Adrian reveals his delight at crossing the Russian/Norwegian border 16/10/07
Adrian slipped his lines at Murmansk on Saturday morning (13 October 2007), but it would be another few hours before he finally departed the port and made passage for Norway. After first being visited by four immigration officials, delivering almost identical papers to the ones he had completed on arrival, Adrian had to sit and wait – moored to a buoy – for a Russian naval vessel to come into Severomorsk (a naval base north of Murmansk) while trying to strike up a conversation with the overweight, mandatory pilot onboard. By five o’clock Adrian was able to set down the pilot on the pilot vessel, and finally get underway:
“The passage to Vardo in Norway was rough with steep seas building in 30 knot winds. I crossed the Russia/Norwegian sea boundary at midday on Sunday and made Vardo by 15:30. Vardo is on a small island connected to the mainland by an under-sea tunnel. With a population of 2,000 it is the oldest settlement in northern Norway. I entered through the harbour wall into the merciful calm. Pretty houses colourfully painted peppered the hillsides around the harbour. I was instructed to moor against a pontoon just inside the harbour wall. To get to land, I had to step onto the pontoon and on the other side onto a Norwegian search and rescue vessel, then up a gangway. I introduced myself to the captain of the rescue vessel, Roger Pettersen. He immediately invited me on board. I asked if I might have a shower. No problem, he said. Further, he was cooking dinner and I was welcome to join in, which I did – a traditional Norwegian dish of soupy cabbage and lamb chops followed by a nutty custard with a fruit jelly sauce. I unashamedly had three servings of each. With no sleep for almost 40 hours I collapsed into my sleeping bag.
“Next morning Roger came to have a look at Barrabas. We went over my charts and Roger was able to give me some useful bits of local knowledge in these waters which when the wind is in the north sector can be treacherous. I learned that the SAR vessel belongs to Redningsskoyta (The Rescue Company). A fleet of SAR vessels is located at strategic points along the entire Norwegian coast with responsibility for inshore rescue operations. The organisation is part government funded and relies on public donations and membership fees to cover the rest of its operating budget. Unknown to me, Roger had been onto his head office in Oslo, explained who I was and what I was doing and Redningsskoyta decided to offer me free membership to the end of the year, which means, should I ever need their services, there will be no charge. My plan is to stay inshore and navigate the fjords as far as Vestffjorden. Much of this passage will be under engine, so knowing that Redningsskoyta is a phone call away is a huge comfort. I will leave Vardo early on Tuesday morning. There is a 40 hour weather window and I should be able to make Honnigsvag.
“To be back in Europe feels wonderful. Whilst in Russia, England seemed still so distant. But with the hundred mile passage to Vardo, it seems I have made a great leap homewards.”