“People Don’t Come Here For The Weather”, Ep. 209

The most logical place to cross to the Shetland Islands would have been Bergen. You could practically stick to one latitude setting to get there, it is so nearly directly West. But the other part of the logic was timing. We had friends to meet up with in Scotland, and although the midcoast of Norway is anointed with an unequal abundance of beautiful fjords and coastal islands, we had succeeded in piloting Sea Rose through that region near Bergen last summer. It was time to strike out into the blue for new lands.

Crossing from Kristiansund, Norway to Shetland, UK
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One Trick Pony, Ep. 208

One thing is for sure about Norway. It is a long, narrow country. It borders Russia – plus Sweden and Finland – at it’s northerly tip, called Nordkapp. Down at it’s southern terminus, some 1000 miles away, it’s adjacent to the tip of Denmark. That’s similar to the distance from Boston to Miami, or London to Gibraltar. It’s not unlike the profile of a lot of Norwegian people – tall and lanky. As we had plodded along on our way north last summer, taking some nibbles out of the coastline each week, it was easy to lose sight of this fact. Now, we just had a week in order to get down south within striking distance to shoot across to the Shetland Islands and still stay on schedule with our planned itinerary for the summer. There were a lot of miles in front of us, as we pulled away from the Lofoten peninsula.

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Hurry Up and Wait, Ep. 207

Our new best friend in Norway, Terje, had that distinctive ‘I regret to inform you…’ look on his face. He had stopped by our boat at the guest pontoon in Ballstad to inform us he did not have the proper parts to inspect and re-certify our life=raft. Terje works for Ballstad Slip, the big shipyard operation that dominates this small fishing harbor on the south coast of the Lofoten peninsula. He runs the life=raft and safety inspection business, which, if it had to rely on pleasure boats like us for revenue, would have never opened their doors. But thankfully there are many more fishing boats here than sailboats, and they all have stringent requirements for life-rafts, safety flares, fire extinguishers and the like. We were super happy to find Terje, as our life-raft, requiring inflation and re-certification every three years, had hit its due date. We carefully planned our arrival at Ballstad so that we could leave the life-raft with him for the day, and then continue our progress southwest out to the dramatic tip of the Lofoten and onward down the mainland coast of Norway. We had just three weeks to make it down the long Norwegian coastline to Kristiansund before crossing over to the Shetlands.

Re-certifying a life-raft was not an optional activity for us. The upcoming ARC+ Rally required it, and even more, we required it for our own safety and comfort. Re-certifying can cost half the value of the life-raft, and with ours at 18 years old, Terje kindly warned me that even if he had the two missing parts he needed, it might be much more than the customary cost. We resolved to buy a new one, and leave ours with a local marine safety school for their student programs. The only problem was that only one of our kind of life-raft, made by Viking, existed in Norway and it was in Oslo. Terje told us he ‘hoped’ it would arrive in a week, despite the long land route it would take from the country’s capital. There we had it. We had a week to kill in the Lofoten.

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The Physics of Gravity and Momentum, Ep. 206

It was easy for the guy at the controls. All he had to do was push a little joy stick on his remote control and our boat would descend from the giant travelift’s slings into the water. These Europeans are pretty good with their automation and control systems. It was up to us now to apply our skills – technical and otherwise – to the task of sailing Sea Rose south. As luck would have it, we had a blue sky day to enjoy the scenic snow-capped mountains of Tromsø.

Tromsø exit – Sea Rose underway from the dock!
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Modern Prophets, Ep. 199

I could not stop checking the newsfeed every hour. Like so many, I was captivated by the announcement of a submersible exploring the depths of the Titanic, lost with five crew onboard. But why was I hooked on their story? People die everyday, every hour, plenty in a gruesome manner. Why should I care about five more people, these five people in particular. Of course there was the uncertainty of the crew at the inky depth of 3800 meters below they surface of the Atlantic, desperately trying to hold on to the slippery bonds of life. I didn’t want to get caught up in the livestream theatrics of it all. ‘The Truman Show’ was showmanship worthy of my attention and praise. But here were real live human beings, with ten fingers and ten toes, just like their mommas had hoped for. The graduating senior who drank too much at prom and drove a car full of buddies into oncoming traffic is tragic, no doubt. So much potential lost, so many questions to answer. Yet here, knowing that there could be a submersible crew at the bottom of the ocean struggling for their life, while my own struggle was simply running out of bread for the day’s sandwich, felt deeply troubling. And then to learn that they apparently were banging on the hull every thirty minutes in a crude underwater cry for help. 

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