The logistics of the journey to join Voltair in Bodo went smoothly enough, but this week's crew of Paul T, Jean E, Bob B, Rachael and JK were all rather worn out by the time we got there. First there was a very short night's sleep in order to check in at Stansted at 7am, then there was a quite long and hot wait in Trondheim, having arrived around 1pm with a 10-hour wait for the train to take us 200 miles up the coast to our rendezvous.
Trondheim, another granite city like Aberdeen, was pretty busy, with a high proportion of slim blonde girls either bicyling along cheerfully, striding forward purposefully, or sunbathing in bikinis on the grassy banks of the river behind the cathedral. It was a terrible distraction, and very hard to keep your mind on not getting lost or separated from the rest of the group.
JK decided the cathedral and its tower had to be seen, so parted with the necessary NoKs to gain entry. More blonde girl students (or were they fallen angels) in red cassocks gave briefings in the language of your choice on the architecture, the depiction of King Olaf with huge axe and orb, the history of the building, and the graffiti, some of which is about 1000 years old and chiselled into the stone. "There's a bit on the outside", she said, "where one of the monks has written a homosexual poem about his love for one of his colleagues." An american lady in the group I had sidled up to said "Hey - what does it say?", thus putting the guide in something of a spot. Turning her eyes to the vaulted ceiling for inspiration, the guide demurely replied "It talks about a part of the body that we don't like to mention".
The land of the midnight sun is putting all our body-clocks out of kilter, and, rather like Robin's team, we are finding ourselves not arriving at our day's destination till late, eating dinner, and then going for a walk about 1am!
We are now 5 nights into the trip, as I'm starting to write this, and on the way back to the mainland of Norway. Yesterday has been our best sailing day (not difficult to decide, as its been the only one with wind). But it was a truly amazing day, so as this postcard only has a small area to write in, I'll tell you about yesterday rather than the others.
We started the day in Laukvik, a small fishing harbour on the northern side of the island chain, which we had reached by motoring up Gimsoysund. We had been a bit surprised on arrival by the chart, electronic chart, pilot book and cruising handbook all being completely wrong! No small pool to anchor in - this was now a ?government funded marine development with huge scope for commercialisation. They had created a 10-acre flat hardcore area and built a splendid village hall in the middle of it, and had dredged the marshes to make a 50-acre marina, occupied by 20 or so fishing boats, one other substantial ketch, and Voltair. As it was just after midnight, we thought we'd start the day with a visit to the pub, just across the way from the hall. There was a wedding breakfast going on in the hall, and the guests were popping over to the pub in their best suits and dresses, doing a bit of rock-n-roll, having a beer, and going back to the wedding. Soon the bride herself came over to the pub, and it would seem that in Norway the tradition is to have your hen night after the wedding rather than before, as she was attended by a bevy of beauties all wearing little red fluffy antennae, while she herself wore an apron, a huge blonde Mozart-wig, and wellies. Perhaps it is a deja-vu scenario, and the other girls were her daughters-to-be. Bob got a nice photo and nearly got a kiss too, but wasn't quite drunk enough to really join the party. So, it being 1am by now, we went off to walk along the mole to the lighthouse, or climb the small hillock near the harbour (sampling cloudberries and bilberries along the way and and get my feet soaking wet), as the mood took us, and look for the midnat sol, which was teasing us with backlit bluish holes in the substantial clouds to the north. We didn't quite see it, so had an early night after cheese and whisky at 2:30am.
Nice blue sky, fluffy clouds and a stiff breeze greeted us when we stirred around 9am. After bacon sarnies we said goodbye to Laukvik and set all 3 sails for the broad reach to the east to get across to the next North-south sound, called Raftsund. We all enjoyed a splendid sail over a calm azure sea, the wind gusty as it came down off the 2000ft mountains a mile or two to the south of us. Lunch was taken on a desert island with a perfect white shell-sand beach with warm granite rocks at one end of it for tables and chairs. Paul, Jean and JK had a very short swim in the very cold water, but Jean says its a tradition that she must have a swim when she reaches her most northerly point, and this was it - 68 degrees 30 mins N - just far enough north of Robin's track to move the "most northerly" pin on Voltair's map a few miles!
The sun was wonderfully warm and we dried out without putting our clothes back on. After the picnic, we went beachcombing along the crescent beach, finding loads of lovely shells and sea-urchin skeletons. The bird population were not so keen on our walk, since they were nesting in the grassland behind the beach, and we were abused by curlews and ringed plovers as well as the big gulls, of which there are a lot more in Norway than there are Norwegians. (Bob got dumped on twice during our cruise - direct hits both times! Supposed to be lucky,isn't it? Tell Bob, someone!)
Back on the yacht, we motorsailed into the sound and then the wind was dead ahead, so Perkins did a bit more of his stuff, and soon we were off the entrance to Trollfjord, which Robin described so well in his earlier PC. The light was very good, even though it was early evening, and we got some wonderful shots of the mountain peaks in the amber light. Arriving in the "bottle" beyond the narrow bit, we stopped the motor and drifted for 15 minutes, completely silently, except for the chink of the glasses, as we drank a "Troll-cocktail", (major ingredients "Mungay Rum", coconut, angostura, pineapple purree), and munched a few strips of Serrano ham, a survivor of J's spanish trip in May. Leaving the fjord, we crossed over to a sunny spot between a couple of islands, where we anchored for a while and had dinner. The water was just crystal clear, and we took photos of the bottom several metres below us, starfish, anemones etc as if in an aquarium. Then we took the challenge and headed for Grundfjord - a putty-sniffing exercise to the north of Trollfjord. The lead-line weight glided through the water on the end of the string, an inch or two above the sandy bar that guards this anchorage, but slicing through the plumose sea anemones that we divers usually see attached to wrecks or rocks at greater depths. Here they were abundant on stones only 2-3 metres below the surface. We crossed the bar with a few inches clearance, and anchored up near the freshwater lake at the head of the fjord. Unfortunately, the herd of elk mentioned in the "Cruise Norway" book were away for the day, but otherwise it was fantastic, with the sky only visible in a small circle defined by the mountains surrounding us, and not a soul for 10 miles in any direction. AND STILL Telenor managed to get us a mobile phone signal! Paul can't even get one in Droitwich back home!
Day 7 now: we had other lovely days too, but Sunday was the best! I've run out of space on the card too, and, anyway, I'm now 'aboard alone', waiting for the divers to arrive at midday tomorrow (no, today, its 01:30 already), so Goodnight and God Bless. Now, where was it Robin hid the bottle of best whisky?
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