July 1st – 11th 2023

Back to my floating home

I come to Tromsø on a beautiful evening where our black beauty awaits me.  Captain Heinz and first mate Dai had recently arrived from Svalbard after a beautiful tour with abundant wildlife and impressive nature and I am happy to join crew and passengers on their last dinner onboard where they share their impressions and happiness during the last 12 days onboard.

Known faces and new friends come together

Next morning, captain Heinz hands Tilvera over to me and the crew spends the next couple of days on some maintenance, painting and cleaning.  Getting ready for the next group of nature lovers. Weather and forecast are very promising and next morning the next group boards the ship.  After safety briefing and ship introduction we all sit together for a nice lunch and everyone introduces themselves and tells what brought them to Tilvera and what their anticipations are.  Some people are sailing with the ship for the fourth time and it is heartwarming to see people that love the ship so much that they return again and again.  Two of them have previously sailed with me and Belén on Opal during our Ocean Missions expeditions and it feels good to welcome them again, now on our beloved Tilvera.  It is clear from the first moment that there is some incredible chemistry forming. Likeminded people of six different nationalities aged from 32 to 83 but somehow it clicks right away. 

Nature first!

Late afternoon in a warm northerly breeze we let go of lines and hoist the sails to sail southwards.  Watches are set up and the boundaries between registered crew and participating crew (sometimes known on other ships as passengers) become almost invisible.  Everyone works as a team and it is clear that there are many good sailors onboard.  Just after midnight we arrive at our first intended destination, Engenes, but as it turns out the harbor is under reconstruction and no good mooring spot available me and Dai decide to sail through the night to Lodingen to arrive there in the morning for the first stop.  Temporarily we transform into a passenger ferry, allowing our guests to sleep through the night in order to be fit for a nice hike in the morning.  With good coffee and lovely company we share the remaining 6 hours until we take down the sails and dock at a tiny pier and people enjoy nature on short hike.

Existence at its very best

In the afternoon we head back out, hoist all sails and for the next 6 hours, powered by the warm breeze we set our course to a little beautiful creek that captain Heinz has recommended.  Since it is a narrow and tricky entrance we time the sailing in to be on a rising tide and armed with a VHF and eyes of a gannet, Dai scouts the route on the zodiac informing us of any shallow spots. Soon we have dropped our anchor and set two lines up to land, one to a tree and another to a big boulder and our home away from home is secured in paradise.  It is hard to put the next two days into words. Surrounded by nothing but nature.  Not a single other human dared to enter our little private paradise during our stay there and time was spent hiking, kayaking and the later evening a beautiful BBQ party on shore with a bonfire on a tiny little holm next to our Tilvera.

Welcome to Lofotenerife!

Next destination is Skrova, a breathtaking little island, sometimes nicknamed Hawaii of Lofoten because of the white beaches and their contrast with the crystal-clear icy waters.  But distractions are everywhere on the way and since stress didn’t book a place on Tilvera on this tour, spontaneous detours are appreciated by the people onboard.  I spot one of those stunning white beaches off starboard and moments later anchor is down and everyone is enjoying a delicious lunch on the beach and for a couple of hours we enjoy swimming in the sea watching our trusty home patiently awaiting us nearby.  Let’s just call this little remote beach Lofotenerife.  

The tremendous Trollfjord

After a night on the quiet Skrova where some of us climbed the little mountain with incredible views of the midnight sun sinking behind the Lofoten mountain skyline, a rather grey day greets us and reminds us that the sweet is not as sweet without the sour.  We decide to head over to Svolvaer, the bustling little capital of Lofoten. Just as to see if we can still cope with civilization.   Next morning, after some hilarious karaoke observations, laughers, latte’s and local beers there is a strong unity feeling that we head back out into the wild.   Trollfjord, the spectacular narrow side fjord of Raftsundet is our next destination and we are lucky to get the only spot available on a small pier next to a small hydropower plant.   Some of the crewmembers decided to join me for an overnight hike up to the valleys above the Trollfjord and after 3 hours we reached a hut where we had booked accommodation and the cherry on the cake was a small wood fired sauna next to them.  These nicely equipped huts are located at a glacier lake in stunning surroundings. The view from the 500m high mountain above it was simply incredible.   It was a satisfied group of hikers that came back down to Tilvera after a nourishing time in the mountain hut.

The inspiring cute fairy tale Lofoten villages

The three next nights were spent in these quaint little Lofoten villages.  It is really hard to choose a favorite since they are all pretty and colorful places surrounded by steep mountains and beautiful coastline.  Henningsvær is a very lively place where people come for climbing, hiking, mountain biking, kayaking and more.  This historic fishing settlement has interesting art galleries, souvenir shops and good cafés and bars with live music every weekend.   Nusfjord, a Unesco world heritage site is Norway’s best preserved fishing village.  Only 19 people call it home today but the many nesting kittiwakes at the narrow harbor and cliffs around make it a very lively place.   A hike was a must and after a nice picnic in the bushes above the settlement the group split up with majority going for the higher grounds while I enjoyed a slow decent back to Tilvera with our two wonderful senior ladies, listening to them sharing their first childhood memories from World war II.  I was touched and thankful to witness these precious stories and wisdom from these respected survivors!

Our ocean is a temple for healing

After 10 days of eventful exploration around the luscious Lofoten it was time to cast of the lines in Reine and just as the tour started Tilvera sailed graciously in a fair breeze back across to the mainland for the last night in the guest marina of Bodo. Saying the last good bye was very emotional and many tears were shed.  A healing experience,  reconnection to nature, a beautiful peaceful existence onboard our cozy Tilvera.  

if everyone could experience a trip like this, there would probably be no wars ever again” – said one of the older ladies onboard

@Heimir Hardarson

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