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The Soutpiel Safari
6th May 2017 - 7th May 2017
Days Six and Seven

Day 6 - Hammerfest, Havoysund, Honnigsvag, Kjollefjord, Mehamn, Berlevag, Batsfjord. Foul weather today: snow, sleet, wind, cold. Not at all pleasant. The snow and ice was still so thick that both the trip to North Cape and the Birding expedition out of Honnigsvag were both cancelled, as the roads were impassable -hope we can still do it as booked on the way back, even though it means a 5am start! Rev Bob was pleased however, as he got to the Sami fishing village and interacted with them, can imagine he had a ball. 

In Honnigsvag John and I wandered around a bit, but with little open on a Saturday afternoon and the only museum in town also closed, we eventually made our way back to the warmth of the ship - icy roads, icy wind: at one stage I was convinced my contact lens was freezing and cracking! 

Then we were off again, on a 3 hour passage that got bumpier and rollier as we made our way out and around the North Cape. The ship population disappeared as people took to their cabins and their beds: dinner became a buffet with free seating, and was very thinly attended! The staff met everyone at the door, and took your arm to lead you to a table - those who refused the helping arm dived from pillar to pillar as the bow bucked and heaved. No-one had soup! Pity, because it was probably the best meal we've had on board, huge king crab claws, shrimps, mussels, 5 different kinds of herring, salmon, trout - and for those who didn't want fish, slices of hot reindeer and veggies!

Berlevag - by the time we got here, just after 10pm, the sea was very rough, so bad that the Hurtigruten took one look at the huge waves breaking over the mole at the entrance, did an abrupt 180° turn and scuttled back out - bad luck for the guy waiting on the quay, suitcase in hand! This is listed as the most exposed port in Norway: twice the great stone mole has been crushed and the entire fishing fleet destroyed. Subsequently a new mole of tetrapods (giant 4-armed 15 tonne concrete blocks) was built and things became easier, but with huge waves breaking over this mole, the captain decided against going in. Wise move I think. Except for that poor guy with his suitcase.

A fairly bumpy night, lots of big waves slapping against the side of the ship - hate to think what would happen if we didn't have stabilisers! But all bad things come to an end, and as we turned down towards the Varanger Fjord, the sea quietened and life got easier. Strange movement aboard the ship I found, very different to a sailing boat!

First port of call on day 7 was Vadso at 06.45 and I left John to do the jump off the ship thing! Breakfast saw a few more people emerge from their cabins, some still slightly green around the gills even though the sea was like glass now. Takes its toll does this seasickness!

Kirkenes was the end of the road for many, and we said goodbye to Rev Bob amongst others. Sad to see him go, we'll miss his wry remarks and explosions of the giggles! We walked into town with Richard and Pat, spent an enjoyable couple hours looking at an exhibition of photos in the town square of one Ellisif Wessel, an incredible photographer and writer of the 1890s who recorded life in the area and championed the rights of the poor. Very interesting.

Drawn by the bells, we wandered into the little church, very plain, big sign at the entrance "please take off your spikes"! A Sami choir practice was taking place, so we spent a fabulous 30 minutes or so, absorbed as much by their costumes as their beautiful voices!

Turn-around time here, and we're on our way back, calling at some different ports, other same ports but different times. Big day tomorrow, with a land trip out to NordKap starting at 0500 and finishing with a midnight concert in the Arctic Cathedral in Tromso - maybe a granny nap sometime during the day?

Next: Day 8 Mehamn to Tromso
Previous: May 5th, Dog Sledding

Diary Photos

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