S/Y Romar departed Oslo May 1st2017 heading west in the wake of the Vikings. The journey went along the coast and passed Norway’s southernmost point, Lindesnes. Further west and north to Tananger, Haugesund and Bergen. All three central cities in Norway’s contact with the islands in the west. King Harald Hårfagre united Norway into a kingdom in the battle of Hafrsfjord just next to Tananger. Harald Hårfagre lived in Haugesund and the national monument “Haraldshaugen” is located just outside Haugesund’s center. Haraldshaugen is the official cemetery, but this is disputed. Bergen, the Norwegian Hansa city, is and has been a center for trade and transport in the North Sea area.
I’ve been responsible – almost always. I took a long education, searched for good jobs, and I saved for house, car, cabin and sea house. Of course, I do not smoke, and it takes weeks between every time I enjoy alcoholic drinks! I think I am a good father for my three grown-up sons and a loving grandfather for my two grandsons. The credit ratings that drop into the mailbox every time I switch mobile subscriptions say mostly – trustworthy and risk free. However, when the age has passed 67 and the commitments has gone, it must finally be allowed to take some risk, be irresponsible and realize dreams.
There has always been a dream for the behind the facade. A dream of casting off and sailing alone to the west and north. To follow the wake of the Vikings and sail further north to the open sea interspersed formations of shiny white ice. To a loneliness where you have to rely completely on yourself and where absolutely no one has any expectations for you. Where you decide when and where to sail. Or best of all – you decide when you’re just going to drift for wind and weather.
The dream has broken the surface every now and then. Like when I built a 42-foot motor sailor in ferrocement. A project I did not realize the extent of when I started but was driven by the dream of west and north and the open sea. The boat project took years and was almost completed. “Æsvik” got mast, engine and steering wheel – but never sails. During the first summer, “Æsvik” sailed north to my childhood village Æsvik in Meløy municipality in Helgeland and next summer south and east to Oslo. Both years with a seasick wife who definitely did not accept the spouse’s role as captain. Perhaps I should have already taken the warning signs when a friend came up with an article about a self-built boat called “Wifeleft”. During the construction period, three wives had left him and given inspiration to the boat’s name “wife left”. Yes, the wife left, but only after the ferrocement sailor was sold and the dream ended with a heavy pledge of responsibility and obligations.
Where did the dreams come from? From Norway´s most beautiful coastline. Where one of Norway’s most famous hymnists, Elias Blix wrote “Barndomsminner fra Nordland” (“Childhood memories from Nordland”). I grew up in a family where my father was a fisherman and where all the men in the family had their job attached to the ocean. Where the boys got rowing boat when others got a bike and The use of motorboats was limited by physical strength to crank the engine in motion. Our playgrounds were the boats, the shore and the boat houses. We learned respect for the ocean, and we experienced the beauty in silence and the majestic in storm.
The drag towards the sea has always been there. Truly, it has swung in intensity. Commitments have had an infinite horizon, and long expeditions have apparently been impossible. But now, now I should be sail, and it should be sailed far north and far to the west. To where the Vikings sailed for more than 1,200 years ago.
Sailing was a new challenge for me. I was met with head shaking when I told about my plans and at the same time admitted that I had practically not sailed earlier. Yes, I had rented one and another dinghy on the beach during the holidays. However, missing sailing experience should not be a problem. Or rather, it became a quick transient problem.
The first challenge was to acquire a suitable boat. A brief call to the insurance companies gave me confirmation of the expected. They were absolutely not looking for customers who wanted to sail far to the north and west with only a ship dog as crew, but they would gladly sell insurance on the house, car and cottage. Thus, the boat could not cost more than I could afford to lose. The choice fell on an 11-year-old 38-foot French glass fiber boat of the brand Harmony 38. It seemed robust and was well maintained. I used winter and spring to equip the boat with good navigation and safety equipment and heater. On April 29, 2017, my S / Y Romar was launched from Lindøya and moved to KNS‘s marina at the Queen in Oslo. I had become sailboat owner and ready for a long voyage.
My grandsons Philip and Linus wished me luck on the journey the afternoon of 1. May. I casted off and passed the shiny white royal ship Norway on my way out of the harbor. In the brilliant sun and calm sea we left Oslo and sailed south to Drøbak. The ship dog Mira (Wirehaired German pointer) had no idea that this should be her home in the next five months. At dusk we moored in Oscarborg guest harbor in the sound of Drøbak.
In weak northern winds we continued south the Oslo fjord mainly by engine. However, I used the opportunity to learn the rig. I sailed, set the sails and reef sail, and took the time to learn and prepare what I knew would come. I was really lucky. The weather was amazing great the next five days. We drilled and practiced in the sunshine and good weather and we spent the nights in the harbor. We visited Stavern, Arendal, Farsund, Tananger and Haugesund, and the face color changed from pink to brown. Mira also began to find herself on board. She lay on the deck and enjoyed the good weather, and at night she caught the foot end of the skipper’s eye with the greatest of course. Mira also began to find herself on board. She lay on the deck and enjoyed the good weather, and at night she caught the foot end of the skipper’s berth with a matter of course. In the eagerness of landing she ended up three times in the sea. One meter from the pier, she took the opportunity to jump. Her back met the railing wire and she ended up in the sea between the pontoon dock and the boat. Fortunately, German pointer dogs are good swimmers. She took an honor round as I managed the moorings before I could pull her up on the dock.
We casted off in Haugesund with a course for the home harbor of Bergen. With a light breeze we crossed over Sletta, an open area. On the Bømla Fjord, it began to blow freshly. Obviously, the king Neptun wanted to give me a good exam before the North Sea crossing. Planned to go north west of the isle Stord, but since the wind came straight from the north, I decided to sail northeast and then north east of the isle Stord. Over the day, the wind increased. With a gale directly against and rough sea, the progress was very slow. What was planned as a parade towards Bergen became a cold and tiring pleasure. Well over midnight we found a harbor at Hjellestad south of Bergen. After a day at Hjellestad we moved over to Blomstertorget in the city centre of Bergen. Here was the last rest of equipment and provisions taken aboard and we locked off the house and car.
The pride of Bergen, Statsraad Lehmkuhl, escorted us out of Bergen harbor. For the sake of honesty, I must admit that this was not planned. This three-masted barque rigged sail vesse is a great sight, especially when you see this sailing ships at sea. We sailed for a motor north the Hjelte fjord with a course for Fedje. Fedje, perhaps best known for the mercury load in the German submarine wreckage (U 864) from WWII, is an idyllic coastal community. A good place to live is as well. The municipality won the Consumer Council’s municipal test in 2016. On these outer islands there are just over 500 inhabitants. Like most small coastal communities in Western Norway, you can get what you need for your daily living, including church and prayer house. They also have a good guest harbor with all the amenities. Here we slept peaceful.