Once More Upon the Sea

We finally left the dock in Bodø this morning around 9am. The original plan was to leave yesterday late afternoon but the customs office was closed when Boogie went to check us out. Apparently there were no international flights in or out of Bodø yesterday so the office just closed up and went home. Grrrreat.

When Boogie arrived at the customs office this morning at the 8am opening hour, he was asked why he was bothering to check out since Jan Mayen is part of Norway. “Because you told us we had to check out to go to Jan Mayen and on to Iceland when we arrived,” he replied. Grrrrreat. Well, at least we got signed out quickly and were off.

We got off the dock and maneuvered out of the harbor, raising the mainsail and getting the new group lined out as a slew of fighter jets roared off the runway at the nearby airport. When things were set, we turned and motored through the narrow waterway that heads north from Bodø. Once clear of the small island that guards Bodø’s west, we turned left and headed for Vestfjord, the south end of Lofoten and the open waters of the Norwegian Sea.

We’re now about 20 miles from Røst and Vaeroy, the southernmost islands of the Lofoten archipelago. There we’ll turn a bit north and head for Jan Mayen, about 500 miles away. And I, for one, am looking forward to being on open water again.

I dug Bodø and even moreso the Lofoten. But as in Lerwick, there comes a time when it’s time to motivate and hit the road. That time had come for me in Bodø. I’d very much like to return sometime — especially, I think, in March or April when I could take advantage of the wintersport options. A combo surfing Unstad/backcountry skiing trip in Lofoten, perhaps? Sign me up.

Right now, however, I’m sitting below and have been jotting notes as to possible paths come this summer and fall. “But isn’t that path set?” you ask. Not anymore…

Boy Wonder’s father, the owner of Polar Bear, informed Boogie and Marlies a couple of days ago that the boat will not be doing the southern season. The season will end in Scotland in early September, at which point he plans to sell the boat. Needless to say, this development has put Boogie and Marlies in quite a predicament: sailing is their career and this is the middle of one of the prime-time seasons each year.

As for me, it definitely pisses me off to say the least, and not just because it cuts short my sailing year but also because of what might have been: when I turned down the job offer I had in Anchorage, I was asked how long I’d be gone. When I said six months to the rest of the year, the director of the organization said that was a bummer, and that if I’d only been gone two or three months, they’d have held the position for me.

Well, shit. If I’d known this trip was going to get cut short, I’d have been able to have my cake and eat it too. I could have sailed this first half of the season, flown back to the U.S. next week for my buddy Tom’s wedding and then returned to Alaska, complete with a job and my home waiting for me. So as far as I’m concerned at this point, ol’ Boy Wonder’s father can just blow me.

That said, I still feel the universe is giving me points for taking this leap back in the spring. I’ve seen some awesome places, learned a whole lot more about sailing, gotten myself into completely debt-free and liquid financial shape, and have limitless options before me. And on top of that, I’ve begun learning some things about me that needed to be learned…some of which I’ve chronicled herein, some of which I’m keeping to myself.

So the path at this point is as follows: arrive at Jan Mayen in about four days, hang out there while our guests land and climb the Beerenberg volcano, then retrieve them and sail on to Iceland. From Iceland, I’ll do my already-planned trip back home to the U.S. for the wedding of my friends Tom McLaughlin and Deana Moody.

And after that, we get into a gray area. My current thought is to return to Polar Bear in Greenland as planned and then finish the season’s trips there, to Iceland and on to Scotland. And from there, the gray area goes kinda charcoal. Tour Europe as planned? Try to get on with another boat sailing the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (the ARC) as Polar Bear had planned from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean? Or maybe get on with a boat doing the American version of the ARC from Virginia to the British Virgin Islands? Go visit Mike and the gang in Scotland? Maybe bring my board with me when I return from the States and surf a bit while I’m over here? A combo of the above?

Or do I just chuck it all and head back home, buy my own boat — the goal all along, right? — and take off? Or take the lessons I hope I’ve learned and rejoin Corporate America? Maybe I’ve gotten the bug (and the touch) back that I once had and can give the freelance thing a go? Hell, maybe just pack up and head to Hawaii for the winter surf season. I don’t know. I’m debating all of these options and more at this point.

In the meantime, I’ve lined out a bunch of topics to cover in the coming days. I won’t be able to post any of them until Iceland (about 12 days from now) but I’ll put ’em up in sequential order. And I’m gonna cover everything, including those that might just piss off certain people. To that end, before leaving Bodø, I published a post from early June titled “Progress Toward Norway” that detailed some of the goat-rodeo aspects of the trip with Boy Wonder. I pulled it on the outside chance that he or his dad might find it, object to my characterizations and order me off the boat (though Boogie assured me that as skipper, he had final say as to who was on board and who wasn’t). It’s nothing too inflammatory but I was playing it safe, I thought. Silly, right? Well, yeah. But enjoying the irony that is so prevalent in life has been one of the most educational and entertaining takeaways for me on this trip, and since we’re all off the boat in the not-too-distant future anyway, well, the joke was on me.

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