The last few days have been crazy – there were so many details to sort out! But we made it and I now feel confident that we have everything in good order. We really needed these days of final preparations here in Kirkenes, and even if we had a lot to do, we have had a great time.
People here are friendly and very helpful. Each day we had visitors that came just to wish us good luck, and that really warmed our hearts. We could get everything we needed here, from sewing needles to special tools needed for work the mast. (We changed the spreader, which was bent.) After our good friend Stig Tore generously lent us his car, we were more mobile and far efficient in many of our tasks. The Johansen family has been really helpful, opening their house to us and providing good assistance in too many ways to list. Here we reorganised and slept in comfortable beds ashore. It will be long until we see a proper bed again!
This morning we managed to fetch the last two missing parcel from the post office, faxed our pre-arrival notice to the authorities in Murmansk, picked up various and sundry, last-minute bits and pieces from various stores – and were finally ready to set off. At 13.00 we waved goodbye to Kirkenes, hoisted our sail and set an easterly course. Hopefully we will arrive in Murmansk tomorrow afternoon. Right now the weather is good: sunny and not too much winds. Strong winds are expected to hit the coast Friday night.
Our survival suits arrived yesterday, and we tested them in the fjord outside Kirkenes. They were comfortable, warm and flexible. These suits are designed for wearing while being able to do work; they also have thin feet so that we can wear our normal warm rubber boots.
As we leave Kirkenes, only Thorleif and I are left on board. Vincent headed back to France on Sunday. Later he will rejoin us in Point Barrow, the northernmost point of Alaska, for the last part of our expedition – the Northwestern Passage. It was great to have him on board for the journey up along the Norwegian coast. He did a good job and learned a lot. I think it’s good to have crewmembers of different age on this trip; it gives a different perspective.
When we put on our boots today, there was a can of beer for each of us in the boot! A most welcome surprise from Vincent. Our Russian friend and crewmember, Stanislav Kostyashin, will come on board in Murmansk, so this really is an international expedition.
Our next posting will be from Russia.
PS We just posted a new video on YouTube showing our test of the winch system. (Or see below.)
Testing our survival suits – which finally arrived by Post the day before our departure.
The Johansen family and Thorleif.
Replacing the bent spreader in the mast.
Even the Mayor of Kirkenes honoured us with a visit!
Imagine our surprise when both Thorleif and I discovered a huge, cold lump in our boots this morning. It was a most welcome parting gift from Vincent. We’ll see him again in Point Barrow, Alaska – and then the pints are on us!
Thorleif, Vincent and I test the winch system that will allow them to pull their boat
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onto land or ice. Hopefully the need will never arise – but it's good to know we can
escape stormy weather or dangerous ice conditions if required. (Recorded 14 July)