My name is Roman from Spain and living in Norway. I joined TOPtoTOP Expedition at the last minute. I had all my things already packed 4 days before, just in case, so that I did not want to miss this opportunity!
I meet the family and Simon on the Norwegian national day, the 17th of May, at the boat parade in Ballstad thanks to a common friend, Hanne.
I got good vibes and felt identified with them since the beginning. I knew I was with the right people since Dario during the first dinner in Ballstad said: “It’s been already 2 weeks I do not ski and I am getting nervous…”. But not only the right people, but also at the right time. I was without work because of corona and my only daily task on my day to day life was to decide either I should paddle, surf, or ski. Therefore we were a good match!
After skiing together 4 different pics in Lofoten, surfed during two beautiful sunny days, and had a 16 hours kayak course together, the family offered me to join sailing with them from Løfoten to Lyngen and do some ski touring in the epic Lyngen Alps. I could not say no!
Been sailing along all the Norwegian coastline in different stages with Hurtigruten ships (cargo/cruise vessel) before, I know that one of the most beautiful sceneries is between Løfoten and Tromsø area.
Living in a boat is something I want to do in the future, so this was a good opportunity to see, learn, and experience what it looks like and what it needs to make it possible.
The plan was to sail to Lyngen but stoping in Vesterålen to meet some friends, who were able to organize a school presentation and clean-up and then go to Tromsø or Lyngen.
Andri was my personal host onboard on the first day and he took his good patience to explain to me pretty well all I needed to know to feel at home and to feel as a crew on board.
Without almost not noticing and while I was fixing the surfboards on the deck of the boat we departed…
I felt that it was the kind of bye-bye I like: With normality, thankfully and looking forward without forgetting the friendships, help and good memories you are leaving behind but never forgetting. “You need a big heart to stand so many bye-byes”!
We were sailing non stop doing watches in teams of two, normally one adult and one kid. I was doing watches with Andri from 20h to 22h and 02h to 04h.
I sailed before with small sailing boats without computers, GPS, radar… Pachamama has many devices to check the depth, aim, direction, and strength of the wind, radio, GPS… We had to check the depth, other boats on the radar, and on real sight, adjust the aim, check the wind direction and speed… For major adjustments on the aim, we had to wake up the captain knocking 3 times if it is not an emergency and 6 times if it is an emergency. Luckily we never had to knock 6 times.
Pachamama is such a big boat that needs many people in order to change sails, so from time to time we all had to wake up and help even though it was not your watch.
This part of the sailing, in which you have to wake up and be ready for anything that might happen brought me memories from when I was in ski expeditions in Svalbard, where we also had watches, polar bear watches. During polar bear watches you are with flair gun and rifle in hand, also with an accurate system and plan in case of emergency.
I was quite impressed by how all the members are constantly and naturally doing risk assessments in any “normal day to day situation”. I could see that everyone knew the risks and the consequences of any action and what to do to minimize them. “We are living in a floating house exposed to wild and raw nature”.
After 65 nm we arrived at Alsvåg (Vesterålen), we dogged and we had a nice hike to the most obvious mountain. We could see from the village, Nonskollen 611 m asl.. On the way to the top, our local friend Ricard joined us. He was a friend of a family’s friend. On the way to the top, we could see many ptarmigans, at that time of the season they are nesting and are half white and half brown. On the top, we started the clean-up and Ricard showed us the area, his favorite mountain top, and invited us to do a midnight sun hike with him and his wife Inge-Elise and a pizza evening the day after.
The next day we were busy in the local school to do a presentation for the local students. In the same building was the company CERPUS. After the students were busy doing a clean-up, we had a meeting with CERPUS CEO Thommy and some staff. They are best in educational games and we agreed that a partnership between a “real expedition” and their “educational tool” would be a great thing to do. So we started a draft you find here and where you are free to add questions and answers.
To do the hike in the evening, we sailed from Alsvåg to Stø with Inge Elise and Ricard on board. Once we dogged in Stø harbor we started the famous “queen’s hike, Dronningsruta”. A 15 km circular hike, starting following the beautiful coastline and coming back by ridging 6 mountains of around 450 m asl. It is an excellent hike that has a bit of everything of what Vesteralen has to offer. I understood why it is one of the queens Sonja’s favorite hike.
I liked the feeling of sailing, dogging, hike, and back to the boat to sleep. It was a “strange” good feeling where everything makes sense; sailing with the wind, hiking with your own energy under the midnight sun, and be able to sleep on the bottom of the same mountain you summited, over the sea, in an energetically self-sufficient boat.
It was a long day, but with daylight all day long you get a lot more energy. I and Simon arrived at the last ones, at 1 o’clock in the morning.
The day after we went to Ricard’s and Inge Elise’s beautiful house where we got a nice hot shower and an excellent homemade pizza under the sun on the terrace with mountain and sea views.
This time our heart got bigger once more, as we had to say bye-bye again.
Simon decided to take holidays and left us for two weeks and took a bus back to Lofoten for some hiking and surfing. Since Simon left I took his cabin, shared with Andri. I had been sleeping on the bed in the saloon until then.
We set sails to my last stretch sailing. From Vesterålen to Lyngeseidet 180 nm.
This time we sailed exposed to the open ocean, therefore we had more swell, which means more movement onboard. We had a bit more action during our watches.
Luckily while my study year in Svalbard I learned and I am used to sleeping with everything ready just in case. So I was able to help in some moments when man force was needed to change sails.
A bit more than one-day sailing and just some hours before arriving we where immerse in a different landscape type. Big wide and steep fjords, small glaciers, waterfalls, steep mountain walls, and forest!
When we arrived already some locals were welcoming us. It is so nice to arrive and have locals giving you a warm welcome. There was Stein the owner of the small marina “Sørheim Brygge“, Henrike and Patrik owners of the “Magic Mountain Lodge“, and Ingun and Mathieu from “Solhov Castle“.
Ingunn and Mathieu cooked for us a delicious dinner in …. Such an excellent welcome!
In Lyngen, Dario has been giving conferences in the local school and having the students on board for a visit. But we also had time for a bike ride, hike, and a magnific ski tour altogether. Magic mountain lodge lent us their bikes and took us to one of their favorite summits, Fastdalstinden 1275m. With a snow precipitation record in 20 years, there was a lot of snow above 300 m asl.
I was impressed with the Lyngen mountains, I am looking forward to coming back here in winter. It is a stunning place for outdoors, especially for touring ski with a wide variety of skiing terrain and even glaciers and really alpine mountains with fjord views.
I also had time for a midnight sun ski touring tour alone to the closest mountain from the village Kavringtinden 1289 m asl. After a power nap on the boat at around 19h, I took my skis and bicycle and headed to the mountain. It was what I call a “Lyngen summer triathlon” bike, walk and ski through pine and birch forest and a nice ridge to the summit under the amazing midnight sunlight.
I arrived back to the boat at 2 am with this same “strange”, good feeling I had in Stø . With this good feeling, I went to bed.
Now I am writing from Pachamama, listening to Eros Ramazzotti and with a “strange feeling” hangover after the last night’s “private personal celebration” with Lyngen nature. Tomorrow my heart will be bigger again as I will take the bus back to Løfoten islands making two stops to visit people that also made my heart bigger in the past.
With this ROMAN-tic words, I do not say bye-bye but thanks for the inspiration and see you soon Schwoerer family!