Logbook – Week 8

Monday 6th of June Through Sunday 11th of June 2023

From Svolvaer to the Barents Sea

On Monday, things are starting to seriously take shape.  A favorable window is emerging for the middle of the week and we could attempt the plunge into the Barents Sea a little sooner than expected!

We decide not to hang around and we head for Tromso, the capital of the Arctic and stepping stone to the Svalbard.

At 2 p.m. the crew is in position, standing at attention, little finger on the seam of the pants, to say goodbye to Lofoten.  Great Britanic Norvegian weather: low sky, rain, and temperatures close to zero. Not enough to contaminate the morale of the troops that decide to treat themselves to a short “discovery” stopover at TrollsFjord. Some wanted to see “Vesoul*”, but it is not really on the way.

*Vesoul – French city, became notorious in one of Jacques Brel’s songs

Nortabout engages in narrow and shallow channels and Fabien, wh is always on the lookout for these type of fishing conditions, catches us a first class Norwegian gray queen.  Access to the anchorage area is particularly impressive: a mouse hole between two cliffs in which the wind engages powerfully.

Around 11 p.m., without having met a living soul, we slowly resume our journey to Tromso. The boat threads its way between the fjords, mainly under motor. The sea is oily flat and the landscapes pass before our eyes like a bus to Geneva. Hypnotic.

Our fishermen are on the job, watching for shoals and hunting seagulls, and breaking their personal records.

Wednesday morning, under a beautiful regenerating sun, we reach Tromso and Frédo shines at the maneuver to find us a place of choice in the port: right in the city center, a few meters from the swimming spot in the sea (7°) and the municipal sauna.  We will see a good number of practitioners parade and we will also take the plunge before going to sweat.  We are in great shape, happy to have arrived there and toast to the moment.

Everything accelerates in the afternoon: a weather window is confirmed for Thursday. It is narrow and we are carefully studying the different options.  The arrival may be complicated. One thing is certain, the crossing will be “committed” and we cannot drag on the way. We set the departure at 2 p.m. the next day. This gives us time to pick up some nautical equipment that we had ordered last week from a store in town and settle a few odds and ends…

This is the end of the journey for Amaël, responsible pillar of D&D Engineering (And Design) who must resume his activities in France.  The sun no longer sets on the D&D empire, but its vital forces do not have the gift of ubiquity.  Anyway, it is with regret that we see them leave, him and his good humor, and we take out the guitar and our most beautiful choreographies, to accompany them in music towards the exit of the port.

And we set off…Let’s go for our long journey in the Barents Sea. Let’s head to Longyearbyen.

The first day is relatively uneventful: the sea is calm and the headwind is moderate. The gods offer us an exceptional rainbow at the precise moment when we cross the 70th parallel.

The navigation seriously tightens up the following days: 25 then 35 knots, heavy seas. The boat is taking it well, but it is hitting hard and inside the boat it looks like Beirut.  On one foot and on the other, we measure all the benefits of a rigorous physical preparation and our winter Reggae training. These hours of ocean intoxication will provide some of us with the opportunity to lay a few wreaths on the tomb of the unknown sailor.

Outside nature delights us: dolphins, killer whales, whales and these fabulous northern fulmars who have fun in the waves and the wind a few meters from us. They seem to tell us; “it’s air, water: what happiness guys”. Watching them in their perfect spirals was one of our favorite activities.

Sunday noon we leave Bear Island on the beam and attack the home straight. This crossing is like a race against time: we have to arrive as quickly as possible to get to safety. The forecast is really not good for Monday evening and every mile counts. More than fifty knots of wind are forecasted in the area. We cling, fearing breakage. Our average is holding up, Northabout is coping.

The adventure goes on !

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