The mountains alone this rugged coast of Norway appeared a little bit before we crossed the Arctic Circle on May 24. They remained with us for the duration of the passage up to Bodø, another 60 miles to the northeast or so. What didn’t remain was the wind.
We used as much diesel on this passage as we have on any passage really, running on fumes off our big tank as we motored the last few miles into the harbor. The trade-off was the spectacularly calm ocean. The silvery light from an overcast sky made the sea one giant oil painting as far as you could see in the west, and providing the foreground for the snow-capped mountains to the east, off our starboard beam. Nobody cared that we weren’t actually sailing.
The closer to Bodø - and the coast - we got, the more we realized just how enormous this landscape is up here. We first spotted the mountains still some 50-miles offshore. Closer-in, it felt like it took ages to steam past some of the more prominent features in the landscape, giving away just how huge they are. And we’re just getting started in this kind of scenery.
The watch schedule broke down about 1600. Dick & Laura were due to come on, but we were only 10 miles from town by then. Dick asked what they should do. “Relax & enjoy the view!” I said. Tom sat on the bow for hours with his camera, taking in the scenery and the red ferries that steamed across our path and into adjacent fjords. Mia bounced around on deck taking photos of the crew. Rick managed a catnap leaning up against the fenders in the back of the cockpit.
Landfall is always the best part of any of the passages we do on Isbjörn. That feeling of accomplishment having made it safely across a wide stretch of sea, and the accompanying ‘exhale’ from the accumulated stress (for me, as skipper especially), is something you just can’t get by any other means of travel. I’ve said this before, but sailing to a faraway place really reminds you just how big the earth really is. We could have flown from Scotland to Bodø in a few hours - it took us over 4 days on a sailboat, traveling at a ‘human’ pace. It gives you time to enjoy the moment, time to reflect.
I read two full books on this particular passage. Laura wrote in her journal daily, and Mia finished and started another book. That’s the kind of stuff you get to do when you have time to just ‘be.’
Bodø is just an interim stop for us. This crew gets two trips in one - Act I just ended with our landfall here in town, while Act II will start this afternoon when we set out for Lofoten, across the 40 miles of Vestfjord and island-hop our way north. The final destination will be Tromsø, some 175 miles as the crow flies, and our jumping off point for Svalbard.
Until next time, hold fast.