Monday, July 6
After our early morning exit from Ornnes we continued motoring up to Kornes, our original destination from two days ago from which we were, luckily, diverted. Arriving we tied up to quite the pontoon rig requiring a jury-rigged dinghy as our stepping stone to the other floating pontoons that had smaller gaps between them.
Max and I headed to shore with a provisioning list and questions, some of which I was pretty certain I knew the answer to having read several write-ups on this port (showers? no. laundry? are you kidding? water? perhaps, if you want to carry it in jugs…). The prime inquiries were: what is the ferry schedule to Hellmobotn and what was the bus service to Narvik (Chris’ link to another bus to Tromso, his ultimate destination for a few days or so).
A really nice guy at the marina store at the top of the dock gave us some information and said to double-check ferry schedules with the office on the opposite side of the pontoons. We did and he quickly set us straight that there wasn’t any convenient ferry service to Hellemobotn (ran Thursday, Friday, and Saturday mid-afternoon, with a pick-up early evening IF you hailed them down, which, I guess, means jumping and shouting from the shore). Hmmm. With that we set off to climb the short distance to the main part of town in search of the grocery store. Finding it we loaded up on our now typical goods: tomatoes; carrots; cabbage (for slaw only); apples and bananas (for our breakfast yogurt mix); eggs; ham (for lunches); cheese (for lunches and hors d’ouerves); paper towels; limes (a luxury we feel we deserve sometimes); lime juice (if possible); tonic (depending on price). And some of the prices, even for Norway, felt a bit out of whack, which we reasoned was due to being a one-industry town (cement factory) with high wages.
During the walk up and back we said hello to the few people we ran across who responded likewise, but, still the town felt pretty lifeless. Yet, the people with whom we had any extended conversations were extremely helpful and always hospitable. Again, Norway could offer hospitality lessons.
Back down the hill to the dock, Max checked with the ferry-schedule guy about hiring someone to take us the 23 miles down to Hellmobotn in a small motorboat. He said he could get someone to do so at 6,000 NOK (Norwegian Kroners). Each way.
No, thank you very much for your quote but we will kindly decline with regret, and with that Max quickly walked out of his office and shared the answer with me.
Converting it in our heads, we mentally gulped when we realized that meant $900 each way… $1,800 round trip?!
So, then Max found someone on the pontoons who offered the use of his small boat. The boat owner then asked Max his weight (great, a question all women enjoy answering). Max told him it’d be the two of us and his son who weighed about the same as Max. Looking at both of us and doing HIS calculations he realized we wouldn’t be able to get there and back without buying gas somewhere; and, there was nowhere to buy it down there. I decided not to ask if it was just because of our weight; and, we walked the pontoons, dinghy, pontoon, and hopped aboard JUANONA to share the information with Chris.
Not being ready to forfeit our opportunity for this dream hike, Max decided to scout out any other possible boat owner willing to be hired. One boater with whom Max discussed options said we should just anchor down there. When Max expressed concerns regarding the anchoring depth and the winds whistling down the steep slopes (something all cruising guides and cruiser notes warn about) this man had the best quote: ‘you sailed all the way across the Atlantic, and you’re worried about anchoring in Hellmobotn?”… Well, when you put it that way, we figured he might have a point. So, we tossed that into our decision-making.
We discussed sailing down there today, hiking the next day (Tuesday), sailing back to Kjopsvik (Wednesday), and Chris taking the bus on Thursday to points north.
Initially Chris said he’d do whatever we wanted to; but, sensing a slight hesitation, we made sure to let him know we could go either way and whatever worked best for him was fine for us. Chris, having been with us for four weeks was ready to continue his adventure via land, so regretfully he said his preference was to get on the road in order to try to catch up with some of his good friends, such as Wilma in The Netherlands with whom he taught in Doha, Qatar, the school year 2012-13.
The decision was made and Max and Chris headed back to the store to pick up something better for dinner than boat meals (although, they are good ones thanks to Max’s chef abilities and Chris’ fishing expertise!) while I stowed the earlier provisions.
That night we had our last few games of OH HELL for awhile (until we get Betsy aboard), and we presented Chris with his own deck inscribed with memories of his summer cruising in Norway aboard JUANONA.
We had been playing with a similar deck, which memorialized Chris’ first overnight aboard JUANONA in the summer of 2000 when the three of us played OH HELL. At that time Max made the unfortunate comment that he was feeling particularly victorious. Never one to like boasting, I said if he didn’t win then he’d have to jump into the cold Maine anchorage. Can I tell you it was a sweet moment when he had to do so? :) Since then, the three of us have been careful not to comment on how victorious one of us may be feeling playing this capricious game.
to Tranoy…no, change of plans
Tuesday, July 7
A sad moment when we had to put Chris aboard that bus. He’d been a wonderful crewmate.. He also was the only one to-date who had caught, filleted, and fed us wonderful fresh Norwegian fish. We promised we would carry on the tradition, somehow. But, I have the feeling it won’t be as delectable without him.
The bus stop was only across the street from the dock, so Max and I quickly returned, untied and left for Tranoy, an artistic community just 20 miles to the south and down the coast a bit from Tysfjord.
The motor-sail (we unfurled the jib whenever the wind angle was ≥ 30 degrees, which wasn’t often) out of the fjord allowed me to peruse the surroundings, not the least being clouds doing their own unfurling of the landscape as they rushed down slopes
while some placidly capped the mountaintops.
And we passed a fish farm, which one sees pretty much everyone.
At one point the depth finder looked like it had gone on the blitz only for us to discover it doesn’t register when it’s over 2,000 feet deep.
Looking forward to being in such a lovely town, our hopes were dashed when we pulled in and saw the docks were full. With a stiff breeze blowing we didn’t want to try to tie up on the windward side of the only available pontoon (it’s hard getting one’s boat off of a dock when the wind keeps it blown onto it, especially a sailboat that only has a propeller in the back/stern as oppose to one that may also have one in the front, a bow thruster). So, we quickly changed course after circling to see if a wooden power boat on the leeward side of the pontoon was going to leave. When they unloaded the baby stroller we decided chances weren’t good they’d be leaving anytime soon.
But, once again, a forced diversion landed us in yet another beautiful cove with summer cottages and boats dotted around. It was windy, which made anchoring always fun, and it was doubly so when we began dragging after the first try. Up we pulled it, then found another spot to lower it (all in fairly deep water). This time it bit and we thankfully began to relax for the rest of the afternoon and evening.
When below we spotted a boat named Karaline II on AIS. Thinking that was the wooden power boat we kept checking to see if they were leaving. By late afternoon it didn’t look good, so we knew we’d be staying in this cove for the night. Not that we minded for it was gorgeous in the water color,
the majestic framing by the mountains (which, frankly, you have regardless of where you are in this area),
and the colorful houses, including one with the sod roof.
Wednesday, July 8
The next morning we waited for the lighter, forecasted winds then tried our luck again at Tranoy knowing we could easily find another anchorage if the town’s pontoons were still full.
Miraculously, there was space exactly where that motor boat had been the day before. We had been watching the wrong boat on AIS. We headed for our docking and a welcoming guy offered to hop off his boat and catch our lines. I can’t emphasize how wonderful it is to have helping hands like that. I’ll never forget letting a good friend down when he was docking his and his partner’s beautiful 53’ boat in really stiff winds. The pontoon looked far below and my ability to jump on a slippery dock not good. And, this is with two strong men handling two other lines aboard. Fortunately, nothing happened untoward except my resolution never to hesitate to make that jump.
Back to this morning, the jump wasn’t bad at all, but, thanks to this kind man offering to catch our lines, I didn’t have to jump with both the bow line and the spring (a line placed amidship that helps keep the boat centered in its spot on the dock) in my hands.
Once we’d docked we thanked the man who introduced himself as Roar and who was here with his partner, Sif. Through later conversations we discovered they were from Tromso, had just begun their ten-day holiday, and loved Tranoy (this was their third visit in three consecutive years).
We stopped by to invite them for cocktails and met Sif. They gave us the lay of the land including the news there was a spectacular bakery where that morning Roar ensured he was there at its 11:00 a.m. opening to purchase its famous cinnamon buns. So, off we headed to the grocery store and to check out that bakery.
At the grocery store we met a lovely young woman, Elisabeth, who said they had free wifi in response to our question of any place offering such nearby. She also said help yourself to coffee. And, when we asked how much she said well, some people will leave 5 NOK in the jar there on the table but it wasn’t necessary. Were we in the right place or what?
She then gave us a map indicating the artwork that was sprinkled around the town and what had been publicized in everything we’d read about this sleepy little summer town. We had noted one art gallery was closed, and we hoped that wasn’t the one offering showers and laundry noted in the cruising guide. Elisabeth suggested checking the other gallery further up the road, which we’d do then return to purchase coffee and use the wifi.
The second art gallery was owned by a stylish woman with beautiful gray hair, purple leather jacket and big smile.
However, her response to our shower and laundry questions was ‘Oh that difficult boat living. All those stinky people!’ said with a carefree laugh. Well, those who know me can imagine the thought bubble growing above my head with that comment…such as retreating, rubbing my already-dirty body with dried cod, and returning with a huge smile myself asking to see their most expensive painting.
Fortunately, I kept my tongue and asked if we could peruse the gallery. She said of course, and we did so soon accompanied by a nice young man, Karsten (sp?), who described the two main artists’ work.
One of the artists’ work was particularly intriguing. HIs name is Frank Brunner who received his MFA at Yale in the early 2000’s and whose reputation as an artist was growing, not only in Norway but internationally. He paints and also does lithography and his work juxtaposes a snapshot of realism with his perception of that realism reflected in water, be it a stream, waterfall, or puddle. One in particular caught my interest,
which surprised me as I’m not one who truly understands modern-ish art; yet, I kept being drawn to this one. When Max asked the number next to it, which corresponded to the price list, I realized it was a dream and we began to leave. Karsten kindly offered us a complimentary expresso, and we said perhaps we’d be back the next day.
Back on JUANONA after checking emails and surfing the net, we got ready for Sif and Roar’s visit.
Once again, my feeling that the scenery in Norway is spectacular but the people even more so was proven true. Beginning with Alesund, we feel we have made some life-long friends, and, because we haven’t run into a lot of folk, it makes our time with those we have even more special. Roar and Sif were no exception; and, over drinks that night we learned how Sif had begun and was running an extremely successful youth program in Tromso (www.tvibit.net), and Roar was a community real estate developer who has an amazing musical talent (singing and playing the guitar; Roar Dons Band on FB). Furthermore both are modest about their accomplishments.
As Sif and Roar explained Tromso has been called the Paris of the North being 186 miles inside the Arctic Circle. This arctic city earned its cosmopolitan nickname from the area’s vibrancy thanks to the early Viking settlement growing into a large commercial port since the 1400s. Explorers, Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930) and Roald Amundsen (1872-1928,) set off from this northern seaport adding to Norway’s polar achievements. Tromso also features the world’s northernmost university, which opened in 1972.
Sounded like a great place to visit. When Max and I expressed interest saying winter would probably be a good time due to being off-season, both Sif and Roar laughed and said actually winter was the high season (!). Noting our perplexed looks they explained Japanese tourism had risen over the years due to a belief that sleeping under the northern lights would begat a son; therefore, hotels, restaurants and other entrepreneurs had increased prices and, I’m sure, innovative ways to attract those interested couples.
Having spent time with them and learning more about Tromso and our limited knowledge of Alesund, I could see wintering in Norway aboard JUANONA. Who would have thought that? Not me, certainly!
A joyous three hours were spent sharing tales and Roar’s promise the next day that he wouldn’t mind us stopping by to hear some of his music. He graciously said his philosophy is, if you want to play music, then play it. Our friend Carter would most likely agree with that one :)
Thursday, July 9
The next morning, after helping a sailboat pull in (paying forward Roar’s pontoon welcome), we stopped by KAROLINE II and spent a beautiful hour listening to Roar’s music (on FaceBook at Roar Dons Band) with coffee and continuing conversation with him and Sif. He had his first concert in years this past May and received enough encouragement (probably much more than ‘enough’!) to think of doing another. At one point we discussed favorite artists. They both mentioned Paul Simon, and Sif told us how Paul Simon had quickly composed the last verse of “Bridge over troubled water” in the studio to finish off the song. When I said “Kathy’s Song” was one of my favorites, Roar adeptly began picking out the intro and launched into a beautiful version. What a glorious way to greet the morning. And, thankfully, neither Sif nor Roar minded two, unwashed, uncombed cruisers aboard. At least I had managed to brush my teeth.
We returned and prepared for our stroll around town and picking up a few provisions with wifi surfing.
Walking around using the map Elisabeth had given us and checking the one posted in town, we located the outdoor sculptures (one for almost every year since the early 2000s) and copies of the paintings currently exhibited in the gallery.
As we found the outdoor sculptures…
at some we had to form similar poses.
(I love the wings.)
Luckily, unlike one back in 2003 that Max mimicked, these had clothes on….
We kept thinking how our artist friends–Ellen (Sinclair), Bobbi (Gunn), Kathryn (Davis), Traci (Sumner), Tracy (Bell), Brad (McFadden), and Jessyca (Broekman), among others–would LOVE this place. Having enjoyed Ellen and Bobbi’s times with us on Orr’s, we thought how this town could really use an artist colony like that on Maine’s Monhegan Island. There were plenty of tourists, which was great to see, but, surprisingly, no easels and their painterly owners standing out and about. What a fabulous business opportunity. Plus, there’s a spa (!), which, with that bakery,
says: what more does one need? :)
The map took us to a small cove,
then in faded yellow poka dots and arrows
led us to a grassy hill hemmed by rocks begging for sun bathers.
But, coming around the corner we saw a stunning display that pushed any thought of lallygagging aside.
And introducing us to this outdoor gallery was my dream picture. Was this a sign?!
Not really, but the gallery space (prints of the two artists’ work were mounted on foam core and then placed on the rock walls) was perfect! I’ve always thought if I were a designer I’d figure out how to bring the outdoors in. Well, here was the occasion of the indoors heading out. I loved it.
Amidst these works of art I found a new favorite, one that obviously had sold out of the gallery.
How can anyone not be moved by art in any and all forms? Whether I agree with the artist’s imagery or not, I still respect the process. This was, indeed, one of my favorite galleries.
We continue to follow the dots as they painted a path along the large, sloping stones sliding into the sea. I spotted little tubby spots and thought of our friend Anne and how she and I would have loved it if those natural baths were filled with hot fresh water. Living on boats you do miss hot tubs, and she and I often express shared dreams of being some place offering bath tubs.
Heading back to the main street we passed Karston as he was entering the gallery. I yelled a hello and he smiled and asked if any decision on that painting. I said not yet. He said I hope to see you back with a genuine grin. I said ‘me, too!’ Yet, turning away I knew the memory of seeing both of those pieces of art hanging outdoors in Norway would be the best ‘purchase’ we could ever make.
We ended up heading a short distance out of town passing a townscape that we both said could have been one of Maine’s.
Hearing a yelping sound walking down to the road, we zeroed in on a solitary bird. Not having any idea what kind but liking the look of it, I figured I could always ask our friend Jayne what it is (it’s standing in an open marshy spot):
We ended up at a lighthouse where Gus and Helen aboard s/v WINGS mentioned catching a view of the entire Lofotens stretching north to south when looking west from our vantage point on the mainland.
I did my own ‘life imitating art’ although not as great as some, for sure!
On our way back we met up with Sue and Kevin off ISLANDER 2, the 32’ Vancouver sailboat that arrived earlier in the morning. They were from Cowes on the Isle of Wright. It was their second season in Norway having wintered their boat in Tromso and they adored Norway. Their second winter will be in Trondheim, and they’d be coming back for a week or ten days at a time like the previous winter to check on their boat and do minor repair jobs. Later that day when Kevin came aboard with charts to share some of their favorite ports and anchorages he said they had loved their time spent in Tromso. Sue had even dog sledded (!), and not as a passenger but as a driver. Whetted our appetite even more for a winter here.
We stopped at the store to check email, pick up some hot dogs (Betsy, we can promise you those! :), and say good-bye to Elisabeth. She suggested another stopover when we told her our plans were to eventually head south. When we asked her to write the town down, Max looked at it and exclaimed, ‘that’s exactly where we’ll be stopping!’. She said her brother lived there and she was headed there for a weekend visit. Evidently, it was similar to Tranoy. We had yet another place to look forward to during our cruising of Norway.
We paid for our two nights (200 NOK or roughly $30/night, which isn’t bad considering some of the UK marina prices) using their honor system that is refreshingly employed more often than not.
I had to take a pic of the pontoon’s rigging as Max had commented the day before he’d never seen a trailer hitch used this way.
And, we got a bonus as we saw Sif and Roar coming in from a dinghy excursion. We will miss them like we do Kjetil and Steve and other friends we’ve met along our way.
At the dock we had noticed the night before a beautiful rowboat tied between us and the next pontoon. Sif and Roar told us the rower had been featured in a coastal TV special earlier in the summer. The guy had gone through some health issues and to help him gain his strength back set himself a goal of rowing the whole coast of Norway. Max noticed the guy was leaving, so we quickly got our camera out and also exchanged a few words. He said he would be leaving the harbor Monday, so he must have just been getting some exercise. I told Max we had passed him the day before on our initial walk into town. ‘He was that Viking-looking man, remember?’ Evidently he was noteworthy enough for Max to also recall, for he had been an exceptionally strong and big guy.
As I mentioned earlier, Kevin kindly stopped by then left for a fresh fish dinner, and we had an early dinner (early for our Norwegian time schedule) and early night to bed. But, I want to be sure to show you the midnight sun from the night before when bed time was usually 11:30 p.m. or later.
Here’s the sun at 9:16 p.m. :
Here it is at 10:52 p.m., an hour before midnight:
And, one facing northeast.
Pretty cool :)
We sleep with eyeshades since our v-berth’s hatch doesn’t block the light. We had been placing a sailbag anchored down with blue boat cushions as a make-shift shade but have gotten lazy about doing so and now pretty much just snap on the eyeshades (gratis of airliners) and catch zzzz’s.
Next, Straumhamn, eight miles down the mainland and offering three amazing anchorages if there’s room. Have we said enough how much we’re loving this country and its people? :)