Sunday, December 02, 2018

Norway with Hurtigruten - The Storm

The next day was cloud-covered with rising winds and a little precipitation changing how we saw the landscape:


The big stop of the day was at Tromso, we arrived just before dark at 2:15pm, visiting the city shopping area and the Polaria aquarium (where we watched a panoramic film about Svalbard), before heading back to the ship.  I took some snaps of the cityscape in the dark, including Tromso cathedral, visible on the left:


Another day, the first on the voyage with no daylight, just various shades of twilight, and the stop at Honninsvag. This was a hard sell location as there are various excursions to the North Cap, though we opted out and decided to have a wander, find a hill, that kind of thing:


The weather was getting worse, no breaks in the cloud and by now the open sea stretches of water involved quite notable sound and motion.   Helen had to skip dinner that night as it got too rough for her, though the restaurant helped me load a plate to take to the cabin.

The next day was the end of the outward trip, with a longish break at Kirkenes close to both the Finnish and Russian borders. 

A number of passengers left at this point to fly out and a smaller number joined for the southward journey.   We did our 'find a hill' thing and walked up, finally reaching the crest when a very helpful lady invited us to use her driveway and back garden to get there.

Up top there was a frozen body of water and you can see the limited height of the trees where they grew:


We visited the town church and made sure we found the memorial to the Russian liberators, which was surrounded by floral tributes left i expect on November 11th:


So this time when we departed it was to start the return journey, the winds were by now getting very strong and we were headed right for them.   An early afternoon stop was made at Vardo:


That night was rough however the ship's Officers sailed her in the lee of land wherever possible and Helen was able to make dinner.

The following day we were relieved to dock at Hammerfest, a lovely little town.  We started climbing the hill at the back of the town, reaching about three-quarters of the way up before the snow and hail in our faces persuaded us we'd gone far enough.   The city looked very wintery:


From Hammerfest the sailing wasn't too bad, however the conditions were getting worse and some ships basically held their position between Hammerfest and  the island of Soroya:


After Soroya and the docking at Oksfjord there's an unavoidable stretch of open water.  It was rough. 

The next morning we docked at Harstad, the worst of it now thankfully behind us or so we thought.   As you can see more snow had fallen on the mountains behind the town:


Another day of twilight as we headed further south however the presence of more snow as clearly visible now:


As we headed further South another longer stretch of open water lay ahead of us and by this time the storm had built beyond what we'd experienced so far.  

Unusual announcements were made on approach to this part of the journey including the closure of the outer decks and in particular one half hour stretch where everyone was advised to find a chair, sit down and stay put.   The seas were rough, 5 metres and the wind speeds surpassed Hurricane force, more than 85mph.  Helen didn't make dinner but then the service was suspended anyway as it was too dangerous,  Reasonably so.

The journey was extended by taking channels wherever possible to avoid the worst of the weather but certain parts had to be crossed.   Pretty much every planned activity was cancelled as the ship was some hours late to all the ports during this time.

A nice touch was the provision of Storm Certificates to all the passengers.  It was a real relief to dock at Svolvaer that evening:


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