(8) NORWAY - The Hurricane


THE HURRICANE


DAY 8. I am alarmed and the feeling grows with each passing hour. We’ve had various announcements of the extremely rough weather conditions and of our need to sail on towards Skejervey (we’re not told why). We’ve also been told several times that at some point our Hurtigruten ship will need to find safe harbour to wait out the worst.

With my non-existent sailing ignorance I burst with the need to yell ‘Why not just stay here we’re already in harbour’. We were told we would sail at sometime between 10 pm and midnight, originally we were leaving at 6.00 pm so we had delayed already.

BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES

Bravado dinner where all I saw was worried faces was followed by a batten-down-the-hatches assault in our cabin. Anything breakable or heavy was stowed away or put on the floor.

Can’t fall any farther then can it!’ Hub said, and then added ‘maybe we should keep our clothes on, in case we need to respond rapidly to the emergency alarm signals’. (He was joking, wasn’t he? I so hoped he was). I arranged my clothes so that they’d be ready to be tossed on quickly if need be.

Sleep didn’t come. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting for midnight. No movement. Please Mr Hurtigruten announce something … tell me what’s going on. What’s planned? My imagination is making everything ten thousand times worse.

IGNORANCE BREEDS FEAR

Don’t they know that ignorance can breed unnecessary fear and I know nothing about sailing or bad weather navigation. I’m afraid to admit, and this sounds absolutely ridiculous, but icebergs and the Titanic come to mind. Will we leave harbour? Will we stay? Tell me! Reassure me!

We were still watching the snow from our cabin window at midnight, mesmerised by what my Hub calls a ‘whiteout’. The snow moved as swiftly as arrows in all directions at once. Up, down, left, right — it was as though the flakes were fighting the wind for supremacy over direction, then it temporarily froze on the glass. We could see nothing but whiteness and the ship still hadn’t moved.

                         
                      The ‘whiteout’ on the window


I crawled into bed knowing that sleep would prove extremely difficult and it did. It was impossible to sleep and so I spent the majority of the night crawling between my bunk and the window.

In the early hours of the morning the ship made several attempts at moving out of the harbour; the sound of the engines made that obvious. About two o’clock the snow and mist let-up a little and it became possible to see the bank opposite.

TROMSØ CATHEDRAL

The beautiful Cathedral at Tromsø was clearly visible with its bright tent shape neon lights reaching up to the sky. Then we slowly moved down the fjord away from the harbour, and the neon lights were no longer in view.


When the sun sets on 26th November, it won’t rise again until 21st January in Tromsø, which gives the city’s decoration lights a good possibility to show their worth. 

To my surprise we stopped roughly in the middle between the two banks. I presumed that we had put the anchors down, but had no idea really. Ship engine noises are just engine noises to the untrained ear.


We stayed in this place a while and I eventually climbed back into my bunk figuring that lying flat might be better, although the seas in this sheltered area weren’t gale size, but they tossed our ship around like a cork.

I looked out the window again a little later and was surprised that we’d moved back opposite the Cathedral at Tromø. I had no idea whether the current had drifted us back or whether we’d purposely sailed back. This happened three or four times during the night, up and down, up and down, but my brain had by now addled with weariness and fear.

LONGING FOR A BRANDY

We were on our way out of the fjord properly by about half past three, but on our way to where I did not know. I wished for a brandy to knock me out, but at the same time I was afraid to drink one in case I needed to be alert or it made me seasick. That we were leaving the shelter of the fjord was obvious by the terrible jerking and rocking of the ship. I didn’t know what to expect.

Relief mercifully arrived in the form of oblivion! I hadn’t needed the brandy, exhaustion must have set in pretty quickly for the only recollection I had when I awoke next morning was of the ship rocking me from left to right in my bunk. We’d woken way past breakfast time, but breakfast wasn’t high on our needs list anyway.

We’d survived! That was the important thing, and now the sea seemed to have lost its anger a little.

By lunchtime we’d moored somewhere just long enough for food provisions and newspapers to be loaded, and it wasn’t long afterwards that I saw the headline and picture in one of the local newspapers in the tiny onboard shop. I couldn’t read a word of Norwegian and there were no English speaking papers available, but the picture told a sorry tale.

A lovely Norwegian lady filled me in on the disaster that had unfolded during the night. A cruise/post ship in the same fleet as ours, and roughly the same size, had been hurled into a bridge the night before. She wasn’t sure whether anyone had died, but from the picture in the newspaper the bridge certainly had taken a blow and neither traffic nor people could now use it.


Look! midday the day after the hurricane, there was no rain falling ! no snow falling! and I could see the bank — just look at the view that I took. Sorry, I’ve no idea where this is, but wow! at last I can see something.


STAY TUNED — we’re near the end of this series of articles and it’s the turn of the Northern lights next, but is it TO BE or not TO

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