October 2022 Recap Blog
“You’ll want to be far away from Norway when October hits. You don’t want to sail during this time due to storms and rough seas.” These words echoed in our minds on October 1st, when we found ourselves stuck on a Norwegian island due to relentless storms and gale-force winds.
And how did we end up in Norway when we were warned about it? Because we had so much fun flying in Loen the month before and missed our deadline to leave. As usual, we like to learn things the hard way to see what we’re made of, and it seemed like everything in October was trying to stop us from reaching our destination.
Our mission was to get our sailboat from Norway down to Poland where we would put her in storage for the winter. We realized being on a sailboat during winter would not work for us and had purchased a camper van to head south in, named Mowgli.
For those that don’t know us, we are full-time traveling the world as we attempt to be the first man & woman to do air-sports in every country of the world. We travel unconventionally with our three rescue dogs in camper vans and sailboats to each country, overcoming countless obstacles along the way and sharing the story with all of you.
We started October 1st stuck on an island called Hidro. It was voted Norway’s most beautiful island 4 years in a row, so it wasn’t a bad place to get stuck. watching the fisherman leave on their small boats every morning to catch Norwegian lobsters.
Because prices in Norway are so high, we barely ever eat out. However, where we were stuck was next to a restaurant and we treated ourselves to some Norwegian fish soup and a burger.
One funny moment came when Sandra thought a purse was empty and when she went to dump out the dirt inside, accidentally dumped out a handful of credit cards and our Turkish visas! Luckily Jamie came to the rescue and retried them from the bottom of the marina. lol.
One morning, we decided to try our luck and conquer the last ‘dangerous waves’ section and we were met with unforgiving waves and a headwind. We quickly realized our mistake, turned around with our tails tucked between our legs and retreated to wait for another day of better sailing conditions.
Finally we had a small window of ‘okay’ weather that allowed us to push through the ‘dangerous waves’ section. While it wasn’t pleasant, we were glad to push to a new location, only to get stuck again in the city of Farsund. However, the marina was situated so that the waves were rocking our boat making us nauseous and we had to squeeze and hide behind a fishing boat to block the sickening waves.
Once again we found ourselves stuck with storms surrounding us on all sides, making it impossible to move, and the weather was so foul, outside activities were not an option. The only outdoor recreation we enjoyed were daily workouts and runs with the dogs on the beautiful trails.
We slowly kept moving, sometimes only for a couple of hours, whatever we could to keep going forward, catching every window of good weather we could.
Then the worst thing happened: our auto-pilot broke! The single tool that made the long pushes bearable. Luckily Jamie’s handy mechanic skills came to use and he macguyver’d it with a horn button to get it to work! What a relief, that was a close one!
We both started to suffer from IBS. Irritable Boat Syndrome. A condition marked by extreme irritability and restlessness. Our mission to do air-sports in every country of the world was seemingly put on hold, and the only adventures we were going on were sitting on a boat, hoping the finish line would come faster. Even the dogs were becoming irritable with so much time on the boat.
But we kept our heads up and kept pushing at what felt like a snails pace towards the finish line. We now know what the term through hell and high water means.
Everywhere we went, we were the only sailboat. While it was nice to have these marina’s to ourselves, it was also a reminder that we were the only idiots to still be out here sailing.
Finally it came time to cross from Norway to Sweden. We watched the Norwegian terrain fade into the sea until all we could see in any direction was water.
LAND HOY! We finally arrived in Sweden! The terrain was noticeably different, with larger rocks along the shore. We were ecstatic because we were finally out of the treacherous North Sea and making our way into the Baltic Sea, which is much more protected and therefore much easier sailing.
We were all smiles as we continued down the Swedish coastline. The wind was softer and the waves smaller, and it felt like our boat Malaka was gliding through the water, cutting through it like butter knowing she’s almost home.
However, our joy was short lived when we realized that doing 14-16 hour days wasn’t possible because there was only 10 hours of sunlight (less if it was cloudy)! Winter was here, and it was eating away at our daylight.
We would have to leave and arrive at night, and let me tell you, there is something eery about sailing at night, but at the same time beautiful. How can something be so beautiful and scary at the same time?
And with the days getting shorter, they also got colder as winter crept closer. We could feel winter’s breath on the back of our necks, no matter how many layers we put on. We spent hours sitting in the cockpit of the boat, trying to stay warm, as our final destination came at a painfully slow 5 knots/mph at a time.
Then, our worst nightmare came true! We were motoring along one windless morning full speed, full of smiles that we were so close to the finish line when the boat came to a crashing stop. The sound of steel on rocks confirmed the worst: we had crashed our boats. In our distraction, we had hit a shallow area. Instinct took over, as we both took on damage control roles. Jamie checked the boat to see if we were taking on water, while Sandra looked for a nearby marina we could escape to in case we were sinking.
We got very lucky that there was no water coming in, and we kept going, checking occasionally to make sure there wasn’t any water coming in. We both agreed that this was one of our scariest moments ever.
There were some mornings, it was so foggy, we could barely see in front of our boat. We put Guzel on duty to make sure we don’t hit any ongoing boats.
The remaining miles kept counting down every day, like an hourglass. Slowly and steadily, until one day we made our final push into the canal that would be Malaka’s winter resting place. It was glorious, like something out of a movie. We were welcomed with a rainbow, swans, and a foggy sunset that turned the world orange.
It’s now October 31st, the last day of October. We had made it. We survived sailing to Norway and back down with zero sailing experience, teaching ourselves along the way, usually the hard way. And now, it was time to shut her down and prepare for the next chapter back on land.
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