And now for something completely different ....... a mid winter cruise north of the Arctic Circle!
It was quite a shock leaving Australia in mid summer to step off the plane in Bodø, Norway in early February to be greeted by temperature of -8C with wind chill taking it down to around -20C! It was an exciting start to our long planned adventure to experience this unbelievably scenic part of the world in mid winter and hopefully see the Northern Lights!
Aside from our sightseeing objectives, given our plans to cruise the east coast of Greenland later in the year and hopefully transit the North West Passage in 2020, this trip seemed like a good way to experience first hand the challenges associated with boating in sub zero temperatures and to test Ada Hardy in these conditions. I am pleased to report that our trip was successful on all counts!
After 3 days of preparation which included buying warmer clothes, dragging shopping trolleys of provisions through the snow and shoveling snow off the decks we headed off for our planned 12 day trip north to Tromsø (a large town about 200nm north of Bodø). For the first 2 days we were blessed with beautiful clear skies and light winds and were fortunately able to tick off our "winter scenery" and "northern lights" objectives.
I don't have the literary skills to do justice to describing the scenery so will let the photo's in this post tell the story. I also don't have the photographic skills to do justice to the northern lights so you will just have to accept that we saw them and they are everything they are made out to be!!
For the remainder of the trip the weather was horrendous; featuring heavy snow, low visibility, a 40 - 50kt gale for 18 hours, followed a day later by a +70kt storm for a further 24 hours and finished off with 2 days of above zero temperatures and heavy rain which washed away a lot of the snow at lower levels!
An interesting point about the Norwegian climate (particularly along the coast) is that it is relatively mild compared to places like say northern Canada and northern Russia which are much colder despite being at a similar latitude. This is due to the effect the warm Gulf Stream current which starts in the Gulf of Mexico and flows up the east coast of the USA and across to the European coast all the way to the north of Norway. As a result the entire Norwegian coast is always ice free and winds blowing off the sea are relatively warm. The coldest water temperature we experienced was +4C - which proved very useful when pumped through our deck hose to melt and wash away unwanted snow and ice!
Whilst we could have done with a bit less of it, the lousy weather added to our sense of adventure and gave us the opportunity to work our boat in the sort of challenging conditions we had set out to experience. So .....our final box was ticked and mission accomplished!
Overall I was extremely pleased with how the boat performed and the experience has certainly given me added confidence for our upcoming travels.
We will be back on board mid May to start our journey back south along the Norwegian coast and then across to the Shetland Islands, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Greenland, Labrador and Nova Scotia finishing up in Maine around mid September. We look forward to sharing our experiences in these exciting destinations in the months to come.