PART IV: The Magic of Os

OS

Friday, July 1

We left Rosendal and motored further north to Os via a narrow passage way

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in the wispy, blue-gray morning light.

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Speaking with Marit and Even at our last port we were still unsure about docking opportunities; yet, online information mentioned a new, guest mooring site so we decided to check it out. We knew we could always sail on to another harbor if Os’ was too exposed to the winds.

But, it seemed fine when we approached and hunted down a free slip. Now, though, we wanted to do our usual repositioning, which meant both of us getting off the boat and man-/woman-handling of lines to set up JUANONA for an easier departure out of a tight space.

While performing our rope gymnastics with JUANONA serving potentially as an unruly steed part of me was hoping that no one was watching this example of seamanship; yet, another thought was what a great photo op of a watery rodeo act :)

Well, there was someone seeing our docking technique as he appeared about ten minutes later on the pontoon. We started talking and invited him aboard.

And, that was the beginning of one of the most treasured times we’ve had in Norway.

Gunnar, a retired Fluid Mechanics Engineer, and his wife Elisabeth, a retired teacher and art historian, took us under their wings.

Mentioning that these pontoons actually belonged to the condominium complex looking over the harbor,

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Gunnar assured us we were fine as the owner wasn’t using the slip we were in. So, not only did this kind Norwegian welcome us to his home port but also removed any anxiety we had leaving JUANONA in a private mooring.

Later that day we stopped in at their condo (second building from the left, top floor) where we met Elisabeth, who graciously ushered us into their light-filled home.

What a beautiful and inviting space it was, filled with stunning art, a lot of it being Elisabeth’s. She creates amazing fabric pieces including several that were quilted pillows featuring Cirque du Soleil performers, capturing their tumbling grace. Prints and paintings adorned the walls as well as some intricately woven baskets.

I only wish we had our camera with us to show here just how wonderful it was sitting amidst such enchanting surroundings.

After enjoying some coffee (nice and strong) and delicious treats such as some Norwegian strawberries (if a warm summer day could be tasted, it would be the sweetness of those berries), Gunnar offered to give us a tour of Os.

He drove us across the harbor to the Oselvarlaget, a workshop established to preserve the oselvar, a traditional vessel found on the west coast of Norway. (The name is derived from its origin–”Os” or river mouth–and the person–”Oselva”–who began building these traditional vessels 250 years ago.)

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The oselvar, a rowboat one can sail, is built using a method from the 3rd or 4th century:  the clinker technique where the edges of hull planks overlap, a type of construction the Vikings also used; so, there’s no question of how seaworthy these crafts are.

Gunnar volunteers here, and it was obvious he loves it. He helps keep these beautiful wooden boats in shape while also taking young people sailing, thus giving others the opportunity to appreciate this traditional craft.

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After touring the workshop and the clubhouse, we drove around the city and then out to the countryside.

We soon realized Os was a magnet for artists as we passed by statues created by the Norwegian sculptor, Arne Maenad, a friend of Elisabeth and Gunnar’s, who thoughtfully places his artwork in public areas for all to enjoy.

IMG_8609.jpgOur final stop landed us on the island of Lepsoy at Vedholmen Galleri, a fine-art gallery owned by two artists, Vibeke Harild and Peter Marron.

And, what a delightful environment that gallery is! I immediately thought of all of my artistic friends knowing they’d be spellbound as much as I was perusing the art.

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Recognizing some ceramic boats we had also seen in Elisabeth and Gunnar’s home, Vibeke explained how the popularity of those pieces of art (created by her husband) enabled them to open a gallery, earning a living exhibiting and selling unique work.

No surprise as all of the art was stunning.

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But, soon it was time to return to Os and JUANONA–Gunnar, to get ready for a dinner engagement, Max and I, to prep for Saturday’s touring.

Saying good-bye to Gunnar we arranged to keep in touch over the weekend with him and Elisabeth as we bussed in and out of Os to explore Bergen, only 40 minutes away.

I’ve said it before and I’ll mention it again:  the real gift of cruising isn’t the landscape with its flora and fauna, or the culture found in buildings and plazas. It’s the people one meets.

Here, we had sailed into Os in order to tour the historic port of Bergen, a destination we had been enthusiastically anticipating since landing in Norway two weeks prior.

Yet, the splendor of our travels lies in spontaneously connecting with folk like Elisabeth and Gunnar, strangers who became friends thanks to their hospitality to two salty  cruisers.

Fortunately, we had several more days to enjoy their company, so more to come with Gunnar and Elisabeth!

We’ve felt the magic of Os and we are most definitely under its spell.

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