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Piers and Lin du Pré are the owners of the Fleming 55 Play d'eau, based in Beaucette Marina, Guernsey in the Channel Islands at N49° 30’.197 W002° 30’.350.

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Molde to Nesna

Some of Trondheim is built on stilts
click to enlarge

Although the MS Midnatsol is a sizeable cruise ship, we mustn’t forget she’s a working ferry. The reminder is the number of ports we visit and the cargo that’s hustled back and forth by an endless stream of stevedores driving fork lift trucks and larger vehicles.

We’re in Trondheim.

Clear skies

Clear skies greet us as we open the door to our balcony. Braving the cold for at least five seconds, we beat a hasty but elegant retreat to the warmth of the cabin.

Our windows are facing the rising sun. It’s a hot sun, very hot.

Hardanger

With a full breakfast inside us, we don our cold weather gear and disembark in search of a shop that sells Hardanger, a form of embroidery with cut-work.

Lin’s shadow at 1100 shows the sun
doesn’t rise high above the horizon
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Most passengers are striking out for the Nidaros cathedral on a guided tour. It’s closed to the general public whilst the organ is renovated. Tuning the pipes is taking from January to June and requires absolute silence whilst the pitch is adjusted.

Not wanting to follow the pack we take a circuitous route to the town. Much more fun.

The shop we’d been told about doesn’t sell Hardanger kits, but we are shown where a small specialist shop may be. It only takes a few minutes to find. We tell the lady we’ve come all the way from the small island of Guernsey just to find her shop. She’s overawed. So are we.

Lin chooses a number of items.

Onward

The ship leaves precisely at midday and enters a sea which is flat calm. Cloudless skies and the hot sun make a mockery of the tales of the North Sea in the winter. Technically we’re in the Norweigian Sea but it doesn’t paint such a potentially dramatic picture, does it?

We leave Trondheim on a flat calm sea
and under a bright blue sky
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We learn that this part of Norway has had a strange winter. Hardly any snow at all, hardly any rain, but ferocious winds which have dried the scrub land resulting in intense and widespread fires.

Landscape

The landscape is different. The reefs are still reefs, some of the larger ones inhabited with a few brightly painted houses, but the high cliffs have no sharp edges. Instead, they seem to have come out of a giant jelly mould, rounded and smooth as though ground down by millennia of ice.

The few houses we see are either on their own seemingly in the middle of nowhere, or in small villages of half a dozen, again in the middle of nowhere. What do the inhabitants do? How do they communicate with the outside world? Do they need to?

Arctic sun

It strikes us that the sun doesn’t really rise any more. Well, it rises, but not high in the sky. Sunrise takes an age and sunset takes an age, with the sun rising only a few degrees above the horizon. We’re experiencing the Arctic sun.

A giant Beaucette entrance

A lighthouse that’s more like a mansion
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It’s mid-afternoon and we are warned over the PA that the ship is about to navigate the narrowest channel of the trip. ‘It’s only 42m wide and carved out of high rock either side,’ we are told.

Immediately I say, ‘We’re back in Beaucette. Have they called the marina for a berth?’

The ship slows, sounds her horn (a great sound – is it a Kahlenberg?) and we see a gap in the high cliffs. With only 10m either side, we slide through. Masterful, I think. But that’s only beginning.

As soon as we can, the ship starts a hard turn to starboard almost kissing the cliff. Why? Looking up, there’s a road bridge ahead and we have to pass underneath the highest point with only two metres to spare. Interesting to think what might happen if…

And then as soon as we through, we feel the ship heel as she responds to a hard turn to port to enter the last section of narrow channel.

And we think Beaucette might be tricky? Pah!

I really, really want to visit the ship’s bridge.

Facts

Today, we stop at Rorvik, Bronnoysund, Sandnessjoen, Nesa before heading for the Arctic Circle.

The skies remain clear, very clear. We can see stars in such clarity. Come on Northern Lights, where are you?

Piers and Lin
full of anticipation
MS Midnatsol

You can get in touch with us any time by using our Contact Form.

Jelly mould landscape
click to enlarge

The sun sets on another glorious day
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Entering the 42m wide channel
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Through the entrance, it’s a sharp turn to starboard…
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…to passing under the highest part of the road bridge
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We made it
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And now a sharp turn to port
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Just a lovely view

Houses are few and far between
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Such beautiful sunsets
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