Captain Simen reading his book.

We docked in Kristiansand. It’s a fairly big city in Norway of well over a hundred and ten thousand people. Lucky for us they had electricity for heat. My hopes of filling our cans of water disintegrated as I almost walked right off the pier. The people running this place had disconnected the whole pier, no wonder there were no other boats around. Result was; we suddenly had our own little downtown island, cut off from the world with barely enough water for the super-important coffee next morning.

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The trip down the coast to our next destination was short and sweet. We only did 24 nautical miles with an average of 4 knots. It was a beautiful day on the water, the best so far – probably what is know to be the silence before the storm. It’s not that I would ever complain about this horrible weather, but if the gods get what they want it will be shitty for the next 5-6 days. We can take a bit of wind, we can take a bit of waves, we can respectfully take some rain and even snow – but not all at once. Better stay put and await further orders.

In the last post i mentioned that Lindesnes is the most southern point of Norway, I’ll take this back, I stand corrected – cause it’s not. It will however be our most southern point on our venture north from Fredrikstad. The most southern point, and I learned this yesterday, is actually a small reef called “Pysen” and we passed north of it earlier today.

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Mandal is a whole lot smaller than Kristiansand but have ten times the charm. There is only about 15 thousand people here, and they have all the amenities you could need in a small place like this. Time will show if its enough to keep us occupied during our stay. To get here we passed through an amazing archipelago with hundreds of cabins in all shapes and sizes. The people we have met so far have been most welcoming and we’ve found a great spot in the harbour. This is of course one of the best things about living onboard, most of the time you get to live in the down-town area of the cities you visit. This give you short walks to almost anything.

Besides reading a few books and drinking tons of coffee, we are settling in for a few quiet days in the boat. If we are really lucky we’ll even get to take a shower in the service house which for some reason stands unlocked. From here I have calculated about 20 active days of sailing to hit Trondheim. It’s a reach, but our working-goal is to hit Trondheim before March 15th. It’s possible to make it – but as we will be entering the Norwegian Sea whenever we start from Mandal we need to get the boat back to ship shape first. We are likely to encounter quite a few waves and there is still many weeks left of this years storm season.

Captain Jack

Seasickness-training in Stavern

We’ve been tossed around in our boat for a good 36 hours now and are finally seeing the last of this storm. You could’ve said that we should have been smarter with where we dock and that an opening straight out to the bay possibly wouldn’t be the best of choices. It has resulted in us losing much needed sleep and a couple of fenders. On top of this we’ve had a few scratches to the hull, but nothing critical. It does not look optimal and will require us to take the bat ashore at some point after our arrival at the final destination for this trip. It’s all cosmetic, except some exploded fenders and a need to invest in some new ropes. 

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Picture by NRK. Red area is red warning for flood.

We are luckily not in the hot zone for the coming super-flood and are currently tied to a floating bay that should keep us safe throughout the night. In some parts of Norway, somewhat in the area where we’d be next week are currently dealing with the largest spring-flood of the last hundred years. Best of luck to all of you out there, may you not obtain any lasting damage. Our plan will be to set sail at first daylight tomorrow. The weather is supposed to be good enough and we should be able to get quite a few miles done in a fairly short amount of days – if we push on before the next storm system is due to arrive in a weeks time.

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This storm did not come as a surprise on us and we should definitely have done a better job on where to dock our boat in a situation like this. But the experience has been archived with other files for steep learning-curves and will not happen again. On the other side, we’ve had plenty of time to discover Stavern. Ibby, the cadet, survived until Saturday afternoon before setting course for the city of Halden. Before this we had to check out the local pub and had the pleasure of meeting all of the towns originals in one night. This of course called for a great party that lasted to the early hours.

All of Sunday then went on with regularly checks in the powerful storm outside and making sure that everything was tied down. Our beloved stack of Jerry cans on deck need a new system, in short I suppose it’s time to install some more bolts on deck and to make sure there won’t be any unwanted leaks or loss of life essential fuels. We are in good spirit, have had visits from friends and families. The crew is mentally preparing and is getting ready for another great week of sailing; This time some of the most visited coastline in Norway. It’s a freakin’ summer paradise and we can’t wait to have it mostly to ourselves.

Captain Jack